Many of Savile’s victims have suffered severe financial loss as a result of the challenges they have faced. I understand that claims for compensation will in the

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first instance draw on Jimmy Savile’s estate. Has there been an assessment of whether the estate’s funds will be sufficient to meet all claims? Given what has been revealed today and the abject failures of public bodies, should not the Government now consider allocating public funds to ensure that all the people damaged by Savile are properly compensated and supported?

Reading the report, it is not at all clear to me that a proper process has yet been put in place to hold people who failed in their public duties to account. If evidence is revealed in any of these reports that shows that any person still working in the NHS or the Department of Health knowingly facilitated these crimes, will the Secretary of State assure us that they will now face the full weight of the law and that those who were negligent in respect of their public duties will also be held fully to account?

It is incomprehensible how this could have been allowed to happen over 55 years. Although it relates to a different era, there are serious lessons that we can learn, given that abuse continues in our health and care system today. Let me turn to those. The first area of concern relates to how victims of abuse are treated, particularly young people or people in the mental health care system. Sadly, there are still far too many instances of abuse in our care system and in mental health settings, and the real figure is likely to be higher because of under-reporting. Will the Secretary of State consider what more needs to be done to give people the confidence to come forward and the reassurance that they will be listened to? Is there a case for more training for staff in dealing with allegations of abuse?

The second area of concern relates to how public bodies carry out vetting and barring arrangements, make public appointments and manage their relationship with celebrity. Hospitals across the country have increasingly sophisticated fundraising operations and links with celebrity endorsers. Will the Secretary of State accept the Broadmoor report’s recommendation that no celebrity should be appointed to an executive position or given privileged access to a hospital or its patients and that they should be fully vetted if appointed to a non-executive position? More broadly, is there now a case for a code of conduct setting out the appropriate relationship that the NHS should have with celebrity or business backers?

On vetting and barring, figures obtained by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson) show that the number of people barred from working with children as a result of committing a sexual offence against a child has dropped by 10,000, or 75%, in the past three years. These extremely worrying figures have come about as a result of changes to the vetting and barring arrangements. This raises the concern that there are people working in our health and care system now who may pose a risk to children. Will the Secretary of State look again at this issue, consult the Home Secretary, and urgently report back to the House on why these figures have dropped by so much in such a short space of time, and on whether they believe that the current child protection regime is strong enough?

The question arises of whether this process of inquiry is a sufficient response to the scale of these atrocious crimes. It is hard to draw a clear picture and consistent recommendations from 28 separate reports and all the other inquiries that are still ongoing in schools, care homes, the BBC and the police. I, too, pay tribute to the work of Kate Lampard in assuring the quality of

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the reports published today, and we wait for her second phase of work, but questions remain about their independence given that each hospital has, in effect, investigated itself. There is also a question of whether this needs to be more independent of Government.

The Broadmoor report raises serious questions about the conduct of civil servants and Ministers in the Department of Health in how Savile came to be appointed to the Broadmoor taskforce. In evidence to the inquiry, the then Minister describes the main objective of Savile’s appointment as follows:

“The principal question was can Government break this hold that the Prison Officers Association has on the hospital.”

She went on to say:

“This task force was dreamed up and seemed like a very good idea and step forward Jimmy Savile who knew the place backwards and was more than happy to volunteer his time to do this. And we were happy to do it.”

That paints a picture of chaos in the Department and a complete absence of due process for such a serious appointment. This is an extraordinary revelation. Although there is no suggestion that any Minister knew of any sexual misconduct, it points to the need for a further process of independent inquiry so that we all, as Ministers and former Ministers, can learn the lessons of what happened, but also draw together the threads of the multiple ongoing inquiries. It simply cannot be left for Savile’s victims to try to pull together the details of these investigations.

As the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), has said, there is now a clear case for a proper, overarching, independent review led by child protection experts into why there was such large-scale institutional failure to stop these abhorrent crimes. I would be grateful if the Secretary of State gave this proposal careful consideration. I finish by assuring him of our full support in helping him to establish the full truth of why abuse on this scale was allowed to happen for so long.

Mr Hunt: I thank the shadow Health Secretary for the constructive tone of his comments. Many of the suggestions he has made are very sensible. We will take them away and look at them, but I will go through a number of them now. First, we will indeed make sure that all Savile’s victims get the counselling they need. I think that it has been made available to them, but it is absolutely right to double-check that they are getting every bit of help they need and that we are taking all reasonable steps.

I hope that what has happened today will be, in its own way, another landmark for all victims of sexual abuse in giving them the confidence that we are changing, not just as an NHS but as a society, into being much better at listening when people come forward with these very serious allegations. It hits you time and again when reading these reports how many people did not speak up at the time because they thought that no one would believe them. We are not going to change that culture overnight, but we have to be a society that listens to the small person—the person who might get forgotten and does not feel they are important in the system.

On the claims for compensation, the right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that the first draw for those claims will come from the Savile estate. I hope

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I can reassure him, however, that, as we have said, the Government will underwrite this so that if there are any claims that are not able to be met by the estate we finance them from the public purse. We think it is important that we should do that, although Savile’s estate is the first place to start, for obvious reasons.

The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that if there is evidence that people have criminally neglected claims that were made at the time or behaved inappropriately—even if it is not a matter for the law and they behaved in a way that could make them subject to disciplinary procedures in NHS organisations—that should be addressed. We will urge all NHS organisations to look carefully at anyone who is mentioned in the reports. Of course, the police will, naturally, look at the evidence against any individuals, who of course have the right to due process, which everyone in the House would accept.

On the specific point about the behaviour of one Minister and what it suggested about the motivation for Savile’s approval for his job at Broadmoor, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), who was Secretary of State at the time, has said that that behaviour would be indefensible now and that it would have been indefensible at the time. I agree with him. Everyone must be held accountable for the actions they took.

We are doing a great deal to make sure that all NHS staff are trained to feel more confident about speaking out. The Mid Staffs whistleblower Helene Donnelly is now working with Health Education England to see what needs to change in the training of NHS staff in order to change that culture.

On the new disclosure and barring scheme, we are already doing work to examine the reason for the drop in the number of people who are being barred from working with children. The Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) is looking into that. I have given this a lot of thought and it is important to say that in the current environment, were we to have another Savile, it is likely that the disclosure and barring scheme would bar him from working with children and in trusts, but that is not certain because he was never convicted of a crime. The Criminal Records Bureau checks would not have stopped that, but it is possible for the disclosure and barring scheme to prevent people from working with children and vulnerable adults even if they have not committed a crime. For example, their employment track record may show that they were dismissed for doing things that raised suspicions. It is also important to make the point—I think everyone in the House will understand this—that it is not possible to legislate to stop all criminal vile activity. What we depend on for the disclosure and barring scheme to work is a culture in which the public and patients feel able to speak out and staff listen when they do so, in order that these things surface much more quickly.

Finally, the question of whether any further inquiries are necessary will, of course, be considered. The first step is to let Kate Lampard do her full report. At this stage, she has not drawn together all the different inquiries and tried to draw lessons from the system as a whole. I asked her to do two things. The first was to verify independently that the reports of NHS organisations

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were of the necessary quality, and I think she has done that superbly. The second stage of her work is to see what lessons can be drawn from the system as a whole. We need to hear what she has to say about that and, indeed, what the Department for Education and the BBC learn from their reports, and then we will come to a conclusion about whether any further investigations are needed.

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con): May I join the Secretary of State in paying tribute to the victims? They were not silent. What today’s reports show is that very many people witnessed—even directly condoned—some deeply inappropriate behaviour. How could it ever be acceptable for a celebrity to be able to watch female patients showering? Will the Secretary of State join me in sending a message to NHS staff that they should always raise concerns if they witness such behaviour and that they will be protected if they do so?

Mr Hunt: I am absolutely happy to do that. I wholeheartedly agree with my hon. Friend’s comments. The NHS needs to move to a system where it is the norm rather than the exception to report, and where NHS staff feel comfortable that reporting any concerns is an absolutely normal part of their job. She is right to say that one of the most disturbing things in the reports is the clear evidence that some people helped Savile in what he did—for example, that people were escorted to his private room in Broadmoor—which is very shocking. That is why it is very important that everyone is vigilant. I totally agree with what she said.

Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): The only people who emerge with any credit are the victims, and we need to support them. However, I was slightly stung by the Secretary of State’s comment about the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke). If the right hon. and learned Gentleman thought that the actions of the Minister—it was Edwina Currie, if I remember rightly—were inappropriate then, as they would be now, will he apologise for his stewardship of the Department at the time, or will the Secretary of State look at the Minister’s conduct and come back to the House to explain how it was possible?

Mr Hunt: I hope that I have gone some way to meet the hon. Lady’s concerns because, on behalf of the Government and the NHS, I have offered a full apology to all the victims for what happened, and I have accepted that there were failures at many levels. It is very important to say that the reports show that there was no evidence that Ministers or officials were aware of any sexual abuse by Savile. I pointed to the comments by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe because I wanted to make it clear that this Government are not defending actions which, as he has said, were indefensible then and would be indefensible now.

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con): I commend my right hon. Friend for his measured statement. Indeed, I welcome the shadow Secretary of State’s comments about joining our call for an overarching inquiry, because this is the tip of the iceberg. There are still ongoing inquiries to do with Savile in the NHS, 11 local authorities, care homes and others.

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Specifically on the subject of victims, there is something that the Secretary of State can do to help immediately. So many victims have very bravely come forward after suffering trauma over many decades and many are still calling the ChildLine and NAPAC—the National Association for People Abused in Childhood—helplines. However, for too many, the therapeutic support that they need to help them through such a particularly difficult time is absolutely not there. Police and health professionals have come to me to say that they know such people, but cannot do anything for them. With the resources in the NHS, the Secretary of State can help now.

Mr Hunt: I commend my hon. Friend for his campaigning for vulnerable children over many years. The letter I sent to NHS England this morning asks it to make sure that all the lessons are learned from the reports, and it includes the very clear suggestion—I want the NHS to interpret my letter in this way—that it should ensure that it commissions the support needed for children in these circumstances so that they get the very support that is necessary. This is not just about encouraging people to speak out; it is about making sure that when they do, they feel listened to and supported.

Grahame M. Morris (Easington) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for his statement and my right hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State for his considered response. In relation to the scale of the abuse—with ages ranging from five to 75, and involving 28 hospitals—lessons need to be learned about the systematic failure not just within the NHS, but within other institutions. Will the Health Secretary have discussions with the Cabinet Office and others to make sure that appropriate lessons are learned?

Mr Hunt: Absolutely. I want to reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are taking a cross-Government approach—across a range of Departments, but particularly the Department for Education and the Home Office—and that the Government as a whole will draw the lessons from this whole horrific series of episodes to make sure that we have a joined-up approach.

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I agree with the Secretary of State that our first thought has to be for the victims, and that in future we must listen to the powerless and not block inquiries. If we go back to 2011—before Savile died—an American journalist, Leah McGrath Goodman, was banned from coming to the UK to investigate child abuse, including by Jimmy Savile. Even more recently, she was arrested at the airport on 5 June, while coming to an inquiry. Will the Secretary of State speak to his colleague the Minister for Security and Immigration to ask why somebody in the UK Border Agency seems to be aiming to inhibit one of the inquiries?

Mr Hunt: I am afraid that I do not know the details of that particular case, but I will look into it and write to the hon. Gentleman.

Ann Coffey (Stockport) (Lab): Is not one of the wider problems our perceptions of how a sexual predator looks and acts? When men like Savile are arrested, the usual reaction is shock that such a nice man could abuse

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children, but sex predators are not men in dirty raincoats; they come from all walks of life and all professions. That perception means that children are not being heard. Will the Secretary of State make preventing as well as detecting child sexual abuse a public health priority? It is only through a better informed public, more aware of how predators such as Savile behave, that we will be able to protect children from abuse.

Mr Hunt: I completely agree, and that is one of the big lessons. The shadow Home Secretary was absolutely right to say that this issue raises serious questions about the nature of celebrity in our society. One of the reasons that totally inexcusable things happened—such as being given the keys to Broadmoor—was that somehow on the basis of Savile’s image people made wrong assumptions about him. The hon. Lady is absolutely right. One of the things that will change as a result of this investigation is that people will be more willing to challenge those who previously were not challenged. But there is a long way to go.

Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): I totally agree with the Secretary of State’s belief that there should be more openness, and an increased sense of need to report concerns, but is he satisfied that, particularly with regard to NHS staff who may report concerns or whistleblowers, there is enough protection within the system to encourage more people to be more open?

Mr Hunt: No, I am not. That is why earlier this week we asked Sir Robert Francis to do a follow-up review to his public inquiry to determine what else needs to be done to create a culture of openness and transparency in the NHS. We have come a very long way as a society in terms of our understanding, but there is more work to be done. It is also very important, as I said in my statement—I know everyone would agree with this—that we do not undermine the brilliant work done by volunteers in hospitals and that we do not create a kind of bureaucratic morass that makes it impossible for that really important work to be done. However, I know we can do better than we are at the moment and important lessons need to be learned.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): The Secretary of State has been very gracious in his apology given that he was not Secretary of State at the time. Might I make one further practical suggestion? Will he speak to the Prime Minister about perhaps appointing a Minister to co-ordinate all these reports across the public institutions?

Mr Hunt: I reassure the hon. Lady that that responsibility lies with the Home Secretary, and the Home Office has a cross-governmental committee that will bring together all the lessons from all the reports. My first priority is to ensure that we are doing everything we can to make NHS patients safe, but there are much broader lessons to be learned. That is being led by the Home Office.

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that what has happened is absolutely abhorrent and that it sends out a strong message to everyone in society that even a celebrity is not above the law of the land? May I also praise the work of Kate Lampard and her team in bringing this forward?

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Mr Hunt: That is absolutely right. Celebrities have never been above the law of the land, but what is clear from the report is that even though that is the case legally, in practical terms they were above the law because they were able to get away with things for a very long time that ordinary people would not have been able to get away with. That is why this is such a big moment of reflection for us. I know that everyone in the House will want to think hard about what we need to do to change that culture.

Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) (Lab): We know that Savile was well regarded by many politicians; by way of example, he was friends with Cyril Smith and appeared in a Liberal party political broadcast in the 1970s, and had friends in high places. Surely an overarching inquiry into child sex abuse would help us to understand the political networks to which Savile belonged.

Mr Hunt: I know that the hon. Gentleman has campaigned a lot on these issues. We have not ruled out anything, but we want first to draw together the lessons for the NHS and across Government as quickly as possible. One of the important benefits of the way in which we have proceeded so far is that, because it is an investigation and not a public inquiry, we can get to the truth relatively quickly. However, we will certainly look at the cross-governmental lessons.

Dr Phillip Lee (Bracknell) (Con): As a former member of the medical staff at Stoke Mandeville hospital and now as the Member representing Broadmoor hospital, I have many questions, but let me concentrate on one. In appendix 2A part V, there is a letter about Broadmoor from Jimmy Savile to the Department of Health. It is headed “National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville”, and it is signed “Dr Jimmy Savile”. Indeed, the content of the letter is deeply unprofessional and remarkable, and it was copied on to a series of people, including the then Secretary of State. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that each of these individuals has been investigated in respect of their response to this correspondence, as I cannot believe that people could have received it without being deeply concerned about this vile man’s involvement in a high-security hospital?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend raises a very important point. We received the reports only this week, but I will certainly take this away with me and look into exactly the point he makes.

Mr Frank Field (Birkenhead) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for allowing me early advance notice of the report relating to St Catherine’s hospital in Birkenhead. Much more importantly, may I associate myself with the apology that the right hon. Gentleman gave to my constituent and others? He will know that that hospital has been bulldozed and that we now have a fine community hospital. To bulldoze these practices within the NHS, will the Secretary of State consider and come back to me later on these two issues? First, it took my constituent 48 years before she was believed and 50 years before she received an apology. What steps are we going to take to ensure that justice is provided much more quickly? Secondly, Jimmy Savile was escorted around St Cath’s Birkenhead by officials, who witnessed him jumping

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into bed with a young patient and who thought it funny. All the rules in the world provide some defence, but how do we get people to exercise judgment—whatever the rules say, whatever the circumstances and whoever does it—and say that this behaviour is not acceptable?

Mr Hunt: I would like to associate myself with the right hon. Gentleman’s comments; I share his disbelief and shock that it has taken so long. In some ways justice will never be done, because Savile died before it could be served on him, which is one of the biggest tragedies of all. I agree: there was a major lack of judgment, some of it because of the different attitudes prevailing at those times. One of the big differences today is that we make links between what is disgusting but not illegal behaviour and potential abuse in a way that did not happen in those days. I want to share with the right hon. Gentleman what most shocked me personally in the reports, and it was the way in which Savile interfered and abused people who had just come out of operations and were recovering from them. The fact that Savile was able to do that, without being supervised, is shocking and when those people spoke up about what had happened, they were not believed. That is one of so many lessons that need to be learned; I know that everyone wants to learn them.

Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North) (Con): It is clear from the Portsmouth report that there were incidents with no corroborative evidence of the abuse. In one local case, the complainant was unconscious at the time of the alleged incident and learned of it from a hospital cleaner who witnessed it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that “no proof” is not the same as “it did not happen”, that his welcome words of apology should apply to all those who think they may have been abused and that we need a clear process for how such unprovable complaints can be dealt with?

Mr Hunt: Absolutely right. The case that my hon. Friend mentions was a real tragedy because that person suffered very real psychological harm in subsequent years as a result of what they were told by the cleaner. There are two points. First, we cannot necessarily corroborate, but we can see a pattern. What is impressive about these investigations is the fact that the investigators say time after time that although it is not possible to prove that these things happened, they believe that they did happen because the evidence was credible. On one or two occasions, they say that they are not sure, but in the vast majority of cases, they thought that the evidence was credible. Secondly, there will continue to be times when offences are alleged, but it is not possible to prove them in a court of law. The big lesson to be learnt is that that does not mean no action should be taken. We must do what it takes to protect patients.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I appreciated the right hon. Gentleman’s statement. Does he agree that the fear of litigation by NHS practitioners appears to be one of the reasons why the system does not lend itself to the provision of a good listening ear, and, indeed, one of the reasons why a compassionate response to that listening is not always forthcoming? What practical steps can be taken to ensure that, at an early stage, practitioners actually listen to complaints?

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Mr Hunt: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I think that we need to change the balance in the NHS, so that the safest thing for people to do if they want to avoid litigation is to report concerns rather than sitting on them. That is an interesting lesson that has been learnt in other industries, such as the airline industry, and I hope that the follow-up review by Sir Robert Francis will help us to understand it better.

Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for what he has said about the reports. In his statement, he referred to the importance of the changes that have come about over the past few years, both under this Government—and there are more to come—and under the last Government. Many of those changes have derived from advice given by specialist police forces or by teams within police forces.

The Association of Chief Police Officers runs courses, and collects expertise for the purpose of those courses. Its aim is to catch the individuals concerned, to help those who have been attacked by them and to monitor those individuals after they have been put on the sex offenders list. Does the Secretary of State think that it would be useful to ask ACPO whether it could provide any more advice for the Government to consider? I know that the Metropolitan police’s Jigsaw team is currently considering changes that would help it to monitor and control sex offenders once they have been detected and put on the list.

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend has made an important point. Of course we need to co-operate very closely with the police service, and the Home Secretary is doing a huge amount of work to establish what needs to be done to increase conviction rates for sexual offences. The point for the NHS to consider, however, is that the disclosure and barring scheme will only work properly if NHS organisers comply with it—as they are obliged to do—and report incidents, because that enables other NHS organisations to find out about them. I am not satisfied that the levels of compliance are as high as they should be.

Barbara Keeley (Worsley and Eccles South) (Lab): I feel that our concern for victims must lead us to ask whether the actions of Ministers, or managers in the NHS, caused the pain that they suffered. That is one of the things that we can still do. Beyond compensation, there is accountability, and there must be accountability.

I must tell the Secretary of State that I do not think it was enough for him to say that behaviour was indefensible. Colleagues of his were Ministers at the time of that behaviour, and they must be brought to book for their actions. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham): we should focus on the fact that that appointment of a disc jockey to a hospital position was not appropriate. In some respects, that individual would have carried more credibility because of his appointment, and that is why I think that accountability is important.

I also think that, in future, children and vulnerable patients must be protected from certain people who have access to wards. It is not good enough to talk about bureaucracy. Volunteers, celebrity fundraisers and business backers must be subject to checks before being

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given access to hospitals and to wards, and they must expect to be subject to those checks. The present arrangements must change.

Mr Hunt: We do need more robust checks. However, I can tell the hon. Lady that I have apologised to all the victims and have said that if some of the reasons given in the reports for Jimmy Savile’s appointment to one position were as the reports claim, that was indefensible. Moreover, the Secretary of State who was in office at the time has said that it was indefensible. I think that that is accountability.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): The Secretary of State has been good enough to apologise on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government and the NHS. Given that Jimmy Savile’s celebrity status was largely due to his employment by the BBC, are we not owed a big apology by the BBC, now that the report has been published?

Mr Hunt: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Today’s report is about the NHS and the BBC report is ongoing, as is the report being done by the Department for Education and the work being done by other Departments. We have to wait for the BBC to make its own statement on the matter, but my priority now is NHS patients, and the reason that I wanted to go at speed on this was to make sure that any changes we need to make now, we do so.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): The Secretary of State says, quite understandably, that we cannot undo the past, but there are several people culpable in this affair who are still drawing substantial NHS pensions. Why does he not consider docking their pensions, as a consequence for their behaviour and as a clear warning to others?

Mr Hunt: I do not rule that out at all. If someone has behaved in a way that is in breach of either the law or the regulations that were in place at the hospital in which they worked, and there is a way to have legal redress such that things like pensions can be docked, I think that they should face the full consequences of that.

Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): Child sexual abuse is always abhorrent. The victims are always innocent and nobody should be above the law. At the beginning of this month, six Members and I wrote to the Home Secretary—now we are supported by a further 104 MPs—requesting an investigation by an independent panel into at least eight cases of child sexual abuse going back over 30 years, where the evidence has been lost or destroyed by the police, by Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and by other agencies, and where the cases have therefore been stalled or abandoned altogether. To date, we have had no reply, so can I ask the Secretary of State to encourage the Home Secretary and the Education Secretary, and anyone who else who might be moved to take the matter on, to do so, and accept that such an independent investigation is essential to search out the truth and to make sure that action is taken after that?

Mr Hunt: I would like to reassure the hon. Lady that we have a Home Office committee, chaired by the Home Office Minister from her own party—the Minister

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for Crime Prevention, the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker)—that is drawing together all the lessons from Savile across all Departments. It is then going to take that view as to what needs to happen next to prevent child sexual abuse, and I would like to reassure her that the Home Office and the Government as a whole have no higher priority than that.

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab): Jimmy Savile visited the Royal Victoria infirmary in Newcastle on a number of occasions—generally, it appears, around the time of the great north run. The Newcastle hospital trust’s investigation concludes that nothing untoward happened and there was constant supervision, but it refers to an NSPCC investigation that had access to other witnesses, which suggests that unsupervised access did occur. That is obviously a matter of huge concern for everyone who put their trust in the RVI, whether as a patient or as a child. Is not my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) right? It is not up to them to try to draw what could be horrendous conclusions from these somewhat conflicting reports. Do we not need an overarching independent inquiry?

Mr Hunt: We are having an overarching independent inquiry—that is what Kate Lampard is doing—but on whether we need to have further inquiries, we need to wait until we get the response, which we are hoping for this autumn, because at the moment, we have published individual reports, but we have not drawn any wider lessons for the NHS system-wide. One of the things that I hope will be a consequence of today is that if there are any victims who were abused at the RVI, they will use today as some encouragement to come forward. I have given instructions and I am absolutely clear as Health Secretary that I want every single one of the concerns of anyone who comes forward to be investigated thoroughly—as thoroughly as all the ones that are tragically coming to light today.

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con): It is astonishing that this catalogue of abuse was allowed to happen and that no action was taken at the time. I commend my right hon. Friend for his statement, both for the way he has delivered it and for the content, but can he elucidate for the House what specific changes he foresees in legislation, although legislation has moved forward, and any specific changes to procedures that now need to be taken as a result of the publication today?

Mr Hunt: I hope my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not try to predict Kate Lampard’s recommendations before she makes them, but I think the obvious question to ask is whether we have the procedures in place that ensure that someone like Savile would not be given the keys to an institution in the way that he was. I do not believe that would happen today. My understanding of the way that NHS organisations work is that it would be impossible for someone to be given the freedom of a trust in the way that he was at Broadmoor, but I do not want to take that as a fact. I want Kate Lampard to look at that, so that we can be absolutely sure that it would not happen. I think the other obvious area for her to consider is the functioning of the disclosure and

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barring scheme, and to make sure that it really is set up in a way that would make it more likely for us to catch someone like Savile. Again, I think it is likely that he would be caught by the DBS, but I would like Kate Lampard to look at that and give me her views.

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): I am not sure that I share the Secretary of State’s view about Jimmy Savile being caught by the procedures now in place through the DBS, but I want to ask him this: under changes introduced by this coalition, a regular volunteer at a children’s hospital—acting, for example, as a reading volunteer on the ward—will not require a Criminal Records Bureau check, and given the harm done by the revelations about Jimmy Savile, I am sure that will cause concern to millions of parents around this country, so does the Secretary of State share that concern, especially in the light of the NSPCC’s comments this week that the pendulum has swung too far towards the abuser by the changes that his Government have introduced?

Mr Hunt: I do not agree with that. The CRB checks that were introduced by the last Labour Government were a very important step forward when they started in 2002, but what is also important, as I am sure Labour recognises, is that they have limitations, because they identify whether someone has a criminal record. Jimmy Savile was never convicted of a criminal offence, so CRB checks alone would not have stopped this abuse. That is why we need a broader system, which is what the disclosure and barring scheme is intended to be. It is deliberately set up as something that is risk-profiled, so the higher the risk, the higher the standard of investigation, but that is one of the things that Kate Lampard will look at and we need to listen to what she says when she gives us her final report.

John Glen (Salisbury) (Con): I was grateful for the opportunity early this morning to look at the thorough report of Jimmy Savile’s visits to Odstock hospital. At Odstock, although it seemed that Mr Savile visited, the report concluded that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing. However, one recommendation was that the Department of Health issue national guidance on VIP policy and VIP visits. Can the Secretary of State confirm that he will look at that, so that all hospitals, including the successor to Odstock, Salisbury district hospital, can have a reliable policy in place?

Mr Hunt: I think that is a very sensible suggestion. I want to wait until Kate Lampard gives her final report in September, so I do not want to pre-empt what she says, but certainly, one of the blindingly obvious things that jumps out at us from these reports is that too generous treatment was given to someone on the basis of that celebrity status, and we definitely need to learn lessons. As I am sure my hon. Friend would appreciate from his own constituents’ point of view, the fact that there is no evidence of abuse sadly does not mean that there was no abuse, and that is why it is really important for us to remember that there may well be many people who are not mentioned today who have been quietly suffering for many years. I hope today will give them encouragement to come forward.

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Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of the report from Wythenshawe hospital this morning. For me, the shocking revelation that I noted was that it was an open secret among patients, as early as 1962, that this man was doing what he was doing—and I quote:

“a dirty old man up to no good”.

If there is one good thing that can come from this for the nation, it is that we implore all institutions, both governmental and in civil society, to keep their child protection, safeguarding and recruitment selection procedures up to date and under review.

Mr Hunt: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right and touches on a matter that we have not touched on so far this morning. Recruitment is a very important area that we must get right in this process, and I wholeheartedly agree with what he said.

Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): Today will be an emotional day for victims and their families as the report is published. Will the Secretary of State tell the House how victims have been supported and informed about the publication, particularly today and in the run-up to today, and how they will be kept informed as subsequent actions are carried forward? In particular, what efforts have been made to inform and support those who are most vulnerable, such as those with learning difficulties or who are severely mentally unwell, perhaps as a result of the abuse they suffered many years ago?

Mr Hunt: The hon. Lady is right to raise that issue, and the guidance that I have issued to NHS organisations today makes it clear that I want to give maximum

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protection not just to the victims identified in these reports, but to people going forward. That is the least we owe them.

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab): Has the Secretary of State received intelligence, or does he have a suspicion, that victims of Savile were frightened to come forward because he enjoyed powerful political protection?

Mr Hunt: I do not believe there is any evidence of that in the reports, but there is a lot of evidence that people felt that they would not be believed because of Savile’s celebrity status. Part of that celebrity status was his connections in high places, and that is part of the myth that we need to puncture as a result of today’s report.

bill presented

Pension schemes

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Danny Alexander, Secretary Vince Cable and Steve Webb, presented a Bill to make provision about pension schemes, including provision designed to encourage arrangements that offer people different levels of certainty in retirement or that involve different ways of sharing or pooling risk.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Monday 30 June, and to be printed (Bill 12) with explanatory notes (Bill 12-EN ).

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First World War (Commemoration)

12.20 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Andrew Murrison): I beg to move,

That this House has considered the programme of commemoration for the First World War.

One hundred years ago, a poor scrap of a man who was already dying of tuberculosis fired two shots into Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his wife Sophie, and their unborn child. Meanwhile back here, the following afternoon a debate on foreign affairs happened to be scheduled, although Hansard records that hon. Members were well into proceedings before anybody mentioned Sarajevo. Eventually, an obscure Liberal, Sir Joseph Walton, raised in passing reports of an assassination he had read about in the morning papers. By the time Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey got to his feet shortly before 7 o’clock, lazy summer ears appeared to be pricking at a city that then, as now, few Britons could accurately place on the map. Although next day the assassination got Asquith to the Dispatch Box, he was there to eulogise not to debate the geopolitical consequences of Gavrilo Princip’s chaotic street corner encounter with a man who, had he lived or died that day, was fated to change the course of history.

From 28 June to 4 August is 37 days. To overplay contemporary events on a similar time frame is to remind people in positions such as ours, and in significant countries such as this, of the solemn responsibility they hold. The first lesson I draw is the frightening speed with which peace, civilisation and a functioning rules-based system can descend into chaos.

I am privileged to lead our second debate on this subject. By common consent, the first debate on 7 November was of high quality, as was their lordships’ debate on this subject yesterday. From the luminaries seeking to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, I look forward to further such debate today. This debate is well timed since the 100th anniversary of the Archduke’s assassination this weekend falls on Armed Forces day, when right hon. and hon. Members will celebrate the men and women of today’s armed forces. I am delighted that this year that celebration will be centred on the great and historic city of Stirling.

I underscore “celebration” to contrast with commemoration, and let it be understood that the great war is cause for the latter, and assuredly not cause for the former. The Government pegged out the centenary in 2012 when the Prime Minister announced the UK’s approach in October that year at the Imperial War museum. The guiding lights are remembrance, youth and education, with the Government creating a framework for a national conversation about the war within which people can explore its causes, conduct and consequences for themselves. Linked to that, the public will not have an official narrative foisted on them. We should not confuse the role of historians and pedagogues with that of politicians. The job of government is to spark the national conversation, not dictate its terms. Historians have a responsibility to rigorously and dispassionately examine the facts, contest the evidence, and offer interpretation. Through open challenge and debate, the credibility of that interpretation is tested, and we glimpse the truth.

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I know that the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), who will speak for the Opposition, agrees with that because he told me last week that he was about to speak about the great war to the well-respected Labour History Group. I took the precaution of securing a copy of his speech, and I hope I will not embarrass or disadvantage him too much by saying what a very good speech it is. He is right to say that politicians probably should not do history, but I am sure he would be the first to say that we should all have an opinion on such an important matter. The Prime Minister has an opinion, I have mine—fortunately for me, it is somewhat similar to his—you, Madam Deputy Speaker, will have your opinion, and each right hon. and hon. Member in this most opinionated of places will have theirs.

Perhaps I may put my cards on the table. Like most Members present, I suspect that I would have supported Herbert Asquith in the summer of 1914, but it would have been through a veil of ignorance that obscured the full horror of what was about to be unleashed, not least from Asquith himself, whose brilliant son Raymond was killed two years later on the Somme and is listed No. 7 on the Palace of Westminster’s own village war memorial at the top of Westminster Hall, between Archdale and Balfour.

In my view, Britain’s entry into the great war fulfilled the Augustinian precepts for a just war, and we should be grateful that our predecessors in uniform and on the home front ultimately triumphed against the Kaiser—a militaristic aggressor, general disturber of the peace and, in 1914, surely Europe’s public enemy No. 1. There is nothing jingoistic or triumphalist in the view that this country has a tradition of reluctant, sober and purposeful military intervention as a last resort on the part of oppressed people, particularly in continental Europe, and where the well-being and liberty of her own citizens is threatened. The men and women we will celebrate on Armed Forces day in Stirling and across the country this weekend uphold that proud tradition.

Most people’s experience of the centenary will be through broadcast and social media, and the BBC is playing a central role in that in its best Reithian tradition. I am not always the Beeb’s greatest fan, but I have been bowled over by the quality and scope of its TV and radio offerings, which constitute the biggest and most ambitious pan-BBC season ever undertaken. The corporation’s stated intention is to bring the nation together in order to create a national conversation about the great war. Well, it is hitting the spot, and has viewer figures and feedback to prove not only the success of its programming, but the sheer scale of public interest in the centenary.

Mr Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South) (Lab): The Minister is making a thoughtful speech and I commend him on his work on mental health in the services, which has great relevance to this debate. Does he agree that not the least of the strengths of what the BBC has been doing is its coverage of life on the home front, and also the extraordinary outpouring of the arts, particularly music, resurrecting many of the semi-forgotten composers from the first world war?

Dr Murrison: I certainly agree. The BBC has a difficult balance to strike. In my view, it is doing that extremely well. I particularly commend its efforts to shine a light

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on some of the perhaps least well explored elements of the great war. We all know about the mud and the trenches. We know rather less about the home front. I hope that, as we proceed through the four-year centenary, we will have a more holistic view of what it meant to be alive between 1914 and 1918.

The UK’s commemoration will begin on Monday 4 August in Glasgow, where the JoyFest of the Commonwealth games will be replaced by the solemnity of Glasgow cathedral and remembrance in George square. In the evening, the evocative Commonwealth War Graves Commission site at St Symphorien near Mons has been chosen for an event based on reconciliation, which we know the public want and expect to see. German and Belgian representatives will join us, as will Heads of State and Government and the families of those interred, irrespective of nationality.

On the same day, the Step Short project in Folkestone will unveil its memorial arch over the road of remembrance, down which troops marched to embarkation. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Damian Collins) on bringing that important project to maturity. It is a flagship for thousands of independent projects up and down the country that have been inspired by the centenary.

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind words about the Step Short project. Does he agree that the debate is timely because the memorial arch is being erected today in Folkestone?

Dr Murrison: I am pleased to hear my hon. Friend’s news. I have been watching the project with much interest. I know that it will be an important part of our commemoration. As I said in response to the hon. Member for Blackpool South (Mr Marsden), it is important to commemorate all elements of the centenary. The magic of Folkestone is the ability to plot the course of that final trip for so many thousands of servicemen as they embarked for France. Many, of course, never returned but many did—the majority did. Folkestone in those years held a particular place in the hearts of the service community, either because it was the point of embarkation or because, more happily, it was the point of return.

At 11 o’clock, the hour at which Britain entered the war on 4 August, the day will be closed with a vigil centred on Westminster abbey, which will run in parallel with similar services at St Anne’s cathedral in Belfast, Llandaff cathedral in Cardiff and other churches and faith communities across the country. At the same time, public buildings, workplaces and homes will be encouraged to participate in Lights Out to refer to the observation by Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey on the eve of war that the lamps were going out across Europe and they would not be lit again in his time. As part of that, the Royal British Legion plans to sell a million candles to remember a million fallen, each one extinguished at 11 pm. Here is the clever bit. In the darkness, a single lamp will be left burning, since hope never dies, and it never did.

The centenary is a marathon, not a sprint. Following 4 August, we have the 2014 season of remembrance, Gallipoli in April next year, Jutland and the Somme in 2016 and Passchendaele in 2017. In 2018, Amiens to Armistice will mark the last 100 days of the

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war. Interspersed will be myriad anniversaries from Coronel to Cambrai marking the waypoints of war, each commemorated appropriately with international participants and national units and their successors.

Big anniversaries, with their attendant large-scale national events, are pegs on which to hang the clothes of the centenary. The richness will come from 1,000 projects, from the flagship rebirth of the Imperial War museum on 19 July, to the Woodland Trust centenary forests to be planted in each of the four nations, to the small local initiatives that I heard about a week ago in Norfolk, as the guest of my hon. Friend the Member for Broadland (Mr Simpson). Many of those are funded from the £56 million already allocated by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Many are part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, which now has 3,000 member organisations in 50 countries, and many already have the active involvement of constituency MPs.

The 14-18 Now cultural programme will add granularity and texture to the centenary and bring it alive. May I pick out its letter to an unknown soldier project, a literary memorial centred on the enigmatic statue of a soldier reading a letter on platform 1 at Paddington station? The statue makes us wonder what is in the soldier’s letter. Members of the public are now invited to write that letter. All sorts of celebrities have already done so, and MPs certainly should.

I recently sent a note to all right hon. and hon. Members about the centenary poppy campaign, which is a great way for MPs to get involved locally and in the process both proliferate wild flowers and raise money to help the Royal British Legion to support today’s service community. I urge colleagues to take up the Commonwealth War Graves Commission offer to visit its sites in this country. There is most likely to be at least one such site in or close to each UK constituency. There are at least two Commonwealth War Graves Commission commissioners in the House today. I know that they will underscore that point. It is a revelation to many of us how many Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites there are in this country. They are not by any manner of means all on the western front.

Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): I pay tribute to the way in which my hon. Friend is laying out the plans for this great year. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission recently took me around several of the war graves in my constituency. I have set about visiting all 55 churchyards with Commonwealth war graves in my constituency, 209 graves in total. Whether I will achieve that, we will have to see. I am taking with me children from local primary and secondary schools that are near those graves. That may be an initiative that others want to follow.

Dr Murrison: I commend my hon. Friend’s project. Other hon. Members will wish to emulate it. Like me, he has a large number of Commonwealth war graves in his constituency. I know that primary schools in particular in my constituency are keen to honour the fallen. Several of those schools have similar projects. The centenary will be an occasion when our minds will be focused closely on the subject. I suspect that, over the four years, interest will increase, particularly in schools. I hope that MPs will be able to take the lead in promoting that, as my hon. Friend has done in his constituency. It is

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important that parliamentarians apply leadership in such matters. I am confident, given the interest among colleagues, that they will do precisely that.

It is important also to ensure that our war memorials are in a fit state. A centenary is surely an opportunity to ensure that we revisit those extraordinary monuments that lie at the heart of most of our communities. I am pleased to say that over £5 million has been made available from Government to ensure that local war memorials are in good order. For details of that and the extensive work being done by Government Departments and agencies, I recommend the Government centenary webpage.

My hope is that the centenary of the first world war will provoke a wider interest in history and that it will enrich the teaching and study of the discipline more generally. It is not just about educating young people. I learnt about the wars of the 20th century from my parents and grandparents, who were contemporary witnesses. Young children these days do not have that advantage. In a curious reversal, to our surprise and delight, we have found that children participating in the £5.3 million battlefields project have been inculcating awareness of the great war among their parents, so it is bottom-up replacing top-down.

The Government intend to continue to work with the 60 or so countries worldwide who have a direct interest in the centenary. In Ireland the great war centenary falls within a decade of commemoration. It is an opportunity for reflection and conversation facilitated by the Queen’s historic visit in 2011, and it is set to mature further and strengthen one of the most important relationships for both countries.

This year a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cross of sacrifice is being erected in Dublin’s incredibly important Glasnevin cemetery, which I had the great privilege of visiting recently. Given the history, the significance of such a monument in the shadow of Daniel O’Connell’s tomb is very clear. History is often complex and nuanced, but no good is served by finessing its inconveniences.

Mr Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. On the Commonwealth, I was privileged last night to entertain Corporal Mark Donaldson VC from Australia, and is this not an appropriate moment to remember just how much this country owes our cousins in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the troops who came from India and all over what was then the Empire and is now the Commonwealth, without whom we probably could not have seen through either of the world wars in the way that we did?

Dr Murrison: I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. We have been working very closely with the Governments of all the countries he has cited and more, as he would expect. The high commissioners, particularly in London, have been very keen to engage. Indeed, several of those high commissioners serve as trustees of the Imperial War museum, which is absolutely front and centre, and appropriately so, of our centenary commemoration.

This is an opportunity to bring us closer together. It is, however, important to understand that there are very often complexities in the relationship, and we need to be

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prepared to address them without prevarication. My hon. Friend knows that in Australia in particular the “lions led by donkeys” mythology is prevalent in some quarters, and it is important to be able to address those concerns without attempting to avoid or sidestep them, because in so doing we come to a better understanding and much closer to the truth. We will be working particularly closely with our Anzac cousins, as my hon. Friend would expect, as our history runs long and deep. This centenary is a wonderful opportunity to make sure we are not seen to be taking that relationship for granted, but that we broaden and deepen it, and I am very confident, having visited Gallipoli this year, that that is on not only our agenda, but the agendas particularly of our Australian and New Zealand friends.

I have to say that the complexities I have cited in our relationships with other countries have not all been in predictable places. In the main they really have not been with Germany, Austria and Turkey; they have been in some unhappy corners of relationships with allies. We have discussed already where some of those may lie, but we must in particular respect and acknowledge attitudes of the sort that are prevalent in South Africa to events that are deeply troubling, such as the sinking of the troopship Mendi in 1917 and the treatment of non-European participants in the war effort. All of this has to be part of our centenary commemoration, and we must do nothing to avoid it, airbrush it or finesse it.

On the very cusp of the centenary of the war to end all war, our first duty has to be remembrance, but the measure of our success will be the extent to which we lift our understanding of the conflicts, causes, conduct and consequences, and the advancement of relations with today’s close friends and partners from both sides of the great war’s great divide.

12.44 pm

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab): I am proud to open this debate on behalf of the Opposition, and I know that Members on both sides of the House are grateful for this opportunity to mark this important year of remembrance.

Let me begin by paying tribute to the Minister. He and I have been discussing these commemorations for over three years, and I commend him on both the way he has opened this debate and his diligent and genuinely cross-party approach to leading these commemorations.

There are few moments in modern society when we come together as a country to reflect on our shared history, and as we approach Armed Forces day and the 100th anniversary of the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand this weekend, and the other centenary anniversaries later this year, many people around the country will pause and think, perhaps for the first time, about the first world war and what relevance those events of a century ago have to our lives today. I know the Minister and I are agreed that these moments of reflection are not only rare but precious, and that is why our commemorations must be inclusive, engaging and, above all, respectful. Let us be clear—we are all agreed on this—that this is a commemoration, not a celebration.

On Armistice day 1918, the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, came to this House and announced the end of what he described as the war to end all wars. Today we know that it was not that, but it was the war

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that changed life in this country for ever. The first world war touched every family, affected every community and fundamentally altered our country’s place in the world. It took the lives of 16 million soldiers and civilians across the globe, including around 900,000 servicemen from Britain and the Commonwealth. It was a conflict that transformed society, bringing about profound social, political and economic changes that we can still feel today. The centenary commemorations provide us with a unique opportunity to reflect on that, to pay tribute to those who served and sacrificed for us 100 years ago, and to pass those memories on to future generations. The Minister outlined some of the ways in which the commemorations programme will help to enable that over the next four years.

The programme has our full support, and I would like to put on record our thanks to the thousands of organisations, community groups and dedicated volunteers who are making this happen across the country. I would particularly like to pay tribute to the following: the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by the Imperial War museums, which has brought together nearly 3,000 member organisations from 49 countries and is delivering more than 2,000 events; the 14-18 NOW programme, which is bringing the centenary to life with 50 artistic creations and exhibitions across the country; the Woodland Trust, which is planting four new centenary woods across the United Kingdom as a lasting memorial to the fallen; the BBC, which will deliver 2,500 hours of programming on the subject over the next four years; and the Royal British Legion, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Heritage Lottery Fund and many, many others. There are more than I could ever hope to have time to mention, but we applaud all of these groups for what they are doing. Each of them is helping to retell our national story. By bringing people together to revisit our shared history, they are making an important contribution.

I would like to say a particular word about the battlefield tours programme for schools, which is being delivered by the Institute of Education. There are few better ways to connect our young people with those who made the ultimate sacrifice on the western front than by taking them to walk the battlefields where so many fought and died. Anyone who has visited those cemeteries will know what a moving and powerful experience that is. There were 16,000 towns and villages across Britain in 1914, but only 40 of them—40 thankful parishes—would reach 1918 without having lost someone in the conflict, so every visiting school will be able to follow in the footsteps of soldiers from their own community.

Last month, I travelled to Serre in northern France to retrace the route taken by the Barnsley Pals battalions from my constituency. These were the men who responded to Lord Kitchener’s famous recruitment poster in 1914. They included miners, glassworkers, clerks, stonemasons and clerics, many of them friends and neighbours. They joined up together; they trained together; they went to war together; and ultimately, many of them died together. I walked the ground over which the Barnsley Pals fought at the battle of the Somme, and I stood in front of their graves in the pouring rain. Looking out from those trench positions that still scar the French countryside, I imagined what it must have been like. It was hard not be overcome by the emotion of what happened there.

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Later that day, we visited the memorial to the missing at Thiepval. As I read the names inscribed on the memorial, I suddenly saw my own name, “D. Jarvis”, staring back at me. It was a sobering moment that brought home the scale of the sacrifice, and an experience that so many visitors to the battlefield will have had.

Our country’s deployments over the past 13 years in Afghanistan and Iraq have now lasted over three times longer than the first world war; 632 servicemen and women have lost their lives, and we have felt the pain of each and every one of them, so it is hard to imagine now what it must have been like to live through a conflict that took the lives of six times that many soldiers every week, or to appreciate how much the country was wounded by the first day of the battle of the Somme, when 20,000 men were cut down on a single beautiful summer’s day on 1 July 1916.

Mr Brazier: I am very grateful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for giving way during his really excellent speech. Is not the most remarkable testimony to the spirit of the nation at the time encapsulated in the words of a famous general from his own regiment, General Anthony Farrar-Hockley, who observed that on the eve of this, the largest military undertaking in British history up to that point, not one single soldier was listed as absent without leave?

Dan Jarvis: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I am not entirely certain which General Farrar-Hockley he is referring to—there were two in my regiment. [Interruption.] The elder. But whichever one it was, the words he recalls are an absolutely fitting tribute to the steel with which young men from across our country faced adversity. He is absolutely right to take the opportunity to make that point.

Mr Marsden: My hon. and gallant Friend is making an excellent and poignant speech. Tomorrow, I will visit our mini-arboretum in Blackpool, where not only a whole range of war veterans are recognised, but there are particular plantings for those from Blackpool and the Fylde coast who died in Afghanistan and Iraq; indeed, their names have been added to the war memorial in Blackpool. Does he agree that it is really important that we make a special effort in this centenary year to ensure that those who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq are commemorated on local war memorials?

Dan Jarvis: I am very grateful for that intervention, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that this commemoration provides a very important opportunity to reflect on the service and sacrifice of not just those who served us 100 years ago, but those who more recently served our country in very difficult circumstances in Afghanistan and Iraq. This commemoration provides a very important opportunity to make sure that we continue to pay tribute to those who served, and who continue to serve, our country.

I was reflecting on the impact that the loss of 20,000 young men must have had on our country in July 1916. Naturally, it is right and understandable that there are strong and differing opinions about that war, which took the lives of so many young men. That was certainly true 100 years ago, and it is true today. Some will say that those young men died in a conflict that, though

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appalling, was necessary and needed to be fought. Others argue that their sacrifice was futile, in a war that achieved nothing and could and should have been avoided. It is a debate that has engaged historians and many others for many years and I am sure will continue to do so, but I believe that these commemorations should not be about Government and politicians sitting in judgment on events that took place 100 years ago. They should be about creating an environment in which we can all reflect on these events in an open and democratic way that is respectful of opinions that did, and do, differ.

As well as the silent tributes we will pay, there will also be room for lively debate and discussion. We should not shy away from talking about the anti-war movement, about the protest that took place against the war, and about those who refused to fight as a matter of conscience. As well as remembering the brave sacrifice of those on the front line, it is very important that we take the opportunity to include in this discussion the heroes who served our country on the home front, because we know that the first world war reached far beyond the poppy fields of Flanders. These commemorations should also tell the story of the people who kept this country going: the miners; the factory and railway workers; and those who worked the land and cared for the wounded.

This particularly struck me last week when I visited the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, a beautiful place that honours with fitting dignity and grace all those who have served our country in conflict. I was joined by a number of other Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) and my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford), who is doing so much in his role—as is my hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones)—to support these commemorations and help make them a great success for the whole country. Together, we paid our respects at memorials to those who fell in the first world war and other conflicts since. We also visited memorials to those who served on the home front during the second world war, which underlined for me the fact that, although groups such as the Bevin boys have rightly become imprinted on our national consciousness, the story of the home front in the first world war is less well known.

Ann McKechin (Glasgow North) (Lab): My hon. Friend is making an eloquent and intelligent speech. The first world war was also a period of enormous political and social change; there were the rent strikes in Glasgow, in which tens of thousands of people participated. They led directly to the first rent restriction legislation in the whole of the Europe, which was passed in record time, in recognition of the work, led by women, for change in their own society.

Dan Jarvis: I am very grateful for that intervention. I think my hon. Friend is referring to Mrs Barbour and “Mrs Barbour’s Army”.

Ann McKechin indicated assent.

Dan Jarvis: I completely agree with my hon. Friend that this commemoration provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the very important social change that took place, and I will say more about that in a moment.

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As I was saying, the story of the home front during the first world war is less well known. In my own Yorkshire region, hundreds of coal miners would die serving our country underground between 1914 and 1918. One personal hope that I therefore have for these centenary commemorations is that one day, there will be a fitting national memorial to recognise the debt we owe to everyone who contributed during the first world war here at home.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): Some 30,000 miners were on the front line during the first world war. They were tunnellers, and a lot of them lost their lives.

Dan Jarvis: Again, I am grateful for that intervention. It is incredibly important that we take the opportunity to commemorate the sacrifice of those who served on the front line and those who served on the home front. As a Member representing a Barnsley constituency, I know how important people consider it to be that we do not lose sight of the difficult conditions that thousands and thousands of men worked under, not only underground in this country, but supporting our armed forces on the western front.

I was about to say that one personal hope I have for these centenary commemorations is that we have a fitting national memorial for those who contributed on the home front during the first world war, not just because of the importance of their service, but because it is also part of the story of how our country changed. The war led to more working women than ever before, taking on roles that had previously been the preserve only of men. An estimated 2 million women entered the work force, including 1 million women employed by the Ministry of Munitions alone. More than 250,000 joined the women’s Land Army and helped Britain fight off the peril of starvation caused by German U-boats. They joined countless individual heroines who showed us how bravery can come in many different forms, including amazing women such as the nurse Edith Cavell and the doctor Elsie Inglis. Together, those women left millions of cracks in what had previously been a pretty immaculate glass ceiling. Not one woman and hardly any working men had the vote when the war broke out.

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend also acknowledge the women who were called up to into a profession that previously had been seen as being way beyond their capability—the police force? Those women walked the streets at night on their own, keeping them safe, as well doing the unique little job of calling on women whose husbands were at the front to check that they were not up to any shenanigans.

Dan Jarvis: I am always grateful for my hon. Friend’s interventions and she makes an important point. I say again that this commemoration provides us with a unique opportunity to reflect on the role that women played and still play in our society, and it is important that we take the opportunity to reflect that in these commemorations.

As I was saying, not one woman and hardly any working men had the vote when war broke out, but by 1918, 8.4 million women were finally enfranchised by

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the Representation of the People Act 1918. Our democracy expanded, society became less deferential, the trade union movement grew, the role of the state changed and our politics would never be the same. The strains of war also contributed to unrest in Ireland and helped change the shape of the United Kingdom. Britain’s place in the world shifted, and men who had never been before to Britain would come here to fight for it. Millions of people from across the Commonwealth served in the British war effort—more than 1 million came from the Indian subcontinent alone—fighting side by side with British troops on land, at sea and in the air. When the British Expeditionary Force was on the brink in late September 1914, 28,000 troops from the Indian army, the first ever to fight on European soil, came to Britain’s aid and played a crucial role in holding the line on the western front. They would, of course, be joined by soldiers from many other countries, including volunteers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the West Indies and parts of Africa; 175 of those servicemen from overseas would be awarded the Victoria Cross for their courage and gallantry, and we must never forget that.

Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend is making an outstanding speech. On Monday, I attended the world war one commemoration event at Hounslow civic centre, in my constituency. It was also attended by the Gurkhas and so many others, including people of Indian origin, who share great pride in the role that they have also played. Does he agree that it is incredibly important that during this year of commemoration we recognise the diversity of those who have been involved in our forces and the importance of diversity in Britain today? I am talking not just about what we share today, but about our common bonds from our histories.

Dan Jarvis: I completely agree with that; there is a strength that comes from our diversity. As the Minister also said, it is incredibly important that we take this opportunity to commemorate the service and sacrifice of those people who had never come to Britain before but came here to support our efforts. We have a huge debt of gratitude to pay to them, and we will miss an opportunity if we do not reflect on that in these commemorations.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): The hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned Ireland and the troubles it was experiencing during the first world war. None the less, the Irish came across to support us, from north and south, in huge numbers. He also mentioned the Victoria Cross, so I would like to place on the record the fact that it has been won by more Irishmen than Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen put together.

Dan Jarvis: I am grateful for that intervention as I did not know that. I am sure that the House will be extremely grateful for that contribution and I suspect that many of us will have learned something from it.

In that same spirit, I wish to reflect briefly for a moment on the significance of people such as Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British Army; that was just one small step on the road to affording ethnic minorities the recognition and respect they deserve.

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We should also take the opportunity to reflect on the fact that the war left its mark on this place where we gather today. Of all the countries that went to war in 1914, Britain’s was the only Parliament to debate entry into the conflict. When the lamps went out that night on 4 August, it left more than just a shadow over this place; 251 existing and future MPs would serve in the first world war, and 19 from the Parliament of 1914 would not come back. Their shields mark this Chamber and watch over us today, and they were joined by 24 Members of the other place, as well as 20 parliamentary staff—clerks, waiters and cleaners—who were also killed in action.

Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware of the marvellous memorial in the offices of the Select Committee on Defence to the secretariat and people from that defence Department who lost their lives in the great war?

Dan Jarvis: I was not aware of that, so, again I am grateful for that intervention, from which I have learned something.

I was reflecting on the impact that the war had on this House and speaking about those Members of Parliament who went to serve, but we should be mindful of the fact that the war would not just be experienced by those on the front line. When the Lochnagar mine was detonated at 7.28 am on 1 July 1916 by the Royal Engineers at the start of the battle of the Somme, the noise was heard in Downing street. That same year, all three party leaders would lose a son in the war in the space of six months. In December 1917, the Speaker at the time was forced to adjourn a debate so that hon. Members could, as Hansard records it, “'retreat to the cellars” during a German air raid.

These commemorations, as well as looking back, should also be about looking forward, because if we get this right and if we dedicate ourselves to these commemorations in the right way, they should also be relevant to the lives we live today. We should be mindful of the fact that 100 years ago, on 22 May 1914, suffragettes were being arrested at the gates of Buckingham palace, petitioning for the right to vote, whereas on 22 May 2014 nearly two thirds of a country with universal suffrage decided they were better off staying at home on election day. One hundred years ago the debate was about whether women should be allowed in the polling booth and whether they could do jobs that only men had done before. Today, the debate needs to be about getting more women on to ballot papers and into boardrooms at the top of our work force.

One hundred years ago, nobody had ever heard of shellshock or post-traumatic stress disorder. Today, the issue is not just what more we can do for our veterans returning from action, but how we prioritise the mental health of everyone. One hundred years ago, people from all over the world fought and died to protect this country. Today we need to remember the debt that we owe to people who were not born here, but who helped make this country what it is. One hundred years ago, the first world war changed the role of the state. Government took action on food, rents and wages, and that links to one of the central arguments in our public life today: what Government should and should not do in the 21st century.

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I began by reflecting on a quote of David Lloyd George on Armistice day. Let me finish with some words from a week later. On 18 November 1918, this House gathered again to debate an address to the King on a victorious peace. These are the words spoken that day by Herbert Asquith, who began the war as Prime Minister and ended it as Leader of the Opposition. This was his reflection:

“When history comes to tell the tale of these four years, it will recount a story the like of which is not to be found in any epic in any literature. It is and will remain by itself as a record of everything humanity can dare or endure--of the extremes of possible heroism and of possible baseness…The old world has been laid waste…All things have become new.”—[Official Report, 18 November 1918; Vol. 110, c. 3237.]

Nearly a century on, those words have lost none of their power or their resonance, and they reflect what should be our guiding light in these commemorations. We should remember that sacrifice that was laid to dust and reflect on what changed and what became new. If someone is to look back in 50 or 100 years to what was said when this House and this country marked the centenary of the first world war, let us hope that it will be said that we kept true to that—that we kept the memory of those who served burning brightly, not wearied by the passage of time, and that we took this important opportunity to reflect on how we became the country we are today and on all those who made it possible.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. As there are important and relevant speeches to be made, may I suggest to all Members that they aim to speak for about 10 minutes each? That will give everyone a fair chance to make their speech and to raise their constituency issues.

1.12 pm

Mr Keith Simpson (Broadland) (Con): It is a great privilege to participate in the second debate in this Chamber on the centenary of the first world war. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister and the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) on two excellent speeches, outlining not only the programme but many of the issues that we are here to debate. I will touch on two areas, but first, let me declare an interest as somebody who, as a military historian, has written about this subject in the past. I am a parliamentary commissioner on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, along with the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), and joint chairman of the advisory board on Parliament and the first world war.

We should not shy away from the fact that this centenary is controversial. It is not up to the Government to lay down views on every aspect of it, but we should recognise that it is controversial—that history is alive today. The Minister mentioned the fact that in two days’ time it will be the centenary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. That anniversary is controversial for Serbs, Bosnians, Croats and the successors of the old Austro-Hungarian empire, because it is about symbols as much as anything else.

As we speak, the leaders of the European Union are gathering in the Belgian town of Ypres. The Immortal Salient is something that resonates very strongly with

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the British empire and Commonwealth forces. As much as the Somme, it is a symbol of the first world war. This evening, those leaders will gather at the Menin Gate, the great memorial to some 57,000 men who have no known grave and who died in the salient. That figure only goes up to August 1917. They could not get on all the names; the rest of the names are at the Tyne Cot cemetery.

Friends and foes will gather tonight and thoughts will be going through their minds. The event is important for us because the old British Army died at Ypres in 1914. It is important because some of the first Indian troops were being deployed in late 1914 to 1915. It is also important for the Belgians and the French. Sometimes we tend to erase them from the folk memory of the first world war. Yes, they should be grateful that the British empire came to their assistance, but it is as much about their memories of the first world war. After all, Ypres was almost totally destroyed by 1918. Indeed, in 1919, Churchill, as the Secretary of State for War and Air, suggested that Ypres should remain a ruin to immortalise the sacrifice of the British and Commonwealth armies, not taking into account that the Belgians had a different view on all of that.

Tonight is also important for the Germans. Chancellor Merkel will be there. Just north of Ypres—some Members will have been there—there is the German cemetery at Langemark, which commemorates about 40,000 German soldiers, most of whom died in 1914. One man who had a narrow escape was an Austrian serving in a reserve Bavarian regiment; he was Grenadier Adolf Hitler. If only some old British soldier had taken him out, things might have been different.

Those leaders who are gathering tonight will discuss controversies such as the future of the EU. A number of my colleagues become enraged at the idea of linking the EU with the centenary of the first world war. I want to do not that, but to remember the fact that one of the reasons why the French, Germans and Belgians came together after the second world war was to prevent another major clash between the French and Germans. After all, they did it in 1870-71, 1914-18 and then 1940-45. We should be sensitive to that. It does not mean that we have to agree with everything, but we should realise that, for the French and the Germans, Verdun is probably a bigger symbol than what will happen at Ypres.

I propose to Ministers—I hope that this will find support among colleagues across the House—to add one other specific commemoration on the Government’s national commemoration list. On 21 May 2017, we should commemorate the centenary of the establishment of what was then called the Imperial War Graves Commission. I am parti pris to this because I am a commissioner, but most people recognise that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is the biggest deliverer of much of the commemoration of the first world war. The Imperial War museum, the BBC and the Heritage Lottery Fund are very important, but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is something that most people at some stage have come across or are going to come across, and it was not predetermined.

Many colleagues recognise the fact that before the first world war, when men in the Army died serving in Europe, they were usually thrown into a pit. Occasionally, officers got a separate burial or, just occasionally, they were brought home. We should not forget the fact that

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the overwhelming majority of men who served in the Royal Navy or the merchant navy have no known grave. Nelson was rare; he was brought home in a keg of rum, most of which was drunk at Gibraltar before he was put in a proper coffin. There is nothing like the old chief petty officers for getting to the heart of the matter.

The point is that in 1914 nobody thought that the casualties would be on such a scale, and it was by chance that a 48-year-old ex-Plymouth Brethren, former member of Lord Milner’s young people in South Africa, and former editor of the Morning Post, who was in charge of a Red Cross ambulance column, began to worry about what was going to happen to the dead—where they would be buried and so on. That man was Fabian Ware. As much as anything else, it was his determination, political nous and knowledge of French that enabled the setting up of what we know today as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

To give hon. Members some context, the War Office did not really want to know about war graves, but within three months the British Army had suffered 80,000 casualties in France. His Grace the Duke of Wellington’s Army suffered 3,500 at the battle of Waterloo. The sheer scale of the losses was enormous. Parents, wives and husbands were worried about this. Ware achieved in December 1915 an agreement with the French Government that they would allow a series of dedicated areas to be consecrated as proper war cemeteries, where British dead could be brought during the war and afterwards. It was logistically important but also perhaps emotionally important that Ware decided not to allow tens of thousands of people to bring their husbands and sons home.

So the Commonwealth War Graves Commission deserves to be part of the recognition of the centenary. It meets all the criteria that hon. Members are looking for. It is about more than Great Britain. It is about equality in death, which was a rare thing that Ware demanded. There would be no distinction in rank or background; the gravestone would be the same. It would be laid out in a way that British empire people would recognise as representing what Britain stood for. He brought in some of the best architects such as Lutyens and Blomfield, who designed the Menin Gate, and of course the great wordsmith Rudyard Kipling. Kipling pulled every string to get his under-age son into the Irish Guards and then had the tragedy, like so many parents, of learning that he was killed and missing. The irony was that, long after Kipling and his wife had died, we were able to identify a body that was his son. Kipling came up with most of the terminology that we know today.

I hope that, apart from debating the history and sometimes the controversial nature of the first world war, we will be able collectively to persuade Ministers to celebrate the centenary of the establishment of the Imperial War Graves Commission—its patent, if you like—with the national centenary. It meets every criteria, not least in educating young people about the first world war.

1.23 pm

Mr Alan Campbell (Tynemouth) (Lab): I begin by commending the Government both for finding time for this important debate and for the measured way in which these centenary commemorations are being prepared. The way in which we describe the events of 1914-18 as

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the first world war, the great war or the war to end all wars reflects its global nature, the extent of the fighting and the fact that this was the first total war of the modern age. I am struck that the commemorations so far have been very personal to my constituents and many people I meet. It is as though everyone has a story to tell or everyone is searching for a story to tell, so I want to begin with an example that is not extraordinary in any way; it is just one story among millions.

The story is that of Sergeant Matthew Brown, who served in the 12th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. He was born in Consett in county Durham. He was one of seven children. He became a stonemason. He never married. He had no children. He was killed during the later stages of the battle of the Somme in October 1916. He was just 27 years old, which is less than half my age. He was blown to pieces near the village of Le Sars, along the Albert-Bapaume road, and his body was never recovered. His name, with those of thousands of his comrades, is inscribed on the great and moving memorial to the missing at Thiepval. I do not know what went through Matthew Brown’s mind when he enlisted or in the hours and days before he died, but I doubt very strongly that he would ever have imagined in a million years, let alone a hundred years, that his name would be mentioned in this great House of Commons, let alone by his great nephew, but I am proud to do so.

The commemorations are not just about those individuals, of course. They bring together local communities. Less than two weeks ago, I stood with veterans and local residents in Cullercoats in my constituency at a service to rededicate a plaque with the names of local men who died in the first world war. The plaque stands on the east side of St George’s church and was rededicated at exactly the same time on exactly the same date as the original plaque was dedicated 93 years earlier. Students at Marden high school took part in the event, and they will now research further the effects of the war on what was then a small fishing community.

One issue that emerged, and I am sure is emerging in many other places, is that some of the names on the plaque were of men who had no link with that community. Many of the men who died in the community are not on that plaque. Yet of course, it is a listed monument so, apart from one small correction of a spelling mistake, and that after a great deal of deliberation, no changes can be made. That is frustrating for families sometimes.

The plaque includes the names of Major and Captain Knott. Their father Sir James Knott was distraught at the deaths of his only two sons and set up a trust that continues to do good work today, including the building of Knotts flats to improve the provision of municipal housing in what was then a declining fishing and mining port.

The Tynemouth world war one project is based at the Linskill centre and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. More than 70 volunteers, under the inspirational leadership of Alan Fidler and Dan Jackson, are mapping the stories of men and women from just one borough—Tynemouth. They have already identified 2,000 men who lost their lives as a result of world war one. Most of them are from the town where I live, North Shields.

Any of us who have studied or taught the history of the 19th century and looked at industrial cities will be familiar with the maps that show where people died in

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cholera and typhus epidemics. The map that has been produced by the project is remarkably similar, yet this was a man-made epidemic.

Lectures at Northumbria university have been well attended and there have been less formal ones at the Low Lights Tavern. The project aims to mark with a plaque as many houses as can be found of those who fell. It is important for local people to know. Local newspapers such as the News Guardian and Evening Chronicle have given not only support but excellent coverage of what the project is doing. This Saturday the database will go live and on 3 August there will be a parade and service in Northumerland square. The project’s aims were to be informative, accessible and inspirational, and it is all those things and more.

The north-east paid a particularly high price in the war. It was said that working in the coal mines and shipyards gave local men the aptitude and stamina for trench warfare. Northumberland raised 55 battalions of fusiliers—more than any other county in the country. The Durham Light Infantry raised 43 battalions. Their histories record them as being where the action was heaviest. There were eight battalions of Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish, showing where men had come from to work on the great northern coalfield. The Tyneside Scottish alone lost all four of its lieutenant-colonels on the first day of the battle of the Somme.

Scholars and historians will go on debating the first world war, its causes, its course and its effects, and so they should, but what is not debatable is the sacrifice made by individual soldiers, sailors and airmen, or the munitions workers, miners and shipyard workers— 60,000 of them along the banks of the river Tyne—who worked tirelessly to support the war effort. As the son of a Bevin boy, I support very much the idea that there should be a lasting memorial to them. Millions of men and women were prepared to defend their country—our country—and the values that they believed their country stood for. For the millions who gave their lives, in the famous words of Laurence Binyon, I say, “We will remember them.”

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): We are now going to hear a maiden speech. I call Robert Jenrick.

1.30 pm

Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con): Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you, Members in all parts of the House and the staff of the House for the warm welcome I have received since I arrived here. It is an honour to make my first modest contribution during this debate. As the Prime Minister said last year, commemorations say something about who we are as a people, and we in this country have a tradition of striking the right tone on such occasions. It is right that the House and the Government have given this such thoughtful consideration. Before I do so, I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr Patrick Mercer, and say a few words about the constituency that I am incredibly proud to represent.

Patrick Mercer came to politics after 25 years as a soldier in a Nottinghamshire regiment, the Sherwood Foresters, and his strongly held views, particularly on defence and national security, were rooted in his own experience of military service. He knew what it was like

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to write to the mother or wife of a fallen soldier. He himself had fought with a courage and bravery we all wish we could display in our own lives. I know that Patrick worked hard for the people in Newark, particularly in his care and support for those returning to Nottinghamshire from Iraq and Afghanistan. I know he was, and remains, deeply attached to this beautiful constituency.

The town of Bingham was represented by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) for some 40 years prior to 2010, and it would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to him, too. There remains great affection for Ken around Bingham and, indeed, across Nottinghamshire. I understand that there is even talk of a statue, but opinion divides as to whether it should face the local cricket pitch, his favourite hostelry or the local Chinese restaurant where the young Mr Clarke is said to have held his early surgeries. I also walk in the footsteps of Gladstone, who did not stay long as a Newark Conservative, losing the confidence of the Duke of Newcastle, upon whom much depended in those days, and perhaps recognising that, as in the recent by-election, the Liberal vote in these parts can be quite limited.

It is almost unnecessary for me to tell the House about my constituency because many right hon. and hon. Members are already surprisingly familiar with it. Indeed, it has been said that Newark has not seen so many parliamentarians since the end of the civil war. As one sage trader in Newark market said to me at the weekend, the town has become such a popular destination for MPs that it is surely time that we, too, established an all-party parliamentary group.

I enter the House following a by-election, the result of which was historic—the first such victory for our party in government since that of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. After 25 years and 16 consecutive defeats, my right hon. Friend was, I suspect, only too glad to see his record broken. One journalist described us as the Fred Perry and Andy Murray of the Conservative party. The people of Newark have had to endure four by-elections in the last 100 years, and a further one was narrowly averted. It is my ambition to ensure that Newark now enters a period of electoral stability.

Newark is rich in history and blessed with some of England’s lesser known but most attractive towns, villages and countryside. It stretches from the shadow of Belvoir castle in the south to the tidal Trent villages of Bassetlaw in the north, and includes Southwell—or Southall—dominated by its Norman minster, Tuxford and Bingham, the latter recently voted England’s best place to bring up a family. The eastern border is Nottinghamshire’s county boundary, and includes villages of great beauty and historic connections, such as Elston, home of the Darwin family, and Norton Disney, the ancestral seat of Walt Disney. To the west the seat stretches from Lowdham and Epperstone, close to the city of Nottingham, through Caunton, Laxton, Wellow and Egmonton into Robin Hood country—the old Nottinghamshire dukeries whose occupants once dominated its politics and the Nottinghamshire coalfields once a major part of our economy. There are almost 100 villages set in undulating, largely arable agricultural land, watered and too often flooded by becks and tributaries of the River Trent.

Newark has been a meeting point for almost 1,000 years. The Romans built a motorway through it, the Fosse way, and later the Great North road. We have to put up

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with the A1. The Normans built a castle, later replaced by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln’s summer palace, or at least that is what he told the King when asking permission to build it. That castle was slighted by Cromwell after Newark surrendered following its third siege in the civil war. No town stood alone longer. No people proved more resilient. Its fall was the last order of Charles I, the price of his own surrender to the Scots at Kelham, having arrived at the Saracen’s Head in Southwell late the night before from Oxford, disguised as a priest.

During the recent by-election, the same inn played host to the leader of the United Kingdom Independence party, who arrived from Malta, not in disguise as far as I know, but also heading to Kelham, in this case for the election count—although he too has not always enjoyed being at the mercy of the Scots. Newark will soon boast the first national civil war museum. Having experience of the arts business, supporting our heritage sector, particularly in the regions, where funding has been limited, I intend to contribute on the subject.

Newark’s economy has at various times relied on wool, beer, grain, sugar, cream cakes, transport and antiques. The economy is growing, with 8,000 new jobs created since 2010. Newark has a high proportion of small and medium-sized businesses. My parents set up their own manufacturing business at our kitchen table and I will seek to support many Newark constituents taking personal risks, working hard and pursuing enterprising lives by defending low and simple taxation and light and flexible regulation.

An area whose virtue has long been location, location, location urgently needs investment in its creaking infrastructure, whether that is a southern relief road for Newark, increased services on the Lincoln-Newark-Nottingham railway and east coast main line or broadband for our underserved rural communities. A growing population requires appropriate public services, particularly health care, whether that be ensuring the long-term future of Newark’s cherished hospital or ensuring that our ambulance service is fit for purpose. There is a sentiment that Newark has not been front of mind for decision makers. Being a hidden gem is all well and good, but this one now requires some attention.

I am also conscious of how this little corner of England can prosper on a wider, global stage. I join this House having spent the last four years managing a British business expanding by entering new markets, accepting wholeheartedly the challenge and reward of globalisation. Newark businesses are succeeding in the global race. Our architects, Benoy, have grown from designing the local cowsheds to designing the shopping malls of China. I want to see more such businesses in my constituency.

This is in many ways one of the greatest times to be alive, when much of what we thought we knew is wrong, with the shift in power from west to east, the financial markets turned upside down and the internet upending old industries. But our success depends greatly on whether we can deliver the best schools and skills to young people, preparing them for the jobs of the future. My constituency is blessed with some outstanding schools—the Minster, Toot Hill and Tuxford—and a growing number of quality apprenticeships. I will make it my priority to raise educational standards in Newark—a town that, for all its many virtues, suffers areas of deprivation where we must do all we can to increase opportunity for all. The challenge as we emerge from the great recession

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is not only to finish the job—there are, after all, no final victories in politics; all achievements, however hard won, can be and are undone—but to position towns like Newark and, indeed, the country as a dynamic and optimistic place, living and trading courageously, face turned to the world.

In times of great change, a sense of anxiety can prevail, which brings me back to the subject of today’s debate, the importance of remembering our past and doing so in a manner that reflects and enriches our values. On 10 August this year in Newark, young and old together will recreate the rally and great march from our market square to Radcliffe-on-Trent undertaken on the same day in 1914, six days after war was declared, by hundreds of young men, who went on to training and ultimately to the trenches. Fewer than half of those men returned. Proportionally, Newark was one of the most affected towns in the UK. On 24 August, Newark football club will recreate the peace or truce match in Ypres, playing a German side from our twinned town, inspired by William Setchfield, the Newark lad widely credited with sparking the famous match 100 years ago this Christmas.

Southwell minster has hosted an evocative collection of local memories that I enjoyed taking a primary school to visit, entitled “No Greater Love”. Love is, I think, the key: to those who served our country, we offer belatedly our love by remembering and better understanding what they experienced, placing young people and education front and centre, and displaying the British virtue of being thoughtful and compassionate, able to look outward and to the future without neglecting our past.

It is an honour to serve as Member of Parliament for Newark. In doing so, I will act with the hopes, dreams and aspirations of Newark as my guide.

1.42 pm

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): With other Members of the House, I welcome the hon. Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) to his place. I knew his predecessor well and often heard his views on defence. We did not always agree, but more often than not, we did. I should apologise, because family commitments meant that I am one of the Members who has not visited his constituency lately. I therefore found it particularly interesting to hear his description, which may explain why so many Members flocked there. I recognise his hope that there will be no more by-elections for Newark and that we will now enter a period of stability.

If the hon. Gentleman is right and the view he takes in this House is one of “investment, investment, investment”, particularly in services, I think he will get a great deal of support from across the House. Investment in schools, educational standards and skills for young people is something that many Members agree on.

Today is a difficult day on which to make a maiden speech, because we have already heard some stunning speeches from Members on both sides of the House. It is interesting to see the hon. Gentleman at the heart of parliamentary unity, surrounded by Conservative Members. I hope that he continues to occupy such a harmonious place with members of his party.

I must admit to some shenanigans on my part. On Sunday, I attended a church service in Kenfig Hill, celebrating a week of community activities in Kenfig Hill

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alongside a commemoration of the first world war. In the service, the address was led by the Venerable Philip Morris, archdeacon of Margam and priest in charge at the parish of Ewenny and St Brides Major. When we came out of the church, I sidled up to the archdeacon and said, “Great sermon! Can I borrow it?” As a result, much that the House will hear today the archdeacon helped me write.

It is only appropriate that I commemorate the archdeacon’s part in this speech, because I too wanted to talk about how people in our local communities and the surrounding area played a part in the British war effort, in the trenches and at home. Many of the youngsters who went to war came from farm labouring jobs and had a very limited understanding of the wider world. For most of them, going as far as the large town of Bridgend would have been a huge achievement; to get as far as Cardiff would have been beyond their belief; and crossing the Severn into England would have been viewed with dread. Yet many joined the Glamorgan Yeomanry, headquartered in Bridgend, and on 9 August boarded a troopship—the SS Arcadian, which sailed from Devonport—for the front.

Instead of arriving at “the front”, the Glamorgan Yeomanry, knowing only the wet and the cold of the Welsh countryside, arrived in Alexandria in Egypt. We need to remember that the front was not just in France and Belgium. Instead of wet and rainy, the place they arrived at was hot and dusty. On the first day in camp, there was a sandstorm in which many of their tents were blown away, never to be recovered. They fought the Germans in Libya and Egypt, and the Turks in Palestine, and eventually they were taken to Marseilles to participate in the last big push in France. Four hundred and fifty-three officers and 7,661 other ranks of the Glamorgan Yeomanry were killed or wounded.

For many children, the war years are remembered in the lines of Dylan Thomas, whose 100th anniversary is also this year. He wrote of his childhood in the “ugly, lovely town” of Swansea,

“This sea town was my world…and…beyond that...a country called ‘The Front’ from which many of our neighbours never came back. At the beginning, the only ‘front’ I knew was the little lobby before our front door; I could not understand how so many people never returned from there”.

That would have echoed with many children in the Britain of 1914-18, though many were deeply involved in the war effort. Boy scouts were used to watch for invasion along the coast; they helped farmers on the land, because farm workers were going to the front. They helped during harvest; they acted as messengers for Government Departments and as orderlies in hospitals, helping those who had been injured at the front and brought home to hospitals in the country. Girl guides worked on vegetable patches and, like the scouts, on farms, digging and weeding, and they harvested fruit. Scouts and guides carried important messages and delivered milk. They parcelled up clothing such as knitwear to be sent to soldiers, and they learned first aid so that they could help the injured.

There is a great story, in what others have remarked is the wonderful BBC coverage, about how the scouts contributed to the war effort by helping to collect conkers. The collection was described as

“invaluable war work and…very urgent. Please encourage it.”

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The scouts and children were never told exactly why the Government needed conkers, but they collected them with energy. So successful were their efforts that more conkers were collected than could be transported, and piles rotted at railway stations, but 3,000 tonnes of conkers made it to their destination, the Synthetic Products Company of King’s Lynn, where they were used to produce acetone, needed for the manufacture of cordite, which was the propellant for shells and bullets.

The scheme had been created by the Ministry of Munitions, run by that great Welshman, David Lloyd George. The programme was kept secret until after the war for fear that the Germans would learn of the idea. The wartime Government refused to disclose the purpose of the collection of conkers and, rather oddly, the Ministry of Defence, when questioned, was not clear in its answer, stating only that the conkers were needed for “certain purposes”. That sounds like the sort of answer we get even today.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr Campbell) said he thought his great-uncle would have been proud to know that 100 years later my right hon. Friend would be a Member of the House. My grandfather, Driver A.E. Ironside, 17785, would have been amazed that women had the vote, and even more amazed that we were allowed into this House. He was called up at the start of the war and left on a troopship on 14 August from Limerick. His first nine days at the front were peaceful, if rather damp, but from 23 August he and his compatriots were under constant fire, often running to abandoned positions and seeing many wounded, as he saw action at the battles of Le Cateau and Mons.

My grandfather’s diary for 5 September records:

“We arrived in Monthyon stayed here for the night properly knocked out both horses and men. We found this place upside down with people. The houses its terrible to see the poor people on the road in a large cart and they don’t know where to go for safety, its heart breaking.”

One of the places such people went was Porthcawl in my constituency. The hon. Member for Broadland (Mr Simpson) said that we should remember the Belgians. Well, in Porthcawl we do remember the Belgians, because in my local museum, where we are commemorating Porthcawl’s engagement in the first world war, there is a large display about the Belgians—about how 4,500 who came to Wales found a welcoming place, and how people in Porthcawl took them in and helped them find their feet.

According to the local paper, Porthcawl had

“done better than any place in the country, having regard to population and other circumstances.”

The same paper, the Porthcawl News, ran a Flemish glossary and a Belgian column in order to aid the interaction between the Welsh people and the Belgians. The Porthcawl Belgian refugee committee, run by councillors and citizens, organised the assimilation of the refugees into the community, managed donations to the refugee fund, found accommodation and employment for the refugees and placed Belgian children in local schools. Although the majority of the Belgians returned home after the war, in 1921 Britain had double the Belgian population. We must remember the efforts of those Welsh men, women and children at home, who opposed the Germans peacefully while the military gave their lives.

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I urge Members not to go to by-elections but instead to come to Porthcawl, where there is not going to be a by-election, on 2 and 3 August to see and hear illustrated 30-minute talks about Porthcawl during the war. They can join the Glamorgan Family History Society, which will help them to find members of their family who took part in the great war. There will be a recruiting sergeant, period street events, and a Lions club vintage fair, and the Rotary club will have a vintage car display. We will end, appropriately, with a service of reflection at All Saints church, just as we will all be reflecting throughout today.

1.53 pm

Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): I congratulate the Minister and the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), on two excellent speeches setting the tone of the debate. As has been said, this is the second debate that we have had on the subject, and we have not yet started the four years of commemoration of the great war. I suspect there will be more debates to come. I, too, pay tribute to everybody who has been involved in preparing the ground, notably the Imperial War museum and the BBC. Both those organisations are keen, as are the Government and Members across the House, that those should be commemorations, not celebrations, and that wherever possible they should be local commemorations.

I am delighted to say that in Colchester, local military historian Jess Jephcott has set up a Facebook page for this purpose with just one line: “Colchester Remembers 1914-1918”. On other webpages he kindly mentions a public meeting that I convened in March this year

“to explore ways in which Colchester could commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Those persons who attended gave a positive response and comprised members from the armed forces, the Royal British Legion, youth organisations and private individuals. It was agreed that a vigil should be held on the evening of the centenary of the first day of war being declared”,

so at 7 pm on 4 August, just a few hours before the midnight deadline in Berlin was reached, we will gather for a few minutes for a silent vigil—no banners, no great speeches, just a silent vigil—because, of course, it was all going to be over by Christmas.

We anticipate that there will be further commemorative events over the next four years, culminating in a celebration to mark the end of hostilities on 7 November 1918. There are those who believe that the war ended in 1919, as I mentioned in the previous debate; some communities believe that the war ended with the treaty of Versailles in 1919, which is the date one sometimes sees on war memorials. The aim of the Colchester group is to welcome others to join them in creating appropriate events to commemorate the various happenings, and to link up with others who are planning similar events within the town and the local community. The idea is not to have a formal committee or a big group, but to bring in individuals and groups such as the scouts, the guides or the Royal British Legion to organise their own events, using a central webpage in the hope of avoiding clashes. The opening page concludes:

“Does your locality’s war memorial need sprucing up? Has anybody done a transcription of your war memorial? Do you have pictures of these men and women who served during WW1 and stories to go with them?”

In the summer of 2001, I had the great honour of visiting the battlefields when I accompanied the Colchester sea cadet band, which played at the great ceremony that

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takes place every night at dusk at the Menin Gate. The next day at Tyne Cot cemetery, I made a point of going to look at the names of the fallen of the 1st Battalion the Essex Regiment, to see whether there were any with the name of Russell. There was Private J. Russell. A few months earlier, my first grandson, Joseph Russell, had been born. Following on from what the shadow Minister said, it was a poignant moment to see on a war memorial the name of my first grandson. Joseph Russell, who will shortly be 13, will go later this year to the fields where so much loss of life occurred, on a battlefields tour for students.

It is important that we bring to today’s generation what happened 100 years ago. I am delighted that the women of the war are to be featured. The poppy fields is an excellent addition, which I hope will be featured. We had a bombing raid in Colchester in the great war, which needs to be recognised and remembered. There are photographs showing the damage.

On 5 and 6 July, the Colchester military festival will take place, in aid of ABF The Soldiers Charity—formerly the Army Benevolent Fund. Although the aim is to show how important our armed forces are in the 21st century, particularly in the garrison town of Colchester, I think that it will set the scene for what happens from 4 August onwards. In the autumn, Colchester Military Wives Choir will sing in the town’s Mercury theatre. Again, that is not a direct first world war commemoration, but there is clearly a link.

It is also worth mentioning that on 19 July the transformed Imperial War museum in London will reopen to the public, revealing its brand-new first world war galleries, which will be free to the public. They will allow audiences young and old to explore what the first world war was like, and to learn how terrible it was for the hundreds of thousands of young men who came from around the world to fight. I am delighted that the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr Brazier) mentioned some of the countries that sent their young people to fight. One of them was Canada. The Imperial War museum features an exhibit on the Canadian expeditionary force.

We are talking today about a war that commenced 100 years ago; 100 years ago, it was the 100th anniversary of another war—one that has been airbrushed out of this nation’s history. Those Members who have read yesterday’s Hansard will have seen that yesterday I had a debate in Westminster Hall—it begins at column 88—on “History Curriculum: North American War, 1812-14”. Had the Americans won that war—we won it—Canada would not have existed, and there would have been no Canadian expeditionary force in 1914, because the United States did not join the war until 1917. Who knows whether the war would still have been raging in 1917 had it not been for the Canadians and others from the empire who took part?

I welcome this debate. It is important that we remember the history of 100 years ago, but we must also remember history prior to that.

2.2 pm

Mr Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Lagan Valley) (DUP): I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I rise to speak not only as a Member of this House, but as chair of the Northern Ireland First World War Centenary Committee. I also have the pleasure of representing Northern Ireland on the national advisory board for the commemorations.

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I thank the Minister for the excellent work that he and his colleagues have undertaken in providing leadership for the centenary commemorations, which is very much appreciated in Northern Ireland. The help and assistance that we have received from the Department in Whitehall has not gone unnoticed. I also want to thank my colleagues on the committee in Northern Ireland, who represent all the key stakeholders involved in the commemorations, for the excellent work they are undertaking. I will say a little more later about the programme being developed in Northern Ireland for the centenary period.

Mention has already been made of the worldwide significance of the war. It helped to shape the history of Europe in the 20th century, and its impact on the island of Ireland was particularly significant. Indeed, arguably the events of that period continue to shape the history of Ireland today. Many of the men who fought in the ranks of the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions and in regiments such as the Royal Irish Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Munsters, the Leinsters and the South Irish Horse were Irish volunteers committed to securing independence. Equally, the men of the 36th Ulster Division, who filled the ranks of the Royal Irish Rifles, the Royal Irish Fusiliers, the Inniskillings and the North Irish Horse, were Ulster volunteers who believed passionately in maintaining the Union with Britain. The future of Ireland was shaped not on the streets of Dublin in 1916, but on the muddy, blood-soaked battlefields of the western front, where Irishmen from every province of the island fought side by side in common cause.

The first Member of this House to lose his life in the war was an Ulsterman, Captain Arthur Edward Bruce O’Neill, who was the Member for Mid-Antrim, which is now represented, at least in part, by my hon. Friend the Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley). Captain O’Neill was killed in action while serving with the 2nd Life Guards at Klein Zillebeke ridge on 6 November 1914 at the age of 38. He was the father of Captain Terence O’Neill, who became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Captain O’Neill served with valour. In November this year, with Mr Speaker’s permission, we hope to hold a small act of remembrance at the war memorial in Westminster Hall in memory of the honourable Captain Arthur Edward Bruce O’Neill MP.

Another Member of this House to die in action during the great war while representing an Irish constituency was Major Willie Redmond. He was killed in action while serving with the 6th Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment at Messines ridge on 7 June 1917 at the age of 56. He was a committed Irish nationalist, and brother of the leader of the Irish parliamentary party in this House. In the winter of 1916, months before his death and in the aftermath of the slaughter at the Somme, Willie Redmond wrote these words to Arthur Conan Doyle:

“It would be a fine memorial to the men who have died so splendidly if we could, over their graves, build up a bridge between North and South.”

After the war, the lines were drawn across Ireland and the bridges were broken down. We all know the history of the decades that followed that war. Today, in the 21st century, those bridges that Willie Redmond spoke of are being built. They are bridges of co-operation

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between the two parts of the island, based on mutual respect—the kind of respect that was in the hearts of the men of the 10th and 16th Irish Divisions and the 36th Ulster Division who fought side by side at Messines in 1917. It is particularly poignant that Willie Redmond was carried off the battlefield by men from the 36th Ulster Division, including Private John Meeke of the 11th Inniskillings.

In honour of men such as Captain Arthur O’Neill MP and Major Willie Redmond MP and the ideals they upheld, we have chosen remembrance and reconciliation as the twin themes for the centenary commemorations in Northern Ireland. Our programme reflects that. On 4 August, as we mark the outbreak of the war, there will be a special service at St Anne’s cathedral in Belfast representing all traditions on the island of Ireland, current and past. We will then have a candlelight vigil at the cenotaph at Belfast city hall, where representatives of the Government of Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Ireland will come together in an act of remembrance. We hope to have, for the first time in Northern Ireland, the pipes and drums of the Royal Irish Regiment play alongside those of the Irish army band.

We are planning other events as we look forward. I acknowledge, as the Minister has reported to the House, the excellent work being undertaken at Glasnevin cemetery. Not only have the war graves been restored to an excellent condition, but the erection there of the cross of sacrifice is particularly symbolic and significant. As he pointed out, the cross not only sits in the shadow of Daniel O’Connell’s monument, the round tower, but alongside Gladstone’s grave. Sorry. I do not mean Gladstone, who would not have been buried in Ireland—some people on my side of the House might have wanted to bury him in Ireland. I of course meant Parnell, who was leader of the Irish nationalists. De Valera is buried there too. Alongside their graves we have that fitting memorial to the men—56,000 of them—who left the island of Ireland and gave their lives in defence of our freedom.

Looking ahead, in 2015 we will join others from across the Commonwealth at Gallipoli, where the Irish made a significant contribution at the battle there. In 2016, the centenary of the battle of Jutland, there will be a particular focus on HMS Caroline, which is based in Belfast harbour and currently being restored by the National Museum of the Royal Navy. I thank the Minister and his colleagues for helping us to secure not only the retention of HMS Caroline in Belfast but the funding that will now see her restored to her former glory and right at the heart of the commemoration of the battle of Jutland.

In 2016, it is the centenary of the battle of the Somme, which is seared into the collective memory of the people of Ulster. The men of the 36th Ulster Division were at the forefront of the battle of the Somme. On that fateful morning of 1 July, thousands of those men lost their lives or went missing in action as a result of their heroic efforts. Indeed, a number of them won the Victoria Cross. We are participating in the national project across the United Kingdom to mark the memories of the men who won the Victoria Cross during the first world war with the placing of a stone in their town of birth. This will be done not only in Northern Ireland but in the Republic of Ireland, where the Irish Government have consented to receive the

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stones to mark these men. We very much welcome the fact that they will have their memories commemorated in that way.

In 2017 we mark the centenary of the battle of Messines, when the Irish Divisions fought alongside the Ulster Division. We intend to mark that particularly poignant occasion in a number of ways, bringing together people from across the island of Ireland. Finally, of course, we move towards the centenary of the armistice in 2018. We are considering a major project that will leave a lasting legacy of the centenary of the first world war in Northern Ireland.

I want to conclude my remarks with two quotations. At this time, it is the people who served and those who were left behind at home that we remember most. Captain Wilfred Spender served with the 36th (Ulster) Division at the battle of the Somme. After the battle, as he reflected on the heroics of the men who had gone out to fight that morning, he wrote these words:

“I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the 1st. July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world.”

A number of those men won the Victoria Cross that morning. The sacrifice was enormous.

The Minister mentioned the cultural side of the centenary, with the war poetry and the music, and all that is very important. I want to quote one verse from a poem written by Susan Adams from Pipers Hill in Lisburn in my constituency. It is a tribute to her son, Private Ralph Adams of the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, who was killed in action on 1 July 1916. She wrote this:

“In afar distant land though his body now rests.

Far from his home and the ones he loved best,

Still deep in our hearts his memory we’ll keep,

Sweet is the place where he now lies asleep.”

Those words remind us that whether in the far-off fields of France or in the graveyards across this United Kingdom, it is the men and women who fought and died whom this centenary is most about.

2.14 pm

Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): It gives me great pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr Donaldson), who made a very poignant point about how Ireland fought together in the first world war. I am sure that that spirit will mean that all people can live together in Ireland in future. I thank the Minister and the shadow Minister for their great contributions to this debate, which is a very poignant moment for us to remember the war. I congratulate the hon. Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) on an excellent maiden speech. We look forward to many great speeches from him. The people of Newark are very well represented in this place.

As we stand here some 100 years on from the start of the first world war, we take so much for granted—our freedom of speech and our ability to vote in democratic elections. We must remember the 887,000 soldiers from the United Kingdom and the British empire and the more than 1.6 million in total who were killed in that conflict. We must remember that at that time there were significantly lower populations in this country and across the world, so a huge percentage of young men were cut down. Perhaps some will dispute this, but—dare I say it—it was such a pointless, needless war: a war of imperial powers muscling up to each other to see who was the greatest. Such a waste of life is quite unbelievable.

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Of course, even today, conflicts go on across the world, but, thank goodness, we do not see them in our own country or across much of Europe. That is very much to be welcomed.

I congratulate the Government and all the political parties on the events that will take place throughout this memorial year, because it is right that we remember. For many of us, perhaps, this is history, and when we see things about battles on television and in films, it brings home to us what happened. As the generations of young people go by, they need to be reminded of it, not in a bloodthirsty way but in a way that shows them the loss of life that took place and what happens in war, so that we can try to bring about a situation where there is far less war in future.

I very much welcome the centenary apprenticeship scheme that the Government have launched, which encourages 100 companies that existed 100 years ago, at the start of the first world war, to offer apprenticeships. That is a very good scheme.

I have strongly supported Devon county council in its commemorative project, Devon Remembers. We have to make sure that the memorials in all our villages are remembered, maintained, and brought up to a reasonable standard.

The Woodland Trust is planting four woods across the country, and that is a very good idea. With my farming background and my great belief in growing things, I think there is nothing better than a tree as a living thing that represents bringing things to life again after such a terrible war.

In Beer, a small village in my constituency on the coast of south Devon, men who were called up to the Royal Naval Reserve marched along the streets to a band as they went off to war. That will be commemorated on 3 August, 100 years on, when the same thing will happen again.

Even politicians were not immune. The hon. William Walrond was Member of Parliament for Tiverton from 1906—a little while before me. He died in 1915 while serving as a lieutenant with the Royal Army Service Corps during the first world war. His name is listed on the memorial to the dead in Westminster Hall and is on one of the 42 heraldic shields in the House of Commons Chamber commemorating each of the MPs killed during both world wars.

It is not possible for me to attend the Remembrance day services in all the villages and towns in my constituency, because they are so spread out, but I attend services in Honiton, Tiverton, Axminster and Seaton on an alternate basis. On reading the list of names, I find it poignant that the number of those killed in the first world war is probably two to three times the number of those killed in the second world war, and many of the family names of those who lost loved ones in the first world war are repeated on the list of those who died in the second world war. That is what brings it home to me. We need to remember that and create a memorial that is about not which country was right and which was wrong, but bringing those countries together. It is good that we now remember alongside not only France and Belgium, but Germany.

My mother is 89 and our family were fortunate, because five of her uncles went to war from farms in Somerset, with their horses, and all five of them returned. That was, of course, very unusual, and we were blessed

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that so many of our family returned. The relatives of many of my constituents did not return, so it is very good that we are holding this, not celebration, but memorial to what happened in the first world war. The treaty of Versailles led very much to the rise of Hitler and the Nazis and all that followed. Let us in the 21st century remember what happened in the 20th century and pray to God that we do not let it happen again.