Hull must lead in Wilberforce 2007

Hull North MP Diana Johnson has called for Hull to be the central focus of celebrations in 2007 marking William Wilberforce's achievement in outlawing Britain's role in the slave trade.

Speaking today in a debate in Parliament's Westminster Hall, Diana Johnson MP described the pivotal role played by Hull MP William Wilberforce in getting the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act through Parliament in 1807, which led to the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833. Diana also the set out Hull's record in championing human rights, development and fair trade around the world.

Hull holds the annual Wilberforce Lecture, to be delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2007, and Hull University is the base for the Wilberforce Institute for Slavery and Emancipation (WISE), which studies and campaigns against the slavery that still exists around the globe in the 21st Century.

With a major series of local events being organised in Hull in 2007 to commemorate this bicentenary, Diana Johnson called for 2007's national celebrations to also focus on Hull.

In response, Minister for Culture David Lammy MP recognised Hull's "pivotal role" in outlawing slavery and accepted Diana Johnson's invitation to visit Hull in the New Year to learn at first hand about the programme of events planned for Wilberforce 2007.

Diana Johnson MP said: "In 2007, it will be 200 years since Hull's Member of Parliament and most famous son William Wilberforce secured the legislation to outlaw Britain's involvement in the slave trade.

"As well as honouring Wilberforce, Hull today is still deeply involved in progressive work on international development, human rights and fair trade.

"This combination of an illustrious past and a pioneering present creates a persuasive case for having the national celebration of Wilberforce 2007 in Hull."

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