New Clause 1 - Review of security arrangements

Holocaust Memorial Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:06 pm on 22 May 2024.

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Votes in this debate

“(1) The Secretary of State must, prior to the commencement of construction of a Holocaust memorial or learning centre—

(a) carry out a review of proposed security arrangements for the proposed Holocaust memorial or learning centre;

(b) lay before Parliament a report on the outcome and findings of the review of the proposed security arrangements;

(c) by regulations, specify the security arrangements which are to be implemented for the proposed Holocaust memorial or learning centre.

(2) Regulations made under subsection (1)(c) are subject to the affirmative procedure.”—(John Stevenson.)

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

Division number 158 Holocaust Memorial Bill Committee: New Clause 1

Aye: 11 MPs

No: 182 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

Tellers

No: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The Committee divided: Ayes 11, Noes 182.

Question accordingly negatived.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill reported, without amendment (Standing Order No. 83D(6)).

Bill, not amended in the Committee, considered.

Third Reading

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 7:25, 22 May 2024

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Mr Deputy Speaker, may I begin by thanking you and your fellow Deputy Speakers for chairing proceedings in Committee so expeditiously? I thank all right hon. and hon. Members, on both sides, who took part in the debate, which was informed, sensible, probing and proper.

I thank the officials, who have worked diligently and with the efficiency and professionalism that anybody who has been a Minister now comes to expect, almost as a matter of course, from our wonderful civil service. I thank Paul Downie, Helen Jones, Ruby Hatton, Emma Morrison and Sally Sealey for all that they have done during the progress of the Bill. I particularly want to thank my private secretary, James Selby, for all that he has done to ensure that everything was in order.

It would be remiss of me not to thank Ed Balls and my noble Friend Lord Pickles for all that they have done to progress this idea. I also thank those hon. Members who so willingly and diligently gave of their time on the Bill Select Committee: my hon. Friend John Stevenson, who chaired it with his customary wit and professionalism, the hon. Members for Selby and Ainsty (Keir Mather) and for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner), and my hon. Friends the Members for Guildford (Angela Richardson) and for Great Grimsby (Lia Nici). The House owes them all a debt of gratitude, as do the Government, and I repay that debt wholeheartedly and fully now.

I also thank those who gave of their time in preparing their case. Those opposed to the proposal, either in whole or in part, gave of their time to appear before the Committee, and in so doing they exercised the right to be heard without fear or favour and to be cross-examined fairly by elected democrats in this place. That is actually what all of this is about: the triumph of good over evil; of light over darkness.

The challenge, real as it was, that the cloud of Nazism cast over the continent of Europe, and that the horror the Nazis unleashed against people merely because of their faith and belief, came so close to extinguishing those precious lights of religious freedom and democratic institutions, as well as freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of thought.

The Holocaust memorial will stand as a testimony to that; a visible beacon to specific visitors as well as to casual passers-by. It will provide a time to pause and reflect, and to redouble our efforts and make again the solemn and precious vow: “Never again.”

Those who make a visit to the education centre—hopefully many of our young, but not exclusively our young—will come away with a renewed determination to learn from the horrors of the past, to understand in some clearer detail the depths that humankind can plummet against members of its own species, to make again that eternal vow of never again, and to learn from the mistakes of the past. The synergy of the education centre and the memorial, juxtaposed to each other and adjacent to this sovereign democratic Parliament, is so important, as is the setting in a busy part of the city of Westminster, with bustling traffic, pedestrians and, as my hon. Friend Nickie Aiken and others said in Committee, families and children enjoying the open space provided in central London that is Victoria Tower Gardens.

What could be more uplifting than the laughter of children at play? What could be a happier sight than families enjoying leisure time together? We will reflect, when we think of those scenes, of the families ripped apart by the Holocaust, of the children torn from their parents, and the husbands separated from wives, to go into a cattle truck of darkness, not knowing where one was going, why one was going or what in the name of all that is holy was happening, merely because of a sign of faith and a belief in Yahweh. I hope that all those who visit will, as they see children at play and happy families, think of how many families were destroyed.

The imperative to deliver this memorial remains ever pressing. Those who either were part of the Kindertransport —I think of Lord Dubs and others—or are of the generation who have contemporary memory, even from a very young age, are ageing and dying. It is so important, even with a small and dwindling cohort of the real-time survivors, that they can draw spiritual comfort from the fact that we do not forget, that we do remember and that we do recommit not to repeat.

I am grateful and the Government are grateful to the Opposition for their support during the Bill’s progress. The commitment was first made by the then Prime Minister, my noble Friend Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton way back in January 2015. The Bill has ebbed and flowed, but throughout those ebbs and flows, it has continued to enjoy cross-party support and support from the range of political parties of this place and elsewhere, different parts of civic society and a huge variety of our faith communities.

We acknowledge the concerns of those who think there is a better site and those who are concerned about the size of Victoria Tower Gardens, the impact the development may have on its character, or the precedent the Bill may create. I hope that I addressed those points as best I could in Committee, cognisant of the fact, which it is probably worthy of reminding ourselves of and which Matthew Pennycook alluded to in his kind and supportive remarks towards the end of Committee, that while many of the concerns were totally legitimate, they were germane to the planning process, not the progress of the Bill.

I hope the House knows me well enough to take as gospel when I say that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Building Safety, my hon. Friend Lee Rowley and I have meticulously safeguarded clear lines of demarcation between progressing this Bill through the House of Commons and issues related to planning. I can say, hand on heart, that my hon. Friend and I have not exchanged a single word about the Bill, the site or the proposal. It is important to stress on Third Reading that we have clearly understood and respected throughout probity, understanding the difference in the various powers and the quasi-judicial function that sits behind the planning process.

As this is a hybrid Bill, the Select Committee heard from petitioners against the Bill and raised questions in its report about how Victoria Tower Gardens were chosen. We have discussed the cost of the project, and we take seriously the security implications. I thank the Committee for its report, and I hope that it welcomed my response, which was published recently. The security of our fellow citizens is one of our clear and primary duties. I have no doubt that there will be challenges in that arena, and dynamic solutions will be needed.

For absolute certainty, I echo the point made so ably by my hon. Friend Andrew Percy: the day must not come when the decisions of where and how we site our memorials is dictated to, the whip hand is given and the fiat is acknowledged from a group of unaccountable people who believe that those who shout loudest, waive the most banners, cause the most disruption and generate the most vandalism will prevail, because the state has neither the nerve nor the spine to stand up to them to say what we think is right, that we cherish it and that we will support it with all that we can. I make that commitment to the House and to the country today.

We will not be, nor should we be, dictated to by those who are fundamentally anti-democratic, who will not take no for an answer and will accept only victory and never defeat. We say to them, “Not here, not now, not ever.” To give ground on that would fundamentally change this place and our democratic functions. As we approach that most important of democratic functions on 4 July, it is a time for all of us who honourably wear the badge of democrats to stand up for our shared values, irrespective of political difference. [Interruption.] I think the hon. Lady for Bath wishes to intervene.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

In that case, I will not let the hon. Lady intervene. [Interruption.] Who was that? My hon. Friend Steve Brine chunters from the Back Benches up until the end.

I think that we have lost sight of the fact that the proposals were considered at a detailed and independent planning inquiry. Set against the thorough work of the Committee and the time that has elapsed since 2015 when the proposal was first given voice, that fundamentally undermines the accusation of railroading by Government. The planning inspector considered a great deal of the evidence and looked in significant detail at matters such as the impact on Victoria Tower Gardens and, crucially, the Buxton Memorial and other existing memorials. The inspector concluded that any harms to heritage assets were outweighed the public benefits of the scheme. The design and the layout will take the right approach to respecting those existing monuments, particularly those which are listed. As I have said, the planning process is the correct way to consider these issues. It is not necessary—indeed, it would not be right—for debates on the Bill to become concerned with the minutia of planning matters.

Let me say again, on Third Reading, that the Bill deals with a very narrow point in the London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900. That was the only issue that was found to be an obstacle to construction in Victoria Tower Gardens. Let me say again for the convenience of the House and for the certainty of those outside, the Bill creates no precedent in its alleviation of the clause within that Act. It sets no precedent elsewhere in Victoria Tower Gardens, or elsewhere.

We regret to recall that antisemitism is at record levels. The devastatingly clear speech delivered by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, my right hon. Friend Michael Gove, just yesterday put that into very clear view. A great grandson of the survivor Lily Ebert has said:

“When we no longer have survivors like Lily among us, this memorial will help to ensure that their experiences are never forgotten. We can create the next generation of witnesses.”

We must do that to ensure that the pernicious weed of antisemitism can be grubbed up and that the stain that it is on some sections of society is removed.

Let me conclude as I began, by expressing my thanks to Members for their contribution on Second Reading, in Committee and on Third Reading. I am grateful to the Clerks of the House, as always, for supporting the smooth running of the Bill, and to the Holocaust memorial team in my Department for their policy and Bill management support. I look forward to watching the Bill’s progress in the other place from this place. I commend it to the House.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government) 7:41, 22 May 2024

I start by thanking the Clerks, the House staff and Library specialists for facilitating our debates on the Bill. I also put on record our thanks to all Members who have contributed to our proceedings at all stages. In particular, I offer our sincere thanks to those who served on the Select Committee for their work in overseeing the Bill’s petitioning period, and all those who made petitions against the Bill. Lastly, I put on record once again the thanks of Labour Members to all those who have been involved in advancing the proposed national memorial to the Holocaust, and Holocaust education more generally over recent years.

There are far too many to name individually, but I must make specific reference to the past and present members of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, including the right hon. Ed Balls and the right hon. Lord Eric Pickles, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Holocaust Educational Trust and, of course, all the survivors of the Shoah who have not only campaigned for Holocaust education, but personally championed the project, including many who are sadly no longer with us.

Whatever differences might exist about precisely how we do so, we are united as a House in our commitment to remembering and learning from the Holocaust. It is imperative that we continue to educate future generations about what happened, both as a mark of respect to those who were murdered and those who survived, and also as a warning about what happens when antisemitism, prejudice and hatred are allowed to flourish unchecked. A national memorial for remembrance of the Holocaust will stand as a permanent reminder of the horrors of the past, and the need for a democratic citizenry to remain ever vigilant and willing to act when the values that underpin a free and tolerant society are undermined or threatened, as well as encouraging reflection on the implications of those horrors for British government and society.

As was rightly mentioned by several hon. Members in Committee, in the nine years since the idea was first mooted, the case for such a monument and institution has become acute. Not only does anti-Jewish hatred continue to grow, but the remaining survivors of the Holocaust become ever fewer and ever frailer. We owe it to those who remain with us, and to future generations, to complete this vitally important project. With that concern at the forefront of our minds, we wholeheartedly support the passage of the Bill this evening.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons 7:44, 22 May 2024

I know that Wera Hobhouse will need to get in, so I will try not to say as much as I had intended to.

I suggest that those who read this Third Reading debate, particularly those in another place who may be considering the Bill after the election, look at early-day motion 711, which spells out a number of the issues. I hope they will look with kindness on what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Minister, although there are other interpretations in respect of a number of issues.

Those who think there should be a memorial do not necessarily think the learning centre should be with it, while those who think there should be a learning centre do not think it should be squashed into what I described as a box under a memorial. There are many who think that the memorial could be better than the design that was not chosen in Ottawa, and I think it is a continuing embarrassment to the Government that the name of the person who was mentioned 13 times in the announcement of the winning design, Sir David Adjaye, is one that Ministers cannot say today.

I refer Members to the transcript of the Select Committee hearing on 5 February. Let me quote from paragraph 25:

“Many people will know Sir David Adjaye’s statement that ‘disrupting the pleasure of being in a park is key to the thinking’, but fewer people have heard the first part of that quote which is, ‘We have the opportunity to activate the entire site’”, or what he had said previously:

“‘There has been a kind of picture painted that this is a public garden...It moves from being just a kind of public park to being much more ceremonial, much more kind of ordered’.”

I could also quote from paragraphs 26 and 27, but I will not do so. However, I will quote from paragraph 58, which states that if the learning centre is built,

“the playground is actually going to be reduced by 370 square metres. That is by 31%, not about 15% as noticed and remarked on by the inspector, or 10% in the figures given by Baroness Scott

—the Minister in the House of Lords

“in her 2023 parliamentary answer, or even zero reduction, as stated by David Adjaye, misleadingly”

—I would say “mistakenly”—

“to the inquiry. A 31% loss cannot possibly be said to be an enhancement or a reconfiguration of the playground. That is what Chris Pincher, then briefly Minister of State, said in support of his 2021 planning permission approval for this project.”

I refer Members to a book by Dorian Gerhold, “Victoria Tower Gardens”, which is subtitled “The prehistory, creation and planned destruction of a London park”. What we are talking about here is not particularly the memorial—having a good memorial would be better than having a bad memorial—but Victoria Tower Gardens. We have this legislation because the Government did not care about the 1900 Act.

I say to the Government that better faith would have been acknowledging that the Bill they were putting forward was hybrid, without resisting that fact to the examiners in both Houses. We now pass the Bill on the House of Lords, where I believe that people will look again, with fresh eyes and fair eyes, at how we can commemorate those who died but do the best we can to educate people so that what happened is less likely to happen again.

The idea that a particular memorial will stop it happening would be laughed at by those who are commemorating and mourning the Yazidi genocide 10 years ago, the Rwandan genocide, and one or two others I could name in other parts of the world. We have to do what is right.

Let me end by saying this. My first cousin once removed was one of the Westminster Medical School students who went into Bergen-Belsen and were able to saves the lives of about half the people who were existing there at the time. I have worked with people Holocaust survivors, and I believe that we do best by doing what is right in a good way, which is why I welcome what Matthew Pennycook said about the normal planning process. As my right hon. Friend the Minister said and as Christopher Katkowski has said, the normal planning process will happen.

Let us look forward—if the Bill is carried over—to a planning process in which an application is made to the local authority, and the local authority makes the decision. If the authority approves the application, there is no problem; if it does not, the Minister can call it in, but the Minister should not call it in before Westminster City Council has had a chance to see any revised proposals that the Government can now put forward.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 7:48, 22 May 2024

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate, and I am grateful to the Father of the House for allowing me enough time to say what I want to say. I hope that my colleagues will bear with me.

My mother’s family were victims of the Nazi regime’s persecution. My uncle was imprisoned in Dachau in 1936, but got out with the help of Scandinavian friends. All my mother’s half-brothers and sisters left Germany and, except for one, never returned. The persecution hung over my mother’s childhood every day and was never forgotten for the rest of her life. I was born much later, but I have always had a sense of shame and horror about the atrocities committed by the German state during the Holocaust. I owe it to the millions of Jews who perished at the hands of the country in which I was born to convert this shame into political activity. I will always stand up and make sure that such unspeakable cruelty does not happen again.

The education I received in Germany made sure that I never forgot the part that my birth country played in the suffering of millions. Although Britain has a different legacy, it remains important that future generations in this country are as just as informed and educated. One of the most significant lessons that we can learn is about ensuring that we identify the initial indicators of injustice. We must remember that the atrocities of the Holocaust began by creating communities of division and hatred. We must prevent the same prejudice from rearing its head today.

There is no place more suitable for the memorial than Victoria Tower Gardens. Having the memorial right at the heart of our democracy will serve as a constant reminder of the deadly consequences of fascism and racism. Members of Parliament and the public must be able to feel this history to ensure that the legacy of the Holocaust does not end up in the periphery of our minds. The rise in antisemitism in the UK is a reminder that we cannot be complacent when it comes to education on the world’s oldest hatred. Holocaust denial is becoming more prolific, with conspiracies spread on social media, and we must confront this.

At a time when the Holocaust moves from living memory into history, it is more important than ever that we protect the facts of the Holocaust by creating a learning centre alongside the memorial. As Holocaust survivors become ever fewer and frailer, it is vital that progress is made rapidly. Work has not started, despite the memorial being promised eight years ago. Our beloved survivors are in their 80s and 90s, and will not be with us forever. We have to preserve their testimonies and the memories of their families for future generations.

I recently met Susan Pollack MBE, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor, to mark Yom HaShoah. Susan is an avid champion of Holocaust education, and still speaks in schools across the country to share her testimony. She is especially supportive of the campaign to build a Holocaust memorial and education centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, and we owe it to her and survivors like her to make sure that she can see it open while she is with us. Sadly, the building of the memorial and learning centre has been beset by delays. It is important to make sure that local voices are heard, but we politicians must always consider a balance of interests. If we sincerely believe in the importance of this project, we must get on with it now and not wait any longer.

Sir Ben Helfgott MBE, who passed away last year, will never be able visit the site. He had looked forward to taking his family to the memorial and education centre. As Sir Ben said before his passing, the memorial will

“ensure that the memory of the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators are never forgotten, and that my story, and the story of my fellow survivors can continue to be told forever.”

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Health and Social Care Committee 7:53, 22 May 2024

I listened very carefully to the speech by my right hon. and learned Friend Sir Michael Ellis. I am not a Jew and I do not represent a constituency with a big Jewish community, and I note his point about the small number of Jews in our country. However, I like to know my history, and I know that my constituents across Winchester and Chandler’s Ford do too, so I have followed the progress of this Bill closely.

A couple of years ago, the then Prince of Wales came to Winchester to unveil the statue of Licoricia, a famous Jewish figure from Winchester, and her son Asher. It stands in Jewry Street in the heart of our city as a permanent reminder of what happened. To know it, and therefore to know the memorial we are discussing today, which I support, is to never forget. I was not intending to speak today, but I have been moved by some of the speeches that I have heard, including the last one, and I think that to have this memorial and this centre is to never forget. Credit to Lord Cameron for starting this. I would had never have been in this House without said Lord Cameron.

I have listened to the various other speeches—including from the Father of the House, whom I respect greatly—and I am tempted to say that this site is not perfect. But I also hear what the Minister says about the synergy of this memorial being adjacent to this amazing Palace of Westminster, and I think that that is the point. I agree with the Father of the House on the planning procedure, which obviously must be done properly, and I know that it will be. I support this Bill and I have followed it closely as it is gone through the House.

Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester

Does my hon. Friend accept that there are some of us who feel absolutely as passionately as he and every other colleague in this House about what happened in the Holocaust but who do not believe that this is necessarily the best place to site such a memorial? Does he agree that it is now for their lordships to look really closely at whether the points made by the Father of the House and others of us who supported new clause 1 should be looked at carefully before any final decision is reached?

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Health and Social Care Committee

Yes. The one thing I know from my 14 years and counting in this House is that their lordships look at everything very carefully. I hear my hon. Friend, but I am not sure that I do agree, for the reasons that I have just given. As the Minister said, the synergy of this memorial being adjacent to this Palace of Westminster is the point, so if not here, where? This is a good place for it, and that is why I support it.

There is another reason why I support it. I always think that in life you can never quote C. S. Lewis too often, and my favourite quote from C. S. Lewis is:

“You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Clearly we cannot go back and change what happened, but we can change the ending and make sure that people remember where we have come from.

As this could well be my final contribution in this place, I want to say thank you to the people of Winchester and Chandler’s Ford for giving me four in a row; thank you to my team, now and past; and of course thank you to Susie, my wife, and Emily and William, my children, for allowing me to do this. I will close by saying that I have always tried to hold in my heart in this place something that I was taught by my grandfather and then by my parents: it is nice to be important—and there are many people in this place who are far more important than me—but I think it is far more important to be nice.

Photo of Kirsten Oswald Kirsten Oswald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities) 7:57, 22 May 2024

I am glad to be able to contribute today on behalf of my party on this important Bill, albeit that the Bill seeks specifically to build in London, far from my own constituency and far from Scotland. It is also, significantly, a planning-related issue. For both those reasons, I would usually rule myself out of contributing. However, the principle of having this Holocaust memorial matters. The opportunity to visit the memorial and the importance of diverse voices in support and the broadest range of testimony being shared are relevant to us all.

It is fair to say that this place has taken its time to get where we are now. My overwhelming feeling is that as the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust is within sight, it is time to do this. It is time to get on with it. I appreciate that there are some differences on the location. I understand and sympathise with the various concerns and positions, but it seems to me that we can either keep going round in circles or agree that it is time to move forward. I favour the latter approach. We just need to do it.

I was fortunate recently to hear the Holocaust survivor Susan Pollack speak in this place at a Yom HaShoah event. She is a remarkable woman. I have also been fortunate to hear other survivors, including constituents, whose testimonies made such a marked difference to the lives of others. That privilege of hearing directly from Holocaust survivors is, of course, now becoming less and less possible, so we need to find ways to preserve their testimonies and to make sure that their stories are captured and told to those who come after us. We also know that genocides did not end with the Holocaust, which in itself should be a motivator to move forward with this Bill. That is why I believe the plan to make sure there is an education centre, as well as a memorial, is so vital.

I am in awe of the people, including survivors and their families, who work so hard to educate others. I want to mention my constituent Geraldine Shenkin, whose lovely mum, Marianne Grant, was held in no fewer than three concentration camps but none the less showed such courage. She made such striking and beautiful art, which will convey the horror of the Holocaust for generations to come. I am very fortunate to have been given a copy of the book of Marianne’s art, which is hugely evocative and an important part of the history of the Holocaust, the like of which we should see on display as widely as possible to ensure there is a clear understanding of the realities of what happened.

I am also in awe of my constituent Steven Anson, whose father Martin Anson’s story is told so powerfully through the Gathering the Voices initiative, and my late constituents Ingrid and Henry Wuga, both arrivals from the Kindertransport who made such an impact on my local community and across Scotland in their retirement as they dedicated themselves to speaking to our young people about their experiences. They changed countless lives. Their testimony, their telling the truth of the Holocaust, has impacted thousands of people. We lost Henry Wuga recently, shortly after his 100th birthday. It would be a great shame if the wisdom and dedication he demonstrated was not part of the new memorial and education centre, and I sincerely hope that his voice and the others I mentioned are among the many Scottish voices that this memorial would benefit from amplifying.

I know I am very lucky to have had these conversations, to have heard these stories and to have visited places including Yad Vashem, and I appreciate the impact it has had on me. But what about those who have not had that opportunity? What about those in future years who will need to know the reality of the Holocaust, but who will no longer have those brave survivors to hear from? Both the memorial and the education centre are vital in that regard.

We are also fortunate to have organisations and projects, including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust led by the remarkable Olivia Marks-Woldman—my constituent Kirsty Robson does important work there, too—and the Holocaust Educational Trust, where Karen Pollock works tirelessly. There is also Gathering the Voices and Vision Schools Scotland. I could go on about the ethos that shines through all their work. The new memorial and education centre will be in a position to deliver and learn from that great work. They will be able to contribute to each other’s work, which is increasingly important in an increasingly polarised world—I spoke earlier about the shocking spike in antisemitic incidents—and the plans to move things forward are very welcome.

All of that is why this Holocaust memorial and education centre needs to be built, and it is why we need to give it the profile and broadest possible support that it merits. It is also why we just need to get on with it.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 8:03, 22 May 2024

In the short time available, we should remember that the Holocaust represents the darkest hour in human history, when 6 million Jewish people were systematically murdered by the Nazis. Above all else, the thing that impresses me about the survivors is their lack of bitterness. It would be very easy for them to be very bitter and very angry about what happened, but they give their thoughts and their education freely and without bitterness. That is the key point. As the survivors pass away, we must ensure that we capture their testimony so that it is always available.

I regret that, when I was at school, we had no education on the Holocaust. Our generation was largely ignorant. The Jewish population of this country largely did not want to talk about what had happened for fear of not being believed. Education is vital. I thank the Minister and the successive Ministers who have taken this Bill through the House to enable us to have a learning centre and memorial. I also thank the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Holocaust Educational Trust and all those wonderful bodies that have agitated for this to happen, and who deliver education and learning every single day. On a cross-party basis, the House can bless this Bill as we enable it to get on the statute books; I am sure the House of Lords will bless it as well. We want to ensure that it becomes a lasting memorial and an education for young people, so that we never forget what happened during the second world war.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee 8:05, 22 May 2024

I congratulate the Minister, my hon. Friend Simon Hoare, on his tour de force in taking the Bill through today. In what has not been an easy debate, he has demonstrated his skills in handling colleagues and has done extremely well. I am also grateful for his kind remarks about me and others who are leaving this place this week.

In what will be my final contribution after 19 years on these Benches, it is fitting to be able to speak on such a significant topic, reflecting as it does what has happened over the last 79 years, since we were last at war in Europe. The horrors that would be commemorated by this memorial—

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to have to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman—there will be an opportunity to return to this on the carry-over motion later, if he wishes to do so. I accept the fact that his speech has been interrupted, and that will not count against him if he seeks to catch our eye again.

Four hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on the business of the House motion, the debate was interrupted (Order, this day).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Question agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.