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Donation of £1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written statement – made on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

It is the normal practice when a government department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, for the department concerned to present to the House of Commons a minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on 27 January 2020 made a formal joint announcement of a donation by the UK Government of £1 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. This donation reflects HMG’s strong commitment to Holocaust remembrance in this the 75th anniversary year of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The donation will be funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government at a cost of £500,000 each. This is a gift donation with no preconditions attached. There is however a precedent for this donation. In 2011 the then Foreign Secretary and then Communities Secretary announced a £2.15 million donation to the Foundation over three years. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation was founded in 2009 and collects funding for the preservation and maintenance of the grounds and remnants of the former Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II Birkenau concentration camps, which are supervised by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim, Poland. The proposed donation has a symbolic value; moreover, preserving Auschwitz-Birkenau contributes to the continuation of Holocaust education. Several thousand UK citizens visit Auschwitz-Birkenau each year and it provides a lasting memorial to the dangers of antisemitism, extremism and racism in general.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS223