John Glen debates with Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

There have been 12 exchanges between John Glen and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Thu 21st December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 29 interactions (558 words)
Tue 5th December 2017 City of Culture 2021: Swansea Bid (Westminster Hall) 13 interactions (1,865 words)
Tue 28th November 2017 Dr Elsie Inglis and Women’s Contribution to World War One (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (2,325 words)
Tue 21st November 2017 City of Culture 2021: Sunderland Bid (Westminster Hall) 2 interactions (1,419 words)
Thu 16th November 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 11 interactions (142 words)
Wed 25th October 2017 National Railway Museum and Ownership of National Assets (Westminster Hall) 7 interactions (1,587 words)
Fri 20th October 2017 First World War Servicemen: Memorial Plaques 7 interactions (1,602 words)
Wed 11th October 2017 The Arts: Health Effects (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (1,392 words)
Thu 14th September 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 45 interactions (881 words)
Tue 5th September 2017 Coventry City of Culture (Westminster Hall) 8 interactions (1,680 words)
Thu 13th July 2017 Passchendaele 24 interactions (3,596 words)
Wed 5th July 2017 Perth’s Cultural Contribution to the UK 4 interactions (1,641 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

John Glen Excerpts
Thursday 21st December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

3. What recent assessment she has made of the role of public libraries in increasing social mobility. [903077]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:44 a.m.

Libraries play an important role in giving everyone opportunities to improve their life chances and achieve their full potential. That is why the Government have established the libraries taskforce and funds under Libraries Deliver to assist in that goal.

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard - Hansard

The Minister will know from his time as a parliamentary candidate in Plymouth how important libraries are to social mobility in the city. The Conservative council in Plymouth has this year closed six of our libraries—two in the constituency I represent and four in the constituency in which the Minister stood. Will he spread some festive cheer and tell library users in Plymouth that there will be no more library closures in the new year?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:44 a.m.

What I can say is that Plymouth City Council received £56,000 for cultural learning activities last summer, which saw 5,000 young people visit, and 3,000 were given healthy lunches, involving a collaboration with the Theatre Royal, Music Makers and the National Marine Aquarium, which represents the sort of grown-up thinking about the way libraries act in our constituencies across the country.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:45 a.m.

Order. I congratulate the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) on his tie, which is as flamboyant as my own.

Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:45 a.m.

Northamptonshire County Council is proposing to cut 28 of its 36 libraries. Will the Minister send in the Government’s libraries taskforce to see whether a county-wide libraries trust might be set up to save these vital public services?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:45 a.m.

My hon. Friend makes a reasonable point. I will be visiting a number of libraries in the new year, following the seven I have already visited, with the new chair of the libraries taskforce, and I will be happy to engage with my hon. Friend and his local authority to see whether there are alternative ways forward.

Mr Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:46 a.m.

Ebenezer Scrooge, and indeed Charles Dickens, would recognise exactly the mood in this country at the moment, with libraries closing and children being unable to go there to do their homework or access computers. What kind of Britain is this, when we think of Dickens and Scrooge at this time of year, with this Government?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:46 a.m.

I think that is an unfortunate characterisation of the hard work of thousands of librarians up and down the country and thousands of volunteers. Libraries are working hard to deliver a range of social outcomes, promoting literacy and digital skills, providing support for jobseekers, and career and business decisions are helped by library services. It is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman takes such a downbeat view at this time of year.

Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:46 a.m.

Mr Speaker, I am sorry that my tie has not caught your eye as well as the tie of my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone), did but I will try harder in 2018.

Does the Minister agree that all libraries can play a part in social mobility? Will he join me in thanking the volunteers of Colehill community library in my constituency for all their hard work? It is not just a traditional library; there is a jigsaw library and there are one-to-one computer sessions, and I have even held my surgery there.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:47 a.m.

It sounds very exciting.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:47 a.m.

I think that my hon. Friend’s tie is fantastic. I am very happy to pay tribute to his local library. We are seeing a range of models up and down the country delivering a range of outcomes appropriate to the needs of different communities, and Dorset is no exception.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:47 a.m.

My tie is very plain, Mr Speaker.

I can announce to the House that over 100 libraries closed this year. Libraries are genuine engines of social mobility. Why are the Government content with that situation, because the Minister seems to be? Does he agree with the editor of Public Library News, who recently stated:

“The example of other countries shows that the decline of the library in this country is not a natural thing: this is a man-made disaster, brought on by short-sighted but long-term cuts”?

He is right, is he not? And merry Christmas.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard

Merry Christmas to the hon. Gentleman, and to you, Mr Speaker. The reality is that different library services tackle the provision they deliver for their local communities in different ways. There are clearly challenges in the libraries sector. I am working hard with the libraries taskforce, and with librarians across the country, to look at ways of delivering better services, and I will continue to do that. In many communities we are seeing more volunteers enthusiastically engaging with library provisions in order to deliver better services.

Stephen Kerr (Stirling) (Con) Hansard

4. If she will assume responsibility for ensuring the delivery of broadband in Scotland. [903078]

Break in Debate

Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab) Hansard

5. What recent assessment she has made of the effect on public libraries of changes to local authority budgets. [903079]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:52 a.m.

Local authorities have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service that meets local needs within available resources. The Government fully recognise the importance and significance of public libraries for local communities.

Liz McInnes Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:53 a.m.

I thank the Minister for that response. My local authority, Labour-run Rochdale Borough Council, has endeavoured to keep all our public libraries open, recognising their importance to our communities. They are much more than just books; they are information, support and advice centres. I hold surgeries at our libraries, as does the citizens advice bureau. What action will the Minister take to support such good practice and, in the face of further cuts, how will he ensure its sustainability?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 9:53 a.m.

I was delighted to see that the Manchester combined authority, which includes Rochdale, received £250,000 from the libraries opportunities for everyone fund. I will continue to work with the libraries taskforce to extend benchmarks, toolkits and best practices, and to look at different models of delivering services to ensure that libraries continue to thrive, as we see in Rochdale.

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con) - Hansard

6. What recent assessment she has made of progress towards the target of 95% superfast broadband coverage. [903080]

Break in Debate

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T2. The opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi by President Macron last month demonstrated the power of culture to drive foreign and trade policy, but we all know that the glories of France are as nothing compared with the glories of our own country, so what can the Secretary of State and her Ministers do to advance British cultural diplomacy around the world, and might one element of that be our excellent cultural protection fund? [903094]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. The cultural development and cultural protection funds are both top of my list. The cultural protection fund has done an enormous amount internationally. I would draw his attention to what has been highly successful diplomacy, including the V and A opening a new gallery in Shekou design centre in China earlier this month, which is one example of the advances we have made.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T3. This week the German competition authority ruled that the collection and use of data by Facebook was abusive. Does the Minister agree? [903095]

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Just as a general piece of advice to the House, may I say that the best way to cope with the additional time pressure in topical questions is not to blurt out the same number of words at a more frenetic pace, but to blurt out fewer words?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 10:10 a.m.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that all my colleagues in the Department are working very hard to make sure that all funding is protected, as far as possible, beyond the changes following Brexit.

Kirstene Hair (Angus) (Con) Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Dec 2017, 10:10 a.m.

As the Secretary of State is aware, Dundee city has put together a transformative bid to be the European city of culture. I desperately want Dundee—its bid will have clear benefits for all of Tayside—and the other cities to have a chance to test their bids. May I urge my right hon. Friend to find an alternative way of taking forward this contest so that all the time, money and, most importantly, vision for Dundee is not put to waste?

City of Culture 2021: Swansea Bid

John Glen Excerpts
Tuesday 5th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:33 p.m.

My hon. Friend will not be surprised to know that I agree with that.

We have already heard the famous quote by Dylan Thomas about Swansea as an “ugly, lovely town”. Well, he was right, it is lovely, and perhaps once it was ugly. Now, however, it is a beautiful city, not an “ugly, lovely town”, and today people can visit wonderful cultural institutions in Swansea, such as the Dylan Thomas Centre that we heard about earlier, which opened in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of his birth. They can also visit 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, and that is a short walk from Cwmdonkin park—the subject of the poem that I recited earlier—where there is a blue plaque and a permanent exhibition to commemorate him.

It is not only Welsh writers who have an association with Swansea. We have not yet heard mention of Kingsley Amis, who spent many years as a lecturer at University College, Swansea. He wrote “Lucky Jim” and “That Uncertain Feeling”—that was later made into a film with Peter Sellers called “Only Two Can Play”—while living in the Uplands in Swansea. It is a town with a real literary and cultural background. My very good friend, the artist Paul Edwards, is from Swansea. It is full of theatres, castles and galleries and has a vibrant cultural life.

As we have heard, Swansea University goes from strength to strength. I recently visited the new campus at Jersey Marine, and the Morgan Academy, which was set up in memory of the late, great Rhodri Morgan, who was my predecessor as MP for Cardiff West and the former First Minister of Wales. Given all that, it is clear that Swansea’s cultural life is truly worth celebrating, and its bid is very strong.

I would like briefly to mention the European capital of culture, because I think that relates to today’s debate. I have asked the Government for a list of meetings that were held in 2017 on that issue, given the recent announcement by the European Commission that Britain’s bid for European capital of culture will be withdrawn. Unfortunately, in answer to my parliamentary question, the Government referred me to a public list of meetings that goes only until June this year, and I think that we need a more serious response to explain what happened with the European city of culture. I hope that the Minister will be able to make a passing reference to that, and say a bit more about why the UK Government, and the bidding cities, which were spending money up until the last moment on their bids, were so blindsided by the announcement that the European capital of culture competition would not be going forward in the UK. I hope that the Minister will confirm—I am sure he will—that the competition for UK capital of culture will be going forward, and that the bidding cities have not been wasting their time and money.

We have heard a lot about the kind of impact that being city of culture can have. It does not magically create culture where it does not exist, but it celebrates and encourages great work that is already being done but is often under-publicised. As such, Swansea is already a city of culture, regardless of whether the bid is successful. I hope that the UK city of culture competition continues to thrive, and champions the cultural activities that make cities and towns across the UK such wonderful places that we can be proud of.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:35 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnorshire (Chris Davies) on securing this important debate on Swansea’s bid to become the UK’s city of culture 2021. As always, I acknowledge the contributions of all Members who have spoken so passionately this afternoon. The full spirit of the UK city of culture has been on show, and a great depth of knowledge has been shown about Swansea and all its cultural attributes. This has been a very worthwhile debate as we get into the final stages of this competition.

The House has already heard similar debates on the four other towns and cities shortlisted to be the next holders of the UK city of culture title—Coventry, Paisley, Stoke and Sunderland—so this debate will be the last in the present series. The hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) managed, with typical skill, to include in the debate the issues of the tidal lagoon and electrification. I will not be able to respond to those points from my position in DDCMS, but I acknowledge his concerns and will take them back to my colleagues.

Before I begin the substance of my speech, I wish to say a few words about the European capital of culture programme, which has featured in the headlines in recent days. I am sure that many Members of the House were, like me, shocked and dismayed by the position taken by the European Commission two weeks ago, which is that the UK cannot host the title in 2023. That went against everything that had happened up until that point, and we had no expectation that it would occur. Five UK cities have, like Swansea, invested huge amounts of time, resource and commitment in developing their bids, only for the Commission—at a point when the bids had already been submitted—to sweep the rug from underneath them. I know that Swansea, together with the cultural sector right across Europe, has expressed its solidarity with the five UK cities of Belfast, Dundee, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Nottingham. We are in urgent discussions with the European Commission about its action, and in positive talks with the five cities themselves—I met representatives from them all last week, and I hope to update the House more substantively in the near future.

The UK city of culture programme grew out of the success of Liverpool’s tenure as European capital of culture in 2008. As Minister for the arts, I see this programme as one of our nation’s Crown jewels. The winning area must build a high-quality arts and cultural programme of national significance that reaches a wide variety of audiences and participants. As we have seen with Hull, winning the city of culture title must be a catalyst to regenerate and transform an area. Cities must demonstrate that they are ready and able to grasp the opportunity provided by the title. I was moved by the speech by the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans), who spoke about how things were when he was growing up, and the cultural gap that was perceived to exist. Providing an opportunity for transformation is exactly the purpose of this programme, and that case will be made by all the bidding cities.

This year, 11 places from across the UK set out their ambitions to become the next city of culture. Following a recommendation from the independent panel, chaired by Phil Redmond, I agreed a shortlist of five in July. It is hugely gratifying to know that those areas that regrettably did not make the shortlist—Hereford, Perth, Portsmouth, St Davids, Warrington and Wells—are all continuing with their ambitions. They see their bids as the beginning of something, not the end. I sincerely believe that that will be the case for all those that are unsuccessful this week. As has been referred to, Swansea bay was shortlisted for the UK city of culture in 2013 when it narrowly lost out to Hull, and it is clear that, while ultimately unsuccessful, the bid was an important step in the city’s cultural development.

Now, for the shortlisted towns and cities, decision day is fast approaching. We have about 51 hours to go, and as we speak my officials and the independent panel are en route to Hull, where they will receive presentations from all five areas before making their final recommendation. As the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) said, Swansea will present its bid on Thursday morning, and I will announce the winner later the same day. Some might say that is an unusually quick and efficient process for Government.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:41 p.m.

I know that the Minister will be looking, as the panel will be, at the past, present and future cultural offering for Swansea and other places, but will he be looking very carefully at relative deprivation? I say that because, as he knows, the average UK gross income is £19,106 but the average in Wales is £16,341 and in Swansea, £15,604. Weekly, that is £550 for the UK and less than £500 for Swansea. Can he confirm that he will be looking at the impact on deprivation and the inclusivity of these bids?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:43 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. The independent panel will be looking at a whole variety of factors. It will be looking at what advantages, and the extent of those advantages, the different bids are likely to accrue to their given cities, and the economic advantage will be one of the elements that they will look at very carefully.

As with the other debates, I thought it would be helpful to set out the benefits of the city of culture. Speaking of Hull, it is helpful to reflect in this debate on how much is to be gained from winning the UK city of culture title. Hull City Council estimates that the local economy has benefited from £3.3 billion in total investment since being awarded the title in 2013. Seven out of 10 Hull residents say that the UK city of culture status is having a positive effect on their lives. As I have mentioned in previous debates, Hull 2017’s volunteers have already undertaken more than 300,000 volunteer hours. City of culture status has helped to restore local pride, and who can forget Hull City’s fans singing, “You’re only here for the culture!” at a premier league match earlier this year? Ironically, I think they were playing Swansea at the time.

Jo Stevens Portrait Jo Stevens - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:43 p.m.

Although this is just an anecdote, does the Minister think it represents Hull? I remember going to a Cardiff City match against Hull where the Hull fans had a big banner saying, “Ghetto of excellence.” I think they can lose the “ghetto” bit now, after city of culture.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:43 p.m.

The hon. Lady makes a fine point. Hull has seen brilliant engagement with the arts.

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP) - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:43 p.m.

Will the Minister give way on that point?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:43 p.m.

Let me make a little progress and then I will come back to the hon. Gentleman. I wonder what he has to say.

Hull has seen brilliant engagement with the arts, with nine out of 10 residents attending or experiencing at least one cultural event in the first three months of the year—it might be higher now as we get to the end. That is more than double the number engaging in such activities before the city’s successful bid.

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:44 p.m.

I was going to have a watching brief in this debate and hold my tongue because there have been many great speeches on why Swansea should be the city of culture. Based on the football element, the Minister will be aware that the local football side St Mirren has renamed its stadium the Paisley 2021 stadium in support of the bid. That highlights the huge support it has across Paisley, Renfrewshire and indeed Scotland.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:45 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman, as expected and quite rightly so, makes another plea on behalf of his home bidding city of Paisley. I have received so many representations and passionate requests on behalf of the bidding cities. We do not have long to wait, but I do acknowledge the quality of the bids across all five cities, and it is very sad that only one can win this week.

I pay tribute to the many national institutions, from the BBC to the Government Art Collection, that have also contributed to the success in Hull. We have seen genuine collaboration across the whole of the arts and cultural sector.

I now come to the substance of this afternoon’s debate: Swansea’s bid to become the UK city of culture 2021. One of the enormous pleasures of my job is learning about the history and culture of towns and cities across the UK, and I try to visit as many of them as I can. I have learned that Swansea has an incredible 32 miles of stunning coastline, that Swansea Museum is Wales’s oldest public museum, and that Welsh National Opera originated in Swansea. I was clearly already familiar with the “ugly, lovely town” described by Dylan Thomas and now a thriving city, as the hon. Member for Cardiff West pointed out.

Swansea is rightly proud of its most famous son and I know that the Dylan Thomas Centre is one of the city’s great attractions, with ever-increasing participation figures. Back in 2013, the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded nearly £940,000 for a three-year project that centred on the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas. A range of organisations across Wales participated in the celebrations, including the National Library of Wales, which showcased an archive of Dylan Thomas material in a major exhibition. Most importantly, the Dylan Thomas Centre has the lasting legacy of a permanent exhibition, “Love the Words”, which opened on 27 October 2014—Dylan’s 100th birthday. This interactive exhibition tells the story of the work, life and cultural context of Dylan Thomas, and includes a learning space, activities for children and a temporary exhibition area.

I acknowledge other important cultural institutions, including the National Waterfront Museum, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Plantasia and the Grand Theatre. In fact, VisitBritain has included the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery’s hosting of the “Leonardo da Vinci: Ten Drawings from the Royal Collection” exhibition as a key reason why international tourists should visit Britain in 2017. There are also many independent galleries and artists’ studios, digital workspaces and live music venues. Wales’s first dedicated space built purely for use by the creative industries is located in Swansea’s Urban Village development in the city centre, and both the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea University offer a range of graduate and undergraduate courses in the creative sector, encouraging new and exciting start-ups and performing arts companies to thrive.

Geraint Davies Portrait Geraint Davies - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:48 p.m.

I am enjoying the Minister’s speech, but I just want to point out to him that we have two engines in the universities there that are producing enormous numbers of qualified people in both the arts and the sciences. One of the things we lack is the retention of those people in the city. Does he agree that city of culture status would enable them to stay in their home and build the economy, with visitors and tourism helping to fuel that fire?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Dec 2017, 3:50 p.m.

Throughout this debate the hon. Gentleman has made a number of passionate interventions showing an encyclopaedic knowledge of Swansea, as anyone would expect, and he is absolutely right on this point. The effect of cultural investment in creating a stickiness and a magnet for businesses to want to continue to invest and for employees to want to stay is really important. That is a significant feature of what we have seen in Hull: more investment and people wanting to stay there. Whichever city is successful later this week, we hope that that will be replicated in four years’ time.

Swansea has its own international arts festival and an international jazz festival, which I believe is now the largest in Wales. The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided almost £25 million for projects in Swansea, including the aforementioned Dylan Thomas exhibition, a number of HLF Young Roots projects and the All Saints Church restoration. As we have heard, following its city deal, Swansea is also going through a period of major physical transformation, investing in the largest regeneration programme the city has seen since world war two. I am very heartened to know that culture, creativity and this city of culture bid are right at the heart of these plans.

From all we have heard this afternoon, it is abundantly clear that Swansea, in common with the other shortlisted areas, has the heritage, vision, infrastructure and cultural leadership to be the next city of culture. Whichever city wins, I am sure it will be a very worthy winner. and will continue the journey that began in Derry/Londonderry in 2013 and has continued so spectacularly in Hull this year.

In conclusion, I sincerely wish the city of Swansea the best of luck in presenting its bid to the panel this week. As I said, in just over 51 hours, I shall announce the winner on the recommendation of the independent panel, chaired so well by Phil Redmond.

Chris Davies Hansard

I thank the Minister for his conclusion. It is clear that he is not the judge alone; he is the conduit to deliver the judges’ address and result on Thursday, but any influence that he can exert over them would be gratefully received by those of us in Swansea. We have clearly heard today that this is not just a city bid but a national bid. We have had support from Anglesey to Aberavon, covering a vast area—a rural area and a city area—and adjacent cities and counties across Wales. This is a very important bid to the people of Wales, and certainly to the city of Swansea.

I thank all my colleagues from all parts of the House for the cross-party support for Swansea’s city of culture bid. I am grateful to have so much support and to hear the various views and bids for Swansea to be given city of culture status. We have heard a lot about Swansea’s background and history—it was how I began my opening speech—but the city of culture bid is all about the future. It could offer so much to the people of Swansea. From youngsters going through school to the children who have not even been born yet, all can benefit from Swansea being named the city of culture for 2021. This is very important to us. As I said during my initial address, I was not pushing and supporting the bid from a feeling of unfairness because we had missed out in the past. Like all my colleagues, I support it because Swansea truly deserves to be the 2021 city of culture. Let us all hope on Thursday for the right result to be announced—that Swansea will be that city of culture in 2021.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered Swansea’s bid to be City of Culture 2021.

Dr Elsie Inglis and Women’s Contribution to World War One

John Glen Excerpts
Tuesday 28th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab) - Hansard
28 Nov 2017, 10:27 a.m.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) on securing today’s debate. We have heard some wonderful contributions, starting with his own, followed by a speech from the hon. Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont). My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) made a good point about the statistics on the representation of women in public art; perhaps the Minister could reflect on that. Given what we have heard today, the representation of women in our public art is pitiful, and much needs to be done to rectify that, including collecting statistics. Indeed, another matter that the Minister could fruitfully give some thought to after the debate is the number of women artists represented in the Government’s art collection.

My hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Martin Whitfield) reminded us of the role of women in the great war, but after being admonished by you, Mr Davies, he did not stray too far into the issues relating to the miners’ strike. I think the historical thread he was trying to draw out was understood by all concerned: women have made a huge contribution not only during national and international conflict, but during industrial conflict in this country.

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) appropriately reminded us of the complexity of politics in Ireland at the time of the great war, embodied in the person he spoke about, Winnie Carney. That complexity is at last being much more openly acknowledged, as is the contribution that Irish men and women from all over Ireland made during the great war, prior to the Easter rising and the civil war that followed the great war. It is right that that should be much more openly acknowledged and debated in the UK and Ireland.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine) said that the women are part of a “glorious thread woven through British history”, and I entirely endorse that remark, which sums up in a single phrase what we are discussing this morning. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) spoke about Mary Barbour, a huge figure in the “Red Clydeside” movement at the time of the great war and thereafter. Indeed, as well as the rent strike, she organised the women’s peace crusade. When discussing the great war we should also talk about the complexities and the controversy in relation to the way that that war broke out and was fought.

I am glad to be here on behalf of the Labour Front Bench and pleased to be able to contribute to this important debate during the period of the first world war centenary commemorations. As we have heard, the story of Dr Elsie Inglis is remarkable. Her work in setting up women’s medical units on the western front so soon after the outbreak of the war, and her later involvement in arranging women’s despatch units to attend to other areas of fighting, is an incredible story. As a result of her work, there were 14 Scottish women’s hospitals along the frontline, where almost 1,500 women served, often in atrocious conditions, serving an estimated 20,000 allied soldiers.

Today we have heard of Dr Inglis’ drive and her initiative and compassion, all of which led her to use her skills to help others. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South said that when she was told by the War Office to,

“go home and sit still”,

she turned to France for support to make her goal a reality. She also turned to the sisterhood and solidarity of the women’s suffrage organisations, which were crucial to her success, as they raised the equivalent of £53 million in today’s money in support of her cause. She is a fine example for us all to follow. Do not follow the Government’s advice at all times is one message I take from her example. We are grateful today for her service and her sacrifice, and indeed her belligerence, independence and stubbornness, which led her to carry on despite the opposition from her own Government. This month’s celebrations in Edinburgh are a fitting tribute to her work and I wish all the best for the service at St Giles’ Cathedral taking place tomorrow, which hon. Members have mentioned.

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to pay tribute in the Chamber to those who fought in Passchendaele. During that debate I was glad to be able to pay particular tribute, as a Member of Parliament representing a Welsh constituency, to the Welch Regiment, the South Wales Borderers and the Royal Welch Fusiliers, who all fought alongside each other in the 38th Division, and to the Welsh Guards who fought in the third battle of Ypres. In Wales we particularly remember the poignant death of the poet Ellis Evans, better known as Hedd Wyn, who was killed before he was able to claim his prize of the chair at the National Eisteddfod during the war; he was killed at Passchendaele. As ever, we remain in remembrance of their great sacrifice for the freedom and future of our country. In addition to paying tribute to the local forces as part of that debate, many Members talked of the brave work of women across the country, as well as from their particular constituencies, during the great war.

Across the UK women served at home and abroad to ensure the success of the allied forces. Many, like Dr Elsie Inglis, left for the western front to care for the wounded. In the munitions factories, as we have heard, many working-class women undertook hazardous manufacturing work. In fact, in the second world war, my father’s sister, my Auntie Mary, worked in the Currans munitions factory in Cardiff. In the first world war there were 11 munitions factories in Wales alone, and by the end of the war 80% of the workforce in those factories were women. It is a myth that women were not in paid work before the first world war. Many, like my own relatives, worked in service before getting married. Many of the women who worked in the munitions factories transferred their aprons working in service to work in overalls in the munitions factories. In that dangerous and dirty work, they found both a way to contribute to the war effort on the home front, and for many, for the first time, a way to earn a significant and stable independent income.

The percentage of women in paid work increased from 24% at the outset of the first world war to 37% by 1918. In 1917, 20,000 women joined the Women’s Land Army across the UK. In my constituency, the Green Farm became what is now the very large housing estate of Ely. That subject is quite topical in some ways, as the estate was part of the drive to build homes fit for heroes after the first world war. As a farm during the war, it was predominantly run by female farmhands. One of the workers, Agnes Greatorex, who left domestic service to work there, said:

“Every morning, we would get up at five o'clock and milk a hundred cows. We would then take the milk to Glan Ely Hospital,”

where many of the injured soldiers returning from the war were looked after. For many, such work was taken on in addition to the weight of domestic work. Although many men went to fight, women often became the breadwinner at home, bearing the brunt of the increased emotional and domestic labour of running a house and caring for a family. We should also remember that others served at home, but not in the armed forces. Like my grandfather, Edward Evans, they were not allowed to be conscripted in wartime because they worked in the coalmines, but they made their contribution serving at home. My grandmother, Gwellian Evans, worked in service and then domestically supported her husband.

Women such as Dr Elsie Inglis and Agnes Greatorex are a part our history, and we owe them a huge debt. I should also mention some prominent women from Wales. Gwendoline and Margaret Davies are better known as philanthropists in the arts, but they worked with the French Red Cross in canteens and organised convalescent hospitals and transit camps on the frontline. Annie Brewer, a military nurse from Newport, spent the war in France and won many medals for her courage. One citation applauded her

“coolness and total disregard of danger, lavishing her attention on men wounded under fire”.

That sums up some of the incredibly brave contribution made by women on the frontline during the war.

A poster during the first world war depicted a woman wearing overalls and said:

“On her their lives depend.”

Our tributes today make that same message abundantly clear. It is no coincidence that the centenary commemoration of women’s suffrage closely follows that of the first world war. As we know, the suffragettes largely suspended their organising during the war in order to concentrate on the war effort. In the end, the crucial contribution of women to the war helped change the perception of women in the UK, and in November 1918 women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote.

Given Dr Inglis’ commitment to women’s suffrage, it is particularly poignant that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh South reminded us, she died a year before the passage of the Representation of the People Act. It is a great injustice that despite her historic sacrifice for our country, she never had the opportunity to cast a vote in an election to this place.

Before I close on the topic of women in the first world war, it is right to consider how these issues continue to play out today. Women’s work—their physical, professional and emotional labour—remains often underappreciated and underpaid. Of course, women play a vital frontline role in our armed forces today. We have come a long way since 1918, but it remains all too common that the contributions of women are underplayed, so I am pleased that this debate today has shone a spotlight on the accomplishments and sacrifices of so many historic women, from extraordinary actions to daily perseverance. I warmly welcome the WomensWork100 programme, which will launch in 2018 through the First World War Centenary Partnership. I thank all the organisations involved for their hard work throughout the commemoration period, in particular the Imperial War Museum.

Our armed forces communities continue to protect us, and I am proud of and humbled by the sacrifices they still make today. At home, the UK armed forces, supported by the entire armed forces community of families, reservists, veterans and cadets, continue to support responses to terrorist incidents and to protect our aerospace. Abroad, they are currently involved in more than 30 operations in 20 countries, from supporting the European Union and UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, to responding to the continuing threat posed by Daesh. As we take this time today to remember the contributions and sacrifices made during the first world war, we should also remember the sacrifices that have been made every year since then and are still being made by the brave men and women of the armed forces community. We should also redouble our efforts—all of us; men and women—to work for peace.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
28 Nov 2017, 10:41 a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies, and I thank the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) for introducing the debate. I know the subject is close to the hearts of many Members across the House, and that has been reflected in the nine moving and poignant speeches and the several interventions made this morning.

We have heard of the importance of Dr Inglis’s work and how it serves as one of many examples of the contributions of women to the war effort. This is a very important subject as we reflect on the first world war 100 years on. I pay tribute to my parliamentary neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), who has done so much, alongside other Members of the House, including the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), to commemorate the first world war. There has been a significant number of events, and those taking place in 2018 will be announced early in the new year.

As hon. Members have observed, Dr Inglis was a hugely inspirational woman. As one of the first female doctors in the UK, a pioneer of women in medicine and an ardent campaigner for votes for women, she is a remarkable figure in our history. The hon. Members for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) and for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) spoke about the collection of data. I am open to representations on that matter, but it is important that many commemorations have been based on decisions made in different local authorities. It is about getting the right balance between spending money and allowing local campaigns to come to fruition in the right way. A large number of commemorations that have taken place over the last few years reflected inputs from local communities. Although I do not rule anything out, there are a number of communities across our history—perhaps even ethnic minorities—whose contributions have not been reflected. There is a judgment to be made on where we draw the line on that, but I note the sensible points that have been raised.

Through the upheaval of the first world war, Dr Inglis achieved international fame for the drive, dedication and compassion that were woven into her life, as well as her determination to do what she believed was right—refusing, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh South said, to go home and sit still. She is an enduring inspirational role model for us all. Instead of sitting still, she turned her energies to establishing field hospitals for service overseas.

As has been mentioned, Serbia in particular was in dire need of doctors, and some 600 British women served there as volunteers during the war—in large part due to Dr Inglis’s pioneering work to raise awareness and funds for that cause. She arrived in Serbia in January 1915 with the Scottish women’s hospitals, and used her skill and tenacity to save lives and alleviate suffering in extremely harsh and hazardous circumstances. She demonstrated extraordinary leadership and great loyalty in refusing to abandon Serbian troops in the field, and was herself sent into German captivity with the wounded, rather than withdrawing when the opportunity arose.

I am delighted that the Scottish commemorations panel, ably led by Norman Drummond, is delivering a number of events to commemorate the work of Dr Inglis and her fellow members of the Scottish women’s hospitals movement. A wreath-laying ceremony took place on Sunday at the grave of Dr Inglis in Dean cemetery, Edinburgh, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh South mentioned. Tomorrow, a commemorative service will take place in the presence of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, timed to start 100 years to the minute from Dr Inglis’s funeral there.

As with all its previous events, the Scottish panel has produced an historical publication, available to members of the public on its website. The impact of Dr Inglis’s contribution reflects the sacrifice and courage of so many women—something that has been raised by hon. Members across the Chamber. My hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (John Lamont) gave a moving and poignant account of the contribution made by individuals from his constituency. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport spoke about the work of Chris Robinson and the sacrifices made by those who worked with poisonous chemicals in Plymouth—a city that is close to my own heart, following my extensive attempt to get elected there several years ago.

The hon. Member for East Lothian (Martin Whitfield) spoke of Bessie Bowhill and her enormous contribution. Such contributions were often under-reported; that theme has run across many of the individuals we have discussed. We did not really know about their contribution, and that is not right.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine) spoke movingly about the many women who made such strong contributions and sacrifices in difficult circumstances, and about the premature death of her own mother—as with my father—through asbestos poisoning.

In 2015, the British residence in Belgrade, as was also mentioned in some very well-researched speeches, was named in Dr Inglis’s honour, as a reflection of her service in Serbia and the historical relationship between the UK and Serbia. She was also featured on stamps issued by the Serbian Mail in 2015, along with other British women of the Scottish women’s hospitals movement. Closer to home, I understand that the Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation has an annual Elsie Inglis staff development award, and there is a permanent memorial to her in St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Dr Inglis’s contribution also reminds us of the role played by other remarkable women who made history during the first world war, such as Gertrude Bell, who played an extraordinary role in the middle east; Edith Cavell, the nurse executed in 1915, who was commemorated in a series of events in October 2015; Flora Sandes, who also served in Serbia with the Serbian army; and Vera Brittain, the Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, who left a powerful account of her experiences and the reality of modern war. Those well known heroines are the most recognisable women of the first world war, but we should also remember the vital role played by many less well known, but no less inspiring, women—a theme of some of this morning’s speeches.

The range of organisations established during the war reflects the range of contributions made by women, and the strength of their desire to play their part. Although it is not possible in the remaining time to recount every organisation founded by, or for, women during the war, I will highlight some of the most prominent to give an idea of the scale and breadth of their contribution.

Under military control from the start of the war, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, and its part-time equivalent, the Territorial Force Nursing Service, were greatly expanded and served throughout the war on every front and in every campaign, often in the harshest conditions. Their professionalism and compassion feature in the recollections of many of those who experienced their care. They were supported by the Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Red Cross—staffed by both men and women—which was tasked with nursing, the administration of hospitals and rest stations, clerical and transport duties, and, in response to new developments, air raid duties. Working in Royal Army Medical Corps hospitals from February 1915, they numbered more than 82,000 members by 1920.

Women also served in the Army, the Navy and the newly-founded Royal Air Force in a range of roles previously performed exclusively by men. The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was formed in February 1917 and eventually numbered 57,000 volunteers. In recognition of that service, the corps was renamed Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps in April 1918. The Women’s Royal Naval Service, universally known as the Wrens, was also formed in 1917, with 5,500 women serving by 1918 in a wide range of roles. On 10 October 1918, 19-year-old Josephine Carr from Cork became the first Wren to die on active service when RMS Leinster was torpedoed by a German U-boat.

The Women’s Royal Air Force was created as part of the newly-established RAF on 1 April 1918, and 9,000 women already serving alongside the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service volunteered to join. Many will remember Harry Patch, the last Tommy. However, the last surviving veteran of the first world war from any country is believed to be Florence Green, who served with the WRAF in the UK and died at the age of 110 in 2012. More than 100,000 women served in Britain’s armed forces during the war.

Other auxiliary forces assisted with the war effort at home. The Women’s Land Army, formed in February 1917, provided a dedicated agricultural workforce and went on to employ some 113,000 women as field workers, carters, milkers and ploughwomen. Indeed, by the end of the war women made up around one third of all agricultural labour. The first female police officers also served during the first world war. The women’s patrols were tasked with supervising women around factories and workers’ hostels, as well as patrolling railway stations and public spaces.

In addition, a huge number of auxiliary and volunteer organisations were established, which reflected the desire of women across the country to take part in the war and serve their country. The enthusiasm with which women joined the groups and the way they performed their roles played a large part in the decision to increase recruitment of women in the forces.

The Women’s Legion, which was formed in July 1915, eventually became the largest entirely voluntary body. Its volunteers were involved in many forms of work and the strength of response is often cited as a factor in influencing the Government to accept and organise female labour on a more formal basis.

Women began to contribute more than ever to Britain’s industrial output. Although women made up a substantial part of the industrial workforce before the war, largely in the textile industry, as the demand for shells and munitions increased, women were employed in the munitions industry in larger numbers. As has been mentioned a number of times in the debate, working long hours, in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions, women helped to supply the troops with weapons, ammunition and equipment. By 1918, almost a million women were employed in some aspect of munitions work. Women also began working in much larger numbers in the transport industry. During the war, the number of women working on the railways rose from 9,000 to 50,000. Elsewhere, they worked as bus drivers, conductors, ticket collectors and porters.

I am very pleased to say that that huge range of activity will be reflected in “WomensWork100”, a programme led by the Imperial War Museums and the Centenary Partnership. An international programme of exhibitions, events, activities and digital resources will be launched in February 2018 and will recognise and celebrate the working lives of women during the first world war. Through the stories of those who joined the workforce and against the backdrop of the campaign for female suffrage, it will use the IWM’s Women’s Work Collection to explore the breadth of women’s roles.

The creation of that collection is closely linked with the establishment of the museum. Almost immediately after its creation in 1917, the museum formed a committee to source material to ensure that the role of women would be recorded. That material included items donated by Dr Inglis’s sisters, some of which are on permanent display at the Imperial War Museum North. It is particularly appropriate that next year Imperial War Museums will be sharing stories from the collection.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, which has responsibility for commemorating women’s suffrage, has plans for a project called “Inspirational Women: Speak Up”. It will enable schools across the country to research and present content about the contribution of women to society and will include women such as Dr Elsie Inglis and Sophia Duleep Singh, who served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, tending wounded Indian troops in Brighton.

Although the courage, self-sacrifice and determination of such women is inspiring, we should not lose sight of the loss and hardship endured by women during the war, as reflected in the speech by the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon). In a recent debate introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (David Morris), it was noted that some 600 memorial plaques were issued to the families of women who died in the first world war in the service of their country. Each plaque represents a very personal and tragic story of loss and sacrifice.

Women’s suffrage is somewhat outside the scope of this debate, but the contribution of women to the national effort was rightly a significant factor in the passing of the Representation of the People Act in February 1918. Although I note the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire about what happened subsequently, I am sure that the IWM and DCLG programmes, as well as many other local and community projects, will reflect on that element of women’s experience during the war. The war galvanised women of all ages and social backgrounds to support the war effort and to reconsider their position in society. We should not lose sight of the ever-present contribution of women at home and to the family, maintaining some sense of normality, or looking after the children of those who had entered the workforce.

In those respects and many others, the contribution of women to all aspects of the first world war was hugely significant. I am conscious that the debate has only touched on the many fascinating and moving stories of many millions of our forebears. I am sure that tomorrow our thoughts will turn to Dr Inglis, but as we approach the final year of centenary commemorations, we will continue to recognise and remember the huge role played by women during the first world war and ensure that it is not forgotten.

Ian Murray Portrait Ian Murray - Hansard
28 Nov 2017, 10:58 a.m.

I thank the Minister and the shadow Minister for their wonderful contributions and the moving stories they told from their personal experience. What we see from the debate—from Dr Elsie Inglis, Mary Barbour and Florence Green, whom the Minister mentioned; from Plymouth to Wales to Glasgow to Edinburgh, from Barnsley to Caithness to Northern Ireland and right across the country; from the RAF, the Army and the Royal Navy—is that the contribution that these dedicated, passionate and often modest women made to the war effort, and subsequently, without any regard to their own safety, shows that we owe them a great deal of respect and remembrance. Perhaps, if someone from the BBC is watching, they might want to change “Dad’s Army” to “Mum’s Army” and make a new comedy series about the contribution of women to the war effort.

We will see many centenaries this year and next in the run-up to the centenary of the end of the first world war. For everyone who made an effort, particularly for women, we will do two things: thank them for the service they gave this country and say that we will always remember them.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered Dr Elsie Inglis and the contribution of women to World War One.

City of Culture 2021: Sunderland Bid

John Glen Excerpts
Tuesday 21st November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Julie Elliott Portrait Julie Elliott - Hansard
21 Nov 2017, 4:05 p.m.

The names have changed a lot over the years. My hon. Friend the Member for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) has the F Pit Museum and Washington Old Hall, the ancestral home of George Washington. Things of a cultural nature are happening right across the city.

There is not lukewarm support but passionate backing for a project that the people want and the city needs. Our bid has also garnered the support of people from across the north-east region. Even the old rivalries between Sunderland and Newcastle have been put to one side on this one—anyone who understands rivalries in football will really know how passionate those rivalries are at times. Newcastle City Council passed a motion in support of our bid.

Neither the city of culture nor the European capital of culture has ever been awarded to a city in the north-east of England, despite strong bids by our neighbours Newcastle and Gateshead for European capital of culture 2008 and Durham for city of culture 2013. We are hoping it will be third time lucky.

Sunderland gets what a difference it would make: we understand that change would be fundamental and long-lasting. It is not just about the huge investment that would follow. Hull—some people say Hull is a north-east city, but it takes more than three hours to get there from Sunderland—forecasts that more than £3 billion will have flowed into its city thanks to being this year’s city of culture. Attracting an extra 1.6 million visitors, being the UK city of culture would change the way Sunderland is perceived regionally, nationally and internationally. The city that to some has become the symbol of Brexit would once again be seen as the warm, welcoming, modest, hard-working, tolerant, creative and innovative city we know it is.

Winning city of culture would be the catalyst for growth in our creative industries. We believe it would enable the growth of 150 new creative businesses, bringing in 750 sustainable jobs that our city needs. We understand how a successful bid would improve our health and wellbeing and help us become a more cohesive city. It is widely known that engagement and participation in the arts can have a positive, long-term effect on improving someone’s health and wellbeing—and particularly someone’s mental health, which is very much in the spotlight at the moment. An extended and improved cultural sector delivering more opportunities for people to engage in the arts would therefore have a meaningful impact on the city’s wellbeing.

Sunderland struggles with some of the most acute health challenges in the country, partly because of lifestyle choices but also significantly from our heritage of industrial working. The injection of cultural opportunity would do more for communities in Sunderland than anywhere else.

Communities become stronger and more understanding when working together on artistic projects. The participatory and collaborative nature of the arts and their informality promotes friendships and greater tolerance across cultural divides, even bridging language barriers.

Our city-wide conversations have inspired three creative themes: light, inventiveness and friendship. Those themes connect our past and future. They resonate with our local communities and would provide the stimulus for world-class cultural activity throughout 2021. They would strengthen the three strands of any successful city: its society, economy and culture.

Our opening season would be themed around friendship, bringing together communities across Wearside and welcoming visitors from around the world to a programme of art and culture inspired by questions about how we live together, both locally and globally. Our middle season would take inspiration from innovators, inventors and trailblazers past, present and future, to create a programme that will tackle the questions of how we make and shape the future of the world around us through our creativity and ingenuity.

Sunderland was home to Joseph Swan, the inventor of the electric light bulb, although he lost out on the patent to Edison; and before him to the glass makers, who brought stained glass window making to this country more than 1,300 years ago. Nowadays, we “Mackems” continue to innovate and invent, particularly in the IT and digital sector, as well as having the most productive car plant in Europe, which is often talked about in this place. Our final season would be inspired by the theme of light, and would be a celebration of the power of art and culture to enchant, inspire and illuminate new possibilities. Sunderland has long been an inspiration for artists and writers such as L.S. Lowry and Lewis Carroll, and painters talk of the special light that casts a glowing warmth over our fantastic beaches and coastline.

I want everyone to know just how special Sunderland is and, more than that, what city of culture status would do for our city. My city is a truly wonderful place for creativity. It is ambitious, brave and collaborative, like our bid. Winning UK city of culture 2021 would bring so much to our city and would help to reaffirm that Sunderland’s best days are not behind us, but most definitely still to come.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
21 Nov 2017, 4:12 p.m.

I will start by saying what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I warmly congratulate the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) on securing this important debate on Sunderland’s bid to become UK city of culture 2021. I also thank the other hon. Members who have contributed. It is surprising not to see hon. Members from Swansea, Stoke, Paisley or Coventry here, intervening aggressively, but that says something about the spirit of this competition. As the hon. Lady said, it is an exciting time for Sunderland and for the other four towns and cities shortlisted to be the next holders of that transformative and quite prestigious title.

Before I go further into my speech, I would like to say a few words about Councillor Paul Watson, who was the leader of Sunderland City Council until he died earlier this month. From the many tributes I have been made aware of, it is clear that Councillor Watson was a passionate and influential campaigner for Sunderland and the wider region, and always fought hard to get a good deal for the people of the north-east. As the Minister, I would like to express my sincere condolences to his family and colleagues. I understand that Councillor Watson was an enthusiastic supporter of the UK city of culture programme and of Sunderland’s bid, recognising not only the importance of the title and its ability to help regenerate and bring economic benefits, but its importance as a vehicle for expressing a city’s pride in its heritage and helping to build a new future.

As the Minister for arts, heritage and tourism, I see the UK city of culture programme as one of our nation’s crown jewels. The winning area must build a high-quality arts and cultural programme of national significance that reaches a wide variety of audiences and participants. As the hon. Lady said, and as we have seen with Hull, winning the city of culture also acts as a catalyst that can help to regenerate and transform an area for the people who live and work there.

It might be helpful if I update the House on where we have got to. This year, 11 places made an application to become UK city of culture 2021. Following a recommendation from the independent panel chaired by the excellent Phil Redmond, I agreed a shortlist of five in July. I have been deeply impressed to see how all the places bidding have engaged so fully in the city of culture process. Even more gratifying is to see how making a bid can in itself be transformational in raising a city’s profile and helping it to develop a clear set of cultural aspirations for the future. The hon. Lady has outlined some of the themes that are clear in Sunderland’s bid. Feedback from the places that did not make the shortlist—Hereford, Perth, Portsmouth, St David’s, Warrington and Wells—confirms that to be the case. I met representatives from some of those areas in September and heard how their participation in the UK capital of culture process is the start of a journey, not its end. Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry and Swansea, the other shortlisted places, are nearing the end of the process along with Sunderland, and I will announce the winner next month.

There is clearly much to be gained for the winning city of culture. We know that taking part in the arts can improve self-esteem and confidence. Arts and culture, through their ability to engage, inspire and challenge us, are instrumental in helping to break down barriers to participation and engagement across race, disability, age, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic disadvantage. The economic and social importance of culture to place-making, as underlined by the Government’s White Paper on culture last year, is evident in emerging data and evidence coming from Hull, the current incumbent UK city of culture.

Before I address Sunderland, I thought it might be helpful to set out some of the benefits the title brings. I will set them against what we know has happened in Hull. Hull City Council estimates that the local economy has benefited by £3.3 billion in total investment since being awarded the title, four years ago in 2013. Seven out of 10 Hull residents say that the UK city of culture status is having a positive effect on their lives, largely because of the opportunities made available through its volunteering programme and participation at events across the city. Hull’s 2017 volunteers have already undertaken more than 300,000 volunteer hours, the equivalent of 34 years. City of culture status has restored local pride. Who can forget Hull City fans singing, “You’re only here for the culture,” at a premier league match earlier this year?

Finally, and very importantly, Hull has seen brilliant engagement with the arts. Nine out of 10 residents attended or experienced at least one cultural event in the first three months of the year—more than double the number engaging in such activities before the city’s bid. Those are amazing achievements, of which Hull City Council and the Hull city of culture company can be hugely proud.

I now address the substance of this debate, Sunderland’s bid to become the UK’s city of culture 2021. One of the great sincere pleasures of my job is learning about the history and culture of towns and cities across the UK. For example, in preparing for this debate I found out that England’s first ever stained glass window was created in Sunderland, almost 1,400 years ago. I also learned that Sunderland was one of the first places outside London to have a municipally funded museum. It has always been a place that showed cultural leadership. Like many other people, however, I am more familiar with Sunderland’s recent history as one of the world’s great shipbuilding cities. As the hon. Member for Sunderland Central said, the decline of shipbuilding and the coal industry has had a huge impact on the people of Sunderland. In common with Hull and other city of culture candidates, the city has needed to reinvent itself, and in this context it is using arts and culture to forge a new identity.

Sunderland now has a strong network of existing museums and galleries in the area, particularly the National Glass Centre, the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. There is also good partnership working and engagement with other major regional museums, including Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, and I know that Sunderland is keen to use the city of culture bid to develop its existing partnerships with other national and international museums. Last week we had an independent review of museums, and that was one of the themes we will be taking up in the Department. Whoever wins will have the opportunity to derive some benefits from that work. The National Glass Centre and the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art receive funding from Arts Council England of nearly £350,000 per year, as well as funding from the city and the University of Sunderland.

The organisation leading the bid is Sunderland Culture, which has been formed by the University of Sunderland, Sunderland City Council and the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust. Sunderland Culture will become a national portfolio organisation that receives annual funding from the Arts Council from April 2018. Sunderland has also received £3 million from the Creative People and Places programme and £1.25 million from the Great Places Scheme.

Looking forward, it is absolutely clear that there is a clear cultural vision for Sunderland, including for a new music, arts and culture quarter and the restoration of significant heritage sites, such as Hylton castle and Roker pier. Sunderland is home to Europe’s largest free international air show and will next year host the Tall Ships race, which I hope will bring people to the city in huge numbers and be a fantastic boost to the visitor economy. I hope many of those visitors will also experience the Great Exhibition of the North, which will take place at the same time in nearby Newcastle and Gateshead.

It is clear from what we have heard this afternoon that, in common with the other shortlisted areas, Sunderland has the heritage, vision, infrastructure and cultural leadership to be the next city of culture. I conclude by wishing the city of Sunderland the best of luck in its bid. It has been so well supported by all its MPs here today. The good news for them is that they have only a few weeks to wait.

Question put and agreed to.

Oral Answers to Questions

John Glen Excerpts
Thursday 16th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Steve Double Portrait Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) (Con) - Hansard
16 Nov 2017, 9:30 a.m.

The biggest concern of the tourism and hospitality sector is access to the labour force once we leave the EU. Will the Minister confirm that he has got this message, and will he update the House on what representations he is making to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on the matter?

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard

My hon. Friend is a strong campaigner for the tourism industry. I have had numerous conversations with the tourism industry across the UK and I am having active conversations across Government. I look forward to progress being made on this important issue in the very near future.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab) - Hansard

T6. In September, the NEC Group agreed to operate the Bradford Odeon as the largest mid-sized venue outside London. This could attract a further quarter of a million visitors to Bradford. Does the Minister agree that this shows a huge confidence in Bradford, and will he look at bridging the funding gap after the local authority has added extra funds? Will he also meet me to look at the restoration of this world-class site? [901862]

Break in Debate

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con) - Hansard
16 Nov 2017, 9:30 a.m.

The Minister responsible for tourism will be aware of the importance of the industry to Torbay. It may seem strange to say this in winter, but many people will soon be starting to think about their summer holidays. What work will he do to ensure that people think of coming to Britain’s great coastline next summer when they book their holiday at Christmas 2017?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Extending the season is a key priority for the tourism sector. I shall be down in the south-west very early in March to declare the season open early next year.

John Grogan (Keighley) (Lab) Hansard

T7. Will Ministers look at the situation whereby the 2018 winter Olympics would in their entirety be a listed event, with the expectation that they would be shown on live free-to-air TV, as before, in their entirety? In fact, most of the live coverage will be on Discovery’s Eurosport without, as yet, any reference to Ofcom. [901863]

Break in Debate

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Nov 2017, 10:15 a.m.

The Natural History Museum is embarking on the monumental task of digitising 800 million items, including a collection of dung beetles and flea beetles. These items could hold the keys to our future biodiversity, climate change and pollution problems, so they are very important. Does the Minister agree that this is the kind of project the Government should be supporting in conjunction with our global partners?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. The Government are indeed supporting that sort of work, and we have some internationally renowned institutions doing wonderful work. Digitisation is really important, and the University of Sheffield, for example, is working closely with the Natural History Museum to take advantage of some of the pioneering work it has already undertaken.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I am sorry to disappoint remaining colleagues, but there is heavy pressure on time today in light of the Backbench Business Committee debates and the statements before them, so we must now move on.

National Railway Museum and Ownership of National Assets

John Glen Excerpts
Wednesday 25th October 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan - Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:14 p.m.

Indeed. My mother’s brothers and my grandfather were coalminers who were part of that whole process. Further, one of the first jobs I had as a young man was working over the summer as a platelayer in the British steelworks at Llanwern. I had some real hands-on experience of working on the railway, and can tell the House that lifting lines and packing ballast under the tracks and sleepers quickly convinced me that politics was a much better profession to go into. It is an easier occupation than working on the railways, which is a tremendously skilled but very labour-intensive job.

Later, as a skills Minister, I had the great opportunity to visit Pete Waterman’s site at Crewe—he of “The X Factor” fame—where lots of young people are trained as apprentices to work on the wonderful heritage railway lines and schemes we have around the country. As the older engineers were all dying off, that skill and knowledge had to be passed on to the next generation. I commend the work that Pete Waterman, as a railway enthusiast, has done over many years to ensure that those skills are indeed passed on.

This country’s heritage railway industry is extraordinary. I looked earlier at the list and thought I might read out a few, but I am not going to because there are countless wonderful heritage railway lines around the country. It is appropriate that we are debating that today. This debate is very important. We have heard about the National Railway Museum in York, where visitors can enjoy two centuries of railway history. As we heard, it was opened in 1975; it nearly doubled in size during its expansion in 1990, and in 2004, along with the local authority, it opened the museum in Shildon, which my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland mentioned earlier—the first national museum in the north-east.

It would be helpful if, when the Minister replies, he answers the questions raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton North and some questions that I would like to add. We have rightly focused on the National Railway Museum today but, as hon. Members may know, the Government are currently carrying out a museums review. Will the Minister give us a steer as to when he expects the review to surface? I understand it is very close to completion—perhaps the write-around is going on among Ministers at the moment—but it would be helpful to the House to know. That is reasonable; this should not be a state secret.

Will the Minister also tell us what impact cuts to local authority budgets are having on local museums—in particular, on opening hours? Has he undertaken any kind of survey of local museums to try to estimate that? My hon. Friend the Member for Darlington mentioned the fact that her local railway museum is generally closed on Mondays and sometimes, at this time of year, on Tuesdays as well. Is that something that the Minister is worried about and is it getting worse?

We also heard the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Luton North about how museums manage their collections. Will the museum review deal with questions regarding ethical disposal and collection management? Is that going to be part of the review? Will the Minister confirm that the Government intend to keep Labour’s policy of free admission to our national museums, which the previous Labour Government introduced, including the National Railway Museum at York? My hon. Friend also raised specific concerns about the disposal of three locomotives. He did not quite accuse the Minister or the National Railway Museum of the great train robbery, but he did raise questions that the Minister needs to answer about consultation, transparency, tendering and fairness, as well as compliance with the National Heritage Act 1983.

In conclusion, Britain has a remarkable museums sector. We welcome the museums review that the Government are undertaking and that Neil Mendoza is doing for them. We are concerned that, unlike with previous reviews under Labour, no new resources will be made available to support museums, which are under severe financial pressure as a result of those cuts at the local level. That will inevitably lead to further issues around the disposal of museum collections. I hope the Minister will give the House reassurances on those issues.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:17 p.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Chope. I thank the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) for proposing this debate about the National Railway Museum and the ownership of national assets. I am grateful to the large number of hon. Members who have contributed. In my response I will seek to address the specific points made.

As we have heard, the collections of our national and regional museums are of profound importance. We can be extremely proud of the local, regional and global significance and diversity of many of those items. It is right to ensure that the collections are managed well.

The hon. Gentleman is concerned that the National Railway Museum has disposed of assets that should be retained within the national collection. However, I do not agree with his proposal that the National Railway Museum reopens this question. The museum is bound by the National Heritage Act 1983, but is not required by that to consult the public before disposing of items. Those are curatorial decisions and are therefore independent from Government—and I believe rightly so. I will go into some detail on how the process works.

While the 1983 Act sets out some restrictions on the museum’s disposal powers, the Science Museum Group, of which the National Railway Museum is a part, has a rigorous process in place to ensure that disposals are consistent with those restrictions. Having spoken to Andrew McLean, the assistant director and head curator at the museum, yesterday afternoon, I am confident that the decision to transfer the engines, particularly the engine to Swanage railway, was the right decision in this circumstance. It does not set any precedents, as I think the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O’Hara) suggested, but follows accepted museum practice. It has been undertaken in this way in other situations for many years. It would not be appropriate for me to intervene, even if I desired to do so.

Since I took on this ministerial role, I have had the opportunity to visit many museums and heritage sites all over the country. I have not been to York or Darlington yet, but there is always a new opportunity.

Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan - Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:19 p.m.

We could go together.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:19 p.m.

Perhaps we could—I welcome that.

I have been deeply impressed by the passion that staff and visitors have for their museums and how seriously museums take their duty to preserve and care for their collections, which in many cases, including the national collection, are specifically held in trust for the public now and for the future.

The hon. Member for Darlington (Jenny Chapman) gave a passionate defence of and was an advocate for her museum. I point out to her that Arts Council England is investing £118 million in museums in the current period, up to next year, and from 2018 many more museums will be part of the national portfolio. Museums will be able to apply for grants from the Arts Council, so there are more opportunities. I recognise the funding constraints and urge her to liaise with her local museum on how that could happen.

The National Railway Museum sites at York and Shildon are among the most popular museums in the UK. Visitor numbers are around 750,000 a year and were boosted in 2015-16 by the exciting arrival of the Flying Scotsman. The collection there includes more than 250 locomotives and rolling stock, 628 coins and medals, and nearly 5,000 pieces of railway uniform, equipment, documents, records, artwork and photographs. Such a fantastic and popular array of objects—especially including large locomotives—naturally requires a lot of management. The curators and museum in York need to be given full credit for the role they have played, not only within their own precincts but in the regeneration of York. They must decide what to display to the public, and how best to construct an interesting and informative narrative around the collection, and take into account the historical and physical quality of the objects. With locomotives, a large amount of storage space is also required.

It is clear from what we have heard that the hon. Member for Luton North holds the National Railway Museum collections in great esteem, as we all do, and naturally is concerned to ensure that they are being well managed. That is of great importance to me too, particularly as the assets of our national museums are, in essence, owned by the public and their upkeep and display contributed to by taxpayers. It is only right and proper that national museums are run at arm’s length from Government. We expect, however, that collections are reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain relevant, appropriate and accessible to the widest possible audiences. The collections management policy of the Science Museum Group, including its disposal guidelines, is publicly available. For clarity, I will set out how such decisions are made.

Recommendations for disposal must be approved by a board of survey—as the hon. Member for York Central (Rachael Maskell) mentioned—held at the individual museum site, where they are peer-reviewed by colleagues. Recommendations then go to the collections and research trustee sub-committee, followed by the Science Museum board of trustees. It is in the nature of the heritage transport sector that some charitable institutions with heritage rail collections do not necessarily operate as accredited museums. As such, when disposal to a national or accredited museum is not possible, the aim is to keep objects in the public domain. The Science Museum Group also gives priority to transferring items to museums or heritage organisations with a local or regional connection. That decision-making process is not random, but clear and well considered, with a number of checks.

The National Railway Museum’s decision to deaccession this particular locomotive was based on three factors: first, duplication of this type of locomotive within its collection; secondly, the vehicle being in particularly poor condition; and finally, the vehicle being more suited to a museum telling local and regional stories. I am confident that due processes were followed and that the museum made the right decision for the object.

Swanage Railway Trust is a well respected heritage railway organisation, which has the knowledge, skills and storage facilities to care for the engine in a way that will let future generations enjoy it. Indeed, only yesterday we found out that it had received a generous private donation that will allow it to strip down and examine the T3 to establish whether it can be restored to full working order. Swanage Railway believes that the engine can tell its story most effectively by hauling trains on a branch line railway that it was built to run on more than 120 years ago, and I am inclined to agree.

Martin Vickers Portrait Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con) - Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:25 p.m.

I speak both as a railway enthusiast and an officer of the all-party group on heritage rail, which is particularly interested in ensuring that locomotives are in steam and that people see them running. I have visited York on many occasions and the days on which the locomotives are in steam draw the real crowds. Will the Minister assure us that if locomotives are transferred, whether to Swanage or wherever, they can be seen operating on the many preserved lines we have up and down the country?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:26 p.m.

The principle behind decisions on disposal and dispersal of assets are designed to maximise public exposure to fully functioning assets, so that as many interested people as possible are brought into the country’s museums. I cannot give categorical assurances on exactly how the assets will be displayed and used, but I imagine that is the aspiration in every case.

That recent development in Swanage demonstrates that the move there was in the best interests of the engine and the public who want to see it. Swanage Railway has a long historical association with the T3 and receives more than 200,000 visitors a year. In the long term, it hopes to fully restore the engine to steam and increase its accessibility to the public. Those goals may not have been possible for the National Railway Museum, given the range of issues that it has to deal with. For those reasons, the National Railway Museum and trustees of the Science Museum felt that Swanage Railway would be extremely well placed to look after the engine and display it to a wider audience.

The news of the transfer was generally well received, both locally and with the descendants of the locomotive’s designer, William Adams. Indeed, only Steam Railway magazine, to which the hon. Member for Luton North contributed, raised any concerns. No other organisations have come forward to say that they wanted to acquire the T3. The museum abides by the Museums Association’s code of ethics on disposals and best practice. That includes advertising objects for disposal in some circumstances. The museum has committed to going above and beyond that and will advertise every rail vehicle disposal to ensure that the best home can be found for these important objects.

More broadly, the question of how to make disposals sensibly and ethically is taken very seriously by the museums sector. The hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) asked about the Mendoza review of museums in England. That will report soon and will look at collections management, including disposals. On funding, some proposals are being examined for how we can encourage better collaboration between big national museums and regional and local museums. I hope that that will provide more opportunities in due course.

In conclusion, although I understand and appreciate the sincere concern of the hon. Member for Luton North that the national collections are well managed, I do not agree that the disposal of the T3 engine should be re-examined. I understand that the National Railway Museum has invited him to visit the museum to discuss the matter in person. I encourage him to take up that offer, because I think that such a meeting would allay many of his fears. I have every confidence that the museum has managed, and will continue to manage, its collections to ensure that it can inspire its visitors, but I will continue to observe the sector closely in my role as Minister.

Kelvin Hopkins Hansard
25 Oct 2017, 5:29 p.m.

I thank the Minister and all hon. Members for their contributions. I am pleased that I raised this important issue, because the debate has shone a light on a subject that may not have been illuminated before.

I would perhaps demur from some of the Minister’s points. The rules under the National Heritage Act are fairly strict, including the criteria by which assets can be disposed of, and I do not think that they have been observed properly in this case. However, we have heard some interesting contributions. I do not have time to go into them in great detail, but I thank everybody for them. I hope that in future we will guard all our national assets, in every kind of museum or gallery, with great reverence and ensure that the public interest is protected at all times, so that we keep our wonderful heritage accessible to all, free of charge, throughout the country, both nationally and locally.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered the National Railway Museum and ownership of national assets.

First World War Servicemen: Memorial Plaques

John Glen Excerpts
Friday 20th October 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
David Morris Portrait David Morris - Hansard
20 Oct 2017, 2:40 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for that nice story. It is right that we should commemorate. This is only part of the story, but it is fitting for those homes to bear those plaques.

What is the Government’s role? The Government would like to do everything they possibly can, but it is really up to the community to recognise that the plaques mean something. I would love to see a national memorial to the fallen, or for the plaques to go to local regiments, local museums or even the Military Heritage Society. Personally, I would like for Charles Edward Woodward’s plaque to be displayed here in the House of Commons. I understand, however, that because he does not have any ties with the Commons, that cannot be the case—maybe it could be displayed in the green case downstairs for a short time. I would therefore like to round off this emotive speech by letting him go home and handing the plaque to my hon. Friend the Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins).

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Oct 2017, 2:41 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (David Morris) for securing this debate, and I commend him for his eloquence, emotion and seriousness of purpose.

It is interesting to hear of the number of memorial plaques and scrolls that were issued to the families of the fallen, reminding us of the huge losses suffered by Britain and the then empire. As we have heard, the plaques were issued by the Government to the next of kin of those who died serving with the British and empire forces in the first world war, along with a commemorative scroll and a message from the king. While most were issued in the years immediately after the war, the fact that they were issued until the 1930s reminds us that the loss of life from the first world war continued after the guns fell silent on 11 November 1918. The fact that over 600 were issued to the families of women is a stark reminder of the important role that women played during the war. Once issued, the awards became the property of the families to do with as they saw, and see, most fitting. Many are still treasured by descendants, but, as my hon. Friend points out, in some cases they were donated or used in local memorials, and many local museums have them in their collections.

As I am sure my hon. Friend will understand, it is not practical or possible for our national museums to accept every item offered to them. This is especially apparent, given the tragically large scale of distribution of the plaques. When I visit museums, which I have done numerous times in my first four months as a Minister, it is amazing to see the number of items kept in storage. As with all museums, the Imperial War Museum has strict criteria for accepting items. These are determined by its acquisitions and disposal policy, which is available on the Imperial War Museum website. Decisions have to be made on what is of most value in the context of its collections, and in telling the stories of the causes, course and consequences of the first world war. I am sure the hon. Members will agree that it is not for Government to decide what should be done with items that are in the private ownership of families or collections.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins - Hansard
20 Oct 2017, 2:44 p.m.

Will you allow me a moment, Madam Deputy Speaker, to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale for making such a moving speech, and also for presenting me with a valuable and special token of the, sadly, very short life of someone who would have lived in Spilsby, in my constituency?

The Minister is talking about museums. We have a wonderful museum in Alford, just as few miles down the road from Spilsby, where that young man came from. It is run by volunteers, and currently has an exhibition commemorating the centenary of the first world war. The collection has been gathered from local people who have lent objects that have been found in their attics, or in their grandparents’ homes, to the museum at Alford Manor House. It will be my very great honour to lend this plaque to the museum until next year—with, obviously, the consent of my hon. Friend.

David Morris Portrait David Morris - Hansard
20 Oct 2017, 2:45 p.m.

indicated assent.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
20 Oct 2017, 2:46 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention. She has made the case for the importance of local museums all over the country, and the enormous impact that they can have as communities seek to do the right thing by those who came before them and remember appropriately the sacrifices that were made.

It is very difficult to categorise the appeal of the plaques to their owners 100 years on from the war. Indeed, the Passchendaele centenary has shown us how varied are the connections that people feel to the fallen of the first world war, not only through direct family relationships but through associations based in their local communities, or connections through a school, regimental club or society. While it is not appropriate for the Government to consider collecting plaques that are no longer in the hands of the families of those who lost their lives during the war, a number of other options are open to those who possess a plaque or wish to find out more about how to commemorate an individual.

As my hon. Friends mentioned, local, regimental or corps museums associated with the place where the person commemorated lived, or was born, may have an interest in the plaques, or, indeed, in any other items relating to the first world war and its aftermath. They may also have further information about that person and his or her experience of the war. Local museums may be seen to have a stronger claim to the acquisition of such items, and are often well placed to exhibit them in their local context. That, I think, brings more meaning to the community that the individual came from.

Bob Stewart Portrait Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con) - Hansard

Families now remember their fallen by dedicating a corner of their living room to the young man, or young woman, who is lost. They have the helmet, the hat, the belt and the medal. The medal usually has the young person’s name on it, written around the ring. The families generally have the letter of condolence as well. Families whom I have visited, because the people whom they have lost were under my command when they were killed, have had one of these pennies in the room. That brings family history to life, because, from the first world war to the present, it shows the family connection. It is wonderful to see that.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
20 Oct 2017, 2:47 p.m.

I thank my hon, and gallant Friend for what he has said. Whenever I think of him, I think of his service and the sacrifices made by him and by those alongside him. Once again, he has made a very important point.

There are also two invaluable online resources that help to commemorate those who fell. They provide more information about the person commemorated, and give those in possession of a plaque the option to make their information publicly available. The Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War project is a permanent digital memorial which records the stories of individuals from across Britain and the Commonwealth who served in uniform and worked on the home front. The website currently has more than 7.5 million individual life stories and more than 120,000 registered members. The site offers the opportunity to add details of medals and service to an individual’s record, as well as photographs of items, thereby creating a permanent digital memorial of their first world war story.

A notable example is Isaac Rosenberg, the artist and poet. His online life story on the site includes pictures of Isaac and his gravestone, as well as an image of the next-of-kin memorial plaque received by his family. He served as a private in the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, where his experiences inspired some of his finest work. He was killed during the German spring offensive near Arras on 1 April 1918, but is remembered to this day.

The Royal British Legion also has its Every One Remembered database, which aims to ensure that by next year every man and woman from across the Commonwealth who fell during the first world war is remembered individually by those living today. This shows us that, while the way that people commemorate may have changed thanks to technology, the desire to remember the fallen is undiminished.

In the aftermath of the war, in addition to the memorial plaques, the fallen were recorded on many memorials up and down the country, and indeed across the world. As part of the Government’s centenary programme, there are many ways that communities can find out more about these memorials. I invite all hon. Members to encourage their constituents to explore the funding and training available and to get involved in recording and preserving them.

The war memorial portal project has seen the Imperial War Museum, Heritage England and other partners develop a new portal called ukwarmemorials.org, which hosts information on all UK war memorials and signposts routes for advice and funding. The portal has the most up-to-date advice on conserving and repairing memorials, and will continue to grow over the coming year. The site also contains information about other work that Historic England, the Imperial War Museum, the War Memorials Trust and Civic Voice are undertaking as part of the centenary programme to record and conserve memorials. To date, Historic England has added 1,860 memorials to the heritage list for England and expects to have listed 2,500 by the end of the centenary. Supporting this, Civic Voice has run over 180 workshops to train communities to survey and record the status of local memorials. I suggest that hon. Members recommend the site to any constituents with an interest in local memorials.

The War Memorials Trust, which provides a programme of grants to help to repair and conserve memorials, has to date made over 360 repair grants across the country, totalling some £1.4 million. It is also worth recognising the work of the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Victoria Cross commemorative paving stones project, which my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale alluded to. This project aims to commemorate each of the 627 men who won the Victoria Cross during the first world war by placing a commemorative stone in the town or village of their birth or, in the case of those born overseas, at the National Memorial Arboretum. The stones will be a visible reminder of the heroic contribution made by local people, as my hon. Friend referred to so eloquently.

In a debate on memorials to the fallen of the first world war, it is also appropriate to commend the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Its Menin Gate memorial and Tyne Cot cemetery recently hosted some of the Government-led events to commemorate the centenary of Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres. However, it should be remembered that there are nearly 300,000 war graves in the UK from the first world war and other conflicts at 13,000 locations—details of local sites can be found on the CWGC website.

As we look ahead to the significant centenaries of 2018, the Government will of course be doing all we can to draw attention to different aspects of commemoration, and to the ways in which we remember our war dead. As part of that, we will of course do our utmost to ensure that the public are informed of the options open to them if they are in possession of memorial plaques, or indeed of any other personal items, and of how they can use them and resources such as Lives of the First World War to explore their own family and local history.

The memorial plaques and the many other memorials to the fallen of the first world war are a constant reminder of the huge sacrifice made by a whole generation 100 years ago, and I hope that through our commemoration programme, and by working with our partners on innovative ways of commemoration, we can ensure that future generations never forget those who fell.

Question put and agreed to.

The Arts: Health Effects

John Glen Excerpts
Wednesday 11th October 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Kevin Brennan Portrait Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab) - Hansard
11 Oct 2017, 6:26 p.m.

This has been an excellent debate, as everybody has said. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), and the APPG and Lord Howarth for all the work they have done. The right hon. Member for Wantage set out the debate very well, talking about the way the arts can alter the morphology of the brain and make a real change. He called for a culture change in society with respect to the arts and their interaction with health. He also said that education was a debate for another day. I am not sure that the Opposition agree that that is the case, and I may come back to that point. He rightly mentioned that Alan Johnson, when he was a Health Minister, emphasised that point, and he quite rightly called upon current Health Ministers to engage actively in this debate, which I also welcome.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Gloria De Piero) on making a timely intervention and on her recent work with my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin) on the Acting Up report, which was commissioned by the Opposition Front Bench to try to emphasise the importance of the arts—particularly access to the arts—for working-class children in the area of acting and across the piece. That point on access was raised by other hon. Members and is absolutely essential. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman) very powerfully emphasised the issue of access to the arts.

I also congratulate the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Seely), who spoke very lyrically about his constituency and the great work done there in the arts and health. The hon. Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron) gave us a psychologist’s insight, which was extremely useful. She talked about the way that art can give inmates the opportunity for rehabilitation. That certainly reminded me of the campaign that I ran in the last Parliament, when the Government mistakenly made a move to stop prisoners having access in prison not only to books but to guitars. I started a campaign with Billy Bragg and I praised the Government at the time for changing their mind, to allow prisoners the opportunity to express themselves creatively as part of their rehabilitation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol North West (Darren Jones) is a very accomplished musician, as he told us. He quite rightly mentioned the Musicians Union campaign. Like him, the new general secretary of the MU, Horace Trubridge, is a saxophonist and I look forward to a duet at some point, perhaps accompanying MP4, the world’s greatest and only parliamentary rock band, of which I am a member.

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) quite rightly pointed out the value of the arts to veterans who have been through the experience of serving our country, and he was quite right to emphasise that point and bring it to our attention. My hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Ruth George) spoke about Project eARTh, a mental health and arts initiative that brings real benefits in her constituency. My hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen quite rightly mentioned education—I will come back to that point—and my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Martin Whitfield) told us about his constituent, Grace, and the Teapot Trust, in a very valid contribution. My hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane) really is a world leader, as a parliamentarian, on mindfulness, bringing it into Parliament and spreading the word about its importance, and the arts as part of that. He spoke about the primal nature of creativity, and how it is intertwined in our DNA and so important to us. He gave us a frightening statistic about the growth in the use of antidepressants. He quite rightly mentioned, in Libraries Week, the importance of libraries as a creative outlet for people.

Time is fairly short, and it is right that the right hon. Member for Wantage and the Minister should have an opportunity to respond. I want to emphasise a couple of points. We have rehearsed well the value of the arts and creativity to health and wellbeing, and there has been widespread agreement across the House on that. In calling for a culture change, which the right hon. Gentleman rightly did, the difficulty is that while a culture change is needed across the country, it is also needed, if I may say so to the Minister, in Government and among some of his colleagues.

There is nothing wrong with putting an emphasis on basic skills in education. It is quite right that that should concern us all, and it should not be a party political football, but accountability measures in education are set in such a way that they result in some of the statistics that my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen reminded us of. Between November 2010 and November 2015 the number of art and design teachers in our schools fell by 9%. That is a fact; it is going on right now in our schools. We have all said what a wonderful thing music is and what a wonderful contribution it makes to our wellbeing, and I include myself in that, but the number of students taking GCSE music has dropped by 9%. We all know that drama—my brother is a professional actor, as was my hon. Friend—is a tremendous outlet and means of expression for some young people who can find no other means to do that or find it very difficult to do so. The number of students taking drama A-level has fallen by 26% since 2010.

To conclude, I am going to call it out this way: in the Department for Education the Schools Minister, who has been almost a constant fixture in that Department, has been a blockage, in my view, to some of the good rhetoric that comes out of Government about the importance of creativity. At some point, someone in Government, a Minister, has got to do something about it—it starts at the top, it should be the Prime Minister—and has got to say that the pendulum has swung too far, and creativity and the arts are being squeezed out of our education system. All the calls we make for culture change will come to nothing unless action is taken on that point.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
11 Oct 2017, 6:33 p.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) for bringing this matter before us today. I would also like to acknowledge the excellent contributions. We have had 11 Back-Bench speeches and several interventions, and I will try to respond to some of those, but I also want to respond to this excellent report.

I know that my right hon. Friend has been a passionate co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and wellbeing, as he was with this agenda as a Minister. I welcome this excellent report: it is thorough, wide-ranging and extremely welcome, and I have studied it carefully.

There are many intensely moving personal testimonies in the report that demonstrate the arts’ power to improve our quality of life from childhood through to our later years. As the report sets out, there are figures that show that the arts have a significant positive effect on our health and wellbeing, which has been echoed in many of the contributions this afternoon. For example, the report states that music therapy reduces the need for medication in 67% of people suffering from dementia. Artlift, an Arts on Prescription project in Gloucestershire, has shown a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% drop in hospital admissions. A study of deprived communities in London, published in 2012, showed that after engaging with the arts in various forms 79% ate more healthily, 77% engaged in more physical exercise and a staggering 82% said that they enjoyed greater general wellbeing.

I acknowledge that the arts can also help with the management of long-term health conditions and their prevention. The report highlights, helpfully, how dance has been used as a form of early intervention with psychosis and has led to clinically significant improvements in wellbeing, communication and concentration among young people.

The arts can and must play a major role in helping us to meet the growing challenges we face in health and social care. As such, we need to make a vital cultural shift to ensure that the arts are fully embedded in the health and social care system. I am sorry I am not a Health Minister, but I am obviously able to interact with other Ministers and I hear that point, which has been made a number of times today. I take that on board.

In last year’s Culture White Paper—my right hon. Friend was the driving force behind it—we made several commitments to build on our good work in bringing arts and health together. When I spoke at the launch of the report in July, I stated my commitment to its recommendations. In particular, I have asked my officials to explore the potential to develop and lead a cross-Government strategy, alongside other Departments including Health and Education, to support the delivery of health and wellbeing through arts and culture.

The report also made other recommendations, including the establishment of a national-level strategic centre for the arts, health and social care sectors. We must be realistic about that taking some time to establish, but it is a task I am engaged in. It will require a joint effort by a number of leaders and experts in the sectors, including from NHS England. I support such an aspiration and encourage the sharing of best practice between the arts, health and social care sectors. The more documented and measured outcomes that exist—we have heard good examples today—the more compelling the case is to strengthen the resolve across Government.

Last month I visited the Koestler Trust, a great arts charity for offenders, to hear more about its work and the impact of its awards and mentoring programmes on the most vulnerable people. The evidence was that its awards and programmes have had a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable people and offenders. Last year’s annual survey of award entrants showed that 82% felt that the awards had improved their confidence levels. I feel strongly that we must continue to promote and support such work.

I am delighted that the impressive work of charities such as Koestler will continue to be supported through the Arts Council national portfolio in the next investment period, which is 2018 to 2022. I am also keen to host another roundtable discussion with arts organisations and the Prisons Minister to build on the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage in that area. My officials are working urgently to help to arrange that discussion.

Last month, when I was in the Lake district, I visited Theatre by the Lake, an impressive organisation that works with different community groups to address rural isolation. It was the recent winner of the Alzheimer’s Society award for dementia-friendly organisation of the year, in recognition of its special performances for those suffering from dementia. That is vital work and, clearly, many theatres up and down the country make a significant contribution to wellbeing in their communities. I acknowledge that—we need to work to document it and to bring it into the heart of policy making.

Museums also do great work for people with dementia. As was mentioned by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden), who is no longer in his place, the House of Memories project in Liverpool has had great success with the local clinical commissioning group and is now exploring how to expand that outside its area, possibly using a franchise model. The project has trained more than 11,000 health, housing and social care workers in how to use the museum’s collections to connect with vulnerable dementia sufferers, generating an estimated £12.6 million in social value.

Just the weekend before last, on my second visit to Manchester as Minister, seeing its wonderful museums and galleries, including the impressive Whitworth Art Gallery, it was clear to me how deeply embedded in the city’s health and wellbeing programmes those institutions are. That was a conscious decision by the director, and that sort of leadership will be needed if we are to get the agenda moving across our nation.

The evidence is growing, but more is needed. The Mendoza review of museums, which will shortly be published, has examined the impact of museums on culture and health, and I hope that that work will allow my officials to develop the evidence base about the impact that museums have had on many fields, so that it can be shared more widely around Government.

In the interests of time, I have to abbreviate my remarks, but I will just mention libraries, as it is Libraries Week; I will visit a library in Pimlico tomorrow. My right hon. Friend, who was formerly the Minister with responsibility for libraries, will be aware of the Department’s work with the libraries taskforce, which he set up with the Local Government Association. The membership of that taskforce includes Public Health England and NHS England, in recognition of the importance of public libraries in providing information and support to local people. That taskforce has published a document setting out a vision for public libraries in England, which outlines an ambition for how libraries can deliver better outcomes for communities.

Over the last five years, the Arts Council has invested £41 million in the Creative People and Places programme, building supply and demand in places where engagement with the arts appears to be significantly below the average. So there is work being done on that and I can give the hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Tracy Brabin) more details about that work later. The Cultural Commissioning programme, which is also funded by the Arts Council, is another important element of its work.

In conclusion, it is undeniable that the arts and wider cultural sectors can and should play a key role in addressing some of the most pressing issues faced by both our health and social care systems. It is also important to recognise that politicians, arm’s length bodies, health and social care commissioners and the sectors themselves need to work together to get this matter right. It is an enormous challenge, but it is one that I take very seriously and will take forward. I hope that many of the Members who have contributed today will help me with the next steps to take these recommendations forward and make the aspirations that have been expressed real, so that they can have a real impact across our country.

Ms Nadine Dorries Portrait Ms Nadine Dorries (in the Chair) - Hansard

Mr Vaizey—40 seconds. Sorry.

Oral Answers to Questions

John Glen Excerpts
Thursday 14th September 2017

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley (Mansfield) (Con) - Hansard

2. What assessment she has made of trends in the level of tourism to the UK in the next five years. [900835]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:41 a.m.

Data from Visit Britain show that 2016 was a record-breaking year for tourism, with 38 million inbound visits, and the Government are working hard with Visit Britain and the sector more broadly to achieve the aim of 40 million visits per year by 2020.

Ben Bradley Portrait Ben Bradley - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:41 a.m.

Mansfield is the biggest and best town in Nottinghamshire, with a wonderful theatre, a nationally acclaimed museum and Sherwood forest on its doorstep, but we do not make the most of those assets. In fact, we do not have a single major hotel in the constituency. Will the Minister join me in commending the work of Mansfield Town football club, which is striving to bring such a hotel to the constituency, and will he offer the Government’s support in making Mansfield a tourist destination in the future?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:41 a.m.

I commend my hon. Friend for his ambition, in his first three months in the House, and I certainly pay tribute to Mansfield Town football club. I would say to him and to all hon. Members that there are such opportunities, particularly looking at the Discover England Fund, which specialises in supporting tourism products outside London. I would draw his attention to that in the first instance.

David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab) Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:42 a.m.

North Wales has been identified as one of the places to go to in the world this year, and with Chester on our doorstep and Liverpool close by, we are a tourist destination of choice. When can the Minister give certainty about visas, or the potential for visas, for European Union citizens post the EU exit, because we service Ireland and we have many visitors from the mainland EU?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:42 a.m.

I certainly recognise the many attractions of the right hon. Gentleman’s part of the world, and I visited Liverpool during the recess. With respect to visas, I will be having a roundtable discussion with many representatives from the tourism sector in two weeks’ time, and I will be looking to take this forward across the Government in the coming weeks.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con) Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:43 a.m.

Stafford has wonderful tourist attractions, not least the town centre, but also Shugborough and Weston Park. However, to get to Stafford from the M6, people have to come off at junctions 13 or 14, both of which are blighted constantly by lots and lots of litter. What can my hon. Friend do to persuade Highways England of the need to keep our major roads cleaner to attract more tourists?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:43 a.m.

I have experienced that difficulty in my constituency, and I am very sympathetic to what my hon. Friend says. Perhaps I could have a conversation with him to work out where those particular spots are and approach Highways England to see whether we can get a resolution.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:43 a.m.

My constituency, Edinburgh West, is—like the rest of Edinburgh and much of Scotland—highly dependent on tourism. We have the new attraction of the bridge, Edinburgh zoo, the rugby and the world’s biggest international festival. Will the Minister assure me that he will press Her Majesty’s Treasury to take the same sort of initiative on lowering VAT for the tourism industry that our partners in the EU have done to support that industry and boost their communities?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. The Secretary of State and I visited Edinburgh during the recess, and we saw the many attractions, particularly the festival. I certainly listen very carefully to representations from across the tourism sector about what we can do to encourage more visitors, and I take her point on board.

Mr Ranil Jayawardena Portrait Mr Ranil Jayawardena (North East Hampshire) (Con) - Hansard

3. If she will make it her policy to allow the installation of community ATMs in listed phone boxes without their having to first be de-listed. [900836]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:44 a.m.

Amending the listed status policy in the way that my hon. Friend suggests will not be possible, but the installation of community ATMs in listed phone boxes is possible provided listed building consent is granted by the relevant planning authority.

Mr Ranil Jayawardena Portrait Mr Jayawardena - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:45 a.m.

I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for that clear answer. BT provided a phone box cashpoint in Odiham in my constituency, and I have asked it to do the same in Hartley Wintney, but it is restricted by the listed status there. Will my hon. Friend meet me to discuss how the community benefit can be delivered either through amendments to the listed status or through other measures, which could prevent the boxes from being removed in future?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

I commend my hon. Friend on his determination to get this sorted. I will work with him and the residents of Hartley Wintney to look at what the local authority can do, because it is the prime mover and can provide the listed building consent that he seeks.

Mr John Whittingdale Portrait Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con) - Hansard

4. What progress her Department has made on establishing a public service broadcasting contestable fund. [900837]

Break in Debate

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab) Hansard

6. What recent discussions her Department has had with the National Trust on its stewardship of places of cultural value and heritage. [900839]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:47 a.m.

My Department has regular conversations about shared interests with the National Trust, such as conservation, participation and world heritage. I will be meeting Dame Helen Ghosh, director general of the National Trust, next month.

Kelvin Hopkins Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:47 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I should say that I am a member and a supporter of the National Trust. I must ask, however, whether the licensing for trail hunting on National Trust land is consistent with his aim of preserving and protecting historical places and spaces, considering the growing evidence of illegal hunting, particularly under the false alibi of trail hunting, and the damage that can cause.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:48 a.m.

That is certainly a matter I will need to raise with the director general of the National Trust. Such matters are for National Trust members, and the National Trust has its own policies in place. I believe that a resolution is going to its annual general meeting in the autumn. This is a matter for it to resolve.

Steve Double Portrait Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) (Con) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:48 a.m.

I thank the Minister for his recent visit to Cornwall. I am pleased to be able to confirm to the House that the Minister is a fine figure of a man when wearing a wetsuit. On his visit, I am sure he will have learned that Cornwall has a disproportionately high number of National Trust properties, many of which are kept going not just by the paid staff but by an army of volunteers. Will he join me in paying tribute to those volunteers and thanking them for their excellent work in maintaining our National Trust properties?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:49 a.m.

I thank my hon. Friend. I do not know about my bodyboarding, but I certainly enjoyed visiting Watergate Bay, which is a fine destination in Cornwall. Volunteers across so many cultural, arts and heritage organisations do a wonderful job. It is great that they can contribute and offer so much up and down the country.

Mr Khalid Mahmood Portrait Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab) - Hansard

Alongside the National Trust, the Minister will be aware of the press coverage over the weekend about a number of high-profile charities that own seats in the Albert Hall. Trustees of those charities have been selling those seats at a very high price. That is a despicable practice; it is no way for such charities to act in a modern society. Will the Minister support the Charity Commission in trying to resolve that issue to ensure that despicable practice stops?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 9:49 a.m.

This is a matter for the Charity Commission, as the independent regulator of charities. I am aware of the controversy reported this week, and I welcome the commission’s attempts to resolve this long-standing and complex issue.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP) - Hansard

7. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on her departmental priorities for the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. [900840]

Break in Debate

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard

12. What progress she has made on improving accessibility to heritage sites. [900845]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 10:03 a.m.

My Department and arm’s length bodies are committed to ensuring that our heritage is protected for future generations and accessible to all. The Heritage Lottery Fund issues awards to projects that make heritage relevant to everyone, regardless of their personal background, and actively challenges grantees to reach beyond the traditional heritage audience.

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 10:03 a.m.

Clifford’s Tower in York is about to have a £2 million upgrade, but it will not be accessible to disabled people afterwards. It is 22 years since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, yet heritage organisations hide behind the term “reasonable adjustments”. What is the Minister doing to ensure that heritage sites are accessible to everyone?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 10:03 a.m.

I am familiar with the case that the hon. Lady mentions. Clifford’s Tower is a particularly difficult site to deal with, but I shall be happy to meet her to discuss her specific concerns, and I will take them to English Heritage directly, if that will help.

Rebecca Pow Portrait Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con) - Hansard

On 21 October, the town of Wellington will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone that commemorates the Duke of Wellington’s success at the battle of Waterloo. Although that wonderful monument, which can be seen from the M5, is accessible from the outside, the staircase on the inside is not, because the monument is undergoing a massive restoration project. Will the Minister join me in wishing all the people of Wellington well in the celebrations—in which I will take part—and does he agree that it is very important to restore monuments of such magnitude? That benefits not just local people, but those nationally and internationally, because such monuments are very important to our history.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 10:04 a.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on her election to the DCMS Committee and endorse everything that she says on this matter. I will be looking at progress as these improvements proceed, and it was a pleasure to visit her constituency in the recess.

Julian Knight Portrait Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con) - Hansard

T1. If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities. [900865]

Break in Debate

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP) - Hansard

T2. Scottish politics can be rather tribal, but yesterday Scottish politics united in support of Paisley’s bid to become the UK City of Culture in 2021. Paisley’s bid is now Scotland’s bid. The final stage of the competition is looming, and a win for Paisley would create a bigger legacy than a win for anywhere else. Will the Minister join us in supporting Paisley 2021? [900866]

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard

I support all the bids as they reach the final stages. In two weeks’ time they will be submitted to the panel, which is chaired by Phil Redmond, and I am watching the process closely. I look forward to making an announcement on the successful city at the end of the year.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con) - Hansard

T7. The Minister will be aware of the great success of initiatives such as the Seafood Coast in promoting tourism in Torbay. What further support will the Government offer to encourage more people to come to the coast in the south-west? [900871]

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

I am looking carefully at the options. As I said, I will be meeting representatives of the tourism sector in two weeks’ time. I hope that the Discover England fund can be extended to encourage more initiatives such as the one my hon. Friend mentions, because they are transformational to local tourism economies.

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab) - Hansard

T3. Following the creation of the Ebacc, the take-up of music education is going down. Given the value of the UK’s world-leading music industry to our economy—it was £123 million in Bristol alone in 2015—will the Minister please listen to the music industry, reverse the Ebacc and invest in music teaching? [900867]

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

I acknowledge the challenges to arts, cultural and music education, and I am looking at what can be done, through the cultural development fund, with the Arts Council to find ways of promoting increased participation. I am in active dialogue with other Departments over how we can deal with this reality.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con) - Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 10:13 a.m.

It is almost a year since World Rugby established its hall of fame, appropriately at the birthplace of rugby in the Rugby art gallery and museum. We will shortly have the annual induction of more greats of the game. Does the Sports Minister agree that this could play a major role in attracting local and international tourism?

Break in Debate

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con) Hansard
14 Sep 2017, 10:15 a.m.

The Sandstone Ridge arts festival in my constituency is looking to have a suffragette theme next year to celebrate women getting the vote. What funds are available for community arts programmes to celebrate that magnificent achievement?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

That sounds like an excellent initiative. Funds are available either through Arts Council England or the Heritage Lottery Fund, and I am happy to work with my hon. Friend to identify the most appropriate route for an application.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab) - Hansard

T6. Blaydon has a growing number of small and micro-charities, many of which are trying to fill the gaps left by Government cuts to local authorities, and their survival is often precarious. Following the Secretary of State’s discussions within the sector, what action is she taking to help those charities with fundraising and other support? [900870]

Coventry City of Culture

John Glen Excerpts
Tuesday 5th September 2017

(3 years ago)

Westminster Hall
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Colleen Fletcher Portrait Colleen Fletcher (Coventry North East) (Lab) - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:13 a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham), on securing this timely debate. As other right hon. and hon. Members, irrespective of political hue, would agree, Coventry is a great city, for many reasons. However, I shall briefly focus on its history, its industrial heritage and its multiculturalism.

Coventry grew to become one of the most important and strategically significant medieval cities in the UK. Today we have countless culturally significant medieval buildings and ruins dotted throughout the city. We are an historic symbol of the terror and devastation that war can cause, but also of the importance of reconciliation and peace. Equally, Coventry has made significant industrial contributions to cultural advancement. We were the birthplace of the modern bicycle and the motor car, and we continue to be a leading light in automotive engineering, thanks to the role played by Jaguar Land Rover, the London Taxi Company, the University of Warwick and Coventry University. Finally, Coventry’s cultural identity is strengthened and enhanced by our city’s multiculturalism. We have some of the most diverse and integrated communities in the UK, and I am proud to represent the most diverse area of the city.

Coventry has some great cultural assets, but it is also an understated city that has struggled to make the most of the historical and cultural resources at its disposal. That is why I am pleased that it has put itself forward to be the UK city of culture in 2021. I believe, of course, that we deserve to win. Winning the title would give the city a once in a lifetime opportunity to make sense of its cultural resources and use them to tell its story to the rest of the nation and the world, using the energy, excitement and hope that that would provide, to create a lasting economic and social legacy for current and future generations.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:16 a.m.

May I say for the first time from the Front Bench what a pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Sir David? I congratulate the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) on securing this important debate about Coventry’s bid to become UK city of culture in 2021, and all those right hon. and hon. Members who have contributed—particularly the hon. Member for Coventry North East (Colleen Fletcher), but also my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Dame Caroline Spelman) and my hon. Friends the Members for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey) and for Rugby (Mark Pawsey).

The hon. Member for Coventry South is a passionate advocate of the city, and this is clearly an exciting time for Coventry and the four other towns and cities shortlisted to be the next holders of the transformative and prestigious title in question. The UK city of culture programme is one of our nation’s crown jewels. The winning area must build a high-quality arts and cultural programme that reaches a wide variety of audiences and participants. The title of city of culture acts as a catalyst that can regenerate and transform a place, enabling it to attract external visitors and investment while engaging and inspiring local communities and institutions, including universities, schools, health trusts and businesses. I note the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire about its value in the wider area.

Dame Caroline Spelman Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:17 a.m.

In the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), who was a member of Coventry City Council, I would point out that Coventry lost out under the structure of Advantage West Midlands. The Minister has spoken about investment; does he agree that the absolute commitment of the new Mayor of the West Midlands to back the bid, and for the region to get behind Coventry’s case, should help us to win?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:20 a.m.

My right hon. Friend’s point is, as always, well made, and she is right. It is useful to have the widest possible base of support across the whole region.

This year, 11 places made an application to become the UK city of culture in 2021 and, following a recommendation from the independent panel chaired by the excellent Phil Redmond, I recently agreed a shortlist of five. It was not an easy decision, as all the bids had real merit. However, I am delighted that the shortlist contains cities representing England, Scotland and Wales, each of which makes a strong case. I have been impressed by the full engagement of all the places making bids. It is even more gratifying to see that making a bid has become a valuable process in itself. It has proved transformational in raising a city’s profile and developing a clear set of cultural aspirations for the future. Feedback from the places that did not make the shortlist—Hereford, Perth, Portsmouth, St Davids, Warrington and Wells—confirms that.

Now, along with Coventry, the other shortlisted places—Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Swansea—are embarking on the final stages of the process. I shall announce the winner by the end of this year. There is clearly much to be gained by the winning city. Taking part in the arts can improve self-esteem and confidence. It makes people feel good about where they live and about themselves, raising aspiration and bringing communities together. The arts and culture, through their ability to engage, inspire and challenge us, are instrumental in helping to break down barriers to participation and engagement across race, disability, age, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic disadvantage. The economic and social importance of culture to place making has never been more understood and acknowledged. That is underlined by the culture White Paper and is evident in emerging data and evidence coming from Hull—the incumbent UK city of culture.

Before I address Coventry’s bid, it may be helpful to set the potential benefits that the city of culture title brings against what has happened in Hull this year. As recently as 2013, The Economist, which really should know better, suggested that declining northern cities should be abandoned. However, only three years later and still not even into its official year as city of culture, Hull became the only UK city to make Rough Guides’ top 10 cities in the world to visit, alongside Vancouver, Reykjavik and Amsterdam. That seemingly remarkable transformation is now backed up by the data emerging from the evaluation of the first three months of this year, including hotel occupancy being up almost 14%, a 17% increase in rail passengers and 37% of local businesses reporting an increase in turnover.

Of course, it is not only about economic regeneration. It is extremely heartening to learn that, in the first three months of 2017, nine out of 10 people living in Hull took part in a cultural activity, and that Hull 2017’s volunteers had already undertaken more than 100,000 volunteer hours. Those are amazing achievements for which Hull City Council and the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 company can be hugely proud.

On Coventry’s bid to become UK city of culture 2021, I acknowledge that the city has much to be proud of. Its contribution to UK culture is already impressive, from Lady Godiva to The Specials and 2 Tone, and it is also home to some of our most important medieval and post-war architecture. Throughout the bidding process, it has sought to highlight its cultural diversity and its rich heritage. Coventry hopes to use the power of culture to cross boundaries, create understanding, nurture respect and embrace humanity. As a city of invention and reinvention—as we have heard from various colleagues —it wants to create a digitally connected and international place, to reimagine the place of culture in a diverse, modern Britain.

Mr Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West) (Lab) Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:24 a.m.

I am sorry for intervening so late in the debate, Sir David, but I knew I could count on your indulgence, for which I am very grateful, and, indeed, on the Minister’s. I will say a few words along the lines of exactly what the Minister was saying about Coventry. It is all of the things he said, but it is also a city of youth—that is our appeal. On the grounds that Scotland and the north-east have had a city of culture, and Londonderry in Northern Ireland was the city of culture, if there is any sort of turn to be taken or regional coverage to progress, it is clearly time for the midlands to have one. Coventry is at the centre of the midlands, which is at the centre of our bid, and we can assure the House and the country of a very fine series of great, exciting and innovative events, in line with the long tradition of innovation in Coventry.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:24 a.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman; I will reference him later in my remarks. His point about the engagement with youth and the value of the wider application of this title to the area was well made.

Coventry has a rich architectural heritage, with St Mary’s Guildhall, the Charterhouse and, of course—as we heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden—the magnificent cathedral, which is one of the city’s most important assets and, as a living architectural symbol of the UK’s post-war reconstruction and hope, perhaps one of the most important modern buildings in the UK. The city is also home to two universities, which both contribute to the cultural assets of the city and the UK. Coventry University has developed a strong reputation for the quality of its arts and media courses and for its work as an incubator of the next generation of young talent in the cultural and creative industries. I believe we have at least one of its alumni here today.

Some of Coventry’s other great cultural assets include the Belgrade theatre—the main building-based producing theatre in Coventry—and Warwick arts centre, on the University of Warwick campus, which is one of the largest multi-art form venues in the UK, delivering an extensive programme of performing and visual arts and film. There is also the highly respected Coventry transport museum, which houses the largest publicly owned collection of British vehicles in the world and tells the story of Coventry and its people through the development of the automotive industry. The museum will no doubt hold many memories for the hon. Member for Coventry North West (Mr Robinson), who was involved in the motor industry there for many years. The city’s arts and exhibition space, the Herbert art gallery and museum, hosts major touring exhibitions and permanent galleries chronicling the history of the city.

Coventry is also home to a number of exciting contemporary arts organisations and individuals, and has shown how it can deliver exciting, large-scale events. For example, the Godiva festival is an annual free festival that attracts more than 140,000 visitors. It has a genuinely diverse family audience, drawing from a wide range of communities and across the age spectrum. There is also the Festival of Imagineers, run by Imagineer Productions, which is a week-long festival celebrating innovation linking art, design and engineering, and acting as a catalyst for new creative work at the intersection of art and engineering.

On funding, significant cultural investment has been made in those and other projects and programmes in Coventry over the years. In the 21 years since the Heritage Lottery Fund was created, more than £30 million has been invested in 125 separate projects, including more than £12 million on historic buildings and monuments and more than £4 million on parks. Over the past seven years, Arts Council England has invested more than £21 million, supporting a range of arts organisations and excellent, innovative projects.

In June, ACE announced future funding for 2018-22 to its national portfolio of organisations in Coventry of £8.3 million. That is an increase of almost a third, from £1.5 million a year during the current period to more than £2 million a year for the 2018-22 period. That four years of confirmed funding gives those organisations the ability to plan ahead and develop strategic partnerships, which in turn bring more cultural product and funding into towns and cities.

The cumulative impact of that investment has helped to drive the ongoing development of this historic city. I know there are many more plans in the pipeline, including for Drapers’ Hall, which has received £1 million from the Government, to develop as a venue for music performance and education. Most recently, Coventry has been awarded just under £1.5 million from the Arts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund’s Great Place scheme to stage a programme of events celebrating the heritage and communities of Coventry. The award builds on the city’s new 10-year cultural strategy, its cultural destinations award and its bid to be UK city of culture.

Gavin Newlands Portrait Gavin Newlands (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP) - Hansard

The Minister is certainly making an impressive case for Coventry. I have no doubt that Coventry would hold the city of culture title with distinction, and that Coventry 2021 would be a huge success. However, with the bigger emphasis on regeneration in this year’s competition, does he agree that Paisley, with its economic and social needs, allied with its many cultural delights, has a strong chance of winning?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 11:28 a.m.

I will not be drawn on the likelihood of that. It is abundantly clear from all that we have heard this morning that, in common with the other shortlisted areas, including Paisley, Coventry has the ambition, the heritage and the cultural infrastructure to be the next city of culture. I think it is apt to finish with some thoughts from a Coventry-based company of artists, Talking Birds, who specialise in acts of transformation. They talk about Coventry as a city rich in possibility, and even though its inhabitants like to think that they are not too attached to the place, the truth is that they are. They enjoy the city’s contradictions and believe in its potential. I wish Coventry the best of luck in its bid. We do not have many more weeks to wait until the outcome.

Question put and agreed to.

Passchendaele

John Glen Excerpts
Thursday 13th July 2017

(3 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing) - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:40 p.m.

We now come to the general debate on the commemoration of Passchendaele—[Interruption.] I trust, as we are about to consider such a sombre and serious matter as those who gave their lives a century ago for the freedom that we now enjoy, that hon. Members who wish to leave the Chamber will have the decency to do so quietly. We now come to the general debate on the commemoration of Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres.

Just before I call the Minister to introduce the debate I would like, most unusually, to welcome to the Palace of Westminster the two police officers who apprehended the murderer of our late colleague, Jo Cox. Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright are here with us, and we welcome them and commend them for their bravery. It is fitting that we should do so as we are about to have a debate commemorating those who gave their lives for freedom and democracy.

John Glen Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (John Glen) - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:44 p.m.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the Commemoration of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I would like to reiterate your words of welcome to Mr Nicholls and Mr Wright. I am sure that the whole House is very pleased that they are with us today.

The commemoration of Passchendaele is just one of the national events in our first world war centenary programme, as announced by the previous Prime Minister in 2012. This four-year programme has seen us deliver national events on 4 August 2014 to mark the centenary of Britain’s entry into the war, with services for the Commonwealth at Glasgow Cathedral, at St Symphorien military cemetery and at Westminster Abbey. In April 2015, we marked the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey and at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab) Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:45 p.m.

I also congratulate the two police officers on their bravery. Does the Minister have any plans to commemorate the battle of Loos?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:46 p.m.

That is certainly something that I can consider, but I have no immediate plans at this point.

Last year on 31 May, we commemorated the famous naval battle, the battle of Jutland, with events in Orkney, and then one month later, on 1 July, we remembered the battle of the Somme with national events in France, London and Manchester. Overnight vigils were held at Westminster Abbey and in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and replicated in local communities across the UK.

Before I go on, I would like to acknowledge the huge support of my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), who has shaped and steered this centenary programme. He is a hugely valued colleague, as well as being my parliamentary neighbour. I should also like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his election to the chairmanship of the Northern Ireland Select Committee. If he brings to that role the integrity, wisdom and hard work that he has brought to this project, the House will be very well served. In addition, I would like to thank the members of the Secretary of State’s first world war centenary advisory group, who have provided vital advice and guided my Department through the programme every step of the way. I was tempted to name all of them, but there are just too many. However, I want to put on record the Government’s gratitude for their work. In just over two weeks’ time we will deliver our next commemorative event. Officially known as the third battle of Ypres, Passchendaele is one of the most famous battles of the first world war.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Portrait Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen) (Lab) - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:48 p.m.

I, too, want to add my commendation to the police officers who are with us today. The South Wales Borderers and the 2nd Battalion the Monmouthshire Regiment showed incredible heroism and made great sacrifices at Passchendaele. Both included members from my constituency. Soldiers were also lost in the days leading up to the battle. The 2nd Battalion the Monmouthshire Regiment moved up to the forward line on 29 July in preparation for the battle on 31 July. As we entirely appropriately remember those who gave so much in the battle, can we also remember those whose lives were lost, perhaps through wounds, in the days before?

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:48 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that contribution. He makes a wise point with his customary eloquence, and I am sure it will be echoed across the House.

The battle was infamous not only for the terrible conditions but for the sheer scale of the losses. In the region of 250,000 allied soldiers and around the same number of German soldiers, a total of some 500,000 men from both sides, were wounded, killed or missing. Those are quite frankly unbelievable numbers. Fought between 31 July and 10 November 1917, the battle saw the British Army attempt to break out of the notorious Ypres Salient and put intolerable pressure on the German defences. Troops from across Britain and Ireland took part, along with significant numbers from today’s Commonwealth, particularly from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Allied air forces played an important role, providing vital reconnaissance for the ground forces and fighting deadly dogfights with their German counterparts in the skies above the trenches. The battle was conceived, in part, as a means of influencing the struggle against German submarines, and the Royal Naval Division served on Passchendaele’s battlefield alongside other soldiers. Many others contributed during the battle and in the fighting around Ypres during the conflict, including servicemen from India and the West Indies, labourers from China and, of course, the nurses and medical staff who worked behind the lines to treat the wounded.

For all those who fought in that small corner of Flanders in the late summer and autumn of 1917, including those in the Belgian, French and German armies, it would prove to be one of the most gruelling experiences of the conflict. Much of the first world war’s enduring photography, poetry and artwork was inspired by the desolate landscape, which became a featureless quagmire over the course of the battle. After periods of intense rain, the mud became so bad that men and animals could be swallowed up in the swamp. Images, such as the photography of Frank Hurley or the evocative paintings of Paul Nash, are a harrowing reflection of the utter devastation that was wrought.

Many families, villages and towns were touched by the fighting. In Wales, the battle is partly remembered for the loss of the renowned poet Ellis Evans—better known by his bardic name Hedd Wyn—who died on Pilckem Ridge on the opening day of the battle.

Dr Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con) - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:52 p.m.

I apologise to the Minister because I have to be briefly absent for part of the debate, but I will return at the earliest opportunity. I know that props are not always welcome in the Chamber, but in the light of what he said about photographs, may I share with him a pair of photographs? They show Passchendaele village in June 1917 and in December 1917, and it is possible even from a distance to see how entirely the landscape was obliterated by the bombardment.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend for his pertinent intervention, which the whole House will welcome.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing) - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:53 p.m.

Order. The Minister is right that the whole House will welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s illustration, but the House will note that there is a good reason why we do not use props. I did not stop the right hon. Gentleman in this exceptional circumstance, because he showed us the photographs with the very best of intentions. I am not quite sure how Hansard will record the pictures, but the Minister is right to note the right hon. Gentleman’s point.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:53 p.m.

That day also saw the death of the Irish poet Francis Ledwidge. It is important to remember that many of those who fought at Passchendaele were conscripts and that the war had already led to huge changes around these islands. Women were already playing a vital role in the war effort, particularly in the production of munition for the artillery, which was so critical to the outcome of the fighting. For many of us, Passchendaele has come to epitomise the horrors of trench warfare on the western front.

Sir William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con) - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:54 p.m.

I think my hon. Friend knows what I am about to say, but does he recall that, through him and the Wiltshire Regiment, I presented the city of Salisbury with a bugle that was used by the 1st Wiltshire Regiment? I understand that it is now in the museum as a recognition and a memory of the brave people who fought in that wonderful battle.

John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard
13 Jul 2017, 12:54 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding me and the House of that kind gift. It represents a whole plethora of gifts and memories concerning the first and second world wars that many Members of this House and many of constituents have in their families. It is important that we put those exhibits out there so that the next generation can fully grasp what happened during this period of our history.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)