I would like to update Parliament on the Government’s plans for recognising the extraordinary contributions being made by so many in response to coronavirus (covid-19)—and the forthcoming publication of Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
There is, understandably, huge appetite across the country to say thank you to all those on the frontline, within our communities and in our public services, who are supporting the nation through these unprecedented times.
The Government are clear that there will be a range of opportunities to mark the contributions of so many—but this must come at the appropriate time. Our current priority—and that of the front line services—remains tackling the current public health emergency.
I want to provide assurance today, however, that the moment to mark so many extraordinary actions will not be lost.
The honours system recognises exceptional contributions made across every part of the UK and will play a key role in demonstrating the nation’s gratitude to all those involved in the response. In this context, The Queen has graciously agreed that the birthday honours list, due to be published in June, should be postponed until the autumn. This step will allow us to ensure that the list, agreed before this public health emergency developed, reflects the covid-19 effort, and comes at a time when we can properly celebrate the achievements of all those included.
We anticipate that covid-19 recognition will happen across future honours lists, reflecting the on-going work being done by so many. To ensure we are capturing contributions from across the country I would encourage the public to put forward nominations for those they know are going above and beyond, which they can do through www.gov.uk. These cases will be considered by the independent honours committees across a range of future honours lists.
Colonel Tom Moore, recently celebrating his 100th birthday, has become synonymous with the spirit of the current collective national effort. I have, exceptionally, recommended to The Queen that he be awarded a knighthood, in recognition of his extraordinary fundraising achievements, and as a signal of the kind of contributions we will want to mark in the months to come.
Further work is underway to identify the most appropriate ways and opportunities for the nation to express its gratitude and respect. The Government will make a further statement to the House in due course.