Covid-19: Economy - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:55 pm on 4th June 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Smith of Finsbury Lord Smith of Finsbury Non-affiliated 1:55 pm, 4th June 2020

My Lords, I should remind the House of my interests as set out in the register.

I want to make two brief points. First, I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, touched on. One of the most important parts of our economy and our national life is the cultural sector and the creative arts, but they have been hit fiercely by the pandemic and the lockdown. This is especially true for the performing arts—theatre, music, dance and opera—which rely on large audiences for their income. It will be months before they can open up again. They are, quite simply, bleeding to death, yet they are vital to our well-being, to our intellectual and emotional life, to our standing in the world and to our economy. The Arts Council has provided some emergency relief. Furloughing has assisted, but there is a desperate need for further help. I urge the Government to bring forward a package of emergency support, because it is so urgently needed.

My second point is simple and echoes what the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, said in his excellent opening remarks. As we begin to recover from the pandemic and we look at the state of the economy and the deficit that will have been incurred, austerity is not the answer. It was not the answer in 2010 either, but it happened and it delayed our recovery for years. Growth will be what lifts us up again and the Government should remember that in every waking moment as we confront the recession that this pandemic has brought.