HC Deb 06 December 1978 vol 959 cc681-2W
48. Sir Anthony Royle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people visited the 1939–1945 War Room in the basement of Storey's Gate between 1970 and 1978; what arrangements are made for the general public and tourists to visit it; and, in the light of the fact that only one telephone is available to make an appointment with the custodian and that this telephone, 233 8904, is manned only from 8–30 to 9–30 a.m. daily and is permanently engaged, if he will take immediate action both to improve and publicise visiting arrangements to this place of importance in the nation's wartime history.

Mr. Marks:

The Department assumed responsibility for the 1939–1945 Cabinet War Rooms late in 1975 and I am unable to give the figures for the full period over which information is sought. Since that date an average of 100 people a week have been escorted round the rooms.

The Cabinet War Rooms are situated in the basement of a Government building, which is in use as an office block. Means of access are very restricted, and the layout of the rooms is not suitable for large numbers of visitors at any one time. To make the rooms more accessible would not only involve expensive works but would affect the authenticity of the setting which is one of the principal attractions.

The present arrangements allow a considerable number of people to see the rooms in the course of a year. Most of the visitors arrange to join one of the tours that are conducted each day by writing to the custodian.