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Brexit: Creative Industries

Volume 776: debated on Thursday 27 October 2016


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will match current levels of European Union funding for the creative industries following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

My Lords, the Chancellor announced that the Treasury will provide a guarantee for all new structural investment fund projects signed after the Autumn Statement and before we leave the EU where they provide value for money and support domestic strategic priorities. Leaving the EU means that we want to take our own decisions about how to deliver the policy objectives previously targeted by EU funding. Over the coming months, we will consult with stakeholders to review all EU funding schemes in the round to ensure that any ongoing funding commitments best serve the UK’s national interest while ensuring appropriate investor certainty.

I thank the Minister for his reply. I know he agrees that our creative industries are one of the great successes. Does he also agree that they have massively benefited from our being a member of the European Union? For example, the Creative Europe programme has a budget of £1.1 billion, for which funding UK applicants have a success rate double that of the EU average. Considering the contribution of the creative industries to our economy and our position as a soft-power superpower, can the Minister confirm that the creative industries will be at the top table when Brexit negotiations commence?

I am happy to agree with the noble Baroness that the creative industries are one of the great success stories of Britain. They have expanded by 34% since 2010 and now contribute 5.3% of GVA, so they are economically important, quite apart from the important cultural and aesthetic areas of promoting Britain abroad. They are at the top table—Ministers have had many meetings about the creative industries—and even if it was not for the cultural aspects, the fact that they are so important economically means that they are very much at the top table when Brexit is discussed. To show that in some way, the Secretary of State for DCMS is a member of the Cabinet’s economy and industrial strategy sub-committee, which met yesterday.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that the free movement of artists and performers on our continent is a cornerstone of the creative industries? This is not just because of an international labour market but because of an established co-operation, meaning movement in both directions. If the right to work, travel and study abroad freely is removed, it will be hugely damaging.

I think it is very important that people who are involved in the cultural aspects of life can move freely and exchange ideas. I agree with the noble Earl. Interestingly, only 6.2% of people who work in the creative industries come from the EU.

My Lords, is the Minister aware of the benefit that has come to Wales from the INTERREG programme, whereby the creative industries in Wales and Ireland have had many projects of mutual benefit? When we leave the EU and Ireland remains in, how on earth will it be possible for those projects to continue?

When we leave the EU, the Government will have to decide how to support industries in the UK. The difference is that we will be able to decide that for ourselves.

Would my noble friend accept that—aside from the people aspect, which is rightly being raised—while fully applauding the colossal success of our creative industries around the world, they are mostly in the form of services in digital information transmission and exports? This is a services area where, frankly, the single market has not been very encouraging over the last 30 or 40 years when we have been a member. Would he accept that, in fact, the real prizes and best opportunities for the service industries are going to lie increasingly outside the European Union? That is where, as we have already heard in earlier questions, we are going to make a major mark. The single market is fine but not the best deal for our service industries.

I agree that it is very important that we look at other countries outside of the EU, but the EU will remain important to us and we can still continue to trade there. As far as the digital market is concerned, it is obviously easier in some ways to trade with other countries because distance does not matter so much. To that extent, I agree with my noble friend.

My Lords, I return to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. Does the Minister agree that part of the reason why our creative industries—in particular, our performing arts—are so admired worldwide is that there is a very free interchange internationally of artists? Will he also agree that it is increasingly difficult for people who do not have the right to work here as EU citizens to get visas? It is a difficult, time-consuming and often demoralising process. Will he ask his colleagues in the Home Office please to note that, although we have not yet left the EU, the prospect of those rules applying to EU citizens in the future is liable to have a rather chilling effect on the international flow of talent?

As I said before, I completely agree that cultural interchange is important and, by its very nature, it requires people to move around. I can assure the noble Baroness that that is well understood and it will be taken into account—among a host of many other factors—by the appropriate departments.

My Lords, one other feature of the creative industries, which is important to bear in mind, is that they are a mixed economy. As well as the commercial and profit-seeking side, there is the publicly supported side—particularly the BBC and Channel 4. Does this not suggest that the Government should do more to support these national institutions?

I think the Government do a huge amount to support those institutions. I think we spend £3.9 billion on the BBC.

My Lords, the Minister gave a very careful reply to my noble friend—an extremely careful reply. Is the bottom line that the Government are not going to guarantee the current level of funding to our creative industries?

No, that is not what I said. I gave a very careful reply, as the noble Lord mentioned. In fact, for the creative industries, the most important fund is the Creative Europe fund, which is applied for directly to the EU. Funds that are applied for directly to the EU have an unconditional guarantee from the Treasury until we leave.