13/07/2017 House of Commons

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Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including a general debate on the commemoration of Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres.

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gave their lives a century ago for the freedom they enjoy, will have


the decency to do so quietly. We now come to the general debate on


the commemoration of Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres. Just


before I call the Minister to introduce the debate, I would most


unusually like to welcome to the Palace of Westminster the two police


officers who apprehended the murderer of our late colleague Jo


Cox. Craig Nicholls and Jonathan Wright are here with us and we would


like to welcome them and commend them for their bravery.


And it is fitting that we should do so as we are about to have a debate


commemorating those who gave their lives for freedom and democracy.


Minister Mr John Brennan. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. And I would


like to reiterate your words of welcome to Mr Nichols and Mr Wright,


and I'm sure the whole house are very pleased they are with us today.


I beg to move that this house has considered the commemoration of


Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres. The commemoration of


Passchendaele is just one of the National events in our First World


War centenary programme as announced by the previous Prime Minister in


2012. This four year programme has seen us deliver national events to


mark the centenary of Britain's entry to war on the 4th of August,


1914. With the service for the Commonwealth at Glasgow Cathedral


and at Westminster Abbey, and in April 2015 we marked the Gallipoli


campaign in Turkey and at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.


Can I also congratulate the two police officers for their bravery?


Does the Minister have any plans to come -- any other plans to


commemorate battles? That is something I will consider but no


immediate plans. Last year and made the we commemorated the famous


Battle of Jutland with events in Orkney and one month later on July


one. We remembered the Battle of the Somme with national events in


France, London and Manchester. Overnight vigils were held at


Westminster Abbey and in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and replicated


in local communities across the UK. Before I go on, I would like to


acknowledge the huge support of my honourable friend the member for


South West Wiltshire, who has shaped and steered the centenary programme.


He is a hugely valued colleague and my Parliamentary Labour. It is also


an opportunity for me to congratulate him on his appointment,


his election to the chairmanship of the Northern Ireland Select


Committee. If he brings the integrity, wisdom and hard work to


the role he has had on this project, the House will be very well served.


In addition, you would like to thank the members of the Secretary of


State's First World War centenary advisory group and provided vital


advice and guided my department through the programme every step of


the way. I was tempted to name all of them, but there are too many, but


I would like to put on record the gratitude of the Government for


their work. In just over two weeks' time, we will deliver our next


commemorative of end. Officially known as the third Battle of Ypres,


Passchendaele is one of the most famous battles of the First World


War. I will certainly give way. I'm very grateful to the Minister


and I would also add my commendation to the actions of the police


officers here. The South Wales Regiment had heroism at


Passchendaele and had members of my constituency. But also, those


soldiers were also lost in the days leading up to the battle. The second


battalion Monmouthshire Regiment moved up to the forward line on the


29th in preparation for battle on the 31st. As we appropriately


remember those who gave so much in the battle, we also remember those


whose lives were lost perhaps through injuries in the days before


as well. I'm grateful to the honourable


gentleman for that contribution and with his customary eloquence, he


makes a very wise point and it would be accurate in the sense that and it


would be echoed in the sentiments across the House. The battle was not


only famous, infamous, for the terrible conditions, but also for


the scale of the losses. In the region of 250,000 Allied soldiers


and around the same number of German soldiers, a total of at least half a


million men on both sides, were wounded, killed or missing. Quite


frankly, and believable numbers. -- unbelievable. Between July 31 and


November the tenth 1917, this battle saw the British Army attempts to


break out of the notorious Ypres assailant and troops from across


Britain and Ireland took part, along with significant numbers from


today's Commonwealth, particularly from Australia, Canada, New Zealand


and South Africa. Allied air losses played an important role, providing


vital reconnaissance. Sorry, Allied air forces played an important role,


providing vital reconnaissance for the ground forces and fighting


deadly dogfights with their German counterparts in the skies above the


trenches. The battle was conceived in part as a means of influencing


the struggle against German submarines and the Royal Naval


division fought on the battlefields of Passchendaele alongside other


soldiers. Many others contributed during the battle and in the


fighting around Ypres during the conflict, including service men from


India and the West Indies, labourers from China and of course the nurses


and medical staff who worked behind the lines to treat the wounded. For


all those who fought in that small corner of Flanders in the late


summer and autumn of 1917, including in the Belgian French and German


armies, it would prove to be one of the most gruelling experiences of


the conflict. Much of the First World War's most enduring


photography, poetry and art work was inspired by the desolate landscape


which became a featureless quagmire over the course of the battle. After


periods of intense rain, the Mont became so bad that men and animals


could be swallowed up in the swamp. Images such as the photography of


Frank Hurley or the evocative paintings of Paul Nash are a


harrowing reflection of the utter devastation. Many families, villages


and towns were touched by the fighting. In Wales, the battle is


remembered partly for the loss of the renowned poet Ellis Evans,


better known by his bardic name, who died on the opening day of the


battle. May I first of all apologise to the ministers pushed up a will


have to be briefly absent for part of the debate, but I will at the


earliest opportunity. In light of what he said about photographs and


knowing props are not always welcome in the chamber, can I showbiz of


photographs that shows Passchendaele village in June 1917 and in December


1917 -- can I show these photographs. From a distance, you


can see how entirely the landscape was obliterated by the bombardment.


I thank my right honourable friend for his very personal intervention.


I think the House will welcome that. Order! The Minister is right, the


House will welcome the honourable gentleman's illustration, but the


House will note that is a good reason why we do not use props. In


this exceptional circumstance, I have not stopped the honourable


gentleman because I know that he has shown the book with the very best of


intentions. I am not quite sure how Hansard will record a picture! But


the Minister is right to note the honourable gentleman's point.


Minister. Speaker. That day also saw the death of the Irish poet France's


lead which. And it is important to remember that many of those who


fought at Passchendaele were conscripts and this was a war that


had already led to huge changes around these islands. Women were


already playing a vital role in the war effort, particularly in the


production of munitions for the artillery, which was so critical to


the outcome of the fighting. And for many of us, Passchendaele has


epitomised the horrors of trench warfare on the Western front.


Does my honourable friend... He knows I am about to say recall that


I presented to the city of Salisbury through him and the Wiltshire


Regiment a bugle that was used by the first Regiment of the Wiltshire


Regiment. And it was I understand now in the museum as a recognition


and a memory of those people who fought in that wonderful battle.


I am very grateful to my honourable friend for reminding me and the


House of that kind gift. And I think it represents a platter of gifts and


memories that many members of this House and many constituents have


enough families concerning the First World War and the Second World War,


and it is really important that we put those exhibits outbursts of the


next generation can fully grasp what actually happened during this period


of our history. I rise because of the description of


this is a wonderful battle. To many of the people who were there,


including my father, this was a terrible, terrible tragedy as a


result of the misjudgement by the generals and others. We cannot look


at this without remembering that many of those who lost their lives,


they did not give their lives, they were told if they went there, they


would stop the homes. They went that as a result of persuasion and


propaganda -- three. To learn the proper lessons of warfare, we must


remember that, and the immense wasteful loss of human life. Well,


I'm grateful for the Underhill -- honourable gentleman's contribution


and every member will have a different emphasis and


interpretation of events and I hope the debate will give an opportunity


to reflect in our own way on how we would wish to record events 100


years ago. Let me now turn to national events. Three commemorative


events will be held in Belgium on July 30 and the 31st 2017 at iconic


locations where soldiers fought and died and died and they are


commemorated. On Sunday, July 30, we will begin with the traditional Last


Post ceremony in Ypres. This is one of the most iconic memorials. It was


an honour those who are in the First World War. And it bears the names of


more than 54,000 individuals who died there while serving with the


forces of Britain, Australia, Canada, India and South Africa. But


for whom there was no known grave. Designed by Sir Reginald Blom Gills,


it is a remarkable monument and a fitting place to start proceedings.


The Last Post ceremony has been held back every evening at 2,000 hrs


since the railing of the memorial in 1927. With the exception of the


period Second World War when the ceremony was held at Brookwood


military cemetery near Woking. It is organised by the Last Post


association and has been performed since origin. It will commemorate


the history with Belgium. A UK military band and the nationally


quiet of Scotland will perform. Reefs will be laid by


representatives of 20 Tri Nations who fought during the war. 200


invited guests will attend, as well as 200 descendants who were


successful in a public ballot and whose ancestors were named on the


many gate. After the Last Post ceremony, events will be how in


Marco Square Ypres to an estimated audience of around 6,000 members.


Here, we will creatively tell the story of the war in Ypres from 1914,


with a particular focus on the third battle of Ypres of 1917. So


projecting on the Cloth Hall, we will use a range of contemporary


digital projection techniques to bring history to life projections


which will enable the use of a broad of visual media from photographic


and film archive, to animation. These projections will be supported


by live readings of poetry and musical performance, including the


orchestra and choir. The event will add a distinctive, engaging and


contemporary element to the centenary programme which will help


to reach a wider and I hope younger audience which is a key objective of


the commemorations. So on Monday, July 31, exactly 100 years since the


battle began, a national commemorative event will be held at


the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Cemetery. And in terms


of burials, it is the largest cemetery in the world. The final


resting place of almost 12,000 Commonwealth servicemen of whom more


than 8300 remain unidentified. I will certainly give way.


I am grateful to my honourable friend. He has mentioned the


Commonwealth War Graves Commission site at Ypres and another now. Will


he join me in paying tribute to all of those not just in north-western


Europe but around the world who maintain our Commonwealth War Graves


sites with such dignity and so brilliantly maintain the memory of


those who died in the service of our country?


An extremely grateful to my honourable friend and I am about to


do that, but he has spoken quite rightly about the enormous


contribution they have made over the last 100 years.


So it is the final resting place of nearly 12,000 Commonwealth


servicemen, of whom are over 8000 remain unidentified and among them,


four German soldiers. At the heart of the cemetery is the blockhouse, a


formidable German fortification captured in the fighting and then


used as a medical post. After the war, remains were brought there from


around the surrounding battlefields, but most buried there were thought


to have died during the third battle of Ypres. When the gate was


constructed, its walls proved insufficient to bear the names of


all the missing of the Ypres salient Soviet memorial wall bears the names


of nearly 35,000 men who were killed after the 16th of August 19 17 and


whose names are not known that. Thank you for giving way. If he


troubled, as I am, by the inherent tension within the nation


commemoration, commemorative programme for the First World War,


between the need to remember the sacrifice of previous generations,


the desire to instil in current generations the need for patriotism


and potential sacrifice, but with the First World War the dreadful,


needless mass loss of all life, in a way that is perhaps different from


the Second World War? Well, I think that's a typically


thoughtful representation of the challenge in getting these


commemoration is right. I hope that the honourable gentleman will


recognise that a lot of thought and work has gone into trying to get


that balance right, and I hope when some of my colleagues, particularly


the member for South West Wiltshire, contributes later, will understand a


bit about how that has been balanced.


So I just want to reflect, as I said I would, on the sea WGC, who


commemorate the missing at the men in gate and is further 35,000 on the


wall at Tyne Cot. When the names another nearby memorials are added,


the number comes to some 100,000 soldiers who have no known grave.


Numbers, I think, that are unimaginable in modern-day warfare.


But following the ballot launched in January for free tickets, I'm


delighted that around 3900% and guests will attend the event at Tyne


Cot. The content and staging of the event will evoke, I hope, a strong


sense of place, making full use of the poignancy and historical


significance of the cemetery. There will be readings by military


personnel and descendants, musical performances by UK military bands,


acquire and solo performances and a formal act of remembrance. Readings


of soldiers' recollections, and I read some poetry will tell the story


of the third battle of Ypres, and the experiences of men who fought


there. Content will reflect the contribution of men from across the


UK and Ireland, as well as from the Commonwealth. In addition, from the


29th of July to the 31st of July, the Passchendaele centenary


exhibition will be held at Passchendaele Memorial Park. We have


been working with the memorial Museum of Passchendaele and will


include contributions from UK and Belgium museums. There will be art


and artefacts, exhibitions, living history groups and areas for


historical talks and musical performances in open and covered


areas. The Passchendaele museum will also have an exhibition called,


landscape of war, which will be open to visitors. At this point I would


like to thank and acknowledge the help and support that although local


organisations and local communities have given to us in and around Ypres


and Zonnebeke in the planning stages. Their support has been


invaluable and my thanks goes in particular to the mayors in


Zonnebeke. And visible from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission,


which this year is celebrating its own centenary. This organisation is


one of our key partners and does outstanding work in ensuring that


1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be


forgotten. They care for cemeteries are memorials at 23,000 locations in


154 countries and territories around the globe, making sure that our war


dead are honoured with dignity. Recently the CWGC launched a new


scheme for interns who have been welcoming and guiding visitors at


major cemeteries and memorials, including at Tyn Cot this summer.


The military of defence, our key partners, contributing assets for


these events. And the BBC will be broadcasting the events on both


Sunday night and Monday. So our key themes across the entire First World


War centenary programme of remembrance, youth and education. In


terms of use and education, I'm really pleased the National youth


choir of Scotland will perform at all three commemorative events and


around 100 graduates of the National citizens service, aged 16-19, will


be part of the delivery team at the commemorations. The graduates have


undergone an educational programme about the First World War in


preparation... I would be happy to give way.


Thank you for giving way on what he has presented to the House. I


completely agree, if any right and fitting we should commemorate the


loss of life that Passchendaele. Woody answer the question about the


role of medical profession after Passchendaele and much of the trench


warfare of the First World War? Given the fact we are commemorating


those who lost their life, those who came home would have suffered, many


of them, from shellshocked and so many advances in psychology were


learned on the front line. Will it play any part in the commemoration


of those who survived? I think that in the way we remember


these events now, given the understanding we have now of many of


the impact of war psychologically, we will have those things in mind.


It is very, very difficult to go back and reinterpret events as they


were at the time and as they were experienced at the time. But I think


the honourable gentleman makes a very perceptive and worthwhile


point. I would like to add the Royal


British Legion's National Memorial in Staffordshire is holding a


special service on the 31st of July and will include a broadcast on


large screens of our national event taking place at the Tyne Cot


Cemetery. Members across the House are encouraged to attend this free


event if they can, and encourage their constituents to do so as well.


More Victoria crosses were won on the first day of the Battle of


Passchendaele than any other single day of the battle in the First World


War, and 61 VCs were awarded in the campaign as a whole. All 61


recipients will be honoured with a commemorative paving stone in the


town of their birth on the anniversary of the action for which


the Victoria Cross was awarded. The commemorative paving stone


initiative forms part of the centenary programme and in the case


of the men born overseas, their commemoratives paving stones have


been placed at the National Memorial argument. Passchendaele also a


medical officer received his second Victoria Cross. On the evening of


Passchendaele he was wounded but under heavy fire and in appalling


weather, he continued to search no no man's land to search for the


wounded. Whilst taking a rest is first aid post it was struck by a


shell. Although he had at least six injuries he managed to crawl away


and was picked up and taken to the clearing station where he died on


the 4th of August, 1917. We are also supporting Passchendaele at home, in


partnership with the big ideas company. They are over 400 graves in


the UK, very likely to belong to service men injured at the Battle of


Passchendaele, who died of their wounds afterwards. The project will


work with schools and communities across the country to identify


graves in their area and to find out more about the brave men who fought


at Passchendaele. So as you have heard, and I hope you agree, these


commemorative events, Madam Deputy Speaker, to mark the Battle of


Passchendaele, will be both educational and poignant and help us


to reflect on this terrible war and battle 100 years ago.


The question is this house has considered the Battle of


Passchendaele, the third Battle of Ypres.


Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker and can I thank the Minister for his


speech and take this opportunity to welcome him to his new post. And


also, may I add on behalf of Her Majesty's official opposition, their


gratitude and thanks, although they have left now, the two police


officers who helped apprehend the killer of Arbilla beloved late


colleague, Jo Cox, whose plaque is now here behind me and rightly


standing with all the plaques of honourable members who gave their


lives on behalf of the country in previous conflicts, including the


First World War. And across this house, we are immensely grateful for


the opportunity to commemorate Passchendaele, the third Battle of


Ypres, and the chance to speak of our military history, of Armed


Forces community and the sacrifices made and are still being made on our


behalf. I would like to take this opportunity also, on behalf of the


official opposition, to pay tribute to those who had served in our Armed


Forces and those who continue to serve in our Armed Forces. We are


all grateful for their courage, as they serve to keep us safe.


As we have heard, the Battle of Passchendaele stretched from July to


November 1917, as the Allied forces and the German Empire battled for


control of the ridges around Ypres on the Western front. It was the


first major British offensive on Ypres and the stalemate of the


Battle lasted for months, marked by battles within the battle.


Casualties on both sides, as we heard, difficult to calculate, but


well over half a million casualties when counted together, and yet the


village of Passchendaele itself was only five miles away from the


starting point of the Allied forces' action.


The battle, as we've heard, is notorious, not just for its number


of casualties but also for the conditions in which the battle was


fought. The first few days of the offensive were marked by the


heaviest rainfall in 30 years, turning the field into a quagmire


which trapped soldiers and horses and immobilised weaponry. A century


on, in the safety and grandeur of this place, it's difficult if not


impossible to imagine the mud, the blood and the horror and the sheer


scale of the losses of Passchendaele, but that is why it is


absolutely right that we do remember. 325,000 Allied casualties


is difficult to comprehend, as is their bravery, valour and sacrifice.


And in the minds of many, as we've heard, Passchendaele has come to


epitomise the senselessness, ultimately, of war. So these moments


of commemoration are important, and I'd like to join the minister in


thanking all of those involved, and including the Imperial War Museum,


the BBC, the Royal British Legion, the Commonwealth War Graves


Commission and all the other organisations, including those


mentioned by the Minister, who worked so hard to ensure that we do


not forget. Indeed, we are fortunate at the


moment to have an exhibition here in Westminster Hall, or in the Palace


of Westminster Hall, about Parliament and the First World War,


which I would encourage all honourable members to visit if they


haven't already done so. The scale of the Great War was such


that today most cities, towns and villages have a memorial which lists


the names of the local people who died while fighting for Britain in


that war. As a Welsh MP, Madam Deputy Speaker, you won't be


surprised that I would observe sacrifices made in the First World


War continue to resonate in Wales, despite the passage of 100 years.


The first significant losses of Welsh life came in October and


November of 1914. The Germans rushed for Belgian seaports but were


repelled by units of the Welsh Regiment and the South Wales


borderers, who suffered many casualties. But before the events of


that war, Passchendaele in particular, as the Minister made


reference to, is a part of Welsh cultural memory. Every village in


Wales was affected. 20,000 first language Welsh speaking soldiers


alone were killed in this battle. The soldiers of the Welsh Regiment,


the South Welsh borders on the Royal Welch Fusiliers all fought alongside


each other in the 38th division, and further, the Welsh Guards fought at


the third Battle of Ypres. That 38th division was devised by David Lord


George, who went on to become Prime Minister after it was devised and


whose statue frankly entrance to this chamber and who himself was a


first language Welsh speaker. In 1915 the division suffered very


heavy casualties on the Somme, but in 1917 it had come to be seen as an


elite division, particularly following the Battle of pilgrimage


at the beginning of the third Battle of Ypres. The cafe is not far from


Ypres has been dedicated by the owner to the many Welsh soldiers who


died in the area in 1917, and the red Dragon on a black background


worn by the 38th division is the inspiration for the shoulder flash


worn by the Royal Welsh today. I think that is a testament to the


significance, the cultural significance, of the 38th division.


It is for reasons like this public sacrifice are commemorated today and


in Wales in relation to Passchendaele. When contemplating


casualties on such a huge scale, we often turn to individual stories in


remembrance, as the Minister did in his remarks, and that is what I


would like to do in my speech. As he said, 100 years since Passchendaele


is also 100 years since the staff filed of the black chair. That is


the annual Welsh language cultural festival where people compete at


sinking, dancing and reciting poetry. Held every summer, the


sheer's in a couple of weeks, and I am pleased to say it will be a free


event held in the capital city of Cardiff where my constituency lies.


In 1916, some people called for that Eisteddfod to become salt. They did


not think it would be appropriate to spend time sinking while men were


fighting and dying on their behalf in the trenches -- to become


cancelled. David Lloyd George said, it is true that thousands of gallant


men falling in the fight, let's sing of their heroism, let's sing of our


land that gave birth to so many heroes. So in 1916, the Eisteddfod


went on. And the following year in 1917, as the Battle of Passchendaele


continued, the Eisteddfod was directly touched by the tragedy of


that battle. Evans, under a now famous pseudonym, was judged as the


winner of the chair, the highest honour of the Eisteddfod, granted to


the best poet writing in the traditional strict metre of the


Welsh language. However, when the winner's pseudonym was called in the


traditional dramatic ceremony of the Eisteddfod, nobody stood up. In the


audience, to reveal themselves as the triumphant poet. It was then


announced the winning barred had been killed in battle six weeks


prior. One of 4,000 men killed in a single morning when the Welsh Royal,


Royal Welsh usually is went over the top of Passchendaele. The poet has


become the subject of poems himself, history lessons in classrooms across


Wales and even the subject of an Oscar-nominated feature film. And


the poignant story captured the morning of a nation. So in a way, it


is doubly appropriate the front bench reads in this debate today,


the Department For Culture. In the greatest perils, it is poetry, songs


and the Arts that keep people going and miraculously, even though we


would not want this to happen, they turned the horrors of war into the


beauty of artistic inspiration. Of course, the war effort in the UK was


not only made up of the men who went to fight, there were surgeons and


nurses on the battlefields and at home, women became the backbone of


industry. And I would like to make mention of my own constituency in


1917, the Women's Land Army formed a 20,000 women and listed. Green farm


in Cardiff West is now a housing estate which was built to deliver


Homes for Heroes after the Great War. But as a farm, it was run


predominantly by female farm hands during the war and one of these


workers left domestic service to work on the farm. She said, every


morning, we would get up at five o'clock and milk 100 cows and we


would then take the milk to the hospital. So I am proud and I am


sure we are all proud of the efforts of those such as Agnes and so many


other women across the country, in her case, she is part of Cardiff


West's history, but I am proud and humbled by the sacrifices we still


see from our Armed Forces communities across the UK today. The


UK Armed Forces continue to protect us, Madam Deputy Speaker, involved


in over 30 operations in over 20 countries. Abroad, our forces work


in Afghanistan, in non-combat roles. They support the EU and the UN


peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, in Mali,


they are part of Nato's forces in Eastern Europe and they respond the


continued threat as we heard earlier today posed by Daesh. At home, they


support responses to terrorist incidents, protect aerospace and


they are supported by the entire Armed Forces community of families,


reservists, veterans and cadets. During this debate, to commemorate


the sacrifices made in Passchendaele, we should also


remember the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made


every year since then by the brave men and women of the UK Armed


Forces. The close, I turn to the words from a poem which means war. I


will read it in Welsh and then youngish translation.


The hearts to which we sang our hunger on willow boughs and their


refrain drowned by the anguish of the young whose blood is mingled


with the rain. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can


I begin by thanking the Minister for outlining the various commemorative


ceremonies that are to take place over the next two, three months to


commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele. And also, for the


spokesman for the opposition in talking about the wider impact of


the war that were also commemorating. It seems to me at


times that this commemoration is a bit like the First World War, in


that year by year, we remember another campaign, another battle. I


wanted to speak for a number of reasons. I am so old that I


interviewed dozens of First World War survivors in the 1970s for a


writing project. I publish two or three box. So I have a deep


connected memory of the First World War. Both my grandfather served in


the First World War, but I am also conscious of the fact that as a


member of the primers to's advisory panel that from the very beginning,


and this was a point and intervention by a colleague of the


Minister, about how would we get the balance right between commemoration


and not glorifying war, and how do we bring it to young people? Because


I have a personal connection. I can remember talking to survivors of


Passchendaele. But from my son aged 26, the battle of Passchendaele is


as far away from him as the Battle of Waterloo. Secondly, why are we


remembering Passchendaele? Is it just because we have got into the


habit of putting pox on our commemoration? In other words, it


was obvious in 2014, it was going to be the battle of mums. In 2015, we


did rather quiet through that. But there was of course glibly. Very


important, crucially, the Australians and New Zealanders. But


the great island -- irony is they played a far more important and


significant part as part of the British armies in Belgium and


France in 16, 17 and 18, now in 2017, we are largely, but not wholly


commemorating Passchendaele. And next year, we will end up


commemorating the great German offensives of spring. Which nearly


broke the Allied line. What was called the Hundred days, the more


mobile campaign, and the collapse of the Germans in October, November 90


18. And that is it, at the end of the First World War. But of course,


it wasn't. It wasn't because of the Minister pointed out, the


Commonwealth War Graves Commission celebrates this year its own to


worry. -- its centenary. The work of a remarkable man, Fabian Ware, too


old to serve on the front line unit in 1914, he served with an ambulance


unit, and he was then struck in 1914, 1915, by the extent of the


casualties and what was going to happen to them. And through the


adjutant general, the chief staff officer, one of the chief staff


officers in the British Army, he began to collect bodies together.


Some form of formalisation. And ultimately, in 1917, the Imperial


walk Graves Commission was established and its work began after


the Armistice in 1918. As the Minister pointed out, named after a


reference on a map, outside Passchendaele, it it became the


largest cemetery for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission


that they now look after. Nearly 50,000 men are commemorated there.


The majority of whom have no grave. So that brings me on to my next


point, that for younger people, it is the extent of the casualties of


Passchendaele. It is also associated, I suspect, in their mind


not only with poetry and literature, some of which we have heard, but


film and photographs. The great thing about First World War if there


is a great thing, we can actually see it. Cinematic film is more


difficult. But we have a raft of photographs, many of which were


taken on the front line. It was against the King's regulation. This


meant to take cameras onto the front line, most of them ignored that and


sent them back home. So we have a graphic display of that. But I find


that in explaining and talking about this with young people and children,


to try and get them to think about this, they say to me, another three


or four years and I would have been old enough to fought in it. How did


they endure that? What did the Government do to force them to fight


in the British Army's -- British armies in the First World War? It


comes as a surprise when you say there was no conscription until


1916, 90 17. The majority of the servicemen were volunteers.


Kitchener volunteers, or in the territorial Army. And whilst there


was a pretty dramatic and drastic military discipline code, and we


know that dozens of British servicemen were executed in the


First World War, some for cowardice, some for murder, what I am struck


goodbye talking all those years ago the veterans and reading their


diaries and their letters, many of them were appalled by the death of


their friends and the suffering. But they did it out of a combination of


that local interest, many of them serving with their friends based


upon volunteering to serve in Powells battalions or serving


alongside men from the same village or from the same streets. A


Victorian concept of duty. And of course, one of the most important


stimulants and determinants in battle, which will I was always told


teaching that sound Hirst by men who did this, small group loyalty. You


were not even doing this for your battalion, but for the people in


your section, half a dozen people doing that. And we have to remember


that Passchendaele, as the ministers pointed out, was not a one-day


battle. It was a series of campaigns from the end of July until November


ten. And it was only one part of the work of the British Army in Belgium


and France in 1917. The next point I want to touch upon is that one of


the questions you get not just from young people but by people


interested in the First World War is, why were the General so stupid?


A point being made by the honourable member earlier on.


I've never been in that camp, particularly. What I try to remember


is I think that they did come from a limited background, they had a


limited experience and perception of war. You also have to bear in mind


that the British expeditionary Force of 1914, maybe regular, -- mainly


regular was about a men. In 1917 the British Army at the front was


roughly 1.3 million men. An enormous expansion in the war. Many of them


are not soldiers, they were in the logistics or support side. They, to


use the modern academic term, the learning curve required to recruit,


train, deploy and fight these armies was enormous. It wasn't just the


experience in Britain but the experience in Belgium, France,


Germany and Russia. And I have to say, bear in mind the extent of the


casualties at Passchendaele, we are talking about maybe 500 or 600,000


men, give or take 10,000. That sounds appallingly inaccurate. Think


in terms of the casualties of the Second World War. I mean, just one


example is historians now tell us that the average British infantry


battalion in Normandy had more casualties than its equivalent in


France in 1917. Passchendaele was unique in one sense, but there's a


commonality in major war on a vast scale.


Then there's the question, and he was mentioned by the opposition


spokesman, of the coalition Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. And


what became the battle of the men was in for invoicing Lord George --


Lloyd George, Churchill and the generals on the other, about who was


responsible for the casualties and was there an alternative? Crudely


speaking, Lloyd George wanted, for very good reasons, to avoid engaging


the German enemy in the main theatre of operations. He was always looking


for a way to knock the props out from under Germany. And on the


whole, the generals were against that. As far as they were concerned,


the main battle within Belgium and France. We were a subordinate and


then an equal partner of the French. But there is no doubt in my mind


that Lloyd George had, in theory, the power to have halted the


campaign. After the first month when they ground to a hole in the foulest


of weather, he had that power, except he didn't, because he felt


weak up against Douglas Hague. Douglas Hague had the press on his


side, and he had them on his side until the end.


Madam Deputy Speaker, this debate is still going on today, amongst


historians, about was there on alternative? There probably wasn't


an alternative, but we didn't have in place the methods and the


organisation to have proper debates about this in the First World War.


That was the big lesson that Churchill learnt. Churchill, who


had, of course, left the Government after Gallipoli, when and served in


France and then Lloyd George reluctantly brought him back as


Minister of munitions. When he became Prime Minister, the one thing


he learned from the First World War was as Prime Minister he had to have


pretty much total power. So he made himself Prime Minister and Minister


of defence, but he also sought to have a continuous day by day debate


with the chiefs of staff over a full range of strategy, and to use


government committees to run the war. He was in many respects a


dictator, Churchill, but it was almost without exception that he had


overruled the Chiefs of staff. Lloyd George didn't have that ability. Not


only did the Navy not talk to the Army, but Lloyd George had great


difficulty pinning down the chief of the Imperial General staff, Wally


Robertson, the only man to come from working class private to becoming


the head of the Army and the Field Marshal, whose contempt for Lloyd


George was such that at one meeting he just walked out, deciding not to


continue with the debate. These are the kinds of things I try


to engage young people with, about issues that are still alive today.


My final point, Madam Deputy Speaker, is the sorrow and pity of


War. The Battle of Passchendaele, as much as anything else, I think was


defined, if you put aside the plans and the personalities of the senior


officers, by two things. The sheer weight of artillery firepower was on


such a scale that totally dwarfed anything that even had taken place


at the Battle of the Somme. We are still talking about an ability to


bring down boxed artillery firepower in very small areas. My honourable


friend from new Forest showed, illegally, photographs of what


Passchendaele looked like! And the second element was the two periods


of atrocious weather. I mean absolute downpour of rain, which


ground everything to a halt. And that's not a phenomenon that we are


able to deal with today. And if you want to think about whether the


impact of the weather, the impact of firepower, read to deduct our


colleague, the member for Plymouth's book, based on his three tours of


operation in Afghanistan, a Royal Artillery officer attached to the


Royal Marines, and sees there. But all the technology we now have, the


firepower, the helicopters, how difficult it is, and the


overwhelming desire not to kill or injure civilians.


So I very much welcome this commemorative debate. I know that my


colleagues on all sides will make contributions. Madam Deputy Speaker,


with your permission, I want to read out two short contemporary accounts


that combines the shellfire and the strain on soldiers.


The first is from Britain, from a private from the Fusiliers,


describing an attack in October 1917, in other words, halfway


through the Passchendaele campaign. Mr K, obviously a platoon officer,


came up and said, come on lads, it's our turn, and we just walked round


the corner of the pill box and up the hill. The Germans didn't have


much to fear from me that morning, there was no fire in my belly, no


nothing. I staggered up the hill and I froze and became very frightened


because a big shell had just burst and blown up a group of our lads to


bits. There were bits of men all over the place, a terrible sight,


men just blown to nothing. I just stood there. It was still misty and


I could taste the blood in the air. I couldn't move. I stood there,


staring. Then an officer came across and shouted we were far too far to


the left and had to go right. I probably would have been dead but


for him jolting me out of it. These men had just been killed, and we


just have to wait through them to get on. That's one thing I'll never


forget, what I saw and what I smelt. The second short account is from the


other side of the hill. A letter from an unknown German officer, 20th


of September, 1917. "Dear Mother, on the morning of the


18th, the dugout, containing 17 men, was shot to pieces over our heads. I


am the one who withstood the maddening bombardment for three days


and still survives. You cannot imagine the frightful mental


torments that I have undergone in these few hours. After trawling out


through the bleeding remnants of my comrades and the smoke and the


debris, and wandering and fleeing in the midst of the raging artillery


fire in search of refuge, I am now awaiting death at any moment. You do


not know what flounders means. -- Flanders means. It means endurance,


scraps of human bodies, Flanders means heroic courage and


faithfulness, even to death." I do not know whether he survived.


It is a pleasure to follow the gentleman. He made an incredibly


forensic, heartfelt and vivid speech, particularly emotional in


his two breed outs at the end. The better informed because of it. I


thank sincerely. I thank the Minister also for bringing the


debate to the House today, and in particular pay tribute to the Shadow


Minister, who himself made a very fine speech.


Madam Deputy Speaker, it was absolutely right that we commemorate


Passchendaele, as the trigger of what it meant to go through


industrial warfare. The sacrifice that was paid then of course must


never be forgotten, and we pay tribute to all of the bodies


mentioned by the Minister who will take part in the commemoration


services this year. Commemoration is, of course, important. It is


always important to commemorate the large-scale loss of human life, as


we do this week, on the 22nd anniversary of the genocide. And we


welcome the fact that the families of those who were lost in the Battle


of Passchendaele will have the opportunity to take part in these


commemorations. In Scotland, of course, there was no community,


barely a family untouched by the courage of Passchendaele. What this


tragedy highlights to us again, as many other tragedies do, is the


importance of international and institutional peace building and


cooperation, shared values, shared interests and working together to


ensure that war doesn't become the norm of our time.


Turning in particular, Madam Deputy Speaker, as I'm sure you'd expect me


to do as a Glasgow member of Parliament, I understand there is


another honourable friend from Glasgow North east who also may one


to touch on this, I would like to mention something I came across on


the Scottish football history Museum website, from Hampden Park in my


constituency. What they have is fascinating, but there is one


individual on that website that you can read more about. You can go to


the museum and read more about, and I would like to tell the House of.


That was the former Rangers player, Jimmy Spiers, one of the many men


are, of course, who never returned. His face will front the


Passchendaele centenary commemoration, remembering these


Scots who did not make it back from Passchendaele. On the 19th of


August, the unveiling of the life-size steel silhouette will


feature Jimmy Spiers, one of the many Glaswegians who never made it


back from Passchendaele. But in addition to the excellent archives


at the Scottish football history Museum is a fantastic portal at


Glasgow University. There are quite a number of very distinguished


people I could read out their biographies on telly lots about, but


there are just a small handful I would like to inform the House. The


first of which is Lachlan senior grain. Born in Glasgow on the 19th


of September 1882. His father Duncan was a well-known Glasgow leather


manufacturer with an interest in politics and public life. He was one


of the original founding members of the Glasgow Liberal club. A past


president of the eighth... And of the agricultural Society, himself a


keen cricketer and golfer. Seymour went up to the University of Glasgow


in 1900 to begin his studies for an arts degree and took many subjects,


including Latin, logic and moral philosophy. In his final years in


Hearts he discovered his strong suit and did extremely well in political


economy. In a class of Civil War law. Perhaps it was that success


which encouraged him to take up law. After graduating in 1905, he


matriculated against the Scots rock and over the next few years tragedy


put together eight PL. -- in the next year put together a PL. It was


lasting sporting his way in the legal profession that he decided to


join up. Seymour took the commission as a secondary talent in the seventh


Highland Light Infantry. It was at Passchendaele, the very name of


which invokes so much loss, which other members have touched upon this


afternoon. It was Passchendaele at which he was fatally wounded. He


died in August, 1917. Turning again, Madam Deputy Speaker,


to my own constituency, there is George Ernest Mayne. George was the


second son of and Hillman. He was also educated at Glasgow in a gusty,


starting in 1907, prior to that being educated at Glasgow Academy.


Despite excelling in political economy, he wasn't able to pass his


examinations in Latin, maths and constitutional law and actually left


without completing his degree. By the time the war had broken out, he


had begun to study for the ministry at the United free Church.


And then there's also Walter Ramsey Scott, born in 1883 in Pollokshaws,


at that point part of Renfrewshire as opposed to the city of Glasgow.


He was the son of Robert Scott, a cashier, and Margaret Scott, who


lived in Glasgow in Lanarkshire. Madam Deputy Speaker, it can


sometimes be too easy when we discuss these types of events to


remember numbers rather than people. I've selected a small number of


extraordinary Glaswegians who took part in the battle of Passchendaele


and paid the ultimate price at the Battle of Passchendaele. But behind


all of those names are not just men, distinguished in education, in


politics and public life and in military life. But there are also


their families, there are their children, their wives, sisters and


mothers who were left behind. And my honourable friend from West


Dunbartonshire makes an important point. It's absolutely correct to


remember the dead and the wounded, but what about those who supported


our brave soldiers? What about the nurses? What about the doctors and


those who were supporting people with mental health problems? Ve to


have a rightful place in any commemoration that we have, not just


on Passchendaele but on any other major conflict with an enormous loss


of life. So I pay tribute to the Government 's efforts here on this


commemoration. I'm very pleased that the first of the Government's First


World War commemorative events was indeed in Glasgow Cathedral, not a


fine cathedral to be found anywhere in the United Kingdom. I'm hearing


other suggestions. But I am very proud as a Glaswegian that that was


the place that that took place. So one day half of the people of


Glasgow, I'm sure to be reinforced by the honourable member for Glasgow


North East, we do indeed remember them, salute them and we thank their


families for the sacrifice they made. Here here. Madam Deputy


Speaker, we have a tradition in debates of this sort for fine


oratory and thoughtful contributions. That certainly has


been the case today. I was interested in the remarks by the


honourable gentleman, the Member for Barrow in Furness in his


intervention. He rightly raised the issue of Time, which of course was


the first issue that was considered right at the very beginning of this


commemorative period as the Government was drawing up its plans


for the four-year centenary. Because on that really hinges all the rest,


on tone. Commemoration and celebration are politically very


similar but semantically they are very different indeed and throughout


this period of the Government has rightly insisted that throughout


this commemoration it may certainly is not celebration. Earlier in this


commemorative period we had to adjust issues such as was this a


just war in Augustinian terms? Was it the right thing to do and was it


worth the price? And those are two very different things. In


Augustinian terms, it was a just war. It satisfied all the


preconditions for a just war and it was as well a war that was one. But


who amongst us would have signed up to such a thing if we had known in


advance what the cost would be? What the dreadful cost of this war would


have been. We are reminded of that cost every day as we arrive here


when we look at our own war memorial at the end of Westminster Hall. But


that is replicated right across this country in our war memorials, which


characterise every single settlement in the British Isles. It was a cost


indeed and one I suspect that few of past today would be prepared to


countenance. The third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele, became known


as Passchendaele because Passchendaele evokes such powerful


sentiment despite the fact it was part of this campaign that was right


at the tail end of the engagement. It began relatively well. It was


preceded, of course, by the Battle of missing and we are reminded of


that particularly since last week we commemorated in a modest way the


death of a member of Parliament, Major Willie Redmond, who died at 56


at that particular battle, in Messines. He was a truly great man


and it reminds us of the great loss of life, the lost opportunity and


the Minister quite rightly in his excellent opening speech mentioned


Francis led witch, the so-called blow it -- poet of the blackbirds


and the Bard of the black chair who died at pilgrim Bridge. It's right


and I think the honourable gentleman from the opposite benches right to


point out that it is in these cultural losses, these wonderful


creative men, really brings it home what a wasteful period in our


history this was. Just think of what the world might have been had those


men left to become fathers and grandfathers and doctors and poets


and artists and fulfilled their full potential. It is almost unimaginable


and yet there we are. That is where we are left as a result of this


terrible, terrible war. According to a JP Taylor, third Ypres was the


blindest slaughter of a blind war and we've heard that between the


31st of July and the 12th of November, close on 250,000 British


and British Empire troops were either killed or injured and a


similar number on the German side. Basil Liddell Hart was writing in


the 1930s when he said that Passchendaele was synonymous with


military failure and that it was black bordered in the annals of the


British Army. And Basil Liddell Hart of course had some experience of


serving in the trenches and he was writing between 1930, 1940, and in


1934 his great works on the subject. I'm particularly moved by historians


accounts of that time because of course they could remember it. They


had it fresh in their memory and the difficulty, as Hillary Mantell has


pointed out recently in her brief lectures with history is that it


seems to change all the time. As generations go by, there seems to be


reinterpretations all the time of history. Well, Liddell Hart was


reporting a more or less in real-time with his own reflection


and a collection of how this was. With historical record, we have to


have a particular mind to those who were writing very close to the Great


War. They were there, they had seen it with their own eyes. They were


not seeing it through the fog of a century or so as we now are.


According to Liddell Hart, a lieutenant was driving up from the


front line in his staff car and was meant to have said, good God, did we


really send men to fight in that? Well, Nick Lloyd in his more


contemporary account published this year suggests that that was up until


and that may be the case. It certainly served the narrative that


this was a war is all about chateaux generals sending other men's sons to


die in terrible circumstances. And narrative, of course, that prevailed


in the 1960s when we were commemorating the 50th anniversary


of this conflict and has only recently been corrected. Public


appetite for this material appears to be pretty much insatiable and I


think the Government has been surprised by the level of interest


that this centenary has provoked. We've never done this sort of thing


before. We had no real idea at the beginning how much interest there


would actually be in this material and frankly how sustainable it was


going to be. Well, I think the public has surpassed all of our


expectations and they are proving to be incredibly receptive to this. The


evidence we have suggests that one of the legacies of this centenary


period will be greatly improved level of under standing of the


seminal period in our recent history. All the evidence suggests


that people understand better the circumstances that led up to the


Great War, the conduct of that war and as we get further and further


into this centenary, the right questions are being asked, questions


around, what does this actually mean? How does it actually impact on


how we live today? And the big question of course is, how on earth


do we prevent it from ever happening again? And when we come to examine


what it all means, what all this investment in time and effort has


been over the four years, I think we can also look at the diplomatic


deliverables that there have been. One of the things that has really


struck me is the value of commemorating shared history. Some


of this is actually quite uncomfortable and it can be


uncomfortable in surprising places. Our relationship for example with


what is now the Republic of Ireland, more than our relationship with


Germany. That has been advanced, I think, quite significantly over this


period and when you hear people in the Republic of Ireland talking


about the service of their forebears in the uniform of George V, you know


that something has changed, because they wouldn't have talked about that


openly or displayed those campaign medals a generation ago. And that is


a truly remarkable thing. Despite the fact that for many people, a lot


of this history is painful. And it kind of underscores the importance


of commemorating history, warts and all, and making sure that at no


point you attempt to airbrush or finesse it. Throughout the four


years, we've been very focused on young people for very obvious


reasons. This is the generation who 100 years ago was right at the


forefront of all this action. It is salutary to stand at a place like


time cot and watch the reaction of those young people in bus tours to


arrive, possibly cynical youth, but not when they are looking around a


place like that. Look at their faces and you can see that the penny has


dropped, because they are looking at row upon row of headstones above the


remains of people bearing age. One of the most powerful things that we


have done as part of the battlefield Tours is to make sure that there is


a contemporary servicemen wherever we possibly can, so that connection


can be made. And again, when we are looking at benefits from initiatives


that sort, it is better understanding on the part of those


young people who these days with the contraction of our armed services


perhaps don't have that burst and connection with the Armed Forces


that we might have done in generation. That in itself is an


incredibly powerful thing and brings this to life for our young men and


women. Thank you for giving way. May I begin, I am sure under half of the


whole house, by paying tribute to the work he has done personally to


help commemorate the First World War. He has put in a huge amount of


time and effort and I begins right to acknowledge that today. He was


talking about young people. I am sure he would agree that young


people today are able to learn about the tremendous sacrifice made so


that they are able to live in a free country. With that in mind, would he


join with me in celebrating these goals in my constituency who have


worked hard to ensure their students could go forward and learn about the


sacrifices made on the battlefield? The thing that impresses all about


this period is the extraordinary amount of work across the country,


some of its sponsored, assisted by the Government, some of it not, some


of it quite spontaneous in its evolution and that together form is


a wonderful patchwork of commemoratives activity. It just


shows the passion the public has for commemorating this period in our


history and suggests to me there will indeed be a very rich legacy


when we come towards the end of our four years.


I thank him so much for giving way and I commend him for the


extraordinary work is done to ensure this commemoration period is given


as wide a voice that can be. He encouraged me last year to look to


the Northumberland Fusiliers, the young men from my constituency, who


had gone out to fight in the First World War. Boys and young men the


same age as my son is now, which brings it home very bluntly to me. I


went out to Italy to lay a wreath last year in northern Italy, and by


chance a group of Italian students of 17 and 18 were visiting. They had


never been inside the cemetery before and they saw a woman in a red


coat with a wreath and was curious. They came in with their teacher and


their teacher, who spoke perfect English, asked me why was there and


why British soldiers were fighting for the country? They had had very


little education of the First World War because the way history was


taught in Italy a change. They were absolutely transfixed, are


enormously appreciative, slightly overwhelmed by the fact young men


had come from far, far away, in my case from Northumberland, to come


and fight for freedom. And just to commend that the efforts the


honourable gentleman has made, enabled us to share that with


children across the water. She is absolutely right, my honourable


friend. It is not just about the Western front, I'm very pleased she


mentioned Italy. It's very important as part of this poor yet


commemoratives period, that people appreciate the First World War was


indeed a world war and the Italian campaign was an important part of


that. Can I mention this centenary, whilst I'm talking about young


people... Question on this project, I hope, will become an important


part of our presence on what was the Western front. Important for people


wishing to visit commemoratives sites. The Canadians have been doing


this for a very long time. That is to say having young people guiding


visitors from Canada around the sights of the Western front that are


particularly important to them. It struck me, if the Canadians can do


this so well from a distance of 3000 miles, we can probably do something


rather similar from a distance of 200 miles. Right now we have


interns who will be guiding people interns who will be guiding people


around the principled sites for us, which will be initially. That under


the supervision. I hope when people and colleagues visit the Western


front and visit the sites of importance in northern France and


Belgium, they will look out for the very obvious and orange T-shirt


uniforms of our centenary interns. Those I met last week when I visited


Tyne Cot were people of exceptional quality. I'm sure people will be


very pleased to see them and to be guided, as they are tasked to do,


around those particular sites. It is remarkable, of course, that


not only was the third Battle of Ypres preceded by a victory that


encouraged Douglas Haig in his dialogue with Lloyd George, but


sixth-seeded bike camber I, which was remarkable for another reason,


introducing mechanical warfare for the first time to the Western front.


I think it was the gathering note for what became a far more kinetic


stage to what my right honourable friend referred to, the last 100


days of that particular war. But for most people in this country, what


makes Passchendaele special, as it were, is the mud and blood. It was


something quite different from the Somme, which resulted in far more


casualties than Passchendaele did, but it is that mud and blood caused


by rain, of course, but also the inundation of Flanders, the barrage


of artillery that destroyed the fort that held back the sea from that


part of the world. Francis pasture land, you can't grow crops there,


it's far too wet. The reason is capable of being utilised


agricultural purposes is it has an advanced system of water


engineering. Bombardment means it is completely destroyed. It is not for


the first time that the British Army knew the full consequences of the


destruction of that system. The combination of heavy rainfall and


the destruction of civil in that area made the thing a complete


quagmire, which gave Passchendaele its particular awfulness.


I would just like to finish on a contemporary note. In two weeks'


time, many of us will be privileged to attend the commemorations in


Ypres and Tyne Cot, and we will stand there among the row upon row


of headstones and look at the naming gate with its names carved in stone,


and we will be left with a sense of wonder. We're trying to work out


what it all means. In the context of the debate we are having today about


our future in Europe, one wonders perhaps what others think of us,


too. There are those in Europe who say that this country is somehow


less than European, that we are poor Europeans. I would just say this...


This country always has been, is now and certainly 100 years ago was


demonstrating full well that there is no country in Europe that is more


engaged in Europe than the United Kingdom. That was the case 100 years


ago, and just I would ask colleagues, as they look amongst


those headstones and gaze up at those names carved in stone, just


reflect on this country's contribution to European history,


and whether we are Brexiteers or not, I'm completely signed up


Brexiteer, we need to understand we are Europeans. That's where we have


always been. That is where we will always be, and we should take


absolutely no nonsense from those, who for their own purposes, try to


suggest that we are in some way disengaged from Europe. I'm proud of


our history. This country has always been there when Europe needs us,


when we need to face down the general disturber of the peace. And


I am confident that we will continue to do just that. In two weeks' time


it will be a solemn time for our country. The media will be most


certainly focused on Tyne Cot and Ypres. We will be among friends in


Belgium, a country that is extraordinarily sympathetic to this


country, and they are good friends of ours.


I just think it's important that whenever we have the opportunity, we


reinforce in their minds our solidarity and comradeship with our


friends and neighbours in Europe. There can be no more enduring


testament to that level of European engagement than the men engaged in


Ypres and Tyne Cot. These debates get near wreck each


time we have them to the reality of the First World War. My honourable


friend for Newport, for Cardiff West, quoted the work in Wales and


the touching symbol he used... Their blood mixed with the wind, with the


rain. We could see that in the imagery presented in the two poems


that were quoted. We must see the lesson of this terrible event of the


First World War and learn from it. I speak with dug up as there has been


one visual aid this afternoon, this is my father, a machine gunner James


Ferrin. Not a distinguished soldier but one who went, who volunteered


because he was a great compatriot and soaks up the propaganda at the


time, and went out there to sort out the hunger. He went as a volunteer


at the age of 15, he lied about his age. He went through the Somme,


Passchendaele and eventually he was captured by the Germans, to his


great relief, because he was dying after being hit by a mortar and was


in a shell hole and couldn't get out of it, and the Germans, to whom he


was eternally grateful for the rest of his life, he lived to 43, because


of the care they gave him. They carried him across no man's land


after the breakthrough by the Germans in 1918 and saved his life.


He went there to kill Germans, and went back as a great admirer of the


Germans who saved his life. I was struck, I believe, by the poem


quoted by the member of broad lands in a previous debate, because I


think it illustrates the truth of the First World War. It is one brief


stanza by ready at Kipling, who was a great cheerleader for the war and


all patriotic causes, so much so that he managed to pull a few


strings, to make sure that his son, who had defective eyesight, could


pass the test are getting to become a soldier, and then lost his life.


Kipling had a picture of what happened when he died and went to


heaven and was forced to cede those people that he'd encouraged to go to


war and lose their lives. He said," I could not did, I do not rob,


therefore I lied to police the mob. Now all my lies have proved untrue,


I must face the men ice blue. What tale should serve me among my angry


and defrauded young?" . The use of that


. They were not wicked people, they had all kinds of heroic delusions,


but we mustn't see Passchendaele through a fog of a belief of a false


idea of heroism. It wasn't like that. It rapidly became a terrible


scene of slaughter, where men died like cattle, where lives were


counted, 16 million deaths from there. What is our lesson? Have we


learned it yet? I doubt if we have, because we have heard the word"


wonderful" used this afternoon about that battle. What it can mean I've


no idea. There is no way anyone can describe the whole of the First


World War as a terrible, terrible mistake and a series of tragedies.


The use of the word wonderful in this context is about the issue of


admiration for the heroism and the courage. The honourable member for


Wiltshire North or South used the word wonder. When you look at what


happened. Today happens to be the anniversary of my own father's death


in the battle an July the 13th 1944. I have personal experience of it. I


know the honourable gentleman has referred to his, but the word


wonderful in this context is an admiration for the heroism and


courage and I will not apologise for that.


I think it is entirely true to say there is a nobility in the soldiers'


craft and sacrifice. We are grateful to it to this day, and we see acts


in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, the humanitarian work done there, which


are absolutely defensible and in matters we can take great pride. We


have had a wonderful military history and once you've been shown


the best of human nature, I would not disagree with the honourable


gentleman with that. But what are we learning today? If we look at what


happened in this chamber in 2006, where a decision was made to send


troops into Helmand at a time when only half of dozen of our soldiers


had been killed at that time, we had already been there for six years


since 2001. We went there in the belief that not a short would be


fired. The result of it was 450 of our soldiers died. We've yet to face


up to the reality... Was that a mistake by us? We know the Chilcot


Report has come out. Lord Chilcott has had to a year later, repeat some


of the lessons that he drew from it because those lessons have been lost


over. There's been a spinning of reality, of his own conclusions, and


I believe part of it is because so many people in this chamber at that


time were part of a mistake in our joining the Iraq war, we couldn't


stop the War happening but we could have stopped Britain's involvement


in it, which would have avoided the depths of our soldiers.


I'd just like to slightly pursue this point because I don't think


there's much difference between us in terms of the reasons behind what


are different arguments. I simply make the argument that although the


pity of War, as it was so aptly put it, is a terrible thing, the fact is


that we have to reflect on the simple fact that sometimes it is


necessary with unprovoked aggression, as we experienced in the


Second World War, does lead to us having to fight back that doesn't


necessarily involve the cost of peoples lives, like my father and


others, and I would simply say that we have to be very careful when


defining the boundaries of this matter to ensure we don't go


overboard in suggesting that somehow rather the whole of war is in itself


is unacceptable because unfortunately it is the fact of life


and we do have to fight for it and respect and admire the heroism of


those who take part. There really isn't any difference and I never


suggested it was a justification for war. I gave examples of what I


thought were entirely justifiable wars. What we should be recalling


what lessons we learned from Passchendaele and the First World


War in the decisions we take now in this House. I once had a five-week


enforced absence from this House for saying what I'm about to say, but I


will say it in a more delicate way, and that was, I did say that


ministers on all sides were mistaken and were by the claim they were


making to potential soldiers that they could go to Afghanistan and


reduce the threat of terrorism in this country. I think that was an


untruth because whatever the reason was that our soldiers were being


killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan was because they were there. There


was no interest from the Taliban in terrorism and that particular call


to soldiers to do that for that purpose was not true, though I still


believe we are in a position where politicians lie and soldiers die and


unless we can be frank with them, I think we're going to find a


generation who will reject war. It was interesting when general Dunnett


said recently that he didn't want people to believe what Chilcott was


saying, this was only a matter of days ago, because it would suggest


to those who have lost their loved ones in Iraq that they died in vain.


But sadly, that's probably the truth because we had nothing to gain,


unlike the First World War, whose main result was the Second World


War. It led to the Second World War. It was a terrible error. We have a


duty, I think, to look at the opinions of those soldiers who


fought at the time. None of them are alive now and the loss when he died


left us a message when he said that he thought war was legalised murder.


And there are many other soldiers whose lives were destroyed by that


war, lives were shortened, and I feel particular pain that in the


case of my own father, though his life was ruined by the war, he could


never do what he called a proper man's job again, but in 1935 his


pension was reduced by a Government that changed the pension and said


that his health problems, he went in the perfectly fit 15-year-old,


health problems went attributed to his wall wins, they were worsened by


his wall wins, a cheat by the Government and he died shortly


afterwards. We don't have a history of treating owl veterans with the --


our veterans with the respect they deserve. From the Great War, we must


learn that we never again repeat the lie that it is sweet and decorous to


die for the country. It is not true and it is an old lie, sadly, that


people would like to give new credence to. Well, thank you, Madam


Deputy Speaker. I really want to talk about the situation 100 years


ago. We have to remember that at the time, this time 100 years ago, a


quarter of the vessels crossing the Atlantic were being sunk and they


were being sunk by U-boats and those U-boats were coming from the Belgian


coast. And the Navy had warned the Government that unless something was


done about it, we might collapse in 1918. The United States had entered


the war on the 6th of April. That was really great from our point of


view. But in May and June, the French army had been massively


defeated by the Germans, with the result of a huge mutiny among all


its ranks. At the same time, the British generals wanted to break out


of the Ypres salient is. So the Germans had a very good reason to


believe that they could win the war at that time. They flout the


Americans wouldn't get into it in time -- they felt the Americans


wouldn't get into it in time. And that is understandable, because the


American army was very small, a bit obsolete and they didn't have very


many weapons. Field Marshall and hide, the person in charge of the


expeditionary force desperately wanted to break out of the Ypres


salient. They had been stuck there for years. But he also wanted to get


to the coast, because this strategic aim was to get to those U-boat pens


and stop us being throttled by being attacked by torpedoes from such


U-boats. The plan was quite simple. There was a preliminary operation


which other friends have mentioned to secure the Salman -- southern


flank of the British position. First phase, take out the railway junction


at Roulay and then swing round to the coast. That went very wrong,


despite being the plan. I want to speak about the soldiers. By 1917,


machine gunners had become what were called the Queens of the


battlefield. They were devastating. The rifle was, by comparison with a


machine gun, absolutely useless. The 1st Battalion of the Cheshire


Regiment, the battalion I was to command 74 years later, had been


equipped the year before with 16 Lewis machine guns. Now, these


machine guns were pretty heavy. They were ?28 in weight. That's not


including the ammunition. Now, our soldiers had to carry that. Nobody


really wanted to take a machine gun as they crossed the front line for


two reasons. One, they were an easy target and two, the weight they had


to carry. As space carried across no man's land, going as fast as they


could, but it was difficult to go faster in those conditions. At the


same time, by the start of the third Battle of Passchendaele, our


soldiers had been issued with that awful helmet. They called them tin


hats. I wore one when I first joined the Army. I'm that old. And they


were acutely uncomfortable and very heavy. And, again, that made it


difficult for our soldiers when they scrambled out of their front line


positions to go and because they'd had one hell of a winter. 1916 to


1917 had been incredibly cold. The soldiers only received one hot meal


a day and that was brought forward normally by the quartermaster in


boxes that were lined with straw. Fatigue -- 40, they brewed it up


themselves. They normally used old Jan tins which they filled up with


Greece and put a week in their two sort of make a flame on which they


could put some pot to heat up water. At the same time every day, the


quartermaster tried to bring up to the front line positions clean


socks, because trench but was appalling and it was so wet and the


men needed to actually try to keep their feet dry and that was almost


impossible in the conditions of the time. It was good that in my


battalion some of the soldiers had been allowed leave. They'd gone home


and come back. But they knew down well what they were coming back to.


And that's why they're heroes, because they came back. They came


back from home, where they saw normality. War is not normality. War


is disgusting and horrid. And war is something to be avoided. Heroism is


going back to that because, as the honourable member for Broadlands has


outlined, they didn't want to let their friends down. Even then, in


the middle of the war, when reinforcements were coming, the


reinforcements that were coming to my battalion, the 1st Battalion of


the Cheshire 's, where being divided -- diverted. You would think before


the battle that they would be fully manned. They weren't. They didn't


even have enough troops to go along the front. They had to do little


posts along the front line, hoping that they could cover the area in


front of the battalion position. They knew down well -- damn well


what would happen when the signal for advance was given. They had been


there long enough. On the 31st of July, very early in the morning,


3:50am, just as Dawn was breaking, the battalion 's offices blew the


whistle is. Can you imagine how absolutely terrified our soldiers


were. They must have had a hell of a night to that time. They were laden


with ammunition, they were laden with kit, they were laden with Lewis


machine guns. And some of the soldiers, as the start time was


declared, some soldiers were being delivered by train ride to the front


line. They disembarked and went straight in across the start line


into the battle. When they went into no man's land, it wasn't a run. It


wasn't even a walk. It was more like a crawl, I would think. No man's


land was full of wire obstacles which sometimes get worse by


artillery fire. And of course, within hours, that rain came. The


worst rain for 30 years. The men couldn't even get into the shallow


holes because they were full of water. So they are absolute sitting


ducks, covered in filth, trying to go forward, absolutely exhausted.


And yet, they did. Some of them sank to their waists in the mud, right


down to their waists. It took six soldiers for them to be pulled out.


Stretcher bearers couldn't move. There was no chance of stretcher


bearers moving in that mud at all. Our soldiers weren't brave, of


course they were brave, but what they really experienced was terror.


They thought within minutes, within seconds, they would be dead. Perhaps


they prayed it would be a headshot. The soldiers prayer is a headshot,


straight out. Not a wound in the stomach or a wound in the abdomen


which no one gets to them and they lie there in agony for hours. Days.


And sometimes, just slip under the mud and drown while they're at it.


I think I've got some idea of what they felt, because I have advanced


when someone beside me has been shot. I knew I had to go, because I


had to go and get some civilians, and I'm talking about Bosnia. But I


wasn't a hero. I wasn't brave, I was bloody terrified. I was so


terrified, I wet myself. That's not bravery. What mattered is that we


went forward and did our duty. Now, our soldiers did that. They didn't


want to die. That's the last thing they wanted to do. They wanted to


survive. Passchendaele was a stalemate for four months, while our


men were sitting ducks. It was a disgusting, exhausting, traumatic


experience for anyone that was there, and it cost both sides


dearly. I don't think we know exactly what the figures are, but


say the British were around 310,000, and the Germans were 260,000, dead,


dead. Three times as many casualties who survived. The ratio is one dead,


three wounded, that's what the ratio was then. Douglas Haig later


justified what happened, by saying it was necessary because we could


take more casualties than the Germans because we had more


resources on that made it worthwhile. If a general tried that


today, can you imagine that? That justification, for the mass


slaughter that occurred at Passchendaele? I thought it was OK,


because actually we could take more casualties than they could, so in


the end, we'd win. I think we remember them all, British, German,


Commonwealth, today. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for


allowing me to make my maiden speech in this very important debate.


It seems fitting to have this debate about Passchendaele. Many did not


come back home. It is not lost on me today that the sacrifices they made


those 100 years ago, have led to the freedoms, rights and opportunities


that I'm proudly expressing today. I am deeply honoured, not only to


have been chosen by the people in my constituency to represent them as a


member of Parliament, but also to be the first ethnic minority candidate


to do so. I made the journey from Kashmir to


Bradford in 1992. Soon I was married and working in a factory. Later I


became a taxi driver, which I continued to do up until my


elections to the parliament. I can honestly say the moment I arrived to


Bradford, I made it my home, but ever since it is Bedford that has


paid me and I am very grateful for that. I wanted to do more for the


community that had welcomed me, and so I became a councillor for Queens


Park Road in 2006. Earlier this year I took the next step and was


selected to set down for my party as a labour candidate. Many people said


that I stood no chance, that Labour could not possibly win back in


Bedford, but they proved them wrong. With the report of my friends and


fellow councillors, my wonderful family, I'm so thankful to my wife,


my mother and my four children and my new grandson who fought the


campaign that delivered the constituency back to radar. I'm


immensely proud to be part of the Labour bench, whose Shadow Cabinet


has the highest number of ethnic minority MPs ever, because it means


the population is more fairly represented than it ever has been


before. I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor Richard Fuller,


who has worked so hard over the last seven years for the community. The


Bedford business School, set up by Richard, has been a great success


and is a legacy that he is rightly very proud of. I would like to thank


Bedford's previous MP, Patrick, for his years of dedicated service.


There are people from more than 50 countries already living and settled


in Bedford and Kempston, which has made the area the most ethnically


diverse town in the United Kingdom, in proportion to its size. All kinds


of people have settled here, Madam Deputy Speaker, from the eastern


Europeans and Italians who arrived after the Second World War, who have


remained in Britain, to others like myself, arriving home recently. It


is this which makes my constituency so very special. Bedford is warmer,


it is welcoming, it is neighbourly and it is compassionate. Differences


and diversity of faith, colour and creed is not just tolerated but


celebrated in this town. Churches, mosques, gurdwaras, faith groups,


charitable organisations throughout my constituency work together to


build upon the diversity and to support those who have been affected


by so many years of austerity and damaging cuts. Bedford has strong


art scenes. Our cultural heritage is celebrated in Bedford with many


festivals, not least the biannual river festival that attracts a


quarter of a million people to the beautiful riverside. We are a tonne


of sports people, Bedford blues, Bedford eagles, Queens Park and


Kempston cricket clubs, we have rowing clubs, sailing clubs and our


international athletics track. We have proud Olympians and


Paralympians, and then there is someone still running the London


Marathon at the age of 88. People talk to me a lot during the


election, they talk about their concerns, about schooling, about


cuts to policing, but above all that, they talk about the NHS. At


the very heart of our town is Bedford Hospital. My children and


grandson were born there. I want to make sure that the hospital stays at


the heart of my constituency. Two years ago, Bedford Hospital saved my


wife's life when she suffered a heart attack. I could never repay


the staff for all they did for us. So let me say this now, the future


of our hospital and its services have been in doubt for far too long,


since 2011, under the Government, under this government and the last.


A string of expensive and inconclusive reviews have cast a


shadow over the hospital, lining the pockets of many wild front work


staff go without pay rises. It is hard to recruit and retain staff and


has caused many concerns for the community. As the MP for Bedford and


Kempston I will fight every day to keep the services we need in our


grand town, so many constituents don't have to travel 20 miles or 50


miles to access life-saving services, or to travel 60 miles to


access justice if plans to close Bedford courts go ahead. I want


babies to continue to be born in Bedford and Kempston, where they can


grow up in a fairer society, where they can access equal opportunities


and realise there are true potential in families that feel proud and part


of their community. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.


Thank you, Madam Deputy is bigger. A pleasure to follow the honourable


member of Bedford and I can rate him on his speech and I am sure it is


the first of many. Madam Deputy Speaker, the debate today has


focused on the third Battle of Passchendaele, and has been


described as a long campaign, which took place over several months.


Indeed, it is an honour to hear my honourable friend in the chamber to


describe the fear he knows first-hand, of what it's like to be


in combat. I think it was a very powerful speech, anti-has the


respect of all of us for what he said. I want to focus on a


particular area of the battle. -- and he has the respect of all of us.


At the end of August 1917, Field Marshal Haig replaced the general.


Apparently he was an efficient and methodical commander and assembled a


competent staff who are demonstrated their abilities as a team in a


previous operation in Messine. At the end of August 1917 he was


thought to lead the next big attack and took three weeks to prepare and


plan, then there was a lull in fighting Rusty gathered his


resources. -- whilst he carried his resources.


The weather turned to the advantage of the British. The continuous rain


turned the battle and that quagmire letter to ten whole days. In the


relatively dry ground, they dug trenches and repaired the roads. The


skills and techniques of the artillery were refined over the


preceding three years and they made use of this. When the artillery


opened fire on September 20, they did so in planet formation. Guns


were concentrated to provide one for every 5.2 yards of ground to be


attacked and infantry advanced behind the shelter of the creeping


barrage, one of the great innovations of the law. -- of the


war. We are today rightly discussing and


commemorating the people who sacrificed their lives on the


battlefield in this battle, but equally, in my city of Leeds, where


I am proud to represent, we have bombed Brower armouries and in the


First World War we had something called the Leeds Canaries, which


were the women in Leeds who worked making the munitions that would have


been used in this battle, so-called Canaries because the TNT turned


their skin yellow. They knew they were being poisoned. They knew they


were likely to become sterile and on Tuesday the 5th of December 1916,


there was an explosion and 35 women were killed instantly in that


explosion. I want to take the opportunity to commemorate them


again today, and they have been commemorated before, because when


that explosion happened, the War office so they couldn't release the


names of those women in their obituaries at the time, because they


did on the enemies to know where the munitions were being made. And so


over the next year, one woman a week had their own obituary in the


Yorkshire Post, and very much crossed over what they were actually


doing. So there were many casualties back home, directly involved in


these battles as there were people dying on the front line. I will...


Thank you. Richard Pinkett, a constituent in my


constituency posts regularly on Facebook the people who died in the


many different battles during World War I. Ypres is much bigger than it


was and it doesn't show it was just the people killed over there but the


families affected in the local region, and so many families, in so


many communities, who were affected by the deaths of their sons. My


honourable friend mentions the women, who very bravely helped with


that. I think we have to remember the people back home, as well as


those on the front line. There is a flag in the memorial garden that is


lowered to half-mast every time we commemorate the 100 years since one


of those young men died. I think it is a testament to local people that


we don't forget those people. I am most grateful for my honourable


friend making that point as powerfully as she has and I think


that all of us have, or certainly all of us will have, examples in our


own constituencies from all of these wars and I'm sure that everyone of


us is their own Remembrance Sunday to pay our respects, no matter how


long ago their death was. Madam Deputy Speaker, on the 20th of


September, there was a early-morning mist and the temperature was about


66 Fahrenheit. The main thrust of the advance was on the Menin Road


and towards the town of Menin. The advance was successful but Tower


Hamlets remained in German hands. Remarkable advances were made on


Menin Road itself. Inverness cops was taken, a long target of British


attacks. The Germans held the strongly fortified Eagle farm and


evil trench. The 11th grade -- 11th and 12th rifle brigades and the


Buckinghamshire Light Infantry were in charge of trying to take those.


They took Eagle farm and tried for Eagle trench. They secured a section


of Eagle trench and for three days it was divided between the Germans


and the British. I want to focus on the birthday of the battle, for when


I was a our family visited the Tynecot Cemetery and on the back is


the name of my great-grandfather. He was killed on the first day of the


battle. He was born on Christmas eve and managed -- married in 1915. His


son, my grandfather, was born and he used to walk through the Blackwall


Tunnel to court to my great-grandmother. His father, my


great great grandfather was killed at a gas explosion in Poplar


gasworks in 1841. Ted joined up in April 1916 because he had white


feathered in Greenwich and it had played on his mind. He was not


liable to be called up as he was a married man. That all changed in


June 1916 when the second act was passed and married men were


included, but he signed up before then. His wife pleaded with him not


to do it and to think of the baby but he was determined to serve his


king, his country and, more importantly, because he understood


the consequences of us sitting and not doing anything. He joined the


King's Royal Rifle Corps who were stationed at Winchester and that's


where he did his original training. My family don't have his military


records so I don't know when he embarked to France but my aunt has a


postcode -- pass -- postcard dated July 20 17. His younger


brother-in-law joined up with him in...


No one knows whether they were blown to pieces fell into one of the


flooded shell holes and drowned. His body was never found and that is why


he's on the wall the back of the Tynecot search -- Tynecot Cemetery


along with thousands of other men. My great-grandmother could not


accept that he had died and his body was not found. That also relates to


the lasting effects of the war mentioned in this House today. For


three years, may shell court wrote for three years to see if he had


been taken prisoner. When she was sent the famous war penny, she threw


it across the room and said I don't want a penny, I want my husband. She


had to work to support her son and got a job in the Charlton glassworks


and stayed there until she retired. Her son George became a precious


member of the family and proved to be a bright child but his


grandmother was a strict matriarch and wanted him to leave school as


soon as possible and work in a shop. Again, the ongoing consequences of


this terrible war, because as the only son of a widowed mother, the


family was saying, I'm sorry, you have to go out and provide for our


family, you have to do work. But for those who sort of know me, it will


come as no surprise that there is a streak in my family of rebellion.


And George rebelled at this. George rebelled at this and when he left


school at 14 he found a job as a laboratory technician at an old


company on the Isle of dogs. He went to Woolwich Polytechnic in the


evenings, eventually running his own department researching electrical


installation oils. In September 1940, George married lady father had


also fought a Passchendaele. He was born on the 15th of November 1885 in


India. His father was in the Royal Horse Artillery in India. He was


educated at the Duke of York's Royal military school and the Royal


Hyperion military school. He enlisted into the Royal The Dale


Artillery and transferred to the Army reserve on the 29th of February


19 12. He reverted on the 29th of July 1913 and mobilised at Glasgow


on the 6th of August 19 14. Transferred to the Royal Engineers


signals and April 1916, he was awarded the military medal in July


1917 for gallant contact and devotion to duty. Now, we don't have


the medal citation but we understand that he was repairing telephone


cables in no man's land under fire and again, I think the experience as


outlined by my honourable friend for backing them must tell us all the


fear that he was going through, sat like a sitting duck in the middle of


no man's land repairing vital communications. He was gassed on the


4th of November 1917 a Passchendaele, two days before the


battle ended and was discharged on the 15th of March 19 19. He died in


1952. But the trauma of the First World War was still at the front of


people's minds but only just after a couple of decades later, this


country was again at war. To the relief of George's mother, May, his


rebellion in becoming a scientist placed him on the reserved


occupations list at the beginning of the Second World War and he became


an air raid Warren and fire watcher the Blitz. He explained to my


father, who I am proud to say is in the gallery today, how he used to


stand on the top of the oil tanks during a raid, armed with just a


broom he would sweep the incendiary bombs of two men below who would


throw them in the Thames. I think that is something we can barely


imagine along with what happened. The danger and the threats and the


loss of life were as great at home, especially in the Second World War,


as they were at the front. He was eventually caught up in January 1944


into the Irish Guards and after training he volunteered for the Ant


division. He was very proud of his service in the guards and he sadly


died in 1985 at the young age of 69. The impact on families after the


Great War lasted decades longer than the war itself. My grandfather never


knew his father and the trauma his mother must have felt must I been


overwhelming when the Second World War started and her only sound was


either put in danger as a fire warden and then eventually called up


and sent to war. That sacrifice that we make our young make is through


the failure of politicians like ourselves and it must never be


forgotten. There is much I don't agree with my honourable colleague,


but this I agree with. At our heart, I believe that every legal person in


this chamber is fundamentally pacifist but we understand that war


is a necessity at times and that there is a consequence to not taking


action. If we do not take action, the loss of life can be greater. We


are right to commemorate now, at this time, at this chronologically


correct time, the sacrifice made and we do learn those lessons and we


lived through those lessons and that's what we should do. My


honourable friend for South West Wiltshire has done an incredible job


and I've paid tribute to him over the last few years in making sure


the centenary anniversary is used not just to remember what happened


but to understand what happened and to educate new generations;


generations who, as my honourable point -- honourable friend for


Broadbent said, the Battle of Passchendaele is as distant for


someone today as the Battle of Waterloo, but we have to understand


why it happened and how we move a mountain. Once more, on the 20th of


September this year, my family will once again visit Tynecot and see my


great-grandfather's name on that will and take part in the


commemoration to our countrymen and his comrades and those on opposing


sides as well, as we remember the sacrifice made in that terrible war.


It is a privilege to follow the honourable member with his poignant


account of the Canaries and in particular his family history. As


someone who grew up in south-east London as well, I appreciate many of


the stories. My grandfather, Oliver Burke Frederik noise, and listed and


saw service in the third Battle of Ypres. There have been Sony


references already today to the people of Wales, all the people


affected by this conflict and also particularly to headwind, who I


would like to turn to now. Ellis Humphrey Evans, we have heard of the


hundreds of thousands of casualties in the third Battle of Ypres, one


described by David Lloyd George at the time is one of the greatest


disasters of the war, and to his superior officers in the 15th


battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, 30-year-old Ellis


Humphrey Evans was just another recruit, can strip it -- conscripted


into the army because of a service of Sun is working on a family farm.


He died on the 31st of July. We have heard of the soldiers prayer. He was


shot in the stomach and that's one of the most agonising things people


can suffer from, shot in the very first day of the battle. There is a


war memorial in the centre of his town which commemorates his death


and the loss of 30 other men from his community and the nearby army


camps. This, of course, is where the story changes key. Ellis Evans could


just be the smudged portrait in a dog-eared photograph forgotten by


the third generation, save for the fact that we don't remember him as


Ellis Evans, save for the fact that we don't remember him as Alice Evans


or Private 117, but as a very important poet. Ellis Evans, whose


literary name was Heth Wyn, where men, and it must be said they were


almost exclusively man, good win accolades in little cult poetry


which can be traced over a millennium or more. 16 days before


his death, Private Evans had posted his entry of the 1917 Eisteddfod of


Wales to the adjudicators. He had come second in the previous year's


Eisteddfod and he was never to know that this time he would be


victorious. The winner of the Eisteddfod is awarded the chair. The


winner's chair at the 1917 but then head Eisteddfod was straight in a


black cloth, a black chair crafted by a Belgian refugee became, of


course, the symbol of mourning for every Welsh speaking farmhouse,


manse and workers cottage. The bond of tragedy to unite mothers bringing


telegrams to the chapel minister to Our stories are are a common


heritage and what we choose to remember becomes our history. Some


stories are more retold than others. The Snowdonia National Park


authority are to be commended for taking the initiative to bring


together a national investment worth ?4 million with support also from


National Heritage Memorial fund, Heritage lottery fund and Welsh


Government. This money has enabled the purchase and renovation of Hedd


Wyn's family farm. It has just reopened this year as a publicly


owned treasure for the nation, perhaps the Minister might


appreciate visiting. It is an impressive place. Before that,


before this initiative was taken, Hedd Wyn's nephew, Geraint Williams


made sure that the door was open to visitors. I remember taking my


daughter, Lisa, there are years ago. Only the ground-floor could be


visited. Kitchen to the left, parlour to the right. Kitchen, hooks


in the rafters, fire is always in the range and it made an impression


on me that this has pound family, layer upon layer of wallpaper to


keep the place smart. To the right, the parlour. This is where you keep


your Eisteddfod chair. And there it was, newspaper cuttings. Visitors


could pour over it, you could put your hand on it. Brittle with


Celtic, romantic Celtic ornamentation, the period and you


could see, repaired with dark wax to reflect the colour of the dark wood.


But this was of course history at its most vulnerable. There is a


pathos in the solitary guardian, Geraint Williams, but it took almost


a century for the authorities of Wales to committee their way to


safeguarding the symbols of Wales's National War poet. The film Hedd Wyn


was released in 2005 and became the first Welsh language film to be


nominated for an Oscar. It is to the credit of the director, Paul Turner,


and the scriptwriter that this film has been shown to generations of


school students. To close, here it is Hedd Wyn's ending to his friend


David Owen Evans, and you will find this on gravestones across Wales and


also on the memorial to him. David Owen Evans was killed in the


trenches. I would like to mention very


closely, there has been some discussion about Pat assists'


attitudes about celebrating the war. One thing that it would be


beneficial if we could do in this place would be to put the energy and


the time and the emotion and imagination and funding into


building peace as vigorously as we do into dealing with water. Thank


you Madam Deputy Speaker. There have been a remarkable series of speeches


in this debate so far, not least the one we've just heard from the


honourable lady, and I will not usurp the role of the Minister in


singling any of them out for special mention other than to say in respect


of the maiden's speech that we heard that the pride that the honourable


member for Bedford 's takes in his town will no doubt incentivise him


to be sure that Bedford will be proud of him by the way he conducts


himself in this place. As other more knowledgeable speakers have already


explained, a century after the appalling losses on the Western


front, historians still debate whether any alternatives existed.


Some blame political intrigue and poor generalship, others emphasise


technology with a battlefield dominated by interlocking fields of


fire. This ensured that slowly advancing troops would be mown down


by machine guns before making any worthwhile inroads into the enemies'


trenches. Minor advances, occasionally achieved, were usually


reversed by counterattacks or simply absorbed into a static confrontation


a short distance from the original one. Now, there's a book called


Forgotten Victor Beat and it is a study of the Western front battles


which rightly draws attention to the 100 days campaign in which the


allied coalition won a sequence of decisive victories between mid-July


and early November 1918. Its author, Professor Gary Sheffield, regrets


the extent to which the British success in those battles at the end


of the First World War has been disregarded. He says, for example,


the burden of fighting the German army fell mainly to the French and


the Russians in the first two and a half years of the war, but in 1918,


it was the turn of the PEF, the British expeditionary Force. Between


them, the French, Americans and Belgians took 196,700 prisoners and


3775 guns between 18 July and the end of the war. With a smaller army


than the French, Hague's forces captured 188,700 prisoners and 2840


guns in the same period. This was by far the greatest military victory in


British history. So it absolutely right, Madam Deputy Speaker, that as


well as commemorating all the disasters of World War I, one of


which we are commemorating today, we will next year be recognising the


triumph of the Battle of Anya in August 1918 and like others who have


spoken in the debates, I pay the warmest tribute to my honourable and


gallant friend for South West Wiltshire for all the great work he


has done in this rolling series of commemorations of events, failures


and successes, of the First World War. Now, Professor Sheffield, who I


refer to a moment ago, takes his thesis a bit further down I feel


able to go because he suggests that the catastrophic offensives prior to


1918 were in some way needed to enable the Allied generals to learn


the lessons they eventually applied to be successful campaign at the end


of the war. But I feel that one should not have two waste the lives


of regions of soldiers in relentless repetition of unsuccessful tactics


time and again, those tactics failed to break the stalemate or failed to


be exploited when occasionally the actually managed to achieve


surprise. After the catastrophe on the Somme in 1916, there was really


no reason to believe that a breakthrough could be made and


exploited with the available technology of the day. Yet this was


a attempted not once but twice in 1917 because first came the Battle


of harassed which was the second of the three huge attritional offences


waged by the British Army in 1916-17. On the first day of the


attack, 9th of April 1917, the British third Army took 5600


prisoners and the Canadians, who had captured most of Vimy Ridge, a


further 3400. This has been called the greatest success of the British


expeditionary Force since the beginning of trench warfare. Yet the


British advance soon ran out of steam as German reinforcements


arrived and the British fifth Army had little to show for the heavy


losses it had sustained. Further major effort on the 23rd of April


and the 3rd of May 1917 partly intended to tie down forces which


might other wives have been used against the French simply added to


the butchery on both sides. Now, in the spring of 1917, Russia was in


revolution, albeit not yet a Bolshevik one. Whilst unrestricted


submarine warfare, as we have heard, and the diplomatic disaster from the


German point of view of the Zimmerman telegram had goaded the


United States into entering the war on the 6th of April 19 17. So, did


Britain and France really have to squander so many lives so


fruitlessly after this date? Why risk the colossal price of failure


when the balance of forces at the strategic level were shifting so


dramatically? The German leadership fully understood the significance of


American belligerency. They therefore gambled everything in the


spring of 1918 to exploit the collapse of Russia before the United


States could make a real difference. So, it was folly for the British and


French to wear themselves out in 1917, given that the balance of


forces would change in their favour once the Americans arrived. Claiming


that the Germans could stand the rate of attrition less than the


British was no justification at the time, as we've heard already in this


debate, and it is equal eight indefensible now. After the Arras


offensives of April and May came the unprecedented use of giant


subterranean mines in a successful attempt to break the deadlock. 19 of


these mines were exploded under messy ridge on the 7th of June with


a force that could be felt on the far side of the English Channel.


Though surprise was achieved, strategic gain was once again


lacking. Nevertheless, on the last day of July 1917, the crowning


effort of the PEF was made. The third Battle of Ypres would injure


and the 10th of November and imprinted itself on the British


psyche to an extent matched only by the Somme disaster of the previous


year. The focus was on the Passchendaele stared in Ridge and


the main thrust was delivered by General Sir Hubert Gough's fifth


Army along a 7.5 mile front. The flanks were defended by the British


second Army on the right and the French first army on the left.


Having overrun some of the outer German defences on the first day,


the British commander-in-chief, Sir Douglas Haig, then discovered that


the weather was an even more formidable opponent than the enemy.


The official history of the interwar called Hague's dispatch as follows,


the low-lying clay soil pawn by shells and sodden with rain turned


to a succession of vast muddy pools. The values of the shocked and


overflowing streams were speedily transformed into long stretches of


Balk, in passable apart from a few well-defined tracks which became


marks for the enemy's artillery. To leave these tracks was to risk death


by drowning. In these conditions, operations of any magnitude became


impossible and the result shown of our offensive was necessarily


postponed until a period of fine weather should allow the ground to


recover. Thus it was that the second phase of the attack, known as the


Battle of longer mark, lasting from the 16th-18th of August lacked any


element of surprise. The Germans showed no sign of giving way. Then


next came the Battle of the men in road rage beginning on the 20th of


September and lasting for five days. Its aim was to capture objectives as


a distance of between 1000 yards and one whole mile. And this was largely


achieved. The pattern was then the same in the fourth phase known as


the Battle of polygon would taking place from the 26th of September


till the 3rd of October 1917 with the objective of securing a jumping


off place from which to attack the main Passchendaele Ridge. I will


give way. I thank him for giving way because I hope to speak in this


debate was unfortunately off set. You mentioned the Battle of polygon


would and I would like to mention that at that battle, my own


great-grandfather, who had been there in France since August 1914,


was wounded on the 30th of September and won the military medal. Of


course, I wanted to mention that because I am very proud but also it


demonstrates how this war was fought by ordinary folk who has come from


really normal backgrounds who then went back to their ordinary lives.


In the case of my great grandfather, a postman in East Yorkshire and that


is what was behind much of this conflict. I am delighted that my


mentioning of this phase of this terrible series of battles gave my


honourable friend the opportunity to pay that well-deserved tribute to


his brave ancestor. Whose name I wanted to get into Hansard. It was


John William fees eat, so thank you again for giving way. I think the


award of the medal to John William Vesey is now justifiably recorded.


So, the next assault was planned for the 4th of October and persevered


with despite a great deterioration in the weather. wood, It was hoped


success at Ypres would drive the Germans from the channel ports and


an amphibious force has been assembled. The reality in the words


of the official history was very, very different and I quote... Of


course I will. Most grateful. My honourable friend's describing the


sea battle and what was happening at sea. So would he agree when people


ask did we have to go into the war, is it not the reality that we could


have well be starved out if we had not been trying to take those


actions? The answer is yes and no. The answer is we certainly had to


resist German aggression. But that didn't mean that there was any


justification when faced with a stalemate to keep repeating tactics


and strategies that were wholly unsuccessful and counter productive.


And if one could have said, OK, the concept of the big push might have


had something to recommend it, despite the obvious imbalance


between the technology of machine gun and the lack of armoured


vehicles to override it on the other, in the earlier phaser of the


war that, might have justified a big push in 1916, it did not justify


doing the same sort of lethal strategic nonsense all over again a


year later. So this what is the official history had to say after


that outbreak of terrible weather. The British Lion had now been


advanced along the main ridge for 9,000 yards. The year was already


far spent and the prospect of driving the enemy from the Belgian


coast had long since disappeared. The delays as a result of the


weather and the effect on the state of ground had given the enemy time


to bring up reinforcements and to reorganise his defences. Although


general head quarters now recognised that the major objectives of


Flanders operation were impossible to attain, they were appsing to


continue with the view to the capture of the remainder of the


Passchendaele ridge before winter set in. The weather was


unfavourable, but there were hopes it would improved, based on the


foundation that the abnormal rain fall of the summer pressaged a


normal, even a dry autumn. That is the end of quotation. Instead of


meaning a means to -- remaining a means to the end, the offensive had


become an end in its own. Douglas Hague decided Passchendaele must be


captured and the cycle was repeated in October in the hope of preventing


German forces being switch to meet the French offensive. Some land was


gained on 22nd October, fighter pilots doing everything they could


to attack German infantry on the roads and in villages. So it went on


and on. A little progress here and the final taking of Passchendaele


village on 6th November by the Canadians who extended their gains


four days later. Passchendaele was according to the official historian,


the most sombre and bloodiest of all the battlefields of war. One of the


pilots who lived through it and later reached the highest rank in


the RAF was Lord Douglas, who commanded 84 squadron's fighters


when he returned to the western front in September 1917. He too


regarded third Ypres as the most terrible of all the battles of


war and he road, the Somme of the year before had been bad enough and


after that it was felt that the lesson of mass attacks must have


been learned. But it was not learned and less than a year later our army


was called upon to embark on an offensive that was even more


terrible than the Somme. Passchendaele was the beginning of


was to become a long misery. Eventually the whole area became


clogged with mud. Over this devastated area which had been


reduced to state of a quagmire, attack after attack was launched.


For communication there was only the rough tracks that wound their way


across the mire and wander off them led to drowning. The Germans


welcomed the rain as our strongest ally. Many of the pilots in the


third battle of Ypres were were asked to carry out operations on the


ground. There was little fighting in the air and since we were at only


200 or 300 feet, we were up supposed to see what was going on. What I saw


was nothing less than horrifying. The ground over which our infantry


were fighting was one vast sea of churned up muck and mud and every


where there were shell holes full of water. These attacks that we had to


make for which most of my pilots were untrained were a wretched and


dangerous business and pretty useless, it was difficult to pick


out our that gets, because everything on the ground, including


the troops, was the same colour as that dreadful mud. It was quite


obvious to anyone viewing from the air this dreadful bat Peel ground --


battleground that any chance of a major break through was quite out of


the question. We can see from Douglas's memoirs that it was not


just fashionable post-war opinion that came to davm the strategy --


damn the strategy. The ordering of more attack was seen by him as the


grossest of blunders and they recognised the need the relieve


pressure on the French by keeping the Germans stretched. But, he says,


as I watched from the air what was happening on the ground, there were


presented to me some terrible questions - why did we have to press


on so blindly in is in one desolate area and under such dreadful


conditions? Why was there not some variety in strategy? The questions I


asked then are the ones that have been asked since and the answers


have never seized to be painful ones. As I said at the outset, I


remain completely unconvinced by the argument which some people deploy


even to this day that it was necessary to undergo the


catastrophic failures of Somme and the Passchendaele offences to learn


the lessons necessary for victory in 1918. There is testimony enough from


senior military figures in the Second World War writing of their


experiences in the first, spelling out the futility of relentlessly


sacrificing huge numbers of British troops in fighting Unwinnable


battles. One does haven't to explain every military cul-de-sac to stumble


across a strategy that might actually succeed. But let us not


forget that each one of these tragedies was an individual and I


close with a quote from a young Welshman, Glynne Morgan, who wrote


to his father at the start of the Passchendaele offensive. You I know


my dear dad will bear the shock as bravely as you have always borne the


strain of my being Ute here, but I should like to help you to carry on,


because this was a letter only going to be sent in the event of his


death, with a stout heart, I regret the opportunity has been denied to


me to repay you for the lavish kindness and devotedness which you


have always shown me. However it may be that I have done so in the


struggle between life and death between England and Germany, liberty


and slavery, in any case, I shall have done my duty in my little way.


Your affectionate son and brother. Glynne Morgan was killed on 1st


August 1917. He was recommended for a VC and he was 21 when he died. To


make his maiden speech, Paul Sweeney. Thank you. I'm grateful for


this turnt opportunity to deliver my maiden speech. I would like to say


it is a great privilege to deliver my maiden speech on a debate about


this event. I would like to congratulate the member for New


Forest for re-election. It is customary for a new member to make a


reference to his predecessor and I noted that Iain Buchanan said if it


was in my power to introduce a new tradition, it would be that members


should do so from the dispatch so they melee their trembling hands


upon it and give support to their quaking knees. I can attest to my


sympathy for those sentiments, but I won't have long to wait for relief,


will have the first opportunity to address the House from next week as


shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. I hope can I provide more


support for my trembling limbs. Mr Buchanan was a proud railway worker,


socialist and trade unionist and it was not unknown for him to turn up


at the city chambers in his boiler suit. He also left a legacy to


future members of the House as chairman of House of Commons library


committee during its transition from an old style gentleman's club to the


research facility today, which has been appreciated by new members


preparing their maiden speeches. The area of Glasgow they represent has a


remarkable and diverse history that is reflected in the diversity of the


people who live there today. From its early origins at the frontier of


the northern Roman Empire it has been vital to Glasgow's development,


although it was only incorporated into the city in 1891. The river on


which the banks the founder of Glasgow established the cathedral


and the town flows from waters which nourished the longest established


business in Glasgow, Tennents brewery, founded in the 1550s, and


has slaked the thirst of many a Glaswegian over the centuries. When


I attempt to visualise the evolution of Glasgow the opening of the


Olympics springs to mind, what was once a landscape of farms was swept


away at the start of the industrial revolution. By coincidence of the


position on the approach to Glasgow from Edinburgh, Springburn found


itself at the centre of this growth as railway and industries grew to


form the largest centre of locomotive manufacture in the


British Empire, employing 8,000 people.


Other engineering innovations pioneered there, most notably the


first motor car built in Britain right George Johnson in Bobby Hill.


The first rule trials took place in the dead of night with Johnston


driving the car as a reckless 12 miles an hour on a 20 mile journey


around Glasgow. For this apparently reckless behaviour, he was charged


with contravening the locomotives axed by driving his horse treats


carriage during prohibited hours on Buchanan Street, then as now the


main shopping thoroughfare in Glasgow. This fine automotive


engineering pedigree is retained in the largest manufacturer of taxis


and mobility vehicles employing skilled people in Postle Park. The


Taimani manufacturer is also ingrained in the community,


supporting many excellent projects which support disabled people in the


area as well as the highly successful Glasgow Tigers speedway.


As my friend, the mentioned earlier, our engineering prowess was also


critical for supporting Britain's war effort during the first of war.


Springburn's railway works give themselves over for the production


of the missions during the war. During this period, they were


responsible for producing the first tanks and aircraft. The works also


produced the first modern artificial limbs forwarded servicemen.


Directors of the locomotive Company offered their headquarters to the


Red Cross as existing hospitals were unable to cope with the war wounded.


It opened on Christmas Eve 1914. Wounded troops would be transported


directly from the southern Channel ports to the hospital on specially


converted ambulance trains. By the end of the war, a total of 8211


servicemen had been treated. Nearby stop Hill Hospital, the place where


I first entered a more peaceful world some 75 years later, was also


requisitioned by the medical corps in 1915 and over 1000 patients were


cared for their at any given time until the return of the hospital to


civilian use in 1920. As an Army reservist, the sacrifice my city


made during the First World War has been impressed upon me every year in


the remembrance service in George Square. The stark enormity of the


statement on the city's cenotaph at Glasgow raised over troops, one


third of its population with 8000 of those member losing their lives


never fails to move me for the sheer scale of the carnage that afflicted


working people a century ago. My constituency of Glasgow North East


was created at the 2005 general election in an amalgamation of the


Glasgow Springburn and Glasgow Maryhill seats. Both areas have


previously enjoyed excellent reputation from exemplary


parliamentarians. Although my seat was once described as a labourer


citadel, there was even too conservative members of the interwar


period, though thankfully it was a brief dalliance. The metaphorical


and physically towering legacy of my antecedents was brought into sharp


focus when I'd had the opportunity to venture into the Speaker's has. I


was met by a oil painting of a member for Springburn and Dundas.


His successor skills that was easily inspired and inadequate. Michael


Martin succeeded Buchanan as the MP for Springburn from 1979-2009. Of


course, commentating on his election as Speaker of the House of Commons


from 2000 onwards. His parliamentary career spanning seven consecutive


general elections was selflessly committed to the service of others


and epitomises that opportunity that the labour movement has offered to


the advancement of working-class people over the last century, rising


from a fish sheet metal worker and shop steward to become the Speaker


of the House. I was gratified to meet Lord Martin just last week and


he was delighted that his seat was now back in safe hands, as he put


it. My first ever experience of party Glasgow campaigning was in the


Glasgow North East by-election of 2009. After a telephone call from


Gordon Brown's wife Sarah drew me from my exam revision to help retain


the seat for Labour. As someone who was also born and raised in the


local area and the first in his family to have a university


education, he was a committed chavvy adversity, speaking the civilian


opposition to the coalition Government's vicious and


self-defeating austerity policies during his tenure as Shadow Scotland


Office minister. Before I had the opportunity to meet my immediate


predecessor and McLauchlan, I have watched her maiden speech with great


interest which he delivered it almost two years ago today in July


20 15. Was particularly impressed by her yearning passion to improve the


lives of her constituents and restoring civic pride our


communities, a passion that I shared equally. And cited the project to


restore the historic Springburn Winter Gardens, the largest


glasshouse and Scotland, as it'll tenet 's system it symbol of our


need to continue renewing our society. As one of the directors of


the project, I was very glad that Anne made such a generous versions


of our efforts in her maiden speech. I would also like to thank for the


election campaign we conducted in June and I look forward to working


together in areas of mutual interest in the future. All the maiden


speeches of my predecessors reflect common challenges facing our


constituents over the years. Whilst much progress has been made in


certain areas, unfortunately many of the issues they identified decades


ago remain all too stubbornly apparent today. Michael Martin


referred to the urgent need to strengthen Government intervention


to develop new industries that would revitalise the local economy and


alleviate the unemployment and despair caused by the collapse of


locomotive manufacturing. This is a legacy of decline that my


constituency has never fully recovered from and it is something


that I felt keenly from an early age as I learned about Springburn's past


industrial glories from my grandparents. It is what inspired me


to follow my grandfather and father into the Clyde shipbuilding industry


and later at Scottish enterprise, burning with a zeal to rejuvenate


the Clyde built industries that once brought prosperity is our city.


Having recently been involved with Labour's new industrial strategy for


Scotland, I'm excited by the opportunity we have before us now to


other new era of prosperity with the application of coherent, long-term


thinking about the development of more high-value industries in our


country and I look forward to pursuing that vision with vigorous


enthusiasm in this place. Housing is another recurring matter that is


referred to by my predecessors, particularly exploitation by private


landlords and the mass clearance of housing areas like Swinburn. All


Glasgow Labour MPs have stood firmly in the tradition of John Wheatley


and his famous Housing act of 1944 that provided state subsidies for


house building to build the land fit for heroes. It led directly to the


creation of Glasgow's means about housing system and start large-scale


building of some 57,000 new homes in new districts like Rhodri and


Carntyne in my constituency during the interwar period. Heroines like


maybe Barber also led the struggle against rapacious landlords during


the First World War, leading the rent strike that slowly forced this


House to legislate to control rents for the duration of the war. I am


delighted that my predecessor, Maria Fyfe, who represented Glasgow


Maryhill in this House for so many years successfully campaigned for a


statue of Mary Barbour and the Glasgow rent strikers, only the


fourth statue of a woman to be erected in the city of Glasgow. Due


to the efforts of my predecessor Michael and others, Glasgow became a


pioneer in the modern housing association movement that if many of


the traditional Victorian tenements in areas like Denison and Springburn


and by writing off the city's ?1 billion housing debt, the last


Labour Government enabled an unprecedented renewal of the city's


housing stock led by organisations like nanograms homes with over 100


million invested to improve housing standards in my constituency. These


physical improvements are not just about the sandstorm, glass and


slate. It is also about reinvigorating the very soul and


character of our city, what it means and feels like to be a Glaswegian


from one generation to the next. These efforts have, however, been


frustrated by policies from the party opposite by continue to


undermine living standards in my constituency despite efforts to


regenerate our communities, my constituents are still subject to


the indignity of benefit sanctions, tax-cut cuts and frozen wages. With


unemployment and benefit claimant rates in my constituency double the


national average, and the child poverty level as a disgrace 36%,


they Izeta might be continued onslaught to their living standards


is too much to bear for many. When it is iterative approach is me in


the street to discuss how she was forced to financially support her


son and his partner who were suffering from a terminal brain


tumour for nine months before his death as they had been found fit to


work and had his benefits cut, it is clear to me that we have seen the


creation of a new national minimum definition of dignity were anything


short of starvation and anything above destitution is now seemingly


acceptable and is apparently blind to any appeal to human compassion.


It was a view that was only galvanised as I watched the benches


opposite cheer with perverse triumph as our effort to remove the public


sector pay cap was defeated last month, quite oblivious to be


harmless causes to millions of people. My duty as a member of


Parliament has been crystallised by those observations. The people of


Glasgow North East sent me here because they despair at the Tories


and yearn for the vision of hope and prosperity that labour under Jeremy


Corbyn's leadership has offered to them. In 1948, this House, having


witnessed the disastrous effects of too terrible war awards was told


that they welfare state was established to remove the shame from


needs and to create a society with solidarity at its foundation. Today,


it is our solemn responsibility to do everything at our power to defeat


this Government and restore that abiding principle in our society.


That is why the people of Glasgow North East sent me here and I will


do my utmost to repay their faith in me by how I put myself in the


pursuit of that endeavour in this House. Thank you very much. Thank


you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It falls to me to congratulate Mike and


Patriot, the member for Glasgow North East on his maiden speech and


there can be little doubt that he will bring passion and commitment


and conviction to the proceedings of this House and I look forward to it


over the coming months and hopefully yours too many just across the floor


of the House. I was delighted to hear, by the way, him it


representing it recognising previous occupants of his seat viewing


conservative. Look forward to further success down the years. I


congratulate him on his new position. Which he mentioned during


his speech, and I look forward to seeing him appear at the dispatch


box as soon as next week. I rise with, I have to say, a degree of


humility to make a small contribution of my own and paid


tribute to those who fought and died during Passchendaele, the third


Battle of Ypres, the biggest British offensive of 1917. And I say with


humility because of the calibre of the speeches that we have heard in


this debate. Where I have both been informed and I have to say deeply


moved by the things that I have heard. I think particularly I would


like to say how moved I have been by the contributions from members who


have spoken in Welsh. Something that has been passed to me from my great


grandmother, Mary and Owen Blakemore, that thrills at the sound


of the Welsh language. Her son, my great uncle, Harry Blakemore, served


in the Great War and died in the early months of 1918. Harry


Blakemore plays an important part in our family history, even though his


life was short and I think it was the member for South West Wiltshire


that spoke about the impact that these First World War cemeteries and


sites have on young people. My wife and I have made it a matter of


course to take our children to these very, I think, sacred places and the


effect that he described that those places have on young people, I have


witnessed in my own children. There is, and I think you said, a dawning


realisation of the sacrifice, the slaughter of the Great War and it


does have massive impression on their young minds. It reminds them


and it reminds all of us of the cost, the price of our freedom. I


have stood several times, I'm grateful to say, and witnessed the


last post ceremony at the men in gate and again, it is an incredibly


moving experience. -- Menin Gate. I almost wish that every school child


in this country could have the privilege of standing there and


visiting those sites because of the impact that it has upon our minds.


Yes, I will give way. I am most grateful to my honourable friend


giving way and he makes a very powerful point about the education


of young people and what can happen. Just on a slight tangent to this


point, but I think an important one, I urge my honourable friend to be in


context with the Holocaust educational trust who do massively


important work in taking young people to our switch which shows


what an bridal powder can do as well and I urge to look into that. I


thank you for your intervention and that point of information and I will


follow up on his invitation. My constituency, I should also mention


before I proceed that I was particularly deeply moved by my


honourable friend the member for Brecon and his accounts which I hope


that those of us were not in the chamber will have the opportunity to


view and read because I felt it was very uplifting, thank you very much.


My constituency of sterling has a long-standing connection with the


Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who fought on the front line at


Passchendaele and these things are all well documented. And our many


warm ordeals throughout my constituency are filled with the


names of local men who went off to fight, briefly and in the country's


call. Behind each of those names engraved upon those memorials, there


is a family also left behind and brokenhearted. Madam Deputy Speaker,


its importance, I think, also to note in this debate that the men


that fought at Passchendaele and throughout the Great War were


gathered from across the British Empire. The cemeteries of the


Western front is artful of gravestones for Australians, New


Zealanders, whose worst casualty figures actually came from


Passchendaele. South Africans, Indians, both Hindus and Muslims


alike. Canadians and Newfoundland is. Men are from all over the


imperial from every diverse face and


background and culture came to fight for the mother country in its hour


of need and in doing so came together in a common cause.


It has become fashionable to consider the men who went to fight


for the British Empire were victims whose blood was spent wastefully by


British officers who had no concern for men of colonies, my friend from


the University of Glasgow and the centre for battlefield archaeology


counters this idea and calls it a false idea. Because the men coming


from the colonies were not unwilling victims being sent to die. Certainly


the men of the AIF who arrived on the western front in 1915 were not


sack official lambs. According to the research these men were


confident and eager for the fight and they came to sort out the mess


that the old country has v had made. -- had made. The Scottish memorial


in Flanders is a reminder of the contribution that Scotland made to


the British action at Ypres. This memorial is the only one on the


western front dedicated to all Scots and all those of Scottish descent


who fought during the 1914-18 war. Scottish soldiers made a major


contribution to the efforts of British army in the battle of


Passchendaele and their sacrifice was proportionally greater. Between


July and November 1917 all three Scottish divisions were on the


western front. They were included in the 9th and 15th divisions and the


51st Highland division. They came from all over Scotland, representing


famous Scottish regiments such as the black Watch. Our famous local


regiment in my constituency in Stirling, the Argyll and southern


Highlanders was in the thick of fighting, with representatives in


all three divisions and took casualties in every significant


phase of the action. Yes. Thank you, I very much thank very good


honourable friend for giving way. Can I remind the House that a lot of


Scottish soldiers in reinforcement units were actually diverted to


English regiments or Welsh or Irish regiments. It is aPoe site that


there is a Scottish memorial to all Scottish soldiers no matter what


regiment they were served in. After all some of us go abroad and command


units. Thank you. I should mention that is a tribute to the fighting


qualities of Scottish soldiers that they can be relevant assigned as you


have, and deployed as you have suggested. There were not only


Scots, there were not only Scots involved as the Ca Nadians and --


Canadians and Newfoundlands and sons of immigrants were also committed to


the battle. The Scottish memorial project reports of nine Canadian VC


awarding in the last week of October and the first week of November


alone, the majority were awarded to Scottish-born or the sons of Scots


immigrants. Those who came back lived with the legacy of what they


experienced and we have heard some very good comments about that. Of


those who did not return, we will remember them. We must not make the


mistake of thinking that these soldiers were passive victims of a


war they didn't understand or support. That is a view that is


often expressed in certain quarters. Especially when people say that we


have not learned the lessons of past wars. Whether they understood the


war in the way that we might want them to understand it, they fought


because they wanted to do their bit. Because they had been conscripted


and it was their duty to go. Because they were with men who had become


their mates and they weren't going to let them down. We do our fallen


no justice when we strip them of the dignity that comes with the


recognition of their agency, they joined up, they answered their


nation's call, and they reported to the conscription hall. We can argue


about the conduct of the war, but never let us down play the sacrifice


of the men who went to war and laid down their lives. When a person


loses their life in the service of their country, in a vast battle, in


a global war such as the one we are talking about in is in debate, or


whether one person loses their life individually without record or


attention paid, such sacrifice is most worthy of remembrance. This is


partly the inspiration behind the unknown warrior, who rests


anonymously in the place of highest honour in our nation. And while the


war memorials, the remembrance services, the cemeteries and debates


like these are of vital and an essential reminder of that


sacrifice, the true honour and respect we must give to their memory


is the kind of country and the kind of world we are building. The


approach we take towards one another, the way we work together as


a country within our borders and across borders. Must always honour


their sacrifice. Those who died would no doubt have held a wide


variety of opinions and views, such as we do. They would have the same


broad diversity of opinion that the population of the country had at


that time. Socialists, liberals and Conservatives all fought and died


together. They would have had their differences and disagreements, as I


said, just as indeed we do, but madam Deputy Speaker, demonstrating


courtesy and respect to those whose opinions and beliefs differ from


ourselves is one vital aspect to the way we honour the sacrifice of the


fallen. As is enlisting ousts in the pursuit of peace and justice for all


and the advancement of the civil society and democracy that I believe


we all believe in. These aims are indeed a fit and proper memorial


worthy to the memory of the sacrifice of so many souls. Just


before I call the next speaker is, may I thank the last two speakers,


the honourable gentleman made the excellent maiden speech from Glasgow


North East and the gentleman from Stirling, what they have said about


the Highland light infantry, because my grandfather served with them. And


he was injured at Passchendaele. I'm not able to make a tribute from the


chair, so I thank these honourable gentlemen for doing it for me. Liz


McInness. It is a pleasure to make a short contribution to this important


debate and to follow so many interesting, thoughtful and very


informative speeches and it is a particular pleasure to listen to two


wonderful maiden speeches this afternoon from my honourable friend


the member for Bedford, who talked about making his life in that place,


having moved here from Kashmir and also my honourable friend the member


for Glasgow North East and I wish him well at the dispatch debut next


week. I just would like to talk about how we are celebrating,


commemorating the battle of Passchendaele in my constituency of


Haywood and Middleton, we like many other towns and cities will be


commemorating that battle on July 30th and we will meet as part of


programme of World War one commemorative events. And I would


like here to pay tribute to rch dale council for the -- Rochdale council


for the work they have done and the commitment they have shown in


organising these events, which have been well attended and they have


been observed with huge respect for those who gave their lives for our


country and those who fought and survived and for all their families


and I would like to give a special intention to councillor Alan McArty


for his work in this report and as the chair of Haywood township. The


councillors after consultation with the veterans, decided that


commemorations of the World War one centenary should not be in


celebration, but rather in solemn reflection and remembrance of all


those who have died and have served in our armed forces since the start


of the great war. It is important to remember that almost everyone in the


UK had an ancestor directly affected by the First World War and that


nearly one million men and women gave their lives in service. My


constituent Lynne Coxal, whose second cousin William died in the


First World War will be among the many attending the memorial service


at Ypres to remember their sacrifice. And Lynne has donated


William's pocket watch and other artefacts to the Passchendaele


museum in his memory. The Haywood war memorial has its own special


link to the battle of Passchendaele. The war memorial was unveiled in


1925, a statue representing peace stands in front of Cenotaph with


bowed head and bearing a laurel leaf remitting victory -- representing


victory. The statue was made by Walter Marsden, an English artist.


He was born in 1882. In 1902 he was an apprentice at the brick and tile


company, where the owners reck Northern Islesed -- recognised his


talent and encouraged him to study at the Manchester College of Art and


he in 1911 he gave his occupation as a clay modeller. He himself saw


active service in the First World War, serving as an officer in the


loyal North Lancashire regiment. He himself fought in the third battle


of Ypres, the battle of Passchendaele, for which he was


awarded the Military Cross. He was later taken prisoner in France and


sent to a prisoner of war camp. After the war, he continued his


studies and he attended the Royal College of Art and later worked on


many war memorials, many of which are in Lancashire as well as the


memorial in Haywood, he made them in Church, Bolton, in Bury and at St


Ann's on Sea. And his sculptures reflects his experience of active


service. The memorial at St Ann's on Sea depicts walking wounded


returning, blinded by gas. A gaunt, exhausted helmetless soldier is


seated at its base. And Walter Marsden had wanted he said to


capture, the constant nervous rain of trench warfare and the ever


present feeling of danger that was the cause of so much mental agony.


I'd like to pay tribute to the honourable member for back in


Hamburg is acting he gave us the ick honest experience of that by sharing


his story. He also detected a husband going off to war, his wife


clutching at him with a small, sad child looking up helplessly. His


memorials tread a delicate line between portraying the human cost of


war whilst also paying proper tribute to bravery and sacrifice.


The War memorial in Heywood is inscribed "To the men of Heywood who


gave their lives for us during the Great War 1914-1918." And it is


commemorated by name the 300 men who died in service. And I'd like to


finish by quoting the words on the Walter Marsden War Memorial in his


hometown of church, Lancashire. Which I think is a fitting point on


which to end. His memorial is inscribed, let those who come after


siege to it that their names be not forgotten. Thank you. To make is


maiden speech, Ben Lake. Thank you for affording me the opportunity to


make my maiden speech this afternoon. It is a pleasure to


follow the honourable lady and in particular the honourable members


for Glasgow North East and Bedford who both made excellent maiden


speeches. Indeed, they said an exacting standard with their


speeches. They spoke from the heart and I have no doubt that they will


be a credit to their party, their constituencies and this House. I


welcome the opportunity to remember the third bottle of Ypres in this


House and to commemorate the First World War. As the years go by, it


becomes increasingly important that we remember the conflict and


especially the sacrifice of all those who lost their lives. We must


ensure that we learn the lessons of the past and strive to never again


subject people to such suffering and horror. Whilst visiting one of the


many Commonwealth War cemeteries that pepper the Belgian countryside,


it was heartbreaking to stumble across seemingly never ending rows


of young lives cut short by the conflict. As has already been


mentioned and referred to in this debate this afternoon, perhaps the


most famous of these casualties from Wales was Ellis Humphrey Evans or


Hedd Wyn. A son of the neighbouring constituency of my honourable


friend, Hedd Wyn was a talented poet who was tragically killed before


learning of his greatest literary trout. Just a few weeks before


winning the most prestigious prize for forgery at the National


Eisteddfod, the Bardic chair, he was killed at the Battle of


Passchendaele at the young age of 13. -- prestigious pride for poetry.


In his the sentinel of our nation's


Heritage is perched on Penrice hill overlooking card Bay, a jewel of the


Welsh coast which I now have the privilege of representing as the


member for Ceredigion. I am truly humbled that the people of this


great constituency have put their faith in me to speak for them in


this place. I am looking forward to working hard on their behalf,


serving them well and to strive to be worthy of this trust. My


immediate predecessor, Mark Williams, was elected in 2005. He


gained the respect of this House and the affection of the its truancy


thanks to over 12 years of tireless service. Thousands of people from


across the county have benefited from his advice and assistance and I


hope to continue with this good work. I wish him and his family the


very best for the future. Madam Deputy Speaker, Qera is my home.


From the peak to the tranquillity of the TV estuary, its hills and


valleys rarely failed to speak to its sons and daughters. It is no


surprise that there should be a common affliction for people who


find themselves absent from the county for too long. The second was


sparsely populated county in Wales, Ceredigion is a rural area.


Agriculture is the backbone of many of our communities. Farming is only


supporting significant number of the workforce, but also sustains a range


of social activities and events that are the lifeblood of the county.


Ceredigion stretches from the banks of the dead and in the north to


Cardigan Island in the south. It is bounded in the east by Mike Gibson


tells of flank to the west by spectacular coastline. In fact, this


year, lower flags proudly fly above the pristine beaches. Terrorism


serves a vital economic role in the area which is unsurprising --


Tourism serves a vital economic role in the area which is unsurprising


since Ceredigion is widely accepted to be the most beautiful area of


Wales. Its natural beauty is aided with the beautiful settlements,


Georgia towns to historic mustering points of the drovers which


continues to hold a thriving livestock market to today's.


Although primarily a rule constituency, we boast a university


towns. The University at Aberystwyth was established in 1872 thanks to


the pennies of the people. Thousands of individual donations from across


Wales. And Lampeter, which is home to the oldest degree awarding


institution in Wales, founded in 1822. Now, we can also justifiably


claim to be the capital of Welsh culture. In addition to hosting the


National library and universities, Ceredigion has two thriving


publishing houses and a recently restored castle at Cardigan which


plays host to the first National Eisteddfod in 1126. The most famous


of Welsh buyers, Davitt love William was born there and my home town of


Lampeter is the birthplace of Welsh rugby with a first recorded match


being played there in 1866. This is a rich mix of rural and urban


defines Ceredigion, a tapestry of communities woven tightly by the


emphatic lamb steak and the famous quick-witted humour of the people.


-- the emphatic landscape. Although we speak to our strengths, we can be


blind to the reality surrounding our departure from the European Union


which is a challenge to the very fabric of our community. During my


time in this place, I will strive to ensure that the best interest of the


real economy and higher education are at the forefront of the minds of


Government ministers as they conduct Brexit negotiations. Madam Deputy


Speaker, we cannot allow ourselves to be forgotten. Decisions taken in


London have long overlooked the real economy, public investment, too


often bypassing the hinterland. For too long, amenities considered


essential to the urban economy are dismissed as mere luxuries for more


rural areas. Several of my predecessors in this House have


pointed to the tragic irony that Ceredigion bestows upon its use an


unrivalled education but offers them a poor array of job opportunities


and affordable housing. For decades, our county has lost the potential


and the vitality of her youth. Around half young people leave the


county by the time they reach 25 years of age. Many of the young who


have left our Welsh speakers, which has meant that in my lifetime, which


I'm sure honourable and right Honourable members will agree is


particularly long, the percentage of people living in Ceredigion that can


speak the language has declined from around 60% to just 47%. This steady


silent haemorrhage saps the lifeblood of nearly every town and


village the length and breadth of the county. During my time in this


place, I look forward to working with those across the political


divide to refocus the attention of governments to the challenges facing


rural areas and encouraging greater efforts at developing an economy.


Madam Deputy Speaker, we are a proud people in Ceredigion and possess an


historic resolve to buck a national trends. We are also of independent


spirit. Over the years, we have seen fit to elect members to this House


from across the political spectrum. I am particularly proud to follow in


the footsteps of my distinguished Plaid Cymru predecessors Simon


Thomas and cannot divest. They worked tirelessly for Ceredigion and


were passionate about guarding rural areas from the negligence of a


remote Government. 25 years after the election of the first Plaid


Cymru MP for Ceredigion, I am committed to building on this


legacy. It is the greatest of honours to have been entrusted by


the people of our county during this critical time. As we come together


today to remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives during


the First World War, we can all be inspired by the deep sense of duty.


It is the sense of duty and service that I will seek to embrace. Madam


Deputy Speaker, I would like to finish by quoting one of


Ceredigion's greatest sons and a founding member of Plaid Cymru when


he said,... Whether faced with opportunities or obstacles, the best


interests of my county and my constituents will be at the very


heart of all my endeavours. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can I


commend the honourable member for Ceredigion for an impressive first


speech. I particularly thought it was appropriate for his mention of


Ceredigion and his death at age 30 as Passchendaele and it reminds as


all of what talent was lost, what futures were lost, what artistic


flourishes couldn't have taken place in this country but for that first


war. There is also pleased that he acknowledged his predecessor, Mark


Williams, by saying he had affection throughout this House. He most


certainly did. He was one of those members who had friends across the


political spectrum and people who would support him just because he


was Mark. And the political differences dissolved. I take


exception a little bit to his suggestion that Ceredigion is the


finest place in Wales to go on holiday a little bit. Porthcawl is


obviously a great seaside town, but what I would say is that I hope his


speech has inspired those who are listening to think of Wales as their


holiday destinations because we certainly have so many beautiful


places. And he must certainly keep a welcome in our hillsides, no matter


in the north or the South. Madam Deputy Speaker, one thing is


certain, there is not a family in the UK that is not over the coming


months going to be remembering the First World War. And the members of


their families who were lost. The future that were lost as a result of


that war. I have a very tiny little pocket diary that my grandfather


took with him to the front. And in it, he makes a few comments every


day about what he saw. And I spent a lot of time actually tracking what


he was talking about and looking at the experiences that he was just


making a note of. He left for war on August 30, 1914 and he notes, we


left Limerick by train for Queenstown, embarked on the S S


Mascherano of steamers, Liverpool. He arrived in Belgium and that new


idea of moving soldiers to the front quickly was in play. Off he went on


a train journey. He spent many hours, indeed days, on that strain,


moving into sidings as they tried to get all of the trains with all of


the troops moved to the front very quickly. On August 20th, 1914, he


finally arrived in a field. They were disembarked. They had no tents,


nowhere to sleep. They had no blankets, they had nothing. They


laid down in that field exhausted by their journeys which had taken place


from the 30th-20th and slept. But before they got a chance to sleep,


they were addressed by Sir John French who said, our cause is just,


we are called upon to fight beside our gallant allies in France and


Belgium in the war of arrogance, but to uphold our national honour,


independence and freedom. We have violated no neutrality, nor have we


been false to any treaties. We enter upon this conflict with the clearest


conscience that we are fighting for right and honour. Having burned this


trust in the registers of our cause, and pride in the glory of our


military traditions and belief in the efficiencies of our army, we go


forward together to do or die. We are still faced, Madam Deputy


Speaker, with that dilemma. What do we do as a nation when others


violate neutrality? And when they are false to the treaties that have


been entered into? Do we then prove false to treaties that we have


entered into, to come to the support and aid of others? That is the


dilemma that this House faces every time we have a debate about whether


we go to war. And it is, and in my time in this House I have taken part


in a three debates where we have had to decide, do we commit our


personnel? Do we take that decision? And each time, it has been that


issue of neutrality, the treaty commitments that we have is that we


listen to and we consider and it is the thing that helps make our


decision. My grandfather's diary recounts days


of heavy shell fire, near escapes from death, exhaustion and the


retreat from Mons and Marne until he took part in the first battle of


Ypres. In the first battle, the British Expeditionary Force lost


thousands of men. The British regular army virtually ly


disappeared. The German army lost 130,000 men. The French 50,000. The


Belgians 32,000. Sometimes when I read the diary, I ask myself what


have we learned and what do I need to learn? As hopefully soon to be


again a member of the defence select committee. In the select committee


we have many times looked at reports about equipment, it is one of the


things that as a committee I believe is one of our major priorities. On


October 17th, 1914, my grandfather notes, a very fine morning, all of


my chums congratulated me on my birthday. We got a blanket served


out to us. We have had nothing to cover us since we came here. Severe


fighting all along the canal. From August to October no blanket.


Nothing to cover them. Despite the battles that they had fought through


and survived. There was hardly a man of the original force who possessed


more than the clothing they stood up in and that was often woefully


inadequate. It is no wonder the Defence Select Committee even today


is concerned about equipment. Is concerned about logistics.


Preparation and planning for war. On October 29th, 1914, my grandfather


noted, terrific firing all day and night. The Indian troops came here


to relieve us. They look a fine lot of men. Gurkhas, Sikhs and Punjabis.


It reminds us that even then alliances and coalitions were the


way that wars are fought. We rearly stabbed -- rarely stand alone. In


that war, 90 thousand Indian soldiers and 50,000 labourers served


in two infantry and cavalry divisions. On November 1st, 1914, he


notes, it was a damp morning and we had to clean our saddles and


harness, my grandfather was a signalman, and often rode out to


make sure that communications between the trenches and the senior


military command were clear. It was a quiet day, and it was the 23rd day


of the first battle of Ypres. It Wurz also a time of great


destruction and horror for the civilian population living in that


area. We talked a great deal about the impact of the war on our


personnel. But it was also a time of great horror for civilian


populations who had no idea of where to flee to. For security. They had


no idea where there was safety, where a bombardment wouldn't lead to


death and destruction. Forced out of their homes. My town of Porthcawl


took in many refugees from Belgium, as did many across the United


Kingdom. It also is a lesson that today we still carry with us. The


importance of refuge, the importance of offering support to refugees and


support for civilians. Who more often than our military personnel


are the ones who are slaughtered during warfare. One of the things


that happened as a result of the First World War, was we had a


recognition that we needed to take responsibility for how we dealt with


war. Because in the second battle of Ypres, using poison gas for the


first time, the Germans create alarm in the stricken British and French


defenders. It also led us to look at later developing a law of armed


conflict. It led us to look at international humanitarian law. And


what was going to be acceptable and what was not going to be acceptable.


And it is with horror that we still look at the use of gas in Syria,


something we thought we had stopped and which everyone in this House, no


matter what political party, roundly condemns and views with the horror


that we view its first use back in 1915. We also read with horror the


stories of the impact of that relentless pounding on the mental


health of the people who fought and on the refugees who traipsed back


and forth across the countryside, trying to find safety. I will tell


you this much, I might not have been wounded in the body, but I was


wounded in my mind. I don't know if you can imagine it, but obviously


when the shell fire you get down to get cover, only an idiot wouldn't


get down, you get down and you can't get your nails into the ground and


you can't get your head under the ground and you can't go any further.


You're on the the ground and your nails are dug in the ground and the


shells are bursting around you and they're not just bits of metal,


they're hot metal and guns going and pandemonium, how do you get out of


this unscathed in it is a miracle if there is such a thing as a miracle.


Was was written by sergeant Bill Bill Hay. It is a graphic


description of what it must have been like to be in that hell. Sunday


May 2nd, 1915, my grandfather noted it was a dull day and we rested and


a lot of troops wept past suffering from the gas A terrific bombardment


commenced and the noise was terrible. This is the heaviest


bombardment I have heard. I had to go somewhere at 9 o'clock, it was


dark and shells were bursting over my Med. It was a terrible experience


in the black darkness. The roads are full of our chaps suffering from gas


poisoning. The diary ends on Wednesday July 14th, 1915. Went to


lay a line to the head quarters and finished at dinner time. There was


heavy bombardment last night, in front of trenches between the area.


I left for England, arriving at Boulogne at 9. That is the last we


know of my grandfather on his day-to-day experiences. He died at


the third battle of Ypres. I know the driver Albert Ironside, 1875,


died on 22nd July in 197. -- 197. He is -- 1917. He buried in Belgium. In


the area of the dressing stations were named by the troops with comic


names. They cemeteries continue their names. We don't know when he


was injured or how he died. We were told he was poise sonned by gas.


From the 10th July 1917, mustard gas was used every night against the


British positions. The Glamorgan journal has an article which has


been over the whole period run amazing exhibitions about the First


World War and explaining to people the local contacts and the local


people, the service that they gave and the impact on the town. In the


article it is suggested that German tactics had changed and allowed the


British to cover an increasing amount of game in the hope they


would lose momentum. Forward signalling parties would become


involved in the fight and Albert may have been trapped and died fighting.


So what are the lessons we learn? What are the knowledge one man's


experience can give us? Never again should we send people to war without


full preparation and the kit and the equipment that they need. We have


done that recently. Member of this House did not want to send anyone


into Afghanistan with the wrong equipment. But we did. It is


something that we must always, always question before we make the


decision. We have learned there are few short wars. And all wars have


long-term consequences. Those who came back and their families and


their communities had to live with their experiences. And that war


still resonates here with us, with their families even today.


Accountability of generals has increased, the Defence Select


Committee, this House, demands to know why mistakes were made, why


things happened. I think we are better at doing that. I think it is


a most honourable role that we play here. All working men and married


women achieved the vote. As a government frightened that those men


returning from the horrors, armed and experienced, would revolt


against a government that didn't give them the vote. They had the


vote, but they still faced the horrors of the great depression. If


I may end on a positive note, in the first election following the


conflict Labour tripled its vote and five years later, formed a


Government for the first time. Thank you. Kevin Brown. With the leave of


the house I will reply on behalf of the opposition. We have had I think


an excellent debate with some extremely good contributions across


the House. We had the member for Broadland who gave us a


knowledgeable and thoughtful contribution that enlightened us. A


contribution from the honourable gentleman resuming his place on


behalf of the SNP for Glasgow South who spoke e-Quently on behalf of his


party. We should thank the member for South West Wiltshire for all


that he has done to help organise the commemorations with regard to


the First World War and also he posed I think the important


question, would he pay the price if we knew it in advance? It is


question I think we can never know the answer to for obvious reasons,


but one we should always consider when these kind of decisions are


before us. My honourable friend who is not in his place, the member for


Newport West, told us of his own father's participation in the


battles at Passchendaele and rightly I think reminded the House that


although we say we must learn lessons, often we don't learn from


these conflicts and he rightly referred to the famous will Fred


Owen poem, in his remarks. I think we were all moved hugely by


the contrary should form the Honourable member from backing them.


He had the House transfixed with his own compelling account of the


reality of being in conflict and we thank him for his service to our


country as well as his contribution today. Then we were fortunate to


have some wonderful maiden speeches during the course of the debate and


I want to pay tribute to the Honourable member for Bedford for


his maiden speech. Eat holders of his personal journey from Kashmir to


Bedford and he also paid quite tribute to his predecessor who is


someone I knew from my days in university and was a very fine


member of this House and I was pleased that he did that and he is


obviously very proud of his constituency and I think his


constituents have every right to be proud of him to for his contribution


to the debate today. The Honourable member for Elmet and Rothwell who I


know is starring later in our proceedings again today, I think he


also called as a very moving personal story from his own family


and reminded us of the consequences of the aftermath of war which I


think we should all remember and paid tribute to his own father who


was watching our proceedings today. The Honourable member for diver


Merioneth spoke about the Welsh poet who was killed at the Battle of


Passchendaele and then we have a typically knowledgeable contribution


from the Honourable member for New Forest East, the defence committee


chair, who he was a very detailed and vivid portrayal of the futility


and horror of the battle which certainly brought great wisdom and


knowledge to our proceedings. Can I congratulate also the Honourable


member for Glasgow North East on his excellent maiden speech. I think it


is customary to express the view when a member makes a maiden speech


that that's member has a bright future possibly at the dispatch box.


It took me six years to get to the dispatch box, Madam Deputy Speaker.


He has rather beaten that records as he told us he will be making his


debut at the dispatch box just next week I think and we wish him well in


that role. I'm sure he will do very well indeed in that role and he also


mentions, Madam Deputy Speaker, Michael Martin, the previous


speaker. When I was a young new MP, I had the temerity to ask a question


in this House without wearing a tie, Madam Deputy Speaker, in 2002 and I


was quite rightly admonished by the Speaker at that time. But times have


changed, as we know, but I have never quite got over that so I am


still wearing my tie despite the new dispensation that there still is in


the House. The Honourable member, a new member for Stirling, who did not


make a maiden speech otherwise altered was, told us personally that


he visited the Menin Gate and experience of the ceremony there and


said that all schoolchildren to do that and we would agree with that.


He is referred to the war memorials in his own constituency and quite


rightly reminded us of the cognition of the Commonwealth troops in the


First World War, including those from India and we should remember


there were 1.3 million people volunteered for the British Indian


Army during the First World War. 70,000 of them lost their lives


during that war and he was quite right to remind the House of that


fact. My honourable friend the member for Heywood and Middleton


that holders of the events being organised in her constituency to


commemorate Passchendaele and told us the fascinating story of Walter


Marsden who won the military Cross as the battle and who also sculpted


the figure of peace on the war memorial in her own constituency and


it was a pleasure to hear the fine maiden speech from the new member


for Ceredigion who, I think, made it very appropriate tribute also to his


predecessor, Mark Williams, who was genuinely liked across the House by


different parties. He introduced yet another Welsh word into the debate


during his speech which, Madam Deputy Speaker, means a deep longing


for home. He clearly loves his constituency. He described as the


most beautiful in Wales. I should remind him that it is in fact the


murder capital of Wales because for those of us who occasionally watch


Hinterland, the television series which is made in his constituency,


although he has invited us all to visit it, we are all a bit nervous


because the murder rate seems particularly high. Almost as high as


Oxford in Inspector Morse on the other channel. But he made his


constituency sounds like the Garden of Eden and I hope Honourable


members, I'm not suggesting that original sin was invented here, but


we should visit. It is a very, very peaceful poisoning is a very bright


future in this place so long as he never achieved his ambition of Wales


leaving the United Kingdom in which case I think you will have to give


up his seat in this place and this House would be poorer if that were


ever to happen. Can I also congratulate my honourable friend


the mentor for Bridgend who told us that very poignant story of the


diary of her grandfather from the front and how will she uses its


contents as inspiration for the fine work she does on the Defence Select


Committee in this House and we were all, I think, moved immensely by


what she told us. It falls to me really to pay tribute to all those


who gave their lives, as I did at the beginning and is the minister


did, in the First World War and particularly in the Battle of


Passchendaele which we are discussing today and for those who


still give service to us in our Armed Forces. I think today's debate


is a hugely appropriate tribute to them. The greatest tribute, as


others have said, I think that we can all give is to do all we can to


promote peace and let us all pledged today to do just that. Mr John


Glenn. With the leave of the House, I would like to respond also to what


has been I think an excellent debate which I hope that this House in good


standing for those that are watching today. We have had 13 backbench


contributions and three excellent maiden speeches and I won't repeat


excellent words of the Honourable gentleman who speaks for the front


bench in going through all of them, but I would just like to, I think,


mention the three maiden speeches, so firstly the Honourable member for


Bedford who would just like to pay tribute to his words today and the


way that he spoke about his predecessor does him great credit. I


think the whole house would be very aware of his commitment to Bedford


and we wish him well in his future in the House. Then we come to the


member for Glasgow North East. I don't want to sound too much about


quaking knees and trembling at the dispatch box, but it took me seven


years to get here and I'm very pleased for him that it is only


going to take him a few weeks. But I wish him well in his career in the


House. And then thirdly I was like to turn to the young member for


Ceredigion. I would like to applaud him for his composed and measured


contribution for his first time in the House. He described his


constituency very fully, but also as the capital of Welsh culture. I


think that'll be a contested title from what I've heard from other


contributions today. But I wish him well in the House too. So, I'm very


grateful for all the contrary should we have had and I will refer to a


few of my honourable friends as I make a few reflections. As we've


heard, this battle, the Battle of Passchendaele, which touts


communities across Britain and Ireland and across the world was a


very, very grim event. A series of events. And it is right that we take


this opportunity to reflect on the bravery, insurance, service and


sacrifice of those involved in particularly remember that


conditions in casualties were horrific for soldiers on both sides


of the line. In the spirit of the personal reflections that I think so


many colleagues from across the House have shared, I would like to


read a first-hand account of Passchendaele given to me by a


constituent of mine who is a distinguished battle tours veteran.


And I would just like to read this out. While I and others were taking


supplies into the line at Ypres, we waded through mud all the way. It


was very necessary to keep following the leader strictly in line, for one


false step to the right or left sometimes meant plunging into


dangerous and deep mud pools. One of our men was unfortunate enough to


step out of line and fall into one of these models. Knowing from past


experience that quick action was needed if we were to save him from


quickly sinking, we got hold of his arms and try to pull him out. This


did not produce much result and we had to be careful ourselves not to


slip in with him. We finally procured a rope and managed to rip


it securely under his armpits. He was now gradually sinking until the


mud and water reached almost to his shoulders. We tugged at that rope


with the strength of desperation in an effort to save him. But it was


useless. He was fast in the mud and beyond


human aid. Reluctantly, the party had to leave him to his fate and


that fate was gradually sinking inch by inch and finally dying


ossification. -- of suffocation. The neat personnel now knew he was


beyond all aid and begged me to shoot him rather than leave him to


die a miserable death by suffocation. I did not want to do


this, but thinking of the agonies he would injure, if I left him to this


horrible death, I decided a quick death would be a merciful ending. I


am not afraid to say therefore that I shot this man at his own most


urgent request, thus releasing him from a far more agonising end. Madam


Deputy Speaker, this is the reality of the human misery that we are


commemorating today. It is a human misery that my honourable and


gallant friend, the member for Beckenham spoke of with such


personal authority when he said war is disgusting and horrid. But it is


important that we, as a nation, commemorate what happened. And I


would like to remind the House that these events on the 30th and 31st of


July, when they are done, we will focus to the centenary of the


Armistice in November 20 18. And I would urge Honourable members from


across the House to consider the resources available to ensure local


constituencies engage in the commemoratives programme. There are


many Heritage lottery funding projects taking place up and down


the country where local communities are exploring and learning about


their First World War heritage. And since April 2010, the Heritage


lottery fund has awarded over ?86 million to more than 1700 project


across the UK to mark the centenary. 7 million people have engaged in


First World War heritage and as the Honourable member for Cardiff West


said, poetry, songs and arts keep us going. He is so right. Secondary


school students continue to join the battlefield tours with nearly 1500


schools taking part so far and the Government was to ensure a lasting


legacy of First World War and remembrance and education. After


all, we only to those who briefly fought 100 years ago on our behalf.


So whether attending events in Belgium or within the UK or watching


on television, we will remember all those affected by this dreadful


battle 100 years ago and ensure that they shall never be forgotten. It is


right that this House remembers all those who made the ultimate


sacrifice in service of their country. The question is that this


House has considered commemoration of Passchendaele, the third Battle


of Ypres. As many of opinions say I. IMac. I am not going to put the


question for no. The ayes have it, the ayes have it. The question is


that this House doing now adjourn. Mr Alec Schalk Brits. Thank you,


Madam Deputy Speaker. Madam Deputy Speaker, on the 9th of August 2013,


a terrible tragic and preventable accident took place on a swivel


and's farm in my constituency and 11-year-olds have a Whitlam died


from injuries he sustained after being struck by a reversing farm


vehicle. But the Crown Prosecution Service


did not bring a prosecution as the accident was deemed to have occurred


on private and not public land. Harry and his mum Pamela actually


live in my honourable friend's constituency, she very much regrets


she is not able to be here, but she is on maternity leave. Pamela worked


in the cafe kitchen at this working farm that like many have


diversified. Areas are designated as private and public, but the boundary


was not clearly defined. The police investigation was clear as to the


lack of separation between public and private areas. They reported


that, upon approaching the scene from Swithin's lane there was no


signage or other barrier that would restrict public access or inform a


person entering they're in a nonpublic area of the farm. Harry


was a regular visitor to the farm, especially in the holidays. He


assisted in the farm work. He was a familiar face and well known to the


farm staff and there was another young boy who helped in the same


way. On the morning of the accident, Harry arrived first thing at the


farm with his mum. He was keen to meet up with his friend and lend a


hand with building a new wall that was going to house some Meerkats. He


went off for a short while, returning to the cafe, accompanied


by one of his farm hand friends and ordered breakfast from him mum.


Approximately 15 minutes later accident occurred. Harry was in the


farm yard when he was hit by a slurry trailer being reversed by a


trobgtor. -- tractor. He was badly crushed. The air ambulance flew him


to Leeds General Infirmary, but Harry died from his injuries. The


investigation revealed that Harry had been walking across the back of


the slurry trailer from right to left when he was struck. He had


gained access to to this working area by a route that was not in I --


in any way cordoned off. There is no evidence that Harry was running. And


evidence presented by PC Martin Ward confirmed the view from the cab was


good and that Harry was there to be seen. He concluded that Harry would


have been in the sight of the driver for quite a long time. And that it


was a very low impact speed. Due to the anomaly in the law that this


debate seeks to address, the driver, Mr Gary Green, despite being


overdouble the drink drive Liverpool was only prosecuted -- drink drive


limit was only prosecuted under the health and safety at work act and


the family had to 17 months before the Health and Safety Executive


should prosecute for for failing to ensure the safe of people. This


makes it sound like it was nothing more than a tragic accident. The


truth is Gary Green was drunk and having drunk such a huge quantity of


alcohol, he knowingly and willingly took control of heavy machinery and


killed a young boy when all investigations show that if he had


been alert he would have stopped his vehicle as Harry was in plain sight.


Due this is to being an health and safety prosecution he was sentenced


to six months imprisonment. If he had been charged with causing death


by careless driving, the maximum would have been 14 years


imprisonment and there is scope for unlimited fine and the Crown


Prosecution Service advise it is probably that had Green been


prosecuted under the road traffic act he would probably have received


a sentence of around six years. The disparity between the sentencing of


what is the same offence, driving while under the influence of alcohol


is unjust and is at odds with a society that widely condemns such


behaviour. The Crown Prosecution Service reported they were unable to


bring a prosecution atz the accident happened on private land. The


questions have been asked as to whether the Crown Prosecution


Service were instructed to revise an investigation that they consider a


manslaughter charge and I have been advised that the police did


thoroughly investigate the matter, man slaughter charges were


considered were according to the Crown Prosecution Service it didn't


pass the test for gross negligence manslaughter. The law seeks to make


this analysis irrelevant by calling for parity of esteem. In 2010, David


John Arthur, 62, tried to convince magistrates he was not guilty of


drink driving, because he was caught in a Tesco supermarket, claiming it


was private property and the law did not apply. He was convicted. In


2012, Lisa Doctorate drive to a caravan park. She had an alcohol


reading of 102 microgrammes and believed she could drive because it


was private land. He was found guilty. But in 2012 a priest, Peter


Maguire was double the limit when he come lieded with a vehicle in a car


park. His defence was it was private land and he was found not guilty on


these grounds. There are law firms who boast of getting around our laws


and getting people off. I struggled whether to name and shame them in


this chamber. But I fear I would only give free advertising. They


seek to blatantly disobey the law and look for legal loopholes to get


away with it. I think the majority of this House would have rightful


contempt for these so-called practitioners of law. The road


safety charity have said as a road safety charity we know the


devastation caused by drink driving and a drunk driver in charge of a


vehicle of any type is a lethal combination. Whether it takes place


on public or private land ought to be irrelevant. The time has come to


ensure that in the same as if you were to kill someone in your home or


on the street, a parity of esteem must exist. The In particular, the


offence of driving under the influence of alcohol or drug,


regardless of where that vehicle maybe. The law would prevent other


families having to go through Pamela's trauma of losing her son


and finding a prosecution could not be brought. You may remember a few


years ago you were in the chair when I brought another case to this


chamber about a young boy a day before his 20th birth day killed by


a drink driver. How far often to people have to come here and try and


do something about our drink driving law and that justice is given to at


least bring closure to the family. I ask anybody who is a parent how they


would feel if their only child was killed and the immediate reaction


was we cannot prosecute, even though that driver was drunk and in all the


investigations showed that he had plenty of time to see this young


boy, it was a low impact speed and the police investigation said he was


there to be seen. Harry is dead because of a drink driver and it


shames us all that he cannot be prosecuted because of a loophole in


the law that some solicitors out there will exploit to get people off


what is a crime. I close with a simple but heartbreaking statement


from Pamela. She says, I believe there should be no distinction


between private or public land if someone is found to be in charge of


a motor vehicle whilst under the influence. By driving in is in state


they not only endanger the lives of other, but put their own lives at


risk. It is a sad fact that some law firms pride themselves in exploiting


this legal loophole, using it to get drivers acquitted. It is even more


distressing to me when they quote my son's death as an example of how


they can beat the system. Thank you. Mr John Heys. Thank you. I thank the


member. He has highlighted what will have moved everyone who heard it


today. I'm the father, as he knows of two young sons and I respond to


this debate not only as a minister, but also in that capacity too. We


have just been debating in the House this afternoon Passchendaele. How


unfortunately we should come to the adjournment only to turn to another


tragedy. I'm grateful to my honourable friend for bringing the


tale of Harry to this cham bemplt I offer my -- chamber. I offer my


condolences to the family. Regret bri, although the country has a good


record of road safety nshs 2015, there were 1,750 road deaths in


Britain. Motor vehicles were responsible for deaths away from the


highway. In 2016/17 being struck pay vehicle was the cause of 31 deaths


of workers according to the statistics compiled under the report


of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations. This makes


it the leading cause of worker fatalities. Harry was a child. He


wasn't a worker in a formal sense of course. But he was in entitled it


seems to me to the same attention from those about him that any worker


would have expected or been entitled to. Our law recognises the highway


can be dangerous and it is because of this that motor vehicles will be


moving at speed close to each other and other road user, the offences of


careless and dangerous driving have been framed in that context. Once we


look away from the highway, the range of activities using a vehicle


which take place on private land multiply in unimaginable profusion.


Activities such as motor racing, designed to demonstrate the skill of


drivers, in ways that would not be appropriate on the open highway.


Workers on a construction site may be controlling vehicles in spaces


which they know don't have firm foundation or walls. Drivers who are


at an airport share the ground with air graft with all the dangers that


that might bring. All of those drivers owe a duty of care to those


about him. That duty of care comes not from being employees, not from


being drivers, but from being human beings. With a responsibility and a


duty of care to their fellows. That can never been greater than when one


thinks of young people, of children. A responsibility to take care for


those around us must be surely in our hearts exaggerated, even greater


when speaking about vulnerable people, the very young, the very


old, the frail, the disabled people, infirm people and so on. So the


context in which this debate takes place is one where I understand my


honourable friend's frustration that more currently is not being done.


For more than 40 years, the health and safety at work act 1974 has


provided a framework for ensuring that work places are safe. There is


a reporting regime. Not all private land is a work place and places can


be a work place and home. I beg to move the House do now adjourn.