More alarm has been expressed by MPs about the millennium Dome as the centrepiece of Britain's celebrations in 2000.
As Conservatives attacked what they said was a paucity of information about the project in Greenwich, south-east London, the chairman of the Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport said he was surprised that no thought seemed to have been given to transport within the site.
After a visit by the committee, Gerald Kaufman said children and pensioners were "going to get very tired". But when he asked about this at the site, it appeared that no thought had been given to internal transport.
Simon Jenkins, a millennium commissioner, former editor of the Times newspaper and one of the original architects of the project, told the committee yesterday that transport was a matter for Millennium Experience, the company organising the exhibition, but "alternatives are being explored".
Mr Jenkins came under strong questioning from Labour MP Claire Ward about the lack of public interest in the Dome and the lack of knowledge about what the exhibition might contain. Ms Ward said: "When we first started this inquiry, I was under the impression it was the public at large who had no idea what was going to be in this exhibition. As we have proceeded, I have discovered that those involved don't know ... I still believe very strongly that we have to bring the public into this and we are not doing that."
Mr Jenkins responded: "If you take the Festival of Britain in 1951, nobody remembers the contents. They remember the buildings. In the same way the 1851 exhibition was about the Crystal Palace."
Mr Jenkins pledged that the pounds 750m exhibition would be an "exciting show the whole world will want to see". Based around the theme of Time, it will be split into personal or body time, achievements over time and global or environmental time. There was no reason in principle why it should not continue into 2001, which many people regard as the true beginning of the new millennium, he added.
Lord Rogers of Riverside, the Dome's architect, told the committee the huge "umbrella" structure could be put to any number of uses after the exhibition, including a "village in an atrium" or a university.
Last night, the Tory culture, media and sport spokesman, Francis Maude, said the public had been given almost no information about the exhibition. "Up to pounds 400m of lottery money has been publicly committed to the event, and no details have been given of what it is that will attract 12 million visitors ... By keeping parliament and the public in the dark, Mr Mandelson is endangering the success of the project," he said.Reuse content