Clause 5 - Performers’ rights

Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 20 February 2024.

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause stand part.

Amendment 6, in clause 7, page 7, line 17, leave out sub-subsection (c).

Amendment 7, in clause 7, page 7, line 28, at end insert—

“(5) Section 5 comes into force twelve months after the day on which this Bill is passed.”

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade) 3:00, 20 February 2024

I am grateful for the opportunity to move amendments 5, 6 and 7, which go to the heart of the controversy that has developed around clause 5 and the issue of performers’ rights.

The Minister has attempted to bounce through the House of Lords and appears to be attempting to bounce through the House of Commons, using the Bill, changes to the way that those who make music are paid from broadcasting and the public playing of music. Pressure in the other place on Second Reading forced the Minister there to agree to publish a consultation document on the issue. That document was released on 15 January. The consultation is due to close on 11 March this year.

Who at this stage knows when Ministers will be able to tell the House what policy conclusions the Ministers have reached from that consultation? What is clear is that neither the House of Commons nor the House of Lords will have been given a clear steer on which way the Government want to go on how recording labels and artists are paid when their work is broadcast before the passage of this legislation is completed and Royal Assent granted. I gently suggest to the Minister and the hon. Member for Totnes that this is a further example of the scrutiny of this trade treaty being less than optimal.

Given that the issue could have significant consequences for one of the most significant parts of our economy, the creative industries, why did Ministers not at least publish a consultation document in good time and publish their conclusions before the start of the Bill’s passage through the House of Lords?

Ministers have also claimed that the provisions are an integral part of CPTPP. I confess to being a little sceptical about that, despite the Minister’s letter to me after the Second Reading debate in which he again made that claim. Many industry groups certainly do not believe that any of the text in CPTPP requires the Government to make the changes to increase the rights of foreign performers that the Bill provides for. I gently suggest that the truth is that the Intellectual Property Office has convinced Ministers that, putting CPTPP accession to one side, Britain is not currently compliant with the Rome convention for the protection of performers, producers of phonograms and broadcasting organisations and/or the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s performances and phonograms treaty. Again, it would be good to hear the Minister’s assessment of that.

The industry clearly believes that what Ministers want to do, via the clause and the very late associated consultation, would turn down the tap of investment that has supported recently the likes of new British music stars Olivia Dean, Dave, and The Last Dinner Party in launching their careers, in favour of foreign artists such as those who were up for the Grammys at the beginning of this month. Talented winners there were aplenty at the Grammys, but Ministers appear to want to disadvantage our homegrown talent and support their global competitors instead.

As I have alluded to, Ministers have implied that they have to make these changes to be compliant with CPTPP, but it is interesting that there is no reference to CPTPP in the impact assessment that I have here. I am looking at the policy objectives on page 1 that the impact assessment seeks to cover. It seeks to

“ensure UK copyright law is consistent with the requirements of the Rome Convention and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Performances and Phonograms Treaty”,

to

“reduce costs to UK users of foreign music” and to

“increase revenues for the UK creative industries where this can be done without significant costs to UK users or consumers”.

There is no mention at all of compliance with CPTPP. Indeed, the talk in the impact assessment is of US labels and US artists and not CPTPP countries.

On the amendment specifically, which seeks to limit the rights under clause 5 to CPTPP countries, business groups do not believe that any of the text in the CPTPP requires the Government to make such changes to increase the rights of foreign performers that the Bill provides for. The Minister claimed exactly that in his letter, but he added a crucial phrase—“and the performance also meets further eligibility criteria set out in the treaties on performers’ rights”—so it would appear that, in essence, no new rights are granted by the CPTPP. It is just that the Intellectual Property Office and Ministers now believe that the Rome convention, one of those crucial treaties on performance rights, has been implemented wrongly in the UK.

I understand, too, that the European Court has found on a case in Europe that may have some bearing on the attitude of Ministers and the Intellectual Property Office: the so-called RAAP—Recorded Artists, Actors, Performers —decision. Again, however, it would appear odd if the RAAP decision were motivating the change, given that we are no longer in the European Union and that UK courts are now free to deviate from EU law. It will be useful to hear from the Minister the real reason behind the clause.

Let me ask as well, why are we giving all international performers those rights? Malaysia, for example, a member of the CPTPP, has not even signed the Rome convention, which provides for those rights. It would be interesting to know which page or part of CPTPP means that these legal changes have to be to be made. I ask that because when we signed bilateral free trade agreements with Japan and Australia, both of which are signatories to CPTPP and have signed the Rome convention and the WPP treaty, changes such as those set out in clause 5 were not required. Will the Minister state, too, whether any of those changes were asked for by CPTPP countries?

On amendments 6 and 7, it would be helpful to understand whether the Minister accepts that it is unhelpful that the Government’s decision following the consultation will occur only after the passage of the Bill. In his letter to me, the Minister appeared to deny that some of the options in the impact assessment could lead to a £100 million impact on British performers. Others predict a lower impact. One of the options appears to suggest that there would be no impact, but at this stage it is difficult for any member of the Committee to be certain exactly what the impact will be, because the consultation has not been completed and we have no idea how Ministers intend to move forward on the changes.

The Minister is asking all in Committee and indeed those outside the House to take it on considerable trust that the Government will consider their views properly and make the right decisions on behalf of the British music industry and all those new potential artists that might emerge in the shadow of the Stormzys and the Dua Lipas, and be central to the UK creative industry going forward. Amendments 5 and 6 are probing amendments. Amendment 7 might be a probing amendment, but I think it could be reasonable to delay the implementation of this particular part of the Bill in order that we may understand fully the direction that Ministers want to take once the consultation has been completed.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

I turn to amendments 5 to 7 to the provisions on performers’ rights. As we have heard, the amendments would do several things. I will deal them in turn, but I first reiterate the purpose and necessity of clause 5. The intellectual property chapter of CPTPP sets the minimum standards of protection that parties must provide in their law and specifies who they must extend the protections to. The requirements are not unique to CPTPP: they are based on the standards in multilateral treaties on copyright and performers’ rights. UK law already exceeds the minimum standards of CPTPP and generally makes rights available to foreign nationals. However, the basis on which performers qualify for rights in UK law is not fully consistent with CPTPP or some of the treaties on which the IP chapter of CPTPP builds. The measures in the Bill, along with the secondary legislation that will be laid at the end of this month, will fix that. They will ensure that every creator who is entitled to rights in CPTPP will enjoy them in UK law. That is a necessary part of our accession to CPTPP.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

The Minister says that our rights are not compliant with the Rome treaty. However, that treaty has been in place for more than 40 years, and there has never been any suggestion until now that we as a country are not compliant with the rules set out in it. Why are we now suddenly not compliant?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

The reasons are that the Bill implements some of the provisions in CPTPP. For example, clause 5 implements articles 18.8 and 18.62 of CPTPP. The provisions require parties to provide the rights in CPTPP to performers if they are a national of another CPTPP party and the performance meets further eligibility criteria set out in the treaties on performers’ rights or is first published or recorded in another CPTPP party, regardless of whether the performer is a national of a CPTPP party. This is all about being able to accede to CPTPP. Existing UK law does not provide for all the eligibility criteria in the treaties on performers’ rights and does not take account of where a performance is published.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

Let me finish. This is about ensuring that our regime is aligned and consistent with CPTPP—the international treaty to which we are acceding. The Bill amends UK law to implement the additional criteria. I think the hon. Gentleman is going to ask if the Government can confirm that they are making only the changes necessary for the UK to comply with CPTPP. The UK’s accession to CPTPP requires that we expand the criteria by which foreign performers can qualify for rights in UK law, and that is what the Bill does. The changes in the Bill will also apply to performers from other countries that are a party to a relevant treaty on performers’ rights for consistency with the UK’s obligations under those treaties.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

I draw the Minister back to the impact assessment, which makes no mention of CPTPP. All the talk in the impact assessment that came out with the consultation document is of US performers and businesses. If the consultation is so much required by clause 5 and our accession to CPTPP, one would surely expect the impact assessment to make some reference to artists and their rights from CPTPP countries, but it does not: it references just US performers.

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. He raises a good point, but if I am not mistaken he is referring to the IPO consultation, rather than the CPTPP consultation. The IPO consultation was already planned and is not directly or exclusively about our accession to CPTPP. The IPO consultation is fundamentally different from the CPTPP accession process, although they treat of a similar issue. He asked whether the amendments were asked for by CPTPP parties. The answer is no—they are necessary for the UK to join CPTPP. One of the most important things to understand in reference to CPTPP is that it is a pre-existing agreement; it is not negotiating new text. This needs to be done for the UK to join CPTPP.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Exports)

For the sake of clarity, can the Minister confirm 100% whether the changes to the UK’s copyright provisions contained in the Bill were requested by any individual member of CPTPP or the secretariat during the negotiations?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade) 3:15, 20 February 2024

The hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding how the process works. The comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership is an existing treaty, signed in 2018. The UK is acceding to the existing text. Nobody would be sitting down with us negotiating whether we might do something or not do something, because we are acceding to a pre-existing text. It would not necessarily have been appropriate for all 11 of the CPTPP parties to sit down at negotiations saying, “Are you agreeing to this? Are you not agreeing to this?” We are agreeing to accede to the deal as it stands. UK law already exceeds the minimum standards in CPTPP, and generally makes rights available to foreign nationals. This is a necessary part of our accession to CPTPP.

Amendment 5 would limit the application of some parts of clause 5 only to CPTPP parties. It would mean ceasing to provide protection to some other foreign performers. This would conflict with the requirements of those treaties on performers’ rights I have already mentioned, and would put the UK in breach of its international obligations. The Government therefore cannot support amendment 5, as it would put the UK in breach of our international obligations.

Amendment 6 would delay the amendments that this Bill makes to existing powers in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Those existing powers allow the making of secondary legislation to extend or restrict the protections to particular countries—for example, to restrict the rights extended to a country that fails to provide equivalent protection to British performers. The amendments that the Government are making to this power are merely about ensuring that its scope is not inadvertently eroded by the other changes in clause 5 —that the power can continue to be exercised to the same effect as under the status quo. It is not about introducing new powers.

Under clause 7, the amendments to that power take effect as soon as the Bill comes into force. That is the commencement clause of the CPTPP Bill and ensures that the power can be used in preparation for the other provisions of clause 5 coming into effect, avoiding the unnecessary disruption that might otherwise arise if we could only modify the impacts of the Bill after it had already taken effect. It effectively prevents there being, shall we say, a two-stage process in terms of how we ensure that we are compliant.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Exports)

Can the Minister confirm how the Government are considering the Intellectual Property Office consultation on the right to be paid from broad-casting and public playing of music, which is not due to close until March? Will that allow sufficient time for the Government to adapt the IP provisions in this Bill to ensure that there is a positive impact on Britain’s creative industries?

Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Party Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)

We are all looking for a positive impact on Britain’s creative industries. It is one of our key asks, and one of the key things that we market abroad as a whole Government, ensuring that our creative industries get marketed well—especially in CPTPP countries. The fast-growing markets of the Asia-Pacific and the Pacific rim are exactly the sort of places we want to reach. I will come on to describe in a moment the interaction with the IPO consultation and where that might take the provisions we are talking about today.

I return to amendment 6, which would prevent the avoidance of unnecessary disruption and the multi-stage process that I was talking about. It would make disruptive, successive changes to the law on this area much more likely. It would introduce risks to the creative industries, which we all wish to support. I am sure the Opposition would not wish to do anything that created additional risks to the creative industries and to consumers, with no upside.

Amendment 7 would apply even more widely. It would delay the commencement of all the performers’ rights provisions until

“twelve months after the day on which this Bill is passed.”

We cannot accede to CPTPP until our law meets its requirements. That requires that we make the changes in the Bill. Delaying those measures means delaying our accession and delaying its benefits to UK businesses, including in the creative industry sectors, and to consumers.

For the reasons that I have set out, the Government cannot support the amendments. However, I understand that they reflect concerns about the scope of clause 5 and the possible impact on creative industries. Although we must make these changes, there is a possibility of modifying the impact of the Bill in one important area: the right of performers to be paid royalties when their performances are broadcast or played in public. I understand that that issue has been of most concern to some in the creative sectors. For that right and the equivalent right for producers of sound recordings, we have some flexibility under CPTPP and other treaties to modify our approach. Powers in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 will allow us to do so through secondary legislation.

As has been mentioned, the Intellectual Property Office is consulting publicly on the question of how we provide those rights to foreign nationals. The consultation is ongoing until 11 March, and we aim to implement its outcome in parallel with the Bill coming into effect. The consultation process will ensure that there is sufficient opportunity for stakeholders to consider, prepare for and influence the outcome in that area.

There is no benefit to delaying the changes to the law, as the amendments seek to do; as I have set out, there are clear risks in doing so. I hope I have made it clear why we cannot support the amendments, which are unnecessary and in some cases damaging. I ask the hon. Member for Harrow West to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. As I indicated, amendments 5 and 6 are probing amendments reflecting the concerns in the industry; I am grateful to hear that he recognises them.

On amendment 7, I struggle to be entirely convinced that a slight delay so that we could understand the results of the IPO consultation and the policy direction that will flow from it would frustrate the whole CPTPP accession process. I will not press amendment 7 to a vote for now, but we will certainly return to the matter on Report.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw amendment 5.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 to 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.