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Tower Of London (School Parties)

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 20 July 1954

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38 and 39.

asked the Minister of Works (1) what arrangements or regulations are made by his Department to control the admission to the Tower of London of parties of school children from the provinces, when organised from the schools: and

(2) under what conditions parties of school children are admitted, without charge, to visit the Tower of London; and what facilities there are to encourage the visit of school children from the provinces.

By agreement with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education, my Department allows free admission for up to 500 school children a day coming in organised parties from any part of the country, provided not more than 100 children are from the same school. Applications must be made in advance, and are granted automatically until the daily quota is full. My right hon. Friend has no reason to think that these arrangements are not generally known.

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are only 500 free places available for school children visiting the Tower, which is now very popular with children in the provinces? Will he at least ensure that those in the provinces get their share of the 500 free places, because I am not satisfied that they do, and would he have a look at the question of increasing the number, now that the Tower has become so popular?

More than a million people pay for admission to the Tower every year, and it is becoming overcrowded. The more free places we grant, the more we disappoint some of those who come and are willing to pay. It is a very difficult question, because the Tower has become so popular.

Is the Minister aware that, while there are one million visitors a year to the Tower, he is allowing only 500 free places a day for school children, and will he increase the number of parties of school children to be admitted free, not only in the case of London schools, but those in the provinces also?

I will do my best to see that the provinces get their share, but it is very unfair to visitors, particularly those from overseas, who come to the Tower ready to pay for admission and find they cannot be admitted. It is now a very severe problem, because, when they have got inside the Tower, they also wish to see the Crown Jewels, and we can only get 3,000 people a day through the Jewel House. If I were to cut the number of these visitors down by increasing the free places, there would be much distress among those who come specially to see the Jewels.