FORMER SOLDIER Dan Jarvis has called for Parliament to hold a special debate to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme next month.
The Labour MP, a former Army major who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, raised concerns that with just a few weeks to go before the anniversary, the Commons has not arranged a “planned moment” to mark it.
Raising the issue in Culture, Media and Sport Questions in the House, he said many MPs shared his concerns and called on ministers to arrange something.
He said: “It is important that young people engage in commemorations, but it is also important that we here in this House seek to engage with the commemorations as well.
“I wonder if the minister shares my concern that just a few weeks ahead of the 100th anniversary, the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, that we don’t have a planned moment here to debate this in this House. If he does agree with me, and I know it is a concern shared widely across the House, can I ask him to use his good office to raise this issue with the Leader of the House so that Members from across the House can have that moment here to reflect on that important moment in our history.”
Acting culture minister David Evennett said: “I totally endorse his comments and I will have a word with the Leader of the House and Mr Speaker, who obviously are the responsible authorities, but I would certainly back that.” The Battle of the Somme took place between July 1 1916 and November that year and was one of the bloodiest battles in history. The British Army suffered 420,000 casualties in the battle, including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone.
The French lost 200,000 men and the Germans nearly 500,000, according to estimates.
The battle came to symbolise the horrors of the carnage and slaughter in the First World War