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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:38 pm on 17th April 2018.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage) 3:38 pm, 17th April 2018

And if you believe that, Mr Bone, you are an impartial Chair at all times. I completely accept that.

I also voted against triggering article 50, partly because of the huge challenges it presents to our creative industries. Just recently I met with a major broadcaster which, because of the loss of the status of licensing across the European Union single market, is moving 700 jobs out of the UK, to Amsterdam, Luxembourg or Dublin. It has already decided to do that because it needs to be sure that if it is licensed in one country it is licensed right across the European Union.

Since 2007, according to the Government’s own figures in an answer from the Minister, the creative industries sector has received something in the realm of £190 million in European Union funding from the European regional development fund alone, most of which has been spent in the nations and regions of the UK, including about £60 million in Yorkshire. That is much more redistributive spending on the creative industries and the arts sector that we often find from other sources of funding. Local authorities have suffered huge disproportionate cuts in the arts and in tourism. In tourism, the biggest cuts have been in local authorities, with more than 50% of cuts in tourism employees since 2009 being in local authorities. That is a huge issue.

My critique of the Government is that their recently announced sector deal for the creative industries is insufficient. They claim that it amounted to a £150-million package, but only £25 million or so is not money that has previously been announced. That is not the scale of ambition required. Also, announcements have been made recently about continuing with funding in relation to the music and dance scheme, the dance and drama awards, cultural programmes and so on, but none of that money is genuinely new either—it is just a continuation of what is already happening. The Government need to step up with greater ambition, along the lines of the Bazalgette report that was released last year. They need to do more on the workforce, on free movement, on skills and on freelancers. Lots of people working in the creative industries are freelancers; how about getting hold of the Bill that has been introduced by my hon. Friend Tracy Brabin to give freelancers shared parental leave? That is a great campaign. The Government have said that they are reviewing that, and I urge the Minister to think more about it and talk with his colleagues, in order to make it a reality. The Government could do more by having a cultural capital fund, as the Labour party promised in our manifesto. They could do lots more on all those sorts of issues.

On tourism, I will obviously say that Cardiff is the most beautiful part of the country and encourage right hon. and hon. Members to visit but, on a serious note, I have been travelling around the country to different tourist locations to talk to the industry about Brexit and the issues faced. The industry was unanimous in that devaluation is not the way forward as a policy on tourism. Britain will not become the most successful tourism sector it can be simply by relying on devaluing the pound and going for a cheap offer. We must ensure we have quality, and that includes investment in skills, in our cultural heritage and in the workforce.

It is also about time to look again at the idea of social tourism, which was so interestingly and ably promoted by an all-party parliamentary group back in 2011. Its report, called “Giving Britain a break: inquiry into the social and economic benefits of social tourism”, was about ensuring that we use up the spare capacity in our domestic tourism industry to help those families who most need a break. It would be good to see the Government introduce a social element to their tourism policy, to ensure that families really benefit and our tourism industry benefits from being able to use up its spare capacity.

I do not want to take up much more time, because time is pressing. If we are going down this road to Brexit, a road that many of us in this particular debate do not seem to have supported, we must ensure that the Government show a great deal more ambition in relation to our creative industries and tourism sectors.