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Leaving the EU: Creative Industries

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 16 March 2017

1. What assessment she has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on funding for the creative industries. (909283)

Before I start, I remind the House that, as per today’s Order Paper, I plan to make a statement on the proposed merger of 21st Century Fox and Sky after business questions, so I will not answer any questions on the subject during oral questions this morning, but I will of course be happy to do so at the Dispatch Box later.

We have been engaging with representatives from across the creative industries to understand the potential impact and opportunities of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, including on funding. The Treasury has announced that it will guarantee funding for structural and investment fund projects between the time we leave the EU and 2020.

Blaenau Gwent has been the filming location for everything from “Wrath of the Titans” and “Doctor Who” to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I am keen for the British film industry to thrive after Brexit, so will the Government negotiate for the UK to stay in Creative Europe, the vital film funding programme which our brilliant British Film Institute helps hold together?

I join the hon. Gentleman in praising Blaenau Gwent. I also praise not only all the parts of Wales that are used as filming locations for some fantastic films and television programmes, but the studios in Cardiff where many great programmes, including “Doctor Who”, are filmed. I am aware of the views about Creative Europe, and we are looking at all the European funds and making decisions about the appropriate response from the United Kingdom to those funds after we leave the European Union.

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s recognition of the importance to the creative industries of their ability to license on an exclusively territorial basis. Will she ensure that that message gets across to the UK permanent representation in Brussels so that it argues that case as strongly as possible while we remain in the EU?

I can say categorically yes. My right hon. Friend’s point is one reason why people were concerned about our membership of the EU and one of the things that led to the vote on 23 June last year.

Leaving the EU could affect not only funding, but the growth of the creative industries, which contribute £87.1 billion a year—£160,000 a minute—to the UK’s economy. What safeguards is the Secretary of State putting in place to protect this currently thriving sector of UK plc?

I also want to take this opportunity to put on the record my enormous thanks to the Secretary of State and her team for bringing forward “ban the bots” legislation and taking on board all the recommendations of the Waterson report.

I thank the hon. Lady for that comment. The two of us first met to discuss the matter probably about three years ago when I was a Home Office Minister and had responsibility for it through the organised crime portfolio. She has campaigned long and hard to achieve this result. She and my hon. Friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams) deserve great credit for the fact that we have reached this point.

The hon. Lady rightly says that the creative industries are a great British success story, which is one reason why they are mentioned explicitly in our industrial strategy Green Paper. It is worth saying that the creative industries are a success because they are truly global. The European Union is not the only market that they look at; they look across the whole world, and I want to ensure that they continue to be a success.

Does the Secretary of State agree that there has been cross-fertilisation of creative and artistic talent among all the peoples of Europe for at least several millennia, and that there is no reason to suppose that that will stop once we leave the European Union?

All across Europe, our competitors in the creative industries are ready to pounce, believing that Brexit uncertainty is their opportunity. By refusing to guarantee the residency rights of EU nationals this week, does the Secretary of State realise that the Government have once again shown themselves to be a poor champion for those in this and so many other sectors in the UK?

We have had debates about EU nationals at length in this House and in the other place. We have been clear that we want early certainty not only for EU nationals here in the UK, but for UK nationals in Europe. It is incredibly important that we get that reciprocal arrangement as soon as possible so that we can give that certainty.

The Secretary of State will be aware that the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport recently visited Belfast, where we were able to visit the “Game of Thrones” set. We asked about the EU contribution to the Northern Ireland creative industries and, to my surprise, EU funding as such did not come up but access to a UK talent pool did. Does she therefore believe that Government investment should be focused on building that talent pool?

My hon. Friend is exactly right. We need to make sure that we have the skills and talent here in the UK and that we attract the brightest and best from around the world. I look forward to visiting Northern Ireland. A few political issues are stopping me doing so at the moment, but as soon as they are resolved I will make that visit.