Letter for publication:  Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009. 

It is not often that I agree with Theresa Villiers MP, but I wholeheartedly  support her efforts to amend the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009.

When I was MP for Hendon, I was responsible for the original private member’s Bill, which I piloted through Parliament to  become this Act. Inevitably, when trying  to get a Bill passed into law, compromises to neutralise expected  opposition become necessary, so I had reluctantly to agree to the original ‘sunset clause’, limiting the Act’s restitution powers  to 10 years, in the face of concerns from museums and galleries who might be affected and who sought ‘closure’.

I am pleased that 10 years on, as the Act has worked well, those concerns no longer apply and Mrs Villiers’s Bill to extend the duration of the Act indefinitely is very welcome.

However, like all private member’s Bills, there can be no certainty that even with the best will in the world, this amendment will be successful.  So my   advice, as things stand, must be to remind anyone who may have a claim to restitution of Holocaust looted art or other objects not to delay, but to bring that claim forward now, because unless it is removed (as Mrs Villiers and I wish to see) the sunset clause will take effect next year and no further claims can then be countenanced.

Best wishes

Andrew Dismore AM

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden