19 January 2012: DfT launch consultation document on the proposed abolition of the Railway Heritage Committee
Read the consultation document
21 June 2011: Reception in House of Commons
Read report from rail.co
11 May 2011: Comment in Rail Magazine
Read article here
22 March 2011: Update on the future of the Railway Heritage Committee
Read content of letter
28 February 2011: Public Bodies Bill
See Hansard entry for contribution in full
My proposition is that the RHC ceases to be a non-departmental public body in the Department for Transport and that its functions and statutory powers are administered by the National Railway Museum on behalf of the National Museum of Science and Industry
1 February 2011: Railways: Heritage Sector
The status and role of the Railway Heritage Committee is about to change as a result of the Government's decision to include it in the Public Bodies Bill. I shall not anticipate the debate that we are due to have in Committee on that Bill, other than to say that we are very close indeed to agreeing a way forward that would provide for the statutory powers and duties of the committee to be transferred to the Science Museum.Hansard report
Public Bodies Bill [HL] 2nd reading
Speaking in the House of Lords on 9 November, Lord Faulkner of Worcester made an impassioned appeal for the retention of the Railway Heritage Committee.
"I was going to make a speech about a public body with which I have a particular interest and which I had the honour to chair until 2009, standing down when I became a Minister in the Government Whips' Office: the Railway Heritage Committee. It is a body which has a link with Henry VIII because, as your Lordships may recall, Benjamin Disraeli predicted as long ago as 1845, in his novel Sybil, that the railways will do as much for mankind as the monasteries did. This is a debate which I want to have on another occasion and in Committee with the Minister.
However, I make the point now that that is a committee with a budget that costs the taxpayer little more than £100,000 a year. That can be reduced further, but that budget would have to be enhanced because the National Railway Museum will in future have to spend at least that amount of money on buying the artefacts and records which, at present, it gets for nothing.
It is staffed entirely by volunteers - there is only one paid employee - and works with the grain of the railway industry and the heritage railway section. It was established by three separate Acts of Parliament, two passed by Conservative Governments and one, most recently, by the Labour Government in 2006. It is a body which fulfils the functions that were set out by the Minister standing at the Conservative Dispatch Box in 1996, to the letter, and has never attracted any criticism or scandal.
It was abolished, or at least it is facing abolition, as the result of a single sentence in a Department for Transport press release, with no consultation whatever. The only warning that the members of the committee and the industry had that something was coming was the leak in the Daily Telegraph on 23 September.
As a consequence of that, over 30 individuals, ranging from some very high-profile in international organisations - the Heritage Railway Association itself, the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, Sir William McAlpine and others - all wrote to the Minister begging her to think again before including it in the list for abolition. To no avail, though; that organisation is in Schedule 1 of the Bill.
I hope that it will be possible, when we get into Committee, to do something about this deplorable state of affairs and that we can do something that recognises the importance of railway heritage in the tourist sector and in the economy more generally."Hansard report