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Live Events and Cultural Festivals: Government-backed Insurance Scheme

Volume 691: debated on Thursday 18 March 2021

If he will hold discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential merits of introducing a Government-backed insurance scheme for the live events sector. (913594)

What discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on establishing a Government-backed insurance fund to help support the return of live events and cultural festivals during the covid-19 outbreak. (913599)

The Government are aware of the concerns that have been raised about the challenge of securing indemnity cover for live events, and my officials and the rest of the team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport continue to work closely with the affected sectors to understand all the barriers to reopening, including financial support, certainty around the public health situation and the potential challenges of insurance.

Insurance providers, live music venues, promoters and artists have jointly called on the UK Government to support an insurance fund to get live cultural events back up and running, with assurance that covid flare-ups will not ruin their chance at a recovery. Will the Minister meet with representatives from the live music industry to discuss those proposals?

Yes, I meet representatives from the live music industry all the time, and the Government road map sets out a clear plan that will allow events to return quickly and safely. That is being backed up by the events research scheme, which will give the evidence to provide the how and the when. We really understand how vital it is to get people back to doing the things they love as quickly as is safely possible, and we understand the huge benefits to our economy in allowing that to happen.

I was pleased to hear the Minister’s report of meetings with industry stakeholders and insurance bodies. Will she release all documents relating to those discussions, to allow proper scrutiny of the decision making around insurance for live events this summer?

Where appropriate, of course we can publish documents, but sometimes we have to have conversations behind closed doors, so that people can get off their chest how they are feeling and we can do our best to tackle it. We understand that there are a number of obstacles for our sectors at the moment, and the culture recovery fund has been fantastic at supporting them to keep going through this really difficult time. The hon. Lady will be delighted to know that her Richmond Park constituency has benefited to the tune of over £1 million from the culture recovery fund, which has supported so many incredible organisations, such as the Orange Tree theatre.

As if the Government’s refusal to underwrite live music insurance was not bad enough for the industry, the UK Government rejected a deal with the EU that would have allowed artists and their crews to tour without visas, as they did pre Brexit. At her recent Select Committee appearance, the Minister said that as far as she knew, no negotiations with individual states were taking place to resolve these arrangements, but she promised to strain “every sinew” to resolve this Brexit disaster. That was over a month ago. Have the Government finally engaged in bilateral talks over visa agreements for artists? If so, with which countries? What progress has been made? Artists are waiting to hear.

The hon. Gentleman knows that not all of what he said is 100% true. The Treasury has always said that it would look at indemnity if it was the only obstacle to events being able to take place, and in the current public health situation there is huge uncertainty, which is clearly another major obstacle. He also knows that we did not turn down an excellent visa option from the EU. He knows that the visa option that was on the table would not have permitted touring; it was just for ad hoc events and would not have supported all the support crews that necessarily go with a tour. With regard to international discussions, I met my colleagues in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office only yesterday.