I call the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
I think I may have upset you, Mr Speaker, by correcting you on Tuesday. The Government want to ensure the best deal for Britain on leaving the European Union and to provide as much certainty as we can. I have held a series of roundtable discussions within the cultural and creative sectors on the impacts and opportunities affecting them as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU. My Department remains committed to working closely with the cultural and creative sectors to ensure that their needs and views are understood.
Given that leaving the EU will result in new rules that restrict freedom of movement, and with music exports growing enormously and worth more than £4 billion to the UK economy, what will the Secretary of State do to ensure that the UK’s touring musicians—they and their crews can, at the moment, just go to Europe to play—do not face the logistical nightmare and extra costs of having to apply for new visas and permits?
Of course, those touring musicians tour wholewide, not just in the 27 member states of the European Union, and they have great expertise and experience. I was with the London Symphony Orchestra in Seoul earlier this year, for example. We have seen that the sector is very successful, and that they can make a success of what they do throughout the world. I am, of course, mindful of the concerns about free movement. I had a meeting with the Minister for Immigration, my right hon. Friend Brandon Lewis, earlier this week. I will continue to make the point that we need as much flexibility as possible in the immigration system to allow those high-skilled, highly trained musicians to export their great success.
Does the Secretary of State agree with the former chairman of the Arts Council, Peter Bazalgette, who said in his evidence to the then Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport that we should look seriously at maintaining our membership of organisations such as Creative Europe that have supported creative and cultural organisations in this country and are open to non-member states?
I am aware of those concerns, and the Department is looking carefully at them. Clearly, this is part of a negotiation, but we are looking carefully at the areas in which it is important that we continue membership.
I am well aware of that, and of course it was the Conservatives who brought in the original funding streams. It is important to recognise that in European structural funds, there are sometimes restrictions that do not work in the United Kingdom as we would want. We are looking carefully at how we make sure that we get funding in the right places, in a way that works for Britain.
Of course, in 2021 we will be out of the European Union and we will have the Commonwealth games. May I thank my right hon. Friend for choosing Birmingham as the UK’s candidate to host those games? I hope that she will put pressure on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ensure that he does what is needed. May I just say to you, Mr Speaker, to make it absolutely clear, that I will not be appearing on “Naked Attraction”?
Whether, if you were to do so, it would constitute a cultural industry is probably a divisible proposition in the House.
My breath is taken away by the very suggestion. I do not like to correct my hon. Friend, but 2021 will be the City of Culture year. I will not be making any further comments on that, given the shortlist. The Commonwealth games will be in 2022, and he will have heard the Prime Minister’s comments at Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, when she gave a very firm backing to Birmingham’s bid.
The UK’s creative and cultural industries have benefited greatly economically, creatively and culturally from being part of Europe for the past 40 years. That explains why 96% of the Creative Industries Federation voted to remain in the European Union. Other than assuring them that it will be all right on the night, can the Secretary of State tell me what she is doing to ensure that the creative and cultural industries will be able to access the talent and skills that they need from across the European Union? Does she agree that the UK staying in the single market, at least, is the best way to do that?
As I have said, the creative industries are an enormous success story for the United Kingdom, but they take talent from the whole world, not just from 27 countries in the European Union. Of course I am very aware and mindful of the concerns about free movement, but we can learn a lot from the creative industries and the way in which they have been able to sell music, television, film and so on throughout the world.
It is a great pleasure to be back on the Front Bench. I always knew there were going to be risks with growing a beard, and so it seems—here I am. I hope that the Minister for Digital, in particular, will find me a constructive critic over the years to come.
I need to ask about data protection this morning, because we cannot have strong cultural industries without strong data protection, and last week we saw Equifax lose the records of 44 million Brits. Of great concern to me is the fact that Equifax signed a multi-year, multimillion-pound contract with the Government in 2014 for debt recovery services. Equifax must not profit from the British Government until it is straight with the British people, so will the Secretary of State tell us today: do the Government remain a customer of Equifax, which Departments use Equifax, and which Departments have had their data exposed by Equifax? We need to know.
My right hon. Friend the Minister for Digital met the Information Commissioner yesterday specifically on that point. On the matter of data and leaving the European Union, the right hon. Gentleman will I hope welcome the position paper that we issued over the summer about our position on data and will also, I am sure, work constructively with the Government to ensure that the Data Protection Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, so that we remain compliant with the general data protection regulation and have the best, world-leading data protection industry in the world.