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VE and VJ Days: Anniversary

Volume 663: debated on Monday 8 July 2019

The nation will be forever grateful to the greatest generation, who lived and fought through the second world war. The Government will provide opportunities to mark the 75th anniversaries of both VE and VJ Days next year. The move of the May bank holiday to Friday 8 May has already been announced, and planning is under way for the commemorative events. Details will follow very soon.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. My father is a veteran of the second world war; he served in India and Burma. Like many other veterans, he will be unable to get to any of the national VE Day celebrations due to his fragility. What more can be done to ensure that all our brave veterans feel part of these important commemorations?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s father for his service. Those who have served in our armed forces must be able to take part in those commemorative events. Indeed, they make those events; it is their stories and their presence that make them what they are. My Department will be writing to local government, and particularly to the armed forces covenant champions, to remind them that events must be accessible and that we must think about how to include in those events veterans who are too frail to travel.

I am absolutely delighted with my right hon. Friend’s announcement, but will she please reassure me that equal expenditure and prominence will be given to VJ Day? These heroes have been forgotten for too long, as the late Lord Louis Mountbatten said, and they suffered terrible atrocities in the Japanese prisoner of war camps.

I completely agree with my hon. Friend. The events are tailored in regard to their tone and scale and the number of people attending them, and we might not be able to guarantee that the cost will be split exactly between the two events. That might differ, but the prominence of the events will not differ. That will be the same.