Saturday, 23 May 2009

New Labour refuses to tide over historic Bletchley Park draws attention to the government's refusal to stump up more cash to help Bletchley Park stay afloat until the museum can support itself.

In debate following a question in the House of Lords last Tuesday, the chamber was told funding is needed to help keep the site financially viable while restoration work to the home of the World War II codebreakers is carried out.

During the session, Labour peer Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall petitioned the government for more money in the House of Lords.

"The fundraising effort is going pretty well, as is work to improve both the buildings and museum facilities. Visitor numbers are rising very rapidly and it will be self-sufficient once capital building work is completed.

"They are suffering considerable difficulty in continuing in the interim.

"Could he [the government spokesman Lord Davies] encourage his friends at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to reconsider their willingness to support this project?" she said.

It seems that Liberal Democrat peers Wallace and Clement-Jones have family connections to Bletchley Park. Tim Clement-Jones asked: "My Lords, this might not commend itself so much to the Minister: my parents met in Hut 3 at Bletchley Park, as did the parents-in-law of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace. So there are nests of Bletchley Park supporters surrounding the Minister. He has given a lukewarm reply. Is there not some form of scientific heritage funding that could be found for a short period to assure the revenue funding of Bletchley Park before it becomes financially viable? It could then turn into one of our major tourism attractions, demonstrating the full wartime history and the importance of computer science in this country."

Lord Davies of Oldham, the deputy chief whip of the House of Lords, rejected the call for government funding, adding there has already been substantial support for restoration work from English Heritage and Milton Keynes Council, which have donated a total of £930,000 between them towards restoring the manor house and general site improvement.

Lord Davies also rejected the suggestion that Bletchley should be associated with the Imperial War Museum to recognise the importance of its role in cracking codes used by the Nazis during World War II.

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