Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:48 pm on 10th September 2021.

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Photo of Angela Richardson Angela Richardson Conservative, Guildford 1:48 pm, 10th September 2021

I congratulate my right hon. Friend Mel Stride on introducing this Bill. He made an excellent, informative speech, in which I learned some new things.

My constituents in Guildford, Cranleigh and our villages take an enormous interest in cultural issues. We have the wonderful Watts Gallery and, of course, our much-loved museum. Any measure that militates against collections not coming to this country is very worth while, so I am happy to support the Bill today.

My right hon. Friend referred to unforeseen environmental factors such as the eruption of the Icelandic volcano. I was in New Zealand visiting my family when that volcano erupted, and although I am not a cultural object, I am sure that my parents would have liked to seize me and keep me in New Zealand. My onward flight from Singapore back to the UK was grounded for 11 days. Such disruptions do come along, and of course we have had this horrible time of covid, which has caused much disruption to international travel.

I hope that, as well as looking at this Bill, the Government are looking at and potentially auditing any other bits of legislation whereby a significant disruption to international travel could have unintended consequences, which may also need to be amended. This, however, is a sensible Bill and anything that gives confidence is important. I hope that the Bill moves through the House swiftly and I am very happy to support it.