Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:53 pm on 10th September 2021.

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Photo of Robbie Moore Robbie Moore Conservative, Keighley 1:53 pm, 10th September 2021

I congratulate my right hon. Friend Mel Stride on a Bill that will enhance our cultural offering. I am fortunate enough to represent a constituency that contains the Ilkley Toy Museum alongside the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and I think that the ability to bring to such places small exhibitions with the potential to feature objects of huge importance from other parts of the world is incredibly important.

One of the key things that have been highlighted in this debate is the flexibility that the Bill brings in being able to provide an extended three-month period for unforeseen circumstances. I stress the flexibility that the Bill offers with the power for the Secretary of State or the equivalent in the devolved Administrations to consider the period of protection on a case-by-case basis. Flexibility when dealing with objects coming from across the world and being able to transfer them between one museum setting and another is incredibly important.

The current 12-month period of protection typically provides a sufficient length of protection for popular museum exhibitions to take place before an object must be returned, but we have noted that issues such as the pandemic have caused many problems with getting artefacts transferred between one country and another. We can have unforeseen circumstances, such as the eruption of the volcano in Iceland. By extending the period of protection from seizure, owners of these artefacts will have much more confidence in lending them to UK museums. This Bill will provide a much-needed boost to the United Kingdom’s exhibitions sector. The UK is home to a wealth of museums benefiting from the ability to transfer artefacts from one lender to another across the globe. I very much welcome the Bill and will be wholeheartedly supporting its passage through this place.