HC Deb 17 June 1968 vol 766 cc685-7
11. Mr. Tilney

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what plans he has to enable those unable to walk down or up a large number of steps to see the (Drown Jewels.

Mr. Mellish

I should like to help these people and have had a preliminary study made to see what might be done. I propose to keep the matter under review.

Mr. Tilney

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply, and I recognise that the new Jewel House is beautifully arranged, but will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are 43 steps for the old and the infirm to have to negotiate?

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I cannot for the life of me understand why a lift was not put in. This is just the sort of place which the old, the infirm and the handicapped want to see and have the time to see. The plans were made in another party's day, and they were carried out by my party. We share the blame for what I can only regard as a stupid thing to have done in omitting a lift.

Dr. John Dunwoody

In order to make the Tower of London and its contents more readily available for the public who want to see them, will my right hon. Friend encourage the Tower authorities to follow the excellent example of the Victoria and Albert Museum and open on Sunday mornings during the tourist season?

Mr. Mellish

I shall take note of that. The Question deals primarily with the disabled and handicapped. I am sorry that we did not make facilities available for them to see the Jewel Tower.

Miss Harvie Anderson

Will the right hon. Gentleman approach the Disablement Income Group for its advice about the best method of accommodating the disabled in situations of this kind? The Group has done good work on these matters and it could help in a practical way.

Mr. Mellish

As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) said, there are 43 steps down, and they are rather steep. The only answer is a lift. The trouble now is to fit it inside the structure as now planned and completed. I have already taken some soundings about cost, and I understand that it would be at least £25,000. It is one of those things which should have been done in the original plan. There is a great case to be made here, and I shall see what can be done about it. When I ask for more money, I hope that hon. Members will back me up.