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Touring Musicians: Support to Work in Europe

Volume 703: debated on Thursday 18 November 2021

We are working hard to help touring musicians to work in Europe. Arrangements are, in many areas, much more workable than has been reported. I am pleased to say that after this week’s very good announcement from Spain, 21 member states now offer visa and work routes for musicians and performers. Accompanied portable musical instruments do not require a carnet and splitter vans are not subject to EU cabotage rules. We recognise, however, that challenges remain. I had a very productive meeting with the sector yesterday to work through remaining concerns. We also continue to work with the remaining six member states that do not allow visa and permit-free touring.

I appreciate what the Minister says in terms of Spain, although it should be pointed out that the industry is saying that it has been working with its counterparts in Spain and actually the Government have not been terribly helpful, so it has been up to the community themselves. The Minister mentions cabotage rules. As she has been working with the industry, will she set out when these issues will be resolved? It is all well and good having meetings, but if things are not resolved, we are destroying options for our talented musicians to travel around Europe. They cannot take their speakers and mics and all the other things that they need in order to do their jobs. The Government really should be doing so much better on this issue.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising his concerns. I reiterate that there has been a real team effort on this. We have had fantastic working with our embassy in Madrid, with the industry and with Ministers from across Government, so I would push back on that. We discussed some of the technical issues on transportation only yesterday with the Department for Transport, and there are various things that I am going to take away and discuss with the Secretary of State for Transport. These are very live issues. There is a debate later today where we can discuss these things in more detail, should he be minded.

I wholeheartedly welcome the news that musicians will no longer need visas to go on short-term tours in Spain, and I am hugely grateful to those in the sector, particularly the Association of British Orchestras and Live, who have worked so tirelessly on the matter. This just goes to show that these problems are not insurmountable and can be overcome. However, as the Minister stated, there are still six member states where problems persist. Will she provide an update on the discussions she is having with those six member states so that musicians and touring bodies are able to carry out their work overseas?

Yes, we are hopefully going to use this moment with Spain to make progress with the remaining countries. As there are only six left, we think that we can make a lot of good progress, and we will be having meetings accordingly.