Tory MP who blocked ‘up-skirting’ law, to obstruct bill on return of Nazi-looted art

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Tory MP who blocked ‘up-skirting’ law, to obstruct bill on return of Nazi-looted art

After being criticised for vetoing legislation last month, Sir Christopher Chope, 71, plans to do the same for a law on restitution

Sir Christopher Chope
Sir Christopher Chope

The Tory MP who blocked a law making ‘up-skirting’ illegal is to block a law to extend the ability of national museums to return art looted during the Holocaust.

Sir Christopher Chope, 71, was derided last month when he vetoed a Private Members Bill to criminalise photographing up a woman’s skirt, and plans to do likewise for the restitution Bill brought by MP Theresa Villiers.

Chope regularly vetoes Bills brought on a Friday because he objects to laws being rushed onto the statute books without a proper parliamentary debate.

Villiers, who represents Chipping Barnet, is seeking to amend the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Bill, which was passed in 2009 but which has a ten-year ‘sunset clause,’ meaning it expires next year.

Speaking to Jewish News on Thursday, she said: “I am deeply disappointed that the Bill I have brought forward looks certain to be blocked tomorrow. The aim of my proposal is to enable museums to continue to return property seized during the Holocaust to its rightful owners.

“Without my Bill, the legislation which enables this to happen will lapse next year. There is a strong moral case for allowing museums to restore stolen property to Holocaust survivors. So I will keep up the campaign to save the legislation which makes this possible and keep it on the statute book.”

The original Bill was passed because national museums and institutions at the time were required by law not to return objects to the descendants of original owners even where it could be proven that the objects had been looted during the Holocaust.

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