HC Deb 22 May 1978 vol 950 cc442-3W
Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy for opening Hampton Court Palace on Bank Holidays; why Hampton Court Palace was not open on 1st May; why he did not amend the notices outside the Palace to inform the public of the closure in advance; what is his estimate of the number of tourists, and the amount of takings forgone by his Department as result of not opening on 1st May; what consultation took place with Palace staff before the closure; what was their opinion on the matter; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Shore

Hampton Court Palace, like other historic buildings in England under my control, is normally open to the public on all public holidays except for three days at Christmas and New Year's Day. With other Royal palaces, it is closed on Good Friday.

As 1st May this year was the first ever May Day bank holiday, the opening of historic buildings and monuments on that day would have required a new agreement with the Civil Service Union. Unfortunately, it proved impossible to reach such an agreement in time.

News media and the tourist organisations were advised of the closure. I regret that there was not a separate notice at the main entrance to Hampton Court; the gardens themselves were, however, open as usual. Possibly about 3,900 people, including children, would have visited the State Apartments. Admission fees and profits from sales would have been about £3,300. Consultations with the staff at Hampton Court took place, as is usual, through the union.

Arrangements for future May Day holidays are under review.