Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009: repeal of sunset provision

Part of Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy Conservative, Brigg and Goole 2:45 pm, 27th February 2019

I will make a small contribution to, of course, support the legislation, but also to pay particular tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet for her work on this issue.

As the hon. Member for West Ham referenced, the Bill offers us an opportunity for further education. At a time when the scale of holocaust denial is rising, both in this country and across Europe and the world, we have an opportunity to once again explain the full horrors of the holocaust, including, of course, the concentration camps and the dehumanisation of people, but also the dispossession of people in such an inhumane way.

While we are on that subject, I pay particular tribute to the Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum at Westminster synagogue—the synagogue that I attend—which demonstrates what that theft of property resulted in. It contains 1,100 scrolls that were stolen by the Nazis and recovered after the war. Those scrolls were preserved for one reason only: so that once the Nazis had concluded their murder and killing of the Jewish community, they could create a sick museum to a wiped-out and eradicated race of people.

That decision by the Nazis was totally disgusting, but those scrolls are now in the possession of the Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum, and they are used for educational purposes. They could not be returned to their communities, because those communities do not exist anymore. Those scrolls are used in services all around the world, and now act as a reminder of the horror, hate and theft undertaken by the Nazis. I encourage all right hon. and hon. Members to visit that museum and to encourage that educational work to continue. This legislation is limited and narrow, but it is so important, and it offers us another opportunity for education.