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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:17 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn 3:17 pm, 17th April 2018

That is an extremely important point. What do we want to see on our television screens: low-budget foreign television productions or the high-quality drama and film productions we currently enjoy in this country? My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West will know that Wales has become a hub for BBC drama productions and for film, just as Scotland has—and Northern Ireland, with “Game of Thrones”. There is a real concern that we are almost gutting the industry.

There is also a knock-on effect. Music tours and festivals have a huge impact on larger companies but also on cafés, bars, hotels and other hospitality industries, and they attract huge crowds. We seem to be cutting our legs from under us. If limits are imposed, local enterprises will suffer. The Government need to ensure that there are either exemptions or sufficient structures in place to ensure continued employment and career growth for British and European workers in the entertainment and creative industries. The Government’s recent report on the creative industries gave absolutely no information on their plans for the sector’s future. The sector often has to plan out its projects far in advance, so it needs assurances now that its projects and workforces will not be hindered by our leaving the European Union.

There should be no doubt: there is a lot of money in the creative industries. Netflix and Amazon are competing for the same space; it is a great time for the industry. We must realise how important the creative industries are. Performing and visual arts, and film, TV and video are second and third respectively only to the IT, software and computer services sector. In 2015 those two sectors combined employed 517,000 people—20% of the entire creative industry workforce—and their economic outputs amounted to £24.4 billion, or 28% of the entire output. We cannot pretend that Brexit will not affect that. Many of those projects rely on freedom of movement. The Government should bring clarity to that.

I intervened earlier on the hon. Member for Edinburgh West. The Minister and I will probably bump into each other in the hallway tomorrow, as we are neighbours, and perhaps I can discuss the matter with him then. I would like the Government, if they take the creative industries seriously, to make two announcements. As I explained earlier, I would like officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to be seconded to the Department for Exiting the European Union. I would also like the Culture Secretary to set up a Cabinet working group on Brexit, given the importance of the creative industries to the economy. Outside Parliament, I would like representatives of the creative workforce to be on the Creative Industries Council, which is currently chaired by John McVay of Pact. No creative trade unions are on it. I would like Equity, the Musicians Union and other creative industries unions to be invited on to it. The issue is too important. We are now perhaps 18 months away from Brexit. As in other areas, there is a need for certainty, and I look to the Minister to provide it.