Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu - Y Bumed Senedd

Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee - Fifth Senedd

03/12/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Carwyn Jones
David Melding
Helen Mary Jones
John Griffiths
Mick Antoniw

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Gaynor Legall Cadeirydd Grŵp Gorchwyl a Gorffen
Chair of Task and Finish Group
Gwilym Hughes Cadw
Cadw
Hadassah Radway Cyngor Hil Cymru
Race Council Cymru
Nelly Adam Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
Richard Bingley Save Our Statues
Save Our Statues

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Angharad Roche Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Rhys Morgan Clerc
Clerk
Robin Wilkinson Ymchwilydd
Researcher

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:29.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:29. 

Bore da, a chroeso cynnes i gyfarfod Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu ein Senedd. Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 34.19, dwi wedi gwahardd y cyhoedd rhag y cyfarfod yma er mwyn diogelu iechyd y cyhoedd. Mae'r cyfarfod yn cael ei ddarlledu yn fyw ar Senedd.tv, gyda phawb sy'n cymryd rhan yn ymuno trwy ddulliau rhithiol. Bydd trawsgrifiad o'r pwyllgor yn cael ei gyhoeddi fel arfer.

Ar wahân i'r pethau y mae'n rhaid i ni wneud gan ein bod ni'n cwrdd o bell, mae pob Rheol Sefydlog arall mewn lle fel arfer. Os am unrhyw reswm dwi'n gorfod cwympo mas o'r cyfarfod, os yw pethau technegol yn digwydd, mae David Melding yn garedig iawn wedi cytuno cymryd drosodd fel Cadeirydd tra fy mod i'n trio ailymuno. Gaf i ofyn i'm cyd-Aelodau am unrhyw ddatganiadau o fudd? Does yna ddim.

Good morning, and a very warm welcome to this meeting of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee of the Senedd. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from this meeting in order to protect public health. The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv and all participants are joining us via video-conference. A transcript of the meeting will be published as usual.

Aside from the procedural adaptations relating to conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements for committees remain in place. If, for any reason, I drop out of the meeting, such as for technological reasons, then David Melding has very kindly agreed to act as Chair whilst I try and rejoin. May I ask my fellow Members whether they have any declarations of interest to make? There are none. 

09:30
2. Ymchwiliad ynghylch pwy sy'n cael eu coffáu mewn mannau cyhoeddus
2. Inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces

Felly, trown ni at eitem 2 ar yr agenda, sef yr ymchwiliad i bwy sy'n cael eu coffáu yn ein llefydd cyhoeddus ni. Dwi'n falch iawn o groesawu ein dau dyst cyntaf, sef Gwilym Hughes a Gaynor Legall.

So, we will turn immediately to item 2 on our agenda, which is our inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces. I'm very pleased to welcome our first two witnesses, namely Gwilym Hughes and Gaynor Legall.

I'll just ask you both to introduce yourselves, and then we'll go straight into questions, if that's okay. Gwilym.

Hello, everybody. My name is Gwilym Hughes. I'm the deputy director and head of Cadw.

Hello. Good morning, everyone. My name is Gaynor Legall and I've been the chair of the task and finish group that is giving evidence today.

Thank you, both, again very much. We'll go straight into questions, and I'll start, if you don't mind. This asks for an opinion and so, Gaynor, you might be happy to give it, and, Gwilym, you may feel that you shouldn't give an opinion, but this does ask for an opinion. Do you feel it's appropriate that there are 13 commemorations in Wales to people who took part in the slave trade?

I don't think that it is appropriate for those commemorations. I understand why they are there. They were put there a long time ago. I think that, in the development of the audit report, we have understood better the role of those individuals. So, the short answer to your question is 'they are already there'. It's what we do next that really matters.

Thank you. Gwilym, do you want to add anything? I know, as I said, it calls for an opinion, so we'll understand if you prefer not to give one.

No, that's okay. The important thing with the audit is that the audit provides a solid evidence base on which to make future decisions. I won't give an opinion on that, but obviously there's a lot of information that's available through the audit that will help public authorities in that decision-making process.

Thank you. That's really helpful. Obviously, Members have had an opportunity to see a copy of the report, and we're very grateful to you for all the work that's gone into that. So, can you tell us a little bit more about how, as a panel, you determined the culpability, the responsibility, of individuals identified in the report? And to what extent have their descendants been offered any right of reply, as it were, or been informed about their ancestors' inclusion in the report? Who'd like to start?

Gwilym, do you want to start that one, or do you want me to?

Yes, Gwilym, as some of this is about process, and we'll bring Gaynor in as well.

That's fine. It was important that, obviously, the panel, the task and finish group, were a collection of experts in historical discourse and also specialists in this particular area, so they all had an opportunity to contribute to the way in which individuals were articulated in the report. The evidence was gathered in as objective a way as we possibly could so that it was a fair and open process, and it is inevitable, of course, that there will be challenges to some of the detail in the report, and that's understandable. Of course, the task and finish group will welcome those challenges and any issues about corrections that might be felt necessary.

Thank you. So, just for clarity, were any known descendants proactively contacted, or is the process now that the report's in the public domain that if people have got questions to raise, or issues to respond to, that they'll do that at this point?

09:35

There are two things there. One is that all of the information that we've gathered and included in the report was already in the public domain because, of course, it's all taken from source information. So, there's nothing that was not already available, and it was made clear—I think the task and finish group did make it clear in the report—that this is in no way reflected on the descendants of those people who were named, and they're not guilty of anything, of course. So, that was a very clear statement made at the beginning of the report to that effect.  

I think it's helpful to have that on the record. Gaynor.

We did, as a group, discuss the effects of putting this information, which, as Gwilym said, was already in the public domain, in one place for easier reference. And we identified a couple of people, descendants, and tried to gauge their reaction. One of the members did have some conversations with one person. Generally speaking, it was felt, because we weren't exposing new information and because the process of the task and finish group being established and the report being compiled was well known, that, should people have objections, they would be in touch, and some people did get in touch with us and we dealt with issues as they arose. 

Yes, only that there was quite a significant number of people or persons of interest that were identified and, actually, there was a physical impossibility of being able to identify every descendant of every one of those individuals as well, of course. So, it would have been a fairly arbitrary exercise—we would have been contacting some, but not everyone. 

Yes, and, of course, many years have gone by and you wouldn't necessarily know and people wouldn't necessarily know if they were the descendants of certain people; in some cases, they might prefer not to. That's very helpful. Thank you. If I can bring Mick Antoniw in next, then, please. 

Thank you. Can I firstly just say what a really interesting historic document this audit actually is? Just a couple of questions that lead into a few things I want to ask about. First of all, this audit report, it seems to me, is one that provides an excellent basis for the teaching of some of the history issues that we want to see start being included within the new Welsh curriculum, doesn't it, because it actually provides a very historic framework to quite a lengthy period of Wales's involvement. Can I ask, did you also—? There was a list published in Parliament, because there was a massive compensation payment, wasn't there? I think it was almost 40 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product to compensate slave owners. Was that list one of your starting points for this audit? 

Yes, absolutely. The documentation from the compensation lists was a fundamental starting point and, in fact, we used the addresses, trying to identify individuals who had addresses based in Wales, as a very useful basis for compiling the list.  

Thank you. Now we have this audit, and we're considering the issue of commemorations and the various place names, and so on, what do you think Welsh Government's next step—? Do you have a view as to what should be the next steps that Welsh Government takes? What do we do with this list? 

Okay, I'll start. We had a discussion about this yesterday. Interestingly, we were established as a task and finish group. Practically before we got to the halfway point, we could see that we were identifying more work to be done. And Mick is absolutely right—one of the clear links is with the development of the new curriculum and also, I'd say curriculum developments around sociology and the economic development of Wales. We've set the foundations for a really good—. I think there's been some really good discussion on how the curriculum can better reflect the total history of Wales. We talked yesterday about how one begins a public discourse around what happens next. What should be done? You put this information into the public domain; you can't drop it like a stone into a pond. So, we talked about this committee and what it was doing and its findings, and about waiting to see how the combination of the evidence you put together here and some of the thoughts from our group can be taken forward. There were no hard and fast details. Some quick wins were identified and lots of suggestions, but, yes, we haven't come up with a hard and fast plan for the next steps [Interruption.] Sorry, I thought I'd turned my phone off.

09:40

The First Minister made it clear, I think, from the very beginning in his initial written statement and then certainly in the written statement that was published alongside the audit that this was very much the first stage of a much wider piece of work, but that the scope of that work needed to be informed partly, actually, by the work of this committee's inquiry. This is obviously going to be a very helpful contribution, as well, to the discussion and the debate.

But Gaynor's right—the task and finish group members themselves have already thought of some good starting points. And I'd refer back to Mick's earlier point about the way in which the material presented in the audit can help inform educational materials. So, there's a clear link across to Charlotte Williams's work on the curriculum, as well as, of course, the emerging work on the race equality action plan, which is due for publication early next year. So, again, there are some outputs that might be used to inform that. So, in a way, the audit has got a purpose in its own right, as well as to inform a much wider piece of work, which, as the First Minister has highlighted, now needs to be done.

Yes. That's really interesting and it leads into the next point I wanted to ask about, and that is that there are two different approaches. I mean, if we go back in history, it's very interesting what you say, for example, about Robert Owen, because there's a move for a Robert Owen Day, which I'm involved in, but, of course, the cotton that he received in the mills would have come from slave plantations. Now, that's perhaps not a criticism of Robert Owen; I imagine that there was probably no other source, but you have to understand the broader background. When we look at Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice is one of the most antisemitic plays that has been written, and there are all sorts of issues about trying to take people out of the environment and history in which they actually existed. But there are two aspects to it, aren't there? There are those that are very present—those statues and so on; Picton's statue might be one—and have an immediate impact on the environment that they're in. The other option, of course, that's been suggested is that, well, perhaps one of the things is to recognise that they are there and why they are there, but that the narrative should be to properly explain what they represent and what the history is around them. So, they actually are not only a reminder of history, but they also serve in educating people about history. Now, I don't know what your thoughts are in terms of the balance between those two options. Maybe it's a matter of degree, but they're two different approaches that are being put into the public domain, aren't they?

I don't think they are as clearly defined as two separate approaches. I think that all of the commemorations, in their different forms, that we looked at will demand different solutions. We talked very briefly about this yesterday. I'm really interested in the geotagging element and that we tell the history. My view is that people feel protective of a statue that's stood near them for 50, 60, 100 years, but they know very little about that statue or the life story of the person. So, in order to make decisions about what happens to that statue, those decisions should be informed ones. If we can give more information, in whatever way is appropriate for the locale, and the population around it, I think then people can make better informed decisions. So, the more I think about this, the more I'm convinced that it's not a one-size-fits-all approach that needs to be taken. 

09:45

Mick did mention Robert Owen, who was mentioned in the audit, of course, and others. Now, obviously, there are degrees of culpability regarding individuals who were involved, and the list of persons of interest tries to make that distinction between those who were directly involved in the slave trade, those who benefited in some way from the slave trade, those who opposed the slave trade, or the abolition of the slave trade, and so on. What the task and finish group have attempted to do is to revisit the reputations of those individuals and assess the level of culpability or otherwise. Now, there are strong views on both sides, of course, of that conversation. For example, it was surprising that a progressive thinker such as Robert Owen might be included in that list. But, as you rightly say, Mick, his industry benefited, and he had known views around abolition. So, it needed to be considered. That allows us, or allows decision makers, to make informed decisions around the future of ways in which certain people are commemorated. It doesn't mean to say they shouldn't be commemorated; it just means it helps to inform that process, and perhaps a balanced interpretation can be achieved. 

Just one final short question from me. Do you both agree that doing nothing is not an option?

I agree. We can't put the genie back into the bottle; we have to do something. 

That's clearly the way in which the whole exercise has been created. We've got to move forward with an honest, open and transparent conversation. 

Thank you. Just before I bring David Melding in, can I just ask Gwilym specifically—? In addition or in parallel to this work, has Cadw been giving any other thoughts to how you contextualise? I know, for example, that the National Trust has been doing lots of work in some of its properties in recent months, looking at how they recontextualise some of the items that are on display, and some of the whole properties, actually, that they manage that, arguably, only exist because of the slave trade. So, has Cadw been doing some of that work, as well as obviously taking a very strong role in this process?

Yes, we'll certainly be looking very closely at the way we present information through our digital resources and digital provision. So, we will need to look at ways of interpreting and maybe disseminating information and advice. We're having that open conversation now in Cadw to think about how we address some of these more contentious parts of our past. 

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. It's been very interesting listening to the witnesses and the considered and nuanced approach, because these matters are challenging. If you hadn't been so clear, even in your nuance, I was going to put the case to you of Thomas Jefferson. I'm a graduate of his alma mater, the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and at the three-hundredth anniversary of the founding of that university in 1993, the University of Virginia, which Jefferson famously funded, sent a very famous statue to the College of William and Mary, and it stands in a very prominent place on that beautiful campus. Now, Jefferson tried to get a reference into the declaration of independence denouncing the slave trade and condemning George III and his ancestors for committing it, which shows how complicated this is. But there is further complication, as historians have pointed out that Jefferson's position greatly strengthened Virginia's power in the early United States, increased the value of the slaves that were there—and he, of course, was a slave owner—and reduced the power of some of the competing states that wanted to extend the trade. These things are hugely complicated, but it's surely difficult to remove a significant historical figure of the size of Jefferson altogether, isn't it? Is that a fair example of the very difficult judgments that we have to make?

09:50

Gwilym, I can see you're looking as if you might want to respond to that.

I'm quite happy to. There's no doubt, David, that that is a good example, and, of course, there are other examples mentioned in the audit report that the task and finish group have referred to, such as big, major, public and significant figures in British history, such as William Gladstone, for example, or Nelson or Wellington. These are great national heroes in many people's minds, of course, naturally, and a lot of these people's views changed as well during the time of their career. I think that it's fair that those people have been mentioned by campaigners, by the press in various ways, and, obviously, their reputations are highly contested. I think it's just important that we look objectively at their reputations as best we can, so that we can make an honest appraisal of how we presented those people in the past. Perhaps it's not been so balanced up until now, I don't know; that's a view that some people might have. But the reason why they're discussed and considered in the audit report is so that that conversation can at least be aired in a fair and honest way. So, yes, Thomas Jefferson is another example of an individual. There are many great figures in history of that kind.

I was just going to say that we are all sinners and saints, and I think we're at a point in the development of our understanding of the world that we live in where we're more open to hearing a full truth—you know, a warts-and-all approach. So, I think the time is right for us to give all the information about individuals that have been commemorated, and allow people to have that discourse and to come to conclusions. I would guess that there will not be a clear conclusion about lots of them, but the conversation is needed. I think the conversation will be beneficial to our understanding of what we mean by equity and diversity, as well.

Thank you, Chair. Very interesting answers. This takes me on to the importance of contextualisation, which I think we would all agree has been lacking, even if this wasn't highly controversial. I think what we know about the commemorations in our public spaces is often quite limited. I just wonder how you see the local community being used in the decision making. Let me give an example. We could have a very inappropriate statue of someone whose principal activity was the slave trade, and that might be in a docks community or somewhere, and that local community would say, 'The fact this has been here 100 years, 150 years; it's still repugnant and we want it removed'—or even destroyed, some people have said, but anyway, let's deal with removed. But there may be a statue in, say, Cardiff civic centre—I don't know if there is—to a very significant figure whose wealth may have come from Jamaican plantations or whatever, and that was the main part of his life, and the wider community might say, 'We want to contextualise this', but for that statue to remain as a sign of what our ancestors thought was a priority at certain times, despite the truth that was known of this person's fortune. Could we have that scale of variety in community decision making, or do you think we need something much firmer?

09:55

My view is that we need to have that variety, because the views of people are varied. I think we have the technology to allow us to respond to the variety. It need not necessarily be about removal and destruction, but maybe reinterpretation. So I think that we ought to not just allow but encourage the conversation and then look at the ways in which the responses play out. Sometimes it may not be possible to remove a statue, and sometimes the information about that statue, as is the case with some in Cardiff, comes as a complete surprise, because you just walk past things every day without really looking at them. So, it might increase our awareness of our history and the environment around us, but I certainly do think that there will be a need for a variety of responses to the comments from the general public.  

As I mentioned earlier, this is only the very first stage of a much wider piece of work, and we need to scope that wider piece of work and how we address these difficult questions that David has just raised. But I think it's fair to say that the task and finish group members were very adamant that there needs to be a significant element of public consultation and the public need to be involved in these decisions about what steps we should take when dealing with potentially contentious commemorations. And the other issue is about the importance of local decision making as well, so that it's at a local level, rather than at a bigger national level. I think that's a fair reflection of the views of the task and finish group, Gaynor.

Yes, absolutely. 

My final question, then. Gaynor very astutely, I thought, at the beginning, said that what's really important, having looked at the report, is what we do next, and that we need a full discussion about that. One of the things we should do next is perhaps be more thoughtful about how we will commemorate and use our public spaces and initiate new memorials. And I just wonder if either of you has got a view on whether, if we don't have very strict criteria, which could be a straitjacket, we could have standards. One of them that's been mentioned to us is the way, many years ago, London county council, I think back in the 1930s, came up with a set of standards for the blue plaque scheme. They're very nuanced, but also give very useful guidance. Let me just remind you: the person commemorated should be of significant public standing in a London-wide, national or international context; they should be understood to have made some important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness—I think that's an interesting standard; their achievement should have made an exceptional impact in terms of public recognition, so that we're not commemorating obscure figures that would just confuse people; and there should be strong grounds for believing that they were regarded as eminent or distinguished in their own profession or calling. I think the final one is that you wait at least a generation—20 or 25 years—before you commemorate. Is that sort of approach useful for the future? I know it doesn't help us much with what's in the environment at the moment, but for the future, is that a helpful approach?

My personal opinion, which might be a little bit controversial, is that I actually don't see the point of statues, and I think as Wales becomes more confident in its independence and gains more independence, we should be looking at ways to commemorate people differently, and we've had this brief conversation in the task and finish group. The whole bit about honours lists, et cetera, it is a relic of the past and we need to be looking to the future. So, I look at commemoration from a more modern standpoint and the people that we seek to commemorate, even using the criteria that David mentioned just now, excludes a whole load of people. Some individuals do good and they benefit large numbers of the population, but they aren't known nationally. There are people who are excluded. One of the areas that we identified whilst compiling the audit and report was that there is no commemoration of people with a disability, hardly any commemoration of black people, and very, very few commemorations of women. Those people have been excluded because they weren't included, and so, I think if we're going to develop something that is new, we need to address it from a new standpoint, and the standpoint of Wales as a nation: what we see as important, how would we like to commemorate those individuals, and to make sure that we don't exclude the people who historically—we're talking about bringing history into the future—have been excluded from recognition, never mind commemoration.

10:00

I think the establishment of criteria—they sound like criteria to me, actually, David's list there—and the establishment of some criteria for how we commemorate people is undoubtedly an option, as would much wider public consultation—again, I've mentioned that already, I know—and that decisions are supported by local communities; that's really, really important, I feel. But these issues do need to be fully aired. Gaynor made some extremely, extremely good points there around the way in which the commemorations in the past have always really focused on particular types of people from particular parts of our community to the exclusion of others, and that's a really, really important point, and that might be very difficult to achieve through this style of commemoration. I think Gaynor made that point very forcefully there. So, again, I think it's really important to have that conversation around the future way we commemorate, and that will undoubtedly form part of the scoping of that wider piece of work that the First Minister is keen to have happen.

I could ask lots of further questions as the answers were so interesting, but I think we've had the best of the discussion there and I'll allow other colleagues to move on.

Thank you, Chair. Good morning, both. I have two questions, but I'm going to combine them into one if I may, because I think they're very much linked. And really, it's this question of what do we do with statues if they're removed. Is there a particular way they should be dealt with? And the second part of the question is: on that basis, is there any example, or are there any examples that we can look at where this has been done elsewhere in other countries? I know that Mick in the past in this committee has pointed to Ukraine and some of the statues that have been moved into a park in Ukraine, and they've been put there. But, can we look at other countries in terms of how they've dealt with statues that have been there for a long time, then become, at the very least, an embarrassment? They're then removed, but instead of being destroyed, they're removed to another place. What can we learn from other countries? What do we do with statues if they're removed?

10:05

Yes, it's a really interesting question. Obviously, I don't want to pre-empt the next stage because that's a very major decision to remove a statue; it's a significant decision and it can't be done lightly, clearly. But it would be interesting, Carwyn, I think, to better understand how other countries have dealt with it. That might form part of the next phase, actually, to do some more detailed research on that. 

I can use a personal example because, of course, I've worked in heritage management and archaeology for a long time—35 years and more—and I did work in Zimbabwe for four years. It was fascinating, the changes and the way in which people adapted to the post-independence environment. For example, two statues were removed immediately after independence in Bulawayo where I worked, one of Cecil John Rhodes, another one of the first Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia, Charles Coghlan, and they were removed and put behind the museum in Bulawayo. I understand from colleagues who still work in Zimbabwe—obviously, I've still kept in touch with my former colleagues—that there has been a debate about whether they might be returned to not their original locations, but in front of the city hall in Bulawayo, alongside Lobengula and Mzilikazi, some of the pre-colonial kings of Matabeleland. So, it was quite an interesting conversation, but these debates are continuing to happen, and recontextualising the ways that people are commemorated in terms of leadership.

So, that's just one small minor example. There have been others in Zimbabwe: the grave of Cecil John Rhodes is there, as David Livingstone is commemorated at Victoria Falls. In fact, the town is still named after him on the Zambian side. So, those sorts of example—and I'm using one example there—but in Germany, in France, in Italy, many others as well where we can certainly learn from the experiences of other countries.

Thank you. Gaynor, do you have anything to add to that? 

No, but I think Mick had his hand up and I don't have anything to add.

Okay, thank you. Mick, if you want to come in there before I go back to Carwyn.

Yes, just very quickly on that. There are loads of examples around the world. I think you have to think carefully about the political environment in which those changes took place, because some relate to very imminent—. I mean, the pulling down of the statues of Lenin in eastern Europe. I have a cousin who, when I used to write to him, I wrote to No. 4, Heroes of the Great and Glorious Revolution Street, which is now named after a poet. So, there clearly have been quite substantial transformations. But I think they're useful examples of things that can be done; I just think we need to be cautious, and that's why we're having these sessions, as to the environment in which we do. For us, it's really more about a coming to terms more now with our historic legacy, isn't it, and the impact that that has on our modern society and looking to the future, rather than the fact that we've just had an event literally within the past decade or two that has totally transformed our political environment.

For me, one of the issues to be considered is about what are we doing all of this for and who are these people. So, thinking about the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of people involved in that movement find those statues absolutely abhorrent, and they want them removed. Why do they want them removed? It's because of what they stand for, but I think it's not—. This lump of moulded rock, stone or whatever it is, symbolises something, and it's about responding to what it symbolises. I've had suggestions made to me that a museum should be built, and all these statues removed to that museum. My answer to that is that I don't want to spend money looking after these bits of stone that people find abhorrent when we could use that money for all sorts of other things. So, I think it's not just about removing statues, it's about what the statues symbolise and what they mean to the people around them. And I think that decisions about responding to those—. And it's not just statues, you see, it's the buildings, it's portraits. We need to think about contextualising them before we make any further decisions.

10:10

Yes. I mean, certainly, this information that will have been gathered through the audit provides the evidence on which we can do certain types of contextualisation and perhaps reinterpretation on site. That's a more gentle approach than the removing of them, of course. But again, I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of the wider conversation.

Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. Yes, I want to move on, then—and I think Gaynor was just pointing to the need for this—to the broader debate around these issues. Obviously, we've now got an opportunity, really, to seize the moment and try and shape a debate, not just now, but an ongoing debate into these issues and help people to come to terms with the colonial history and the history of slavery that the UK, including Wales, has. So, to what extent should there be a broader effort now to educate people, not just in schools, but outside schools, around these issues around the statues and the street names and the building names, to have a debate—hopefully, a constructive debate—as to not just what happened at the time, but what it means for Wales and the UK today? Would you like to see an effort to achieve that broader education, and have you any ideas as to how it might be shaped?

Okay, I'll start. I'm the chair of an organisation called the Heritage and Cultural Exchange, and we really have focused on the nineteenth and early twentieth century history of, specifically, Tiger bay, where I was born and grew up. And in looking at that, one of the things we found with exhibitions, et cetera, was people saying, 'Oh, I wondered how you all got here.' So, it's about, yes, we absolutely need to have this wider discussion. The consequences of the British empire are embodied in me; I'm here because you were there. And to help issues that are to do with cohesion, that are to do with identity and are to do with pride in your country. I'm very proud to be Welsh, and I've learned about Wales, the good and the bad, and I'm still learning about it and I find it fascinating, and I'm sure that, given the opportunity, others will. We need to help young people understand the way in which the world was connected then and the way in which the world is connected now. And I think that history is best when you learn from it, and so we need to—and we're exposing more as there is more research. We find out a fuller picture of history; we're not rewriting it, we're just adding to our knowledge, and increased knowledge is only a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

So, we do need to take this into the wider sphere. We need to be developing more teaching materials for young children—and I'm talking about the under-fives. We need also to be encouraging and supporting teachers and people who work with children to find out more. There is research that shows that children develop racist attitudes at quite a young age, because they see it around them. So, if we're going to do anything that's about improving social cohesion, this function of the knowledge of history is absolutely critical.

10:15

Yes. I think that this was raised yesterday as well in the task and finish group, and there was a strong feeling. You mentioned, John, there about 'seize the moment'. I think there was a very strong feeling amongst the members of the task and finish group that we really should seize the moment and take this opportunity that this report brings, but the wider conversation that's been had at the moment, to bring this into an open and honest conversation. And we need to think of ways of actually achieving that through—we mentioned earlier the possibility of Cadw taking a lead, yes, through its making more information publicly available and through means of just setting the wider context for this, which is, I think, very important. And there was a strong feeling in the group again that this should be very much a public conversation, but I do agree with everything that Gaynor's just said as well around the meaning of what it is to be Welsh, actually, and the need to reflect the whole diverse nature of Wales and Welsh society. 

Yes, one further question from me, then. We've had this audit in relation to colonialisation and slavery. To what extent do you think that exercise and the methodology might be used for other important issues, such as economic exploitation, gender inequality and sexism? Is there a useful exercise to be conducted there, or were colonialisation and slavery of a nature that made them obvious candidates for the work that was done, which wouldn't apply to the same extent to economic exploitation and sexism?

Yes. Sadly, in looking at this, we find that—. I think history is for us to learn from, but it seems that we do need to repeat it. So, some of the activities that took place were different in different contexts because they are of a different age, but they continue. So, we can learn. One of the things that—. When we began this work, I always blamed the English for all the atrocities around the slave trade, and the Welsh—you know, as a colony of England, Wales was mistreated. But that was not the case. And what we've identified was the way in which the activities and the profits from the slave trade were so widespread and interlinked through the economy of Wales. And whilst the Welsh people were being exploited, their exploitation was separate to that exploitation of African slaves, but it was exploitation.

So, I think that we have lessons that can be learnt and taken forward into modern slavery. I think we have lessons that we can learn about general awareness of what is going on around us, of where things come from and how they're manufactured. And the debates that are going on now around the environment, they all play into that central point. So, I do think there are strong links, and education is one of the obvious ones. But economics and sociology and politics with a small 'p' is another area we need to bring this debate into. 

Thank you. I've got Mick wanting to come in, so I'll bring Mick in now, Gwilym, and I'll bring you back in after that. 

It's just a short point, because the point Gaynor makes seems to me valid in the sense that the history of this actually goes beyond some distant past set of events and events into far more recent history—Gaynor will know, as others will, of the role, for example, Wales played in encouraging and supporting cultural links with South Africa for a while during the apartheid regime, and, of course, those institutions that were involved in that, and those institutions that opposed it. That is actually part of that ongoing history, and it seems to me that that connection, that lineage, that Gaynor's referring to—it seems to me to be something that does actually put it within a much more contemporaneous context. 

10:20

But there are wider lessons I think we can learn, John, for other aspects of our society—there's no doubt about that. That's the nature of historical discourse as well. This was a particular response to a particular situation that had come to the public fore in the last six months, of course. And so that was the purpose and the context for this particular study. But, of course, there are a whole range of other issues that would potentially need addressing in terms of the way we contextualise and understand and interpret the past. So, yes, that's true. We do our best in Cadw to try and provide a balanced view of all the monuments we present, so we don't actually—. In our interpretation, we try to present our interpretation in a balanced way, and perhaps more so than we've done in the past, and so reflecting the different viewpoints and the different stances and the different communities.

Just one final question from me. We've talked a lot about, in a way, the work that you've done being a starting point rather than the end of a process. And I wonder—and, again, this may be more a matter for Gaynor than it is for Gwilym—whether you feel that there is an ongoing role for the task and finish group in terms of perhaps working with and advising Cadw and Welsh Government as this goes forward, or would it be right to bring that process to an end now and look at different ways of moving the work on? What do you think, Gaynor?

The meeting yesterday that was headed the final meeting of the task and finish group certainly didn't indicate any final anything at all. I think there was a strong will and hope from the members, all of us—. Just to say very quickly—I said yesterday—it was a joy to chair this group, because we worked well together to do the best that we could. And I think everybody—and that includes the officials who were backing us up—felt like, 'Well, we've started something, we've got to see it through.' And we've got a long list of things that we could do, should do, might do. So, I do think that we should continue to be involved in the future. One of the other issues that we discussed was stronger involvement of local authorities, and stronger involvement of institutions, agencies, like museums, archives, libraries, et cetera. So, there was no sign of an end to the work that the group anticipated.

Can I just second one of the things that Gaynor said there? We're hugely, hugely grateful to Gaynor and the panel of experts that she put together to help prepare this audit. And I know the First Minister is massively grateful for the work that they've put in, and the proportionate way in which they've actually reported. I think it's a huge achievement, and we did all work very well together, with constructive and open conversations and debate. As Gaynor said, the discussion yesterday, they were all going off on all sorts of exciting directions, really, about what could be done next. And there's one very specific one, and I mentioned it, really, earlier, about—of course, this report stands, but it's been based on the compilation of information and evidence as best we can, and there will be factual inaccuracies in it that we weren't aware of. So, already, we're getting correspondence. I noticed one, for example—I understand it was a letter in The Times, actually—referring to the Wellington pub in Maesteg, which apparently isn't named after the Iron Duke, but after the world war two Wellington bomber. [Laughter.] So, there's an example—

Which of course was named after the Iron Duke. [Laughter.]

Oh, right—now that's challenging. But it's examples of how—. Obviously, we're already feeding information back to them that we're getting in through correspondence from members of the public, which is important. But, obviously, on the wider picture, as Gaynor says, this is just the start.

10:25

Well, it may be one thing that this committee may wish to recommend to Welsh Government that the work proceeds. From everything—. Certainly, from the discussions I've had with the Deputy Minister, I don't think there's any appetite for this to be brought to an end in any way, shape or form. I'm very grateful to our witnesses for what I think has been an extremely useful and enlightening session. And, again, the committee is very grateful to you for the report—a really interesting, challenging piece of work, and, as you both identified, a starting point, rather than the end of a process in any way. 

You'll be sent, of course, a copy of the transcript of this meeting. If it occurs to you afterwards that there are any issues that you wish you'd raised or anything you wanted to add to any of your responses, do please feel free to get in touch with us in writing. So, thank you both very much. I'm very grateful. 

And, with that, we'll move to a short break, Members. We are only running five minutes over time, which, given the areas we've been covering, I think shows how we've had succinct questions and answers—so, grateful for that. So, if I can ask Members to come back just before 10:35, and we'll start the next session. Diolch yn fawr. If you can bring the broadcast to an end, please, for 10 minutes. 

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:26 a 10:36. 

The meeting adjourned between 10:26 and 10:36. 

10:35
3. Ymchwiliad ynghylch pwy sy'n cael eu coffáu mewn mannau cyhoeddus
3. Inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces

Bore da eto a chroeso cynnes yn ôl i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu ein Senedd. Dŷn ni'n troi at eitem 3 ar yr agenda, sef yr ymchwiliad i mewn i bwy sy'n cael eu coffáu mewn llefydd cyhoeddus yng Nghymru. Dŷn ni'n falch iawn o groesawu Hadassah o Race Council Cymru ac—mae'n newid i'r agenda—mae Nelly Adam nawr yn ymuno â ni o Black Lives Matter. Felly, croeso cynnes i'r ddwy ohonoch chi. Gwnaf i ofyn i chi jest cyflwyno eich hunain, ac wedyn awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynu, os yw hynny'n iawn gyda chi. Felly—

Good morning and welcome back to this meeting of the Senedd's Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee. We turn now to item 3 on our agenda, which is our inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces in Wales. We're very pleased to welcome Hadassah from Race Council Cymru, and there's been a slight change to the agenda—Nelly Adam is joining us from Black Lives Matter. So, a warm welcome to both of you. I will ask you just to introduce yourselves, and then we will move immediately to questions, if that's okay with you.

Hadassah, if you'd like to introduce yourself.

Yes, good morning, and thank you for the opportunity. So, my name is Hadassah Radway. I'm here representing Race Council Cymru. I am a semi-retired teacher.

Thank you, Hadassah. Croeso. A very warm welcome. And Nelly, thank you again for stepping in at the last minute. We're really grateful. Your colleague, unfortunately, had to work today and couldn't join us. So, it's really good to have you here. If you'd like to introduce yourself.

Yes. So, I'm Nelly Adam. You may know me as Queen Niche. I'm here today to talk on behalf of Black Lives Matter for Wales. My general thing is I work in human resources and I work in the NHS too—so, a nice broad perspective of a lot of things.

That's great. Thank you both very much. I'm very grateful for your time, and, if you're happy, we'll go straight into some questions from Members. If you, when you want to speak—because I'm a bit of a dinosaur, I can't quite manage the yellow hand, so if you just want to—. I'll bring you both in on the questions, but if you want to come back in or if you want to—just indicate like that, and I'll know that you want to join us. So, we'll start with some questions from Mick Antoniw.

Firstly, thank you for attending this session, and I think this is a really timely and important inquiry that we're doing at this moment in time. You'll have seen the audit that is being prepared. I'm just wondering what your initial thoughts are of this audit, and what the next steps are that you would like to see.

I think—. I actually wanted to start off by saying thank you to Professor Mark Drakeford, who commissioned the work for the audit to take place in July. And at the time he said that this isn't about rewriting the past, it's about reflecting it with the justice it deserves, and I think in order for us to reflect what happened and what is happening now, we need the data, we need the information. So, I think it's a great step in the right direction to be able to gather the information that we have and know about people who were either actively involved in the enslavement of Africans and those who benefited from the proceeds of that. So, I think it's a good step in the right direction, and I feel that a great amount of work has been done—thorough work—in terms of identifying places, people, as well as those who may be culpable.

10:40

Yes, I agree with Hadassah, and I think—well, the audit, I think, is purely raising awareness at the moment; I wouldn't say that the audit is of great benefit or has done anything. However, as far as I'm concerned right now, all the audit has done is highlighted how many slave owners are being commemorated in and around Wales and also street names—everything else that goes with it. But, I mean, a good start—it's a good starter for 10, as far as I'm concerned. So, yes, if the question is: what do I think about the audit? So far, so good. There's a lot more work that should go into it. I haven't read all 100 and something pages of it, to be honest with you, so I can't comment on every single thing, but there are definitely things like galleries, and—you know, it's moving into other cultural areas as well to observe and have a look as well. But, yes, I think a good starter for 10.

I think we'd all agree this is a starting point, that we had to come from somewhere in terms of saying, 'Well, what are we talking about? What is the scale of the issue?' And, of course, Black Lives Matter is quite an incredible movement in terms of being a grass-roots movement that has suddenly started to come to grips with a series of events, not just in the UK but internationally. And, of course, what we're interested in, I think, is how we take this forward. So, your views are really important to us in this.

How do we move forward on this? What should be the basis of the way in which our public spaces are used? Who should we remember? Why should we remember them? What about the criteria of perhaps what should be beginning to appear in public spaces in terms of what is either there now, but what should perhaps be there in the future? Some of the principles we've been looking at are the historical significance, the continued influence of the person, the impact of the person, how the person was viewed at the time, the architectural significance, the impact on minority groups, the views of the acts of the commemoration and so on. So, all those are, really, quite a number of things that we have to get our minds around. What do you think should happen—what do you think should be the criteria? How should we go about it in a constructive way, recognising the past, where we are now, but also looking to the future?

Who'd like to start? Nelly, I can see you're ready to jump in there.

Well, I was going to say, if Hadassah starts, because, actually, what I say might throw a spanner in the works for all of you. So, I think Hadassah should start and then I'll come in after, if that's okay.

We're not averse to a few spanners, Nelly. [Laughter.] Hadassah, do you want to make a start, then?

Well, let me start with the impact that some of these statues have on people. I am of Jamaican descent; I was born in Jamaica and I am a descendant of the slaves. So, my ancestors went through the atrocities of the human indignity that happened to our people. And my parents came here after being invited to come and work, and they worked and enabled us to have a good education. So, that was fine. However, throughout our lives and my life in Wales—and I must say I love being in Wales, I love living here, but, throughout that period of time, even as an educated person, there is still this underlying factor that black people, being me, are not given the same latitude, the same dignity as white British, white Europeans, and all of that stems from slavery, the enslavement of African people.

And these statues that we have now, and street names after these people who benefited from enslaving others and cruelly beat them, and getting proceeds from that, I think is repugnant, it's abhorrent, it still has an impact on black people. And when we see these statues, when we see these street names, I believe that, from grass roots, they will say the impact they have on their mental health and well-being, because these remind us that there was this time in history when we were treated as cattle, when we were treated as shackles, when we were treated as property. And the people who were complicit in that have been commemorated with great honour and privilege. So, for me, it started an impact, and I think that we need to be looking at how does this still affect people—black people—in this country and worldwide. During the summer, when we saw the George Floyd murder in front of own eyes, everyone was—rightly so—appalled by what happened, that another human being could treat another human being in that way. Well, let's look at the millions of Africans who were enslaved and who were treated cruelly.

So, for me, it's how do we mitigate that, how do we minimise the impact in the twenty-first century. I believe we start with our schools. As I said earlier, the audit is a starting point for gathering all of the information that we need. The good thing is that information is there; it has been written, it is there. However, our schools' curriculum has not taught all of this in its entirety, so there are many people that pass these statues and have no clue as to what they really mean and the impact that they're still having, whereas there may be people that pass and understand that.

So, we need to start with our children, and to have a curriculum that reflects the history. Rather than rewriting it, it's about unpacking the accurate history, and having that stated in our curriculum. When that is done, people can actually see and hear about some of these atrocities. I believe that the moral consciousness of people will be saying, 'No, those people—their time is up. They need to be—. They were remembered and commemorated before; now it's time to look at people who are actually doing good for the world, and have done good for the world, and they're the ones that we need to be commemorating, they're the ones that we need to be honouring, not those who made their living and riches on the backs, sweat, blood and tears of other human beings.'

10:45

Right. Well, here we go. I know I'm more of an emotional speaker, so I'm probably going to take you on an even more emotional journey. I'm going to be honest, because there's no point in me being here otherwise. 

We all know that systems were created 600 years ago based on slavery and infringement, and it was built and built and built upon. Every part of the system was then written by white oppressors. The system was then designed and built in order to keep people of BAME—black people, but BAME; it's either white or BAME at the moment—oppressed, and never be able to step up. In the evolution of statues and statues being put up, this concept of statues alone is very historic to me; it's so outdated now. Some part of me—. I will give some solutions. Obviously, it starts with simple concepts. When you're looking at somebody on the tv, would you want to be looking at a murderer? Would you want to look at a rapist? Would you want to look at somebody who was impacting and hurting people? No, you wouldn't. So, therefore, it's a very simple concept of: why, then, would we, in 2020, have idolism? Why would we have statues where we're still looking at slave masters, slave owners, people that hurt people, people from wars? Okay, I understand, take it back a few hundred years ago when people wanted to put statues up, this was art back then; this is how people wanted to symbolise and show.

Now, let's talk about a bit of ethnicity, diversity here—equality, even. As a Muslim, we don't do idolism at all. So, for example, within my religion, nothing is idolised via imagery, or symbolised via imagery. We don't do imagery, for the simple fact that this is where—. To see a statue and to put a person there, and a person that has made people suffer throughout history, and had no other impact than a financial impact for the UK—. For example, it doesn't matter what they did, it doesn't matter where they're from, it doesn't matter what their history, but if they financially benefited the UK, they seem to have been commemorated with a statue—in my opinion, absolutely disgusting, as it is for a lot of people.

Now, moving on, how would we select what statues we want up? First of all, I want to propose the question that could—. In this day and age, what millennial do you know, which are our future generation, has actually gone and stood by any statue or could tell you today what statues even stand? I'd seen something beautiful yesterday on social media: the illumination of Stonehenge with people that have had an impact within Wales. Now, let's talk Walt Disney, for example. Forget who Walt Disney is, because that's a whole separate agenda for me, but let's use Disneyland. What does Disneyland give people to attract people to give them that knowledge of Disney? They illuminate the entire building and they celebrate it with all their Disney characters, okay. Now, let's bring that into 2020. Why on earth—? And I'll be honest with you, I'm the eldest of eight. I wouldn't know, and I don't think any one of my young siblings would know, what statues stand, where they stand, and nor would they tell me they'd want to go and see a statue, and that includes—not even the Statue of Liberty. It just doesn't seem to appeal any more, but if I said to them, 'Do you know what? Go to Cardiff castle and there is going to be an entire illumination across town of people that need to be commemorated'—that's how we get millennials to now engage in what history should be. History is what is; it's not what people say. This is where history has fallen apart in itself. It hasn't been expressed correctly, because it's only ever been written and proven by the oppressors; the oppressed have never had the opportunity to have their say.

The Black Lives Matter movement now brings around an entire new generation of voices, and I wish to empower all those voices continually, in order to speak up, because, if we really do want to stay outdated, I think we should continue conversations about statues, but the reality of my situation here is I don't even know why we spend all this time talking about statues. If it's historical, and if we are on a movement, and if we're trying to be diverse and equitable and inclusive, then, actually, the abolishment of all statues should just be done. But when I say that, I do not mean let's tear them down and chuck them in a river—I don't want that done. And now let me explain why I wouldn't want that done. For centuries, these people have been commemorated and been made to be the epiphany of society in their time. They were the top dogs of their society—actually, they weren't, they were just the richest, probably, at the time, and had the money to get somebody to sculpt. Now, moving on from when they were—. Sorry, I talk so fast, my brain goes so fast, I've got a million things—

10:50

You were going to say about—. You wouldn't necessarily want statues torn down and chucked in rivers, so, what—while they're there, what do we do with them or don't or what?

Right, if I'm being honest, to have a more inclusive and diverse Wales—let's start with Wales, and make us the people that people want to follow after—I believe every statue now should be torn down and gone and put in a museum, because museums are where children, adults, everybody would go for history. It's not about leaving statues standing and putting plaques all around them to show the movement—no. No, history can be written correctly now. These statues should be put in museum places and the correct description should go alongside the statue—this person was the oppressor, x, y, z, slave owner, what they did; in 2020, there came about the movement that created the abolishment of statues.

Now, I do ask here—I understand places like Stonehenge and stuff are heritage. Things that show heritage—beautiful. We wouldn't want the city hall to come down for any reason; these are heritage. But, actually, what I do say here is: on what account do we actually need statues in order to educate future generations to move away from what they should be seeing as the people to look up to? People watch social media, tv, they're more into the dancing of it, the singing of it, the music of it, the real culture of it. There is no diversity within statues, okay—

Okay. Nelly, I'm going have to—I think some of the other issues you might want to come on to might come on in some further questions, and I'm very conscious of time, so if I can ask Members to try to be fairly short and sharp in your questions and, as far as you can be, witnesses, short and sharp in your answers, although these are huge issues and we want to make sure we do properly hear the voices that you bring to the process. Mick, you wanted to come back in. 

10:55

I just want to clarify, Nelly, precisely what you're saying. Are you focusing on a particular type of statue or all statues, because if we take all statues or memorials, we have, for example, the statue and memorial to the 400 people killed in the Senghenydd mining explosion, we have the Aneurin Bevan statue and, of course, the proposal for the creation of a Betty Campbell statue for particular reasons. Do you think that there can be a place, or is your position basically that there's no place whatsoever for any type of statue or memorial on those types of events?

Just before I bring you in, Nelly, I think Carwyn Jones wants to raise something potentially on a similar theme, so you might be able to respond to both. Carwyn. 

It was a similar theme, to be honest, Chair. I just wanted to clarify, really, what Nelly's saying in terms of statues that are already there. I take your point that we don't need statues in the future, and I think she's got a point there, and it's been said on this committee before, but not every person who is commemorated in a statue is an oppressor. Aneurin Bevan wasn't an oppressor, and not far away from the Senedd we have a statue of Gandhi that was put there by the Hindu community. Are we saying that all statues should be removed, or some? And, of course, what we're looking at is to see, if that is the case, what criteria we should apply.

All statues of oppressors—should I clarify? Okay? So all statues of oppressors need to be removed, as in any person that you wouldn't normally want to look at, just generally as a human being. If you wouldn't want to see that in today's society, we should not be made to look at it full stop. 

—that goes back to your point about, 'Would we put that person up as a role model on television or whatever nowadays?' That's helpful. Thank you. Hadassah, you wanted to come in here. 

Yes, thank you. Just to add to what Nelly was saying, it is about the statues of all of those people who were involved in the enslavement of black people; we do not want to glorify them. In the past, they've been there. I agree that it's not about destroying them, but they need to be taken and perhaps placed in a museum, where people can go and look and see inscriptions that are correct. These people wrote in their diaries about some of the atrocities that they did. Picton, for example, he had a teenage girl murdered and, even though he was tried and he was charged with that, after a retrial, he was acquitted, but all the evidence was there. People need to know about those who we've honoured. Even if he became a war hero afterwards, he committed atrocities and his descendents are benefiting from the fact that he had 98 slaves in Trinidad.

And also Penrhyn, that he had 100 plus slaves in Jamaica. And right now there are people in Jamaica on the Pennant estate there who are suffering. So, what we need to say is, 'Take these people out of public spaces where they are revered, put them into a museum with the inscriptions about what they've done, good and bad.' We're not saying whitewash anything, it's the truth that needs to be told, and then put it in our history books so our children can learn about what happened and how we move forward. This is the twenty-first century and we want to have equity, we want to have equality of opportunity, we want to have diversity being shown in all of these [Inaudible.]—

Thank you, Hadassah. I'm sorry to have to cut across you, but time is not on our side, but those were strong points very forcefully made. David Melding. 

Thank you, Chair. I think we've heard very powerful impressionistic arguments, which it's important we receive as part of our evidence, and I commend the witnesses for the intensity of their belief. I think it's really important and is undoubtedly what's shaped much of this discussion. And I think both witnesses referred to the events of the summer in America and how they've had an impact on us all.

I'd like to get quite local, and you may be familiar with the two examples I'm going to give you. If you're not, I think you could still perhaps give a response, because I'm going to frame the question in quite general terms. One's a commemoration and one's a statue, so we're covering perhaps two of the major types of public commemoration that we face, and they're both in Cardiff, quite close to each other. One side of city hall, you have what many people consider one of the finest—on artistic grounds—war memorials in the United Kingdom, and it's hugely important, because it was the first bit of public art, really, put in the city centre, and that's the commemoration of the South African war, which we commonly now refer to as the Boer war. And I just wonder what your view is to the appropriateness of that being in one of the most prominent public places in Cardiff. And then just a short distance away, the other side of city hall, opposite the museum, is the statue of David Lloyd George. He opposed the South African war; he was probably the most prominent politician of his day to oppose that war but he has a hugely controversial record in terms of the secession of Ireland, and then the partition of Ireland, and the issues relating to that. What's your view of David Lloyd George in such a prominent place? I'd ask just for your reflections on those two very precise examples, because they kind of lift us into that part of the discussion that takes part in our community, and we're familiar with these items.

11:00

I don't know if either of you are familiar with those, and feel you can comment on that. Hadassah.

I'm muted at the moment.

I am familiar with David Lloyd George in terms of his role as a politician; not so familiar with the statue that's there in the city hall. However, coming back to looking at these people in public places, I want to ask in return to that: the people who have done atrocities such as Adolf Hitler, would we want his statue in our public places? Would we want people to be going there to look at what he's done, with the 6 million Jews who were killed? Twelve million Africans were taken from Africa. Many died. I'm not skirting around the issue, I'm just saying that if we start to pit one person against the other, then that's where we get into some real difficulties. At the moment, for me, we're talking about those people who were directly involved with the enslavement of Africans. Picton.

Yes. And I think one of the things we're trying to work out is how those judgements ought to be made, and if you take somebody like Picton, who was obviously—at the time, what he did to that poor child was known at the time and condemned by many, many people at the time, but it's those—. I think David's question relates to those figures that might be more ambiguous, that we might have some issues with, but it may not be as cut and dried. Nelly, if I can bring you in on this.

Okay, so I don't know the particular—I don't know all the backgrounds and whatever, but I think this is just simple common sense. I think everything is starting to become very overcomplicated, where we always try and overcompensate everything for everyone. I think this is a very simple concept here. It's just, every statue that stands, I don't care who it is, vet them as if you would a real-life person. Vet them for their values, for their views; what did they do not only in this country, but what did they do in others? Did they add value here but oppress in other areas? It's a vetting process. So, I think it's quite simply looking at who these people are, what they brought to society, what they did for people. Did they hurt anybody? Because it's as simple as: the justice system as it stands now is supposed to protect and serve. If that person would have then been penalised under their own justice system, then I don't understand why they stand there in the first place. But yes, I think, for decisions to be made, you may need to get a bit of a working group to come up with vetting questions that then, generically, are asked every time it's thought about putting up a statue, in exactly the same way you would do with a teacher before they started in a primary school, for example.

11:05

That's an interesting one, and part of what we're trying to do as a committee is to see what some of those criteria ought to be, how we ought to judge both existing memorials and new ones. I suppose, in terms of a vetting procedure, the work that the audit has done is a beginning point in that, in bringing to light some of the issues that perhaps were not known about, or were not widely known, some well-known figures. David, do you want to come back?

Yes, I just finally wanted to ask the witnesses, then, how they want to involve the public and communities in these decisions—if we have criteria or a vetting procedure, who applies that, and how do you discuss that with people who are interested, and with communities. I think Nelly referred to the millennium generation and its complete repugnance with issues relating to slavery and how they've been left standing, and that there is a need, through the Black Lives Matter movement, to really have a very radical approach. So, I understand that, but other generations may have different views, not necessarily on Black Lives Matter issues in terms of slavery, but if we take David Lloyd George, it's possible that some people would have very strong views that it's not appropriate for that statue to be there, but others would feel equally intensely, and probably, I would guess, a majority would feel that, given his historical standing as the only Welsh Prime Minister at a time when Britain was a superpower, and he was the leader of the western world, I suppose, with President Wilson of America, that he has to be commemorated. We can't expunge that part of our history. It happened, he's there, he was a very conflicted individual and has a conflicted record. So, how would you involve the public and communities that have quite different views, perhaps, to some of the ones you hold?

Who would like to make a start on this one? Both of you, that's great. Well, we'll start with Hadassah and then I'll come to Nelly.

Thank you. I feel that we need some focus groups, and to have consultation with the community, and all communities—grass-roots communities, white indigenous communities, everyone needs to have a say. This is our public space, after all, and so I feel that focus groups would be able to help. And within that, giving people the opportunity to be able to discuss some of these issues. For some, it may be new to them. They've seen these statues but have not really thought about them. So, information sharing is necessary, and I think having this audit goes a long way in being able to share information with the public, to say, 'This is what we have gathered, these are the things that we're thinking about. What are your views?' So, for me, it would be focus groups, grass-roots people, having debates, even, in our schools and universities to bring in the millennials.

That's really helpful. Just before I bring Nelly in, we're running a little bit over time. For our witnesses, if we're five or 10 minutes over, are you able to stay with us? Is that okay? Yes. Thank you, because I know everybody's time is precious. Nelly. Can we unmute Nelly, please? Thank you.

Turn it into the BAFTA awards. Think about the concept of the BAFTAs. First of all, whatever statues are thought about, put them out to the public, put it up for vote, like people vote for who should get the Nobel peace prize and stuff. The public will become engaged. The public need to know their history. What they find out through their history then guides their decisions, and then, through majority votes, you could do that. I think it's just bringing it back to basics, really, with the whole—. Exactly like Hadassah said, this is public space. This is what we're made to live amongst, look at and observe, and then we have this narrative that goes along with it of these people who are supposed to be commemorated in some type of way. I know there are different views and opinions, but I would quite literally say your solution there is put it back to the public. If there is some type of vetting—. If people are there in a room making a choice, who are those people even choosing to put those names into that pot? Is there diversity within those groups? Is there knowledge within those groups? Or why not put it out to a public vote, exactly like a BAFTA award kind of thing? Put it out for nominations, who would be nominated, hear the nominees, pick who you would like, and I think that is the way forward to keep people engaged as well. 

11:10

Thank you. I'll bring Mick in briefly, but I am very conscious of our time here. 

Just very quickly on that, of course, what the community feels about a particular figure may vary in different places. For example, Churchill in London, his statue, being seen as a leader in the second world war, whereas a Churchill statue in Tonypandy would not go down very well because of his role sending in the troops during the Tonypandy strike in 1910. So, isn't that one of the risks in terms of how you actually communicate and engage with that approach, Nelly, or would you see this as being a far more community-focused type of approach? 

Look, to be honest with you, like I said at the beginning, as a Muslim, I wouldn't even go and look at a statue. I do no idolism, so I understand what you're saying straight away. There's a lot of diversity and a lot of people who can be offended or upset, or whatever. No matter what we do, somebody is always going to be upset. I think what I'm trying to say here is rather than—. You're right, there are going to be people offended in different areas, but this is what I mean. If this person wouldn't have won a Nobel peace prize, or something, they shouldn't be there anyway. The names that should be put forward should not offend anybody. I'm not talking about colours, races, religions, anything; this is what I'm trying to say—that if we really, really bring it back to basics, the names that get put forward should have no offence. We're not going to put Hitler forward and expect nobody to be offended, in that respect, is what I'm saying. If we picked Gandhi, for example, how many people does Gandhi actually offend? 

You'd be surprised, actually, but I get what you mean. 

You get what I mean. He caused no harm to people so, actually, the offence can only come through racism and other views, but not actually what he's done as a person. And that's the kind of thing I mean. I think we've just got to be aware. I don't have the solutions; if I had the solutions, I'm sure we would have all found them by now, so I'm not here to give you answers, but definitely here to maybe suggest how—. I just feel that if we were more inclusive of people and their views, we'd start understanding what each society requires, and this is why it brought me back to the spanner in the works that I chucked out: why not put all statues in the museum, because, actually, if history is placed where people know where history is, it cannot be deemed offensive. But when history is then put up in a public space where people are forced to look at it, this is where we have problems. And I'm just thinking, the solution to a problem is to remove the problem, full stop. 

Thank you, Nelly, and I think that's the difference that we're trying to make between history and commemoration, which is something different, isn't it? I've got two more areas of questions we wanted to cover. Carwyn, can I bring you in here? 

Yes, just to clarify what Nelly said because I'm not quite sure what she's saying. She said earlier on that statues of oppressors should be in a museum; I got that. But then she said once again she thinks all statues should be in a museum. I just want to clarify which it is. I've got no problem with the concept that we have people commemorated in statue form that we would not want to see commemorated, so I'm not arguing against that at all. But I just want to be clear what Nelly is saying. Is she saying all statues, or is she saying statues of people who—? She called them oppressors; if I could expand it more now—people who we would not commemorate in the present day. 

Okay. Carwyn, based on the questions that are presented to me, my answers are relevant to each question that has been presented. So, on the first one, where I'm trying to look at an overarching view, my view—like I said, my solution—would be all statues, full stop. But then when you're asking me specifically—. It's not like we can go round and pull down every single thing right now. So, if I then had to be asked again, if you had to make a choice of what statue should come down, my answer to that would then be the oppressors will need to be removed. Then, we get presented again with what would the solution be if, you know—what statues should we put up again? Again, it brings me to the point of, if you actually want to remove all the issues that we have around statues, then remove all statues and then use different forms of commemorations, let's move forward. So, I understand what you're saying, Carwyn—one minute, I'm saying 'all statues', the next minute, I'm saying 'oppressors', but I think you have to give a chance here to listen to what's being asked as well, because actually, based on the question, that will base where I would then sway towards. If I had no option, then I would say, 'Remove oppressors'. That's a great start; let's start there. However, if I had the option then to say, 'Get rid of everything', I'd say, 'Put everything in a museum—absolutely everything', so everything could even be commemorated historically, but within the correct context, because it has to be written correctly. So, that's what I'm—

11:15

Thank you, Nelly. Hadassah's trying to come in and then I'll come back to Carwyn. Hadassah.

Thank you. Just on that point, I do want to say that the Welsh Government has started something good in carrying out this audit. We have a number of places and people and statues and streets that have been identified, and what we're saying—and personally, what I'm saying—is that all of those people who had anything at all to do with the enslavement of Africans, they should not be commemorated. Their statues should be put into the museums, they should not be glorified and they should not be honoured. That is my personal stance, but I think the Welsh Government has started something good, and the next stage is about looking at how we move this forward.

We understand that there are sensitivities, and people will always have varying views about things. And there are risks, but nothing ever happens without taking risks. It's about what type of society do we want to live in, moving forward. What do we want to say to our children about who we are honouring after what they've done? So, my personal view is that those who have had anything at all—and they've got a statue erected of them at the moment—to do with enslavement of Africans should be put in the museum with an inscription giving their histories, good and bad. And then—

That's helpful. Again, I'm sorry to cut across, but there is just so much that we could talk about here. Carwyn.

Firstly, I just wanted to clarify what both our witnesses were saying to us, I think. Just so that I'm clear, Nelly, would it be fair to say that your first preference would be to remove all statues, but if that can't happen, you'd want statues to be vetted? Would that be fair? Is that what you're saying?

There we go. So, my personal preference would be to remove all statues and put them where they should be. That's my personal preference, but the realistic preference as to what our next movement can be, to make something realistic, would be to vet the statues and remove all slave owners, oppressors and bad people.

That's clear. Thanks, that's clear. Just one more question from me. We've talked about statues, but, of course, we have monuments and we have plaques and street names—Hadassah was talking about street names there. I'm assuming, although I just wanted, obviously, to have a chance just to make it clear that this vetting process—this is for both our witnesses—would be broad enough to encompass not just statues, but monuments, street names and plaques as well. Would that be right?

Hadassah, I'll bring you in first and then I'll come to Nelly.

I join with what Nelly said. It's about stages. Some of those things are much more in your face than others, and so, I feel that we need to look at what are the next steps. Making a start—it's almost like chunking, bite-size. Not everything can happen at the same time, but those things that are far more oppressive and maybe offensive, let's deal with those and then have, perhaps, a sort of pronged approach to where we move forward.

As far as vetting goes, this is going to be trial and error. So, whether you're going to have to create separate vetting systems for statues, for street names and, you know, for memorials, because like you say, good people do stand; there are statues and there are things of good people and rich history, for example. But honestly, I don't have the answer for you there, it's going to be trial and error. It needs a starter for 10 basis, and exactly like we said, let's work in the stages that we can physically manage. And right now, I don't think a single vetting would work for everything to solve all the problems, if that makes sense, but we could start somewhere.

11:20

Thank you, Carwyn. We'll bring in John Griffiths. John. Can we unmute John, please?

Hadassah and Nelly, I wonder if you might point to any examples internationally of Governments that have dealt effectively with these issues as far as you're concerned: how do you publicly commemorate, or how do you deal with public commemoration of controversial figures? Would you point to any Government that, in your view, has dealt with these matters well?

Well, can I be honest? The only Government I've ever known is the Welsh Government and UK Government because it's where I'm from. This is where I live, this is where I've grown up. So, other than seeing what the Government here does, honestly, I've never gone out to look at other Governments, so I don't have an answer for you there. 

I would say that I haven't got any example of other Governments. We've seen in America where there have been difficulties as well about these issues with regard to statues of people who've had anything to do with the slave trade. It's always contentious, it's sensitive, and it's going to take a lot of discussion in order for us to get to a place where these things can be done. So, I haven't got any example of any international Government that's done this successfully. 

Thank you, both. That's a question we've been asking to lots of witnesses because you'd be surprised how many people have that we didn't think would necessarily know what's gone elsewhere. John.

Just a final question then, Cadeirydd, and it's on, in your view, whether there are groups or individuals who are under-represented in public commemoration in Wales. Nelly's view may well be that she wouldn't want to see any such commemoration anywhere, I don't know, but would you point us to under-representation that you would like to see addressed?

I think a lot of people have done so many good things. The people who came on the Windrush and all the things that they have done to help with the NHS, a commemoration of that. The first black headteacher in Cardiff, a commemoration of that. We've had some great sporting personalities from Wales, great singers from Wales. Let's commemorate those people and what they've done, moving forward, because, obviously, there were people who were abolitionists who were black, but not much has been commemorated of them either. What we find is that Wilberforce and others have been glorified. So, if you want to go back in history, let's look at some of those people—they've been identified in the audit—who had something to do with the abolition of slavery. Let's commemorate them, too. Let's hear about their story. And, in our time, let's hear about those who have done great things to help, in terms of the NHS, in terms of education, in terms of sport, in terms of music, in terms of medicine. We don't hear that much about all those inventors, black inventors, and what they've done. Even with the GPS system that we have, which was invented by a black woman, we don't hear about these people. Let's start to get their narratives out there. 

I've got a very personal thing. As things stand at the moment, we don't have a single statue to any named woman in Wales, and I'm really looking forward to getting the Betty Campbell statue up. But that's just me abusing my position as Chair to put my own personal view forward. Nelly. 

So, basically, exactly like Hadassah says, but for me, medicine is a very big one. The pharmaceutical company is the biggest money-making place out there yet. We all know about penicillin, but nobody knows that medicine actually came from the Arabs, if we take it back. The light bulb that we use today, the filament, nobody knows that the filament that's actually created to keep that electricity running through was created by a black man, but actually, everybody thinks the light bulb was still made by a white man. So, when we talk about who and what and stuff, I think it's general, it's really basic, human common sense—we want to find the riches of the world, what added value to society today. The concept of that light bulb blew my mind, because people don't appreciate the fact that we have these things because we forget all these things. But, actually, under-represented areas and stuff is every area other than white Caucasian, possibly European areas, in my opinion. So, all we have to do is look, ask other cultures, ask the general members of the public, 'Who are your role models?' Mine, for example, is Khadija. Who is Khadija to any of you? You wouldn't know. Khadija was Prophet Muhammad's—sallallahu alayhi wa sallam—wife. She's my role model, but where is she? What girl, what Muslim girl knows about her? And after all the propaganda that's happened on tv, and how much Muslims have been targeted, there's a lot of under-represented areas, from black people, to Muslim people, to—. And I think it's just common sense, moving into the future.

11:25

Thank you. I've got Carwyn wanting to come in very briefly.

No, it's okay. Nelly gave me the answer I wanted, so don't worry.

That's great. Well, thank you both very much—an awful lot to try and cover in a very, very short time. But we really appreciate your time and the evidence you've given us. We'll send you a transcript, to make sure that we've recorded everything that you've said properly. If, when you look at that, you think, 'Oh, I wish I could have added that to that answer', or, 'I wish I'd said this', do please write to us. Because that quite often happens, certainly with me, when I look at a transcript of a meeting. I go, 'Oh, I meant to follow that up and then I didn't get a chance to do it.' So, do feel free to do that if that would be helpful. And thank you very much for your important contribution today.

Members, we're running a little bit over time, so I'm going to suggest we just take a five-minute break now, and if we come back just after half past, if that's okay. So if we can stop the broadcast just for five minutes now.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:26 ac 11:33.

The meeting adjourned between 11:26 and 11:33.

11:30
4. Ymchwiliad ynghylch pwy sy'n cael eu coffáu mewn mannau cyhoeddus
4. Inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces

Bore da, eto, a chroeso yn ôl i gyfarfod Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu'r Senedd. Dŷn ni'n symud nawr at eitem 4 ar yr agenda: tystiolaeth bellach i'n hymchwiliad ni i bwy sy'n cael eu coffáu yn ein llefydd cyhoeddus ni. Dŷn ni'n croesawu i'r cyfarfod Richard Bingley. So, fe wnaf i ofyn i chi gyflwyno eich hunan i'r cyfarfod, ac wedyn gwnawn ni droi yn syth at gwestiynau. Richard. 

Good morning, once again, and welcome back to this meeting of the Senedd's Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee. We move now to item 4 on our agenda, which is further evidence in our inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces. And we welcome to our meeting, Richard Bingley, and I will ask you to introduce yourself for the record, and then we will move immediately to questions. So, Richard. 

The interpretation didn't work then, but I shall proceed to speak. Did you ask a question, sorry? 

Can we just check that the translation is working, because we can't proceed unless it is? If you just go down to the bottom of your screen, Richard, and have you found that interpretation button?     

I've hit it again, yes. 

Yes, just make sure it's on 'English'. So, I'll just do another test, because we actually can't proceed unless you can hear me when I speak Welsh, or if any of the other Members do. 

So, mi wnaf i ddechrau eto drwy ofyn i Richard gyflwyno ei hunan. Ac mae'n gallu clywed. So, Richard, os ydych chi'n gallu cyflwyno eich hunan i ni, ac wedyn mi wnawn ni symud i gwestiynau.

So, I will start again by asking Richard to introduce himself. It's clear that that is working now. So, if you could introduce yourself to us, and then we'll move immediately to questions.

11:35

Thanks, Chair. Richard Bingley. I'm the general sectary of an organisation that's not-for-profit, called Save Our Statues, and we are headquartered in London.

Thank you very much, and thank you for your time to be with us. I'd like to begin with questions from Mick Antoniw, please. Mick.

Thank you for attending this session. You will have seen the audit that's been carried out by the Welsh Government. It's quite a detailed audit, described as really a start on analysis of statues and place names and so on. I'm just wondering what your initial thoughts are, and where do you think the audit takes us.

I think we approached this holistically. We didn't want to comment on specific statues. That's a matter for local authorities and the Welsh Assembly. What we're keen on is that all stakeholders have a fair and equal say in this, that the public consultation is carried out in accordance with local government rules and historical precedents in law, and that the planning processes that have been set by the United Kingdom Government in Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are adhered to. So, I think, at this point—

If I can briefly stop you, Richard, just for clarity, the planning system is devolved to the Senedd and to the Welsh Government, so when it comes to planning regulations, the UK Government's writ doesn't run here. But your general point, of course, stands about process and there being proper processes here. Thank you. If you please continue.

Thank you. So, we would welcome any form of dialogue or input, as indeed we're grateful for today. So, at this point, I don't think we have any specific concerns or any specific observations. I think, as we go through this session, maybe we'll get asked around what's good practice elsewhere or perhaps expertise that we and other groups can bring into the process. But, certainly, we would not seek to, at this point, comment on specifics around an audit that's been quite quickly implemented.

You've come straight on to the point, in terms of your role as an organisation and how you might assist and so on and good practice elsewhere. I hope I'm not jumping onto other people's territory on this, but what would you say is good practice? Or what do you know about good practice that would assist us?

Well, I think the first thing is to understand the genuine breadth of public opinion out there and what we perceive to be the strength of opinion in favour of supporting the existing cultural heritage. I know that out of hundreds of memorials and statues, one or two have become controversial in the media, but one of the great things about this country is we do have a stability and a really strong, I would say, legal structure around the putting in place of statues and memorials. It's something that we should be proud of and, I think, as long as we're aligned to that, and we don't operate from the perspective of assuming that everyone else has got it right—in central Europe or in eastern Europe—when probably they haven't, then we're stating in the right position.

I just want to come back on consultation. In the UK—I know it might not be the case in Wales—there are the four principles of consultation that were set out in a court case in 1985. Those are around giving prior notice to actions that councils and local assemblies might take. They're around the advice and the actions being described in a transparent and fair way, so that the advisory information is not biased in any way. They're around genuine engagement. In other words, if we're talking about removing statues in Carmarthenshire, that the people living in those wards are formally written to in an objective way and enabled to bring their opinions to official community leaders. And that decisions are made in a logical way, that councils and national assemblies provide logical options.

They don't jump down one decision-making route. So, all of these things underpin what consultation looks like. They've been tested in the High Court and elsewhere. And, you know, the last thing I would want is for public money to be wasted, us making lots of decisions, which executives have a right to make, but at the same time, the public and taxpayers end up paying a lot of money when they get taken to court, or they get repealed, because the consultation has been unfair. I have to say, we proceed, as an organisation, from the basis of being liberal democratic. We're a coalition of think tanks, of subject matter experts, of people who live in communities that have been particularly impacted by this. So, as long as it's fair and democratic and it follows due diligence, then, you know, for us, we have to be happy with the end result and we have to accept that.

11:40

So, your position would be that you understand that there will be certain historic figures, monuments or whatever, that represent, I suppose, dark times in history—slavery, the enslavement of people and so on. But your concern is not that they shouldn't necessarily be removed, but there should be a proper and fair process of consultation, engagement and proper principles, within which, if that were to happen, it should happen.

Well, I think I agree with you. Again I'd just restate: yes, it should be a proper, fair level playing field on the consultation. And we live in the real world, we know that consultations will go on across a number of authorities. That said, our philosophical position is, of course, that we celebrate Britain's exhilarating history. I mean, overwhelmingly, we take the view that British history is pretty much objectively made. You know, we have analysed and we have reflected as a country, perhaps more than others over the last 200 years, on the issues related to race and slavery. We continue to do so; that's a good thing. But nonetheless, just like the building of the Egyptian pyramids, ghastly things have happened. Among all of that good stuff this country's done, there have been dark episodes, as you rightly say. This is all about perspective, isn't it? You know, they remove statues in eastern central Europe of Stalin and Lenin, and probably that's quite right, given the context of those local environments. The reality is, we simply don't have any Lenins and Stalins and Hitlers over here, and therefore, from a philosophic position, I don't think we're in comparative environments at all.

If I can just put one example to you, then, just in terms of how we go about it: the issue of the statue of Picton in Cardiff City Hall. I don't know if you heard the earlier evidence session in terms of the history of Picton, his engagement within the slave trade, slaves and torture and killing et cetera. I think you'd probably agree that it's understandable that there are people who find that to be offensive in a public place. How do you think a statue like that that should be processed? I mean, is it something that should be removed or should a have a proper history presented on it? How do we actually deal with the principles on which some of our public monuments actually—what their purpose is and whether those purposes are now outdated? Because, in many ways, a lot of statues were not put there necessarily with public support, but basically on the basis of wealth and personal presentation.

Just before I ask Richard to respond to that, just to check with our witness. We are running a little bit over time. If we run five or 10 minutes over, are you in a position to be able to stay with us for those extra minutes?

Chair, I'm absolutely fine for a few minutes. Thanks for checking.

That's great. Thank you very much. So, if I can just remind Members that we do have to try and end the meeting on time, so if we can try and keep our questioning fairly concise. Richard, if you can respond to Mick, sorry.

Yes. I mean, absolutely. They're good questions raised, and I don't seek to defend the abominable behaviour, the atrocities that occurred over in Trinidad. There are local contexts that historians on one side or the other will argue about, but I'm not going to go into that; we're talking about process here. And it comes back to the—. If we were looking at other countries, how they've dealt with this type of controversial memorial, the local area would, again, look at that through the planning process. As long as the consultation was fair handed and that local people were engaged, as well as subject matter experts, then, of course, it's for the local representatives to make that executive judgment.

I would just say on some of these memorials that are outside of London, which I'm not as familiar with, that—. Of course, with Picton, there are, throughout the 56 years of his life, there are four of five years that are extremely, I think, regrettable, and people who are historians may well choose to argue from his perspective the local conditions in Trinidad, et cetera. But, without doubt, he is one of the figures that has been earmarked because of certain behaviour through a tenth of his lifespan. So, it may well be—. What they've done in the Czech Republic and what they've done in, I think, Poland is put some contextualisation around it. Now, that's not something we're particularly comfortable with because, obviously, it then comes down to an argument about who writes the contextualisation. But, in some cases where there was a lot of public emotion, or where a fair consultation found that the results were reasonably even handed, it may well be that some context would be required around them.

One of the things that has been raised by the London Government is that central Government would step in and make a decision on all of these statues—whether to keep them or whether to approve future ones. That's not necessarily a good thing. It's been shown in Europe, and eastern Europe particularly, that, really, local people need to be engaged, otherwise statues just come and go; they become very temporary because—. If one set of statues is preferred by one political persuasion, and then maybe there's a change of hegemony in 10 or 15 years' time, and it flips back the other way. I think one of the great things about Britain is that we do have a stability and a shared heritage, and some of these statues have been around for two, three, 400 years. And that's one of the reasons—not the only reason, but one of the reasons—why tens of millions of people come to the United Kingdom and Wales every year.

11:45

Thank you. I'm going to have to move on now, Mick, to David Melding.

I know there's a lot we probably all want to explore with the witness, but I'm going to have to bring David Melding in here now.

I think it's fair to say that you and your organisation have a presumption that statues and commemorations should be left in situ, unless there's a very good reason to change, and that change should be due process. So, I think that's a very coherent view. But I just wonder in terms of when we're developing criteria and guidance that helps us, certainly for our most prominent public spaces, it's problematic, isn't it, to say that a commemoration or a statue of a particular historic figure should stand in that precise place in perpetuity? We can revise these things, can't we, especially in the most prominent public places, because they tell us a lot more other than that person or event is commemorated. They're commemorated there, and if it's outside our city hall, it's different to being in a pleasant-enough park in a suburb.

Yes. I think the question's around revision. On the one hand we should accept, as a United Nations group—. There's a United Nations group called the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, and there's the British Council group that goes around the world promoting the preservation of heritage, and advising on it in the middle east. They all come back to this point that statues and cultural heritage that's physical becomes more than what it is, it becomes more than itself, it becomes a shared feature of our identity, it becomes part of our shared history. So, for example, if you are a resident in Carmarthenshire and you walk past the obelisk for 15 or 20 years, and you do that once a day, then you've walked past that 5,000 or 6,000 times, and it becomes part of your identity, and it becomes part of your sense of understanding. So, we have to be very, very, very careful about the statues we put up in the first place.

In terms of revisionism, as long as the democratic structures are in place, in this country we should be quite good at immunising ourselves from temporary political processes and fashions. The planning processes are really quite robust, and there's some really good—I don't know if you've seen it, but there are some really good practices and there's some guidance, basically, from Westminster City Council that have the most planning applications for statues, I think, in the country. And they have about 300 notable statues there, and, of course, they revise that. An example of removing a statue that is completely offensive to, I assume, everybody, and removing it quickly, was the Jimmy Savile one outside a Scottish swimming pool a few years ago. And so, no-one really criticises the council's executive right to do that. It seems that Cardiff city council, I think, removed the Picton statue from the hall of memorials. That was done via a committee vote, as I understand it, so it's a legal vote. But something like that does throw up huge amounts of unrecorded community tension—that's my point. It doesn't solve the issue; it merely exacerbates it or makes it worse.

So, I think, through proper consultation, through fair discussion and through, actually, not making assumptions about anyone's viewpoint—I don't want to make assumptions about Black Lives Matter activists' viewpoint; they may have specific viewpoints on specific statues. They may, one moment, be very emotional about Picton, but when they read into the history, you know, demand to remove it might drop off. I don't know that, but as long as the democratic processes and structures that underpin all this are in place, I think we can deal with building more statues and revising the ones that, unequivocally, a community wants to remove.

11:50

Well, thank you for that answer. I should say that the Thomas Picton statue in the Marble Hall hasn't been removed yet; it is subject to process. He's been boxed up, so that's probably the controversy you've seen in the media.

I was just trying to get a feel about the wider cultural and heritage—[Inaudible.]—because you've clearly thought about these issues quite a lot. And a lot of this comes down to the slave trade and people fundamentally connected to it, and they're present in place names and pub names and, sometimes, in actual statuary as well. And it does seem that Britain does need a major revision of this. I mean, there would have been no Atlantic slave trade if it wasn't for Britain, both physically in terms of shipping, but also in the commercial system that we developed that allowed insurance and all sorts of things to allow these flows to occur. Portugal and Spain were also hugely significant, but Britain, unfortunately, was the prime mover, and that kind of revision, it does seem quite an appropriate part of historical examination.

I just wonder if you've been observing what's happened in Brussels with the whole issue about the Congo and Leopold II. His equestrian statue was outside the main royal palace, as I recall, and there are all sorts of parks and museums commemorating him, and they're going through this whole issue what they do with all that. And another one that I know very personally, because I have connections there and studied there many, many years ago, and that's in Richmond, Virginia, where Monument Avenue, which is a stunning heritage site and a whole sweeping avenue—. But its statuary celebrated the confederate leaders in the war, the generals and Jefferson Davis, and that statuary was placed there between 1900 and 1920, basically as part of re-establishing segregation after reconstruction failed in the late nineteenth century, and they have now removed most of those statues. I think only General Lee remains, because his family have intervened to stop his removal. There's no doubt, on heritage grounds, Monument Avenue, you would say that the presumption, normally, would be you'd leave untouched. But once you know the context—. You know, sometimes we have to do some very profound things, don't we, or the effect on the country, society and our future is just too marked for even something of distinction, necessarily. That was a long question—

11:55

It was, and I must remind Members that this is about questioning the witnesses, and we'll have other opportunities to express our own views, perhaps. But if we can try and keep questions and answers as succinct as we can, although I know that's difficult because these are very wide-ranging and very complex issues. Richard, if you could respond to David's questions, please.

I will treat it as a question, if you don't mind.

Well, I mean, it clearly was, because it was about do these examples—how do you respond to those examples in terms of what we should or should not continue to commemorate.

I think we're opening a Pandora's box here. I could counter that by saying that without Picton, and without Waterloo, and without Picton's role for seven years in the Napoleonic wars on the borders of Portugal—he got injured and was killed during Waterloo—we wouldn't have defeated Napoleon, who was essentially a fascist marauding across Europe, and we would not have been able to turn around and repulse the Atlantic slave trade. So, I could give you a different historical perspective. That's my point. The point is we could go around the houses discussing the geostrategic strengths of different individuals, but at the end of the day, I think we're dealing with statues that are kind of a mix of what local people want to commemorate, but also we are in this situation where they have, for better or worse, become part of our inherent identity and culture. So, no matter what the person did during their lives, people these days have become fond of these statues—they're beautiful, they're part of the neighbourhood. If you asked people, through a direct referendum on a statue, which may be one solution, you would probably get, I would say, a very decent majority supporting the retention of the Picton obelisk in Carmarthenshire.

I've travelled the world and I've been to south-east Asia and the middle east where there are a phenomenal amount of Queen Victoria statues and statues to other British monarchs and leaders over time, because they stepped in and because they were able to provide security and peace. So, we can go around the houses on this. What's important is that those underpinning decision-making structures arise, and that we can all fairly access them. My concern—not about this panel at all; I think it's a brilliant initiative—is that we are having reviews in hundreds of places, and that there's not fair consultation, and not a fair amount of time, for people to put their views in. You know when you've got a social media campaign, and everything happens very, very quickly? Actually your average, ordinary, hard-working person, that is not really engaged in politics, that doesn't really follow social media much, they haven't got time to start defending their local memorials or statues. We've all got day jobs to do. We're all volunteers; we're not doing this with a political motivation or anything. So, they're great points that are made, but it comes down to the local decision-making structure being fair and accessible.

That's helpful. Thank you. I'm going to need to move on and bring Carwyn Jones in now.

Thank you, Chair. I thank the witness for his evidence so far. Could I ask him: does he believe that

'our shared national heritage is now under existential threat. Fuelled by social-media tribalism, mob rule on our streets, a sweeping wave of unjustified self hatred'?

Does he further belive that

'more than 130 local authorities have been hoodwinked into deleting and distorting our country’s magnificent history'?

I do, actually, Chair. That was written a few months ago. I am very proud of most of British history, and I think that we should teach it fairly and objectively, warts and all. And I think, to a broader point, that we do that, Chair, and that's what this debate's about. I don't regret writing any of that. In campaign material, sometimes we have to be a little bit more gung-ho, as the panel know, because you're all elected politicians that write campaign material and sign it off.