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First World War Commemorations

Volume 579: debated on Thursday 1 May 2014

7. What steps he is taking to ensure that a cultural programme forms part of the first world war commemorations. (903811)

10. What steps he is taking to ensure that a cultural programme forms part of the first world war commemorations. (903814)

Culture has always been absolutely central to how we understand and try to make sense of the first world war and, in the same way, it will be central to the centenary commemorations. The 14-18 NOW programme will deliver a UK-wide programme of cultural events in 2014, 2016 and 2018. It will inspire people of all ages, and from all backgrounds, to take part in the centenary.

Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating my local museums in Saltash and Liskeard, which provide boxes for schools to enhance the cultural experience of young people, so that they can better understand what happened in world war one? I recommend that he visit the excellent display in Saltash on the Suffragette movement, a campaign important both at the time and for women like me today. Does he agree that adequate funding must be provided to help museums progress with such wonderful initiatives, lest we forget?

Local cultural institutions have a key role to play in the first world war centenary commemorations. I am delighted to hear about the contribution from Saltash. As my hon. Friend says, it reminds us of the vital contribution that women made during the war. I will certainly be interested in a visit.

I, too, congratulate my right hon. Friend on his appointment and wish him well. Can he reassure me that this cultural programme will be truly UK-wide, with a chance for people in all parts of the country to join in?

My hon. Friend raises a very important point. I can reassure her that the 14-18 NOW summer 2014 season will be truly UK-wide, with events across the country for all people to take part in. The ambition is to reach at least 10 million people over the four years of the cultural programme.

I welcome the Secretary of State to his new post. I look forward to working with him and with those on my Front Bench in the coming months to ensure that we deliver a fitting commemoration. It is of course right that we focus on the service and sacrifice of those who lost their lives on the front line, but we should also ensure that we recognise the contribution of men and women on the home front who toiled in the mines and the factories, worked the land and cared for the wounded. Will the Secretary of State say how we can ensure that their voices are heard?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words and for the support he has given to the centenary commemorations—I really welcome that cross-party support. He raises a very important point. It is important to ensure that the efforts on the home front are properly commemorated, and I am happy to discuss that with him further if he thinks we can do more.