It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Bone. I congratulate Christine Jardine on securing this debate. It is also a pleasure to follow such a passionate speech from my fellow musician, Pete Wishart. It is unusual for us both to be on the same stage as we have been exchanging places in MP4 recently.
The United Kingdom is a powerhouse when it comes to the creative industries and tourism; we punch far above our weight and we lead the world with some of the most innovative and advanced thinking that is out there in the creative sector. In 2016 the creative industries contributed a staggering £91.8 billion to the UK economy. The sector grew by 7.5% compared with growth of 3.5% for the UK economy as a whole. The sector provides for 6% of all UK jobs, and the total employment in the creative economy is around 3 million people. That includes around 76,000 jobs in Scotland and rising, contributing more than £4.5 billion to the Scottish economy. We in Scotland are proud to be a major contributor towards those figures.
Scotland saw the fastest growth in creative industries employment of all nations in the UK from 2015 to 2016, at about 13%. That is almost three times as high as in England, and more than England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. A report commissioned for Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in 2014 found that the creative industries in the north-east of Scotland, where my constituency of Banff and Buchan is located, employ around 6,000 people in more than 1,500 businesses. In the north-east of Scotland alone the sector generated annual revenues in excess of £600 million. The hon. Member for Edinburgh West has called this debate to discuss the future of our creative industries and tourism after the UK leaves the EU. I agree that there are challenges to overcome.
The creative industries rely on cross-border working, and many people in those industries travel regularly for work in the EU, just as European citizens come here. We know that around 7% of people working in the creative sector are non-UK EU nationals, roughly in line with the average across all industries, but a significant number none the less. I ask the Government to keep the needs of this industry in mind when designing a future immigration system, whether that be the needs of the creative industry, tourism, hospitality or indeed those of the fishing and fish processing sectors and food and drink in general, which I have spoken up for in this place on several occasions.
So far I have talked mostly about the creative industries, but I also want to talk about tourism. For those who have not visited—I highly recommend that they do—my constituency of Banff and Buchan has 48 miles of stunning Scottish coastline, with one particular stretch, between Portsoy and Pennan, having been voted as one of the top 20 most iconic coastlines in the world. That stretch of coastline is interesting. My right hon. Friend Mr Vaizey talked extensively about the film industry. Portsoy was the site for the recent remake of the film “Whisky Galore!” and the old 17th-century harbour was almost a character in itself. Going back to the ’80s, “Local Hero”, a movie with Burt Lancaster, was set in Pennan. That goes to show how dramatic the coastline between those two villages is.
Also worth a special mention is the famous Aberdeenshire castle trail, which runs through my constituency via Duff House, Delgatie Castle and Fyvie Castle, among all the others across the north-east of Scotland. Banff and Buchan is also home to excellent heritage museums that highlight our traditional industries of fishing and farming. I should note that those museums show a living history, because those industries are far from dead in Banff and Buchan.
Golf is a popular pastime across Scotland—across the world, in fact—but Fraserburgh in my constituency has the seventh oldest, still operating, golf course in the world. National Geographic referred to the Banff and Buchan coast as
“one of the world’s outstanding coastlines”.
The local tourism board markets the area as “Scotland’s dolphin coast.” It is home to around 130 bottlenose dolphins, as well as 15 other species of cetaceans, including minke whales in the summer and autumn months. On a recent visit to Portsoy I saw someone with a telescope looking out to sea. I thought they were looking at dolphins, but it turned out they were looking for a bird that I had never heard of: the white-billed diver, which apparently comes south of Norway only very rarely. Portsoy is one of the few places south of Norway where that bird can be seen.
I very much hope that we can use Brexit as an opportunity to grow the industry and attract more visitors to our stunning shores. One example of this opportunity can be found in VAT rules. European VAT law currently limits the discretion of member states, including the UK before our exit, to set lower rates of VAT on some goods and services. That means we are limited in our ability to reduce so-called tourism tax below the current 20%. After we leave the EU, the Government will have the opportunity to reduce tourism VAT and make the UK an even more attractive destination for foreign visitors. I hope that they will consider seizing this opportunity and use Brexit as a springboard for our tourism industry.