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Covid-19 Memorial Wall

Volume 697: debated on Monday 14 June 2021

If he will take steps with Cabinet colleagues to ensure the permanency of the covid-19 memorial wall. (901076)

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Like many MPs, I pass the memorial wall daily when I am in Parliament, and I am moved when I see family and friends either laying floral tributes or making an inscription on the wall to commemorate loved ones they have lost. The Department keenly understands that communities across the country will want to find ways to commemorate our collective experience. Therefore, it is critical that all those we have lost are commemorated and that families receive, as the Prime Minister himself has stated, a fitting and permanent memorial. As the Prime Minister announced on 12 May, the Government will establish a UK commission on covid commemoration. We will set out the commission’s membership and terms of reference in due course.

I thank the Minister for that thoughtful response. The covid memorial wall is an iconic, organic work of art created by bereaved families, and it should not be removed or painted over. I hope that the Minister agrees that it should be a permanent memorial and that MPs should visit. I met Fran, whose husband died three weeks after they were married. She lovingly drew 2,000 hearts, and I dedicated one of those hearts to my uncle Buck, who died. I am, however, disappointed that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has yet to visit. I hope that the Minister will encourage all MPs to visit like he has done, and ensure that the memorial wall is permanent and that MPs speak to bereaved families.

I believe that the memorial wall is owned by St Thomas’ Hospital. I am not sure what decision it has come to with regard to its permanency. However, as I said, having seen friends and family visiting, I would keenly encourage MPs from across the House to do that. We need to consider the most impactful and enduring way to remember those we have lost and to commemorate the service of everyone involved in this unprecedented response to the pandemic. As I say, the commission has been set up and we will report on its terms of reference and membership in due course.