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Economy and Society: Contribution of Music

High Speed 1: Rolling Stock – in Westminster Hall at 11:28 am on 21st January 2020.

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[Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North 2:33 pm, 21st January 2020

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the contribution of music to the economy and society.

It is a pleasure to see you in your place, Sir Roger—an unexpected pleasure, but a pleasure none the less. I am delighted, as secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on music, to introduce this important debate. It is good to see so many colleagues from across the House and so many different parts of the country here to support it.

I think we all know that the music industry makes a huge contribution not just to our economy but to the lives of millions of people and our communities every day. It is thanks largely to UK Music that we in this House are so aware of the many issues facing the industry.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Labour, Barnsley East

May I take this opportunity to congratulate the outgoing chief executive of UK Music, my predecessor Michael Dugher, on putting a big focus on this issue? My constituency, which he represented before me, has the fantastic Grimethorpe Colliery band and a world-famous youth choir. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important that we tap into the talent of kids from working-class areas across the country and get them involved in music?

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

Absolutely. I share my hon. Friend’s ambition to do that, as well as her warm words for her predecessor. Like him, she certainly was not backward in coming forward to intervene so early in my speech.

UK Music’s new report, “Music By Numbers”, represents the most comprehensive set of data and research ever gathered on the state of the music industry. It reveals that the music industry is worth a staggering £5 billion to the economy and employs almost 200,000 people. According to the report, sectors such as live music grew by 10% in 2018, and live music alone is now worth a record £1 billion.

Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull

The hon. Gentleman is making a very good speech on this important topic. I am almost certain that he has read the report the Select Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published in the 2017-19 Parliament. Does he agree that although live music may seem healthy on the surface, there are still serious issues there, and does he agree with that report that we should look at business rates for live music venues and at concerns about rip-off secondary ticketing?

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

I agree entirely, and I think we will find agreement on that across the Chamber.

Photo of Mark Tami Mark Tami Opposition Pairing Whip (Commons)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important that we protect the music venues we still have? There are still far too many of them closing. Let me mention the Tivoli in Buckley, which is famous, particularly for a sad old punk like me who has seen bands such as Stiff Little Fingers and Public Image Ltd there. It is good that we can still go and see such bands, but venues of that type are sometimes threatened by planning law, particularly where housing is built directly behind them or beside them and there are complaints about opening hours and so on. Ultimately, that can kill those venues.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

I agree entirely. I will come to the points made by both my right hon. Friend and Julian Knight in more detail later in my speech.

There has been an incredible 10% increase in the number of overseas visitors coming to the UK for shows and festivals, with nearly 900,000 people visiting these shores just for live music events in 2018. Live music is at a record high and continues to draw millions of fans from both Britain and abroad to our arenas and smaller venues alike. “Music By Numbers” identified that music exports are another amazing success story, generating revenues of £2.7 billion, with the best of British creative talent being showcased across the globe.

There is something unique about Britain and its ability to create a globally successful music industry that is envied across the world. Ed Sheeran is the biggest selling touring artist in the world, with the “÷” tour now officially the highest grossing tour of all time. Billboard magazine recently revealed that the O2 Arena in London was the most successful music venue in the world over the past decade, with the Manchester Arena also in the top five. The Theatre Royal in St Helens is slightly further down the list but none the less a critical component of our local live music scene.

In nine of the last 15 years, the biggest selling album in the world has been from a UK artist. Lewis Capaldi recently reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. In 2019 we also saw fantastic debut albums from AJ Tracey, Dave, Mabel, Sam Fender and Tom Walker. We continue to be a world leader in all genres, from jazz and folk to grime. We are home to studios that record sensational box office film scores and soundtracks, as well as to many of the most accomplished orchestras in the world.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Labour, Stretford and Urmston

Does my hon. Friend agree that in-depth classical music training underpins many of the more popular genres as well, including film music and musicals, which are huge earners for the UK economy?

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

I agree entirely. It is that diversity and depth that gives UK music its strength.

It is clear that music in the UK punches well above its weight economically, but that is only part of the picture. Music’s value is not purely financial; its social value must not be ignored. Music can have a profound effect on health and wellbeing. Charities such as Nordoff Robbins do fantastic work in bringing high quality music therapy to as many people as possible.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

I will, and I will then make some progress, because many people want to speak and I want to give them that opportunity.

Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

I thank my hon. Friend for securing this debate and making an excellent speech. On mental health, does he not agree that small venues, such as Brudenell Social Club in my constituency, are a great outlet for people’s mental health, as well as being community resources right across the piece for acting and a whole range of arts? It is not just about music; small venues provide a gamut of benefits to society.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

Absolutely, they are the very definition of holistic therapy. Nordoff Robbins has worked with over 10,000 vulnerable people, holding 37,000 music therapy sessions in 15 different places across the country, and 90% of those who had music therapy last year were clear that it improved their quality of life.

According to a report by the all-party parliamentary group on arts, health and wellbeing, music therapy reduced agitation and the need for medication for 67% of people with dementia. We can all think of many fantastic examples in our constituencies of groups who use music in working with people with dementia.

In Labour’s recent charter for the arts, my party noted the important role of the arts in mental health and wellbeing. I am sure that my hon. Friend Kevin Brennan will speak more about that from the Front Bench. All the evidence suggests that children who are engaged in education through music, or similarly through other subjects such as drama and sport, do better at core subjects such as maths and English. Music can help give young people confidence and creative release. It teaches teamwork and problem-solving skills, and it is often the reason why a child wants to go to school in the first place.

The contribution of the music industry is not just a fantastic national story. The data in UK Music’s report show the tremendous contribution it makes in every town and city across the UK. Merseyside is, of course, synonymous with world-leading British music, and I do not just mean Liverpool. In St Helens, we have a number of excellent local studios that encourage young musicians to nurture and develop their creative talents, such as Jamm, Elusive and Catalyst. Sadly, the Citadel, one of the first music halls in the country, recently closed its doors, but remarkably it has already reinvented itself as an excellent arts provider, using its strong brand to maintain contact and access for people who want to get involved in music and the arts. The Theatre Royal, as I mentioned, as well as other venues, host live music weekly.

St Helens is also the birthplace of: Sir Thomas Beecham, one of the country’s greatest conductors, known for his association with the London Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic orchestras; the Beautiful South’s vocalist Jacqui Abbott; and Budgie, the drummer with Siouxsie and the Banshees. It is also importantly home to the Lancashire Hotpots. Of course, Rick Astley is from Newton-le-Willows, where I live. I commend him on playing a fantastic gig in his home town last year at Haydock Park racecourse and I commend the Jockey Club on its fantastic initiative, using its venues to promote music alongside horse-racing.

Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

May I put on record my appreciation of Ealing, which may be little known as a big centre for music, in a heritage way as well? The Who met in Ealing and the Rolling Stones first played there. More recently, we have had Naughty Boy. Does my hon. Friend share the concern of some current musicians that, with Brexit, live touring is in doubt? Any free trade agreement should prioritise that.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North

I do, and I will come to that in my closing remarks.

I could say much more about music in my constituency—I am keen to talk about it to anyone who wants to listen to me—but I want to let other colleagues in, so I will move on, but, before I do so, I want to mention our strong brass band tradition. I am proud to be the vice-president of Haydock Brass Band. We have Rainford Band and Valley Brass. We also have the fantastic St Helens Youth Band, which is nurturing the next generation of talent, and the amazing all-female Trinity Girls Brass Band. They are all national award winners. We also have a fantastic male voice choir in Haydock, which has recently won a national competition.

The St Helens music education hub, led by the local council and supported by the Arts Council, is supporting opportunities for schoolchildren to be introduced to music, but it needs more funding and support.

It is clear that music makes a huge contribution, both economically and socially, in our local communities. What do we need to do to ensure that it continues to flourish in the challenging years ahead? I will briefly highlight some areas that the Government need to focus on during this Parliament as part of an integrated strategy for music.

First, grassroots music venues remain vital to both artists and audiences, but they are still, as has been mentioned, closing at an alarming rate. We must continue to monitor that and respond accordingly. My right hon. Friend John Spellar, working in collaboration with the Government, did a tremendous job to ensure that planning laws were amended to integrate the agent of change principle to protect music venues from closure.

[Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Challenges still exist on business rates. I welcome the commitment in the Queen’s Speech to ensuring that music venues benefit from rate relief, but when precisely will that come into effect? Will the Government commit to more frequent business rate revaluations to guarantee that huge hikes in rates do not occur again?

Secondly, copyright provides the framework of growth for music. New protections for creators are coming in the form of a copyright directive that will enable fairer payment to musicians from services such as Google’s YouTube, but our expected departure from the EU may mean we cannot implement the directive after all. Will the Government outline their plans to implement the spirit of the copyright directive and other legislation? The deputy chief executive of UK Music, Tom Kiehl, recently wrote to the Prime Minister. Will the Minister let us know when he can expect a reply?

Thirdly, despite music’s success, there remain significant challenges to our talent pipeline. It is fair to say that we face a crisis in music education, which underlines the threat to our ability to develop future talent. Arts funding in St Helens, which includes music, is down by a quarter since 2013. One of the most working-class areas in the country, which has a proud tradition of music, has seen its funding diminish. Over the past five years, the number of people studying A-level music has declined by 30%. We know that social divides are leading to inequality of opportunity, so will the Government work with schemes such as UK Music’s rehearsal spaces network to increase the provision of music in areas like St Helens? The Government’s commitment to an arts premium might present benefits, but when does the Minister expect to come to the House to provide more detail on what that will entail? Can we see progress on the new national plan for music education?

Fourthly, we know about the importance of music exports: the Government currently support the music export growth scheme, and the international showcase fund contributes to that. What plans are there to ensure that funding remains for those vital schemes?

Fifthly, the music industry relies on workforce that is heavily self-employed—about 72%. What plans do the Government have to make it easier for self-employed people to participate in shared parental leave, given their current disqualification and the benefits to overall diversity in allowing them to participate? I pay particular tribute to my friend Olga FitzRoy for her work on that.

Fiscal incentives such as tax credits have produced huge benefits for other creative sectors, but currently music does not benefit from the same mechanism as film, TV and video games. Will the Minister commit to working with the Treasury to see whether similar support can be made available?

Finally, Brexit and the loss of freedom of movement, in both people and goods, could have a profoundly negative impact on the live music touring experience. Will the Government work towards a passporting arrangement, so that there is a reciprocal system and musicians can continue to perform with minimum disruption post-Brexit? Will they work with EU member states to ensure that the imposition of a carnet system on music equipment does not cause delays to gigs?

In closing, I pay tribute to UK Music, the umbrella body for the commercial music industry. Its chief executive, Michael Dugher, formerly of this parish, will soon be moving on to new pastures. On behalf of everyone in this place who takes an interest in music, I pay great tribute to the tremendous work he has done and the way in which he has led his organisation to aid our understanding.

I applaud the work of UK Music’s chairman, Andy Heath. Andy has been at the helm of UK Music since its inception and has held together the interests of its members. When I look at the unity of purpose within UK Music, in a very diverse sector, and then look at other sectors that do not have that, I see how his formidable leadership has brought people together.

PRS for Music is led by the excellent, recently-appointed Andrea Martin, alongside long-standing chairman, Nigel Elderton. I have a special award for John Mottram who does a lot liaising with Members of this House to promote music.

PPL is led by the superb chief executive Peter Leathem, who, like me, is of good Armagh stock. I applaud the other UK Music members—the Association of Independent Music, the British Phonographic Industry, the Featured Artists Coalition, the Ivors Academy, the Music Managers Forum, the Music Publishers Association, the Music Producers Guild and the UK Live Music Group. They have worked together with great tact and diplomacy, and influenced this House. I especially thank Horace Trubridge and the Musicians’ Union. He is held in high esteem in the trade union movement and the music industry, delivers much for the union’s members and plays a hugely constructive role.

The day before the Prime Minister took office in July, the outgoing Administration produced a disappointing response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s excellent report into live music. The response failed to grasp the true ambition and potential of our music industry, or to adopt some reasonable and sensible recommendations made by the Committee. This debate presents an opportunity for the new Government. I welcome the Minister, who is returning to his place; I know how much he is personally invested in the subject and pay tribute to him for it.

The new Government can start afresh and set out a new and exciting strategy for how they see the music industry contributing to our lives. I look forward to hearing the rest of the debate, and I welcome the support of other Members in this aim.

Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden

I apologise to all right hon. and hon. Members for my late arrival. In spite of that, the debate is well supported, meaning we will need contributions of four minutes; I apologise for that.

Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome 2:52 pm, 21st January 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McDonagh, and to have another opportunity to talk on a subject that is close to my heart.

I thank Conor McGinn for securing this debate and for his record of championing the interests of music and musicians in this place. I echo his tribute to the outgoing chief executive of UK Music, Michael Dugher, for all his fantastic work during his tenure. I know that wherever he goes in the future, he will continue to be a passionate and important advocate for music and the creative sector.

As we leave the European Union, and with the majority Government we have now, we find ourselves at a crossroads. The direction that we choose to take will have enormous ramifications across almost every aspect of Government policy. As UK Music pointed out in its post-election letter to the Prime Minister, that is particularly true in respect of the future of the music industry.

Before turning to policy specifics, it is worth talking about something more fundamental: music education. As chair of the all-party parliamentary group on music and vice chair of the all-party parliamentary group on music education, and as a former—not very good—music teacher, I have spoken on this topic on a number of occasions; I apologise to anyone who has been unfortunate enough to hear me before. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister spoke about smoothing out regional disparities and levelling up the parts of the UK that have felt neglected under successive Governments. In the case of music education there is a similar disparity that needs levelling up.

Around 50% of students in independent schools receive music tuition, compared to just 15% in state schools. According to last year’s “State of the nation” report, there has been a fall of 6.4% of curriculum time dedicated to music between 2010 and 2017. Last year’s Department for Education workforce data showed a drop in the music teacher workforce at key stage 3 of an enormous 26%. This is not the place for a debate about the school curriculum, but I restate my keenness for the Government to re-examine the possibility of adding a sixth pillar to the EBacc. As I have said before, a core curriculum that excludes the arts is an oxymoron.

Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe

Does my hon. Friend agree that there have been some fantastic examples of regional success? Feversham Primary Academy in Bradford, which the Select Committee looked at, has transformed its curriculum and put music at the heart of everything it does, and has seen a dramatic improvement in the school’s results

Photo of David Warburton David Warburton Conservative, Somerton and Frome

Absolutely; my hon. Friend is entirely right. There is some superb work going on around the country, particularly with music hubs, although it can vary from one place to another. The music hubs alone have enabled more than 700,000 children from state-funded schools to learn a musical instrument.

Many challenges faced by the music industry are also a demonstration of its enormous success. As we have heard, the “Music By Numbers” report shows a record £5.2 billion contribution to the UK economy last year, and record employment within the industry, with nearly 200,000 people directly employed in the music sector. It is a further tribute to both the resilience and the success of our music industry that we saw a 10% increase in overseas visitors to UK shows and festivals last year. When Parliament was mired in the Brexit mud, many of us enjoyed the mud at Glastonbury, some of the car parks and the furthest, most distant and inaccessible fields of which are in my constituency.

As this Government give definition to Brexit, it is worth remembering how much we ought to keep from our membership of the European Union. In a previous life, my company used to provide the global mobile content for Napster, Kazaa and many others. The explosion of streaming means that music has become even more commoditised, with almost all recorded music instantly available, but with platforms, such as YouTube, coughing up almost homeopathic amounts to artists and composers.

With little time left, I will talk to the motion and emphasise why music is so valuable for society, not just in economic but in absolute terms. For several years I worked as a music teacher at a rather gritty comprehensive school in London. I have seen at first hand the transformational effect that music can have, particularly on the outlook of the most profoundly disadvantaged and disengaged students.

As hon. Members will know, Goethe memorably described architecture as “frozen music”. Without wanting to be grandiose, music can act as “liquid architecture”, providing the structure and creative discipline that is enhanced, rather than compromised, by the joys of aesthetic satisfaction.

Photo of Kate Green Kate Green Labour, Stretford and Urmston 2:57 pm, 21st January 2020

I am proud of Manchester’s great musical tradition, which includes our world-class orchestras, the Hallé, the Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic—whose guests are seen at concerts on a number of occasions—and our superb music institutions, Chetham’s School of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music. As we have heard, they make a great social, economic and cultural contribution, not just to Greater Manchester and our region but nationally and around the world.

There is a massive payback on the investment that we make into the music sector, but funding is a real problem, especially for regional orchestras and musicians. What more can the Minister do to work with the Treasury to encourage and support regional philanthropy, including through possible fiscal measures? I also make the case for sustainable and secure public funding. That will soon be a particular issue for the BBC Philharmonic, as consideration is given to the future of the licence fee.

Our music institutions have all highlighted to me the importance of developing a pipeline of talent. Our great orchestras, college, music school and music services have adopted a partnership approach. I pay particular tribute to the Trafford music service, led by the amazing Ruth O’Keefe, which is part of the Greater Manchester music hub and gives many children in Trafford the opportunity to develop their musical potential.

As I have said, developing talent to its full potential through classical and intensive training is important, not just to the classical music sector; those musicians also provide the bedrock of all other genres, including film, pop and TV music. Musical education is very important to allowing young people to achieve their full potential through the highest quality classroom music activities, instrumental lessons and participation in choirs, bands and groups.

One issue that I have been asked to raise in particular, which the Minister could perhaps discuss with his counterparts in the Department for Education, is chaperone licensing. The music service is subject to stringent chaperone licensing, similar to commercial businesses and different from what would be required for schools more generally. That puts real cost and administrative burdens on the music service. Is the Minister prepared to pursue the concerns that the music services are raising with me with his colleagues in the DFE?

The work that is done by our music service and in our schools and classrooms is supplemented by our orchestras’ own fabulous activities. The Hallé Orchestra, for example, has welcomed literally tens of thousands to the Bridgewater Hall to perform and train with its own professional musicians. The BBC Philharmonic’s “Ten pieces” and “Bring the Noise” programmes have also been very well received.

My hon. Friend Conor McGinn rightly pointed out the benefits of music in reaching some of our most disadvantaged and marginalised communities. We see some innovative approaches to this work, for example by the BBC Philharmonic again, partnering with the Royal Northern College of Music on the Pathfinder scheme. I also join him in commending the excellent work of the music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. I have seen its work in my constituency with people with learning difficulties, with refugees and with people with dementia; it has the power to transform and light up those people’s lives.

Nordoff Robbins believes, and I agree, that everyone should have the right to participate in music in ways that meet their needs. There is a particular opportunity, therefore, to develop music therapy in the context of social prescribing. Again, I wonder whether that is something the Minister could discuss with his counterparts, this time in the Department of Health and Social Care.

Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 3:01 pm, 21st January 2020

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McDonagh. It is also a great pleasure to participate in a debate with so many members of MP4 here on the Front Benches. I feel humbled in their presence and I hope they will give us a rendition later in the debate.

I am well aware of the economic benefits of the music industry; my son composes music for films, so I see the inside of that industry from a family point of view. However, I will concentrate here on the benefit to society. People may remember that Edward Elgar once said:

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us! The world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.”

However, I think those days have long passed.

A good example of that is in the availability of organists. I happen to be an organist myself, so I speak from personal experience. The lack of organists is much more important than the lack of people going to church, and shows the inability of young people’s education to pick out the talent that exists and to encourage young people to go on to play the organ and to develop it. That must be tied in with what the Arts Council has asked for in terms of a diverse and appropriate potential workforce—a point that it is making very forcefully.

There are two other examples that I would give of how music affects society, both from my own constituency. The first is an organisation called Not a Choir. It is actually a choir, but it is for people who have never sung before, believe that they cannot sing or in some way feel embarrassed about trying to sing. It has given the people who sing with it a tremendous amount of solidarity with each other. It has taken away a lot of the loneliness they feel by allowing them to participate and perform together. They perform publicly together, and their performances are very much appreciated by the people who listen to them and in the villages around them.

The second example is a charity in my constituency called Music for Autism, which is run by the conductor of the Orchestra of St John’s. He gets members of the orchestra to work with young autistic people and provide them with a good music therapy experience. It is a delight to watch not just the young autistic people’s ability to latch on to the music and their being helped with it, but also how much the musicians who participate get out of it. We only have to see their faces when they are performing to realise that this is something worth doing.

I suggest to the Minister that more needs to be put into education for musicians and talent spotting of musicians, and also that more needs to be put into efforts to ensure that music is at the heart of our communities, both now and in the future.

Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central 3:05 pm, 21st January 2020

I congratulate my hon. Friend Conor McGinn on securing this debate and on making such a great speech.

I am very grateful for the opportunity today to speak about music, particularly live music venues, which I always take the opportunity to champion because they are very precious and, as we have heard today, constantly under threat. I represent a city centre constituency, in a city known not just across the UK but around the world for its songs, its singers and its musicians.

We have a very rich cultural history in Cardiff, and I am determined that we will have a rich cultural future too. To ensure that that happens, we need to ensure that our school music teachers have the resources and time to inspire pupils from the earliest age to participate in music and to understand the joy and wellbeing, which have been discussed today, and the opportunities that singing or playing an instrument can bring.

We know, though, that the past 10 years of Government austerity and the savage cuts to the Welsh budget have made the provision of music much more difficult. I think that is the pattern across the UK. I pay tribute to the music teachers up and down the country who do such a great job—actually, for them it is not a job but a vocation—in such difficult circumstances. But it is not only the teachers; it is the talented volunteers who conduct our orchestras, who transport children and their instruments to eisteddfods and who fight for venue space and practice venues every day of the week.

In the centre of my constituency we have independent live music venues of all types and sizes, catering for every possible taste. I promise hon. Members that if they come to Cardiff Central, on every night of the week they will be able to listen to great live music of some type or another, from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the incredible auditorium that we have at Saint David’s Hall and the noise bowl of the Principality Stadium, where I saw the Rolling Stones, to Fuel Rock Club, Clwb Ifor Bach and the Globe.

However, since I was elected in 2015, it feels as though colleagues and I have been continuously fighting to save live music venues across the constituency, from the Womanby Street campaign to saving Guildford Crescent and Gwdihŵ and, just this week, another live music venue, 10 Feet Tall, a small but long-standing venue under threat of closure. We have built a grassroots movement in Cardiff, with Daniel Minty from Minty’s Gig Guide, the Music Venue Trust, the Musicians Union and UK Music, to value and support venues and to try to save as many as possible.

Our Labour council in Cardiff has set up a music board to champion our music scene locally, nationally and internationally, and to protect and promote music at grassroots and all levels. I am proud that our Welsh Labour Government was the first Government in the UK to introduce the agent of change principle into planning guidance and to help to protect live music venues. Along with colleagues here, I co-sponsored the Bill by my right hon. Friend John Spellar to do the same in England, and I worked with a Labour colleague to do that in Scotland too.

I will briefly mention our Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee report on our live music inquiry, which took detailed and comprehensive evidence from across the sector and made a series of recommendations to the Government to protect and enhance the contribution of live music to our economy and society. We know what the problems are, and we have heard about them today. They include business rates, planning development pressures, the need to extend creative industries tax reliefs and parity of funding for grassroots venues through bodies such as the Arts Council. Talking of arts councils, yes, we need to continue to support high arts and culture, but I also want those kids who are setting up their first band in their mum’s garage to have parity of support.

Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe

On the subject of the Select Committee report on supporting community music venues, does the hon. Lady agree with me that it is also important that local towns have a robust plan for their own areas to support venues? Folkestone in my constituency has launched a music town initiative. It is important that local authorities work with venues to support them both in terms of business rates and how they sit with the local planning regulations as well.

Photo of Jo Stevens Jo Stevens Labour, Cardiff Central

I could not agree more with the hon. Gentleman, who, as Chair of the Select Committee in the previous Parliament, did such a fantastic job of leading our Committee on the inquiry. I want to see music boards in every town and every city so that every child has the opportunity to fulfil their talent.

Lots of questions have been asked of the Minister, but may I add two more to his list? The Government’s response to our report was very thin. I appreciate that it was right at the end of July, but will there be a statutory consultative body to promote the protection of music venues so that they can provide advice to local authorities on the implementation of the agent of change principle and see how it works in practice? We are still waiting—it was not responded to in the report—for a full post-legislative memorandum for the Live Music Act 2012. Will the Minister address that in his comments?

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 3:11 pm, 21st January 2020

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Ms McDonagh, and a pleasure to get the opportunity to big up my own constituency of Glasgow Central, which I am sure must be among the most musical constituencies in the country. We have not only been awarded a UNESCO City of Music status—the only city in the UK other than Liverpool to have that status—but we have a wealth of different venues and talent in the city.

We are at the moment in the midst of Celtic Connections, an event founded in 1994 to give light to cold winter nights in January and to bring people into the city, and it now has a programme of more than 300 events over 18 days, with 2,100 musicians from about 50 countries. In addition to having events within venues in the city, it also works in the community through an education programme to involve the next generation, and this year, for the first time, through Celtic Connections in the Community, it is working with BEMIS to extend it to people with ethnic minority backgrounds within the city as well, which is really important when we talk about traditional folk music and making sure that it reaches and involves as many people as possible.

We also have within the constituency iconic venues such as the Barrowland Ballroom, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, the Hydro and the SEC. The Hydro, which opened in September 2013, brought £131 million to the city in its first year. It has helped the regeneration of Finnieston, where it is now impossible to get a bad meal, and has brought new people and new growth into the area, providing the jobs that go with that as well.

We are incredibly lucky to have the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in the constituency as well. When I went on a tour of the RCS, every door that was opened would bring some delight, with different types of music being played in different ways and people making music together who might not have found each other otherwise. It is a real boon to have that in the city.

We also have organisations such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra, Scottish Opera, and younger bands such as SambaYaBamba— who played outside in Parliament Square on one occasion, which stopped the traffic in the city. It is great to see such joy being shared. For young people we have a Big Noise Sistema orchestra, based in Govanhill since 2013. In recognition of some of the work of Big Noise, Nicola Killean, the CEO, got an OBE in the new year’s honours. They work with children in Govanhill, from St Bride’s, Holy Cross, Annette Street and Cuthbertson primaries and nurseries, and with Holyrood Secondary. They work with 1,200 children a week, bringing together children who have very different backgrounds—many children in Govanhill do not have English as a first language—and all the outcomes from the project have been extraordinary. As I said, in an area where children might not have much English, they can communicate with music and enhance their abilities. All the outcomes from this project found by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health have noted how it increased confidence, academic skills, resilience and happiness. I am not quite sure how we measure happiness, but it is certainly very much worth investing in for the good of the community.

I also want to mention the risk, which is something for the Minister to take away to the Home Office. There are significant risks in the way the Home Office conducts itself, and risks with Brexit with regard to visas and with the ability of artists to move and transport equipment. Donald Shaw of Celtic Connections has flagged that in the press. He mentioned particularly the risks for American people looking to book to come here and the way in which African and Indian artists are treated. He says they are treated very badly in the application process and that it is all about suspicion rather than welcome from the UK. Last year, six artists from the Devasitham Charitable Foundation in Chennai were unable to come when two blind artists were not allowed a visa from the Home Office. I ask the Minister to reflect on that and on the success story of music in Glasgow and in Scotland and do all that he can to make sure that that continues in future.

Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden

I apologise for what I am about to say, but unfortunately contributions will now have to go down to three minutes.

Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth 3:15 pm, 21st January 2020

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Ms McDonagh, and to follow some excellent contributions. I thank my hon. Friend Conor McGinn for securing the debate. I want to draw attention to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Interests and also pay tribute to UK Music and the Musicians’ Union, who have done so much at different levels to promote the industry and the challenges that it faces.

Coming from a working-class background, I know the impact of music in my own life. Comments have been made about the importance of music education, and free and affordable music education made a difference to me. I had opportunities as a youngster, particularly with free music education in school, and also through things such as the South Glamorgan and Cardiff and Vale youth orchestras and choirs, which gave me the confidence to go on later in life to perform at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Edinburgh Fringe, and for President Bill Clinton with the a cappella groups that I have taken part in. I would not have had those opportunities and the confidence to perform if I had not had those free and affordable opportunities when I was younger.

I second much of what my hon. Friend Jo Stevens said about Cardiff’s reputation as a music location, but also about the challenges that we face in terms of live venues. I support the campaigns that she and others have led around Womanby Street, Guildford Crescent and elsewhere. I also pay tribute to the many venues.

I have an incredible creative sector in my constituency of Cardiff South and Penarth. We are host to the Wales Millennium Centre, the Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, which is not only an incredible orchestra but provides many film and TV soundtracks, including recently for “His Dark Materials”, which has been syndicated around the world. The music is by a Scottish composer, Lorne Balfe, but the BBC National Orchestra of Wales recorded it. I also pay tribute to the many smaller creatives and others who are generating the next generation of talent: people such as Shelley Barrett, who runs Talent Shack, and, at the other end of the spectrum, Penarth Soul Club, enabling people to engage in all types of music locally. We have venues such as the Tram Shed and the Norwegian Church, which I want to see retained for community and cultural use, including music. We also have more classical venues such as St Augustine’s in Penarth.

I want to add my support to two crucial issues. One is around Brexit and the campaign by the Musicians’ Union on the crucial need for an EU-wide touring visa for musicians who are working, and we want to see that last a minimum of two years, be free or cheap, and cover all EU member states. We want to get rid of the need for carnets and other permits, and, of course, we want to cover road crew, technicians and all the other staff necessary for musicians to do their job.

I also want to highlight the incredible community impact of so many musicians. In my constituency and more broadly, 85% of orchestral musicians who joined the industry in the past 10 years are involved in community outreach, and 97% of all orchestras. Groups such as the Keith Little jazz trio in my constituency in Penarth do incredible work with organisations such as Music in Hospitals & Care. I was able to see the work they were doing, funded by the Waterloo Foundation, during the recent election campaign. Veterans’ choirs also provide opportunities in music to a whole new range of people.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Opposition Whip (Commons) 3:18 pm, 21st January 2020

Thank you for calling me to speak, Ms McDonagh. I congratulate my hon. Friend Conor McGinn on securing the debate and for giving me the opportunity to plug my former profession. There are not many former nightclub DJs in Parliament. In fact, I might be the only one. While people rightly talk about the importance of the live music scene, I note the importance of electronic dance music and nightclubs in making our cities destinations. Twenty years ago I used to visit Cream in Liverpool and Gatecrasher in Sheffield—for research purposes—and I remember they used to attract people from all over the country. The same applies now to the Warehouse Project in Manchester, which makes a big contribution to the music scene that Manchester is so proud of, and to our economy. It is a key part of our identity in Manchester, and it is certainly key to the economy.

I am grateful to UK Music for leading on the Greater Manchester music review last year. A couple of figures were produced. In 2017, live music events in Manchester had 1.7 million attendances. In 2017, Greater Manchester had 703,000 music tourists. That gives some indication of the importance to the economy of music in Manchester and Greater Manchester. There is an ecosystem that sustains the music scene, from very big venues such as Manchester Arena—one of the most successful large venues in the world—down to the smaller grassroots venues.

That brings me to two asks. First, we are pleased that business rates relief for grassroots music venues was in the Tory manifesto and the Queen’s Speech. I know the Minister is passionate about that and I am genuinely pleased to see him in his job. I hope that he will have a word with the Chancellor before the Budget in March to make that point. Secondly, I want to repeat the point about the importance of the EU-wide touring passport, ahead of Brexit.

The Greater Manchester music review is a very good report. It came up with a number of recommendations, and I will pick some of them. The first was for the establishment of a Greater Manchester music board. I am pleased that our excellent Mayor, Andy Burnham, has pledged to set that up. I look forward to progress on that when Andy is re-elected in May, as I am sure he will be. Secondly, there is a recommendation about the agent of change principles, which are important. It is great that city centres are now thriving as places to live—I remember that Manchester city centre was pretty much empty in the ’80s—but it should not be at the expense of our much loved music venues.

I shall have to leave my remarks there, but I recommend that people read the report on Greater Manchester as well as the report from UK Music, which makes some very important policy asks of the Government.

Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing) 3:21 pm, 21st January 2020

I congratulate my hon. Friend Conor McGinn on securing this important debate.

Growing up in Sheffield in the 1990s, I took access to live music venues for granted, and we had access to not just some of the best venues in the country, but some of the best music in the country. When I was a teenager the Arctic Monkeys were starting to gig at the Grapes, the Boardwalk, and the Harley, as were bands such as Reverend and the Makers, Milburn and Longpigs. Sadly, not one of those venues still hosts live music today, but all those bands would say that without them it would not have been possible for Sheffield to produce the groundbreaking music that it is now internationally renowned for. I am told that when Radiohead toured with their debut album, “Pablo Honey”, they played 400 music venues of around 500 capacity across the UK. Only three of those music venues are still open today.

Those venues are the incubator of talent and we are feeling their loss across the music industry in the UK today. What is more, arts and culture funding too often gravitates towards prestige and towards London, rather than flowing towards talent. Jon McClure, the “Reverend” of Reverend and the Makers, said to me ahead of today’s debate:

“It is certainly true that the arts have become the preserve of the rich kids, for boys and girls like me are now excluded in the main, through a lack of access to the networks of power, combined with a lack of resources.”

That is why today’s debate is so important, as is the incredible work of UK Music and other bodies, such as the Musicians’ Union. They have fought to save threatened venues, which they recognise as the heart of a revival that must come.

I am incredibly proud to sit on Sheffield city region’s music board, which was set up by UK Music and our Mayor, my hon. Friend Dan Jarvis. It is the first to be set up outside London and is an essential part of the revival. It promotes work such as that of Higher Rhythm, which delivers the breakthrough artist development programme to give intensive support to six Yorkshire artists annually, with a package of opportunities to help them to make tangible progress in their careers. However, we must do more. We have heard about the importance of music education, and I hope that the combined authority will look at UK Music’s proposal to create six music education hubs across the region. We must ensure that the agent of change principle is properly implemented in all our communities, and the Government should look at extending existing relief schemes to cover live music venues.

Finally, no Government can claim to be serious about global Britain while cutting off our greatest cultural export at the knee in the Brexit negotiations, so I hope that the Minister will look carefully at the musicians’ passport. I want the kids in my constituency to have the same opportunities that musicians had in past decades. I want them to be rewarded based on talent, and not on networks or how many followers they can buy on social media. I want them to be able to showcase their talent on stages in Sheffield so that they can then showcase it to the world. Those things are not “nice to haves”. They are fundamental to our economy and culture, and they tell the world everything about what it is to be British.

Photo of Alex Davies-Jones Alex Davies-Jones Labour, Pontypridd 3:24 pm, 21st January 2020

This is my first time speaking in a Westminster Hall debate, and I am grateful that it is on a subject so close to my heart. I congratulate my hon. Friend Conor McGinn on the way he has led this important debate.

Last week I gave my maiden speech, in which I waxed lyrical about how my constituency gave the world the Welsh national anthem, Cwm Rhondda, and Sir Tom Jones. The south Wales valleys are built on industry and music: both go hand in hand. Were it not for the coal mines, we would not have our world-famous brass bands, which are synonymous with culture and heritage. My hon. Friend Stephanie Peacock mentioned the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and my hon. Friend the Member for St Helens North referred to his constituency’s bands, and I pay tribute to them, but in Wales we have the world No. 1 brass band, the Cory Band—a fantastic symbol, spreading Welsh culture and heritage across the world and at home. Were it not for our chapels, we would not have our choirs, whose hymns and arias are synonymous with rugby.

Speaking of my other love, we all know that Wales is a mecca for sport tourism. The Principality stadium is the rugby venue envy of the world. I am sure that anyone here who has had the privilege of being in the stadium on match day, hearing the anthems belted out, will agree that it is nothing short of spine-tinglingly awesome. However, for all the sporting glory that Wales has to offer, Members may not know that in 2018 Wales welcomed more than 350,000 music tourists, who helped to contribute £124 million to the Welsh economy. That figure is growing.

We need to do more to protect grassroots venues, helping them to thrive in our communities. My hon. Friends have mentioned some of the work they have been doing to protect such venues in Wales. Just before Christmas it was announced in my constituency that Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council will be working with the Awen Cultural Trust and the Arts Council of Wales to totally transform the much-loved Muni, in Pontypridd. Plans to improve the arts centre include investing £4.5 million to create a first-class arts and entertainment venue for residents in my constituency and beyond. That is wonderful news, and I cannot wait to attend the first concert, once the Muni reopens in the summer.

One of the things that I am most passionate about is nurturing future talent, including reversing the decline of music education, so that children from every background have access to music. I am extremely fortunate that I was able to learn not one or two but four different instruments at school. I do not profess to be a concerto-worthy soloist—I am more of a jack of all trades as a performer—but I would never been able to have those opportunities were it not for the vital funding of peripatetic music education in my comprehensive school. I welcome the strides that the Welsh Assembly’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee is making in that field, and support the Welsh Labour Government’s feasibility study on the options for delivery of music services and the creation of a national plan for music education.

Wales has a long tradition of inviting performers from Europe to play at festivals, venues and eisteddfods across Wales, and other hon. Members have mentioned the impact that Brexit could have on that. I know that the Welsh Labour Government will do all they can to ensure that Wales remains open to performers from across Europe after Brexit, and will look at all avenues to ensure that such cultural exchanges can still take place.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 3:27 pm, 21st January 2020

I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, and I congratulate Conor McGinn on securing this vital debate, and on the concise and articulate way in which he marshalled the case for UK Music. I want to pay tribute to Michael Dugher, who has led UK Music so diligently and effectively in the past few years. Like everybody here, I wish him all the best in future—and Andy Heath who has been the chair of UK Music. We look forward to continuing to work effectively with whoever emerges in those roles.

I remember standing here almost 19 years ago, having secured what was probably at that point the first ever debate on the music industry in the House. Having come straight from the concert hall floor—having played with Runrig and Big Country, and as the only MP who had appeared on “Top of the Pops”—I was keen that some of the issues affecting the music industry should be taken up by Parliament and be addressed by MPs. The all-party parliamentary group on music was formed almost immediately following that debate, and the Minister was a notable chair of it a few years ago. Most importantly, it brought the sector and the industry together with parliamentarians. Over the course of the years, it has emerged as an effective conduit. What we do in this House becomes available to members of the music industry. When I think of all the things that we have achieved in the past 20 or so years, I think that was really important.

When I first came to this House it was the days of plenty in the music industry. I am sure most people will remember that. CD sales were at an all-time high, and live music was in incredibly good shape, with the start of some of the really important arena tours. However, out on the horizon a dark shadow was starting to emerge, which would hit all of our creative sector. That was digitisation, with the threats—and also the opportunities—that it presented. Music was the area affected by digitisation because it was the easiest to clone and replicate. That made it vulnerable to pirates, and those who wanted to make a quick buck on the backs of the creativity of artists. In those days, it was just Napster, which I heard somebody refer to earlier, and it was a big challenge to the music industry.

It was a tough time dealing with all that, and I pay tribute to the music industry for the way it responded to that challenge in the course of those 20 years. We are not on top of everything yet, but huge progress has been made in response to the many challenges put forward, by closing down opportunities for pirates, by responding positively to new technologies and by ensuring that new services were made available, so that we can make a positive choice about the sources of music coming our way. While we are not totally on top of it, huge progress has been made in that time; it has been quite remarkable how all that has been taken up. There are still huge issues with piracy, as hon. Members might expect. In fact, some pirates come in cruise liners now, in the form of giant tech companies such as YouTube and Google. Those issues must be properly addressed, and I have a couple of suggestions for how that might be done.

We still lead the world in music, just as we do across practically every single creative sector, whether it is fashion, design, film or television. However, it has been most notable in music in the last few years. I will not repeat what has been said about some of the amazing artists who have had the biggest selling albums in the world in the past few years, although I will mention Lewis Capaldi, because I have managed to see him a couple of times recently and he is a fellow Scot. His success in the course of last year is remarkable, mirroring almost exactly what Adele achieved just a few years ago with her amazing albums. That shows the reach of music from across these isles. Why is that? If we could bottle it or sum it up somehow, it would be remarkable. It is something about the way that we have culturally set up this country, where people are allowed to develop their talents and arrangements and have the opportunity to come forward with their fantastic works of imagination and talent.

However, it is also something to do with the industry, and I praise the industry for the way it ensures that artists are properly resourced, promoted effectively and able to be sold internationally. It is the way it is all packaged. Things do not happen by accident. We have a successful music industry because of the creativity of the people who make the music and the infrastructure that supports that, which is the music industry, which is why it is so important that we support it now.

Music is still the field of dreams where young people can secure a career on the strength of their imagination and talent. However, it is also a means for people to experience enjoyment. Music timetables and chronicles people’s lives and is an important feature of our everyday experience and all our memories. It is even great to get together with friends and bash out a few tunes, just to enjoy it.

However, what we as politicians do to support the music industry is really important. First, and most importantly, we have to ensure that our artists, musicians and the talent that we have are properly rewarded for the fantastic works that they produce. If we do one thing, it should be to ensure that our artists are properly rewarded for what they do. That is why I support the call to fully adopt into UK law the EU copyright directive. That simply has to happen. It would be the single biggest intervention that we could make to most assist the industry and our artists. In one stroke, we could effectively tackle the recalcitrance of the large tech companies and the pitiful amounts that YouTube pay our artists for the music that they produce. It is simply appalling to exploit our artists in such a way. They should be rewarded properly.

More than that, as part of their legislation around online harms, the Government should consider the economic harms caused by copyright infringement. It is in the gift of the Government to do something about that almost immediately. Real harm is caused online, and I hope that, as a real way forward, the Minister will look again at including those harms in the digital harms that the Government are looking at just now.

We have to do something to ensure that the appalling decision to leave the European Union does not make a terrible situation even worse for our musicians. The ending of freedom of movement is the single biggest Brexit threat to our musicians and artists, and we must do everything possible to address the inevitable fallout of this decision to stop musicians travelling freely across our continent.

As my hon. Friend Alison Thewliss mentioned, in Glasgow just now, the last huge UK music festival while we are in the EU is taking place, the incredible Celtic Connections. As the name suggests, it is about connections, it is global, and it brings together artists from around the world. Even before we have left the European Union, there have been genuine concerns, as my hon. Friend referenced —visa anxiety. People are confused about their right to travel and what our leaving will mean for them as artists and musicians. That has to be addressed, and there are a number of solid suggestions for how that could be taken on.

Music touring is where artists make their money, and we have to make it easier for them to play internationally. It is one of the greatest thrills and experiences that musicians can have, and to close that down, as we are doing by ending freedom of movement, will impact on every musician and artist in this country. Ending freedom of movement will inevitably bring costs—visa arrangements, bureaucracy and the confusion about how all of this will happen—so I totally support the UK Music and Musicians’ Union call for a single, EU-wide live music touring passport to avoid those restrictions. I really hope that the Government take that seriously. I know the Minister has looked at this before, and I know it is within the gift of the Government to do something about it. If one initiative could solve this problem, it would be to do with that.

However, another issue has come up that has not been mentioned so far. I refer to a report by the former chief executive officer of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, Vick Bain, about the gender gap in the music industry, which has to be addressed and stopped. Her fantastic recent report outlined that less than 20% of acts signed by major labels are female. That simply cannot continue. It cannot go on. Gender equality and the gender gap in the music industry have to be properly addressed. It is almost bizarre that an industry inhabited by progressive young people has allowed a gender gap such as this to emerge. We have to ensure that we get on top of that.

There might be a number of reasons for that. The whole lad culture of male camaraderie in bands, which has gone back for decades, might have something to do with it. Whatever it is, this has to be addressed. We have to start to get serious about sexism in music; music is sexy, but it does not have to be sexist. We have to ensure that we start to tackle the real and significant issues in this area in the music industry, and we should all be up to that challenge as we move forward.

Music is for everybody. I had the fantastic opportunity of having a career in the music industry. I believe that everybody should have that right and that opportunity. I really hope that, as we go forward, the music industry continues to support our artists, and that the Government do more to ensure that they put legislation in place to help that.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage) 3:37 pm, 21st January 2020

I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, including my membership of, and support for, the Musicians’ Union and PRS for Music.

I open by sending a message to Michael, as the song says, and pay tribute to the outgoing chief executive of UK Music, Michael Dugher, for the tremendous job he has done during his tenure, not only because of the way in which he communicates with Parliament but because of his personal passion for music—not just for Paul McCartney, incidentally, but all kinds of music—which shines through in everything he does and in the representations he makes on behalf of the music industry. I wish him well. I also pay tribute to Andy Heath, the outgoing chair, who has done a fantastic job with that organisation.

I went out to lunch many years ago with the former chief executive, Feargal Sharkey, when he announced the setting up of UK Music in the first place. It seems to me that, over the course of that decade, the way that the music industry has got its act together and effectively communicated its message is due in no small part to the efforts of people such as Michael, Feargal and Jo Dipple, who have led the UK Music with such distinction over that period of time.

I also pay tribute to everyone who contributed to the debate, particularly my very good friend, my hon. Friend Conor McGinn, who quite rightly mentioned—as well as lots of other issues that are so important to the debate—the impact of organisations such as Nordoff Robbins and of music therapy. Having myself volunteered for Nordoff Robbins in a care home on one occasion when I was the Minister responsible for charities in the last Labour Government, I can testify to the tremendous work that it does and the impact that its work has. My hon. Friend rightly raised all the significant issues for the debate, and I shall rehearse them a little bit during my remarks and perhaps add one other issue as I go along.

We had a speech from David Warburton, who chairs with great distinction the all-party parliamentary group on music. I welcome very much what he said about music education. I hope that he presses the Ministers in his own party and Government very hard to deliver much more effectively on music education, after seeing personally the transformational effects of music, in his own life, as a music teacher and rightly highlighted during his speech.

I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend Kate Green, whose remarks featured the very important contribution made by our orchestras in particular. I praise the Association of British Orchestras for the work that it does to promote orchestras. My hon. Friend rightly emphasised the importance of formal training and the impact that that has beyond the classical repertoire, in our film and television industries and so on.

I have seen the son of John Howell perform, and he is a very fine jazz musician; and I congratulate the hon. Gentleman—it is obviously in the genes—on his own record as a church organist. He is right about the power of music therapy and the impact on people with, for example, autism.

I would also like to mention my hon. Friend Jo Stevens, my immediate constituency neighbour, and pay tribute to the incredible work that she did, along with other colleagues, on the live music and protecting live music in our city of Cardiff. That was done along with my hon. Friend Stephen Doughty, who told us that he had once performed for President Clinton. I think that that is probably a unique distinction, as is the distinction that we heard about from my hon. Friend Jeff Smith, who told us that he is the only former nightclub DJ who is a Member of Parliament—I have not heard anyone else try to claim that distinction in the course of the debate.

I thank Alison Thewliss for her contribution. As well as highlighting the incredible amount of music going on in her constituency in this sector, she rightly highlighted the problems for musicians with the Home Office. She was absolutely right to draw attention to that.

We have therefore had a great debate. It was also added to by my hon. Friend Louise Haigh, who mentioned Longpigs. She will know that of course the chair of the Ivors Academy of Music Creators, Crispin Hunt, is a former member of Longpigs. With the Ivors Academy, he is doing great work in promoting the importance of songwriting and the interests of composers.

My new hon. Friend Alex Davies-Jones reminded us why Wales is so well renowned for its contribution to music. I thought that she sounded like the Rev. Eli Jenkins in “Under Milk Wood”, who said, “Thank God we are a musical nation.” My hon. Friend was almost musical in her contribution today.

The main issues that we need to address have been mentioned in the course of the debate. Grassroots music venues were mentioned quite frequently. I welcome what the Government have done about rate relief. Last year, I went with the outgoing chief executive of UK Music to meet the former Chancellor of the Exchequer to urge him to do the very thing that the Government are now pledged to do, so I hope that the Minister will give us a bit of an idea of the timetable for that and how it will be implemented.

Music venues are the R&D of the music industry, and when they are closing down, that is the canary in the mine—to mix metaphors a bit—for the industry. If music venues are closing down, there is trouble ahead for our music industry, so the Government do need to work with the sector, including UK Music, to develop a thorough strategy for the future of our music venues, and I hope that they will do that urgently.

We also heard about freelance employment and the nature of employment in the industry and the campaign of Olga FitzRoy and others in relation to shared parental leave for the self-employed and freelancers. That is a particular issue in the music industry.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts and Heritage)

I will not, because of the time, if the hon. Gentleman does not mind.

This issue is extremely important, and I hope that the Minister will press his ministerial colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to get on with the job that they are doing of reviewing the availability of shared parental leave for freelancers. We found out today from the Office for National Statistics that for the first time ever more than 5 million people in this country are self-employed. That is a huge part of the creative industries in general and the music sector in particular, so I hope that the Minister takes that job on and communicates with Ministers in other Departments to get the job done.

We have heard about the importance of Brexit. That is a massive issue for the music industry, including in relation to the copyright directive and the huge importance that that has for composers and musicians—for the industry. I should mention the work of PRS for Music in this regard and the tremendous work that it does. Some £618 million a year of export revenue is earned just by music publishing, which is an extraordinary statistic.

We have to deal with the issue of organisations, massive corporations, such as YouTube and Google. Google and YouTube will take $5.5 billion-worth of revenue from advertising alone in the US during 2020; and 70% of views on YouTube are of 10% of the content, and I would wager that a lot of that content is music content. Musicians and creators are just not being adequately rewarded in that regard.

The other issue is the musicians’ passport and the importance of freedom of movement. I know that the Minister was a Brexiteer, but it is vital that musicians are able to exercise freedom of movement on our departure from the EU and the end of the implementation period. This is not just about large orchestras or big touring bands, which may or may not have the resources and capacity to absorb that. It is also about the small gigging musician who may have a few fans and followers in Berlin, Italy or wherever, who is on an easyJet flight carrying their own instrument and for whom this is a highly marginal activity but one that could lead to a very major career in music. I hope that the Minister bears that in mind and ensures that the music passport proposal becomes reality and freedom of movement does also.

On music education, I will not labour the points made earlier, but it is extremely important.

I do want to introduce one final new and different issue—the BBC. If the Government are serious about the music industry, they need to think about the undermining of the BBC that seems to be the flavour of the day in Government at the moment. The BBC is hugely important to our music industry. It is hugely important to composers, musicians, orchestras, producers, technicians, mixers, engineers—to all of the music sector. Just look at the behaviour now of some of the big channels—for example, the Discovery Channel—which are trying to buy out music rights in relation to copyright. Undermining the BBC because of petty political issues will damage our music industry, and I urge the Minister to ensure that he makes representations in that regard within Government.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State 3:47 pm, 21st January 2020

I congratulate all right hon. and hon. Members on their contributions and, in particular, Conor McGinn on bringing this incredibly important debate to Westminster Hall today. The interest shown in the debate is testament to the essential role played by music in our national life. I know that the hon. Gentleman is a keen music fan, he has a stunning voice—so I am led to believe—and he is a Classic FM fan. Ms McDonagh, you may be surprised to learn that the hon. Member for St Helens North is also a Rod Stewart aficionado. That took me by surprise, and no doubt at some point we may hear more about it.

I apologise because, given the time constraints, I might not be able to address all the issues and points raised today, but could I add my voice to those who have congratulated the outgoing chief executive of UK Music, Michael Dugher, who has done an incredible job for the sector in his time there? We wish him well in his new career, where I am sure he will also do an incredible job. We also congratulate Andy Heath, the outgoing chairman, who has a fantastic reputation within the industry and has also done a fantastic job stewarding the excellent organisation that is UK Music.

I will also quickly mention and congratulate Billy Ocean, who is 70 today—would you believe it? And of course we cannot forget Baby Spice, Emma Bunton, who has her 44th birthday today. I cannot believe that, either.

I will respond to some of the points raised in the debate, not least the point that the contribution of the music industry is not just economic. There is a huge body of evidence pointing to music’s positive impact on wellbeing, skills and employment, and in the reduction of anti-social behaviour and crime. It is not just about the money. We are supporting initiatives such as the National Academy for Social Prescribing, which Kate Green mentioned, to enable GPs and other healthcare professionals to refer people to a range of local non-clinical services.

The hon. Member for St Helens North mentioned tax reliefs, which have been successful in the film sector. As set out in our response to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s live music inquiry last year, creative sector tax loops are kept under review to ensure their ongoing effectiveness. I have spoken with music industry representatives and I am happy to receive any evidence-based proposals for a tax relief for the sector.

The hon. Gentleman also talked about the music export growth scheme, which has been incredibly successful. Music is an extraordinary export for the UK because of its economic value and, as everyone will know, the soft power influence it has around the world. The MEG scheme has been helpful in ensuring bands and artists such as Wolf Alice can be promoted and travel overseas. I recently met the Minister for Investment and spoke to him about the importance of these schemes. We look forward to working in partnership with his Department and the music industry, to ensure that talent can access key overseas markets.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned copyright, as did Pete Wishart. We support the overall aims of the copyright directive, but our imminent departure from the EU means that we are not required to implement it in full. It is imperative that we do everything possible to protect our brilliant creators, as well as the rights of consumers and users of music. I look forward to working with the music industry to ensure we achieve that and, as I have said on many occasions, I will work to ensure that we stop the exploitation of our artists here in the UK.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts provides fantastic opportunities for young people to develop their skills and build their confidence, but organisers have indicated that the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 place onerous requirements on licensing each individual before they can perform. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can have a proportionate system, to ensure that such fantastic festivals are not put at risk through bureaucracy?

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State

I certainly will. In fact, I will come to my hon. Friend’s constituency to discuss that important issue. If we can time that with another major sporting event in his constituency, that will go down well.

My hon. Friend David Warburton, who represents Glastonbury and chairs the all-party parliamentary group on music, mentioned access to music in state schools, which is imperative. We are committed to ensuring all children have a broad and balanced curriculum, and the arts are a key part of that. We are revising the national plan for music education and, as part of that work, developing a model music curriculum created by an independent panel of experts.

My hon. Friend John Howell, an accomplished organist and clarinettist, also talked about music education, and we absolutely recognise its importance. I am sure he will welcome the recent announcements that reflect our ambitions on that, including £80 million for music education hubs on top of the £300 million allocated between 2016 and 2020.

Jo Stevens also referred to live music acts. We do not believe it is necessary to undertake post-legislative scrutiny of the Live Music Act 2012 at this stage. It was introduced to deregulate some of the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003, to help grassroots venues. Full scrutiny was undertaken in 2017 to inform the Government response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003. It was concluded that that was working broadly as intended.

Many hon. Members rightly mentioned our exit from the EU and visas for touring musicians, particularly Stephen Doughty, who—we have such a wealth of talent—is an accomplished artist. Touring is the lifeblood of the industry and we recognise the importance of the continued ease of movement of musicians, equipment and merchandise once we have left the EU. Visa rules for artists performing in the EU will not change until the implementation period ends in December 2020. They are being considered, and we welcome the views of all hon. Members and the industry on movement within Europe. It is essential that free movement is protected for artists post 2020.

Nearly everyone mentioned music venues, including Louise Haigh. She has a stunning singing voice. I was quite surprised and impressed at how great the Opposition Members’ singing voices are. That is great news and I look forward to hearing more of it. Alex Davies-Jones gave her first performance here in Westminster Hall, which was as impressive as the voices of the choir at the Millennium Stadium—I have had the pleasure of listening—which certainly intimidates opposition teams.

Jeff Smith, a former DJ, was right to mention dance music. He mentioned grassroots music venues, as did Alison Thewliss. We believe those spaces must be allowed to prosper, so we have taken a number of measures that have been mentioned to support this important sector, including the introduction of the Live Music Act 2012 and the agent of change principles. The Arts Council put in a fund of £1.5 million to support grassroots venues. In our manifesto we committed to changes in business rates for music venues. I look forward to receiving more detail on that further support for music venues soon.

The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire was right to raise the issue of diversity. Again, he is a man with no small history in the music sector, having sold 2 million albums with Runrig—and 17 with MP4. We believe that equal access to music opportunities should be available to all. The Creative Industries Council recently published its diversity charter, which commits the industry to act to create a more diverse workforce.

Kevin Brennan rightly mentioned shared parental leave. We are not ruling out further support for self-employed parents and the evaluation of shared parental leave is ongoing. We will report on that and publish the Government response to the consultation in due course.

To conclude, this Government are committed to continuing to support the fantastic UK music industry at home and abroad. I recognise the need to consider introducing a comprehensive music strategy. We want our music industry to continue to be the envy of the world.

Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Labour, St Helens North 3:58 pm, 21st January 2020

I thank the Minister for his comprehensive response, given the short time available to him. I also thank the shadow Minister. I concur entirely with his comments about the BBC. People such as James Stirling have put music front and centre of the BBC, across all its platforms, which is critical to the success of British music.

This has been a good debate. The number of contributions and the content of our discussion suggest that there might be appetite for a Backbench Business debate on the Floor of the House. We might look to do that later in the year. The report that provoked this debate said, rightly, that music is about numbers, lyrics, notes and sounds, but fundamentally music is about life. I cannot remember the first time I heard music, but neither can I remember a time when it was not ringing in my ears.

The first record bought for me by my aunt was by Dexy’s Midnight Runners—I am sure you can guess what her name was! My first concert was Oasis at the old Wembley Stadium. I remember when I first heard Seán Ó Riada’s Ceol an Aifrinn—the mass entirely in Irish—and the first dance at my wedding was to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. Talking to my five-year-old son about the Beatles, I pointed out to him where the Hippodrome was in Earlestown, where he is growing up, and said, “They played there.” I owe music a lot and, with my colleagues here, I will do my best to keep paying it back.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the contribution of music to the economy and society.