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Mayflower Pilgrims

Volume 627: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2017

3. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower pilgrims in 2020 in the UK and abroad. (900340)

Foreign Office officials are working closely with colleagues from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to prepare for the 400th anniversary. I am pleased that Oliver Colvile, the former Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, has been appointed chair of the Mayflower committee by the Prime Minister. The committee will make the most of the opportunity to commemorate the legacy of the pilgrims and the special relationship.

I thought the Prime Minister wanted help from Opposition Members, and here I am, available—the re-elected co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the Mayflower pilgrims—unlike Olly, who now has other pursuits to pursue. I was prepared to offer my services to take on that role, rather than a non-parliamentarian. Nevertheless, can the good people of Bassetlaw expect support from this Government, as promised by George Osborne, to properly celebrate the fact that the pilgrims and their legacy—including the modern United States—originated in Bassetlaw?

At least the hon. Gentleman did not claim that Bassetlaw had strong coastal links. We already welcome his contribution to the House in the form of the comments he made on 9 March 2016, when he reminded us that the anniversary would provide an “historic opportunity” for us to celebrate. Across the House, we will think of every possible way in which we can do so to best effect.

The importance of this anniversary, in British-American relations, can hardly be overstated. Would not 2020 be a more suitable date for a state visit from the President of the United States, to mark that anniversary, rather than in the months to come?

I note my hon. Friend’s suggestion, but that matter is already in train and the visit—offer to the President—stands.