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Video Games Industry (Scotland)

Volume 510: debated on Thursday 3 June 2010

16. What recent assessment he has made of the future prospects of the video games industry in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. (783)

No formal assessment has yet been made since we came into office, only about three weeks ago. However, I can say that the prospects for the Scottish video games industry are excellent, particularly with the centre of excellence for games at the university of Abertay in Dundee.

As the Minister will be aware, the video games industry is increasingly successful in the UK and particularly in Scotland. The Labour Government indicated that they would give a specific tax relief to the industry, which faces huge competition internationally, particularly from the USA and Canada. Will he provide reassurance that that tax relief plan will continue under his Administration?

As the hon. Lady knows, we are currently in Budget purdah, but in opposition, I was on the record as supporting a video games tax break long before the Labour party converted to that. Indeed, for most of the last 13 years, the only time the Labour party ever talked about video games was when the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) condemned them for all sorts of misdemeanours.

I am glad the Minister mentioned Abertay in Dundee, as the video games sector is hugely important there. Although it was disappointing that the last Labour Budget contained nothing on tax breaks for the games industry in this financial year, and although he is in Budget purdah, will he and his colleagues take excellent representations from TIGA, the games trade body, to understand precisely why tax breaks are required to fend off the competition from jurisdictions where tax breaks are already in place?

When I was the Opposition spokesman, I had a close relationship with TIGA, which is an excellent trade body representing the video games industry—it put together an excellent submission on games tax relief and many other video games sector issues—and I am very happy to continue to meet TIGA representatives to discuss this important matter.