I REFER to Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East MP Ashok Kumar's article which emphasised the importance of archaeological finds being preserved for future generations (Echo, Mat 18).

In the past ten years, 333,000 similar finds to those featured in the article have been made and recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme by metal detector enthusiasts under their voluntary recording scheme.

While agreeing with Mr Kumar's sentiments on the preservation of discoveries, can he explain why the Government is freezing the funding of the scheme, which will certainly result in a reduction of staff and efficiency?

Can he also explain why, despite the huge amount of discoveries made by metal detecting, this Government is taking steps to outlaw the hobby by placing metal detection restrictions on farmers' land that is registered under agrienvironmental schemes with Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

Metal detecting enthusiasts are responsible for 99 per cent of finds recorded with the British Museum and the hobby should be promoted, not hindered.

There are thousands of detecting enthusiasts prepared to assist archaeologists free of charge. Mr Kumar and his colleagues should concentrate on ensuring that metal detecting is a compulsory ingredient of all archaeological surveys.

Norman Smith, Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham.