Leaving the EU: Tourism and the Creative Industries — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:45 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Conservative, Wantage 2:45 pm, 17th April 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. When I was the Minister, I was struck by how regionally diverse the creative industries were, particularly the video games industry. There are companies engaged in that pursuit in Leamington Spa, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. It is a challenge. Sometimes it is straightforward economics: people want to base themselves in London to have access to the widest possible range of services, but it is incumbent on us—I am sure the Minister will respond to this—to recognise the diversity and talent in our regions. The recent merger of Tech North with Tech City UK has created a UK-wide tech quango, which is focused on highlighting tech success stories across the country. Different parts of the country have different specialisms in tech—I am moving slightly away from the creative industries.

Graham Stringer makes a valuable point, and the same criticism is often levelled at cultural funding. I am chairman of Creative Fuse North East, a project led by Newcastle University, which analyses the symbiosis between tech and culture. It is important to remember that culture is often a generator for success in the creative industries, so we must maintain a strong focus on investing in culture outside London. I am glad that the Arts Council has made great strides in doing that in recent years. We are very successful, and the creatives industries are now high on the policy agenda. I should give credit to the Creative Industries Federation, which was created two or three years ago to lobby on their behalf.

Tourism is a hugely important industry—the fourth or fifth most important in our country—that depends to a great extent on culture and heritage. By investing in and supporting culture and heritage, the Government support our tourism industry. We launched the tourism strategy in 2010, when the then Prime Minister gave a speech supporting tourism. One of my great bugbears is that far too few Prime Ministers—that is, none—ever make speeches about the arts. I hope that the Minister will continue to press the case to our Prime Minister that she should give a speech about the importance of culture and the arts in this country.

Despite the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton trying to cheer me up, I am thoroughly depressed about Brexit. The small silver lining, which is worth recalling, is that our biggest export partner outside the EU is the USA, with whom we do not have a trade deal. A lot of that export investment depends on the creative industries, such as the film industry and the video games industry. Many of those creative industries are global service industries that will not necessarily be hugely affected by Brexit, such as advertising, architecture and publishing, where we lead the world. It is incumbent on us—including depressed remainers—to continue to beat the drum for the global success of the UK’s creative industries.