1998 - HOUSE OF COMMONS 'CIVILIANS REMEMBERED' DEBATE
Extracts from the 'Hansard' Report
Oona King MP Bethnal Green and Bow, forced a debate in the House of Commons on the subject of a War Memorial for all Civilians killed during World War Two, she made an impassioned plea on behalf of the 'Civilians Remembered Campaign' for a Memorial and quiet Garden at the 'Hermitage' site ....
'it was not only of local importance, but of National significance too that this site at Wapping should not become part of a local Housing development, which would insult the memory of those who had perished, but be a National Memorial bequeathed to future Generations, to younger people 'my generation' so that they 'can consider what happened, and why we have some of the freedoms that we have today'.
'I appreciate that "Berkeley Homes'' is willing to offer 40% of the land as a memorial park but I would say that even 60% 0r 80% is not enough, British Civilians did not give 40% or 80% effort; many gave their lives. We must take that into account'.
'I hope that, even at this late stage, "Berkeley Homes" will agree to donate the land, or, at least offer it at cost price, In the circumstances it is not much to offer'.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP Poplar and Canning Town, congratulated the Member for Bethnal Green And Bow, Oona King, on securing Parliamentary time for the debate,
'In so doing she represents the sentiments of many people, not only in London, but throughout the Country'.
'I pay tribute to the tireless work of the Civilians Remembered campaign, it has established itself as a vigorous and committed campaigning group, whose intention it is to honour civilians who lost their lives in this Country during the second World war. It is composed of ordinary east end people who have demonstrated extraordinary tenaciousness in their efforts'.
'Those of us who have not had the experience can hardly begin to imagine what it must have been like to have to respond, night after night, to the sound of air-raid sirens; to vacate our homes for the protection of air-raid shelters; to emerge from those shelters to find our homes destroyed, our shops, factories or cinemas-indeed, whole streets-obliterated and, worst of all, to discover that family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues had been killed'.
'In the face of Hitler's attempts to bomb the British people into submission, People stood together and made a remarkable contribution to the War effort. that spirit and resolution demand a Public Memorial, and it is incredible that such a memorial is not already a long-standing reality'.
The deaths of 60,000 Civilians in Britain during the second World war, and the injuries inflicted on thousands more, surely deserve serious and enduring recognition'.
Every November at rememberance services across the Country, we conclude with the pledge, "we will remember them" but, for the civilian casualties, especially for the east end, those words ring hollow, and will continue to ring hollow, until we have a suitable memorial where people can pay their respects'
Nick Raynsford MP Minister for London and Construction congratulated Oona king MP for her success in securing the debate and raising this important and serious matter, his own Father had been killed in the course of a War where the 'East end bore the brunt of, countless air-raids and V-bomb attacks. It is right that there should be an appropriate memorial to their sacrifice. I pay tribute to the that work of Civilians Remembered campaign, which has done a great deal to argue the case for a memorial in the east end of London.
He was currently unable to comment on the Council's decision to modify the plan for 'mixed use and open space' until it is further advertised 'so that proper public consideration can be given to the change. Such a change cannot affect planning permissions that have already been granted, including the ones granted to Berkeley Homes and the Civilians Remembered Campaign'. The Minister was unable to comment further because of his 'quasi-judicial role' as the Secretary of State in this and other planning matters. The debate was adjourned at two minutes past Eight o'clock.
Public pressure on local Councillors had forced them to convene a special meeting where they had voted to re-designate the land at Hermitage in Wapping as open space. but has it been Too Little, Too Late? See the latest updates to find out.
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Civilians Remembered Trust
Tel 020 7264 4660 or 020 7265 1686
Board of Trustees
Lord Allen sheppard of Didgemere (Chair), Marianne Fredericks, Maureen Davis, Oona King
Anthony Pidgely (The Berkeley Group), Stephen O'Brien CBE, Jon Aldenton (The Environment Trust)
Registered Charity No. 1093621