Leaving the EU: Creative Industries

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 3rd October 2019.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

What assessment her Department has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the UK’s creative, digital and media industries in the last three months.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

What recent assessment she has made of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the UK’s creative industries.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The UK’s creative, digital and media industries are a global success story. Our creative industries continue to outperform the wider economy: their value went up from £95 billion in 2016 to £102 billion in 2017. As Europe’s leading tech hub, we generate more billion-dollar tech businesses than any other country in Europe. Over the past three years, we have maintained a dialogue with the creative industries on EU exit. I recognise that the movement of people and goods are among their concerns, but the UK is a global leader in these sectors, and our decision to leave the EU will not change that.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Will the Minister guarantee that musicians and others in the creative industries, with their roadies and their techies, will be able to work across the EU as they do now—as they need to do to make a living—if we leave with or without an agreement, taking their instruments, their kit and their merchandise in a system that works across borders without carnets or additional costs?

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

We are talking to the industry about exactly those concerns. I have already had some conversations along these lines, as has the Secretary of State, who met UK Music earlier this week. It is true that, when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October, free movement as it currently stands will end. In the event of a no-deal exit, creative professionals will need to check whether they need a visa or a work permit for the EU country that they are visiting. I am very optimistic that we will get a deal, and I would encourage the hon. Lady to vote for it when she has the opportunity to do so.

Photo of Ellie Reeves Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge

The Musicians Union states that most UK musicians rely on performing and touring in the EU to make a living, so a bad deal or a no-deal Brexit will jeopardise their careers. I have listened to what the Minister has had to say, but we are almost at Brexit date. What discussions has her Department had with the Home Office about creating a musician’s passport that is inexpensive, lasts for a minimum of two years, and would do away with the need otherwise for permits, permissions and so on, which are unsustainable for the music industry?

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I very much appreciate the hon. Lady’s concerns and those of the industry, as I have already said. The Secretary of State, in fact, spoke to the Musicians Union earlier this week. We are acutely mindful of the concerns that exist, but I will say yet again that the best way through this is to have a deal and, when there is the opportunity to vote for one, I encourage her to please do so.

Photo of Bob Neill Bob Neill Chair, Justice Committee

I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of a deal, but she will recognise that the concerns of the Incorporated Society of Musicians are legitimate and need to be addressed. Will she also speak to those who run our major opera companies? Britain is a world leader in this regard and the ability to fly in replacements—often from the EU—at the last minute for roles, which, often, very few people can actually sing, is very important to our international status in this art form.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

As my hon. Friend will know, I am new to this post, but I very much look forward to talking to representatives from the opera sector and making sure that we continue to support this hugely successful part of our economy as we leave the European Union.