CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Lords) Rt. Hon. Lord Pickles and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE on Thursday spoke in support of CFI Vice-Chairman Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers’s bill to stop the current law of Holocaust survivors having the right to recover artwork and cultural objects looted in the Nazi era from expiring.
The Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on Thursday. It was introduced last March via an unopposed 10-minute rule motion, and seeks to repeal the sunset clause in the 2009 Act to keep the legislation on the statute book.
The sponsor in the Lords was Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury, who said the legislation dealt with the legacy of a “dark and uniquely evil period” of European history.
In his speech, the UK Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues Lord Pickles underlined: “We need to remember that, whether it is a painting or a book or a porcelain jar, every object represents the life and lives of those who were lost. Their restitution restores a personal connection, a link with those lives so utterly transformed or destroyed by the Nazis”.
Lord Polak paid tribute to Theresa Villiers’s work in his speech, as well as Prime Minister Theresa May, David Cameron, and Lord Pickles. He said that the Bill “has wide-ranging support and rightly unites people across the political spectrum”.
He added that the “Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next door will act as a constant reminder of the unique responsibilities of politicians. Some argue that the structure could encourage more antisemitism, but it is precisely that argument that proves we need it urgently”.
Click here to read the speeches in full.
As the bill has now been passed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, it has reached Committee stage.