A Bill that would allow descendants of Holocaust survivors to continue to receive their forebears’ looted art is facing a Parliamentary challenge today.
The amendment – which seeks to extend the legal time allowing museums to return objects taken from Jewish owners during the Holocaust – was introduced last year under Parliament’s Ten Minute Rule by Theresa Villiers MP.
Her Bill seeks to extend a ten-year ‘sunset clause’ on the return of cultural objects introduced in 2009. Without the amendment, victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants will not be able claim their property after November if it is discovered in a number of major national institutions.
There is cross-party support for Villiers’ amendment but under the Parliamentary procedure she brought it forward under, the Bill faces a challenge to be heard.
Yet while this procedure almost never results in legislation successfully reaching the statute book, Villiers was hopeful that the Bill would get a second reading.
“The moral case for this legislation remains as strong today as it was when the original legislation was passed,” she said. “Indeed, the case is arguably stronger than it was then as we have fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors still with us.”
She added: “The appalling crimes of the Nazis can never be remedied but there is action that we can take to return works of art to the people from whom they were stolen. There may still be potential claimants who are unaware of the location of artworks owned by relatives who died in the Holocaust.”