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Brass Bands

Volume 621: debated on Thursday 9 February 2017

We strongly support brass bands through regular Arts Council funding to organisations such as Brass Bands England. Additionally, large brass bands can take advantage of the orchestra tax relief, which was introduced in April 2016.

Youth Brass 2000 is a young people’s brass band based in the village of Wilbarston in the Kettering constituency. Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating it on recently being crowned British open youth brass band champion for the fifth year running? Is it not an excellent example that other youth bands should be pleased to follow?

I am delighted to trumpet the success of the British open youth champions, who have won for the fifth year in a row. I played the cornet in a brass band when I was a boy, but I never rose to the dizzying heights of the national champions whom my hon. Friend represents. I send congratulations to them all.

In my constituency of Strangford, we have the wonderful Newtownards silver band, which brings together the young and the not so young playing instruments that are also young and not so young. I understand that the Minister is keen to support that, so will he endorse the need for cross-community participation and gender balance to ensure that the brass brands of the future can succeed?

As we can see by the response in the House, there are brass bands right across the country—the Haverhill band in my constituency is a particularly good example. The hon. Gentleman’s point that brass bands, like other music organisations, can bring together people from different backgrounds across cultural divides and provide a point of unity is well made.

The Minister is certainly not known for blowing his own trumpet. I am sure that, like me, he would like to congratulate the Haslingden and Helmshore band, the Water band, the 2nd Rossendale Scout band, the Whitworth Vale and Healey band and the Darwen brass band, all of which work with young people in particular. Will he take this opportunity to thank all those bands for the fantastic work that they do to get young people off the street, give them a love of music and get them performing?

I never got to the point of playing the trumpet—I was a mere cornet player—but I do want to bang the drum for all the brass bands that my hon. Friend mentioned.

The long-term sustainability of our brass bands, including the fine Blaenavon town band in my home town, depends on affordable music lessons being available in schools. Does the Minister agree that the Government’s cuts to the devolved Administrations’ local councils have put that at risk?

People who play in brass bands right across the country should be enthused by the support for this question from both sides of the Chamber. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. In England, where the UK Government are responsible for support, we have put £300 million into music hubs to ensure that everybody gets the opportunity to play a musical instrument. It is up to devolved authorities to do that outside England, and I wish that the Welsh Government would do something similar.