HC Deb 22 March 1956 vol 550 cc1462-3
38. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make arrangements for the British Museum Reading Room to remain open each weekday until 10 p.m.; and what additional cost would be involved.

Mr. H. Brooke

The Trustees of the British Museum recognise that there is a demand for later opening of the Reading Room. But, having regard to available resources, they do not feel able to make this extension of their services to the public at the present time. It would cost an additional £35,000 a year and would require sixty-eight additional staff.

Mr. Robinson

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the present closing hour of 5 p.m. makes it impossible for people in normal full-time employment to use the services of the British Museum Reading Room, and in view of the fact that the cost would be only £35,000, would he not use his influence to bring about this desirable change?

Mr. Brooke

I cannot accept phrases like "only £35,000" or "only sixty-eight additional staff." The hours of opening were extended until 7 p.m. as an experiment shortly before the last war. That was not a great success. To extend them to 10 p.m. would require this considerable number of extra people.