A news release from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on 15th December said that plans would strengthen the export deferral rules and give UK museums and buyers a greater opportunity to keep important artworks and artefacts in the country. A new public consultation proposes a formal, legally binding agreement with private sellers, instead of the current ‘gentleman’s agreement’, and give museums and buyers in the UK first refusal on acquisitions. It would mark the first significant change to the system in over 65 years. The news release explains that, until 1939, the UK had no legal controls on the export of works of art, books, manuscripts and other antiques. The outbreak of the Second World War made it necessary to impose controls on exports generally in order to conserve national resources. Items that are being sold abroad are assessed at the point of application for an export licence by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, which establishes whether it meets the ‘Waverley criteria’ to be regarded as a national treasure. The public consultation ends on 24th February.