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Film and Television Production Industry

Volume 729: debated on Thursday 9 March 2023

9. What steps she is taking to help expand the film and television production industry; and if she will make a statement. (903947)

The Government are committed to supporting our world-leading broadcasters and film and television industries. This includes ensuring that public service content is easy to find on a wide range of TV platforms; delivering our UK global screen fund, which is investing £21 million in the international growth of independent screen productions across the UK; and continuing to support the screen sector’s tax reliefs, which provided more than £1 billion in support in the last financial year.

Back in 1982, at the Oscars, Colin Welland said, “The British are coming!” Do you know what? The British have come. I understand that—[Interruption.] You are making me laugh, Mr Speaker. I understand that, by next year, we will have more film stages in the UK than in Hollywood. Will my right hon. and learned Friend continue to support the British film industry, which generates so many US dollars for the British economy?

I will continue to champion this fundamental sector. I am pleased to see that productions supported by the Government’s film and TV production restart scheme and the UK global screen fund were recognised by both BAFTA and Oscar nominations. Indeed, these schemes have supported £3 billion in production spend across the UK and protected more than 100,000 jobs. We are committed to supporting these sectors and to building on our record production spending of more than £6 billion in 2022.

Cornwall is a fantastic setting for TV programmes such as the fantastic “Delicious” with Dawn French, filmed at Pentillie castle, and the new “Beyond Paradise”, filmed in Looe, or big movies such as “Alice in Wonderland”, filmed at Antony House. Those are just three productions that go beside the likes of “Poldark”, “Doc Martin” and even James Bond. What more can be done to promote Cornwall as a filming location?

I agree that Cornwall is a fabulous backdrop for any film, and the UK global screen fund has supported the launch of “Enys Men”, which was also filmed in Cornwall. I was pleased to see Screen Cornwall’s British Film Institute-funded report on how to establish Cornwall as a creative cluster of significance.

I was delighted earlier this week to host a group of female film and television composers in the House of Commons to celebrate their achievements, but our pipeline of writers of music for film and television is under threat if our musicians cannot travel easily to tour in the United States. I am glad the Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Julia Lopez), expressed concern about this when she answered my recent question, but she said:

“The UK Government cannot interfere in another country’s processes and must respect their systems, just as we expect them to respect the UK’s processes.”

Can the Secretary of State not do a bit better and at least tell the House that the Government are making representations to the US authorities, on behalf of our wonderful musicians and composers, to try to make sure they do not implement these punitive increases in visa costs?

Yes, we are making representations, across Government. Ultimately it is not our decision, but we will be and are making those representations. The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about skills and the pipeline, which I am looking carefully at.

York’s XR Stories has opened up new and unique opportunities in the digital creative space and will accelerate the UK’s global digital media offer, which, as the Secretary of State will know, will play a significant role in the future creative economy. So what steps is she taking to invest in the digital creative cluster? Will she meet me to talk about York’s opportunity to accelerate the UK’s place in a global space?

We have a number of creative clusters across the UK and I am absolutely committed to ensuring that they continue to grow, because the creative industries have grown at twice the rate of the wider economy since 2010, generating £116 billion in 2019. The sector is important to me, as I know it is to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister.