A cross-party group of Members of the British Parliament will present a Bill on Monday July 11, 2016 which would annul decisions taken 200 years earlier to “state sanction the improper acquisition” of half of the sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin; during period when Greece was under Ottoman rule.
The MPs are supported by a UK campaign body, The British Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. The campaign has attracted strong support from celebrities like Stephen Fry and Amal Clooney and has been the subject of many debates and publications over the years; perhaps most notably Christopher Hitchens’ The Parthenon Marbles: The case for reunification.
MP Mark Williams will present the Parliamentary Bill during Monday afternoon’s Parliamentary business. He is supported by MP Jeremy Lefroy and 10 other MPs from various political parties.
Mr Williams said, “If there had been a justification for taking these sculptures into safe keeping in the UK in the early 1800s that moment has now long passed. These magnificent artefacts were improperly dragged and sawn off the remains of the Parthenon.
“Indeed they have hardly been in safe keeping. Nearly lost altogether on their journey back and damaged by inept management whilst in the British Museum.
“This Bill proposes that the Parliament should annul what it did 200 years ago. In 1816 Parliament effectively state-sanctioned the improper acquisition of these impressive and important sculptures from Greece. It’s time we engaged in a gracious act. To put right right a 200 year wrong.”
Polls have consistently shown that a majority of the British people support reunification. A poll for the The Times newspaper found the general public backed sending the marbles back to Greece by two to one. And an Ipsos-Mori poll found 69 per cent of those familiar with the issue were in favor of returning the sculptures, compared to just 13 per cent against.