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UK Film and TV Production

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 10 February 2022

This Government’s actions have helped the film and TV industry bounce back from the pandemic. Our production achieved record success last year, and my right hon. Friend may have seen the vote of confidence given by the new Amazon Prime deal with Shepperton studios this week. Our covid-related support includes the £500 million production restart scheme and the culture recovery fund, which my right hon. Friend will know has awarded £117,000 to Maldon’s Rio cinema. We want to make sure not just that films are made here, but that they are seen on the big screen in cinemas across our towns.

I join my hon. Friend in welcoming the excellent news from Amazon Prime. Can she confirm that the film and TV production restart scheme, which was possible only as a result of Brexit, has so far supported production worth nearly £2.5 billion and supported 80,000 jobs? Given this success, will she consider extending the scheme beyond its end in April, and if that is not possible, will she try to obtain equivalent cover from commercial insurers at that time?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to point out how successful the scheme has been. It has supported £2.8 billion of production spend and over 92,000 jobs, which means we have kept production going and had a fantastic year. As he knows, the scheme was established as a time-limited and short-term intervention in response to a market failure because of the pandemic. It will continue until 30 June, but in the meantime we are working very closely with industry stakeholders and insurers to make sure that there is an effective transition to market cover when that scheme closes to new applicants in April.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving me advance notice of her absence today. I am not sure whether her own side would see that as a blessing or a curse, given that some of her recent performances have had—how shall we describe them—mixed reviews. Our public service broadcasters are responsible for two thirds of commissions outside London, and provide a pipeline of skilled and talented workers across our regions and nations. With programming that is sold around the world, they underpin our incredibly successful creative ecosystem. The levelling-up White Paper will soon impose a statutory requirement on the Government that their own policies will meet their new levelling-up missions. How will the Secretary of State square that with her plan to sell off Channel 4 and end the BBC as we know it? Will her plans to do so be evaluated against her Government’s new legal requirements for levelling up?

I confirm that we miss the Secretary of State very much. She is flying the flag for the UK in the global Expo today, and we are all proud of the work she is doing there.

I assure the hon. Lady that we very much support our public service broadcasting sector, and it has a huge role to play in levelling up the regions. We want to support that role going forward, and we have absolutely no intention to end the BBC. A decision has not yet been made about the sale of Channel 4, but if we looked at such a sale, we would very much look at commitments to the regions. We also do fantastic stuff on PSBs with apprenticeships, and those PSBs are creating jobs across the UK, which we very much want to keep going.