HC Deb 21 January 2002 vol 378 c597
1. Mr. David Crausby (Bolton, North-East)

What recent meetings she has had with English Heritage about giving children free access to its sites. [26164]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell)

The Government's statement on the historic environment, "A Force for Our Future", which I launched on 13 December last year, made clear our wish to encourage the widest possible access to the country's heritage. We proposed in the statement to consider at the earliest opportunity—and in consultation with the relevant key organisations, which include English Heritage—how the principle of free access for children, which has been such an enormous success in our national museums and galleries, might be extended to the historic environment.

Mr. Crausby

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. After the enormous success of free access to museums, does she agree that completely free admission for children to sites such as Stonehenge will not only have a similar effect on numbers, but, most importantly, encourage more visits with the Family?

Tessa Jowell

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The issue links our twin objectives of opening access and promoting excellence. There are Families throughout the country who have seen for the first time the treasures that we share as a nation, and it is our aim to extend that opportunity to our historic environment.