A group of UK MPs are putting pressure on the government to return the disputed 'Elgin Marbles' to Greece or risk "great discredit".

Labour MP Edward O'Hara led the MPs in tabling a motion in the House of Commons on Thursday calling for the return of the antiquities in time for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The early day motion read as follows:

"That this house is aware that the Parthenon Marbles, most of which are included in the Elgin Marbles collection in the British Museum,

  • are integral architectural features of the Parthenon, itself a UNESCO world heritage site;
  • notes with interest that the Greek Government has commissioned a new Acropolis Museum at a cost of twenty nine million pounds to be situated at the foot of the Acropolis and including a glass gallery facing the Parthenon and specifically intended to house the Parthenon Marbles;
  • understands that this gallery will remain empty as long as the Parthenon Marbles are not available for display in it;
  • is concerned that this will bring great discredit to the British Government and the British Museum in the eyes of the estimated three million visitors per annum to the Acropolis Museum from around the world;
  • recognises that this location is unique as the only one in which it will be possible to view the Parthenon and its sculptures together in one experience;
  • and calls upon the Government immediately to enter into discussions with the Greek Government with the purpose of returning the Parthenon Marbles to Athens for display in their gallery in the Acropolis Museum when it is opened at the time of the Athens Olympics in 2004."

The motion was supported by fourteen MP's:

  • Edward O'Hara
  • Richard Allen
  • Tony Banks
  • Tom Cox
  • Jackie Lawrence
  • John Austin
  • Alan Meale
  • Rudi Vis
  • Bill Etherington
  • Desmond Turner
  • Paul Flynn
  • Gordon Prentice
  • Ann Cryer
  • Jimmy Hood