Covid-19: Cultural and Entertainment Sectors

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 2nd March 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley 6:02 pm, 2nd March 2021

The right hon. Gentleman is right about that. If the vaccine certificate will assist, the Government should get a move on, rather than using the languid approach they are taking at the moment.

The danger has been that the debate can be posed in binary terms, pitching hospitals against hospitality, one a matter of life and death, with the other able to be painted as more discretionary and even frivolous. But that is a balance that has to be struck; that is what government is about—that is its function. Currently, millions of people are unemployed, furloughed or laid off. Many of them are freelance workers who are slipping through the gaps and desperate for support. Hundreds of thousands of family businesses, their hopes, dreams, and life’s work and savings sunk into them, are at risk every month of going under and are just hanging on, and that is quite apart from the vast ecosystem that supports them and depends on them.

The loss of this sector would also leave a huge gap in our national life. The cultural and entertainment sector is one in which our nation excels. It is part of what makes living worth while and Britain special. We do not live by bread alone, but give us roses too. Our quality of life would be seriously weakened if we had the withering away of the sector—not just the cultural sector with the international and national centres, but many local theatres, music centres, clubs and pubs. Apart from being good in themselves, they are the crucial supply chain for the sector; no one started in the music industry by playing the O2. This is about keeping our communities thriving. We talk about town centres and the high streets, which have taken a bit hit with the decline of physical retail, but take out culture, entertainment and hospitality and they will wither and die. This sector is a huge draw not just for tourists but for inward investors and the skilled mobile international workforce. Let’s get this industry back to work.