The UK film industry is a great success story, contributing more than £4 billion a year to the economy and supporting nearly 70,000 full-time jobs. Last year, the Government invested £340 million through film tax relief, and nearly £70 million in grant in aid and national lottery funding through the British Film Institute.
Like many of our creative industries, the British film industry is a fabulous success story. What plans does the Secretary of State have to make sure that it will still be an industry to celebrate post-Brexit, and will she be contributing to February’s White Paper on the future negotiations?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the success of the UK film industry. I am sure that many right hon. and hon. Members are planning over Christmas to enjoy the new “Star Wars” film, which was made in Britain. Last week, I was in China to sign a co-production treaty, making us only the second country in the world to have both film and TV treaties with the Chinese. That is important because this is a global industry—it relies not merely on the other 27 member states of the European Union, but on the whole world—and I want to make sure that it continues to be a success.
I was born in the shadow of Shepperton film studios and have long had links with the film industry, so may I urge the Secretary of State to do something about getting more apprentices into the film sector? Our great directors and many of our great actors left school at 14 or 15 and did apprenticeships. Today, too many people at the top are not very creative, because they all went to Eton. Will she do something about getting ordinary kids into the film industry again?
I am incredibly proud of the creativity of all our young people, no matter which school they went to. Perhaps that was an audition by the hon. Gentleman, given his close links to film. He rightly identifies that there are issues with apprenticeships in the film industry because of the business model in that industry, and particularly because there are so many freelancers and shorter-term contracts. We are working with the Department for Education to make sure we have the right apprenticeships so that young people can get the skills they need to succeed in the global success that is the British film industry.
With part of “Les Misérables” filmed at Boughton House near Kettering and Keira Knightley’s “Pride & Prejudice” filmed at Weekley village just outside the town, what more are the Government doing to encourage filmmakers to use historic sites in the great British countryside for their films?
I want to see the great British countryside used as the location for great British films. It is fantastic that Kettering has been such a hotbed. I am pleased that a number of films have been made in the Peak district, including in the Staffordshire moorlands. I want to see more of them; they are very welcome.
Surely the decision for the filming to take place in the constituency of the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) was quite deliberate, on account of his prodigious efforts.
Northern Ireland’s film commission, Northern Ireland Screen, has invested some £14 million in the US cable network to enable “Game of Thrones” to be delivered, and some £115 million has come back into the economy of Northern Ireland as a result. Industry-wide speculation certainly brings great accumulation. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Northern Ireland Assembly to ensure that the Northern Ireland film commission brings even more business into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
“Game of Thrones” is another fantastic example of a global franchise that is made in the United Kingdom, this time in Northern Ireland. That is something we are incredibly proud of and we need to make sure that there is as much support as possible. I continue to work with colleagues across all the devolved nations to ensure that film companies understand the diverse breadth of opportunities in the whole United Kingdom.