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Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014

Section 6 – Acquisition, deposit and disposal of objects

42.Section 6 specifies Historic Environment Scotland’s powers in relation to the acquisition, acceptance on deposit of and disposal of objects. Historic Environment Scotland may acquire objects (either by purchase, exchange or gift) or accept objects on deposit to develop the collections. Deposit is an arrangement whereby a depositor charges a body (in this case Historic Environment Scotland) with the safe-keeping of an object or collection for a fixed or indefinite period of time, with ownership of the property resting with the depositor and subject to such conditions as are agreed between the body and the depositor. Deposit, which is common practice in a wide range of collections, creates additional requirements when objects are being disposed of, as set out below, in paragraphs 44-53.

43.Subsection (2) makes clear that these powers are in addition to any other powers of acquisition or acceptance on deposit that Historic Environment Scotland may have, as HES may in future be given additional statutory powers under other legislation, for example under the Museums and Galleries Act 1992.

44.Subsection (3) sets out the circumstances in which Historic Environment Scotland may dispose of any object from its collections.

45.The case for disposal in subsection (3)(a) is that an object is a duplicate of, or similar to, another object in the collections, for example where a collection of architectural drawings includes original drawings along with multiple un-annotated copies it may not be desirable to keep the copies.

46.The case for disposal in subsection (3)(b) is that Historic Environment Scotland considers that the object is not required for the purposes of the collections. This would allow Historic Environment Scotland to ensure that objects in the collection are relevant to the historic environment and consistent with its collecting policy.

47.The case for disposal in subsection (3)(c) is that because of damage, deterioration or infestation by destructive organisms, the object is no longer of use for the purposes of the collections. This would allow disposals in cases where an object was damaged to such an extent that it had lost all information content and was therefore not worth conserving, for example a heavily water-damaged document.

48.The case for disposal in subsection (3)(d) is that the object is hazardous. This provision would allow disposal in cases where an object is hazardous, for example where a material such as a cellulose nitrate film has degraded to the point of posing a possible fire hazard. The key test here would be whether any benefits of retaining such objects were outweighed by the risks.

49.The case for disposal in subsection (3)(e) is that the Scottish Ministers agree to the disposal. This would allow disposal in a case where there was a moral claim on an object that would ordinarily not be eligible for disposal under subsection (3)(a)-(d)

50.Subsection (4) clarifies that such disposals may be made by sale, exchange, gift, return or destruction. It is implicit that disposal (other than return) of an object is only possible where Historic Environment Scotland holds the object as owner.

51.Subsection (5) makes clear that these powers are in addition to any other powers of disposal that Historic Environment Scotland may have, as HES may in future be given additional statutory powers of acquisition and disposal under other legislation, for example under the Museums and Galleries Act 1992.

52.Subsection (6) sets out that where an object is subject to a prohibition or restriction on disposal, as in the case of an object on deposit, Historic Environment Scotland cannot dispose of the object without the consent of the person having the right to enforce the prohibition or restriction. However where an object is damaged, has deteriorated or become infested and is no longer of use for the purposes of the collections, HES can dispose of that object without consent if they have taken all reasonable steps to contact the appropriate person. HES may also dispose of any object which is hazardous even without consent. It is implicit that an object on deposit or loan is, by its very nature, subject to a restriction or prohibition on disposal.

53.These provisions protect the interests of depositors and lenders and will serve as a reminder to Historic Environment Scotland to check for any such prohibitions or restrictions when considering any disposal under subsection (3).

54.Subsection (7) clarifies that in this section and in section 7, references to Historic Environment Scotland’s collections are references to collections of objects which are owned by, in the custody of, or otherwise under its management and control, excluding those collections they have been delegated the management of under section 7.

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Text created by the Scottish Executive department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills

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