Bad name, bad record, good idea

From Mr Chris Smith, MP

Sir: Andrew Marr's piece on the Department of National Heritage - brilliantly written though, as usual, it was - did less than justice to the idea behind the creation of the department ("A heritage trail littered with mistakes", 4 May).

He was right to deride the departmental name. It needs changing, certainly. He was also right to set out in graphic form the failures of a succession of Conservative secretaries of state. The record is appalling. But he should not sweep away at the same time the whole idea of having a department of this kind. It makes a lot of sense to put together in one place in government responsibility for enhancing the cultural life of the country and for sponsoring the cultural and communications industries. Simply because the current record is bad doesn't mean the whole concept should be damned.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Islington South

and Finsbury (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

4 May

The writer is Shadow Secretary of State for National Heritage.