It is a great pleasure to appear under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I congratulate Christine Jardine on securing this important debate. Let me begin by echoing what she said about the Edinburgh International Festival: it is indeed the world’s largest festival of its kind, and the oldest. It is incumbent on us to remember that it was started just after the war, at a time of austerity. It is worth recalling that throughout our recent history we have invested in the arts, even at the most difficult times.
This debate gives us the opportunity to put on record how important the creative industries are to the whole of the UK economy and to raise issues as we approach Brexit. Much as I would love to reverse Brexit, I am not sure that I can agree with the hon. Lady that that is a likely outcome. We sad remainers are now focused—I certainly am—on making the best we can of a very unfortunate situation.
As a former Minister with responsibility for the creative industries, may I take this opportunity to welcome the current Minister to his position? I think that this is the first debate I have taken part in where he has been in his role. I can tell him privately, because I know that no one watches proceedings in Parliament, that he is already extremely popular because of how he has hit the ground running. It has been a great pleasure to me to see the importance of the creative industries rise up the policy agenda.
The creative industries were, in effect, put together by Chris Smith in 1997 when he became the Culture Secretary. He was the first to define what is quite a disparate sector, ranging from architecture to fashion, television and film, and to start to show the huge impact it has on every aspect of our lives. I am glad that under the previous Government we made great strides in supporting the creative industries. Some of that was basic policy infrastructure, such as the creation of the Creative Industries Council, which brought together the Departments responsible for business and for culture with the creative industries to looks at policies. I am very pleased to say that it has been carried on by the current Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with the publication of an industrial strategy for the creative industries.
The introduction of tax breaks for many of the creative industries has had a huge impact on their contribution to the economy. I was struck by statistical analysis showing that the service economy contributed the most to our economic growth in a recent quarter—I cannot remember which quarter it was, but it was two or three quarters ago—and that the second biggest contributor from the service economy was the film industry. The film tax break now sees something like £1 billion of investment coming into the UK.
It was always my mission—I am glad to say that I succeeded, although I did not meet too much resistance—to persuade the then Prime Minister and the then Chancellor to visit a film set occasionally as well as a factory. That recorded the fact that film sets often contribute a significant amount to our economy. We have seen studios and employment grow, and that tax break ecology has now been extended to video games, visual effects and animation, as well as the arts, through theatres, orchestras and exhibitions. It has made a real impact.
I was privileged recently to attend the opening of a new animation company in London, Locksmith Animation, which has been started by two distinguished people from the film industry, Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart. Using the latest technology, the company has the potential to rival Pixar. No one can be in any doubt about the contribution of the creative industries to our economy.