The Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act was first passed in 2009.
This Act gave the power to many national institutions – particularly museums – to return to their rightful owners cultural objects like paintings stolen by Nazis during the Nazi era 1933-1945. This Act, however, only made it possible for families to claim back property until November 2019 because it has a ten year ‘sunset clause’.
This is why the current Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill was recently introduced to Parliament. The Bill is being taken forward by the Conservative MP Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet).
The Bill reached the Committee Stage on Wednesday, 27th February 2019 where – in my capacity as a Government Culture Minister – I was responsible for ensuring that the Bill was properly considered and passed this stage. I was delighted to be a part of helping this important Bill take a step closer to becoming law. Artwork stolen by the Nazis should rightly be returned to the closest living relatives and this Bill will go a long way in ensuring that this happens.
It is, of course, absolutely vital that the unparalleled atrocity of the Holocaust committed by the Nazis is never forgotten.
In the past fortnight I also attended the Community Security Trust annual dinner to support the work that this excellent charity does in combatting anti-Jewish racism. With over 1,000 attendees and many MPs in attendance it was a powerful occasion in which we all stood in solidarity against anti-Jewish racism which exists in both the Far Left and the Far Right.