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Holocaust Commission

Volume 574: debated on Monday 27 January 2014

On the occasion of Holocaust memorial day I would like to inform the House of further details of the Holocaust Commission that I announced in September 2013.

I have established the Commission to investigate whether further measures should be taken to ensure Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial to the holocaust and meaningful educational resources for future generations.

Survivors have played a vital role in keeping the memory of the holocaust alive, but we will not always have these remarkable individuals with us. We face a real danger that, as the events of the holocaust become ever more distant, they feel increasingly remote to current and future generations.

The Commission will be led by Mick Davis, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council. Its work will be supported by two expert groups to examine issues around education and commemoration. The groups will be chaired by Commissioners Dame Helen Hyde and Sir Peter Bazalgette respectively. Dame Helen Hyde is headmistress of Watford grammar school and dedicates her time to educating people about the holocaust. Sir Peter Bazalgette brings a wealth of experience from his role as chair of the Arts Council England.

I am pleased that the Commission is cross-party with representation from the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), the right hon. Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls) and the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes).

A public call for evidence begins today and will run until the end of May this year, with people across the country invited to submit their views. A number of regional evidence sessions will also be held to gather oral evidence. A young person under the age of 21 will be selected from responses to the call for evidence to join the commission as a youth representative.

I urge all members of the House to respond to this call for evidence and encourage young people and interested parties in their constituencies to also share their views.

I have asked the Commission to report its findings to me by the end of the year.

I am placing the terms of reference, full membership of the Holocaust Commission and expert groups, and the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses.