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Ex-servicemen: Anniversaries

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision his Department is planning to make to assist veterans in returning to Normandy for the 65th anniversary of the Landings in 2009; and if he will make a statement. (237190)

The long standing Ministry of Defence policy on official commemorations is that only 25th, 50th, 60th and 100th anniversaries of events of major importance receive MOD sponsorship at public expense. Significant funding was made available to mark the 60th anniversary of the Normandy landings in 2004 at which the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA) formally announced, through HM the Queen, that it would be their final parade.

I recognise the understandable desire of Normandy veterans to return to the beach heads each year. However, the Ministry of Defence regularly receives requests from various different veterans' organisations seeking financial or other support for pilgrimages and events to commemorate the campaigns in which they took part. The vast majority are similarly worthy and could make an equally compelling case as the Normandy veterans, but it would be inappropriate to provide official support for one and not the others. This long standing policy of successive Governments was established after very careful consideration and its consistent application over the years has ensured a fairness and equality of treatment for everyone concerned.

Consequently, there are no plans for the Department to assist veterans returning to Normandy for the 65th anniversary of the landings in 2009.