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Charles Darwin

Volume 707: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Andy Burnham) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Today is Charles Darwin’s 200th Birthday and the beginning of a year-long programme of events to celebrate his life and work which culminates on 24 November, the 150th Anniversary of the publication of his seminal book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

Charles Darwin is one of the most influential Britons of all time and perhaps the most important natural historian of all. His theory that all species of life have evolved over time from one or a few common ancestors through the process of natural selection has framed and shaped current scientific thinking and dramatically influenced the society we live in today. At a time of unprecedented environmental change, it continues to inform our understanding of the future challenges for humans and the natural world.

Darwin’s importance to the world is such that Darwin’s home and workplace, Darwin’s Landscape Laboratory, has been chosen as the UK’s 2009 nomination to become a World Heritage Site.

A wide range of organisations across England, Wales and Scotland have collaborated under the brand name Darwin200, to produce a national programme of events to celebrate the legacy and enduring relevance of Charles Darwin’s work. The partnership includes a number of organisations from across the arts, education, heritage, local government, libraries, media, museums, science, and tourism sectors such as the Natural History Museum, the BBC, the British Council, Research Councils UK, the University of Cambridge, and The Royal Society.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been working together to support the Darwin celebrations.

There will be Darwin-related events in all parts of the country. The involvement of Members from all sides of the House will help to raise the profile of Darwin200 and give added momentum to the work that so many of our national and regional organisations are involved in.

More about events celebrating Darwin’s life and work can be found at