DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – ITALIAN CAMPAIGN – 1 March 2004

Dr Julian Lewis: Lottery grants are often controversial, but the Minister (Ivor Caplin) will agree that this one [the "Heroes Return" fund] will achieve universal acclaim across the Chamber and throughout the country. In considering the grants made and the representations given at veterans' events, will he bear it in mind that, two days before the heroes return to Normandy this June, other heroes will be returning to Rome because it will be the 60th anniversary of its liberation? Will he bear it in mind that those who are entitled today to wear the Italy Star belong to a force that lost 45,000 British and Commonwealth servicemen? Is there any prospect of a Royal and Prime Ministerial presence in Rome two days before the same dignitaries go to Normandy?

[Mr Caplin: The hon. Gentleman would not expect me to comment on the last point. However, in April, it will be the 60th anniversary of Kohima in Burma, and in May, it will be the 60th anniversary of Monte Cassino. Both events take place before the D-Day commemoration. It is important to emphasise that "Heroes Return" is about all events worldwide and does not support only veterans going to events or their carers. It is also an educational project that allows veterans to commit to regaling their stories and legacy to young people in our society so that we have a living history of the great sacrifices many of them made.]