Minister Anton Refalo has called on the government to compile a national register of heritage artefacts found in private homes.

He would not say, however, whether he still has the British-era stone marker in his Qala house.

Asked about the controversial stone on Monday, Refalo would not comment. He said he has already commented enough on it and he had nothing to add.

He did, however, say the government should compile a register of all the artefacts of national heritage found within the buildings of NGOs and other organisations and in private homes.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

If the artefacts are of national heritage, then the government should know about them and everyone should have the right to enjoy them, he said.

“It’s time the government compiles a register of artefacts that are in people’s homes and that are part of the national heritage,” he said.

“It is important for the government to know what artefacts of national heritage every house has.”

The idea was initially floated around when Heritage Malta was set up, he said, but it never materialised.

Refalo was asked whether the register would note the illegal presence of historical artefacts in private homes but he suggested it was not what the idea was about.

Many national heritage artefacts have been inherited down multiple generations since the time of the Knights, he said, but the government still has the right to know what they are.

Malta’s national heritage is not just found in museums. And our national heritage should be enjoyed by all

NGOs and private people should be able to come forward on their own volition with a list of the artefacts they possess if they feel they constitute part of the national heritage, he said.

“Malta’s national heritage is not just found in museums,” he said. “And our national heritage should be enjoyed by all.”

He did not elaborate on how artefacts in private collections could be enjoyed by the public, however.

The public first got to know that Refalo had a British-era stone marker in the garden of his Qala house last year when a photo posted on social media by one of his family members showed the stone in the background.

The marker bears the inscription VR (Victoria Regina). Stones like it used to dot Malta and Gozo to mark confines of territories and are now protected by law.

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage had confirmed it found the artefact in Refalo’s house and, a few months later, he was questioned by the police over it.

To this day, it remains unclear at which stage the investigation is and Refalo has not been charged over the case.

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