MPs publish report on Government’s Holocaust Memorial proposals

26 Apr 2024 09:19 AM

MPs today publish their report on the Government’s plans for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to Parliament. 

The Holocaust Memorial Bill would enable a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre to be built in Victoria Tower Gardens, situated next to Parliament, by removing existing restrictions on the site. 

The existing restrictions relate to the London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900, which requires Victoria Tower Gardens to be kept “as a garden open to the public”.  

Since the beginning of the year, the Committee has heard from individuals and bodies petitioning against the Bill’s provisions and seeking its amendment.  

It could not hear petitions on whether there should be a memorial or a learning centre, whether at Victoria Tower Gardens or elsewhere, or whether or not planning permission should be given. 

Given the limitations placed on the Committee, and the fact that discussing planning considerations would be out of scope, the Committee has decided not to amend the Bill. 

The cross-party Committee of MPs queried the consultation process around the selection of Victoria Tower Gardens, highlighting that a full consultation would have given more legitimacy around the site decision. It would also have highlighted the impediment presented by the 1900 Act, sooner. 

The Committee also expressed concern around the rising costs of the project, which have increased from £50 million to £137 million since the proposal was announced in 2015. The Government is urged to consider how ongoing costs will be paid for, and whether the plans offer appropriate use of public money. 

In light of concerns raised around the risk of terrorism, the Committee also calls on the Government to publish security proposals for the memorial. 

The report notes the very limited focus of the Committee – as specified by the instruction provided to the Committee – and confusion around assurances given by the Secretary of State in the House of Commons.  This led to the Committee calling for Ministers to be careful in their remarks for the avoidance of doubt in future. 

Chair's comment

Commenting on the report, John Stevenson MP, Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Bill Committee, said: 

“The building of a Holocaust Memorial is an important and sensitive matter, and of great personal significance to many people, particularly those in the Jewish community. We are particularly grateful to the Holocaust survivors who explained their perspectives to us.  

“Decision making on such an important national memorial should be clear and transparent. We have heard concerns over rising costs which the Government will have to take into consideration when taking this project forward.  

“A major memorial being built in central London, next to the Houses of Parliament, will require security, and the Government needs to come forward with plans for what this will involve.”