Creative Industries — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:06 pm on 3rd November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat 12:06 pm, 3rd November 2011

My Lords, I warmly congratulate my noble friend, not only on initiating this debate, but on her tremendous opening speech. We need to recognise that our creativity, ideas and intellectual capital are what will increasingly drive our future prosperity. Increasingly, technologies are converging, and technology and content are aligning, so it is possible to draw the description of creative industry extremely widely, even to include industrial design in areas such as aerospace, automotive and advanced engineering.

We are pre-eminent in so many areas: in computer games and new media, architecture, design, fashion, animation, music, film, radio, television and advertising. Just take music: in per capita terms, we are one of the top three recorded music markets in the world. UK artists' share of global sales is estimated to have been nearly 12 per cent in 2010, with one in 10 sales in the US being a UK act. However, the fact is that other countries are making substantial investment in their creative industries. So today I hope that we can celebrate some of the considerable achievements taking place to develop our creative industries, while at the same time combining this with further suggestions for action.

Like my noble friend, I welcome the formation of the Creative Industries Council, co-chaired by the Secretaries of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and for DCMS, which, I think, has met once so far. Last year the Liberal Democrat policy document The Power of Creativity emphasised the need for assistance with start-ups for many young creative industry companies by setting up a creative enterprise fund. Earlier this year, Dr Stuart Fraser, in his report Access to Finance for Creative Industry Businesses, commissioned by the DCMS, identified that finance was much slower coming forward for creative industry business than in other sectors. The Treasury Plan for Growth in March this year accepted this and the recent Demos report Risky Business confirmed it.

With this evidence, I hope that the Creative Industries Council will press for more assistance and will spur the Government to improve the enterprise finance guarantee scheme so that it can support new businesses in the creative industries and take other steps proposed by the CBI to ensure that other schemes, such as the R&D tax credit and the enterprise investment scheme, can be accessed. What plans are there to solve some of these financing issues for the creative industries?

Moving on to education and skills, we have some great higher and further education institutions. Indeed, overseas students beat a path to our door. As the UUK report Creating Prosperity at the end of last year makes clear, our higher and further education sector makes a major contribution to the development of skill and talent for the creative economy. It represents hubs for innovation and centres for research. Some 16 per cent of our students are engaged in courses relevant to the creative economy. However, as Fintan Donohue, the principal of North Hertfordshire College was recently describing, it needs to make sure that, as well as the formal academic aspect, it develops the enterprise and entrepreneurial skills of students in the creative arts sector.

I commend the work of Skillset, the sector skills council for some of the creative industries, such as advertising, animation, computer games, fashion, film and TV, and Creative & Cultural Skills, which represents design, literature, music and performing and visual arts. Both have identified that there is a significant shortage of skills in their sector, and both are tasked with ensuring that skills issues across the sector are properly tackled in a strategic way. However, there are still major issues, as the recent NESTA report on video games and visual effects, which was referred to by my noble friend, shows. We need to make sure that we have the right computer skills in particular. We have a positive story in some respects, but I am baffled why we have two skills councils for the creative industries. Should they not be doing more than simply working together? Should they not be a single body rolling out programmes right across the sector?

Then, of course, there is the vital question of intellectual property protection through copyright, a subject of increasing importance in the digital age. Combating piracy should not simply be a crime and punishment approach. We need to combat through education the idea that copyright infringement is socially acceptable, and we need to make sure that there are legal ways of accessing copyright works. I was nominated for an Internet Villain award last year for my efforts on the Digital Economy Act, but I am unrepentant about the need to protect intellectual property over the internet and to ensure that creative artists and the creative industries can enforce their copyright. It is all very well to talk about developing new models for exploitation of new work, but without the underpinning of copyright, creative artists cannot receive the proper reward for their efforts. There are some 50 different services giving legitimate access to recorded music, so there is no excuse for piracy.

The Hargreaves report, commissioned by this Government, has some good aspects, but it seems to think that some creators' rights should be weakened. However, as pointed out by UK Music, its economic impact assessment of the growth impact of its recommendations is laughable and certainly a great deal more speculative than the cost of piracy estimates that Hargreaves criticised. For instance, how can format shifting add up to £2 billion to the economy? In reality, format shifting has been rife for years. MP3 players have already been invented, and very few of them are made in the UK.

In that light, the Government's commitment to strengthen the IPO's economics team and the fact that it has begun an ambitious programme of economic research are very welcome. In the limited time available to me, I welcome the Technology Strategy Board and its research on metadata development, which may prove an extremely important development. I also mention the impressive story of how some of our major cities are becoming hubs. We have the East London Tech City, and Liverpool's city of culture year resulted in an addition of £800 million to the economy of that city.

Finally, I cannot forbear to mention live music. I very much hope that the Government will give a fair wind to my Private Member's Bill in the House of Commons.