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Anti-Semitism - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:08 pm on 13th September 2018.

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Photo of Lord McColl of Dulwich Lord McColl of Dulwich Conservative 2:08 pm, 13th September 2018

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Popat, for the opportunity to join others in reassuring the Jewish community that they are greatly valued for all that they are and all that they represent. I have many Jewish friends, one of whom has been my adviser for years. I greatly admire their hard work, their sense of humour and their loyalty to this country, and the many contributions they have made to science, music and the arts, as well as their emphasis on the importance of the family.

The Wolfson Foundation illustrates the impact that the Jewish community has had on the United Kingdom. The charity was set up in 1955 by Isaac Wolfson. He came from a Jewish refugee family fleeing the pogroms of eastern Europe in the 1890s. His is a classic rag to riches tale: from the Gorbals of Glasgow to creating vast wealth through retail. His motivation in the 1950s was simple: he wanted to give back to the society that had helped him and his family.

Today, the Wolfson Foundation is worth nearly £1 billion, having given away nearly £2 billion in real terms in the intervening years. The foundation continued to flourish under Lord Wolfson, Isaac’s son, and does so now under Lord Wolfson’s daughter, Dame Janet de Botton, who has proved to be an outstanding and very generous chairman. I am privileged to serve as a trustee of the foundation. The foundation gives away £35 million every year. There is no community in the United Kingdom that has not been affected by the foundation’s giving—to hospices, health centres, churches, and so on. All that is due to one Jewish family who found refuge in Scotland. As Isaac Wolfson used to say, “Not bad for a boy from the Gorbals”.