I hope you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, if I briefly pay tribute to the great George Weidenfeld, who died yesterday. He was a great patron and supporter of the arts.
The Government have taken steps to support small production companies across the UK through tax reliefs and grant schemes. In the last two years, Creative England has supported 51 productions in Cornwall, which has led to 439 shooting days in the county and an estimated on-location spend of nearly £7.5 million.
Tourism in North Cornwall has benefited hugely from the “Poldark” effect, but other television dramas are also produced across our beautiful coastline, including “Doc Martin” in Port Isaac and “Jamaica Inn”, filmed on Bodmin moor. Will my hon. Friend assure me that he will continue to support the film industry in my part of the country?
Of course. I am well aware of the “Poldark” effect. In fact, I am often mistaken for Aidan Turner’s body double. There are 13 great production companies in Cornwall. Our film tax relief has brought more than £7 billion of film investment to the UK as a whole, and I can assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to support productions in Cornwall.
Indeed. Independent production companies in Cornwall and other areas of the country benefit hugely from Channel 4’s unique not-for-profit commissioning strength. Will the Minister please explain why the creation of another business like ITV and Channel 5 is in the interests of production companies in Cornwall, and why it is in the public interest for Channel 4 to be privatised?
I feel like I am taking part in an episode of “Just a Minute” where the subject is Cornwall. We have gone from the south-west to the heart of Westminster, where Channel 4 resides, in its headquarters on Horseferry Road. As the hon. Gentleman is well aware—I know there is another question on Channel 4 later—we are considering all options to take this fantastic channel into the future.