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DCMS Committee to examine Government’s approach to contested heritage

2 October 2020

The one-off session follows recent protests and debate about statues and memorials in public spaces. It will focus on the role of physical heritage, the DCMS Department’s involvement in its protection and preservation, and the work of Historic England, the Government’s statutory advisor on the historic environment.  

Chair of the DCMS Committee Julian Knight MP said:

"We’ve seen much debate about statues and memorials in our public spaces with strong views expressed about their current place in society today.

We want to discuss how decisions about the future of this physical heritage are made, how different interests are considered and what is the role of Government and its advisers.

There should be a consistent and transparent process to guide custodians, particularly when difficult decisions have to be taken over contested heritage."


Tuesday 6 October - remote participation by witnesses and Committee Members

At 10am

  • Elsie Owusu OBE, board member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Council, the Architectural Association and the UK Supreme Court Arts Trust
  • Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol
  • Sonia Solicari, Director, Museum of the Home 

At 11:00am

  • Sir Laurie Magnus, Chair of Historic England

Purpose of the session

MPs will consider how decisions are made on the removal or re-siting of statues and how the different interests of property owners, local authorities and communities are balanced in decision making.  

Discussions are expected to reflect on the example of Bristol in exploring the response of local authorities to contested physical heritage and that of the Museum of the Home, under pressure to remove a statue of Sir Robert Geffrye, an English merchant who made part of his money from his investment in transatlantic slavery.

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright