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Creative Industries

Volume 542: debated on Thursday 22 March 2012

We have introduced the Creative Industries Council and maintained existing direct support for film through the national lottery and film tax relief. Building on this success, I am sure that the whole House will welcome yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor of the introduction of similar tax reliefs for the video games, animation and high-end TV production sectors. The UK has some of the world’s most successful creative industries, and yesterday’s Budget will ensure that they can continue to grow and support jobs up and down the country. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) is almost as loud as his tie.

I am grateful to the Minister for his answer and welcome yesterday’s statement by the Chancellor in support of the creative industries. The advertising industry is one of the most creative and innovative in the UK economy, and it is worth £7.8 billion. Does the Minister accept, though, that constant threats of regulation and red tape can stymie that innovation and creativity, and that the pendulum might have swung too far and there could well be a need for a review of some of the regulations?

I never lose an opportunity to praise the advertising industry in the UK, which is one of the most successful, or its regulatory system under the Advertising Standards Authority.

I welcome yesterday’s announcement from the Chancellor about games tax relief. Does my hon. Friend agree that it will benefit companies such as Sega in my constituency, establish the UK as a world-leading games maker, and stop the brain drain of talented games developers to overseas?

I never lose an opportunity, when I drive over the flyover, to look at the huge headquarters of Sega in my hon. Friend’s constituency. Not only will that proposal stop the brain drain; it will create a brain import scheme.

Birmingham and the black country have a very creative software and hardware development industry, but it often finds it difficult to recruit the skilled people it requires from the region. What support can the Minister give to local centres of excellence, such as the Aston and Wolverhampton science parks?

We continue to focus on skills. The higher apprenticeships scheme will help to provide talent for the UK’s IT industry. May I take this opportunity to praise Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope for their “Next Gen.” report, which has led to a revolution in the computer science curriculum in schools?

I welcome the Government’s U-turn on support for the creative industries, but I note that there is less talk today about this being a “Downton Abbey” Budget. I wonder why that is. Will the Minister explain the exact difference between the support that he has announced for the video games industry and the support that the Labour Government introduced two years ago, which his Government scrapped in their first Budget?

The difference is that the new support includes help for television drama and animation. Fundamentally, the difference is between the ambition of the Government and the poverty of ambition of the Opposition.

The Minister will know that the Hargreaves review of intellectual property and the Intellectual Property Office consultation continue to exercise and concern our creative industries. Does he believe that having the maximum number of exceptions to copyright helps or hinders our creative industries? Will he come and give evidence to the inquiry of the all-party parliamentary intellectual property group in the next few weeks?

The hon. Gentleman has been a doughty champion for rights holders and the protection of intellectual property. As he knows, I ensure that rights holders’ views are expressed regularly during the Hargreaves consultation. I have not yet received an invitation to give evidence to the all-party parliamentary group, but I look forward to receiving it.

The Government want philanthropy and corporate giving to replace public subsidy for the arts. However, the excellent Nottingham Playhouse tells me that sponsorship and donations are falling due to the flatlining economy. Does this funding black hole not threaten the future of our regional theatres?

The hon. Lady is quite wrong. We do not want philanthropy to replace Government support for the arts; we want there to be a partnership between philanthropy and Government support for the arts, which is extraordinarily generous.

Hundreds of my constituents who work for Aardman Animations, Europe’s largest animation company, were delighted by the reference to Wallace and Gromit in yesterday’s Budget. Does my hon. Friend agree that the extension of film tax credits to the TV and animation industries is important not only for maintaining British talent and ingenuity in Bristol and other places in our country, but so that children grow up watching programmes that are made in Britain and sound as though they are made in Britain?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was privileged to visit Aardman’s headquarters. I gather that it has just held the premiere of “The Pirates!”, its new film. Those in the House with young children may want to go and see it. He is right that the proposal is about keeping talent in this country.