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Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 31(2)), That the proposed words be there added.

Question agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to (Standing Order No. 31(2)).


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Business without Debate

Business of the House

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 15),

Question agreed to.

perpetuities and accumulations bill [ Lords]

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Orders Nos. 59(3) and 90(5)), That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63).


Mr. Deputy Speaker: With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 4 to 8 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

International Development

Statistics Board

Trade Union and Labour Relations

Criminal Law

Question agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Again, with the leave of the House, we shall put motions 9 to 11 together.


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Business of the House



Reform of the House of Commons


West Midlands

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

South West

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.



7.15 pm

David Lepper (Brighton, Pavilion) (Lab/Co-op): I present a petition- [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. An important petition is being presented. If hon. Members are leaving, will they please do so quickly and quietly?

David Lepper: I present a petition on behalf of residents of Brighton and others. It is signed by Brenda Brown and 141 other residents of the Brighton area.

The petition states:


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War Memorials

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. -(Mr. Blizzard.)

7.17 pm

Shona McIsaac (Cleethorpes) (Lab): I thank Mr. Speaker for allowing me to address the House on the subject of the nation's war memorials on the day after the launch of the annual poppy appeal.

My interest in war memorials began some time ago. My late father served 25 years in the armed forces, and one of his postings was to NATO headquarters in Belgium. My father organised family outings to visit the war memorials in that part of Belgium and northern France to seek out names of members of my family who had died in the first world war. By a quirk of fate, I attended a Canadian school at NATO headquarters in Belgium. The school took us on outings to Vimy ridge, where many Canadians lost their lives in the first world war. I was a teenager at the time, and seeing those cemeteries left a lasting impression on me-the symmetry of the white headstones, the stillness and quiet. But what stuck in my mind was the age of so many of the men-young boys really-who died when just a few years older than me.

When the family returned to Britain, I started to notice the village war memorials, big war memorials in towns, rolls of honour in churches, memorial plaques and many other forms of remembrance, not just from the first world war but from other conflicts. I got a sense that without graves at which to mourn, there had been a great upwelling of feeling in this country at the end of the first world war. Public subscriptions enabled memorials to be erected so that people had somewhere to go and grieve, and to remember the people whom they had lost in the Great War. That was not just for families; it was for communities. It was, in fact, for society. It was to ensure that none of us would ever forget those who had lost their lives in that conflict-as, indeed, none of us should ever forget those who are currently fighting for our country.

Every Remembrance day when, attending the main ceremony, I lay a wreath in Cleethorpes outside St. Peter's church, I remember the cemeteries in France and Belgium. I remember the lives cut short. I think of all who are serving now, and of all who have lost their lives in more recent conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and, now, Afghanistan.

I remember that when I had just been elected-it was one of those bitterly cold November days-standing with all the civil dignitaries, ready to lay my wreath, and thinking "This is not the only memorial in the constituency; there are many, many others. There are small village memorials, and there are memorials in other churches." I made a little promise to myself that I would do my best to visit each and every memorial in my constituency. That has led me, over the past decade, to begin to record the names of the people commemorated on those memorials, and also to explore a little about their family backgrounds and the lives that they led. The period that I am discussing was one of great social change in Britain, certainly in the area that I represent. Because of the growth in the fishing industry, it was a time when thousands of people flocked to Grimsby and Cleethorpes to earn money. The whole social history is absolutely fascinating.

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One of the memorials that I visited during my exploration of the constituency was in a very small village in the Lincolnshire wolds called Wold Newton. The names on the memorial cross had faded and almost vanished, but I took a photograph and put it on the computer. Having used all sorts of effects, I eventually managed to transcribe the names of four who died in the first world war and one who died in the Boer war, but I think that by now, because of increased weathering, those names have probably faded completely.

That was when I really began to think about the problem of memorials that have been weathered and memorials that are neglected. We must face the fact that although most memorials are well loved, not all of them are. I want to make people aware that those memorials exist. Although the families who raised money for them obviously wanted the names to be there for evermore, the names have faded.

That is why I feel so passionately that we must restore the war memorials in this country. It is not just about memorials that have faded or have been neglected; there is also the issue of development. Some memorials are threatened by demolition and road-building schemes, for instance. I know that there are memorials in many factories, workplaces and schools.

Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): I am delighted that the hon. Lady has initiated this debate. She has mentioned schools. The issue of war memorials in schools has a particular resonance at a time when the country is involved in conflict. I have been lobbied by Mr. Michael Lyons of the Royal British Legion in New Addington, in Croydon, about the efforts being made to preserve school memorials when demolition is planned. A great deal of activity has taken place in relation to Building Schools for the Future. A very good ceremony took place in Applegarth school in New Addington last week, when "dead men's pennies" from the first world war were put in a permanent exhibition. That will enable young people to have a good sense of remembrance of those who served our country so well.

Shona McIsaac: I am glad that I accepted the hon. Gentleman's intervention, in which he illustrated beautifully the way in which memorials are under threat. They are not all in listed buildings; in fact, three memorials in my local party office have been saved. If we had not done that, I dread to think where they might have gone. Luckily, some others have gone into local archives, for example. People just think of the main, free-standing memorials, and often forget that in many public buildings-schools, hospitals, fire stations and post offices-there were memorials to many other people who signed up, perhaps in the pals' battalions, in the first world war. They are very telling memorials, and we must not let them be destroyed or neglected.

Knowing that I had secured this debate-and also because we are approaching the launch of the annual poppy appeal-on Friday I tabled early-day motion 2070. Many Members have already signed it, and I want to read it out as it summarises my emotions about this issue:

All the organisations I mention, such as the War Memorials Trust, do tremendous work. There is now a national inventory of war memorials, but it has only two full-time members of staff, although it has many volunteers. We have five years before there will be a lot of services of remembrance not only here, but throughout Europe and America, as well as in Australia and New Zealand because of the Anzac forces. We must do our bit. We must ensure that all our memorials are brought up to scratch in advance of that 100th anniversary. Five years seems a long way off, but I know that if we do not start doing something now, and if there is not a co-ordinated approach, some of the neglected memorials will remain neglected.

Stephen Pound (Ealing, North) (Lab): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the tone she has struck in this timely and relevant debate. May I say to her, however, that I cannot imagine that any free-standing war memorial or cenotaph would be subsumed in building works, as I think most local authorities would make absolutely sure that that did not happen? She rightly and percipiently put her finger on another problem, which concerns memorials other than the free-standing ones. May I urge her to do something that I am sure she has already done, which is to encourage every Member of this House to contact the Royal British Legion, which is the custodian of the fallen, if ever there is any question of any plaque or memorial in any way being threatened? If that were the case, I would expect the Royal British Legion to contact its local Member, and I think well enough of this House to believe that no Member would turn aside a request from the Royal British Legion to honour our fallen.

Shona McIsaac: My hon. Friend makes an important point, and he is right. The Royal British Legion has what it calls its roll of honour, and it has been asking volunteers to record the names on memorials throughout the country.

The problem, however, is knowing where the memorials are. When I first started doing this, I was thinking about cemetery gates, rolls of honour in churches, memorial plaques and so on, but I have discovered many more that I did not know existed. Although I knew this one existed, for example, I have asked many residents in my area whether they have noticed the first world war memorial in the main post office in Grimsby, and they tell me that they have not. That memorial was saved from a building that was demolished, but the one for the fire service is locked away in an archive. The issue is all about knowing whether memorials exist. If we do not know that memorials are in boarded-up buildings, particularly factories and redundant schools, that is a problem. A national inventory is so vital, because we have to get those things on record. Then we can contact the Legion to ensure that the memorials are protected.

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