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House of Lords

Wednesday, 25 June 2014.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Birmingham.

Housing: Accessibility


3.06 pm

Tabled by Baroness Wilkins

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that future housing is accessible and able to meet the needs of the greatest number of people.

Lord Best (CB): My Lords, on behalf of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, and at her request, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in her name on the Order Paper.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, the Government are taking a number of steps to support accessible housing, including introducing new accessibility requirements into the building regulations and funding programmes to improve housing choice for older and disabled people.

Lord Best: My Lords, I thank the Minister on behalf of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins. She had a terrible accident in the other place, has broken both her legs and will be in Stoke Mandeville Hospital for some months.

Can the Minister reassure the House and external bodies such as Leonard Cheshire Disability and the Habinteg Housing Association that, in the quest to increase the quantity of new homes, the Government will not sacrifice quality, particularly in terms of space standards and accessibility, as otherwise today’s rabbit hutches will be tomorrow’s slums? Will she encourage all councils to follow the good example of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, in insisting on the lifetime homes standards for accessibility that not only help all of us, particularly as we grow older, but are there to save money in terms of people’s admission to hospital and admission to residential care homes?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: My Lords, I do not think that it is presumptuous to say on behalf of the whole House just how sorry we are to hear about the tragic accident that the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, experienced. We all wish her a speedy recovery.

In response to the noble Lord’s question, it is important for me to say that this Government are going further than any previous Government in making new homes accessible because for the first time ever we are bringing two new access standards into building regulations. That has never happened before. Local authorities are best placed to decide the housing needs of older and disabled people in terms of applying

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those standards and having those national standards will now make it much simpler for developers to comply.

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, does the Minister agree that we need a national campaign to build more bungalows to the lifetime homes standards because they are accessible and adaptable? Will she look at ways in which the community infrastructure levy could be adapted to encourage builders to build more homes to the lifetime standards?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: We need a range of different types of housing to meet a range of needs. One of the things that the Government are doing is providing special funding for accessible homes that are aimed precisely at older people and adults with disabilities. We are expecting 3,500 of those homes to be delivered before 2018.

Baroness Andrews (Lab): My Lords, is the Minister aware that one disabled person is six lives in unsuitable accommodation? Is she further aware that, while it costs £28,000 to treat a hip fracture, it costs about £1,800 to put in a stair lift? Does she agree that it makes absolute economic sense to invest as much as possible in accessible housing? She has spoken about new regulations. Can she assure me that they will require all developers to build new houses to the lifetime homes standards?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: We certainly want to make sure that more and more homes are available and that more and more of them are at a standard to meet the needs of a range of people. The noble Baroness makes an important point: investment in this area saves money in the longer term. Having those national standards will ensure that developers are much more inclined to comply with this requirement in future.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Con): My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Habinteg Housing Association, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Best, has built homes to these standards for more than 40 years? Leonard Cheshire has done much the same. Surely we should all aim at housing that people will not be forced to leave because they are old or a bit disabled, even apart from the more special adaptations that might be required for those who are more severely disabled.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The more we can ensure that this is achieved the better, but we think the right approach is the way we are following, which is to have a national planning policy in place that requires local authorities to determine and plan for the needs of their local people.

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): My Lords, there is provision in the Deregulation Bill to incorporate lifetime home standards and wheelchair accessible standards in regulations, to which I think the Minister has referred. To give them a statutory basis for the first time is obviously very much to be welcomed. However, the

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housing standards review consultation suggests that planning authorities will be able to enforce these standards only if they apply a particularly rigorous needs test. Is there not a danger that this could undermine the progressive intentions of the Deregulation Bill?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston:Under the terms of the National Planning Policy Framework, local authorities are required to assess the needs of their population in their approach to planning. The important thing about these regulations is that when they are put in place as part of a requirement for planning approval, the work will be checked properly for the certificate to be applied after the work has been completed.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Lab): My Lords, I spoke to my noble friend Lady Wilkins yesterday and I know that she will be delighted by the good wishes from the House. She is very grateful for all the personal messages that she has received and for the support of the officers of the House.

Perhaps I may follow up the question of my noble friend Lady Andrews. Slips and trips when housing is not truly accessible for disabled people ultimately mean a cost for the NHS. Does the Minister agree that one way of easing pressure on the NHS, as well as supporting the well-being of disabled people, would be to have a more robust accident prevention component of the public health agenda, which in turn would help with the housing problems that disabled people face?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The noble Baroness raises a specific point that I will certainly take away and explore further, but I am afraid I am not familiar enough with the detail to respond comprehensively.

Lord Swinfen (Con): My Lords, will my noble friend encourage local authorities to keep a register of accessible housing?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: I shall certainly explore that if it is not something that local authorities do. However, the important point for me to stress again is that local authorities are very much responsible for meeting the housing needs of the people in their areas.

Bovine Tuberculosis


3.14 pm

Asked by Lord Trees

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to modify their strategy to control bovine tuberculosis in the United Kingdom in the light of the independent expert panel report on the pilot badger culls.

Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, in April we launched our TB strategy, setting out our plans to achieve officially TB-free status by 2038 through both new and existing tools. We have always been clear that lessons would be learnt from the badger control pilots. Having considered the report of the independent expert panel, we have accepted its conclusions and are currently

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working to implement its recommendations in advance of the second year of culling in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Lord Trees (CB): I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer. In the light of the fact that vaccination is likely to be a significant, although not the only, tool in the future long-term and sustainable control of this terrible disease, can the Minister give this House an assurance that the three important goals of research into and development of an oral vaccine for badgers, the registration and deployment of a cattle vaccine and the research into and development of appropriate cattle diagnostic tests will not be hindered by a lack of resources?

Baroness Northover: I can give the noble Lord that assurance. I hope that he was pleased to see the strategy announced at the beginning of April, which makes it very clear that culling is only a small part of an overall approach to this disease. He has outlined some very important areas, and Defra has pledged significant support to take that research forward. I hope that the noble Lord will also be pleased with the announcement of support for vaccination on the edge between the areas with a high incidence of bovine TB and those that currently have a lower incidence.

Lord McColl of Dulwich (Con): My Lords, can the Minister tell the House what proportion of the culled badgers were found to have actually had tuberculosis on post-mortem examination?

Baroness Northover: I can trust my noble friend to ask me a question like that. I read the report a month or so back with enormous interest. I took a great number of notes but I cannot remember the answer to that, I am afraid, and I shall have to write to him.

Lord Cameron of Dillington (CB): My Lords, is there a possibility that the Government might reconsider their methodology of culling? Instead of having people running around firing guns at night, they might consider using gas, which is heavier than air in badger setts during the day. That seems to be much safer and much more efficient.

Baroness Northover: All areas are being looked at. There has been research into gassing but at the moment we are finding that this method has significant practical challenges. The noble Lord can be assured that further research is being taken forward in this area, although as yet it does not involve live badgers or active setts.

Lord Winston (Lab): My Lords, given that Professor Rosie Woodroffe has said that badger culling is unequivocally ineffective and extremely inhumane, can we have clarity from the Government that culling will not continue under any future circumstances? Can we also have an assurance that, wherever possible, scientific advice will be followed? For example, the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, has shown that the mathematics relating to this issue are absolutely plain.

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Baroness Northover: As the noble Lord will know from having looked at the science, one thing that came out of the research by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, was that you could not stop culling after one year—you had to continue it for several years, otherwise there would be an adverse effect. Therefore, the culling will continue in the areas in which it was started, as was always planned. That is based upon scientific advice from the noble Lord, Lord Krebs. As I am sure the noble Lord will know, there was a reduction in the incidence of bovine TB in the randomised control areas that were looked at, but that reduction was only around 16%, and therefore other strategies are needed too.

Lord Krebs (CB): My Lords, as the Minister will be aware, the efficacy of the pilot can be evaluated properly only if both the number of badgers at the start and the number killed are known. As noble Lords will recall, last year the badgers notoriously changed the goalposts at the last minute. How precisely will the number of badgers be estimated in the future pilot cull? Can she in particular confirm that Defra will not rely on the numbers reported by the contractors, as the independent expert panel advised that those numbers were quite unreliable? For example, the contractors initially claimed to have shot more than one badger per bullet fired.

Baroness Northover: Perhaps they were all lined up. We could recently have done with some moving of goalposts in Brazil, could we not? The noble Lord is right to emphasise the importance of a much more comprehensive coverage. He will know from his own trials that in many of the areas he was working in, the process started slowly and picked up. There are a number of recommendations in the independent expert panel report about how to ensure that there is more systematic and comprehensive coverage, and we are taking those recommendations forward.

Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab): My Lords, as the Minister who initiated the recommendations of the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, at the beginning of this very serious problem—which we know is complicated not only by science but by the ability of badgers to evade culls of whatever kind—I remind your Lordships’ House that the cost of this problem of tuberculosis in cattle now exceeds £1 billion to the taxpayer, let alone the distress caused to those in our dairy industry who see their herds and livelihoods destroyed at the same time. We urgently need to find a solution and I suggest to the Minister that it should occur in a much shorter timescale than is currently envisaged. Although I welcome the strategy, the timescale is something that we can ill afford. If this problem endures, the cost to the taxpayer and our dairy industry will be between £2 billion and £3 billion.

Baroness Northover: The noble Lord is absolutely right to bring us back to that. I would also point out that it is also not in the badgers’ interests to have bovine TB running through their population. Therefore, whichever animal one is concerned about, but in the interests of both, it is a problem that must be tackled.

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Assisted Suicide


3.22 pm

Asked by Lord Dobbs

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have issued guidelines as to whether those who assist a family member to end their lives in the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland can expect to be prosecuted.

The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness) (LD): My Lords, the Crown Prosecution Service published a policy in respect of cases of encouraging or assisting suicide in February 2010. This sets out factors that may be relevant in deciding whether prosecution for assisting suicide is in the public interest.

Lord Dobbs (Con): As ever, I am grateful to my noble and learned friend. This morning the Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, said that the current law may be incompatible with human rights law, and that it might very well rule on this. It also said that it is our duty in Parliament to decide these issues. It put the onus back on us to decide. We will have that opportunity in a few weeks’ time with the Assisted Dying Bill of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. There are reports, which I hope I have misheard, that there may be an attempt to stifle discussion of these very important matters by voting the Bill down at Second Reading. Does my noble and learned friend agree that it would be inappropriate—and, indeed, highly irresponsible—to cut off debate on such a sensitive issue, given the passions on both sides about this hugely important question?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am certainly aware of the judgment passed down by the Supreme Court this morning. In a preliminary consideration of it I agree with my noble friend that it indicated that it is a matter that Parliament ought to consider. The Government will take a collective view on the Assisted Dying Bill of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, to respond to that debate. It is fair to say that historically it has been a matter of individual conscience, which the Prime Minister confirmed in April this year. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for me from this Dispatch Box to indicate what noble Lords should or should not do on 18 July. I fully expect, however, that on a complex issue that raises passions on both sides—which I very much respect—your Lordships, in traditional manner, will give proper consideration to a range of arguments including, no doubt, the judgment passed down by the justices of the Supreme Court.

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, if the Government are going to take a collective view, how does that relate to individual responsibility on a matter of conscience? Surely everyone—members of the Government included —should be entitled to have an individual view on a matter of conscience such as this, and not to be bullied by the Government Front Bench.

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Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I am grateful to the noble Lord. The Government will take a collective view which could of course be neutral. I indicated—I hope I can make it clear—that historically that has been the position on a matter of individual conscience. The Prime Minister confirmed this position as recently as April of this year. It is appropriate that Parliament should take a lead in such debates.

Baroness Grey-Thompson (CB): My Lords, can the Minister say, with regard to the 108 British people I am aware of who have travelled to Dignitas, how many family members or friends have been prosecuted?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I do not have that specific figure. However, records published by the Crown Prosecution Service show that from 1 April 2009 up until 13 February this year, 91 cases were referred to the CPS by the police that have been recorded as assisted suicide or euthanasia. Of these 91 cases, 65 were not proceeded with by the CPS; 13 were withdrawn by the police; and there are currently eight ongoing cases. One case of assisted attempted suicide was successfully prosecuted and four cases have been subject to prosecution for murder or serious assault.

The Earl of Glasgow (LD): My Lords, are not the Government embarrassed, if not ashamed, by the fact that so many terminally ill people feel forced to go to Switzerland to die when, if the law was changed, they could die in their own homes with their family around them and a qualified doctor in assistance?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, these are matters properly for Parliament to decide. Indeed, it is fair to note that the current law which amended the Suicide Act 1961 is contained in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. So Parliament has addressed this issue recently and will undoubtedly have an opportunity to consider these matters further when it comes to debate the Bill of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer.

Baroness Meacher (CB): My Lords—

Baroness Cumberlege (Con): My Lords—

Noble Lords: Cross-Bench.

Baroness Meacher: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the principle of patient autonomy is now at the centre of medical decisions throughout our lives until the very end when that right to one’s autonomy is withdrawn? I understand that the Minister cannot take a view on one or other side of the argument, but do the Government and the Minister accept that it is of the utmost importance that the Second Reading is allowed in order to satisfy the 75% to 80% of the public who support the Bill—and, indeed, the wishes of the courts?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I very much expect that there will be a debate. I responded to a profound debate introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, two years ago. Albeit the speakers were

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limited to one minute, there were concise and impressive arguments on both sides and I hope that the House will have an opportunity to hear these arguments again.

Baroness Jay of Paddington (Lab): My Lords, following the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, in view of the Supreme Court judgment this morning, does he agree that one of the issues we debated at the time he referred to—that there should be much greater clarity about the prosecution policy for healthcare professionals—should now be looked at again? One of the inhibiting problems in this area is the sense that healthcare professionals who may be able to give proper and sensitive help to people in this position are inhibited from doing so.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, it is important to make a distinction between clarifying the policy and changing the law. The role of the Director of Public Prosecutions is not to change the law—that is a matter for Parliament. However, the Supreme Court encouraged the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider the policy. They did not think that she should be required to review it but offered her encouragement to do so. Obviously, as it has been less than six hours since the judgment was delivered, I am not sure what the Director of Public Prosecutions will do. However, I fully expect that she will want to give careful consideration to what the justices said.

Baroness Cumberlege (Con): My Lords, is my noble and learned friend aware that Keir Starmer, who was the DPP until just last year, told the Commission on Assisted Dying, chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, that,

“the law works well in practice”?

In the light of that, does my noble and learned friend agree that there is nothing unusual about the way the law on assisted suicide works? We expect the law to be maintained in its integrity in order to protect all of us and for exceptional cases to be dealt with exceptionally.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I do recall what the previous Director of Public Prosecutions said to the Commission on Assisted Dying; I think I referred to it when I responded to the debate of the noble Baroness, Lady Jay. The important point is that there is a code which sets out the evidential test which has to be met first and foremost, and then the public interest test. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, noted in the Purdy case, there will always be discretion for the Director of Public Prosecutions. Every case is different and it is important that individual cases are looked at, having proper regard to the individual circumstances.

Women: Wages


3.31 pm

Asked by Baroness Thornton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to address any fall in wages of women in the United Kingdom.

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Baroness Northover (LD): My Lords, the Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings shows that pay for women working both full-time and part-time is rising. To support these women, we are helping with the cost of childcare, introducing shared parental leave, extending flexible working to all and raising the income tax threshold, which means that 1.83 million women will be taken out of income tax by April 2015.

Baroness Thornton (Lab): I thank the Minister for that Answer. Obviously we have a difference of opinion about the figures from the Office for National Statistics, because they tell us that between 2013 and 2014 women’s mean full-time earnings fell to what amounts to an average loss of £52 over the year. So, unlike men, women working full-time have seen their actual take-home pay fall. I ask the Minister to go back and look at those figures because that gender inequality is not acceptable. What steps will the Government take to remedy it?

Baroness Northover: I hope that the noble Baroness will be reassured that I have looked at the figures; I have them with me. She will know that the previous Government used the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, which is what I have just cited, and not the survey she cited. That is in part because of the difference between median and mean, which no doubt I do not have to go into in depth with her. Also, the survey she is looking at went up in the last quarter, while now there is a slight drop. However, it is self-reported, whereas the survey I am referring to is based on PAYE and HMRC information. That is the survey the Government use and which her Government used.

Baroness Hussein-Ece (LD): My Lords, almost two-thirds of people in low-paid work, those earning £7 per hour or less, are women. The gender gap is still in existence, although it is narrowing, and women are still underrepresented in senior executive roles, particularly in science and technology. What is being done to take a really comprehensive look at the serious factors which contribute to gender inequalities in the workplace?

Baroness Northover: My noble friend is right to highlight the different areas that men and women often work in. There is encouraging news in that the gender pay gap has narrowed and is now close to zero for full-time employees under the age of 40. However, you start to see a differential as you move into the older cohorts. That is to do with the areas that people work in and the fact that many more women are working part-time. The median hourly wage for part-time workers is £8.29 as opposed to £13.03 for full-time workers.

Baroness Turner of Camden (Lab): How many prosecutions have taken place for non-payment of the minimum wage? I ask that because it would be mostly women who were affected among the low-paid workers in this country.

Baroness Northover: That is a very interesting point. I shall get further details.

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Baroness Wheatcroft (Con): My Lords, are not more and more women taking their remuneration into their own hands by setting up their own businesses, which has become increasingly easy to do?

Baroness Northover: Yes. The number of self-employed women has increased to 1.42 million. There are more women-led businesses than ever before and more women in employment than ever before, with wages going up.

Baroness Afshar (CB): My Lords, there is nothing so deskilling as motherhood. The reason that women are paid less after the age of 40 is that very often they have domestic duties. What are the Government doing to assist mothers to have enough support in the early stages so as not to withdraw from the labour market?

Baroness Northover: The noble Baroness is absolutely right. That is at the core of this issue. It is why, as I said in my initial Answer, we are trying to increase the provision of affordable, high-quality childcare and to make sure that people can access shared parental leave. We are encouraging fathers as well as mothers to take that leave and to take up flexible working.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, the Living Wage Commission published its final report yesterday. It makes it clear that people in the care industry are paid very poorly—and the majority happen to be women. Will the Government take a reality check and recognise that people in the care professions are paid poorly? Will they make sure that, in terms of procurement, local authorities encourage those in the care profession to pay at least the living wage, which we wanted to be voluntary and not compulsory? If that does not happen, concern about women being paid poorly will continue. It is a stain on the conscience of this country that people work hard and are still in poverty.

Baroness Northover: I read the report of the most reverend Primate’s commission with enormous interest. I note that he has just said that he is looking for a voluntary approach rather than regulation, but he challenges responsible employers to pay a fair wage. He is right to identify the difference in pay between men and women.

Wales Bill

First Reading

3.37 pm

The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

National Security Strategy Joint Committee

Membership Motion

3.37 pm

Moved by The Chairman of Committees

That Lord Forsyth of Drumlean be appointed a member of the Joint Committee in place of Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbots, resigned.

Motion agreed.

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Serious Crime Bill [HL]

Order of Consideration Motion

3.38 pm

Moved by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to which the Serious Crime Bill [HL] has been committed that they consider the bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 42, Schedule 1, Clauses 43 to 50, Schedule 2, Clauses 51 to 63, Schedule 3, Clauses 64 to 67, Schedule 4, Clauses 68 to 71.

Motion agreed.

Infrastructure Bill [HL]

Order of Consideration Motion

3.38 pm

Moved by Baroness Kramer

That it be an instruction to the Grand Committee to which the Infrastructure Bill [HL] has been committed that they consider the bill in the following order:

Clause 1, Schedule 1, Clauses 2 and 3, Schedule 2, Clauses 4 to 10, Schedule 3, Clauses 11 to 23, Schedule 4, Clauses 24 to 26, Schedule 5, Clauses 27 to 32.

Motion agreed.

First World War

Motion to Take Note

3.38 pm

Moved by Lord Gardiner of Kimble

That this House takes note of the programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con): My Lords, the centenary of this terrible war is important for three reasons. One is the sheer scale of the sacrifice: 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded across the globe; more than 1 million dead from Britain and her then empire and Commonwealth; and barely a family or community left untouched.

Another reason to commemorate is that, with the passing of Henry Allingham, Harry Patch and Bill Stone, we have lost the last British veterans. Although there are many who still remember the effect of the war on their parents, we will one day lose that last personal connection, too. It is critical that the war should continue to be remembered, generation after generation, so that lessons can continue to be learnt. The final reason is the huge impact of the war on our country’s story, from the empowerment of women to technical innovations to transformations in social norms.

Every local community bears its own scars: not only the loss of those who died in different theatres of war and on the home front but the legacy of the

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physically and psychologically injured returning to civilian life. The great majority of commemorations will therefore be locally based. However, as the Prime Minister said in October 2012, Government have a role. We can lead, encourage and enable activity, linking up projects and organisations. We can identify common strands such as remembrance, youth and education, and promote them so that they permeate the national commemorations. We have done so. At the Government’s request, the Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked funds for First World War community projects and has already allocated over £56 million to more than 700 projects, big and small.

In taking this leadership role, we are of course conscious that there are different interpretations of the rights and wrongs, and the causes and effects of the war. It would not be right for Government to promote one particular interpretation over another. The tone of the official commemorations will be neither celebratory nor apologetic. It is clear who won the war and we are proud of the courage of our ancestors but the enormous sacrifices on both sides mean there is no cause for celebration. Equally, however, we are not apologetic. Our predecessors were overwhelmingly confident that resisting a militaristic aggressor satisfied the moral preconditions for a just war and that it was right to honour our treaty commitment to Belgium. Of course, different views were taken at the time but whatever the family history of people alive today—whether their ancestors were conscientious objectors or active in the forces—a hundred years on it is surely right for us to remember together as a nation.

In doing so, we will be mindful that those who were once our adversaries are now our partners in building a better world. The St Symphorien military cemetery near Mons was selected for one of the official events on 4 August for the very reason that it contains almost equal numbers of war dead from both sides. Senior members of the Royal Family and British Government will be joined there by German government representatives, descendants of both the British and German fallen and youth representatives. St Symphorien is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I pay tribute to the work of the commission which maintains military cemeteries in some 23,000 locations all over the world in such an immaculate, beautiful and accessible condition. Since 1917 its efforts have been a constant and just tribute to the sacrifices of our fighting men and women.

Throughout the four years of the centenary, we will give proper recognition to the contribution of the Army and Navy, and later in the war the Royal Air Force. The Armed Forces have an extensive commemorative programme of their own, largely focused on anniversaries of particular engagements throughout the war. This August, 35 cavalrymen—one representing each regiment of the original British Cavalry Division—will join their French counterparts in riding 100 miles across northern France over five days to benefit the Not Forgotten Association. On 13 August, in a joint Western Front Association and RAF event, the Dover muster will be recreated with a flight of period aircraft across the channel and a special service at Arras.

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The enormous contribution of what is now the Commonwealth, whether in terms of troops, financial support, raw materials or civilian assistance, will be acknowledged. We simply could not have prevailed without them.

The first event on 4 August will have a clear Commonwealth focus, and we will then be looking to mark key Commonwealth engagements throughout the four years that follow. Among these will be the sacrifices of the Jullundur Brigade of the Indian Army at Neuve Chapelle, the brave record of the ANZACs at Gallipoli, the heroism of the Canadians at Passchendaele, and the contribution of the African and Caribbean regiments in many theatres.

Three national events will be taking place on 4 August. The day will be critical in setting the tone for the whole commemorative period. In the morning, there will be the service for the Commonwealth at Glasgow Cathedral, recognising the fact that many Commonwealth leaders will already be present in the city for the end of the Commonwealth Games. In the afternoon, the ceremony at St Symphorien military cemetery will take place.

In the evening, in the hour leading up to the exact anniversary at 11 pm, a service of solemn commemoration will be held at Westminster Abbey. Similar prayer and vigil services will be taking place in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast, Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff and Anglican cathedrals around the country. As well as being involved on 4 August, Catholic churches will have held special masses the day before, and other churches and faith communities are planning acts of reflection or prayer to coincide with the abbey service.

During the same hour, places of worship, other public buildings, workplaces and private homes will take part in Lights Out. Lights will be switched off—a reference to the reported comment by the then Foreign Secretary about the lamps going out across Europe—with just one light left burning in each place as a symbol of continuing hope in the darkness of war. There will be a great many other commemorative activities around the UK on 4 August. Particularly poignant, I believe, will be Step Short in Folkestone, where a parade will inaugurate a new memorial arch over the road—the Road of Remembrance—down which so many troops marched to embark on ships to the western front, many never to return.

The commemorations will also have a cultural element. Lights Out, and a special late Prom taking place that same day at the Royal Albert Hall, are both part of the 14-18 NOW cultural programme, a rich programme of new work which the Government have put in place in the weeks leading up to 4 August. The 2014 events programme will be a tribute to artists’ and writers’ significant contribution during and after the First World War. The programme includes innovative activities designed to encourage reflection on the war. Alongside ballet and plays will be the London and Liverpool dazzle ships, where artists have reinterpreted the dazzle camouflage patterns of the period.

In England, the cultural programme is matched by an ambitious educational programme being led by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Two students and a teacher from each directly funded secondary school are being sent on a battlefield visit, and are then being asked to share their experience

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with the whole school, and, through the school, with the local community. The first tour took place last month, and many schools have already signed up for the autumn, with about 12,000 participants expected in total from 4,000 schools. A similar project is planned in Scotland.

The Government are also helping communities to make links with their past. More than £5 million of funding will be made available across the centenary period to ensure that local war memorials are in good order for the future. In another Department for Communities and Local Government-led project, special paving stones have been designed to commemorate VC recipients. My noble friend Lady Warsi will announce tomorrow how overseas-born VC recipients will be honoured.

We are ensuring that the UK is appropriately represented at all key international First World War events. Just as the First World War commemorations are characterised within the United Kingdom by a joined-up approach, with all government departments and the devolved Administrations actively co-operating, a close liaison is taking place between countries, not just within the Commonwealth and our allies but with our former adversaries. We are working closely with the Republic of Ireland to achieve a commemorative programme that will be equally accessible and relevant to those on both sides of the border who wish to be involved.

The Government have set a framework for a fitting and memorable centenary—commemoratively, educationally and culturally. These events and projects will, with the most profound respect, mark this historic centenary in all parts of the country and its many communities, and particularly for the custodians of the legacy: young people. We will do so in a way that is mindful of our present-day friendships with our former adversaries, while never forgetting the service and sacrifice of men and women at home and abroad. I beg to move.

3.50 pm

Lord West of Spithead (Lab): My Lords, I must first declare an interest as a trustee of the Imperial War Museum.

I thank the Minister for that clear exposition of the commemoration programme, which will lay to rest some of the concerns that people had. I know that when there was mention of this, the late Lord Campbell of Alloway was absolutely horrified that there should be a commemoration. I remember him saying to me, “What? Commemorate that bloody war? Never”. I think that he thought of it more as a celebration, but this clearly is not a celebration. The more I have thought about it, the more convinced I am that this is the right thing to do. That is for many of the reasons that the Minister gave but particularly for the young—the ability of the youth within this country to learn what the war meant, what changes it put in our country, along with the sacrifice and all those aspects of the war.

Of course, this has a huge resonance with our public. Every single family, as the Minister said, was touched by this war. The thought of those killing fields and the trenches, with their mud, has an immense resonance. The war really needs to be remembered in

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that calm and sensible way, looking at what was an awful experience for all those involved. Of course, it was really the first time that we had a complete citizen army fully involved, so that the whole population were being pulled in.

The noble Baroness the Lord Speaker and a couple of other Ministers were with me when the cadet forces had a major debate in this Chamber. That was a wonderful thing to watch because they were discussing whether we had learnt the lessons from that war. That would never have happened if we had not thought about this commemoration. It was wonderful to hear them speak and they were jolly good about keeping to time, which I am sure I will not be. They were quite remarkable and the debate was very good.

The other aspect is whether this was a necessary war. I know that when I was at school, I was taught that the First World War was completely unnecessary and that there was no need for it at all. However, as I have read more and more about it and had experience of life myself, having been in wars, I believe that it was necessary. It was the first of the German wars of the 20th century, rather like the French wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. There is no doubt for me that, although there were some wonderful aspects of democracy within Germany and some marvellous culture there, it had a militaristic organisation. There was huge competition over colonies and over the Dreadnoughts. They wanted to have them to match our fleet, but why? They did not need them, while we needed them to survive. Their decision to support Austria-Hungary, come what may, and then the decision to go into Belgium were all wrong. It was really a statement of a country saying, “We’re powerful and we do what we like”, so our decision to go to war over Belgium was absolutely right.

I believe that it was a just war. The true nature of the militaristic aspect of the German nation, with its strange dichotomy, was shown in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1917. That was a most punitive treaty with the Russians when Russia had collapsed. We saw later, when we looked at their papers after the war, what their plans were if they had won the war against us. I have no doubt at all that Europe would have been a worse place if Germany had won, so our nation did the right thing. In that, I agree with the Secretary of State for Education that it was a just war. I think that he has been reported wrongly because I read that he had said that socialists were unpatriotic. I am sure that he did not mean that and, if he did, I am willing to discuss it with him—inside or outside a boxing ring—and we will see how we go from there.

We should be very proud of our men and women who answered the call. They were of their time and did what was required of them. They did amazingly. They showed great resource and stamina, and it was a wonderful thing to see. There is no doubt that it was not a case of lions being led by donkeys, no matter what Blackadder might say—we all love Blackadder; it was wonderful, and the fact that it was wrong does not make it any worse. We should be proud that we won but, let us face it, at the end of it we had bankrupted the nation, and the cost, physically and mentally, in blood and maimed bodies, was quite

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horrendous. Think of the sheer number of mental injuries; if we think of post-traumatic stress now, we can see that we must have been talking about 1 million or so at the time.

Baroness Trumpington (Con): My Lords—

Lord West of Spithead: I am sorry, did the noble Baroness want to speak?

Baroness Trumpington: Yes, I want to say something. Hurry up and say what you are going to say.

Lord West of Spithead: I shall give way.

Baroness Trumpington: I have a question for the Minister. My father served as a regular soldier in the 9th Bengal Lancers. As such, he fought, and won an MC, in Mesopotamia. What is Mesopotamia these days? Is it involved in future commemoration events? Will the commemorative events go further to include India, which sent a great many people?

Lord West of Spithead: Yes; Mesopotamia, Iraq—it is all still in a mess, isn’t it? The best ever intelligence on Mesopotamia was the Naval Intelligence Division notes, which were actually jolly useful and I wish that we had read them better before we decided to go into that bloody place.

The point that I was leading up to was that we must never forget, because of the sheer scale, that everyone involved was an individual; everyone had their own fears, cares and worries. It is interesting that 98 years ago yesterday the body of Commander Loftus Jones was washed up on a beach in Sweden. He had been captain of the destroyer HMS “Shark” at the Battle of Jutland on 31 August. He was 36 years old. He was surrounded by light cruisers and destroyers. He took a huge amount of shellfire. He thought that he had lost his steering and went down to sort it out, but found that he had actually lost his boilers and main engines. He got his men to the upper deck because the ship was clearly sinking. His forward gun was blown off, as was his after gun. He went to the midships gun, the only one remaining, because most of the men were dead. He himself was already badly injured by shrapnel. He had his leg blown off above the knee and the chief stoker tied a tourniquet on it. He continued firing the gun as the ships closed in. He noticed that his flag had come down. He sent a man to put it up; three were shot but one finally got it up there. Finally, he was hit by a torpedo. I say all this because it shows the sort of thing that our people were able to do, and did, in the First World War. It was utterly remarkable and he won a VC for it.

Jones was unusual, though, because normally the sea does not give up its dead. For sailors, the sea is your grave. This can make it quite difficult for a site for commemoration. I personally find it very comforting when I stand on the shore in Dorset—I know Dorset well—that the sea that is lapping around my feet actually enveloped the bodies of my people who lie at the bottom of the Falkland Sound in the South Atlantic,

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and I feel close to them. The sea itself, of course, moves to the mystical power of the unseen magical pull of a celestial body. The position of each sailor lost at sea is known to God and the sea, but we know the sea.

Where should one hold a naval commemoration? The greatest battle was of course Jutland, the greatest naval battle of the First World War, on 31 May and 1 June. I am delighted that the Government have helped the HLF to find some money for HMS “Caroline”, the last surviving ship of Jutland, which is in Belfast. I am running slightly over time, but as there was a slight hiccup in timings I hope that noble Lords will forgive me. About Jutland Churchill famously said that Jellicoe, who was the commander of the grand fleet, was the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon. He did not, though, and I have to say this because it is a lovely naval thing: his signal, “Equal-speed Charlie London”, which turned the six divisions of battleships into a line seven miles long in line ahead to cross the T of the German fleet, meant that we did not lose that battle. It was probably the best, quickest and most amazing decision made during that war. Sadly, during the battle three battle cruisers were lost in a flash, and of 3,311 men there were only 16 survivors. That was the important battle of the sea, and I am delighted that the Government are looking at commemorating Jutland in 2016. Will it take place at Scapa Flow? If it does, I think that is appropriate, but will there be any help for people who need to be there? It is quite a difficult place to get to. It is a little easier to get over to some of the battlefields in France.

I have a continuum with the Battle of Jutland, in that HMS “Ardent” was a destroyer sunk that night by the battleship “Westfalen”, the next HMS “Ardent” was sunk by the “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau” in June 1940, and my HMS “Ardent” was sunk in the Falklands, so there is a continuum of commemoration. I think it is appropriate that we have this commemoration. I thank the Government for the things they have done in laying this out in the right sort of tone. It is important for our nation and our youth, and it is very appropriate.

4 pm

Baroness Williams of Crosby (LD): My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, for my inability to be present at the winding-up speeches owing to an unbreakable and very long-standing engagement.

I thank the Minister on behalf of all Members of this House for his remarkable, timely and appropriate reference to the huge contribution made to this country in the First World War by the Commonwealth. As he rightly pointed out, literally millions of people from India, Canada, Australia, Africa and the Caribbean served here. There were well over 1 million from the Indian subcontinent alone, as he said. They have not had as much credit or recognition as they deserve for that incredible act of kindness and goodness. Many of them did not even know the country they were serving in when they lost their lives because they had never been to or known anything about France or Belgium. I am very grateful to the Minister, as I am sure many

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of us are, for making it clear that our long and extended debt is to almost all the Commonwealth countries as well as this country and our allies.

I agree that this is a very particular anniversary not only because it is a centenary but because it is the last anniversary when people will know personally some of those who served in the First World War. The generation of people who are now in their 70s or 80s may still remember the marks of suffering, stoicism, commitment and memory in the faces of their mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. That will not go on for very much longer. We are seeing that last generation pass away. It is important that they are people with first-hand and personal knowledge of those who have passed on from this world and are now in cemeteries all over the world.

Turning to Britain, when we think about the First World War, it is extremely important to remember that there was no conscription until well into 1916. For a year and a half, men died in their thousands upon thousands, having volunteered to serve with no pressure, except moral pressure, on them to do so. If one walks into the Robing Room, it is striking to see on the walls almost all the great Victorian virtues—gallantry, generosity and hospitality—evoked by a plaque or mural based on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. What is so important about that is that many young men who went into the First World War did so with illusions about what war was like but with a passionate sense of gallantry and patriotism.

Noble Lords may recall that one of the first lines written about the beginning of the First World War was written by the great young war poet Rupert Brooke. I quote his ringing words:

“Now, God be thanked Who has matched us with His hour”.

There is in that poem an almost completely unqualified sense of sacrifice as being outstanding and without question.

The war ground to a stop in the trenches of France and Belgium in 1915, and moved hardly at all for the following three years, so that the Western Front of 1918 was only a few kilometres different from that of 1915. In those three years, thousands upon thousands of young men died. It is perhaps understandable that by 1918 the poetry that was being written by people such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon had a very different line, which ran:

“What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?”.

The war had lost much of its sense of gallantry and warrior ethic by the time, after three years, that it had ground itself into dust: blood and dead bodies up and down the Western Front.

Those who volunteered were mostly men. The House will understand that, given that my mother was one of the great chroniclers of the First World War, Vera Brittain, it is worth remembering that many thousands of young women volunteered as well, to serve very often, as she did, as unqualified nursing hands in the war hospitals in France, Belgium and Britain itself. I always remember her telling me what it was like as a girl of 22 to hold the leg of a man that was being sawn off because he was suffering from incurable gangrene. The stories go on and on. Medicine in those days was nothing like what it is today. There were no antibiotics,

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few anaesthetics and almost no relief from the endless agony of the wounds that they suffered.

I conclude by saying something about what we should do in this memorial, and by thanking again my noble friend Lord Gardiner for his remarkable work and the excellent programme he has outlined. Part of that programme has of course an educational element, to try and tell our young men and women in school and college today what that war was like and what we should remember of it. However, the House will forgive me if I say that it is not only a commemoration of the suffering and sacrifice of the First World War. It is also a recognition that we have to move toward reconciliation to make sure that there are no more such wars. It is worth saying, here and now, that there are reasons to thank God for the fact that for 70 years we have not had a war in western Europe, and that we cannot imagine one happening now; in other words, the political mission of reconciliation has made war, at least here in Europe, close to an impossibility.

I will quickly to tell the House about a remarkable gesture of reconciliation. On Saturday, I shall be going to Hamburg, the most badly destroyed of all the cities in Germany in the last year or so of the Second World War. Hamburg, that deeply destroyed city which was known in Germany as “die Stadt ohne Nazis”—the town without Nazis; there were very few in Hamburg—is going to name the embankment of its great canal after my mother: the Vera Brittain Ufer. I mention that only because we shall not forget that reconciliation is the other great purpose of what we are trying to celebrate here in the coming four years of the centenary of the First World War. I conclude with one other sentence from a modern poet, Wystan Hugh Auden:

“We must love one another or die”.

4.09 pm

Lord Laming (CB): My Lords, I express my gratitude to the Minister for the way in which he introduced this important debate, and indeed for the thought that is being devoted to the programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Much has been written about the events that led up to the declaration of war in 1914. Others have a real interest in the military execution of the war and the historical analysis of its outcome. But I feel sure that the Government’s programme will adequately allow for proper time to be spent recalling, with solemnity, the impact that the war had on individuals, families, communities and, indeed, the whole of our society. That impact was not confined to the duration of the war but continued for the remainder of the lives of millions of people. In the time available, I will illustrate this by brief reference to the impact it had on the lives of two people I admired greatly: one a man who went to fight in the war, the other a woman who stayed at home.

The man was my grandfather. He was enlisted as a gunner in the Royal Artillery at the beginning of the Great War. For him and others, this was “the war to end all wars”. While serving at the front, he was gassed but, unlike many of his comrades, he survived. Perhaps inevitably, it left him with breathing difficulties for the

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rest of his life, and I feel sure that his experiences at the front weighed heavily on him, in silence, for the remainder of his life.

I will now fast-forward. I was born in 1936, so my early years were dominated not by World War I but by World War II. My father was away throughout that war and I lived with my grandparents. My grandfather signed up for service as an air raid warden. He must have been very busy as I recall spending many nights in the air raid shelter. Of course, he and I talked about war because the evidence of it was all around us: bombing night after night. But he would never talk about his experience in World War I beyond saying that it was terrible and he was luckier than his comrades because he came back.

Years later, after he died, we found at the back of a drawer a brown manila envelope. It was an official envelope marked “On His Majesty’s Service”. It had been sent to him by registered post. Inside this bent-over envelope were two medals. One was inscribed “The Great War for Civilisation 1914-1918”. Almost 100 years later, I have the envelope in my pocket. My grandfather was hugely patriotic, but I suspect he thought that these medals I have in my pocket really belonged to those who fell in the war and never came back to their families.

Many years later, as a young man, I came to admire and respect a long-serving member of my then employer, a local authority. This elderly lady—although she was probably no older than I am now—had never married. Instead, she had devoted her life to supporting seriously disadvantaged people through enormously hard work in charities, voluntary organisations and local government. I became very fond of her and valued greatly her support. After she retired we kept in touch and I recall one evening having a chat with her over a cup of tea. As always, she was keen to hear what we were doing for disadvantaged people, particularly in developing services for children and families. Suddenly, most unusually, she went quiet and, looking wistful, said, “I know I have had a privileged life but in so many ways it has been an unfulfilled life”.

She went on to tell me that at university she had met the love of her life. He was older than her and went on to establish his career. They became engaged to be married and their hopes were great, having found love early in life. Then came the declaration of World War I and her fiancé, her brothers and her male cousins all went off to the war. Tragically, not one came back. A generation of young men was lost and many young women like her were denied the future they had so much hoped for. Many followed her example of public service. Their sad loss was reflected in huge service to our country, for which we are indebted.

As we commemorate the 1914-18 war, let us not limit our thoughts to those who died, important though each one is, or to those who fought and came back; rather, let us try to imagine the enduring impact the war had on the lives of so many of our fellow citizens in so many ways. We owe them all a great debt. We must never forget the price that was paid for our freedom. This programme to commemorate World

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War I deserves our full support. I am sure we all hope that we can do justice to them all because of all that they did for us.

4.16 pm

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the Minister for the comprehensive and measured way in which he introduced this important debate and laid out the Government’s plans for this commemoration. I also very much echo the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, about the emphasis being placed on the Commonwealth dimension. I have had the privilege of participating in the annual observances at the memorial gates since their inception. Remembering the sacrifices that were made by so many of those from Commonwealth countries who served provides us with an extremely important opportunity to weave that strand into the national tapestry and our national identity.

It is obvious that we cannot change the past, but we are responsible for how we remember it. Memory—and its more active form, commemoration—is certainly more than just lifting down a file and recalling a past event: it is a creative and responsible art which involves highlighting certain features and identifying significant resonances. As has already been suggested, memory informs our attitudes in the present and opens up or closes down possibilities for the future. Therefore, the programme that was outlined this afternoon is immensely responsible.

Our debate is very timely, coming just a few days before the centenary on Saturday 28 June, when the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, will be in Hamburg. It is the centenary of the very day on which Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, an event which ultimately detonated the First World War. It was not immediately recognised at the time as the historic turning point that it undoubtedly was. Europe had surmounted a number of crises in the preceding years. At the time, many people agreed with the views expressed in The GreatIllusion—an amazing book by Norman Angell which can still be read with enormous profit. Published in 1910, a short time before the outbreak of World War I, it argued that in an interdependent international economy, war no longer made sense as victory would merely impoverish your customers and destroy your markets. Many were convinced by that. Nevertheless, just a short time afterwards, the irrational happened. At the beginning of August 1914 Europe was at war and the Armed Forces of the Crown—we have had some marvellous evocations of this—not only from Great Britain but from other realms and territories as well were called upon to make great sacrifices.

The Minister made an important point by referring to those who have been so conscious of the horror and irrationality of war that they have consistently embraced a pacifist position. Theirs is an important and proper protest, but for most churches and religious communities, our remembering of history—our responsible remembering of history—has compelled us to come to a different conclusion. As it says in the 39 Articles of the Church of England, it is lawful for Christians,

“at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars”.

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It is a sober thing but it is the fruit of remembering our history. Organised force enables the peaceable to go about their daily life and provides a breathing space in which the slow business—to which the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, referred in relation to World War II—of building a better moral order can be undertaken.

I must also declare a particular interest as an ambassador for Remember WWI, an initiative which, as the Prime Minister said in his message of support, seeks “to galvanise people to take part in active commemoration”. We intend to channel, as far as we can, the emotion generated by the commemoration into charitable activity of all kinds across Britain, and we are particularly grateful for the assistance that we have already received from DCLG. I should also like to pay tribute to the contribution of the Very Reverend June Osborne, who has been part of the Government’s organising committee for this commemoration. She has circulated and been very active. Every one of our 16,000 parish churches and innumerable communities have received a comprehensive briefing and a list of suggestions and resources to help local communities devise ways of remembering that are appropriate to their circumstances.

As the Minister said, immediately and locally, Westminster Abbey will hold a candlelit vigil which will be broadcast by the BBC, drawing on that famous remark about the lamps going out all over Europe. The abbey will move from light to darkness until a single candle remains alight on the tomb of the unknown warrior, and at 11 pm, the exact moment of the declaration, it too will be extinguished. The hope is that all faith communities and local parishes will have their own vigils, and there are resources, particularly on the abbey website, to help them plan.

Every cathedral—Catholic cathedrals, Anglican cathedrals—has drawn up plans. We are grateful to the right honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer and acknowledge his assistance in granting £20 million in the Budget to both Catholic and Anglican cathedrals as a way of tackling urgent repairs and enhancing the setting for the commemorative events. The first round of applications closed on 30 May and we will have details of the grants awarded on 10 July. Obviously, war memorials will also be a focus of attention during the next four years. The Church Buildings Council stands by to advise on funding from its own resources, from the War Memorials Trust and from the HLF grant which has set aside £1 million for each of the next four years for war memorial projects.

In these commemorations we wholeheartedly salute, as has already been said, the courage of those who during the past 100 years have served under the British flag, and we remember with sorrow, pride and gratitude those who have given their lives, especially in the First World War but also in the wars of the past century. We honour those who, from our very diverse community, serve in today’s Armed Forces. This is the point of importance of these commemorations. As we navigate now into a new multipolar world, as the period of unchallengeable Western hegemony passes into history, our commemoration has to stimulate the deep reflection that we shall need if we are to avoid the mistakes of the past.

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4.25 pm

Lord Trimble (Con): My Lords, it is with a little trepidation that I follow the four excellent speeches that we have heard so far. I start by thanking the Minister for his introduction to the debate, in particular for his reference to the event that will take place on 4 August in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, on the work that he has done regarding HMS “Caroline” in Belfast, which he mentioned. It is the only surviving veteran of the Battle of Jutland and will receive a grant of over £13 million for the construction of a museum, to be ready for 2016, the centenary of Jutland.

I looked at the Library note on this debate. I am sorry to say that in the six pages that it had on conscription I did not see any reference to Ireland, other than in a little note at the bottom—in so far as you can read a reference into it—which quotes the Military Service Bill 1916, extending the obligation to,

“all male British subjects in Great Britain”.

Noble Lords may have noticed that no reference was made there to Ireland. That shows to some extent how Ireland was different. I will come back to the questions of the anti-conscription campaign in Ireland and its role in Irish politics.

In some other respects Ireland was the same. When the war broke out and we had Kitchener’s famous call for volunteers, there was a strong and enthusiastic response in Ireland, too, to what was essentially a British publicity campaign. Kitchener’s first new army, authorised in August 1914, contained six divisions, numbers 9 to 14. Division 10 was an Irish division, with the full range of Irish regiments, by which I mean the Connaught Rangers, the Munster Fusiliers and the Dublin Fusiliers, alongside the Royal Irish Rifles and the Inniskilling regiments.

A difference from elsewhere in 1914 was that there were two private armies in Ireland, which were lining up to fight each other over the issue of home rule. The Ulster Volunteer Force, which was 90,000 strong and earlier that year had shipped in over 25,000 rifles and 3 million rounds of ammunition, dispersed throughout Ulster overnight in a motorised operation that preceded Gallieni’s taxis rushing people from Paris to the Marne. It can therefore be regarded as the first use of the motor car on a substantial scale in a quasi-military operation. I am sorry—that little bit of local patriotism had to get a reference. Alongside the Ulster Volunteer Force was the Irish Volunteers, which was much larger in size but perhaps not as well armed.

Kitchener obviously wanted both. After a bit of political toing and froing there was eventually an agreement and the 16th (Irish) Division was formed of Irish volunteers as part of the second new army. That is quite significant in Irish history, because John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who in a vague sort of way presided over the Irish Volunteers, was strongly in support of enlistment in the army. Indeed, he carried with him roughly 90% of the Irish Volunteers—a small split formed the Irish National Volunteers that year, people who largely provided foot soldiers for the rebellion of 1916. The 36th (Ulster) Division was formed from the Ulster Volunteer Force

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slightly later, although the War Office would not allow the Ulstermen to form an artillery unit, which was a nice little echo of the Indian Mutiny.

The 10th (Irish) Division was the first into action. It was dispatched to Gallipoli in 1915 and thereafter served in Serbia and Salonika before moving to Egypt in 1917 and taking part in the campaigns in Palestine to the end of the war. Here, I have to declare an interest in that my maternal grandfather was a member of the Irish Division. I never knew him—he died before I was born—but my grandmother was very proud of the fact that her husband was part of the army that liberated Jerusalem.

Such was the lottery of warfare that the 10th’s total number of casualties throughout the war was just 10,000. That is quite a lot but the totals for the 16th and 36th Divisions were more than three times greater, one having a total casualty figure of 28,000 and the other 32,000, although I shall not indicate which was which. The 16th (Irish) Division was first engaged at Loos but it and the 36th Division were both in the Battle of the Somme, the Ulster Division on the very first day. It achieved quite a lot but, suffering considerable casualties, had been withdrawn from the line after just two days of engagement. The 16th Division came in in September, spending more than a month on the line and ultimately suffering casualties not far short of those of the Ulstermen.

There were those who at the outbreak of the war thought that the experience of the two volunteer forces fighting side by side would somehow defuse the incipient civil war in Ireland and change the political context. It might have done so had the war been shorter and not as bloody, because the political context in Ireland changed during the war, as people will realise. However, those who saw this as a means of bringing the sides together tend to think mostly of the Battle of Messines in 1917, which was a curtain raiser for the Third Battle of Ypres. It was the one time when the 36th and the 16th were side by side and it was a comparatively successful operation.

However, there is an interesting event that is an indication of what might have been. John Redmond’s brother, William, who was also a Member of Parliament, commanded the 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment in the 16th Division. He took part in the Battle of Messines, personally leading his battalion, but was seriously wounded. A stretcher-bearer from the 36th (Ulster) Division, one John Meeke, discovered this and went to his assistance. Meeke himself was then wounded twice and incapacitated. The two were rescued some hours later by a patrol that was bringing back some German prisoners and William Redmond was then taken to an Ulster Division casualty clearing station, where he died.

To some extent, that symbolises the impact of the war and what might have been. In the period after the war, because of the triumph of Sinn Fein and the culture that then developed, the Irish Republic was an uncomfortable place for those who had served in the British Army and they were treated very badly in the 1920s. The atmosphere, thankfully, is changing, and changing quite considerably. It is no coincidence that both Governments chose the area of Messines to erect the peace tower commemorating and honouring what the

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two divisions had done together. I heard with interest what the Minister said about looking for a way in which both sides can participate.

I want to conclude with a little comment on the Battle of the Somme. I am concerned about the caricatures of what happened—they are not entirely accurate. A number of years ago, I came across a book by Christopher Duffy, who has written on a number of military subjects. He wrote an account of the Somme entitled Through German Eyes. It is based on German material, examining the situation from the German point of view. In the course of this, he deals with the interrogation records of British soldiers who had been captured by the Germans. His book ends with a quotation from a German intelligence summary drawn up at the end of the war, in which there is the following comment about British prisoners:

“Most of the front-line soldiers too are extremely proud of what they have achieved so far. Again and again we hear from prisoners the self-satisfied question: ‘Don’t you think we have done very well?’”

4.34 pm

Lord Graham of Edmonton (Lab): My Lords, it is a privilege to take part in this debate. We are all very privileged to reflect on what the words mean. I have been humble and proud to say to myself, “Wasn’t it marvellous to be here to listen to people talking about their reflections and experiences?”.

My contribution goes something like this: 10 or 12 years ago we had a debate in the House of Lords in the Labour group. I was the Chief Whip and I said to my colleagues at the time, “I want you to be here next Tuesday about 8.30 when we are going to have an ambush. Keep out of sight. Come in when the Division Bell goes.”. A little chap at the back, called Charlie Leatherland, who was the instigator of Essex University, got to his feet and said, “Ted, you know I’ve got a bad leg. I can’t be here at half-past eight. Do you know where I got this bad leg?”. I said, “No, Charlie”, and he said, “I got it on the Somme”. Another voice at the back said, “Yes, Charlie, but you weren’t at Passchendaele, were you?”.

The hairs stood on the back of my neck. Charlie Leatherland was about 4 foot 10 and Douglas Houghton was the other spokesman who said, “You weren’t at Passchendaele.” He was a little bit taller—possibly up to five feet. Here were two men who had fought for us in the Great War and survived, and were making a marvellous contribution. When Douglas was dying I went to see him in hospital and said, “Douglas, tell me about Passchendaele”. He said, “It’s all in one word—mud”. He lay back on his pillow—he died two days later. The tears ran down his face and I said, “Douglas, don’t upset yourself. I’m here. I’m your loving friend”.

He said that he wanted to tell me what Passchendaele was like. He said that the night before the great attack they were lined up on their side of no-man’s land and the sergeant said that in front of them was a sea of mud that they had to cross and get to the other side. They had to dive into a shell hole and wait for orders. During the night, men had been out and laid duckboards across the mud. If they stuck to the duckboards they would survive. If they fell in the mud they were told, “You can’t be saved; you’ll be dead”. He said, “So we went off and after about 50 yards, a strangled cry

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came from another line, and my dear friend, Percy, was in the mud trying to survive. The sergeant drove us on and I landed up in a shell hole for three days and three nights and cried my eyes out”.

In 1924 he was standing at a bus stop in the Strand and along came a bus. The conductor on the bus was Percy. He said, “Percy is that you?” He said, “Yes. Is it Douglas?”. By then the Strand was at a standstill. Everyone had heard the tale. I asked whether they met again and he said, “Only once. We had a good drink”. That was the way it was. Douglas had thought he had lost his dearest friend and was under severe stress. He became a Member of the Cabinet. I am looking across at my good and noble friend Lady Williams who knew Douglas better than most. He was a great man.

I come to this debate with two or three strands; I mention this to my good friend from Newcastle upon Tyne, Clayton Street in Newcastle—Woolworths, as it was then. I used to stand there trying to sell carrier bags to the shoppers to earn a copper or two to take home to Mam. Every time I stood there, half a dozen people playing musical instruments would go by in the gutter—they were not on the pavement, they were in the gutter. I said to Mam and Dad one day, “What are those men doing?”. She said they were from the war. I said, “They were heroes”. Dad said, “Yes, they were heroes”. My tuppenceworth in this debate is that I deeply respect what the Government have done and are doing. They have done a marvellous job on preparation and, like other noble Lords, I only hope to be here when we celebrate the end of the First World War, not the beginning of it.

When one reflects on what happened in the Second World War after the Great War—the war to end all wars—20 years earlier, it beggars belief that we cannot find a better system for looking after people in this world. When people are driven, as they have been, into an internal war within a country, it is very sad. The horrors that one sees on television and reads about, and what is happening to families and communities in the name of whatever you like to call it, is madness and we have to do something to stop it. I have always been a full supporter of what was called the Common Market. The reason I supported it then and now is that you could conceive the possibility that if all of the nations that got together—six and now 28—were linked in some way, that would be a good contribution to make.

Noble Lords will be pleased to know that I have almost come to the end of what I want to say. I congratulate the Minister on what he has said and for telling us a great deal about what we did not know in general. I am sure that millions of people in this country will be thankful to him and his colleagues for sparing the cash, the time and the effort for the commemoration on 4 August

Finally, I stand as a man who was badly wounded during the war. I finished up on a hillside with my guts in my hands—I had been shot through the back, bullets had entered my back and come out of my abdomen into my leg—and I was almost dead. I thought I was dead. There was difficulty in finding a doctor. However, one was finally found and he saved my life. The nurse said to me, “The doctor who saved your life is coming round this afternoon”. I said, “Can I meet him?”. The

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nurse said, “Yes”. I said, “Doctor, I am told you saved my life and I am very grateful”. He said, “Well, let me put it like this: if I had got to you 20 minutes later you would have been dead”. Here I am, 70 years later, and very grateful to be here.

4.45 pm

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): My Lords, following the deadly struggle of the 38th (Welsh) Division to take Mametz Wood, a key point in the Somme offensive in July 1916, some people in Wales called for the cancellation of the National Eisteddfod which was due to take place some four weeks later in Aberystwyth. To sing, they thought, was unseemly in such circumstances. David Lloyd George, then Secretary of State for War and shortly to succeed Mr Asquith as Prime Minister, encouraged the gathering to continue and spoke from the Eisteddfod platform:

“Why should we not sing during the war? It is true that there are thousands of gallant men falling in the fight—let us sing of their heroism. .... Let us sing of our land that gave birth to so many heroes”.

Lloyd George added:

“Our soldiers sing the songs of Wales in the trenches, and they hold their own Eisteddfod behind them”.

It was true.

At three o’clock on the dawn of 9 July 1916, as told by a survivor, the 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers were in position in the sunken road before Mametz Wood. They were exchanging banter between themselves and singing snatches of Welsh songs. Their colonel, Colonel Ronald Carden, a cavalry officer and a famous polo player, joined them to lead the attack. He was immaculately dressed, carrying nothing more than his officer’s cane. Someone in the ranks struck up “Aberystwyth”", the Welsh setting of Charles Wesley’s, “Jesu, Lover of my Soul”. Your Lordships will know how the music moves from the poignant minor key of the first two lines into a triumphant major conclusion of hope and of redemption. When it was finished, the colonel said: “Boys, make your peace with God! We are going to take that position and some of us won’t come back, but we are going to take it. This”, he said, tying his handkerchief to his cane, “will show you where I am”. Brandishing his cane in the air, he led them out of the road, up and on to the four hundred yards of bare open ground which led to the impenetrable tree line and the machine guns within it. He shouted. “Come on, boys”, and started to run forward. He was hit almost immediately, but staggering up and still encouraging his men, he made another dash forward before he was hit a second time and fell dead.

Waves of the 14th (Caernarfon and Anglesey) and the 15th (London Welsh) Royal Welsh Fusiliers followed, breaking through a hail of bullets and bombs in which, so the survivor said, it seemed impossible for men to live. The Swansea, Rhondda and Carmarthen battalions of the Welsh regiment attacked through the very centre of the German lines. The wood rang with the noise of rifle and bomb and the cries of men shouting their battle cry, “Stick to it, Welsh”. Captain Wyn Griffith of the 15th Royal Welsh Fusiliers described what he saw:

“Blue sky above, a band of green trees, and a ploughed graveyard in which living men moved worm-like in and out of

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sight three men digging a trench thigh deep in the red soil, digging their own graves, as it chanced, for a bursting shell turned their shelter into a tomb. There were more corpses than men, but there were more sights than corpses. Limbs and mutilated trunks, here and there a detached head, forming splashes red against the green leaves”.

It was, he said, “our crucifixion of youth”.

But it was not just the fighting soldiers of the 38th Division that showed courage. The stretcher bearers climbed again and again from the battlefield up over the ridge, taking the wounded by the shortest route to the 13th RWF aid post beyond. They were in full view of the enemy with no cover from the barrage of hostile guns. In the middle of the afternoon, a howitzer shell destroyed the aid post, and with it, the battalion doctor and six stretcher bearers.

On the following day, Mametz Wood was penetrated to its furthest edge and finally taken with devastating losses. The 38th Division suffered 8,000 casualties over those two days. The 13th Rhondda Battalion of the Welsh Regiment went in over 1,000 strong and only 135 answered their names at the first roll call afterwards.

Today, the Welsh Dragon stands proud over Mametz Wood as a memorial to the 38th Division. It is in the process of being refurbished for ceremonies to remember the battle and its terrible toll.

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers was the regiment of the poet, Robert Graves, who fought at Mametz Wood. It was the regiment of Siegfried Sassoon, who won the Military Cross for bravery. Sassoon rescued two wounded men from a 25-foot deep crater under enemy fire. He was known as “Mad Jack” for his reckless courage and later, for another feat of valour, he was recommended for the Victoria Cross. Yet Sassoon became sick of the killing fields. Emmeline Pankhurst published his A Soldier’s Declaration, a statement read out by a Labour Member of Parliament to a shocked House of Commons. Sassoon wrote:

“I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed”.

The War Office could not court-martial a decorated soldier, so he was deemed to have suffered a nervous breakdown. He was sent to a hospital, where he met a fellow patient, Wilfred Owen, a man born at Oswestry on the Welsh border of Welsh and English parents. Sassoon encouraged and helped Owen to write those scorching war poems, set to music by Benjamin Britten in his moving “War Requiem”, which we in the Parliament Choir have performed both in Coventry Cathedral and at Westminster.

Both Sassoon and Wilfred Owen returned to the Western Front, Sassoon to be wounded severely in the head, and Owen to win the Military Cross for bravery but alas to be killed just at the end of the war. His parents learnt of his death on Armistice Day.

The Welsh poet, Ellis Humphrey Evans, whose bardic name was Hedd Wyn or “Blessed Peace”, was also of the 15th Regiment of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. While released briefly to get in the harvest on his father’s farm at Trawsfynydd, he wrote a poem which he entered for the chair competition at the 1917 National

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Eisteddfod in Birkenhead. However, on the day of the ceremony, he did not answer the call of the bardic trumpets; Hedd Wyn had been killed at Passchendaele five weeks before. The chair he had won was draped in a black shroud.

So what should we commemorate in these coming four years? I shall be joining with the Parliament Choir and the Bundestag Choir to celebrate more than 70 years of peace between the nations of western Europe in our joint concert in Westminster Hall on 4 July. We shall be singing together Mendelssohn’s “Lobgesang”, whose climactic conclusion is:

The night has passed, the day has come.

Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.

I know that I shall be thinking of my mother’s cousin, 2nd Lieutenant Jim Morgan Williams, who said goodbye to his wife a fortnight after they were wed to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. She never saw him again. He was killed at Ypres on the 9 May 1918. She was by that time carrying their son, Glyn. She brought him up as a single mother and a widow. He attended my grammar school in Wrexham, gained a Meyricke scholarship to Oxford, took his degree, and then joined his father’s regiment as a lieutenant. He was killed on 28 July 1945, after the war in Europe had ended, when his jeep was driven over a destroyed bridge at the Rhine.

Hedd Wyn wrote in his poem “Rhyfel”, or “War”:

Mae'r hen delynau genid gynt,

Ynghrog ar gangau'r helyg draw,

A gwaedd y bechgyn lond y gwynt,

A'u gwaed yn gymysg efo'r glaw.

The harps to which we sang, are hung

On willow boughs, and their refrain

Drowned by the anguish of the young

Whose blood is mingled with the rain.

4.54 pm

Lord Scott of Foscote (CB): My Lords, World War I began, as everyone knows, in 1914 and continued for four years until 1918. The Motion before the House is to take,

“note of the programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War”.

That centenary is 100 years but, in effect, the question is—as the speeches in your Lordships’ House indicate—whether and to what extent one should accept a Motion to commemorate the First World War.

I would wholeheartedly and enthusiastically support a Motion to celebrate the end of the First World War but find it a little difficult to celebrate the commencement of that terrible war. I find it difficult to accept that the war itself should be celebrated and commemorated. What should be celebrated and commemorated, I respectfully suggest, is the bravery, sacrifices and fortitude of the many men and women, soldiers, airmen, sailors and—as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford—stretcher bearers, nurses and doctors in the field. All these people—many of whom died, were wounded or suffered—fought in the Great War. Their sacrifices and valour, tears and miseries deserve to be

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commemorated but not, I respectfully suggest, the war itself and not its commencement. Its ending is another matter.

I should mention some personal family matters. My father was born in 1895 and was 19 when war broke out. He had an elder brother who had been to Sandhurst and was a regular soldier anyway, and he had a twin brother. After leaving school my father went to Ceylon as a tea planter. When war broke out he joined the Ceylon Planters Rifles and fought in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia. His twin brother and elder brother were in the Army fighting in Normandy. My father was wounded three times but was fortunate and survived. Both his brothers were killed. They and others like them are the ones who should be commemorated. They are the victims of that terrible war.

Whether the war was a political necessity I do not know. I do not know enough about the history to know whether, at that time, it was necessary to preserve the safety of this country and its citizens. Whatever the justification—or lack of it—the war itself was surely a terrible event for all those who had to take part in it. They deserve commemoration and I wholeheartedly support the notion that they should be commemorated, but not that the war itself should be.

4.57 pm

Lord Jenkin of Roding (Con): My Lords, the House has listened to a number of extremely moving speeches. Much has been made of the fact that World War I involved virtually every family in the land. I have been encouraged to say a few words about the involvement of my own family. I do so in no sense of belief that it is in any way unique but simply because it might be illustrative, an example of what many millions of people went through at the same time. That includes not just the armed services but those who made their contribution in other services.

I begin with my paternal grandfather. He was the first professor of engineering at Oxford University. The department was set up in 1908 and in 1914 it was entirely dispersed so that staff could take part in the war and play their role. My grandfather was swiftly swept up by the then Ministry of Munitions and found himself helping to design improvements to the aircraft that were by then being used on the Western Front. The frail, wooden-framed, canvas-covered planes were almost the first example of air power being used in war. In fact, he invented a new, more robust covering. There is a story about that but not time for me to tell it. If anybody wants to know it, I will tell them later.

His nephew, Louis Jenkin, joined the first squadron of the Royal Flying Corps when the war broke out. He fought on the Western Front, was awarded the MC and Bar and died on active service—he went on a mission and never returned. His name is recorded on the memorial to which my noble friend referred in his impressive opening speech, the memorial at Arras, where all the flying services are commemorated.

My grandfather’s younger son had always wanted to be a naval officer. He went to the Dartmouth Naval College before the war and served in the Navy. He was in action in the North Sea—whether at the Battle of

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Jutland, I know not, but he certainly saw service against the German Navy. Sadly, he succumbed to appendicitis and peritonitis. There were no drugs then, and I have no doubt that the medical services on board ship were fairly rudimentary, but I and the family still regard my Uncle Conrad as a casualty of World War I.

His sister joined the famous Room 40 at the Ministry of Defence. I am sorry that my noble friend Lady Trumpington is not here, because they were the Bletchley Girls of the First World War, the Ministry of Defence’s intelligence service. I know not what they did, because she never spoke about it. She regarded it as entirely confidential and secret. She became quite well known in later life and was known to millions of children as Aunt Elizabeth in the BBC radio programme, “Children’s Hour”. She eventually succeeded Uncle Mac as the head of that service.

I think it will interest my noble friend Lord Gardiner to know that my mother’s brother joined the Army right at the start of the war. I have to say that I never thought that he was cut out to be a soldier, but he fought at Gallipoli. He was so horrified and appalled by the slaughter that he witnessed that when he returned to civilian life in the Civil Service, he insisted on joining what was then called the Imperial War Graves Commission. He spent his entire career in the Civil Service with the commission. He became an expert on the cemeteries all over the world. He had huge admiration for Sir Fabian Ware, who had set up the commission even during the war. I was interested to read the brief description of the commission’s work in the excellent note we had from the Library, which chimed very much with my uncle’s career. He eventually rose to be financial secretary of the commission—it was his entire life’s work. I just mention his younger brother, who was also in the Navy, who was too young to fight in World War I, but served after that and was tragically killed in an accident on HMS “Courageous”.

The noble Viscount, Lord Slim, was a very good friend of General Sir Philip Christison, who became a very famous general in World War II. In World War I, Philip Christison served in the Cameron Highlanders and was severely wounded on the Western Front. His own brother, John, was killed at the same time. Philip was invalided out but he made the Army his career and in World War II, he was the first general to beat the Japanese on land and took their surrender at Singapore in 1945.

I have left to the last our most poignant memorial of the war: my father’s involvement. He was the professor’s elder son and he joined the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry as a subaltern. He fought on the Western Front and, at the Battle of the Somme, he was hit by a bullet from a German machine gun. Mercifully, it hit his helmet. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Laming, who has that famous envelope in his pocket, I have always understood that to bring visual images into the House is against the rules. However, we have that helmet at home with a hole in it and it is a very treasured memorial for my family as without that helmet, none of us would be here. My whole family depends on the fact that my father survived.

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I mention all this not because my family was in any way unusual—millions of others did the same—but because it is a very good reason why we are commemorating the First World War in the way that my noble friend described so admirably at the beginning of the debate. As others have referred to, it is right that we should commemorate that war in which so many millions of people were involved. This is an opportunity to remember and to ponder.

5.06 pm

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, it is a privilege to follow that very moving speech by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding. He gave us all cause for thought, as indeed did my noble friend Lord Graham of Edmonton just a few moments ago. I do not think I have heard a speech of that power from such a senior Member of your Lordships’ House for a very long time and I certainly look forward to him being able to be with us in 2018, when I think he will be just 93, to regale us some more.

Lord Graham of Edmonton: Is that a promise?

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: It is a promise. I congratulate the Minister not just on his excellent opening speech but on the part he played in persuading the usual channels that we should have this debate today. The number of speakers indicates how much interest there is in your Lordships’ House in the centenary of the outbreak of World War I.

This interest is reflected in the country as a whole, where the range of events, initiatives and projects is truly impressive. I shall speak about some of those in a moment but, first, I express my appreciation to the Government and particularly to the Prime Minister’s special representative, Dr Andrew Murrison, for getting the programme up and running after it was first thought about in 2011. It was then that I was asked by the War Heritage All-Party Group, which I chair, to write to the Prime Minister because we were a little concerned that there seemed to be some lack of preparedness in the UK for the centenary, compared with what was being planned in other Commonwealth countries and in France and Flanders. That letter seemed to have some effect because, very soon after, I got a reply from Mr Cameron and Dr Murrison was appointed. Quite soon after that, the Government’s advisory board on the World War I centenary commemoration was established and I am very proud to be serving on it.

It is very much to Dr Murrison’s credit that the tone and content of the programme is correctly nuanced. That was very much reflected in the Minister’s speech this afternoon. It would be so easy to get this wrong but I do not think that we have. The theme of commemoration—not celebration—is absolutely right, as is the determination to combine traditional acts of remembrance with new initiatives to engage as much of the population as possible.

It is not possible in a debate like this to do justice to everything that is going on, so I shall mention just a few events. The Minister has rightly drawn attention to the major national programme of events that starts in August—the services at Glasgow Cathedral, Westminster

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Abbey, St Symphorien and others. The school battlefields visit programme is hugely significant, and I commend the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government on managing to find £5.3 million to send two pupils and one teacher from every maintained secondary school in England to make a four-day tour of the battlefields and take part in remembrance ceremonies on the Western Front. Despite having been present at it numerous times, I still find the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres extraordinarily moving, particularly when a young person from one of our British schools says the exhortation from Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”.

Another initiative that I commend to your Lordships is the one in which my all-party group has played a major part. I am referring to the efforts of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the In From The Cold voluntary organisation to map war graves in each parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom. Between us, we have been encouraging local MPs and Peers not only to visit them but to engage with the local community and schools so that they understand the significance of these graves, the impact of world wars and the continuing importance of remembrance.

There are CWGC graves and memorials in 13,000 locations across this country, and more than 300,000 Commonwealth men and women who died in both world wars are commemorated in the UK, more than half of them casualties of the Great War. Up to the end of last week 144 visits for MPs had been organised, and a further 76 are planned for the summer and the autumn. I visited three sites in Worcester last Friday with the local MP, Robin Walker. We were guided impressively by the CWGC’s Andrew Crompton, and I thank him on the record for what he did for us then. I reinforce the Minister’s praise for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for what it does not just in this country but all over the world; we owe it a huge debt of gratitude.

I am pleased that there is a cultural programme alongside everything else that is going on. I was very moved by what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said about the World War I poets. Yesterday I played a part in a very special event in the Cotswolds. A special train was chartered from Oxford, stopping at the site of Adlestrop station. It was exactly 100 years to the day, and almost to the hour, after the train carrying the World War I poet Edward Thomas stopped, as he put it, “unwontedly” and provided the inspiration for his much loved poem “Adlestrop”. He of course joined up the following year, in 1915, and was killed at Arras in 1917. I had the privilege of reading the poem on the train’s public address system.

If your Lordships will allow me to stay in my own county of Worcester for a moment, I would like to commend what is known as the Worcestershire World War One Hundred project, which was one of the very first to attract a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £353,000 towards a total cost of £675,000. This is being led by Dr Adrian Gregson, head of the county’s archive and archaeology service and Worcester city councillor. The project has brought together the widest

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range of local organisations, including all the major museums, the University of Worcester, the cathedral, the Worcestershire regimental associations and many more. Its purpose is to tell the story of Worcestershire’s experience of the Great War and its legacy through exhibitions, trails and school and community activities, on both the home and battle fronts.

We are also celebrating the lives of two individuals who contributed hugely in different ways, both with very strong Worcester connections: the music hall artiste, Vesta Tilley, who was born in Worcester and eventually married a Conservative MP—well, no one is perfect—and the Reverend Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, better known as Woodbine Willie. He will have a special place in a service in Worcester Cathedral.

Tomorrow, local residents are being invited to come to a bell tent at the Commandery in Worcester to share, donate or loan artefacts, memorabilia and stories that show how the war touched everyone’s lives. The bell tent will later go on tour around the county.

I shall finish by referring to one of the first commemoration events we will have this year, on 31 October, which is the centenary of the stand by the 2nd Battalion The Worcestershire Regiment at the Battle of Gheluvelt. Military historians more knowledgeable than I say that this was a crucial engagement as the Worcesters and the South Wales Borderers held the line against a German advance in the very early weeks of the war.

Not just in Worcestershire, but all over the country there will be exhibitions, parades, concerts, church services and remembrance events over the next four years. I am confident that the tone will be right and that the programmes will be imaginative, appropriate and, above all, non-partisan. I thank the Minister for the opportunity to talk about some of these events today and to play some modest part in the programme in the future.

5.15 pm

Baroness Seccombe (Con): My Lords, I am most grateful for the opportunity to debate this subject in this first year of commemoration of the Great War of 1914-18. Whenever I think of those years, my mind fills with memories of my father, who would never speak of the carnage and slaughter that he witnessed in northern Europe. The conditions in the trenches were atrocious. He was left weakened and subsequently led a short but, I am glad to say, happy life.

My village of Kineton has—as most villages have—a memorial to those who lost their lives during the 1914-18 war around which we stand on Armistice Day. We have a gifted local historian, Gillian Ashley-Smith, who has researched the life of the village at that time, particularly the families of those whose names are on the memorial. The village was immersed in the life of the Warwickshire hunt, whose kennels remain very close by. The families in one way or another revolved round it, and it was said that there were more horses in Kineton than there were people. Many people were employed in the supporting services required, so it is no surprise to learn that in August 1914 the grandfather of the noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, the then master of the Warwickshire hunt,

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called on the hunt to muster men with their horses, grooms, vets and the farriers to fight for King and country. All the hunt stablemen had already left by train for medical tests in Scarborough. They were seen off at the station by one of the village benefactors with a parting gift of £2 for their willingness to serve King and country and with a promise to pay their return costs if they failed their medical.

A meeting was held in the school to hear an impassioned plea for volunteers. The local GP, Dr Oldmeadow, said, “Man for man our men are far superior to the Germans and countrymen nearly always make the best soldiers. They are more hardy and they are used to discomfort”. A separate appeal was made to the women of the village to encourage their husbands and sons to sign up. Many enlisted in the Warwickshire Yeomanry and after training began a horrendous journey, during which they were torpedoed off the Scilly Isles, then towed for two days to southern Ireland. Sadly, four of the yeomen lost their lives, as did three horses. Eventually they arrived in Gallipoli in 1915. Most of the yeomen became involved in trench warfare, having dismounted, while the remainder cared for the horses. They were fearless fighters and 14 men were lost and 19 were injured in the four months they served in Gallipoli. The regiment was evacuated to Alexandria, and after numerous battles against the Turkish, German and Austrian armies in Sinai and Palestine they advanced to Mutaret-el-Baghi and sheltered under a low ridge—and so began the last great cavalry charge at Huj.

On the 96th anniversary of the battle—8 November 2013—my son Philip went with a small group of former yeomen to visit the battle site. The group included my noble friend Lord Cope of Berkeley, the former honourable Member for Weston-super-Mare, Jerry Wiggin, and his son, the present honourable Member for North Herefordshire, Bill Wiggin, who are the son and grandson of Major WH Wiggin DSO of the Worcestershire Yeomanry. Also present was the son of Lieutenant Colonel Greycheape DSO, who commanded the Warwickshire Yeomanry.

These two commanding officers faced three batteries of Austrian gunners and around 2,000 Turkish infantrymen. There were 190 men mounted, with swords drawn, who began the charge at a trot, increasing to a gallop. The dust and the noise from all this activity alerted the enemy gunners who started firing all around at short range. The yeomen just kept on charging, with men and horses falling quickly around them. As a result of these heroic actions, the Turkish gunners fled and this small number of yeomen captured the four guns and took 90 prisoners. One of the guns is on display in the regimental museum in Warwick.

Victory in all battles comes at a cost and, sadly, around half of the soldiers and horses were killed or injured. The whole incident took only minutes, but was highly significant as it enabled the regiments to press northwards to Jerusalem under the command of General Allenby, the father of the noble Lord, Lord Allenby. For their actions on this day, both Lieutenant Colonel Greycheape and Major Wiggin received bars to their existing DSOs.

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Back home, with most of the men gone, one can imagine the change in village life. The women responded by working on the land and running the shops—indeed, turning their hands to any work not covered, manual or not. Of course, this was in addition to organising their, usually large, families. In one way, it gave women a first opportunity to work outside the home—but, for some, it must have been an intolerable burden. Everyone in the village contributed in one way or another. The war effort was what mattered. The grand ladies of the village willingly offered to have hospital beds in their homes and a Mrs Fielden, the wife of the joint master of the hunt, set up a 63-bed VAD hospital with all services provided free. These beds were all occupied by December 1914. In the mean time, the older men of the village formed themselves into the forerunner of the Home Guard.

There is so much more that I could say about these wonderful, generous and patriotic people. The best way I can end is to repeat the poignant words on the village memorial: “For God and King and country they gave their all”.

5.23 pm

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I first pay particular tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, for his memorable contribution to the debate. He mentioned Newcastle, and I know that he will be as pleased as I am that the Renwick memorial will feature on one of the Royal Mail’s new stamps to be published in a few weeks’ time.

In 1976, the late Lord Avon published his autobiography, covering his life between 1897 and 1917. It was a personal account of his younger days and of his experiences in the Great War as an officer. It is a fascinating account of an era long gone. In the final sentence of the book, Lord Avon says:

“I had entered the holocaust still childish and I emerged tempered by my experience and bereft of many friends, but with my illusions intact, neither shattered nor cynical, to face a changed world”.

He used the word holocaust, and it was a holocaust because it was slaughter on a mass scale. He talked about a changed world, which is why he gave his autobiography the title, Another World—for that is what it was.

Many autobiographies were written at the time or shortly after—some of them in the years leading up to the Second World War—and I would like to concentrate on the three themes of legacy, remembrance and reconciliation. First, we have to remember that 9.5 million soldiers died in the Great War on all sides. With all the national fervour in all countries in August 1914, very few understood what they had unleashed until very much later. I do not see our commemoration of those years being just about 1914 to 1918, because the Versailles settlement was in 1919 and most of our war memorials were constructed in the 1920s, so most will have their centenaries between some five or six years and 15 years from now. In terms of public funding to mark their centenary, I hope this can be borne in mind.

I am deeply impressed by the work of the Imperial War Museum and the British Library. The First World War Centenary Partnership by the Imperial War Museum, with its exhibitions, events, digital resources, along

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with those of the British Library, are extremely important, because they extend the availability of archives across the world. I pay tribute, too, to schools for their work in enabling young people to understand more about the war, which is in part the consequence of the national curriculum. The plans over the next five years for educational visits and funding for conservation projects involving young people—for example, plans for commemorative paving stones where recipients of the Victoria Cross lived—are all good to see, because they are all things that give a local dimension to national commemoration events. I hope that, when commemorations are complete, we will leave as a legacy war memorials, and buildings that serve as war memorials, with secure financial futures. I hope, too, that, with the legacy, there is a deeper understanding of the importance of diplomacy. It was the devastating failure of diplomacy which led to military planning dominating decision-making in the final days before war broke out. I am one of those who believes that, with better, faster and more inclusive diplomacy, the war could have been localised in eastern and south-eastern Europe. However, as we know, Germany invaded Belgium and war was declared.

Much of the remembrance will be spontaneous. We will remember the countries that supported us, the Commonwealth, and countries in Europe that supported us as our allies. But in all of these, can we remember the role of the Chinese Labour Corps, which made an immense contribution to the war effort, particularly on the Western Front?

On the remembrance events, I notice from the Library note that peaks of activity will be based on particular anniversaries and major political and parliamentary moments. That is right—I understand that—but I hope that, as we commemorate those events and moments, we will never forget that it was individuals who died and that individuals should be remembered as individuals, not just as a statistic. So, as an example, when we come to commemorate the first day of the Somme battle, on 1 July 2016, in which 20,000 British troops died, we will remember that each was an individual. I wonder whether in local churches the names of those who died, listed on war memorials in our towns, villages and cities, might be read out on, or close to, the centenary of their death. Their names appear on most war memorials and most can be traced on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and other similar sites. It is possible to track most if not all of them. Perhaps I might add to the words of warmth for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It does a brilliant job. All the war graves I have visited—recently the First World War cemeteries in north-west Italy—are maintained to the highest possible standard.

The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, referred to the centenary of the poem “Adlestrop”. I will make a similar but different point. Yesterday the “Today” programme marked the centenary of the writing of “Adlestrop” by Edward Thomas by having it read by his wife, Helen. Of course, as the noble Lord reminded us, Edward Thomas was killed at Arras in 1917. That has provoked me to consider whether there might be plans for all poets, writers and composers killed in the

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war to have a specific commemoration in the media—perhaps on the “Today” programme in that exact time slot—on the exact centenary of their deaths.

There are many possibilities. Some are well known, such as Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, but others less so; for example, the Scottish composer, Cecil Coles, killed in 1918, whose work “Behind the Lines” was composed on the Western Front and found in the archives of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh a few years ago. Some of his manuscripts still had shrapnel embedded in them. His work “Cortège” was used by Channel 4 in its series on the First World War but his quality as a composer is less widely known. Perhaps there could be a commemoration of such people in the course of the next four years.

Finally, on reconciliation, I am very pleased that a football match is to be held on Christmas Day to commemorate the Christmas truce. It is very interesting that so many letters from British soldiers who witnessed that evaded any form of censorship and describe the events and reveal the feelings of men as individuals, who time and again did not want to be killing other soldiers. I am also very pleased that the event at the St Symphorien Cemetery is being held as an act of reconciliation. As the Minister said, that is where British and German troops were buried close to each other in August 1914. Of course, in 1918 Mons was the site where the final shots of World War I were fired. Might it be possible to give consideration to what might happen in 1918 to mark the closure of the physical conflict?

The nature of war changes. It is too easy to apply hindsight to what happened in the First World War but the lessons learnt in that war are enduring and universal.

5.33 pm

Baroness Flather (CB): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, for giving us such an interesting snapshot of the events that are likely to take place. We do not always get to hear what might be happening and now we will have a record in Hansard to see what is planned. I thank him for that. I also thank him for the opportunity he has given us to speak about what is very close to our hearts. So many noble Lords have spoken about this event—can you call it an event? I do not know whether it is an event, or what it is, but it was particularly awful. As I grow older, I find images of war more and more upsetting. I just cannot get my head round the fact that we did so much killing of each other, but that is a different point.

People have spoken about their own personal connections. The noble Lord, Lord Laming, said that we are losing that connection because our generation will probably be the last one that has a personal connection to anyone who was in the war. My father was a stretcher-bearer in Mesopotamia. He would not talk about it. Other noble Lords have said that their fathers would not talk about it. Their experiences were so appalling that they were not able to share them with their families. My brother was 12 years older than me and I asked him whether he would talk to our father to see whether he could get some information. He told me that my father would not speak about his experiences but I think that they must have been awful for him

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because he came from a privileged background and was a student in this country. Mahatma Gandhi said that Indian students could volunteer for the war effort but should not volunteer to kill people. That is why my father became a stretcher-bearer. We have heard how hard the war was for stretcher-bearers. In addition, given my father’s background, he must have had great difficulty with all kinds of things—for example, the food. One thing we learnt was that he had to live on bully beef. Of course, as most noble Lords know, Hindus do not eat beef, so he had to put up with some little things and some big things. Some of us therefore have a connection with the Great War through our families.

The term “Commonwealth” has been used; indeed, that term is used continually. We have to realise that the Commonwealth is a new creation; it did not exist during the Great War. If we use just the term “Commonwealth”, we subsume in it the Indian contribution, which was very substantial and more than that of most other countries, including that of some other colonies. India was a colony at that stage. The Indian contribution stands on its own and needs to be remembered as that and not be subsumed into that of the Commonwealth.

The dominions were in a different position at that time and they are still in a different position now. In fact, one of the reasons why the Indian political leaders encouraged Indians to volunteer was that they hoped that India would acquire dominion status after the war. They had reason to believe that some concessions might be given to India after the Great War. Unfortunately, things did not quite work out like that, and 1919 was a particularly awful year, but, again, that is a different story. It is important that India’s contribution is not sidelined and does not become a footnote. I do not think that is fair. India provided a huge number of men and large amounts of material—1.5 million men. The princely states sent their armies to join the military here. The Kashmir regiment was sent to east Africa and was commanded by General Smuts, who tried to get behind the Germans. Eventually, there was virtually no one left, not because of the fighting but because of dysentery and malaria. Only about 20 men were left in the end because of sickness, so things were not particularly wonderful.

While we are thinking of the Indians it is very important also to remember that the Jamaicans were at the Somme. A lot of people do not know that and do not think about it. Not many Jamaicans or people from the Caribbean were involved in the Great War because that area was not heavily populated. India was an enormous source of men and materials, whereas the Caribbean islands were not but they still sent men. It took the Jamaicans six months to get permission to join the British Army and possibly die for the mother country. These issues are extremely important for the future of this country because the people who live here now are connected to those events and should be aware of what their ancestors did. They were prepared to give their lives. What else is left when you are prepared to give your life? Then we have the Africans. They, of course, fought in Africa because the Germans were there. In the Second World War, the Africans fought in other theatres. The Indians fought in

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almost every theatre in Europe and other countries—France, Belgium, Aden, East Africa, Gallipoli, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia, Salonika, Russia, and even in China. There was no area in which the Indians had not taken part.

I could say a lot more but I see that time runs on—as it always does. However, I want to say a word about the memorial. There was no memorial to the Indians, the Africans or the West Indians. It was for me a sad realisation that they had not been remembered. In the Second World War 2.5 million Indians took part and were much more crucial than even in the First World War. Who was crucial in the First World War? People were being sent to die for yards of land. The noble Lord, Lord West, said that there were clever people in command, but you sometimes wonder. The respect for the lives of men was practically non-existent. It is said that the life expectancy of an officer in the war was six weeks. That tells us something.

I should also like mention that the father of the noble Viscount, Lord Slim, discovered the Gurkhas during the Great War and connected himself to them after that. I wish that he was speaking about his father because he was an important figure during the first and second wars.

The right reverend Prelate has been such a support to us over the memorial. He has never missed a single ceremony, which we have each year—otherwise the memorial becomes just stone. We want people to come and realise that it is something. Someone said that it is about people. Yes it is about people, and that is why we have the ceremony at the memorial. I have been having a continuous battle with David Dimbleby because he does not mention the Indians except during the wreath laying. Six or seven people lay wreaths, and he mentions all the kith and kin, the dominions, but not the Indians. Things have to change in the next four years, and the Indians should be given their proper place.

5.43 pm

Lord Selsdon (Con): My Lords, my contribution will be in two parts, if that is acceptable. I speak first as someone who—I was about to say, “was dropped in it”—was the sponsoring Peer for the great event we held, with students and others, in September last year. The theme was, “The Great War: Listening to the Past; Talking to the Future”. I have in my hand a collection of excellent photographs of students waving their hands with enthusiasm to speak, with my noble friend Lord Astor of Hever looking resplendent on the Front Bench, together with my noble friend Lord Gardiner of Kimble and, of course, the redoubtable noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead.

What I thought I should do, with your Lordships approval—or without it, because Hansard will publish this—is assemble some nice document, with a disc, and send it off to all those students who were here, because they are tomorrow’s members of the Armed Forces. At this present time, it would not be a bad idea to give people great encouragement.

I thought that maybe I should look back. I have already researched some of my family details, and thought it was surprisingly easy. I would say to the outside world that every family will have had someone

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who fought in the Great War. You may find that some died, and if you want to know where they are, the Commonwealth Graves Commission’s website, and its help, is absolutely magnificent. You may also find, if you have a fairly simple name, that you have a lot more relatives than you ever dreamed possible.

This is one of the suggestions. It is not to glorify war, but to encourage people in this particular year to look and see who their family and friends were who fought in the Great War. Your Lordships will know well that Members of this House died in that war—although, as I discovered in my research, not as many as I thought. Most noble Lords were past the age of being recruited by the time they got in the House. You will find in the note produced by the Library lists of members of the House staff who were killed and their various memorials.

I would like to suggest that people give a thought to what their families did. I had a look at my mother’s family. I wanted to know who had died when and where. I found there was an Uncle Maurice, who was killed two weeks after he entered the war. We found his memorial. We did not know he had other relatives. I then found that, in the same family, there was another Maurice who had been killed. I did not know that their father had tried to get in the war but was perhaps not suitable, so he managed to get in as a chef. That is perhaps why we knew that family had no abilities for cooking at all.

I will explain what I did. I asked my mother if she knew about the war. She did not, really, but we found that my great-grandfather had a daughter who wanted to marry an officer in the Indian forces. He did not like that, so he kindly suggested that the officer came back to England and he gave him a nice house and a commission. When the war came my great-grandfather wanted to fight, but he could not because he was too old. He wrote to the Admiralty—I have raised this in your Lordships’ House before—and suggested that his yacht, “Venetia”, might be pressed into service. The Admiralty duly accepted. “Venetia” went to sea, was fitted with depth charges, blew off her stern off Harwich fairly early on and failed to do very much. However, my great-grandfather got an award and a cheque from the Admiralty—we think it was for 100 guineas—which he put in a frame and hung in a downstairs place, so that when people sat on the seat they would for ever read and remember the historic meanness of the Admiralty. These are little things that help one to think and enjoy life.

My grandfather, Crossley Swithinbank, was in the Navy, as most of the family have been, and got Malta dog while in Malta, which is something that rather affects your insides. He was then told he would be invalided out. He wanted to go off to war but found that no one wanted him. He and his brother-in-law, my great-uncle by marriage, Stafford Cripps—who was also invalided out as unsuitable—took a double-decker bus and went to the front as stretcher-bearers. My great-grandfather thought that this was not good enough, so he commissioned his coach-builder to build a special ambulance, which he then sent out. They found that they had started almost a private ambulance operation, which, with all the destruction that took place at that particular time, caused great anxiety.

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If we do our research, we will all find out things about families and wars. I have a habit of wanting to rewrite the history of each war, believing that most people do not understand what it was. I wonder why we talk about wars. We have the First World War and the Second World War, but maybe we would relate more to great battles. The other day I asked the Imperial War Museum whether it would give me a list of great British battles. They go: Naseby, Blenheim, Culloden, Plassey, Quebec, Lexington, Salamanca, Waterloo, Aliwal, Balaclava, Rorke’s Drift, Gallipoli, Somme and Megiddo. I had not realised that Megiddo is present-day Israel, Jordan and Syria—maybe there is potential of another conflict there.

If you write on battles, a bit more knowledge is difficult to find. At school we were always taught to remember battles with a phone number. The battles were BROM: Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet—I think the number was 4689. I have forgotten which century they were—I think it was something-64, 74 or 89. You learnt about battles in history because they were important. Now, in a way, people steer away from war or battles.

I feel very enthusiastic about this debate. I hope that your Lordships will help in this initiative, to circulate to all the students who came on that day something that will encourage them to do more research. I also hope that we will encourage every family in the world to make inquiries. Local authorities are proving very helpful in this. It is not a matter of celebration, nor even of remembrance; it is a matter of family knowledge, which could be helpful in boosting the image and reputation of people’s families and friends.

5.50 pm

Baroness Crawley (Lab): My Lords, whenever we walk through a town square or are on a village green and we see those war memorials of which the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, spoke so movingly, and we read the names of the young men who died for their country in the First World War, it is hard not to be stunned by the terrible loss of life that affected every community from tiny hamlet to major city. Our own dead numbered more than 900,000, and I include those from Ireland in that. Those people did not come home to raise their families, to enjoy their grandchildren or to tell their story. We often talk in this House about lost generations but theirs truly was.

Whatever our personal interpretation of history or the decisions made at that time by our leadership, we need our own Government today to be able to put together a centenary programme that will truly honour and respect those who fought so valiantly 100 years ago. Therefore, I warmly congratulate the Government on the scale and reach of their programme for the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War. I particularly acknowledge the role that the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, has played in this House, always being open and accessible to noble Lords from all sides of the House in our discussions with him about various aspects of the programme.

I want to take a few minutes of your Lordships’ time to indicate the way in which government and civil society can and do combine their resources in such a

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momentous endeavour as this commemoration. As noble Lords are aware, and the Minister has reminded us, the main themes for the commemoration are education, youth and remembrance. It was with this in mind that I approached the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, six months ago with a proposal for a musical project from the music education organisation Musiko Musika, of which I am patron.

Musiko Musika and its children’s orchestra, ECCO, are based in London. The organisation works to bring the skills, discipline and sheer pleasure of the orchestra to inner-city schoolchildren. There is a Chilean influence in its music and some of its personnel, and the directors, Mauricio and Rachel, wanted to write a requiem to commemorate the Battle of Coronel. The requiem would record this historic event and the lives that were lost when two Royal Navy armoured cruisers were sunk by the German fleet off the coast of Coronel, Chile, on 1 November 1914, with 1,600 British sailors perishing. It was the Royal Navy’s worst defeat in more than a century. The Royal Navy responded a month later with the destruction of four German ships, and by the end of 1914 the German threat to our trade routes was eliminated.

This music project would culminate in performances of the requiem in Coronel, Chile, in London and in Bridport. The overall aim would be to develop understanding and links between children and their communities in England and Chile, and for them to experience history as relevant to their young lives today. The project would mean, first, sharing an experience of World War I history that was relevant, enlightening and thought-provoking for young people. Secondly, it would develop a body of knowledge and understanding of that very significant battle, enabling people from Britain, Chile and across the world to have access to that knowledge and understanding in an online archive. Lastly, the schools and children involved would develop new skills, passion and motivation for investigating and exploring history as a means of developing human understanding and co-operation. The requiem would be performed in October/November this year in London, Chile and Dorset.

With the enthusiastic support of the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, I approached the Government in the form of Helen Grant, a Minister at the DCMS, with the proposals and asked for: first, lots of support; secondly, government co-operation; and, thirdly, a small amount of cash. Well, two out of three ain’t bad, as the song goes. Helen Grant’s team has been very helpful in recognising the community potential of the proposed project and has pointed us in the direction of various possible sources of support. The Government have also helped in opening up contacts for Musiko Musika at the British embassy in Chile. I am delighted to report that Musiko Musika is now directly in touch with the new British ambassador out there, as well as the defence attaché at the embassy in Santiago, and they are very much looking forward to being part of a co-ordinated set of events being planned around the anniversary of the battle.

As the defence attaché himself has said, the Battle of Coronel was a highly significant historical event, as well as, of course, a tragedy for the Royal Navy. There

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are plans for an official commemoration of the battle involving representation from the Chilean navy, the Royal Navy, the Canadian navy—six Canadian sailors were killed aboard the British ships, the first Canadian casualties of the First World War—the German embassy, the British embassy and the Coronel civic authorities.

That is an example of government and civic society working together to find ways through to successful outcomes for our young people. I am sure that the various performances of the requiem by those young people will be successful in the autumn of this year both here in the UK and in Chile. The children who take part will not forget this important battle or the war, and they will have grasped their history through music—what better way?

5.58 pm

Baroness Suttie (LD): My Lords, my great-grandfather, Alexander Suttie, like so many of his generation, did not like to talk about his experiences in the First World War. Indeed, one of the very few facts that we have been able to ascertain about his war experience is that his regiment trained at Stobs camp near Hawick in the Scottish Borders.

As schoolchildren, we used to explore the ruined army huts at Stobs camp and I used to often walk through the deserted camp on my way to climbing the hills around Hawick. I always found it a rather desolate place, perhaps remembering the tales that my father would tell of the place in the camp known as “suicide corner”, where several people took their lives, particularly German prisoners of war.

At its height during World War I, well over 10,000 troops were stationed there—mostly Scots but also troops from around the British Empire. Many thousands of German prisoners of war were held there and they helped to construct the huts and the sewerage system in the camp. There was even a German bakery, which provided bread for the soldiers.

In May 1916, one Scottish soldier based in Stobs camp wrote:

“We have 5,000 German prisoners here and they have a better time of it than us. They bake all our bread, carving an Iron Cross on it. Some of our boys don’t like it but to my taste it seems all right. We have about 15 thousand of our boys here and the bands’ playing all day make the place a bit lively”.

One week later, however, the same soldier remarked:

“It has rained ever since we came here, we are all fed up with the mud”.

Among the many Scottish troops who trained at Stobs camp were several battalions of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who then went on to take part in the Gallipoli campaign in the summer of 1915. Ten years ago, when I was working in the European Parliament, I went on an official visit to the Gallipoli peninsula organised by the Turkish Government with the Irish President of the European Parliament, Pat Cox. Pat Cox was very keen to pay his respects at the graves of the many Irish soldiers who lost their lives in Gallipoli. As we were leaving the British war memorial I spotted a large shield-shaped stone. It read:

“From the town of Hawick, Scotland. In grateful memory of the officers and men belonging to that town who fell in Gallipoli in the Great War, 1915”.

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Although I was obviously deeply moved by the whole sombre mood of the windswept peninsula, it was not until I saw—quite unexpectedly—the name of my home town, Hawick, that I was able to understand just what an impact the deaths of so many men would have had on one small community back home. More than 50 men from Hawick died on 12 July 1915, and more than 100 local men in total died there.

In researching my remarks for this afternoon I came across a report on the events of 12 July at Gallipoli, written at the time, from the 4th Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. I believe that it is worth quoting a couple of excerpts.

An account of the charge was written for the record by Captain—afterwards Major—W T Forrest, who was subsequently killed in Palestine. He wrote:

“It is with sadness one takes up the pen to put on record the deeds of the Battalion on and around the 12th of July, 1915, when so many good officers, N.C.O.’s, and men laid down their lives. However, it is their just due that these deeds should be put on record, so that future generations may know what Border men were able and willing to do in the interests of King and Country”.

Another officer of the battalion further recorded of events that day:

“The scenes outside the dressing stations in the Nullah ... were beyond description. Around each station were rows upon rows of stretchers—each containing what had been or, rather, what remained of a human being.

The slightly wounded were waiting in long queues for treatment. What impressed one was the absolute deathly silence which prevailed over each station—not a word or a groan to be heard. We could find none of our own men among these cases, which probably had all come in from the later attack of the 157th Brigade”.

Such was the scale of losses that day that every year there is a memorial service in Hawick, and in 1926 the shield that I saw in Gallipoli to the men of Hawick was installed under the names of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers’ missing and dead.

I was very pleased to hear from my noble friend the Minister that there will be an extensive schools programme as part of the commemorations. It is deeply appropriate that pupils from Hawick High School this year and next will have an opportunity to participate in a UK-wide project organised by the Gallipoli Association for 2015. But if my small home town of Hawick lost more than 100 men in Gallipoli, 34,000 died from across Great Britain and Ireland, and we must never forget the horrendous loss of life from the Anzacs: nearly 9,000 Australians and just under 3,000 New Zealanders died. More than 1,300 Indian soldiers lost their lives, including 371 from the Sikh 14th Regiment.

One hundred years on it is virtually unimaginable that we could ever return to trench warfare with our European partners. For all its imperfections, the European Union provides a very effective series of mechanisms for resolving difficulties and disputes between our countries.

The events of a hot June day in Sarajevo 100 years ago led to a series of events and human slaughter on a scale never witnessed before. I therefore believe that those who have queried whether we are right to carry out a series of commemorations to mark the start of the First World War across this country are mistaken. We are not glamorising war by remembering its true horror. It was a truly awful war on an unimaginable

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scale and I believe it is vital that the centenary is used to inform and remind both schoolchildren and adults of the tremendous sacrifices made by the many across our communities, including those from my small home town of Hawick, 100 years ago.

6.05 pm

Lord Thomas of Swynnerton (CB): My Lords, I, like other noble Lords, am of the generation of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. I belong to a generation which was concerned in our childhood with the Great War, as we referred to it. We had not, of course, participated in it. We remember from our childhood how everything stopped at 11 o’clock on 11 November to commemorate the war before World War II. In the 1914 war, my mother—as we are referring to family relations—was a VAD, which stood for voluntary aid detachment. She was a nurse in Mesopotamia and perhaps she knew the father of the noble Baroness, Lady Flather. Mesopotamia is, of course, a much nicer word for Iraq, which we used until Iraqi independence. She was under Turkish guns on a train going up to Kut Al Amara. “What was it like being under Turkish fire?”, my children would ask. “Well, it wasn’t at all agreeable”, my mother would explain, “but it was nothing like so disagreeable as being under the mosquitoes in Basra”. That was the spirit that probably helped to win the war.

I have a personal recollection, too. I knew Harold Nicolson, the young diplomat who carried the ultimatum from the Foreign Office to the German embassy in Carlton House Terrace, where it was received with the greatest melancholy by the Anglophile German ambassador Prince Lichnowsky. Harold Nicolson remembered for the rest of his life just how sad the German ambassador was on that occasion.

In relation to this terrible conflict, it is important to realise that it was the catastrophe which caused European civilisation to collapse—to commit suicide. Of course, our first responsibility—no doubt about it—is to recall what happened to our fellow countrymen in France. My first publisher, Douglas Jerrold, a Gallipoli veteran gave a moving description in his book Georgian Adventureof watching eight lines of men who passed him going up to the Front in France “so closely that I could see every expression on their faces as they faded into the mist, and among all those men marching so resolutely to wounding or to death, I saw not one expression of fear, or regret, or even surprise”.

We need to remember that not only Britain and the imperial defence forces suffered but the sacrifices made by our allies—especially the French but also the Americans, the Russians and the Italians. We have not heard any of those countries mentioned this afternoon, which is surprising. Perhaps they should have been.

We should recall that our enemies in 1914—above all the Germans, but also the central Europeans and the Turks—suffered greatly before siding with us substantially in the Cold War in which we could have been consumed had it not been for their help and that of others. It is worth while recalling that the greatest of Americans alive in 1914, in my opinion, was Henry James, who became a British citizen in 1915. He was once walking past Buckingham Palace with his brother, the philosopher, William James. Henry raised his hat

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to the flag flying over the palace. “You do love the English, don’t you?”, said William. “Why is it?”. “Well, William”, said Henry, “it’s because they’re so decent and so dauntless”. I trust that we should enjoy that accolade if the worst came to the worst in the 21st century.

Talking of our enemies, it is fair to say that the best novel about the approach to the war of 1914 was the Transylvanian Trilogyby a Hungarian, Miklós Bánffy. He was an Austro-Hungarian aristocrat who lived in Transylvania, which was destroyed by the Treaty of St Germain afterwards. We should recognise that his work articulates nobly the continent-wide nature of the tragedy of the war. Perhaps I should declare an interest as I wrote the introduction to the Everyman edition of that great book.

This has been a marvellous debate, full of fascinating memories. We should, and will, remember for a long time the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton. We will also remember the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, recalling the memoirs of Anthony Eden—Lord Avon—with his interesting descriptions of life in the war and before.

One more thing we should remember is that the war had many long-term reasons, which historians have gone into with great care and interest—I studied the origins of the First World War as a special subject at Cambridge—but the immediate cause of the war was an act of terrorism by a young Serbian, Gabriel Princip, who was too young to execute despite being found guilty of the pointless murder in Sarajevo. The fact that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was probably the most thoughtful of the leaders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that his morganatic wife, Sophie Chotek, was completely innocent should not be forgotten by those considering equally vile terrorist actions today.

One Member of this House, the late Lord Amery—Julian Amery—met Princip’s father in Belgrade in 1938. “Yes”, said Princip’s father, “it was a tragedy about poor Gabriel: he would have been so useful in our printing office”. Alas that he did not stick to printing.

6.12 pm

Viscount Bridgeman (Con): My Lords, I, too, have been immensely moved by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, who is not in his place at the moment. As a newly arrived Peer, I, too, was privileged to hear Lord Houghton’s story of the duckboards and Passchendaele and, to close the record, Percy’s bus was a number 24. I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Gardiner for the huge amount of work he has done in co-ordinating the commemorations and for the masterly speech he made today.