HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 c430
5. Mr. Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle)

What progress has been made in the Government's plans to celebrate the golden jubilee in London. [34231]

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell)

London will be the focus of the national events during the golden jubilee weekend. Full details of the programme have not yet been published, but events will include concerts in the grounds of Buckingham palace; the lighting of the jubilee beacon and a fireworks display; the state procession to St Paul's cathedral for the national service of thanksgiving; a lunch at Guildhall; and a carnival pageant in the Mall.

Mr. Barker

All Conservative Members hope and believe that Her Majesty's golden jubilee will be a great success. I welcome the extensive programme of activities that has been arranged for the jubilee bank holiday weekend, but will she assure us that the main celebrations will be a Cool Britannia-free zone, and that the military bayonets-drawn and breastplate-shining pageantry for which this country is world-renowned, and in which our service men and women excel, will be in pride of place? Can she further assure us that there will be no fewer armed service participants in the parade than there were in the silver jubilee celebrations in 1977? If not, will she lobby her colleagues at the Ministry of Defence to invite Commonwealth troops to come to London and fill the gap?

Tessa Jowell

The Conservatives say one thing and do another. It is not for the Government to tell people how to enjoy themselves during the jubilee; people will decide that for themselves. It is the Government's role, however, to support the palace and the public so that the many ideas and ambitions that communities throughout the country have to celebrate the jubilee can flourish. All the signs are that people are engaging with the prospect of organising jubilee events. For instance, the number of hits on the golden jubilee office website tripled in the past two months, more than 500 beacons are planned and street parties are being organised. Events are being organised despite the best efforts of the Opposition to talk down the jubilee.