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Music Tours: Special Event Hauliers

Volume 711: debated on Thursday 24 March 2022

5. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on helping to ensure adequate availability of specialist event hauliers to support domestic music tours in summer 2022. (906269)

I wrote to Baroness Vere of Norbiton, my counterpart at the Department for Transport, in February to discuss plans for supporting domestic tours through the implementation of the dual registration proposals. I am pleased to say that those are being taken forward and should come into force later this year. My Department and the Department for Transport continue to work closely with industry to understand the needs of the specialist events haulage sector.

I thank the Minister for that response; I am glad that the Government are finally talking about this issue, which has been flagged up as a problem for a very long time, but “later this year” will not be good enough for bands wanting to tour the UK this summer. Harvey Goldsmith has said that there are not enough trucks and not enough drivers, and that we need a solution now. What is the Minister’s answer?

That is not the message that I have heard, but I will be meeting UK Music representatives on Monday; if they share the concerns that the hon. Lady has just expressed, I will be happy to discuss those with them. The Secretary of State and I continue to do a lot of work with ministerial counterparts in other countries and across the Government on this issue. We are alive to the sector’s concerns.

In an astonishing admission, Lord Frost, the Government’s former Brexit negotiator, recently said of musicians touring to the EU:

“There is a whole set of problems here that is making life difficult on both sides”.

Big problems include the road haulage limits, which mean that UK-based vehicles cannot make more than two laden stops in the EU, which adds a £30,000 cost to each tour. Cabotage limits can add up to £16,000 a day. Those are substantial burdens, and most tours of UK orchestras are to Europe: such tours represent 12% of their earned income. Lord Frost now believes that the Government should change and move to a more pragmatic position to ease touring. Does the Minister agree?

I thank the hon. Lady for her interest in this issue. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is not responsible for the overall negotiating position, but as I say we have been in close discussions with other Departments. We have made progress on some of the specific issues raised with us, such as splitter vans, and we have also provided a lot of support to the wider events sector. We have made sure that carnets will not be required and we have been doing a whole bunch of other stuff.

As I said, I am meeting UK Music representatives on Monday to discuss the remaining outstanding issues, but we have also had a number of conversations with EU member states. In the vast majority of those, people no longer require permits or visas to carry out this kind of work.