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Brexit: Creative Industries

Volume 785: debated on Wednesday 18 October 2017


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with the creative industries regarding Brexit.

My Lords, the creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories, contributing more than £87 billion to the economy and around £20 billion in exports. The Government have been working closely with the creative industries to understand the impacts and opportunities presented by our decision to leave the EU, as well as working with them on an early sector deal, as part of the industrial strategy, to secure the sector’s continued prosperity and growth.

My Lords, I draw attention to my specific interest in the register, although my Question relates to the creative industries more generally, which, as the Minister has acknowledged, have been a very successful area of our economy. I believe they have been the economy’s fastest-growing sector in recent years. Is the Minister aware of just how successful and influential the sector has been in formulating European policy, and how concerned it therefore is about a loss of influence in future, as well as some of the specific issues concerning market access, content and country origin, and of course funding? Will he assure us that these industries will be able to participate in those European policies and programmes that have been so successful in bringing jobs and opportunities to the United Kingdom?

I absolutely agree with the noble Baroness that the creative industries have been not only European leaders but world leaders. As far as Europe is concerned, we absolutely want them to go on contributing in that way. That will be part of the negotiations. We want them to continue to be part of things such as the European creative fund. With regard to other EU funds, if various industries apply for grants the Chancellor has agreed to guarantee to continue paying those after we leave, until the project’s expiration.

My Lords, for many working in the creative industries the most pressing concern is whether they will be able to travel to other countries in Europe at short notice to work. Some UK musicians travel within Europe more than 40 times a year. Surely in that and many other instances—the Minister will be aware that the advertising industry raised this concern yesterday—the implementation of visas will be unrealistic and detrimental to the sector.

The noble Earl makes a good point and we are only too well aware of it. One of my department’s roles is to make sure that the aspects raised by the creative industries are known throughout government, in particular to the Department for Exiting the EU and the Home Office. My department is working closely with the Home Office and the Migration Advisory Committee.

My Lords, I declare an interest by way of my family involvement with the creative industries. May I pursue the thread of the previous question? The richness of the performing industries comes from their diversity—one thinks particularly of music—and the wealth and range of talent that has been brought over to the countries of these islands from continental Europe. Is there not a danger that those who live in the other 27 member states will perceive that there is a barrier to coming here and stop coming, which would impoverish the cultural scene in these islands?

If they perceive that, there is that danger, so we must work very hard to make sure that that perception does not exist.

My Lords, while acknowledging and agreeing with everything that has been said and welcoming the tone of my noble friend’s responses, will he also recognise the enormous importance of collaboration and co-operation between the great museums and galleries of Europe? That has been responsible, among other things, for bringing some of the finest exhibitions not only to London but throughout Europe. It would impoverish us all and the generations after if there was an impediment to that.

I agree with my noble friend. Collaboration in the cultural scene applies not only to Europe but to other countries in the world. We want to make sure that that collaboration continues and is improved. I mentioned Creative Europe. It is important as a fund not only for the relatively small amount of money that we have received but because it is a totemic fund that encourages partnership and enables us to take a lead role in that.

My Lords, I know that the Minister agrees that skills are key to the continued success of our creative industries, even more so now with the uncertainty of Brexit. Does he agree with the finding in Sir Peter Bazalgette’s recent review of the creative industries that it is imperative that the Government commit to designing the education and skills framework to support the sector? Will the Government look again at the proposed reforms to the EBacc and introduce a creative subject?

On the first part of the question, we welcome Sir Peter Bazalgette’s report. The Creative Industries Council is looking at it and will take it into account when it produces its proposals for an early sector deal. Education is outside the remit of DCMS, but I am sure the noble Baroness’s point will have been noted by that department.

My Lords, I refer noble Lords to my interests as set out in the register. May I point out the negative consequences of a reduction in freedom of movement for the pool of talent coming into and out of the United Kingdom, not least in the performing industries? Therefore, will the Minister make certain that the talent unions, such as the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Equity and the Musicians’ Union, producers and others are part of the consultation group that meets the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to iron out the problems that they foresee on the road to Brexit?

We have had many conversations with subsectors in the creative industries, and we are certainly open to more. We know that access to talent and skills is a key concern for the creative industries. That is why we are working closely with the Home Office and the Migration Advisory Committee, through its consultation, to feed in the concerns and demands of the sector.

My Lords, will my noble friend accept what this Government and previous Governments have done to support creative industries through tax relief, from which Screen Yorkshire and the UK film industry have benefited? Will he use his good offices to ensure that these tax reliefs continue? I should declare my interest as I was a shadow Minister campaigning for these tax reliefs and subsequently benefited from them.

I certainly accept the remarks of my noble friend. For example, since film tax relief was introduced in 2007, 2,070 films have been made accounting for £8.9 billion of UK expenditure. Only recently, we introduced tax relief for children’s television programmes and theatre tax relief, and we hope to continue to do so.

The Minister mentioned the Bazalgette report, commissioned by the former chairman of the Arts Council, which we welcome. It is a wide-ranging view of what needs to be done in the creative industries to make sure they are a success. As a former Treasury Minister, the Minister might be interested in two or three of the points which play to his strengths, I am sure. Will he advise us of where we are on the review looking at whether the current HMT definition of R&D tax credits captures legitimate R&D activity in the creative industries, which goes back to the film tax point that has just been made? Will he also explain why the creative industries fail to get virtually anything from Innovate UK funding? Currently only 2% goes to the creative industries.

The Creative Industries Council is reviewing the suggestions in the Bazalgette review, which we commissioned. There are many of these, the most important being the proposal for creative clusters. The council expects to come back to the department with its proposals by the end of the year. I am not sure why Innovate UK supplies only 2%. Nevertheless, as the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, said, the creative industries have been a tremendous success story and are growing at one and half times the rate of the rest of the economy.