Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Support Measures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley Chair, Procedure Committee, Chair, Procedure Committee 3:41 pm, 8th October 2020

It is an honour to follow Bambos Charalambous, who I serve with on the Procedure Committee. I, too, have had emails from freelance musicians who are struggling enormously. He set out the issues so well and it is an honour to follow him. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend Julian Knight and Kevin Brennan for securing this important debate.

I was once the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, so I know these sectors pretty darn well. The Minister worked there closely with me, so he will know some of the things that I am about to say. I know that there is nobody on the Government side of the House who does anything but recognise the contribution that the sectors DCMS represents make to this country, including—absolutely—economically. When I became Secretary of State in July 2016, the sectors that DCMS represented contributed 13% of the UK economy. By the time I moved to Northern Ireland in January 2018, it was over 16%, demonstrating just how those sectors grow much faster than the economy at large and really contribute so much.

However, they also give us so much more. They are the soul of our nation, as my hon. Friend Nickie Aiken said. They give us joy. They have a role to play in so many parts of our lives, including in education. These are areas that might grasp that child who really does not know what they want to do with the rest of their life, taking them away from crime or gang culture and giving them a focus and a purpose.

If global Britain is anything, it is our creative industries. Goodness me, if we want to punch above our weight, have a look at what our creative industries, sporting institutions, arts and museums do. They are so well known around the world and they open doors for us in a way that nothing else can. When I was a Minister in the Home Office visiting Pakistan, if I wanted to have a conversation with any senior Minister, it was much easier to open the conversation by talking about cricket than it was security, representation and how we might possibly help each other with our security exports.

There is also the economic impact of inward investment. We want companies to invest in Britain. We want companies here in the United Kingdom to put their money in and create jobs. They are not going to put employees in places where there is nothing for them to do when they get home in the evening. They want a strong cultural sector. They want sporting events. They want to be able to take part in charities. They want to be part of more of society than just going to work every day. That is why it is so important that so far, the Government support for DCMS sectors has been there, but we need to make sure that the sectors continue to be supported.

I want to raise a few local issues. I have the privilege of being the Member of Parliament for Alton Towers—I suspect many Members have visited Oblivion and Nemesis and have enjoyed their trips to Alton Towers. Alton Towers has been open this year. It has been fantastic. I have been a couple of times with my family and we have been able to really enjoy the rollercoasters and the feeling of being in this great place of fun. It is so grateful for the VAT cut and the fact that it has been extended, but it really wants to see that continue. It wants to see support for businesses like Alton Towers so that it can continue. It wants to see support for businesses like Alton Towers so that it can continue. Having lost out on the school trip season and so many other parts of the season, it wants to make sure that it can extend its season and get support where it needs it.

On sporting events, we must get fans back. That is absolutely something I miss so much. Not being able to go to the Etihad and watch my beloved Manchester City score goals is a great trauma for me, so please can we get them back? We must also get support for freelancers and sole traders—that is absolutely vital.