Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu - Y Bumed Senedd
Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee - Fifth Senedd26/11/2020
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Carwyn Jones MS|
|David Melding MS|
|Helen Mary Jones MS|
|John Griffiths MS|
|Mick Antoniw MS|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Abu-Bakr Madden Al-Shabazz||Hanesydd|
|Dr Simon John||Prifysgol Abertawe|
|James January-McCann||Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru|
|The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales|
|Professor Bill Jones||Hanesydd|
|Professor Deian Hopkin||Hanesydd|
|Professor Martin Johnes||Prifysgol Abertawe|
|Professor Merfyn Jones||Hanesydd|
|Richard Suggett||Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru|
|The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Angharad Roche||Dirprwy Glerc|
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 09:30.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 09:30.
Bore da a chroeso cynnes i bawb i Bwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu'r Senedd. Yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 34.19, dwi wedi gwahardd y cyhoedd rhag bod yn rhan o'r cyfarfod yma er mwyn amddiffyn iechyd y cyhoedd. Mae'r cyfarfod yn cael ei ddarlledu yn fyw ar Senedd.tv, gyda pawb yn ymuno drwy ddulliau rithiol. Bydd trawsgrifiad o'r cyfarfod yn cael ei gyhoeddi fel arfer. Ar wahân i'r pethau y mae'n rhaid inni eu gwneud yn wahanol gan ein bod ni'n cwrdd o bell, mae'r holl Reolau Sefydlog sydd yn berthnasol i'r pwyllgorau yn dal i fod mewn lle. Os am unrhyw reswm dwi'n colli cysylltiad, mae David Melding, yn garedig iawn, wedi cytuno i gymryd y Gadair tra'n bod ni'n trio datrys y problemau technegol. Gaf i ofyn i fy nghyd-Aelodau os oes unrhyw ddatganiadau o fudd? Does yna ddim datganiadau o fudd.
Good morning and a very warm welcome to this meeting of the Senedd Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from attending this committee meeting in order to protect public health. The meeting is being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, with all participants joining 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, David Melding has kindly agreed to step into the Chair temporarily whilst I try to resolve technical issues. May I ask Members if there are any declarations of interest? There are none.
Felly, dwi'n symud at eitem 2, sef ymchwiliad i mewn i bwy dŷn ni'n eu cofio yn ein llefydd cyhoeddus ni. A dwi'n falch iawn, iawn o groesawu ein tri thyst cyntaf ni. Os caf i ddweud diolch yn fawr iawn ichi am ymuno â ni, a gwnawn ni jest gofyn ichi gyflwyno eich hunain, ac wedyn awn ni'n syth i mewn i gwestiynu, os yw hynny'n iawn gyda chi. Jest yn y drefn sy'n ymddangos ar fy sgrin i, gwnaf i ofyn i Merfyn Jones i gyflwyno ei hunan i ddechrau.
So, we will move to item 2, our inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces. And I'm very pleased to welcome our three witnesses. So, if I could thank you very much for joining us, and if we could ask you to introduce yourselves and then we will move immediately into questions, if that's okay with you. So, I'll take you in the order that I see you on the screen. I will ask Merfyn Jones to introduce himself first of all.
Diolch yn fawr. Ie, Merfyn Jones, cyn athro hanes Cymru, Prifysgol Bangor, a chyn is-ganghellor Prifysgol Bangor ac, am bron i 20 mlynedd, yn gyd-olygydd cylchgrawn Llafur, sef cylchgrawn hanes gweithwyr Cymru, gydag un o'r enw Deian Hopkin.
Thank you very much. I am Merfyn Jones, former professor of Welsh history at Bangor University and a former vice-chancellor at Bangor University and, for almost 20 years, the co-editor of the Llafur publication, on the history of Welsh workers, along with Deian Hopkin.
A gwnawn ni droi at Deian Hopkin nesaf, felly.
So, we will now turn to Deian Hopkin.
Diolch am y geiriau caredig, Merfyn Jones. Dwi'n hanesydd, fel Merfyn, yn gyn-bennaeth adran hanes yn Aberystwyth, ond wedi mynd at yr ochr arall fel gweinyddwr a phennaeth prifysgol, fel Merfyn, ac yn gyd-olygydd a hefyd yn rhywun sy'n dal i astudio llafur a'r mudiad llafur ac yn sylwebu ar faterion cyhoeddus gwleidyddol yng Nghymru, o bellter.
Thank you for those kind words, Merfyn Jones. I, like Merfyn, am a historian, a former head of the department of history at Aberystwyth, but then went to the other side as an administrator and vice-chancellor, like Merfyn, and I was a joint editor with him and I still study labour issues in Wales and commentate on political issues in Wales, from a distance.
Diolch yn fawr, Deian. A Bill, Bill Jones.
Thank you, Deian. Bill, Bill Jones.
Bore da ichi gyd. Diolch am y gwahoddiad. Bill Jones ydw i. Rwy'n gyn-athro hanes Cymru Prifysgol Caerdydd, felly hanesydd arall. Cyn hynny, roeddwn i'n guradur gydag Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru, gyda chyfrifoldeb am y casgliad diwydiant glo, ac, ar hyn o bryd, rwyf hefyd yn un o ymddiriedolwyr Amgueddfa Cwm Cynon yn Aberdâr.
A very good morning to you. Thank you for the invitation. I'm Bill Jones, I'm a former professor of Welsh history at Cardiff University, so you have another historian. Prior to that, I was a curator with the National Museum of Wales, with responsibility for the coal industry collections, and, at the moment, I am a trustee of the Cynon Valley Museum in Aberdare.
Wel, diolch yn fawr eto—diolch i'r tri ohonoch chi am wneud yr amser i ymuno â ni. Gwnaf i droi'n syth wedyn at John Griffiths am y set gyntaf o gwestiynau. John.
Well, thank you once again, and thank you for making the time to join us this morning. I will turn immediately now to John Griffiths for the first set of questions. John.
Diolch, Cadeirydd, a bore da i bawb.
Thank you, Chair, and good morning, everyone.
I've got one or two initial questions, based on our terms of reference as a committee. The first is: what principles do you believe should be followed by public authorities in deciding who should be remembered in public spaces? And how should they consider issues such as the historical significance of a person, the continued influence of the person, that person's national impact, the impact on his or her field, how they were viewed at the particular time, whether that person provides a good example for people today, the architectural significance of the monument, and the impact on minority groups and views of the act of commemoration? So, it's quite a list, but I'd be grateful for your thoughts. Who would like to begin?
There's silence, Chair. We're all reeling from that list. Can I kick off, if I may?
Just to ask the question—. I think there are some words here that I think sit comfortably with the idea of remembrance and others that may not. As you'll know, I chaired Cymru'n Cofio—Wales Remembers, and we spent a lot of time wondering what should we remember about the first world war. And the issue here is that times change—people thought that the empire was a great thing in those days; today, we have a rather different view. Can you rewrite history, can you actually say, 'Well, they were wrong, and we were right'? I think the important thing is what example do you give to present people, young people in particular. And, personally, I think you do that by explaining to people. And I take two examples of this, quickly. One is the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. It doesn't commemorate or celebrate apartheid, but explains it. And equally, the statue park in Budapest—where all the communist statues are there, with an explanation of what they were up to. I think, therefore, the important question is: what is the public space, and can we actually decide how to explain this properly?
But the final point I'd make is that I'm not so sure there is any kind of legislative framework or any Government intervention to decide this. It is, in my view, a community matter.
That's helpful. Merfyn, Bill—would one of you like to come in on this? Merfyn.
I tend to agree with Deian very much, I think, in the broad sweep of his argument. I think it would be very difficult to legislate in any meaningful way as to what kind of statues one puts up. Personally, I've always been rather dubious about the value of public statues in any case, because times do change, and today's hero becomes tomorrow's villain. I think there may be some principles, however, that we need to bear in mind. In particular, we are now, clearly, in times that have moved on from the class-based politics that many of us were used to to a much more identity-based politics, and we have to be cognisant of the impact that's had, especially through the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact on black, minority ethnic groups. And, clearly, they have been unrepresented in any kind of public commemoration or public demonstration of their significance. But then so have many other groups in our society. Our statutes tend to be very limited to one small group. So, we need to be conscious of that, we need to be conscious of the fact that virtually no women ever get commemorated for anything, and that surely should underline—.
And then, finally, I would say, we do need to be very careful—. I agree entirely with Deian; we cannot just allow the present to judge the past without explanation and context and consciousness raising in this matter. But there were people, who, even when they were alive, were highly dubious and were criticised by their contemporaries for either their cruelty or their venality or whatever, and I think we need to be very careful about what we do with statues of people of that kind, and there are at least two spectacular cases here in Wales.
Thank you, Merfyn. Bill.
Wel, oherwydd fy mod i'n drydydd i fynd, mae Deian a Merfyn wedi dweud sawl peth roeddwn i'n mynd i'w ddweud hefyd. So, allaf i ychwanegu at ambell i beth? Rwy'n cytuno'n llwyr â beth mae'r ddau ohonyn nhw wedi ei ddweud ynglŷn â deddfu ac ati, a gyda Merfyn. Er fy mod i â chefndir mewn treftadaeth, dwi'n amheus pa mor werthfawr yw cerfluniau ac ati, a faint o bobl sy'n tynnu sylw atyn nhw. Dwi'n credu taw un peth sydd fan hyn yw bod rhai o'r cerfluniau yma, am resymau o'r gorffennol, mewn lleoliadau arwyddocaol a chanolog iawn, ac mae rhai ohonyn nhw yn gallu creu atgasedd, ac felly mae'r atgasedd yna yn cael ei wneud yn waeth oherwydd bod y cerfluniau yma mewn sefyllfaoedd blaenllaw yn ein dinasoedd, ein pentrefi, trefi ac ati.
I droi at bwyntiau mwy penodol i'r cwestiynau, dwi yn meddwl bod yn rhaid cael rhyw fath o feini prawf sefydlog er mwyn dewis pwy sy'n haeddu cael ei goffáu ac ati. A byddwn i'n cytuno â'r rhan fwyaf o'r rhestrau sydd gyda chi yn y ddogfen. Byddwn i efallai yn meddwl i ychwanegu at hynny, wrth ddweud hefyd i ystyried perthynas yr unigolion â Chymru. Mae'n debyg roedd hwn yn un o'r materion a oedd yn cael ei drafod ynglŷn â delw Stanley yn Ninbych, er enghraifft—beth oedd agwedd Stanley tuag at Gymru.
Ac i ddilyn hefyd y pwynt ar yr effaith ar grwpiau lleiafrifol a'r farn am y weithred o goffáu'r unigolyn, efallai beth mae digwyddiadau eleni wedi dysgu inni yw nid jest ni yng Nghymru sydd i fod i ystyried hwn, ond beth sy'n digwydd yn rhyngwladol, a nawr beth mae Cymru yn ei wneud ynglŷn â cherfluniau efallai sydd yn ymwneud ag agweddau anhapus o'n gorffennol ni yn rhywbeth sydd yn mynd i fod yn fyd-eang, yn hytrach na jest i ymwneud â beth sy'n mynd ymlaen i ni yng Nghymru fan hyn.
Wedi dweud hynny am y meini prawf, rwy'n credu bod yn rhaid ystyried pob un achos fel y mae hefyd. A dyma rhai o'r sylwadau oedd gen i ynglŷn â'r pwysigrwydd o ryw fath o feini prawf. Rwy'n credu ei bod hi'n bwysig ein bod ni'n meddwl pam rŷn ni'n rhoi cerflun i hyn neu hwnnw neu honno, a beth yw pwrpas y peth, a beth mae'r ymateb tebygol yn mynd i fod o wneud y fath beth.
Well, because I'm third to answer, Deian and Merfyn have covered much of what I was intending to say. But, if I could just add a few things, I agree entirely with what both of them have said on legislating in this area and so forth, and with Merfyn's comments. Although I have a background in heritage, I am doubtful as to how valuable statues are, and how many people pay attention to them. I think one issue here is that some of these statues and memorials, for reasons of history, are in very prominent positions, and some of them can create ill-feeling, and that ill-feeling is highlighted because these statues are in prominent positions in our cities, towns and villages.
To turn to more specific issues on your questions, I do believe that we do need some established criteria in order to decide who deserves commemoration. And I would agree with much of what is listed in your document. To add to that, I would also say that we should consider the relationship of these individuals with Wales. This, I suppose, was one of the issues discussed in terms of the Stanley commemoration in Denbigh, and his attitude towards Wales.
And to follow up on the point on the impact on minority groups and views on the commemoration of individuals, what the events of this year have taught us is that it's not just for us in Wales to consider this, but what's happening internationally, and what Wales is doing about statues related to some unfortunate aspects of our past, perhaps, is something that will be a global issue rather than relating only to us here in Wales.
Having said that about the criteria, I do think we need to consider each case on its merits too. And those are just a few of the comments I had on the importance of having some sort of criteria. I think it's important that we think about why we are providing statues of any individuals, and what's the purpose and what is the likely response going to be to that.
Diolch yn fawr. Diolch i'r tri ohonoch chi. Jest cyn imi dynnu John i mewn, does dim bwriad gyda'r pwyllgor yma i awgrymu i Lywodraeth Cymru, er enghraifft, dylen ni gael rhyw fath o Ddeddf ar y mater yma, ond jest edrych i weld os ydym ni'n gallu helpu i greu fframwaith fydd yn ddefnyddiol er mwyn i bobl gynnal sgyrsiau ar lefel leol. Achos rwy'n siŵr byddai lot ohonom ni'n cytuno gyda Deian, pan mae e'n dweud dylai pob cymuned ystyried y materion yma a sut maen nhw'n berthnasol iddyn nhw. So, dydyn ni ddim yn mynd i gynnig, dwi ddim yn credu, os nad ydym ni'n cael tystiolaeth gref y ffordd arall, fod yna unrhyw Ddeddf yn dod mas o'n gwaith ni. Bill.
Thank you to all three of you. And just before I bring John in, this committee has no intention of suggesting to the Welsh Government that we should have some legislation in this area, but we are considering whether we can help to create a framework that will be useful so that people can have conversations at a local level. Because I'm sure that many of us would agree with Deian when he says that every community should consider these issues and how they relate to them. So, I don't think, unless we receive very strong evidence otherwise, that there should be any legislation likely to emerge from our work. Bill.
Sori, allaf i jest atodi—? Mae'n ddrwg gyda fi, ond dwi'n credu mai'r pwynt pwysig fan hyn yw ein bod ni yn creu dadl. Dyw'r ddadl yma ddim wedi digwydd i bob pwrpas, a rhan o'r pethau sydd wedi digwydd, yn enwedig beth ddigwyddodd ym Mryste ac ati—mae'n rhannol oherwydd bod rhai carfannau mewn cymdeithas wedi bod yn galw inni gael y math yma o ddadl gyhoeddus a dyw e ddim wedi digwydd. Ac felly, mae hwnna'n ysgogiad pwysig i drafod y peth yma nawr, rwy'n meddwl.
Can I just add to that? I think the important thing here is that we do have a debate. This debate hasn't happened to all intents and purposes, and what happened in Bristol and so on happened partly because some sections of society have been calling for this kind of public debate and it hasn't happened previously. So, that is an important driver in discussing these major issues.
Wel, dyna beth oeddwn i'n ei feddwl. Gwnaf dynnu Merfyn i mewn, ac wedyn bydd yn rhaid i fi droi at gwestiwn nesaf John.
Well, yes, that was my thought. I'll bring Merfyn in and then we will need to turn to John's next question.
Jest sylw bach ar beth roedd Bill yn ei ddweud—rwy'n cytuno'n llwyr. Fel roeddwn i'n ei ddweud yn gynharach, mae angen codi ymwybyddiaeth ac i weddill cymdeithas ddeall pwysigrwydd y briw a'r poen mae llawer o'r delweddau yma yn eu creu—ond codi ymwybyddiaeth yn hytrach na dinistrio delweddau. Ond, fel y mae Bryste wedi dangos, efallai bod angen dinistrio rhai o'r delweddau er mwyn codi ymwybyddiaeth.
Just a brief comment on what Bill said—I agree entirely. As I said earlier, we need to raise awareness so that the wider society can understand the importance of the pain that many of these images create—but we need to raise awareness, rather than destroy statues. But, as Bristol has demonstrated, we may need to topple some of these statues in order to raise awareness.
Neu eu symud nhw, fel maen nhw wedi ei wneud, wrth gwrs, fel yr oedd Deian yn cyfeirio ato, yn Budapest. So, gwnaf dynnu John yn ôl i mewn ar gyfer ei ail gwestiwn, os gwelwch yn dda, John.
Or to move them, as they have done elsewhere, and Deian referred to Budapest, of course. So, I will now turn to John for his second question. John.
Yes, I have a second question on whether or not there should be fixed criteria to assess the appropriateness of possible public commemoration, as with listed buildings, I think. We've already heard from Deian and Merfyn perhaps that they're not minded to support that, and I think Bill was perhaps a little bit more ambivalent, but, yes, I'd welcome clear views on that.
Deian, and then I'll bring Bill in.
Diolch yn fawr iawn, John. Allaf i ddechrau trwy jest ddweud, rwy'n credu bod yna broblem yma, achos mae pobl yn newid? Mae cymunedau'n dodi adeiladau lan o achos haelioni pobl. Gallwn ni feddwl am rywun fel Andrew Carnegie—rydym ni wedi cael lyfrgelloedd i Andrew Carnegie ac mae parch mawr i Andrew Carnegie. Ac eto, os edrychwch chi ar sut y gwnaeth ei arian a'r dioddefaint gan y gweithwyr, 12 awr—. Byddem ni byth yn dioddef hynny y dyddiau yma. Ond mae e wedi newid—roedd ar yr hewl i Ddamascus, wedi newid ei feddwl ac wedi dod yn hael. Felly, yn y pen draw, ydych chi'n cofio rhywun am yr haelioni ar y diwedd neu am beth roedden nhw'n ei wneud yn gynharach? Ac i'r graddau hynny, haelioni, yn aml iawn, sydd yn gyfrifol am adeiladau.
Thank you very much, John. Could I start by saying that I think there is a problem here, because people change? Communities build buildings because of people's generosity. We can think of Andrew Carnegie—there are libraries built to Andrew Carnegie and there's huge respect for him. But if you look at how he made his money and the suffering of his workers, 12 hours—. We would never put up with that today, but times have changed. He was on the road to Damascus—he changed his mind and became a generous benefactor. So, ultimately, do you remember or commemorate someone for their generosity in later life or for what they did earlier? And very often, generosity accounts for the buildings.
It's the generosity of people in contributing to their communities that enables those communities to say, 'We'll name it after this person', not so much what they did. And that's an interesting question: can you retrieve your reputation by giving lots of money after you've done some terrible things?
I think we've probably got a few current industrialists who we might put in that category, arguably. Bill.
Dwi ddim cweit yn siwr beth y gofynnwyd i ni fan hyn, ond rwy'n meddwl bod angen meini prawf am rai rydym ni'n creu yn y dyfodol, a defnyddio rhyw fath o feini prawf am beth sy'n digwydd nawr ond, ar yr un pryd, i edrych ar bob un achos unigol. Rwy'n cytuno â Deian ynglŷn â beth mae e'n ei ddweud ond, wrth gwrs, mae pob cerflun yn y gorffennol yn adlewyrchu'r oes ohoni. A'r cwestiwn canolog yw sut ydym ni'n delio â hwnna. Ydym ni'n dweud, 'Wel, ie, iawn, oce, dyna beth yw e'? Ond nid hanes yw cerflun; mae cerflun yn adlewyrchu hanes. Ac, felly, rydym ni'n dod yn ôl at y pwynt o bwysigrwydd egluro, ond hefyd i wneud yn siwr bod y carfanau i gyd mewn cymdeithas yn fwy cynhwysol ac yn cefnogi beth rydym ni yn ei weld ar hyd y strydoedd ac—gair da gan Merfyn, dwi'n meddwl—nad ydym ni'n achosi'r fath boen i rai grwpiau lleiafrifol yn y gymdeithas sy'n mynd yn erbyn, dywedwch, y diwylliant dominyddol, ac ati.
I'm not quite sure what the question was here, but I do think that we need criteria for future commemorations, and we need to use some sort of criteria in looking at what's happening now, but also we need to look at each case on its individual merit. I agree with Deian in what he says, but, of course, every commemoration from the past reflects that particular time. And the question here is how we deal with that. Do we say, 'Yes, fine, it is what it is'? But history is not a statue; the statue reflects history. And we come back to the point of the importance of explaining, but also ensuring that all factions of society are more inclusive and do support what we see on our streets and—a good word used by Merfyn—that we don't cause pain to some minority groups in society who aren't part of the dominant culture.
Thank you. Merfyn.
Dwi'n tueddu i gytuno bod angen rhai meini prawf, ond dwi ddim yn credu ei bod hi'n hawdd penderfynu beth ddylen nhw fod. Efallai ei bod hi'n bosib cael rhyw fath o feini prawf cyffredinol iawn sy'n arwain at sut y dylai pobl ddod i benderfyniad, ond, os edrychwch chi ar beth sydd yna yn gyhoeddus ar draws Cymru neu ar draws gwledydd Prydain heddiw, mae bob math o resymau pam mae'r delweddau yna o'n blaenau ni. Mae'n anodd cyffredinoli yn y maes yma. Ond dwi'n credu y buasai'n bosib dweud y dylem ni yn y dyfodol edrych i sicrhau nad oes cysylltiad uniongyrchol gyda phethau fel caethwasiaeth neu'r ymerodraeth, y dylem ni edrych ar gyfraniad merched i'n cymdeithas, ac y dylem ni werthfawrogi pobl sydd wedi gwneud cyfraniad ond a oedd efallai ddim yn gyfoethog. Mae'n bosib cael rhyw fath o feini prawf, ond buaswn i ddim am weld y rheini'n mynd yn rhai rhy haearnaidd, felly, neu mi fyddem ni mewn dŵr poeth eto dwi'n credu. Mae hefyd, wrth gwrs, ein bywyd celfyddydol yn rhywbeth sy'n bwysig—meddwl am rai o gofgolofnau Goscombe John o gwmpas y lle; maen nhw mor wych fel celfyddyd. Mae hwnna hefyd yn rhan bwysig o'r ddadl, dwi'n credu.
I tend to agree that we do need criteria, but I don't think it's easy to decide on what the criteria should be. Perhaps it would be possible to have some very general criteria that could guide people's decision making, but, if you look at what exists across Wales or the UK now, there are all sorts of reasons as to why we have those commemorations. It's difficult to generalise in this area. But I do think it's possible to say that, in the future, we perhaps should look at ensuring that there is no direct link with things such as slavery or empire, that we should look at women's contribution to society, and that we should appreciate those people who have made a contribution but perhaps weren't wealthy. So, it is possible to have some criteria, but I wouldn't see them becoming too restrictive, or we will find ourselves in difficulty once again. Also, of course, our art is something that's important—I'm thinking of some of the Goscombe John memorials, which are wonderful as pieces of art. That's an important part of this debate, too.
Wrth gwrs. Mi wnaf i dynnu Bill, ac wedyn Deian, yn ôl mewn.
Of course. I'll bring Bill in, and then Deian.
Jest i ddilyn y pwynt—ac mae hwn yn fwy at y dyfodol, wrth gwrs—mae gennyf lot o gydymdeimlad â'r syniad, sy'n cael ei farnu gan rai, i symud i ffwrdd o ddelweddau, sef delw y person, ac i symud draw at fwy o syniad o gael rhyw fath o gofeb mwy celfyddydol yn hytrach na delw, achos mae hwnna'n gallu cynrychioli mwy o grwpiau mewn cymdeithas, nid jest unigolion yn unig. Hefyd, mae'n rhaid inni gofio bod rhoi cofebion lan yn gostus ofnadwy. Mae'r rhain yn fawr, onid ŷn nhw? Dyna beth o'r broblem.
Dwi'n gwybod, yn yr Unol Daleithiau, fod rhai wedi cael gwared â rhai o'r cerfluniau i'r bobl oedd yn flaenllaw yn y taleithiau cyd-ffederal a jest wedi gadael y plinth a'r pedestal. Wel, ar un ochr, mae hwnna'n swnio'n dwp, ond, ar yr ochr arall, efallai fod yna bosibliadau fan hyn i ddangos nid yn unig y person, ond hefyd fod yna hanes dadleuol wedi bod tu ôl i'r person yna nid jest yn y gorffennol, ond yn dal i fod heddiw fel mae cymdeithas yn newid.
Just to follow up on that point—and this is looking more to the future, of course—I have a great deal of sympathy with the idea, criticised by some, that we should move away from statues of individuals and look at having a more artistic memorial, rather than a traditional statue, because that can represent more groups within society, rather than just looking at individuals. Also, we must bear in mind that erecting memorials is very expensive. These are major pieces, and that's part of the problem.
I know, in the United States, that with the removal of some statues to those who were prominent in the confederate states, they just leave the plinth and the pedestal. Well, on the one hand, that might appear foolish, but, on the other hand, there is the possibility here of showing something not only about the individual, but also that there was a contentious history behind that individual not just in the past, but today also as society changes.
Yn hollol, diolch. Deian.
Exactly, thank you, Deian.
A allaf i ychwanegu un peth? Rwy'n credu bod rhaid gwahaniaethu—adeiladu ar yr hyn roedd Bill yn ei ddweud—rhwng unigolion a mudiadau. Gallwch chi gael cerflun neu ryw gofeb i fudiad neu i achos a ddigwyddodd neu ddigwyddiad. I gymryd yr hyn ddigwyddodd yng Nghaerdydd y flwyddyn cyn diwethaf yn cofio'r anghydfod, y terfysg hiliol yng Nghaerdydd, a doedd neb wedi bod yn ymwybodol o hynny ar wahân i'r gymuned. Nawr fod yna gerflun yn cofio'r achos yna, dwi ddim yn credu bod neb yn mynd i amau hynny. Mae'r un peth yn wir gyda mudiad fel etholfraint gwragedd ac yn y blaen. Mae codi un i unigolion yn wahanol—mae hynny'n llawer mwy peryglus, achos dydych chi ddim yn gwybod popeth amdanyn nhw. Oeddech chi'n gwybod bod Iolo Morgannwg yn berchen ar gaethweision? Dydw i ddim siŵr bod pobl yn sylweddoli hynny. I ryw raddau, mae'n rhaid i ni edrych yn gyfan gwbl.
Could I add one thing? I think we need to differentiate here—to build on what Bill said—between individuals and movements. You can have a statue or a commemoration to a movement or to a particular cause or an event. If we look at what happened in Cardiff the year before last in commemorating the race riots in Cardiff, nobody has been aware of those events apart from the community itself. Now that there is a memorial, I don't think that anyone will cast doubt on those events. The same is true of a movement such as the franchise of women and the suffragettes. Erecting commemorations to individuals is far more dangerous, because you don't know everything about any individual. Did you know that Iolo Morgannwg was a slave owner? I'm not sure people were aware of that. To a certain extent, we have to look holistically at this.
We have to take a holistic view, John, I think you might agree. In other words, we can't simply allocate something and say, 'Well, that's what they did.' We have to look at the rich tapestry of what people did. That's why I think individuals being commemorated is more dangerous, actually, than movements or events. Nobody says Peterloo didn't happen, but I'm not so sure we want to talk about some of the individuals involved, and I think that's the real issue.
Final point: if you think of the number of names for people like Mrs Pankhurst, it's 32 streets in Britain; for Lord Curzon, who fought against women's rights, 131 streets, three in Wales. It's an interesting question, actually. As Merfyn said earlier, we've commemorated those who've opposed progress more than those who've advocated it.
Yes, I take the points about perhaps it's more dangerous to commemorate individuals, but when you think that we don't have a single statue of an individual woman in Wales, but we do have lots of statues of archetypal groups of women who are supposed to be representing, I think there's an interesting conversation to be had there. I will bring Bill in briefly, but we do need to move on to the next set of questions. Bill.
I didn't for a minute suggest that we shouldn't have statues of women along the lines of what Monumental Welsh Women are doing, et cetera. I fully support that. I did not, for one minute, think we should not have more. In fact, I am strongly—
Ro'n i jest eisiau dweud yn glir fy mod i'n meddwl yn wahanol. Eisiau cofebion i'r bobl sy'n deilwng o gael eu coffáu ond sydd ddim wedi cael hynny hyd yn hyn yw beth y dylem ni ganolbwyntio arno.
I just wanted to clarify that I don't believe that. We do need to commemorate those people who are worthy of commemoration but haven't been commemorated in the past. That is what we should focus on.
Diolch yn fawr. Mick Antoniw.
Thank you for those comments. I was very interested in the comment about how we'd moved from class-based representations and statues to more personality based. I was a member of South Glamorgan council about 35 years ago when we decided to put the statue of Aneurin Bevan up in the centre of Cardiff. That was done specifically because there was concern that all you had actually mainly in Cardiff were royalty and coal owners. So, this debate has been around for quite a long time, and we've seen the controversy over, for example, the importance of the Newport Chartist mural and the representation there.
What I'm interested in, though, is this. We've heard today, obviously, the list of places and names and so on that Gaynor Legall has prepared, and we look forward with interest to see that. Councils and public bodies are, obviously, going to have to look at that list. We've talked about how we might present guidance as to how we deal with that, and that's the purpose of this inquiry. What do you think the role of councils should be? What do you think that sort of guidance might be, bearing in mind balancing the representation of community interest, the broader representation of some of these figures and how you deal with street names and building names? You mentioned Curzon. We've got a lot of Curzon clubs around Wales. How do you think councils should handle it? What would be helpful to public bodies that are going to have to look at these lists and decide what it is they're going to do with it?
Deian's showing to come in first. Thank you, Mick.
Thank you, Mick. I think that's an extremely interesting question, because, if you look around Wales, the number of streets named after local authority leaders is legion. That's the great thing. There's one war memorial, by the way, with no name of anybody who died, just the people, actually, who built it and people who were members of the council. So, I think there's an interesting question to be had there.
I think the problem there is, take, for example, Picton. There's something of the order of 110 Picton streets, and 46 in Wales, and Sir Thomas Picton, as you know, was a brutal governor of Trinidad and he actually ended up in court for cruelty. But then he died in Waterloo, which is why we remember him; so, in a sense, he rehabilitated himself. But if you changed all the names of Picton, you'd have to find 46 new names, and what's the Royal Mail going to do? I'm not being trivial here, but I think naming streets is a local authority issue—of course it is—and that is really for each local authority to come to a conclusion about it. But there is a practical issue attached to that, because that is an area where I do think local authorities and communities do have a major role to play, but, personally, I think they ought to name them after poets and animals and birds, and things, rather than—well, I was going to say politicians, but I wouldn't dare say that in this group of people.
I don't think anybody in this virtual room is particularly looking to have a street named after them. I think personally I'd be mortified. [Laughter.] Unless I was very long dead. Bill or Merfyn, do you want to come in on this? Merfyn.
Just a thought, really, that clearly local authorities should be critical in all of this. There really has to be local community involvement in discussions about all of this public commemoration. But just a thought, which is that at a very local level, of course, there are town and community councils, and I do wonder whether in fact perhaps they could be brought into this at that very local level, because at the end of the day, the statue or whatever it is, or plaque, is going to be—. I know they don't have the planning authorities and so on, that's at the county council level, but they should have, it seems to me, a critical local input into any of these decisions.
Can I follow on that and ask, do you think that there is an opportunity for a more open planning process with the naming of streets and naming of buildings, institutions and so on? In many ways, this has been something that's been left to a small group, as you say, of politicians—or planners, even—to decide what something should be called. But there are potential opportunities here for communities to have their mark on their community in planning processes, past and present and future.
I'll bring Bill in, and then I'll come back to Deian. Bill.
Yes. I would say the same about local authorities, but also of local and town councils as well, because as we know from the history of erecting plaques more recently in north-east Wales, there was a fair bit of contestation locally and controversy regarding that particular plaque. I would agree with that, but I think the ultimate thing is there has to be a general, as much as possible, consultation about this with the wider public, and with the possible minority groups that would be affected by these names. I think what I'm getting at, so as to not delay the time too much, is: we now call this 'public history', therefore, we need to consult the public, but we need to be sure that it is 'the' public in all its diversity, and not one group that pretends to speak for the public.
That's an interesting point. Deian.
I think the point I was trying to make in answer directly to Mick's question about streets and local authorities and the rest of it: it's easier to contemplate what you're going to call a street than actually what you're going to uncall a street, if you get my meaning. And I think that is really where you do need public consultation, even more than new streets. But my personal view, and I go back to what to what Merfyn said at the beginning: I'm rather agnostic, in fact, probably hostile to the idea of lots of commemorations, because of the dangers that are involved. And after all, let's face it: we now have other ways of finding out about these people. We've got the internet, we've got education. And goodness me, we need to look at the curriculum and make sure the curriculum actually reflects these things, because my goodness, the curriculum hasn't done a terribly good job in the past in recognising minorities or any of those things, so there's huge educational issue. But I would simply say: I think we've got to be very careful in actually deciding that we can't call something Picton or Kipling. Kipling—that's another one. He opposed women's rights as well. Or equally, if you want to add to the four Keir Hardie streets in Wales—only four, by the way, which is an interesting reflection.
Interestingly, I've been doing some work on Robert Owen and the idea of a Robert Owen day and, of course, he was opposed to universal suffrage as well, so there are challenges there. Could I just ask one question that just followed on from what Deian asked: what does this really say—this current debate we're having—about our education curriculum and the system in terms of our actual understanding of what some of these things represent, and is there a challenge there? Just to throw that one in.
I'll bring in Merfyn, and I can see Bill wants to come in as well.
It seems to me that the whole extraordinary explosion of protest and of discussion and debate that's happened on both sides of the Atlantic around Black Lives Matter show, for us in the countries of the United Kingdom, that we still, through education, through consciousness raising, through all the exercises and through politics, we still have not come to terms with the extraordinary impact of slavery and slave trading on the British economy, and the rise of Britain as a world power. We still can't quite swallow the fact of how critically important it was. If you look around—I'm sitting here in north Wales—if you look at the slate quarries in Penrhyn, they would not have been opened had Thomas Pennant not had a plantation in Jamaica. Jamaica was just critical to the rise of British economic power, and we still haven't quite come to terms with that, it seems to me.
And the second—and equally important—is the empire, and how do we make sense of the fact that Britain, until very recently, was a huge world imperial power. Neither of those things, it seems to me, either in our politics or in our general discussion, have we really come to terms with. So, I think there is an important and critical point that Mick raises there.
Just to say briefly, then, I agree completely with that. I don't think we've come far enough yet in engaging with these uncomfortable and difficult issues, and I would—. I had written down to say at some point about the need that any discussion about statues and memorialisation should take place within the wider context of looking at what we say in the curriculum, and inclusivity in the curriculum as well. It sounds like some of this is starting to happen with the reviews as well, which is very welcome. But, I think, also, a consideration of—after all, for a younger generation coming through: what is the purpose of memorialisation? Who do they wish to have memorialised?
Thank you. Mick, anything further from you?
No, I think I've explored that within the time we've got. Thank you.
Thank you. And we're doing pretty well for time, actually, so thank you, all, for your concise and very constructive evidence so far. David Melding.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. I think, in the natural flow, the questions we were hoping to cover have been aptly discussed, but perhaps I can just probe on a couple of things. Most commemorations are contemporary decisions—not all, but the judgment of history, obviously, lies with austerity, and it then creates, often, this conflict. But we are kind of in this critical tension, I suppose, and I just wonder, if we were more used to considering our public spaces—and the major ones, I think, are particularly important for us to discuss, say, in Cardiff. But all settlements have prominent public spaces, and if we do use them in some form of commemoration, perhaps we should see that space as leasehold rather than freehold. I wonder if you think that might be a useful principle.
I can see Deian is amused by the thought. Would you like to respond to that?
Absolutely. I think you have a license to practise, so to speak, and you review it after so many years. Very useful for architects and sculptures—it keeps them in business totally because you would keep on coming back to them, saying, 'Can we have a new one?' I think of places like Lanzarote, where they have wonderful statues by one of their most famous artists, and they don't have anything else up, just these wonderful statues around the place. There is something to be said about public art, actually, replacing public statues, and actually that would be much, in my view, less contentious and much more creative than actually thinking of individuals, with all the risks attached.
Yn troi at y Gymraeg—. Dwi'n credu ei fod yn bwysig ein bod ni'n cael rhyw fath o gyd-destun, ein bod ni'n sylweddoli pam rŷn ni'n cael rhywbeth yn y canol. Pam ŷn ni'n cael unrhyw fath o gerflun yno yn y lle cyntaf? Oes eisiau ei gael e? Yn y pen draw, efallai fod cael rhywbeth sydd yn adlewyrchu ble ŷn ni nawr, yn gelfyddyd, yn arluniaeth ac yn y blaen, yn well na rhyw gerflun sydd, ar y cyfan, mae'n rhaid dweud, yn eithaf siomedig. Yn meddwl am Siôr IV—
Turning to Welsh—. I do believe that it's important that we have some context, that we understand why we have any sort of statue or commemoration there in the first instance. Is it needed? Ultimately, having something that reflects where we are now, a piece of artwork, would be better than some statue, which, generally speaking, are quite disappointing. Thinking of George IV—
George IV in Roman gear in central London—you know, I mean, what a ridiculous statue that is. I think David's idea of a licence, that should have been brought in a long time ago. But I thoroughly agree.
Mae'n rhywbeth y gallwn ni ei drafod ymhellach. Bill neu Merfyn, ydych chi eisiau dod i mewn ar hwn? Bill.
It's certainly something that we can discuss further. Bill or Merfyn, do you want to come in here? Bill.
Just going to add to that, it hadn't occurred to me about the leasehold versus freehold idea, but I think it chimes in with something that I've been thinking along the lines of, which is the importance of having change and fluidity in sorts of public spaces. Again, it's a point I made earlier, and it's a pretty obvious one anyway, but many of these statues that we've inherited from the past are very large and very heavy, and they're immobile, and more importantly, they were meant to be so, which is part of the challenge that we have at the moment. But perhaps moving towards public spaces where a variety of different types of memorialisations could be used at various times, particularly using technology. After all, we have a range of technological ways of doing things now, which were never available to people in the past, and also that would give an opportunity to local community groups to offer their ideas of who should be commemorated at certain times. This is the sort of thing that's gone on by many local and social history museums, of course, and perhaps this is transferring this into the open air area, as opposed to inside. It is, as I said earlier, from what both Merfyn and Deian have said, now, about exploring public art as a way of commemorating, rather than life-size images of the people concerned—when we've rectified the imbalance, of course.
David, anything further?
Yes, I think, reflecting on Deian's outstanding work, I think we would all agree, in terms of the commemoration of the centenary of the first world war, and recently—well, this month—I think many of us watched the very moving footage of the unknown soldier, or warrior, as I think he's now referred to, being brought to Westminster abbey, and that centenary falls this year, I want to put a very specific case to you, really. Do you think, and how would you do it, that the South African war memorial in Cardiff should be contextualised? It's between the law courts and the city hall. It is, I think, one of the first memorials in Great Britain. I'm not sure if the Crimean war was commemorated in this way. But most people would probably classify that war as an imperial and aggressive war. It's a beautiful monument of real artistic merit, and it's integral to the whole concept of Cardiff's civic centre and what people were doing in that time. Would you, and how would you, contextualise that memorial?
Who would like to have a go at that? Deian, do you want to make a start, or Merfyn?
Can I thank you very much, David, for your very kind remarks and for your support, by the way, because Cymru'n Cofio was a community-based activity, as Carwyn will know? This was broadly based, and I think is an example of how you bring in different organisations to work together, with different standpoints, with different views, to actually collaborate together to produce something. I'm not so sure whether you can actually undo some of those things, to be honest, but I think it needs much more explanation.
Mae eisiau cael llawer mwy o esboniad gyda'r cerfluniau yma, efallai—rhywbeth sydd yn ychwanegu atynt. Mae gyda ni'r dechnoleg. Fe allwch chi ddefnyddio ap. Gallwch chi ddefnyddio pob math o bethau i ddweud, 'Mae hwn yma, ond dyma ydy'r hanes, a dyna ydy pwysigrwydd y peth yma.' Felly, ei fod e ddim jest yno, ond buasech chi'n deall pam mae ef yno, pwy roddodd ef yno, a beth mae'n ei olygu, a beth yw'r ddadl. Mae hynny'n dod yn ôl i blant, ysgolion a'r cwricwlwm, hefyd, yn fy nhyb i.
We need far more explanation alongside these commemorations—something that adds to them. We have the technology. You could use an app. You could use all sorts of things to say, 'This is here, but this is the history behind it, and that's why this is important.' So, it's not just there, but that you understand why it's there, who put it there, and what it means, and what its significance is. That comes back to children, schools, and the curriculum, in my view.
Dwi ddim yn gyfarwydd â'r gofeb yng Nghaerdydd, ond mae yna un hefyd yng Nghaernarfon—a dwi'n credu bod hwnna ar ben y bryn yn edrych dros y dref i gyd mewn lle pwysig iawn yn y dref—i'r rhyfel yn Ne Affrica. Rhywsut, mae hwnna'n crisialu'r cymhlethdod o unrhyw fath o gofgolofn ac unrhyw fath o gofio cyhoeddus—ac mae yna Pretoria street, gyda llaw, hefyd yng Nghaernarfon oherwydd y rhyfel yn Ne Affrica—oherwydd, ar yr un llaw, mae gennych chi’r gofgolofn fawr yma’n edrych dros y dref i gyd, ond mi roedd Aelod Seneddol Carnarvon Boroughs, wrth gwrs, yn wrthwynebus iawn, iawn i’r rhyfel yn Ne Affrica, sef David Lloyd George. So, dŷch chi’n cael y cymhlethdod yma fan hyn bod y golofn yn cofio, ond ar y llaw arall, ei bod hi’n amlwg iawn bod yna garfan wleidyddol bwysig—hollbwysig yn y cyd-destun yma—yn gwrthwynebu’r rhyfel. Ac mi oedd yna ddwy garfan, ond un cofgolofn sydd yna. So, mae’r gofgolofn yna’n cofio’r rhyfel, ond does dim byd yna i gofio’r ffaith bod yr Aelod Seneddol lleol yn gwrthwynebu’r rhyfel. A dyna sydd yn codi, rhywsut. Dyna sut mae rhai o’r pethau yma mor anodd i'w crisialu; mae angen y cyd-destun ac mae angen addysgu o gwmpas y golofn.
I'm not familiar with the commemoration in Cardiff, but there is also one in Caernarfon—and I think that's on the hillside looking over the town in a very important location—and that is a commemoration of the South African war. Somehow, that encapsulates all the complexities behind any sort of public commemoration—and there is a Pretoria Terrace, by the way, also in Caernarfon, because of the war in South Africa—because on the one hand, you have this major commemoration overlooking the town, but the MP for Carnarvon Boroughs, of course, was very opposed to that war, and I'm talking here, of course, of David Lloyd George. So, there is this complexity that you have this major commemoration, but on the other hand, it was clear that there was a crucially important political cohort at the time who were opposed to that war. There were the two factions, but there is only one commemoration. So, the commemoration is there to the war, but there is nothing there to commemorate the fact that the local MP was opposed to that campaign. And that's why some of these things are so difficult to encapsulate; you need the context and you need education around these issues.
Diolch. Bill, ydych chi eisiau ychwanegu at hyn?
Thank you. Bill, did you want to add to that?
Dim ond i ddweud dwi'n credu bod yr un sydd yng Nghaerdydd yn enghraifft dda o le bod angen cael fwy o eglurhad ac i egluro am natur ddadleuol yr hanes, yn y lle cyntaf, ond hefyd i ni gofio taw nid hanes yw cofeb; mae gan gofeb hanes. A dyna beth sydd yn bwysig i drosglwyddo i gynulleidfa i ddeall y peth yn well.
If I could just say that the example you mention in Cardiff is a good example of where more explanation and clarity is needed in terms of the contentious nature of the history, but also that we should remember that a commemoration is not history; a commemoration has history. And that's what's important to convey to the audience so that they can understand it better.
Diolch yn fawr. Anything further from you, David?
Just one further point, and perhaps we could have quite a brief answer to this. I suppose we don't want to be iconoclastic either, and the one thing with most of these memorials is that they are in open spaces—not all; the statue of Picton, obviously isn't—and I presume that, if we do remove them, we should remove them somewhere. We don't lack open spaces to relocate them. Isn't that an important part of memorial—that we should remember the sort of figures and causes that past generations, or at least, the elite in those generations, wanted memorialised?
Would anyone like to respond to that? Bill.
That's what museums are for—put them in a museum.
Wel, dwi'n credu bod hwnna'n fater diddorol, achos dyw e ddim mor hawdd â jest rhoi nhw mewn amgueddfa. Dwi'n credu beth bynnag sydd yn digwydd i rai o'r cofebion yma, mae'n rhaid ystyried hefyd beth ni'n mynd i wneud gyda nhw a ble i'w rhoi nhw: ai amgueddfa leol, yr amgueddfa genedlaethol, ac ati? Ac yna sôn am y gost a phopeth felly fydd ynghlwm wrth yr holl beth. Ond mae yn gwestiwn lle byddai'r lle gorau i gadw'r rhain, achos byddwn i ddim o blaid jest cael gwared â nhw'n llwyr—mae'n rhaid cael rhywbeth.
Achos, i fynd yn ôl at y pwynt ro'n i'n dweud gynnau, mae'n rhaid cyfleu'r rhesymau pam mae hwn wedi dod yn ddadleuol a hefyd wedyn pam mae hynny ynglŷn â'r hanes y tu ôl i'r gerflun yn y lle cyntaf.
Well, I think that's a very interesting issue, because it's not as simple as placing them all in a museum. I think whatever happens to some of these commemorations, we do also have to consider what we're going to do with them and where we're going to put them, whether it's the national museum or local museum, there are costs attached to placing these items in museums. But it is a question as to where would be the best place to keep these, because I wouldn't be in favour of simply destroying them.
To return to the point I made earlier, you have to explain the reasons why this has become contentious and what that tells us about the history underpinning the statue or commemoration in the first place.
Diolch. Merfyn, roeddech chi'n trio dod i mewn yn fan yna.
Thank you. Merfyn, you were trying to come in there.
Ie, buaswn i'n cytuno. Dwi'n credu bod y cerfluniau yma'n dystiolaeth o ryw fath, ac mae angen i ni allu'u gwerthuso nhw a'u deall nhw. Felly, nid mater o'u diddymu nhw'n llwyr ydy o, ond dwi'n cytuno ei bod hi'n gwestiwn mawr, mawr, beth i wneud efo nhw, yn enwedig efo tŵr Picton—gwn i ddim beth ar wyneb y ddaear y buasai rhywun yn ei wneud efo hwnna, mae cymaint o faint arno fo.
Yes, I would agree. I think that these commemorations are evidence of one sort or another, and we need to be able to evaluate and understand them. So, it's not a matter of destroying them or removing them entirely, but there is a huge question as to what you do with them, particularly with the Picton tower—I don't know what on earth one would do with that, it's on such a scale.
We're running towards the end of time, but we've got a couple of questions that I'd like to bring Carwyn Jones in on, and if we go over by a few minutes, that's not too bad. Carwyn.
Diolch, Gadeirydd. I ddilyn cwestiwn David, sut mae gwledydd eraill wedi delio â'r cwestiwn hwn? Mae cerfluniau wedi eu tynnu lawr mewn sawl gwlad, yn enwedig yn nwyrain Ewrop dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, felly ble allwn ni edrych i weld enghreifftiau o sut maen nhw wedi delio â'r broblem hon?
Thank you, Chair. Following up on David's question, how have other nations dealt with this question? Statues have been toppled in a number of countries, particularly in eastern Europe, so where should we look to see examples of how they've dealt with these issues?
Mae yna gerflun enfawr yn Pretoria—y Voortrekker Monument. Mae hwnna'n enghraifft berffaith o rywun sydd wedi amgylchynu un. Mae'r amgueddfeydd ar apartheid yn enghreifftiau arbennig o dda. Dwi wedi cyfeirio at Budapest a'r parc enfawr. Dyna chi le i'r cerfluniau; mae yna ddigon o le gyda ni. Gallwch chi ffeindio gardd rhywun—gardd rhywun cyfoethog a'u dodi nhw i gyd fanna. Ond hynny ydy, dwi yn credu bod gwledydd eraill wedi bod yn llawer mwy ymwybodol o hyn. Mae'r Almaen wedi bod yn llawer mwy ymwybodol o hyn achos maen nhw wedi gorfod wynebu hanes anodd dros ben, ac felly, maen nhw wedi gwneud hyn. Dyw rhai gwledydd, yn anffodus, ddim wedi wynebu hyn, a gallaf feddwl am rai gwledydd yn nwyrain Ewrop sydd efallai yn llithro yn ôl yn eu hymwybyddiaeth. Ac efallai mae'n bwysig ein bod ni yn sylweddoli mai rhywbeth byd-eang ydy hyn. Rŷch chi'n iawn, Carwyn; mae'n rhaid inni gael enghreifftiau o'r ffordd orau i ddelio â hyn a sylweddoli, ym mhob gwlad, bod yna ddadl. Ym mhob gwlad mae yna bobl sydd yn moyn cadw'r cerfluniau a phobl sydd yn moyn cael gwared arnyn nhw.
There's a huge statue in Pretoria—the Voortrekker Monument. That's a perfect example. The apartheid museums are wonderful examples. I've referred to Budapest and the huge park there, and that's the place for statues. We have plenty of space. You could find someone's garden—a larger garden, perhaps, and put them all there. But I do think that other nations have been far more aware of this as an issue. Germany, certainly, has been aware of this because they have had to face a very difficult and complex history. Some nations, unfortunately, haven't actually faced up to these issues, and there are certain countries in eastern Europe that are slipping back in terms of their awareness. It's important that we realise that this is a global issue. You're quite right, Carwyn, we do have to seek examples of the best way of dealing with these issues, whilst realising that in all nations there is debate. In all nations there are people who want to preserve these statues and people who want to see them gone.
Merfyn neu Bill, ydych chi eisiau dod i mewn ar y cwestiwn rhyngwladol yna? Merfyn.
Merfyn or Bill, do you want to come in on that international question? Merfyn.
Wel, dwi'n credu bod Deian yn llygad ei le. Mae hyn yn ddadl ym mhobman, ac yn sicr yn Ne Affrica, yn fy mhrofiad i. Mae yna ddadleuon cyson yn parhau, ond maen nhw hefyd wedi gwneud yn sicr bod yna ddigon o—dwi'n meddwl am Cape Town a'r llun o Desmond Tutu a Mandela ac ati—mae yna ddigon o ddelweddau newydd hefyd. Ond sut mae rhywun yn cynnal yr hen a'r newydd? Mae o'n gwestiwn difyr iawn, ond dwi'n credu efallai bod yna faes ymchwil i rywun, yn sicr yn nwyrain Ewrop. Beth sy'n ddiddorol yn y fanna, wrth gwrs, ydy bod eithaf lot o Lenin a Stalin yn dal ar ôl mewn llefydd yn yr hen Undeb Sofietaidd. Mae'n rhyfeddol faint ohonyn nhw sydd wedi goroesi.
Well, I think Deian is spot on. This is a debate across the world, certainly in South Africa, in my experience. There are ongoing debates on these issues, but they have also ensured—if you think of Cape Town and the image of Mandela and Desmond Tutu—there are plenty of new images. But how does one maintain the old and the new? It's a very interesting question, and I think there is some research to be done here, certainly in eastern Europe. What's interesting is that there are still a fair few statues of Lenin and Stalin in the old Soviet Union. It's incredible how many of them have survived.
Rwy'n cytuno'n llwyr bod hwn yn ddadl sy'n mynd ymlaen ym mhob gwlad, a dwi'n credu bod hwnna'n bwysig i ddweud wrth inni drio egluro pam rŷn ni'n cael y fath yma o drafodaeth a pam mae e'n ddadleuol ynglŷn â beth rŷn ni'n mynd i wneud gyda'r cofebion yma i gyd. O beth dwi'n deall, mae gwlad Belg yn wlad diddorol o ran beth sy'n digwydd yn y fan honno, ond efallai clywch chi fwy amboutu hynny. Ond mae e jest yn fy nharo i'n ddiddorol, a dwi ddim yn gwybod, ond mae fe yn fy meddwl i i ofyn beth sydd wedi digwydd i'r cerfluniau i gyd oedd yn yr Unol Daleithiau i General Lee a phobl felly, achos mae cryn dipyn ohonyn nhw wedi cael eu dymchwel yn ddiweddar.
I agree entirely that this is a debate that is happening internationally, and I think it's important that we say that, as we try and explain why we're having this debate and why it's contentious in terms of what we will do with all of these memorials. From what I understand, Belgium is very interesting in this context, and perhaps you'll hear more of that. But it just strikes me as being interesting, and I don't know, but I think we should ask as to what has happened to all of the statues to General Lee and suchlike in the United States, because a fair few of them have been toppled recently.
Very interesting. Carwyn.
Parc y cerfluniau cudd, felly, dwi'n clywed yn fanna. Ond y cwestiwn mawr yw hwn, yntefe: ble mae'r llinell yn cael ei thynnu? Dŷn ni wedi sôn heddiw am rai pobl oedd wedi cael eu beirniadu pan oedden nhw'n fyw, ac efallai yn y dyddiau hyn, bydden nhw byth yn cael cerflun i'w cofio nhw; rhai, wrth gwrs, sydd wedi cael beirniadaeth ar ôl iddyn nhw farw. Ond ble mae'r llinell? Er enghraifft, mae yna gerfluniau—mae un yng Nghaernarfon, un yng Nghaerdydd—o David Lloyd George. Nawr, roedd ei drefniadau ariannol e yn y 1920au a'r 1930au efallai yn anarferol o gymharu â safonau'r oes hwn. A ddylen ni ddymchwel ei gerfluniau fe o achos hwnna? Byddai'r rhan fwyaf o bobl, buaswn i'n meddwl, yn dweud 'na'. Ond ble mae’r llinell? Oes yna feini prawf y gallwn ni eu derbyn er mwyn dweud, 'Wel, y rhain yw'r meini prawf ddylai gael eu hystyried er mwyn penderfynu a ddylai cerflun aros yna neu beidio'?
A park of hidden sculptures; that's what we're hearing there, I suppose. But the major question is this: where do you draw the line? We've talked today about certain people who were criticised when they were alive, and these days, there would never be a statue to commemorate them. Some have been criticised after their deaths, but where is that line? For example, there's one statue in Caernarfon and one in Cardiff of David Lloyd George. Now, his financial arrangements in the 1920s and 1930s were, let's say, unusual, compared to the standards of current times. So, should we topple the statues to Lloyd George as a result of that? I think most people would say 'no', but where do you draw the line? Is there a set of criteria that we can accept and say, 'Well, these are the criteria that should be considered in order to decide whether a statue should remain in place or not'?
Wel, rwy'n siŵr byddai—
Well, I'm sure—
Mae Deian eisau—. Bill a wedyn Deian. Bill.
Deian wants to—. Bill first and then Deian. Bill.
Rwy'n siŵr bod gan bob un ohonom ni farn unigol am ble mae'r linell yna, ond y pwynt pwysig yw, efallai, nad yw hi lan i ni i ddweud ble mae'r linell, a'r pwysigrwydd o ryw fath o ymgynghoriad eang ynglŷn â'r pethau yma fel modd o ddod â'r ddadl yma yn fwy cyhoeddus ac inni wynebu agweddau mwy caled ac anodd ar ein gorffennol ni. Fel y dywedais i o'r blaen, dwi'n tueddu meddwl taw'r agenda ddylai fod i wneud yn siŵr bod y carfannau mewn cymdeithas sydd ddim wedi cael eu cynrychioli o safbwynt eu harwyr a'u harwresau nhw—bod y rheini yn cael eu codi er mwyn inni gael rhyw fath o gydbwysedd. Yn y dyfodol, efallai, nid y pwysigrwydd fydd cerfluniau, ond mwy i wneud gydag enwau lleoedd ac ati.
I'm sure each and every one of us would have our individual views as to where that line should be drawn, but it's important to say that it's not up to us to say where that line should be drawn. That's the importance of having a broad consultation on these issues, so that we can bring this debate into the public sphere and that we can deal with the more difficult issues of our past. As I said earlier, I tend to think that the agenda should be to ensure that cohorts in society who haven't previously been represented in terms of their own heroes and heroines—that they should be included so that you have that balance. In future, perhaps the important issue won't be statues, but issues around place names and so on.
Thank you. Deian.
I ddilyn beth roedd Carwyn yn gofyn yn y cwestiwn, dwi'n credu ei bod hi'n bwysig ein bod ni'n sylweddoli bod pobl yn cael eu cofio am amryw resymau. Un o'r rhesymau pennaf yn y wlad yma ydy bod yn fuddugol mewn rhyfel, so mae Nelson lan, mae Wellington lan. Mae David Lloyd George yn cael ei gofio am y fuddugoliaeth yn y rhyfel cyntaf, a Churchill yr un ffordd am yr ail ryfel byd. Dŷn ni ddim yn cofio am y stwff arall amdanyn nhw i gyd. A bod yn onest, ddylai Nelson ddim fod ar y cerflun yna, os ŷch chi'n cymryd hanesyddiaeth i ystyriaeth, ond dyna'r gwirionedd. Impact—dyna'r gair.
To follow on from Carwyn's question, I think it's important that we realise that people are commemorated for many reasons, and one of the main reasons in this country is victory in battle, so we have Nelson and Wellington. David Lloyd George is commemorated for victory in the first world war, and Churchill the same for the second world war. We don't always remember the other stuff surrounding these figures. And to be honest, Nelson shouldn't be on that column, if you take historiography into account, but that's the reality. It's about impact.
It's impact that actually is felt, and if it's a long-enduring impact, and people say, warts and all, this is actually the impact somebody had in society, and we explain it—that, I think, is a better test.
O ran meini prawf—pa mor barhaus yw'r ddylanwad.
In terms of criteria, it's about the ongoing influence.
Mick wants to come in briefly, and then I'll come back to Carwyn, and we'll have to wrap the session up fairly soon. Mick.
It's following on from the international example. You mentioned eastern Europe and, of course, the statues of Lenin and so on. As a regular visitor to Ukraine, you can see how divisive statues were, because statues and these things were used very, very politically. So, you've got to be careful about taking the international examples that reflect those particular politics. It's the same with Spain; we see now, in terms of the legacy of the Spanish civil war, Franco's tomb and so on, and, interestingly, in Madrid a while back, the statues that were put up to commemorate Franco have had the markings taken away—so they're there, but it's almost as though they've been concealed. But I'm just wondering if you can help us on this. One of the things that seem to go to the core of this debate, rather than the complexities of it, is that what we all do seem to want to see is, within our public spaces, things that reflect diversity, justice, equality and community in some ways. So, do you think that perhaps the lesson we can learn, whether it be internationally or locally, is that the starting point is, really, some of those common principles that, probably, we would all buy into, and that's the basis of a sort of framework, or the start of a sort of framework that we might develop?
Would anyone like to respond to that? I can see some nods. Bill.
Just a brief comment; I'd agree with that.
I would agree with that as well, and I can't remember whether you included artistic value or art in that list or not, but I certainly think we ought to consider public art as having greater impact, perhaps, these days than statues.
As to lines, I'm not sure that there is a line to be drawn. Like Bill, I would agree that that is a line to be drawn by the community generally, holding a serious discussion about values. Virtually all heroes have feet of—is it of dust or of sand? They're very dangerous things to erect. And David Lloyd George, surely, he's there in Caernarfon and Cardiff because of his extraordinary contribution to British politics and to Wales, but, of course, there would be many, many people who would have disagreed not only with him over the South African war, which he opposed, but the first world war and, in particular, the partition of Ireland. So, there are all sorts of reasons why one should disagree with him, but that doesn't mean that you can't recognise the huge significance of this individual. But he is virtually on a different planet, in a sense, compared to most of the statues we have in Wales.
I'm going to need to bring this to an end shortly. I'll give you a chance to come back in a moment, Deian, but I just want to see if Carwyn's got anything further to ask.
Just simply to say that I'm not suggesting that these statues, of course, should be removed. I'm just illustrating how difficult it is. In my household, my wife's from Belfast, so her view of Lloyd George would be less than favourable—don't start on Cromwell. I suspect, really, that when we look at the removal of statues—and Deian mentioned Nelson's column—we wouldn't want to adopt the statue removal process that was adopted for Nelson's column in Dublin.
Deian, you wanted to come back in briefly before we—.
I simply wanted to say I think the lesson of all this—and can I thank you very much for enabling us to actually voice historical opinions, which is not often the case in modern society? They seem to regard us as largely marginal. I think the important thing is to recognise that, when we go forward as opposed to going backwards, going back and doing the past is one thing, but I think we should now learn to be extraordinarily careful, and maybe, given the kind of technology we have, we don't need statues at all.
Slightly controversially from the Chair, I think it's easy to say that if you're a white, middle-class man. It's a bit more difficult to say that if you're a woman in Wales when we haven't got even one of a named person yet.
I'll make that exception.
I am teasing slightly.
It's a fair point.
Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi i gyd, y tri ohonoch chi, am bwyntiau hynod o ddefnyddiol i ni drafod ymhellach. Mae hyn, wrth gwrs, yn ddadl anodd a dadleuol iawn, ond dyna pam roeddem ni fel pwyllgor yn meddwl ei bod hi'n bwysig ein bod ni'n dechrau'r drafodaeth, a'n bod ni'n trio cael y drafodaeth gyda thipyn bach mwy o light than heat, achos mae'r issues yma yn codi teimladau dwfn ym mhobl, onid ydyn nhw? Rydych chi wedi ein dechrau ni yn yr ymchwiliad mewn ffordd hynod o bositif. Os oes gyda chi bethau ychwanegol i ddweud wrthym ni, croeso cynnes i chi ddanfon e-bost draw. Byddwn ni'n danfon trawsgrifiad, wrth gwrs, o'r sgwrs yma atoch chi, fel eich bod chi'n gallu sicrhau ein bod ni wedi cofnodi popeth rydych chi wedi'i ddweud yn gywir. Felly, diolch yn fawr iawn i chi i gyd, y tri ohonoch chi, am eich amser. Mae wedi bod yn hynod o werthfawr. So, rydyn ni'n dod â'r eitem yma i ben. Diolch yn fawr.
Aelodau, dwi'n mynd i orfod gofyn i chi jest gael brêc am bum munud, os gwelwch yn dda, gan ein bod ni'n rhedeg tamaid bach yn hwyr. So, os ydyn ni'n gallu dod nôl erbyn 10:35, os gwelwch yn dda. Gwnaf ofyn i'r darlledu ddod i ben.
Thank you all very much, the three of you. You've made some extremely useful points for us to discuss further. This is, of course, a very difficult and contentious issue, but that is why we as a committee thought that it was important that we start the discussion, and that we try to have the discussion with a little more light than heat, because these issues do stir deep feelings in people, don't they? You have started our inquiry in a very positive tone. If you have anything that you wish to add to your evidence, you're welcome to send us that information. We will send you a transcript of this session, so that you can check it for accuracy. So, thank you all very much, the three of you, for your time. It has been extremely valuable. So, we'll draw this item to a close. Thank you very much.
Members, I'm going to have to ask you just to have a five-minute break, please, because we're running a little bit late. So, if we can come back by 10:35, please. I will ask for the broadcasting to end.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:27 a 10:35.
The meeting adjourned between 10:27 and 10:35.
Bore da eto a chroeso nôl i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu'r Senedd. Eitem 3 ar yr agenda yw tystiolaeth bellach ar yr ymchwiliad i bwy sy'n cael eu coffáu yn ein mannau cyhoeddus ni, a dwi'n falch iawn o groesawu ein tri thyst am yr ail sesiwn yma. So, af fi trwoch chi a gofyn ichi gyflwyno'ch hunain yn syml, gyda'ch enw llawn a'ch rôl, ac wedyn gwnawn ni symud yn syth i mewn i gwestiynu os yw hynny'n iawn gyda chi. Gwnaf i ddechrau gyda fel rŷch chi'n ymddangos ar ein sgriniau ni, a gydag Abu-Bakr i ddechrau.
Good morning once again and welcome back to this meeting of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee at the Senedd. Item 3 on our agenda is further evidence for our inquiry into who gets remembered in public spaces. I'm very pleased to welcome our three witnesses for this second evidence session. I'll ask you to introduce yourselves briefly, giving us your name and role, and then we will move immediately to questions, if that's okay with you. So I'll start with Abu-Bakr first of all.
If you'd like to introduce yourself.
Good morning, all. My name is Abu-Bakr. I'm a historian, a social scientist and an educational consultant who works in and around Wales.
Croeso. A very warm welcome. Simon John.
Good morning. I'm a member of the history department at Swansea University. I'm currently working on a historical project on the creation of statues in the nineteenth century, focusing in particular on Belgium, and with that in mind, I've got an eye on the debates surrounding issues of colonialism and remembering colonialism and—[Inaudible.]—in Belgium today.
Thank you. Martin Johnes.
Martin Johnes, I'm a professor of Welsh history at Swansea University.
Eto, croeso cynnes i'r tri ohonoch chi.
A very warm welcome to all three of you.
A really warm welcome to the three of you. We're very grateful indeed for your time this morning, and I'll bring in John Griffiths with the first set of questions.
Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. I wonder if I could begin by seeking your views as to what principles public authorities should use when deciding who should be commemorated in public spaces. In our terms of reference, we point to possible factors, such as the historical significance of the person; their continuing influence; their national impact; their impact on their particular field; how that person was viewed at the time; whether it's a good example to people today; and also the architectural significance of the monument and the impact on minority groups and views of the act of commemoration. So, those are the sorts of factors that we've set out for consultation responses, but I'd be very interested in your views as to what really should guide our public authorities. Who would like to get us under way with a response? Simon John.
Sure. I think, probably, the points I'll raise will echo the ones that were made in the first session by the witnesses there, which is to say that, on the one hand, the wider framework that we're talking about here is one in which history is a narrative that's constantly changing. So, the heroes that were revered in the nineteenth century and who were the subject of statues created then are not necessarily going to inspire the same feelings today.
So, as complicated as those questions are and as complicated as the answers have to be as a result, what we have to recognise, I think, is that it's a constantly shifting process and we'll never reach a definitive permanent conclusion, but rather a temporary one that constantly needs refining and adjustment, in line with our own changing values, ideas and expectations.
Thank you. Abu-Bakr.
I think it's important for us to look at these things from a historical perspective. I feel if statues are going to be used within public spaces, they need to reflect the true reality of many of these individuals. So, with Picton, for instance, we're aware of the atrocities that he conducted in Trinidad. This was very much well known amongst the people of Trinidad, the black community. And, unfortunately, when this statute was erected, there were close relationships with the Caribbean islands, as an example, and, unfortunately, at the time, many of the colonisers and colonialists, or the merchants or the planters never believed that we were going to have full integration, not just in the Caribbean islands, but that we were actually going to be asked to come over here to labour and to try to be integrated into society. And I feel that if monuments are erected after our presence in this country, to rebuild the country or rebuild the mother country, then those sensitivities should have been ironed out first and foremost, in order to allow us to integrate more effectively with the dominant culture, in a way that less contention would take place over the years.
Some of the principles that should be recognised for the future are to look at the moral compass that was used. Unfortunately, the moral compass that was used in the 1700s and 1800s was mainly the Spanish magistrates system and the British colonial system. But there was also a religious significance as well, because many of these people who were planters and merchants were religious, and they all memorised, to a large extent, the 10 commandments. And, unfortunately, if you're going to use that as the high standard of moral—'Thou shall not steal' and 'Thou shall not commit adultery'— which many of these individuals did, not only were they going against their religious beliefs, with the sanction of royalty because many of them were royal, many of them were given titles of 'Sir', they were knighted, et cetera.
So, it looked like the authorities of the country at the time, whether they were religious aristocracy, you know, the higher echelon, were trying to bypass the true atrocities in which these individuals were truly engaged, because, at that moment in time, we were referred to as 'contrabands' or 'merchandise'. And rather than calling them slave traders, you were calling them merchants. So, there's a sense of displacement within history.
So, I think we need to look at that, and look at the true narrative. If monuments and statutes are going to be erected, let's give a two-sided story aspect. It's unfortunate that history has an element of this shame, especially when we move from one era to another, especially with values, morals and customs and norms. And I feel that, if that is reflected within the construction of the statutes and they are contextualised, or if they're going to remain, they're recontextualised with a true narrative, and it is taught in school, and it's something that is remembered, I think that's displaying a fairer and more reasonable aspect of history.
That's helpful. And we'll come back to some of these questions about contextualisation and whether we should remove monuments, or whether we should leave them where they are and give them context. We'll come on to some more of that in a bit. Martin.
So, we're talking about public authorities and their responsibilities. And, in some ways, over this, that falls into two categories. There are future decisions about erecting new memorialisations of the past and there's dealing with the existing memorialisations that have been passed down to us, and they're very different things.
Personally, I think it would be very difficult to come up with any set criteria that could be applied across the board. If we're talking about historical significance, that's up for debate. And, actually, many people who did morally evil things are still historically significant, and, in many ways, their evilness is what makes them significant. So, whatever criteria you come up with, there's going to be debate, as we've said. Those terms are controversial and they're political and people will interpret them differently.
But, ultimately, I don't think that this is really public authorities' responsibility to take the lead on this. Public authorities are there to serve communities. The Senedd is there to serve the people of Wales. And it's really up for the people of Wales to decide what they want remembering and who they want remembering. Personally, I would tackle this on a case-by-case basis. If there are individual statutes or the names of streets that offend people in those communities, then, absolutely, public authorities should take that into account, and act on what their communities want. But, if no-one's complaining about something, and often, people don't know what is being memorialised—. If you take something like the Picton memorial in Carmarthen, I saw that every week of my life and I had no idea what it was; I didn't know who Picton was. It was a great big obelisk. And for the people in that community, it's part of the landscape, it's not necessarily about Picton. So, removing things that might offend people can actually set back the cause, and actually, sometimes these things can be used as sparking debate and sparking knowledge, rather than having some blanket rule that ends up actually dividing society.
Thank you, that's helpful. John.
I'm interested in whether there might be fixed criteria to use as a guide in these matters, similar to those that apply—the concept that applies for listed buildings. From what Martin has just said, I take it that he wouldn't be largely in favour of that, but I wonder if any of the witnesses would support that sort of approach.
No, I agree with Martin. I think with each statue, monument, memorial, I think we're talking about a cultural artefact that needs to be dealt with on its own merits. We can talk about a broad framework that might be appropriate to apply, so a process where you identify the stakeholders, the people involved on the—[Inaudible.]—level, the community—the people to whom the monument is intended to speak, to whom it's directed. Then you've got the local authorities, and then, thirdly, the Senedd. And a dialogue between those three levels, perhaps with the Senedd directing, framing a conversation. But I totally agree with this point that, ultimately, monuments are directed towards the people, and it's the people they serve who should have the strongest voice in terms of how you deal with a monument that's controversial, problematic.
I think with—what do you call it now—what Simon was saying about a broad framework, that needs to be put in place to some degree. But Martin is right—I agree with Martin. I think each statue or street name or building, whatever the case may be, needs to have a separate discussion, with the public, and with people who may be against most of those things, to get a clearer picture.
There has to be an idiosyncratic method, with each and every individual thing. Because like—I think it was what Martin who was saying—looking at the individual merits and looking at the positives and negatives, and what we are trying to convey in each of those statues. Because the reality is, as Martin was saying earlier, a lot of the statues that are around, from his personal experience, the people who live in those areas or work in those areas don't even know what they're supposed to represent. And there's this sort of acceptance of this statue as being part of the public landscape, but not really looking at the different kinds of atrocities that may have occurred, which in today's society, would not be acceptable.
So there has to be a revision, some form of revisionism, when we're looking at these types of things, whether it's every two years or five years or 10 years. Because morals and values and customs do change—they're never fixed, they will always shift, depending on the change in social trends and social dynamics.
Thank you. Anything further from you, John?
No, that's fine, thank you, Cadeirydd.
Thank you. Mick Antoniw.
What I'd like to particularly ask about is the process for this. Because a comment was made in terms of what Wales wants to present, and so on, but in some cases, it's often what does it represent for a community, and so on. Now, one of the issues that I think emerged from the situation in Bristol—and again with Picton in Cardiff—is that people had raised it in the past, it had been the subject of discussion, but there seemed to be no mechanism for a response. So, it wasn't really until statues started being pulled down that people started saying, 'Well, hang on a second—[Inaudible.]—yes, perhaps we should be doing something, et cetera'. So, the fact is that the debate is there, and I think there's a greater realisation.
But how should—what do you think would be of benefit to a process? What sort of process should there be? How might it engage with communities, and so on? Because I think there'll probably be common agreement that the last thing you want is anyone or everyone going and deciding, 'I'm going to get rid of this statue, I'm going to get rid of that', or whatever. There needs to be some basis for these things being done, some principles, and so on. I wonder if you could give us any clear ideas as to how you think that might work, I suppose recognising the fact that the system up to now has failed, to some extent, and that what we're now looking at is addressing that failure and putting it within a—looking at a mechanism for trying to look to the future.
Martin, did you want to start?
The mechanisms do exist to remove things that are in public ownership. The law didn't change to allow Cardiff city council to remove that statue. They simply acted upon what was happening in current politics. They almost had their hands forced. What we maybe need to do is to look at how our local authorities and our national authorities engage with communities: are they open enough? Are they listening when people approach them? And, often, that's not the case. Often, people feel their voice won't be listened to—there's no point contacting their MS or their councillor. So, there's a cultural thing, I think, in our national institutions and in our local councils—that they need to listen to communities.
There's also an issue here: communities need to understand what's on their own doorstep and part of the problem is that people don't understand the history of their nation, the history of their communities or the history of the people being represented, and that comes down to education. And if we want people to learn about the history of slavery, we should put it in the national curriculum, and we should require every school in Wales to teach these things. And it's from that and from using education to encourage people to ask questions and to think about these things, and then you encourage them to talk to their local representatives about what to do about these things. But unless people understand the basic issue, nothing's actually going to happen.
Thank you. Abu-Bakr, do you want to come in on this one?
Yes. I do agree that there needs to be more engagement with communities. I know, especially within Wales or within Britain, there's a class distinction, so when the echelon or the aristocracy want to put something in a public space that they don't frequent or where they don't attend, it's literally forced upon the people to try to deal with that. And there's a sense of ignoring what has literally been said before it's been erected. Once it's erected and there's controversy to it being placed in a public place, the authorities that were behind it being situated or stationed in that public place seem to want to reject or deny what's actually coming out.
So, if you look at the Colston thing for instance as an example, with it being pulled down, we need to look at some contemporary issues. That was done mainly by white people. This is the first thing. So, they themselves felt a little bit, maybe ashamed in terms of a response. Because I do know, personally in Bristol, there have been debates with the local councils and with heritage—and all these other types of organisations in order for it to come down. And the local people of Bristol were not listened to. This is the thing—they were just not listened to. And many of the people in those seats of position were either voted in by them or whatever the case may be. So, there needs to be more moral responsibility taken by people who are put in those positions. And if they're in the position of responsibility, they need to be in the position of accountably as well, not brushing it to one side.
Listen to the voice of the people because we know that things always change—things are never fixed; they always shift. And we need to try to understand the modern or the contemporary narrative that has taken place amongst local communities, to listen attentively and to make those adjustments and changes where necessary, in order for vandalism, which took place with Colston, not to happen again, which was a global phenomenon—this was seen worldwide. So, it really embarrassed Britain, in a sense.
And I think that's part of why we're trying to have this conversation as a committee and trying to lead a national conversation about this, so that, instead of people getting so angry that they react, we try and have a discussion and try and have some sort of framework for that discussion. Simon, did you want to come in on this?
Thank you. So, with the point about engaging communities—speaking to communities—I think we can take that point and see it from the other side of the coin, so to speak. So, it's not just about speaking to communities to deal with problematic, controversial monuments; it's that same process to, as Martin put it, see who gets memorialised by us. So, it's actually correct—it's been pointed out several times—that Wales has very few statues of women and none, as yet, of a single named woman. That's about to change with the inauguration of the Betty Campbell statue in Cardiff, which, originally was due this year, but I think, thanks to coronavirus, has been delayed until next year.
This is an opportunity. As far as I know, this statue is the result of a private campaign group that secured the funding, that organised the vote that ultimately saw Betty Campbell selected to be the subject. But there's an opportunity there for that statue to be a conduit of attention in the efforts that Wales is making to rectify some of these oversights—some of these inequalities of history. So, this was a campaign group. I think it was called 'Hidden Heroines' or the vote asked people to choose between five women, of which one got a statue. There are still four on that list, who could have a statue. So, I think it's about engaging people with what happened and moving forward as well. Speaking to this community, it's not just about what comes down, but what goes up, and how that might reflect what we want, as a society, to literally put on a pedestal and demonstrate about ourselves.
Thank you. Mick.
Yes, just to follow through, then, on that, because we've got to come up with some sort of viewpoint and recommendations at some stage, we have the past, of course, we have the future. Now, our planning processes—. I accept what is said, in terms of 'Well, powers are there', but, of course, it's how those powers actually get engaged within a whole plethora of things that people and representatives have to deal with. I remember there was a time within planning where, if there was a development, a certain percentage of the cost of that development, for example, had to go into works of art, and I think that was quite successful in the 1970s and 1980s. I'm just wondering whether there should be some clearer guidance in planning processes and so on that would require engagement with the community and perhaps the sort of principles it might reflect upon. And I wonder if you could take that and, then, just also take it in the context of changes that have taken place with the national curriculum, and the opportunity to really represent within our national curriculum the debate we've been having, which is about how we actually represent the history of communities and peoples, and how the two might actually work together. I'm just wondering what your thoughts might be on that.
Abu-Bakr, do you want to make a start on this one for us?
Yes, well, clearer guidance. I think there needs to be a marrying or synthesis of the educational system reflecting these individuals. So, as an example, many of the statues or street names et cetera—what has basically come around within Wales over the last 100 years or so—they definitely need to be put into the curriculum. So, the local people know exactly what's happening, they can reflect on the historical legacy and they can see how that has some sort of significance with who they are, what they are and where they are. That certainly needs to be done. And I think if heritage foundations and museums et cetera, who are a level of authority when it comes to these different things—. Then, the educational system needs to be a recipient of all these different narratives, in order for the youth or the children who become adults—that they're not ignorant about their past.
And this is one of the unfortunate things. The majority of the people didn't know what Picton did. They didn't even know about Picton. So, who was it really and truly representing? Was it representing the working class of this country, who were the majority when it came to the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, who did more for humanity than the aristocracy and the higher echelons of this country? I think their voices—the working class voices of this community who were looking for change or who felt an element of empathy with what was taking place in the Caribbean islands—need to be reflected before any decision making, and, obviously, if that additional narrative is put into the mix, then, that narrative is actually not just situated, but is also taught within the educational system throughout Wales.
Thank you. Simon, do you want to come in on this? And, then, I'll bring in Martin.
Very briefly, just to say that the statues and the memorials matter, but not to be reductive. A lump of bronze or a lump of stone in and of itself is not what matters, it's the ideas that it was created to represent, and it's the ability of onlookers to interpret those ideas that's the issue. So, just to really underline that I fully agree with what Abu-Bakr has said, and I think what Martin will say. In order to deal with this process as a whole, it's not just about dealing with the monuments, it's about dealing with what history is taught and the tools that people are given to make sense of them.
Martin, you've already touched, briefly, on the curriculum points. Can I bring you in here?
Yes. I'm all for more public art, more public memorialisation, but what's holding that back is not planning law—what's holding it back is money. If the Senedd wants to see a statue, then it doesn't need to change the planning laws—it needs to pay for it.
But, ultimately, it does all come down to education and teaching people about things that happened and teaching people to ask questions and to think about the connections between the past and the present. We are in the middle of redesigning the national curriculum, but we're doing it in a way that empowers schools and individual teachers to essentially teach what they want within a very broad framework of principles, and one of those principles is about encouraging an understanding of diversity. But I am concerned that doesn't go far enough, and if there are certain things that happened in our collective past that we want every child in Wales to know, the only way to ensure that is to put it on the national curriculum, and we have shied away from doing that.
Thank you. Anything further from you, Mick?
No, no. I'm grateful for those comments. They're helpful in the perspective that we're trying to develop, I think.
Thank you. David Melding.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. I think it's fair to infer from all the witnesses we've had in both sessions this morning that no-one is really in favour of destroying memorials and statues as some sort of great iconoclastic movement, and Abu-Bakr, I thought, was very interesting, what he said about the Colston statue in Bristol, which was vandalised for reasons, I think, most people would understand, but, obviously, it was a very uncontrolled process. When memorials are at least considered problematic, if not totally inappropriate, we're left with, I suppose, a decision to contextualise them and leave them where they are, or to move them somewhere. I just wonder what you think we should do in that respect. And I suppose here, although I think very relevant things have been said about education and the curriculum, that very apt side, but I suppose we've got to try to contextualise them in the immediate environment as well, and, obviously, most of us are well beyond school age. How do we do that?
Simon, do you want to start us on this?
Thank you, I will. This is where I can draw in what I've seen happening in Belgium as well to speak directly to this issue. So, I think—and this was something that was mentioned in the first panel as well—one solution that's been put forward in some instances is: okay, when you have a problematic monument, pack it up and move it to a museum. In the case of Picton, just across the road to the national museum, that's an option. What closer study, what closer critical analysis of this—particularly in the Belgian context—would show is that this just moves the problem to a different place. It doesn't solve it. So, museums themselves, they're not neutral, unreflective institutions; they have political agendas to fulfil as well.
A case in point is that, in central Brussels, there's a 100-year-old museum devoted to the Belgian colonialist experience in Africa, and for a long time, this was a museum intended to justify and legitimise that experience. It's only in the past few years that the authorities in Belgium have started to say, 'Well, actually, this museum in itself needs to be decolonised.' So, I sense the relocation-to-a-museum solution might seem, on the face of it, to be a good and appropriate proceeding. In fact, I think what you're doing is you're deferring the debate—you're parking it in a different location.
The same, to some extent, applies to contextualisation. Adding a plaque that explains who the person—if it's a controversial figure—was; what they did that might be considered positive; what might be considered negative—again, this is a subjective process where things are up for debate. Do you say that Picton was a heroic warrior first or do you say he was a slave trader first? It comes down to that level. So, just to flag up, I'm not offering any easy solutions for any particular monument, and again I'd emphasise each monument deserves to be considered on its own merits. But, just to emphasise that each step and each solution offers pitfalls in terms of how you actually apply this process of contextualisation.
Can I just clarify—? I think those are very new nuanced remarks and important ones. But, there is a criterion, isn't there, that someone is in a very prominent public space, and removing a memorial to a place like a sculpture park that contains many other sculptures or a place that's not in the central part of town or whatever—. It's not complete and it does remove your problem, but it does ensure that that commemoration is not in one of the most conspicuous public places.
Exactly. So, I think the statue draws its power, in part, from the historical traditions that it embodies and also its engagement with its physical surroundings, to say nothing of its cultural, political surroundings. So, actually, if, by moving a statue from the centre of the city to the outskirts, to a park, you're reducing that kind of dialogue that feeds into the offence that it might give to some groups, potentially, that would be one solution. And I think the example of Budapest and the elephant's graveyard of Stalins and Lenins was mentioned earlier this morning as an example of statues that have been rendered inoffensive because they've almost become quaint in a setting like that.
Thank you. Martin, and then I'll come to Abu-Bakr. Martin?
I think most historians are very easy about the concept of destroying things from the past. We knock down historical buildings all the time; we throw away a lot of things from the past. Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with a statue being removed and destroyed—not kept, but just destroyed—if that is what the local community wants.
I think it's the right thing for Cardiff city council to take down the statue of Thomas Picton. If we're moving it, then you have to ask: why—what's the point of moving it? What's the point of putting it in a museum or another public place? Because you don't need to keep a statue to remember something, to memorialise something or to understand something. That's not how history works. The only kind of reason for maybe keeping a statue and moving it to a museum would be its kind of artistic merits. And museums struggle with finances, they struggle with space; most museum exhibits, most things that museums own are not on public display; they're in storage. So, for me, if we take down a statue because communities are offended by it, unless it has some great artistic merit in itself, is there anything wrong with just getting rid of it?
That's an interesting question. Abu-Bakr.
I think if we we're looking at monuments, whether to destroy or we're looking to save them, I think the story needs to be told, irrespective of whether it's positive or negative; it needs to be told. Does it need to be told physically? And if so, if it's told physically, what things can we do to enhance its visibility? And I really feel that from today, if things like booklets or pamphlets, if any other statues are going to be erected, in a sense, in order for this not to be a debate again in a hundred years' time, I think if we can actually put into motion, you know, books or pamphlets for children and for adults to explain the significance of them, what they did, and why they are there, I think that's being more honest. And I think when people—from an artistic perspective, if people are creating these statues, et cetera, as an aesthetic meaning, does that aesthetic meaning, which may be glamorising the individual, is it going to downplay the elements of atrocities that are taking place?
So, I think we have to come from all the different directions here, but I think more of a concentration on realistic narratives, because I think it needs to be taught. It's not a beautiful past, we have to acknowledge that. And if these individuals have done some positive things, we also need to bring into the narrative the negative things they did and the reason why we feel, as a community, or an ethnic group or a racial group, or a nation, why we feel that these people need to be represented, whether it's in public places, or public spaces, or in places like museums. And I think, probably, that's the way forward. But I think more of a debate with communities is probably the best way forward, I think. I'm a historian, yes; I don't have all the answers. And getting answers from other people in localities, et cetera, can actually synthesise a much better understanding, so that we're not repeating the errors of the past.
Thank you. David.
I think that covers what I wanted. I combined the two points, really, in one. I think we had very lucid answers a good range of evidence and some difference of opinion, which is very helpful.
Thank you, David. Carwyn Jones.
Thank you, Chair. I've just got one question, really. One of the issues that I'm trying to deal with is where do you draw the line, and what criteria do you use in deciding whether a statue should remain or not? Now, I know this is not an easy question, but I'd be interested in the views of our witnesses. There are some people who, by the judgment of any generation, should not have had a statue made of them, and that, perhaps, is one of the easier cases, but how do we judge people who, by the standards of their day, would have been seen as upright citizens, but wouldn't by the standards of today? So, there are some issues, such as involvement of the slave trade, which are wrong at any stage in history. But, what do you think we should be looking at in terms of deciding what sort of criteria should be used in order for a statue to remain or not?
Who'd like to start? Martin.
Across Wales, we have a couple of statues of a man who committed ethnic cleansing; there's a pub named after him in Cardiff; there's a university named after him in Wales. Owain Glyndŵr means lots of different things. Coming up with criteria is never going to be simple, because there will be people who are just up for debate, and you could easily see that Owain Glyndŵr would fall foul of any criteria about humanity or elements like that.
I just don't think you can come up with any criteria on this, full stop, and the best thing to do is respond to local communities. If there are local communities who feel uncomfortable by local representation, then councils and local authorities should listen to them. If nobody is complaining about a person or a street name or a statue, in a way, I would just leave it there, because the answers to these criteria will change over time. You can put something in writing now, but in 10 years' time, how people interpret those criteria will change. In a hundred years' time, we'll all be condemned for our stance, or about what we haven't done about global warming. And are they going to rip down every statue of us because we did nothing to save the planet, and passed on an ecological wreck to them? The point I'm trying to make is that these things are not straightforward, and if you create criteria, you create traps for yourself that will just lead down rabbit holes and will move away from the basic thing that we want to do, which is promote social justice and promote an understanding of the past.
About drawing a line, I really don't know how to answer that, you know, because I have to look at myself as an ethnic minority or minority group, et cetera. I'm a third generation, who was born in this country. So, for me, I'm not here to try to impose upon the dominant culture what they should do or shouldn't do. However, if it affects me, socially or historically, then I should have the say, but I'm not here to upset people of dominant culture, because they have produced heroes. Most of the heroes or sheroes they've produced have not been angels in the past, so that needs to be acknowledged and recognised.
I think that we need to carry out the debate; the debates need to be ongoing. That's one thing that needs to happen. But the other thing that we need to, maybe, predict is: do we need statues? This is the first thing. Do we really need them? And if not, maybe we can put the information of this within the curriculum or within another discursive circle. That might be another alternative. We may not need the statues, so that might be a way of trying to reduce tension amongst people.
The other thing is, if we are going to erect statues, et cetera, statues are known to be vandalised, and they're vandalised in public property et cetera. Whether these people are good or bad people, it is still vandalism. And, unfortunately, what took place, I was quite disgusted, as a minority group. Even though I'm a historian, I may not agree with what Colston did, but he is a figure in England or in Bristol. And the reality was—. I saw where people were roping up to to pull the statue of Colston down, and the people who were put in a position of authority, which were the police, were standing and watching what was happening, okay. We know that if this was a minority group that had done exactly the same thing, the narrative and the outcome would have been different. So, we're now looking at white privilege, et cetera.
So, the reality of what I want to emphasise about this, you know, is that we want to reduce vandalism, we want to reduce contention and tension amongst people, amongst the next generation, and to tell the truth, there's not a straightforward answer. Because like what Martin was saying, in 10 years' time or 100 years' time, we might be erected or whatever the case may be—what type of condemnation is going to come from that particular generation? So, it's not really a straight answer. It's not really a straight answer, so I hope I've answered your question.
Yes, thank you. Simon.
Just before I take the point about the possible set of criteria, I just want to build exactly on what Abu-Bakr said, and really emphasise that I think there is an opportunity for a process of education here. So, taking a particular monument, a particular statue, and using it as a test case for how can we contextualise this in a way that brings attention to a particular figure, or set of figures, because I think the city hall statues would be a good test case. So, we know that that includes Picton, but the other 10 figures—Martin's already mentioned Owain Glyndŵr—there are other figures who, when viewed from a certain perspective, give rise to questions about why they actually stand there. So, Gerald of Wales, a twelfth century churchman and writer, wrote a number of works and in many of them, he was very critical of Wales and its inhabitants, so you start to wonder why we have the statue of this figure.
But to go back to the point about criteria, I agree: there's no obvious set of criteria that you can draw to work out a set moment when a particular monument needs to be taken away. All I would say is that when you look at something like what happened in Bristol in the summer, you know that in some scenarios, things have got too far. What can prevent that from happening, what can prevent that kind of pent-up frustration with a particular example from reaching such a point, is, I think, if a process is clearer to a community of people about how they register their discontent, their dissatisfaction, or the offence that they take from particular monuments.
So, making the process for starting a conversation clearer, I think, is one way to go, but also making people feel that that process can have meaningful results and that it won't be brushed under the carpet, which I think was the case in Bristol for many years. The local council there did have representations that never amounted to any intervention in any way. If you had this process, it could have the ultimate result of starting a meaningful conversation that questions why a statue of, let's say, Owain Glyndŵr, needs to stay where it is.
Martin, do you want to come in on that?
Just to add very quickly, what happened in Bristol happened because the local authority did not respond, over a whole series of years, to responses from the local community to do something about it and to reinterpret it. Maybe the best thing that can come out of this is instructions to local authorities that history is controversial and it is emotional, and people's daily lives are affected by the way that their history and our collective history is presented, and if a complaint is made to a local or national authority, it should be taken seriously and listened to. That doesn't mean that it has to be acted upon, because people will complain about all kinds of different things, but authorities have to listen.
That's an interesting point. Anything further from you, Carwyn?
Can I come back on that? That's an interesting point. I take Martin's point that authorities need to listen. I don't suppose this is a question you can really answer, but at what point do you get to a position where the numbers of complaints are at such a level that action has to be taken? I know that Martin's not saying that if one person complains then clearly there's an issue there or that something has to be done about it, but I suppose the difficulty is in trying to work out at which point the weight of complaints becomes such that there needs to be action.
Exactly, but isn't that the whole issue with democracy? Every time the Senedd receives a petition, it makes a decision on what to do about it, and there are thresholds about what creates debates et cetera. These are qualitative judgments, and sometimes, actually, just one person complaining might actually encourage others to think about these things. One of the best things that's come out of all of this is the debate about the past, and a growing understanding of Wales's relationship with, say, slavery. And just debating these things can actually encourage public education and public knowledge, and that in itself is surely a good thing.
Thank you. I think that's a good point at which to bring this session to an end. We're only a little bit over time. So, thank you very much to the three witnesses for your contributions. If there's anything further that you want to add—. We will, of course, send you a transcript of the discussion so that you can ensure that we've recorded what you've said correctly, but if, for example, receiving that transcript makes you think, 'I wish I'd said that', or 'I'd have liked to have come back on that', then please, any further information that you want to give, any further—. Because these are such big complex issues and three quarters of an hour, an hour isn't long to discuss them, but I think we've covered some really useful ground. If there's anything further you'd want to add, we'd be really pleased to hear from you, which I know, as a trained historian myself, is a dangerous thing to say to historians, because you could get inundated. [Laughter.]
But thank you very much indeed, all three of you, for your time. As I think David Melding said, we've had really good evidence this morning, and a good place to start. I wanted to respond early to a point that Abu-Bakr made: nobody's got all the answers to this, that's why we're having to have the conversation, and I guess, as Martin has said, having the conversation is part of a valuable process in itself. So, I thank our witnesses very much indeed.
I'm cyd-Aelodau, os dŷn ni'n cymryd brêc o bum munud, rŵan, eto—wel, na; gallem ni fod tamaid bach—. Buaswn i'n dweud tan 11:30, so jest dros bum munud—rhwng 10 a phum munud.
For my fellow Members, if we could take a five-minute break now—well, no; shall we say that we will return at 11:30, so just a little longer than five minutes—between five and 10 minutes?
So, if we can bring you back at half past, and if we can suspend the broadcast now for the break, please.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 11:22 ac 11:32.
The meeting adjourned between 11:22 and 11:32.
Bore da eto a chroeso nôl i gyfarfod Pwyllgor Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chyfathrebu y Senedd. Eitem 4 ar yr agenda yw tystiolaeth bellach yn ein hymchwiliad mewn i bwy sy'n cael eu coffáu yn ein mannau cyhoeddus, a dwi'n croesawu i'r sesiwn yma Richard Suggett a James January-McCann. So, gwnaf ofyn i chi gyflwyno eich hunain, jest eich rôl, ac wedyn byddwn ni'n symud yn syth mewn i gwestiynau.
Good morning once again and welcome back to this meeting of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee at the Senedd. Item 4 on our agenda is further evidence as part of our inquiry into who gets remembered in our public spaces, and I welcome Richard Suggett and James January-McCann. So, I'll ask you to introduce yourselves, tell us what your role is, and then we will move immediately to questions.
So, if I can ask Richard Suggett first of all to introduce himself.
I'll start. My name is Richard Suggett, and I'm an architectural historian. I work for the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, based in Aberystwyth. The royal commission is the national body of survey and record for the historic environment. We maintain a database of historic sites, and from this database we know that there are some 40 prominent statues in Wales, well over 300 memorials—principally war memorials—and innumerable plaques and inscriptions that show that the people of Wales are very much involved in the process of commemorating people and events.
Thank you, Richard. James January-McCann.
Bore da. Fi yw swyddog enwau lleoedd y Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru. Dwi'n gweithio gyda Richard, a fi sy'n gyfrifol am gynnal achau lleoedd hanesyddol.
Good morning. I am the place names officer for the royal commission. I work with Richard, and I'm responsible for the list of historic place names.
Diolch yn fawr, James. A jest ar gyfer y record, jest fel bod y cyhoedd yn deall, mae gan James bach o broblemau cysylltu, so mae'n bosibl bydd e'n diflannu, ond bydd e'n dal yn gallu ein clywed ni ac yn dal yn gallu cyfrannu ar lafar. So, diolch yn fawr iawn i'r ddau ohonoch chi am fod yma gyda ni, a gwnaf i gychwyn y cwestiynau. So, pa wybodaeth ydy'r comisiwn brenhinol yn casglu fel mater o rwtîn ynglŷn â chofebau cyhoeddus? Ydy hynny yn cynnwys data ynglŷn â hanes y person, biograffi'r person sydd yn cael ei goffau?
Thank you very much, James. And just for the record, so that the public understands, James is having some connectivity issues, so he may disappear from our screens, but he will still be able to hear us and contribute. So, thank you, both, very much for joining us, and I will start with the first questions. What information does the royal commission routinely collect about public memorials? Does this include biographical data about the person commemorated?
I don't know who'd like to start with that. Richard, do you want to make a start with that?
Yes. As I said, we've got a lot of information on memorials of different sorts: I mentioned statues, prominent statues erected in the nineteenth century, often listed; war memorials as well; and public art. Some of these memorials are the subject of separate databases. War memorials are covered by the Imperial War Museum's database, and there is a database of public memorials too. But, by and large, we try and collect as much information as we can.
There is a visibility problem. Prominent memorial statues are listed, and we have that information as a matter of course, but there are many monuments that aren't listed, are barely visible. In Aberystwyth, for example, there must be a hundred different monuments of different sorts, principally inscriptions and memorials, some very interesting indeed. Across Wales, there will be many thousands of inscriptions and plaques that have very little visibility outside their community, and it's very desirable that they are actually put on our database. Thank you.
Oes gyda chi rywbeth i'w ychwanegu, James?
Anything to add, James?
Jest i ddweud ein bod ni'n casglu enwau strydoedd ar y rhestr o enwau hanesyddol hefyd. Felly, os oes yna stryd sydd wedi ei enwi ar ôl rhywun, mae'n debyg bod gennym ni gofnod ohono fe yn y rhestr honno.
Just to say that we do collect street names in the schedule of historical names also. So, if there is a street that is named after someone, we should have a record of it.
Diolch. Gaf i jest ofyn hefyd wedyn a ydy'r comisiwn brenhinol wedi bod yn ymwneud â'r awdit sydd wedi cael ei weithredu gan Gaynor Legall ar gyfer Llywodraeth Cymru? Ydyn nhw wedi ymgynghori â chi?
Thank you very much. Can I just move on and ask whether the royal commission has been involved with the audit conducted by Gaynor Legall on behalf of the Welsh Government? Have they been in touch and have they consulted with you?
I think that's probably a question for James.
Naddo. Dyw hi ddim wedi cysylltu â fi, yn sicr.
No. They've certainly not been in contact with me.
Diddorol. Wel, diolch yn fawr a gwnaf i—
That's interesting. Thank you very much and I'll—
Dwi ddim wedi cael unrhyw gyfathrebiaeth am enwau strydoedd.
No, I've had no correspondence on street names, certainly.
Diolch. So, gwnaf i droi at John Griffiths am y gyfres nesaf o gwestiynau, os gwelwch yn dda. John.
Okay. We'll now turn to John Griffiths for the next questions. Thank you. John.
Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. I would be interested in your views as to what principles public authorities ought to follow in deciding who should be commemorated in public spaces. In our consultation, we set out some of the factors that might be involved, such as historical significance of a person, their continued influence, their national impact, impact in their particular field of activity, how the person was viewed at the time, whether they would set a good example to people today, architectural significance and also the impact on minority groups and what the views would be of the act of commemoration. So, we've set out what, perhaps, some of the broad parameters might be, but I'd be interested in any views you have in terms of how public authorities ought to decide these matters.
I'd be happy to answer this. I did hear this historians in the first session just talking about the difficulty of defining the criteria. There are guidelines out there. There are not very many, but there are some. I think the most influential have been the guidelines for the famous London blue plaques, and the criteria were set down, really, over 70 years ago by the Greater London Council, the GLC, and it's been taken over by English Heritage. The system is quite interesting. I think the first thing to say is that it's a bottom-up system, it's not top-down. Suggestions are invited from the public and there's a very simple online form to fill in if you want to make a nomination. And the criteria are relatively clear. There are three or four principal criteria. One is that the person nominated has to be reasonably well known, has to have some sort of public profile, public presence. The second one is really very interesting, and that is the person nominated has to have made a contribution to the well-being and happiness of the public. That's a very interesting one. And thirdly, the person nominated has to have made some achievement in his or her own field.
Now, they do rule out some categories. They're against tokenism. The person nominated has to make an achievement in his or her own field. They don't allow nominations of fictitious people, so no Sherlock Holmes or Professor Moriarty or Doctor Dolittle. Also, they require that the person nominated has to have been dead for about 20 years, just to allow the dust to settle and to see if anything nasty has emerged in the meantime. Then the nominations go to a panel. The panel is composed of historians rather like the historians that you've seen in the first and second sessions. The historians sift the applications and then further research is required to firm them up, and within two years a plaque can be awarded.
So, I think to summarise, the process is bottom-up, there are quite clear criteria, and it's fairly speedy. Two years in planning terms is speedy.
Unrhyw beth i ychwanegu, James?
Anything to add, James?
That's very interesting, Richard. One question that I raised with previous witnesses, you may have heard, was whether there should be fixed criteria similar to those that apply to listed buildings, for example, to guide decisions. In terms of what you just mentioned, or indeed any other criteria, would you be in favour of that sort of fixed criteria system?
I do think there can be guidelines, and the blue plaque guidelines work very well. I think most of us can take those on board, and they are pretty flexible. But more than that, there has been a change in public memorials since the war, and there's an additional criterion now, or an additional aspect of memorials, which is very difficult to pin down as a criterion, and that is that quite a lot of memorials, public inscriptions, now seek to right wrongs. That's a new development.
If I may, I'd like to give just a couple of examples. In Aberystwyth, where I live, in 2017 a memorial was erected by the town council to Professor Hermann Ethé. Professor Ethé was a professor of German and oriental languages in Aberystwyth. He was a German national, and at the start of the war, a hostile crowd, egged on by some pretty respectable people, ran him out of town. They marched on his house and he was given an ultimatum: 'Either leave town or we'll demolish your house brick by brick'. He left town and died in Bristol a few years later a broken man. A hundred years later, the town council erected this tablet to his memory. It's trilingual—German, English and Welsh—and the point of the memorial is two lines, which say that the town hopes that no person will ever be subject to the sort of persecution in Aberystwyth that Hermann Ethé endured. So, that's a purely local example, and a very good example, of the way plaques now seek to right wrongs.
But a more international aspect of this are the famous stumbling stones in Germany. These are little raised pebbles set in the pavement, set outside the houses of people who were killed by the Nazis. They're set outside the houses they last lived in, and they're slightly raised so you have to notice them, you have to avoid them, you have to actually bend down and look at them. They record the name—that's very important; they're remembering a person—and dates of the person who last lived in that house who was killed by the Nazis. There are some 70,000 of these, an enormous number, and they've spread throughout Germany and right across parts of Europe. They're the largest decentralised monument in the world. So, that's a really interesting aspect of the way modern memorials seek to confront the past, seek to right wrongs.
Thank you, Richard. I'm just conscious that we've got quite a lot of questions we'd like to get through, so if we can try to keep our questions and answers fairly tight. Anything further from you, John Griffiths?
No, that's fine, then, Cadeirydd. Diolch yn fawr.
Thank you. Diolch yn fawr. Mick Antoniw.
Thank you, Cadeirydd. Just a few questions, really, about how we go about this. Because obviously, one of the things we want to do is to try and bring things together into some sort of framework or mechanism for constructively tackling all these complex issues we've been discussing. Part of the suggestion you've made is in respect of examples for future monuments and recognitions, and so on, and you've also talked about how you correct some of the issues of the past, but what about the sort of processes that should be involved in looking at monuments and places that already exist, that already have the associations, et cetera? How should we actually engage and deal with those? Do you have any particular views as to how we might constructively approach that?
I think one has to say it's consultation, consultation, consultation. As a previous witness said in the last session, the great lesson of the Colston statue incident was, as Marvin Rees, the remarkable mayor of Bristol said, people had been petitioning the council for a long time about the future of the Colston monument and had been pushed from committee to committee. So, direct action in the end wasn't a surprise. But, as Marvin Rees has said, the demolition of the Colston statue isn't the end of the process, it's actually the start of the process, and now a very interesting forum has been convened called We Are Bristol and it'll discuss questions of identity and history. So, always consultation. Decisions can be quite rapid in the end. I think the decision by Cardiff council to remove the statue of Picton is a very interesting one, but here there is a process that will be gone through. I think the statue is now boxed in and they will have to go through a listed building consent process in which people can engage. But it is always consultation, and if you don't have consultation, as the Newport Chartist memorial saga showed, there will be problems.
Thank you. Mick.
Just to follow on, then, do you think there should be some engagement in terms of the curriculum? We've been talking a lot about the teaching of Welsh history and community history within our curriculum, and of course a lot of the issues that are emerging are from the fact that people, quite often, don't actually know or it isn't actually taught. So, in terms of this consultation process, do you think there is an opportunity that emerges for the way we teach about our communities and our past history that might be relevant to any decision-making process or framework we might be looking at?
I think Martin Johnes put it very well when he said that there is certainly scope in the curriculum for discussion about colonialism and slavery. But I think, more broadly, public engagement means some sort of public debate, and that's what's happening in Bristol in the We Are Bristol movement. Public memorials do, or can, form a focus of debate. Once it's pointed out that a person commemorated may be controversial, then people do engage with that. So, yes, not simply in the curriculum, but outside the curriculum too.
Thank you. Anything to add, James?
Unrhyw beth i'w ychwanegu?
Anything to add?
Jest i ddweud fy mod i'n cytuno bod angen cael barn pobl leol os mae yna ryw newid felly, a dim jest pobl leol, ond haneswyr hefyd, a bod hyn yn gorfod bod yn rhan o'r gymuned, ac yn rhan o'r cwricwlwm addysg hefyd, fel bod pobl yn ymwybodol am hanes eu hardal nhw, fel eu bod nhw wedyn yn gallu ei drafod o.
Just to say that I agree that we need to seek the views of local people before changes are made, and not just local people, but also historians, and that this has to be part of the education curriculum too, so that people are aware of the history of their localities, so that they can then have those discussions.
Diolch yn fawr. Pwynt diddorol.
Thank you very much. It's an interesting point.
Anything further from you, Mick?
Just one point. In terms of the criteria that you were referring to with the GLC, which I thought were really quite interesting—well known and made a contribution to well-being and happiness—do you think that that might provide a framework for, also, the consultation or engagement where issues on existing memorials are actually raised? It probably need to be expanded a little bit, and maybe might need to have criteria with regard to, I suppose, the well-being or the historical relevance et cetera, but I'm just wondering if you think that there is the potential for perhaps a set of principles that would underlie consideration of these issues. Or would that be too difficult to do?
I think it would be difficult, but I do think that the GLC criterion on the contribution to well-being and happiness, however defined, is an intriguing and challenging one, and I think it could be profitably adopted.
I'd just make one comment on that, which is, of course, when we look at past criteria of what is acceptable et cetera, if you take 1960s and 1970s television, I think most of us are absolutely appalled when we see some of the sorts of stuff that used to appear and the attitudes. Now, times change and everything else, but it does seem to me—and I'd just like to push you on this one point—that there should be some common principles that underlie, in terms of diversity and equality and justice and so on, that would at least provide the framework for the start of any discussion or consultation. Would that help?
Yes, I think justice and diversity are very important principles. But I think the GLC have been quite careful not to be accused of tokenism. The people who are commemorated have to have achieved real things in their life. They're real people who've actually achieved things.
Of course, the GLC was abolished, wasn't it? We're talking about the Greater London Authority.
[Laughter.] Yes, I have to say. The successor administrator is English Heritage, yes indeed.
But the criteria have survived. Thank you.