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Mayflower Celebrations

Volume 646: debated on Tuesday 11 September 2018

6. If he will provide additional resources to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to support the Mayflower 400-year anniversary celebrations. (906783)

We recognise that the Mayflower commemorations are an important moment for this country to celebrate our tied history with the United States and the unending quest for religious freedom and toleration. The Government gave £0.5 million to the Mayflower 400 project in the 2015 spending review, and we will continue to support it in the years to come.

Given the significance of the voyage of the Mayflower—in historical terms, it was one of the planet’s most influential journeys and it helped to found our democracy and freedom—will the Minister respond positively to the letter he has received from the all-party parliamentary group on the Mayflower pilgrims requesting that we have sufficient resources to celebrate this amazing event in a spectacular fashion?

At the suggestion of my hon. Friend and of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer), I met Charles Hackett, the chief executive of the Mayflower 400 project. We had a productive meeting, and we are considering the materials that the project left with us. I advise my hon. Friend the Member for South West Devon (Mr Streeter) and the organisers of Mayflower 400 to continue working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Treasury as they continue to formulate their plans, which will benefit not just Plymouth but Boston, Bassetlaw and communities across the country.

For the edification of those observing our proceedings, I can advise that the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) has just been chuntering at me that his grandmother had a link with the Mayflower, about which I think we are to be enlightened.

Some Members may think that I was on the Mayflower, although as a young man I did emigrate to the United States. Some of my ancestors, the Sheermans, could have been on the Mayflower—[Interruption.] Just hold it for a moment. This is the 400-year anniversary. Is it not time that we celebrated migration and the talent, the genius, the innovation and the ideas that we in this country and America get from migration? Should we not use this quadricentenary to celebrate migration across the world?

The hon. Gentleman is testing my knowledge of the pilgrim fathers, but of course they were inspired by William Bradford, who came from Yorkshire, I believe. He was the one who said that from small things great things can emerge, and that it takes just one small candle to light a thousand, which was the way that the whole pilgrim fathers’ enterprise was summed up. So I want to see the commemorations take place in Yorkshire, as well as in Plymouth and the rest of the country.

I urge the Minister not to forget Immingham in my constituency, which also played a major part in where the pilgrim fathers sailed from. Will he ensure that Immingham is a major player in any celebrations?

I have tried to list all the places where the pilgrim fathers came from. I was not aware that some came from Immingham as well, but I am sure that that will be included in the celebrations.

Discussion of DDCMS support for the Mayflower celebrations raises the problem that DDCMS regional funding is deeply unfair, with far more in London. Indeed, that is the pattern on infrastructure, which the Minister was talking about before. So to what extent does the Minister believe that unfair patterns of Government spending are the cause of the fact that household income in the north-east is only £15,000 per year, whereas in London it is £27,000?

As the hon. Lady will be aware, the Arts Council has a formula to distribute funding across the country. We believe, like she does, that it is important that all communities in this country can have access to culture and heritage. It is for that reason and others that we funded the Great Exhibition of the North, which has been a huge success; and of course the Chancellor, in his Budget two years ago, supported the huge economic and cultural opportunity of restoring Wentworth Woodhouse, near to the hon. Lady’s constituency.