12 APRIL 1975, Page 4

Country houses

From Lord Montagu of Beaulieu Sir: Mr Patrick Cormack's suggestion for a Royal Commission or Select Committee to consider the whole question of the national heritage is certainly to be welcomed. Although there now does seem to be, following the recent debates on the Finance Bill, a general consensus from all sides of the House of Commons that the national heritage must be preserved, the mere fact that many amendments were subsequently made and campaigns had to be mounted shows the dismal lack of understanding, until recently, as to the real problems of preserving our heritage.

The Gowers Report, set up by a Labour Chancellor in 1947, could now perhaps be followed by a Royal Commission in the mid-1970s, which will once and for all take the problems of preserving our heritage out of the area of party politics and on to a plane of real national interest.

Speaking as President of the Historic Houses Association, it is the clear view of our members that special help is required to preserve the house, its contents and surroundings for future generations. We are not seeking tax exemptions to perpetuate a way of life which no longer exists. It is only because over the years so many of us have seen it as our duty to become unpaid caretakers and share our homes with many thousands each year that there is so much of our heritage still left which now needs protection.

Montagu of Beaulieu Palace House, Beaulieu, Hants