Centenary of the Armistice

Part of Assessment and Treatment Units: Vulnerable People – in the House of Commons at 7:43 pm on 6th November 2018.

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Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 7:43 pm, 6th November 2018

Diolch yn fawr, Mr Speaker. This has been a privilege and an education, a reminder that no community was truly unaffected by the visible and invisible scars of a century ago. Both Front Benchers spoke about sacrifice, and we have heard not only about emancipation, courage, gallantry, equality, bravery, impact, loss, opportunity, reflection, contribution, community, family, survivors, duty and tragedy, but about home and coming back safely.

This weekend, we will mark the Armistice with silence and we will pay our respects. This is an opportunity for all the communities represented in this House to come together. The Secretary of State spoke about blood, mud and misery, about a collective effort of commemoration and about using history to bring us together. He said that we should give thanks for the end of the great war and be ready for the special sound of church bells as they ring out across the land 100 years on. It is bitter sweet, said Tom Watson, and what a magnificent speech that was. He talked about learning from living memories, not just from history, about the poppy from Flanders fields, about civilian support for our Royal British Legion, and, yes, about common cause and, again, about bell ringing for those millions who never came home.

It really has been the most poignant and often painful afternoon of debate. It has been touching, thoughtful, passionate, emotional and, above all, personal. I shall try to pay tribute to some of these heartfelt contributions this afternoon. There were Members of Parliament from across this land in the Chamber—from Aldridge-Brownhills, Eastleigh, Henley, Ynys Môn, West Dunbartonshire to Cheltenham.

Moving tributes will be made this weekend as we all give thanks. I, too, will lay wreaths in my constituency—nine will be laid across the day. In the afternoon, in Netley, I will be at the site of the Royal Victoria Hospital, where only a refurbished chapel stands. It is also the site of the Netley military cemetery, in which 636 Commonwealth service personnel from world war one and 35 service personnel from the second world war lay. The site is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There are also the graves of 69 Germans, 12 Belgians and one Pole, all of which continue, rightly, to be cared for.