Motion to Take Note
My Lords, perhaps I will wait a moment while free movement outside the cultural sector takes place.
It is a pleasure to introduce the European Union Committee’s report on movement of people in the cultural sector. Let me say at the start that I am grateful to the members of the sub-committee and to our excellent secretariat. The report was published on 26 July last year, and the Government’s response was received on 13 November—the day before the draft withdrawal agreement and political declaration were published. The Government have also since published their immigration White Paper, in December last year, setting out the UK’s future immigration system after free movement comes to an end. The House of Lords moves with due deliberation, and I shall not complain about the delay in scheduling this debate, which perhaps reflects the timeless nature of our culture.
Throughout the inquiry, and following publication of the report, the committee has engaged closely with the cultural sector. The committee heard from musicians, dancers and other artists, not only on the impact that ending free movement could have on the arts sector in the UK but on the negative impact that the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations is already having. I will return to that. I was pleased to be able to discuss these concerns with Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, in what was an encouraging meeting. However, I have the impression that the Home Office may be rather fiercer.
The committee made two clear recommendations to the Government to minimise disruption to the cultural sector after the UK leaves the EU. The first recommendation was that the Government should seek an EU-wide, multi-entry, short-term touring visa for UK citizens and offer a reciprocal commitment for EU citizens. This issue was raised a few minutes ago in a question from the noble Lord, Lord Wigley. Such a visa would enable self-employed artists and musicians to travel easily between the UK and the EU for temporary work. It would ensure that touring remains affordable and easy to organise for all self-employed artists. Ensuring that artists can continue to move freely between the UK and the EU will ensure that our cultural sector remains vibrant and rich in talent. If I may say so, this is equally true for the opulence of Covent Garden and the mud of Glastonbury. The committee was constantly struck by the extent to which the cultural sector depends on free movement of people within the European Union. The evidence from the Creative Industries Federation on that point was compelling.
Our second recommendation was to ensure that EU citizens travelling on short-term contracts to the UK after the transition period will not have to pay into our social security system, and that the Government should seek reciprocal arrangements with the EU. Under current EU provisions, posted workers and others who actively work in two or more member states pay social security contributions only in the member state in which they are regularly employed. The concern we have heard from the sector is that, without this policy, it would often be too expensive for UK artists and musicians to tour in the EU and vice versa.
The Government’s response to our report rightly echoed our praise of Britain’s cultural excellence and diversity, and—worth emphasising here—its importance to the economy, contributing up to £29.5 billion in 2017, the last year for which figures are available. But it was disappointing that the Government’s response to the report lacked, or seemed to lack, genuine consideration of our recommendations. The Government did not address our concerns that applying the current visa system to EU nationals would make it harder to bring talent to the UK; nor did they consider how they could encourage the EU to allow artists to tour easily and take part in temporary arrangements. Further, there was no consideration of our recommendation to waive social security payments for EU citizens travelling to the UK on short-term contracts.
When the immigration White Paper was published, the committee examined it carefully for proposals that reflected the recommendations made in our report. Alas, we found none. I invite the Minister to confirm when replying to this debate whether a touring visa has been ruled out and whether the Government are considering waiving social security payments for temporary EU workers whose regular work is in the European Union.
Since the publication of our report the uncertainty over when and how the UK will leave the EU has increased greatly. We have heard that this uncertainty is already having a negative impact on the cultural sector. The Incorporated Society of Musicians has told us that some EU employers have been reluctant to hire talent in the face of a possible no-deal scenario. Indeed, a recent survey conducted by the Incorporated Society of Musicians found that one in 10 respondents reported that offers of work have been withdrawn or cancelled as a result of Brexit uncertainty. Its recent report stated:
“Brexit casts doubt about the need for visas and their cost which directly affects the viability of concerts”.
I do not expect the Minister to tell us what will happen next—one can always hope, but I do not expect—but I hope he will acknowledge the damage that uncertainty is already causing to our cultural sector.
We welcome the Government’s announcement that in the event of no deal EU citizens will be able to come to the UK for periods of up to three months to work and to apply for European temporary leave to remain to stay for up to 36 months. We are, however, concerned that UK citizens have not been offered reciprocal treatment to enter EU member states. The committee has asked the Minister for Immigration, Caroline Nokes, for an update on the Government’s engagement with EU member states on how they intend to treat UK nationals seeking to work in those countries if there is no deal. The Immigration Minister has, alas, failed to respond to that request. I hope the Minister will be able to give us an update today.
We did not focus much in our report on poetry, which gives me a chance now to say how much I welcome the appointment of Simon Armitage as Poet Laureate. His poems carved in stone along the Pennine Way are witness to the enduring character of British—and, of course, Yorkshire—culture.
However, British culture is also European and depends for its vibrancy on the free movement of people across our borders. I hope the Minister will assure us that the Government will do all in their power to make sure that Britain’s cultural sector, and the British economy with it, is not adversely by Brexit. I beg to move.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Jay, and I congratulate him on the work that he and his sub-committee have done on the cultural sector.
Nearly two years ago now, my own sub-committee of your Lordships’ European Union Select Committee produced a report on Brexit and the service trades. My intervention today is not through any particular insight into the position of the various cultural sectors—I am a great admirer of many of the sectors that the noble Lord, Lord Jay, has referred to, particularly cinema and the theatre—but in our earlier inquiry many musicians, stage providers and the whole broadcasting sector all emphasised the danger of uncertainty, as the noble Lord said, and the effect that restrictions on the movement of people will have on their ability to deliver British cultural products, employ talent from around the world and send our talent around the world if this issue is not addressed fully.
I am not a representative of any cultural sector. I found myself boasting over the weekend, after a couple of glasses, that I had been on stage with some of our leading actors. That was 50 years ago, and their careers seem to have taken off better than mine did, so, like many failed actors, I ended up in politics.
This is part of a wider situation. The cultural sector depends on people’s ability to move around, as do many others. Professional services, tourism and a whole range of industries depend on people moving from this country into Europe and on Europeans coming to work here in the long, medium or short term. The way in which our immigration system and Europe’s immigration system operate with the rest of the world is not conducive to that method of operating across borders for sectors of this kind. People in them need to move frequently without hassle—as our passports used to say, “without let or hindrance”—but that only ever operated within the EU. We are talking about a significant sector. The noble Lord said that the cultural sector is worth £30 billion, but together the sectors we are talking about form approximately 60% of our economy, and most of them depend on that kind of movement.
What is our reaction and the EU’s reaction to these issues in the negotiations that have already been dragging on for three years and look like dragging on for another few years? It is not good. The services sector has either been assumed to take care of itself or has not been mentioned. There is no provision for it in the Chequers agreement or in the Prime Minister’s position on the withdrawal agreement. It is referred to in the political declaration, but only in relatively negative terms. In effect, it says that people moving to other countries to deliver services will be covered by the rules of the host country. That means every single nation state, and they all have different rules for different services, different qualifications and different ways in which you put on shows in the cultural sector or appear before the courts in the legal sector. The European rules overrule that, which means that a Spanish lawyer can appear in a German court and an Italian violinist can appear in a Scottish concert hall, but each of those countries has its own rules, and if I read the terms of the political declaration literally, it means that those rules can be used to keep both those individuals out.
How we deal with services and the movement of people is bedevilled by the fact that ideologically and politically there are different attitudes to this, and they are in essence ideological and, if you like, instinctive. The liberal left regards this as an issue of human rights, citizenship and open access. The political right by and large regards this as an immigration issue of control, numbers and terms on which people enter the country. However, what the committee’s report and I are saying is that this is, in essence, an economic issue. This is a vital section of the British economy which will be absolutely stymied if we apply the rules which some people are advocating and which already exist for these groups of workers from the rest of the world or if the EU apply them to us.
I am not encouraged by what has been said so far about the focus of discussions. Even assuming for a moment that we reach some sort of agreement on a version of the withdrawal agreement and move into a truncated transition period after Halloween, we will not have a lot of time to sort out these issues because they are different in the different sectors. Some of them will depend on qualifications; some will depend on salary. For example, in this sector and most of the tourism sector a cut-off point of £30,000 a year will not be seriously helpful to many of the people who need to move around.
Therefore, my plea to the Government is, first, to reply in more detail to the noble Lord’s report and, secondly, to recognise that, whatever the political pressures on them, they should treat migration as a border control issue or a human rights issue, both of which are valid. In this context, the key issue for the future prosperity of these sectors is that it should be treated as an economic issue, and sensible and rational decisions should be taken on the future reciprocal migration arrangements with Europe.
I thank the noble Lord for his report. I underline its wider implications and look forward to the debate.
My Lords, an outsider looking in might regard this subject matter as a niche area of concern. I suggest, however, that in many ways it encapsulates the impact that a post-Brexit UK will have on individuals and the experiences of communities.
I was fortunate to be a member of the EU Home Affairs Committee, under the good chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Jay. It listened to and interrogated the evidence, and drew the conclusions set out in the report’s recommendations. What became clear during the inquiry was the significant and detrimental impact of a failure to address the specific issues that will affect this sector in any post-Brexit UK.
The committee heard evidence from across the cultural sector. We learned that dance organisations were among the most likely to employ EU 27 citizens. Of the 40,000 working in dance, on average 20% were EU nationals. The diversity study by UK Music found that 10% of those employed in the UK music industry were EU 27 nationals. Other cultural sectors, such as film and television and the museum and heritage sector, reported similar proportions of EU 27 nationals.
The significance of the involvement of EU 27 citizens in the UK cultural sector cannot be dismissed as simply a numbers issue, whereby encouraging and training more UK residents in these areas will solve the problem. Nor, in my opinion, can this issue be seen solely in monetary terms. The cultural sector does indeed make a very large contribution to the UK economy —as has already been quoted, the GVA of the sector was £29 billion in 2017—but this is just one facet of its impact.
During the inquiry, the effect of an end to free movement on communities’ access to cultural experiences and hence the cultural life of our country became clear. The Musicians’ Union and the Association of British Orchestras highlighted their members’ community outreach work in care homes, hospitals and prisons, as well as their specific programmes to reach young people. The inquiry heard passionate, well-argued and evidenced pleas from all sectors about the negative impact that a potential post-Brexit end to free movement would have. I shall give a couple of Yorkshire examples.
The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is the premier festival of new music outside London and is seen as being in the top five of new music festivals in Europe. The festival, of which I am now a trustee, absolutely depends on being able to attract musicians from across Europe. Last year, for example, the programme featured composers and musicians from the Netherlands, as well as the usual eclectic mix of musicians from across Europe. The festival reaches out to local people through, for example, a visual artistic exhibition from Switzerland in the indoor market and an exciting programme with schools in some of the town’s more deprived areas. All that will be made much more difficult for people who are extraordinarily talented but relatively poorly paid if the current government plans for free movement are not fundamentally changed.
The regions of our country that are more remote from London rely more heavily for a varied cultural experience on projects that have financial support from the EU. A topical example is the Stanza Stones, which have already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Jay. This project—poetry etched on to stones along the Pennines—was inspired by the new Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, who comes from Marsden, West Yorkshire.
Then there is the question of UK talent having the freedom to move quickly around Europe. Music has no boundaries and young musicians at the start of their careers need to have experiences in many different venues and work with talented people from different backgrounds. They may have opportunities offered at short notice. With restrictions on movement across the EU, those opportunities are also reduced.
Our shared European built cultural heritage absolutely depends on a shared approach to conservation. The tragedy of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is such an example. The restoration of that iconic building requires very skilled people who are in short supply. York Minster also suffered a devastating fire more than 30 years ago and has offered its skilled masons and conservators to help Notre Dame. Will that be less possible in the post-Brexit scenario? It will be more bureaucratic, it will mean more hurdles will have to be cleared and it will more than likely mean that the bonds that draw people together in cultural ways will be more restricted.
The solution to this unwanted scenario is clear in the report’s recommendations. Many people working in the cultural sector rely on their freedom as EU citizens to carry out short-term work in other EU countries. The recommendations conclude that the Government need to rethink the approach to workers in the sector, be it with their social security contributions, enabling preferential arrangements for EU-UK migration, or positively pursuing the idea that the sector came up with: that self-employed people in this sector be permitted to enter the UK for short-term engagements.
Cultural experiences are of fundamental importance to the well-being of individuals and communities. I urge the Government to adopt the recommendations to minimise the negative impact that any Brexit deal will have on the cultural life of our country.
My Lords, arts and culture have overtaken agriculture in their contribution to the economy: £10.8 billion. Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre for 12 years, said:
“You will find nobody in the arts world who doesn’t think there is an enormous black cloud on the horizon in the shape of Brexit. We are so dependent on ideas, talent, people moving freely. Freedom of movement was nothing but good for us”.
Then there was the open letter sent to the Prime Minister last year, organised by Bob Geldof and supported by Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Jarvis Cocker and Simon Rattle. The letter asked for an urgent rethink on Brexit, saying:
“We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island”.
The letter predicted that the “vast voice” and reach of British music would be silenced in a “self-built cultural jail”. People will lose their jobs if there is no deal, or even the Prime Minister’s deal. Movement of people is crucial and everything will change if it goes.
I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jay, on his very good opening speech, and his committee on its report, Brexit: Movement of People in the Cultural Sector. The report right up front states:
“The cultural sector makes a profoundly important contribution to the UK’s society and economy, and to its international image and influence. Cultural sector workers are highly mobile, and have thrived on collaboration with people from all over the world”.
So this is a story of Britain’s soft power and its partnerships around the world. The report also talks about the Government wanting to,
“‘take back control’ of the UK’s borders by ending the free movement of persons”.
The report highlights that the UK film and television industry alone contributed £7.7 billion to the economy in 2016. It also notes that, in museums, EU27 citizens accounted for,
“up to 15 per cent of the workforce”,
and that much heritage research in England has been,
“built around the model of free movement”.
According to the report, the City of London Corporation said that,
“the current non-EU visa regime would be ‘unsuitable’ for the cultural sector”.
Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras, said:
“Unfortunately … musicians starting out in a career in an orchestra are not earning £30,000 a year”.
This is the threshold set by the Government’s migration White Paper. He continued:
“We are highly skilled but not highly paid. Sometimes, the people at the Home Office do not understand that. They assume that high skills equals high pay, and it does not in the creative sector”.
Would the Minister agree with that? Mr Pemberton also said that it was essential to bring in talent at short notice, including in an emergency if a lead singer or dancer falls ill or is injured.
The Arts Council highlighted very clearly the problem of barriers to ease of movement: 70% of respondents to its survey said that barriers would negatively impact their future and 75% told them that barriers would affect UK-based productions’ ability to bring artists and organisations into this country. The legal protections and frameworks that European Union membership provides are also seen as crucial to the industry.
The music industry alone contributes £4.5 billion to the UK economy. When the Incorporated Society of Musicians surveyed its members it found that 95% said that Brexit was a negative. Of the respondents, 85% visit the EU and work there at least once a year. The other aspect is that 77% of its members rely on the European insurance card. Every aspect of free movement is involved here. Two museum bodies said that,
“restricting movement of people could have a huge impact on the cost of museum exhibitions”.
One could go on.
In the food industry—the industry I deal with in my business on a regular basis—when the UK joined the Common Market in 1974, the country’s restaurants had a total of 26 Michelin stars. This year it is 163. This is because of the free movement of chefs and ingredients. What will it mean if we leave?
In the fashion industry, the Fashion Roundtable wants to maintain the single market, to continue involvement in EU cultural, educational and business programmes, and to provide legal guarantees. Some 96% of them would vote to remain and 80% of the fashion industry believes that Brexit would be bad for British fashion.
Going back to the musicians again, 39% of respondents travel to the EU more than five times a year. So this is not just free movement but free movement on a regular basis. Then we have carnets. If carnets have to be brought in, that will cost £1,000 to £2,000 per carnet. To put all this into context, three out of the five top-selling albums in the world in 2017 were released by UK acts.
Sir Nicholas Serota, the head of the Arts Council, said that the arts industry was such “an essential part”. It provides 360,000 jobs and £2.8 billion in tax alone. The funding from the EU that this industry is reliant upon is in the billions as well.
The Arts Council report, produced by ICM, concluded by citing:
“Negative impact of Brexit on UK reputation … Reduced freedom of movement”,
and its impact,
“lack of access to EU funding … Reduced freedom of movement of goods and equipment … Changes to legal and regulatory frameworks … Weaker … exchange”,
and “uncertainty caused by Brexit”. This is a catalogue of disasters.
I will conclude with an important point that the report highlighted: the whole aspect of immigration in more detail. Of course, we all know the famous Nigel Farage UKIP poster, which said:
“Breaking point: the EU has failed us all. We must break free of the EU and take back control of our borders”.
Noble Lords may remember that the poster showed queues of people. A number of politicians attacked that poster, which featured a photo taken in Slovenia. When Mr Farage is challenged on it now, he says that the Brexit Party would not use it as,
“immigration isn’t the burning issue of the time”.
Today, immigration is way down the pecking order of importance to people in this country.
Another report asked:
“What is to be achieved by ending free movement?”
The Prime Minister has said:
“We will do what independent, sovereign countries do. We will decide for ourselves”,
we will control immigration. The report states that David Jones, who was then Minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, said that it was,
“our ambition to regain control of migration”.
That was contradicted by Robert Goodwill, the Home Office Minister, who said:
“This perception that we do not control our borders … is not a correct perception”.
He said that we do not participate in Schengen, and that we also have checks; we check every EU national who comes in.
The report then makes an important point in referring to the emergency brake that already exists. Will the Minister acknowledge that the brake exists, from the EU directive stating that if any EU citizen stays for more than three months, does not have a job and cannot support themselves, we as a country have the ability to repatriate them? Many other European Union countries use this regulation, but we never have. Will the Minister admit that we have always had control over EU migration but have just never used it? Looking back, when people were surveyed at the time of the referendum, 45% felt that immigration was one of the most important issues; today that has dropped to 25%. When Europe is looking outwards to the world, we are now looking inwards. This is a disastrous situation.
I will conclude with this. Nigel Farage says that democracy is what this is all about—but hypocrisy is more like it. The referendum is three years out of date. I have spoken on food prices, Erasmus, the customs challenge, consumer protection, EU security, the threat to students and dispute resolutions. Every single time we see that Brexit is a disaster. The best deal we have by far is to remain in the European Union.
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Jay, on securing a debate on an issue vital to the future of our creative industries. The report sets out comprehensively and compellingly the benefits of freedom of movement for the cultural sector, something it rightly describes as crucial, and the various ways that we can mitigate its disappearance if Brexit happens. It highlights many of the key issues the sector faces: for instance, the need to attract talent, the high rates of self-employment and freelance work alongside less than median salaries, and the often short-term—indeed, almost instantaneous—nature of the work. The report makes it clear that vital to finding a way through the huge issues that Brexit poses for the sector is for the Government to be flexible. That is spot on; flexibility is the key and the EU Select Committee is to be commended on a really important piece of work.
I declare an interest as the chairman of the Royal College of Music, and it is music that I wish to talk about today. Music matters, of course, for us as individuals, for the education of children, for the sort of society that we are and for our national identity. We do not need to rehearse those arguments today but in a post-Brexit world music also matters in hard economic terms, which we must have at the forefront of our minds when considering these policy issues. I will briefly highlight two of those which have already been touched on a little.
First, music is a remarkable engine of economic growth because it is absolutely fundamental to the success of the creative economy, which contributes so much to our gross national product, to jobs and to exports. The UK creative economy is worth £101 billion each year and makes up a growing 5% of our economy. More importantly, that growth is twice the rate of the economy as a whole, while the number of new jobs in the sector is growing at four times the rate of the rest of the UK workforce. One in 11 of all jobs depends on the sector and it is the UK music industry—worth £4.5 billion on its own, as we have heard—that powers this. If we undermine the music industry as a result of Brexit and an end to free movement, we imperil the whole of the UK’s creative economy.
Secondly, music is an essential part of our national identity and must play a central role as an instrument of the UK’s soft power in a post-Brexit world, a point also made to the Select Committee by those representing museums, among others. If we end up leaving the EU, our musical heritage and worldwide reputation for musical excellence must inevitably form one of the most secure engines for future prosperity. I do not need to underline to your Lordships how extraordinary our musical tradition is, having nurtured some of the greatest composers and performers in the world and forming a powerful musical inheritance and national identity. We are today one of the few net exporters of music worldwide: one in eight albums sold in Europe during 2017 was by a British artist, generating billions of pounds of exports. Music is not just an international calling card, which we will need in abundance if we are to make any sort of future outside the EU; it also brings us millions of overseas visitors. In 2017, over 12 million people journeyed here for musical events. If we undermine the music industry as a result of Brexit and an end to free movement, we undermine our soft power too.
Our globally dominant music industry is vital, not just as an industry on its own but as the engine for the wider creative economy. Who are the people who make up this profession? The vast majority are self-employed, freelance or portfolio musicians, many of whom struggle with low rates of pay and therefore rely on such things as the European health insurance card, and who often take jobs all over the world—but mainly in Europe—at very short notice. That is the key point.
The excellent report published just this month by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, to which we have heard reference, showed that 85% of those responding to a survey had visited the EU and EEA for work at least once a year, with 22% visiting more than 11 times a year, and more than a third spending at least a month in those countries. For many, work comes at little or short notice; their livelihoods depend on their ability to travel easily and cheaply around multiple countries for work in a short period of time. For all of them, freedom of movement is crucial to their work. Undermining freedom of movement without anything to ameliorate it will, let us be clear, undermine music.
As we have heard, even before we have left the European Union, the impact is already being felt by musicians, as the ISM survey mentioned. For almost two-thirds of those who took part, securing future work in the EU/EEA is now the biggest issue they face, with more than 10% reporting that offers of work have been withdrawn or cancelled, with Brexit given as a reason, as the noble Lord, Lord Jay, said. We have yet, of course, to leave. That is a shocking figure, with real human consequences, and we must always remember that.
As well as getting themselves across borders, the vast majority of musicians also have to worry about the transportation of their instruments. Musicians frequently perform in different countries on consecutive days, and getting their instruments and equipment across borders quickly and easily is vital to their work. It is just as important as the mobility of the music workforce, yet most musicians believe that as a result of Brexit and consequently an end to free movement, it will become much more complicated. Things will be even more problematic for someone who has a musical instrument on the list of products restricted under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora.
Brexit will wreak its damage on the cultural sector, as the impact goes two ways. It is also about musicians from the EU wanting to come and work here. We need musicians and talent from the EU to study, teach and perform; they add incredibly to the rich diversity of our musical life.
I am particularly concerned about the impact of Brexit on our great conservatoires, such as the Royal College of Music. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, will add his weight to this issue. We need EU students to enrich our music, not least because they start to learn at a very young age and become highly proficient in a range of musical instruments, particularly woodwind. That is vital for putting together the orchestral experience and learning, which is the bedrock of a conservatoire education. At the moment, about 20% of our students come from EU countries and we need their talent because it simply cannot be replicated elsewhere. Yet at the moment the future of EU students at conservatoires is uncertain because we have no idea of the fee and student loan regime for 2020 and beyond. When students come here, quite rightly they want to be able to work but it is not clear whether they will be able to do so because of visa restrictions.
We also have to think about the impact of an end to free movement on the recruitment of teaching staff and the talent drain it would trigger. At the Royal College of Music we have many professors from the EU, some of whom come in to teach just one day a week. For them, too, freedom of movement is vital to go about their work. Because they are here for such a short time, there is no way on earth they could ever meet the £30,000 minimum salary threshold.
The Select Committee looked at a number of possible ways forward to ameliorate the situation, but by far the most effective and practical would be the introduction of an EU-wide, multi-entry, short-term touring visa, with a reciprocal arrangement for EU citizens. As the report rightly notes, that would allow self-employed musicians to travel for short-term visits between the UK and the EU in a frictionless manner. I strongly support this proposal—not only would it make life easier for the thousands of musicians who need to travel to and from Europe for their livelihood, it would send out the signal that we are not closed for business as a cultural and artistic nation.
In various debates and Questions in this House over the last few months, I have argued that music in this country faces an existential crisis because of the appalling decline of music education in state schools. That is not a subject for today, but a botched Brexit, where we fail as a result of blind ideology to deal with these issues that are so important to our cultural life, our creative economy and thousands of musicians whose art enriches our life, will make that existential crisis twice as bad. Let us avoid that at all costs and do all we can through flexibility, agility and imagination in our immigration and visa control policies to ensure that the place of music, the arts and the UK’s creative powerhouse is valued, nurtured and supported.
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Black, I come at this topic from a music background. As he kindly mentioned, I was chair of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance; I co-chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Classical Music here in Parliament; and I serve under the noble Lord, Lord Burns, on the Mid Wales Music Trust, which supports music there.
I have done some in-depth research to find out who said that this would be the easiest negotiation of all time. Some say Liam Fox and others say David Davis, so shall we call him David Fox? Briefing oneself for this debate, one finds not simplicity or ease but a complexity that defies the imagination. I shall cite one example—I may cite it wrongly, because it is a citation of CITES—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Why does that apply to music? It applies to articles that have rare flora and fauna in them, which include musical instruments. Let us say that we go down the new no-deal route. Certain ports are designated to allow instruments to pass through them under CITES. They do not, however, include Dover; they do not include Holyhead; they not include Eurotunnel. Can you imagine an orchestra with hundreds of instruments looking for some far port which has the CITES ability to allow its instruments to be taken to Europe for it to fulfil its cultural engagements? It is not possible or practicable, yet that is the kind of complication that comes out of this dog’s dinner that we have in front of us.
I shall make a few points to supplement what the noble Lord, Lord Black, said on conservatoires. Twenty per cent of Trinity Laban students come from Europe. It is not easy to get them, because they tend to pay higher fees when they come here, but we have them because of our high standards. Will they still come when they face this bureaucratic mess that we are creating? It is not only their number and the money that comes with them; it is also their importance to the cultural experience. Music is a universal language, but it is spoken in a great variety of accents. If you took away the European students and, still more, the European teachers that we have, we would diminish the product catastrophically. We would also leave some big holes in provision; for example, there is a shortage of really good strings players here; contemporary dance is a bit short—you would lose all that.
Finally, there is the uncertainty. We are starting to recruit now for 2020. When students ask, “What’s going to be the position if I want to work? What’s the position if I want to go to and fro from home? What’s our position when I want to get my instrument, which has got a tiny bit of ivory down there, through the ports?”, we cannot tell them; we do not know. The Government have not told us—they cannot even decide whether we are going to get Brexit or not and under what terms. We are completely bemused as to the future.
I turn briefly to orchestras. I do not really know where to start. The Arts Council Wales/Wales Arts International told the Select Committee:
“Any reinstatement of mobility restrictions … will create new borders … for the smaller-scale companies and artists such barriers might become insurmountable”.
That is in paragraph 44 of the report. I do not think that they were speaking in any way out of turn.
What is going to happen when a performer in London is taken ill, the only feasible replacement lives in Europe and you have to get him over here quickly, within hours? What happens if instruments of a certain kind are in short supply in a given orchestra and the only available capable musicians are in Europe? They will come nowhere near the £35,000 earnings limit that the Government have floated—or, probably, the £30,000 limit, because musicians are great talents ill paid. What about the uncertainty for our orchestras? Orchestral concerts are planned a good two years in advance—in the case of opera, four years in advance. What are they going to do now to get on with planning when they have no idea under what conditions those plans will have to be carried out? What about carnets? What about health insurance? What about insurance contributions? What about health itself? What about the funding that comes our way through Creative Europe?
I could go on and on—I could read my briefing if the House has several months to spare—but I hope I have said enough to show that Brexit is a fundamental threat, as much through the complete uncertainty in which the Government have left us as from the realities.
I am sure that no Minister would be so cynical as to say, “Who cares about classical music? A few people in the House of Lords, maybe. Yes, a few people go to it. Hmm—they do not care, we will get away with this”. They should think again. What about Glastonbury? What about WOMAD? What about Bestival and the Green Man? What about the huge, burgeoning music festivals, which are already reporting difficulty in recruiting the top acts they want? It will not be old fogies like us complaining; it will be the kind of people who have been on the streets in the last few weeks, determined young people who will not have their pleasure taken from them by this bungling, bumbling Government.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, and his very thought-provoking remarks. I was particularly taken by his thoughts on CITES. That convention was not going to form part of my submissions but I very much associate myself with his analysis. I also warmly congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jay, and his committee on an extremely incisive, focused and compelling report. It is very difficult to write a short essay and this was a short essay with plenty of punch. I declare my interests as set out in the register, and particularly that I am on the board of a performing arts trust and chairman of a visual arts trust, both in Perth and Kinross, that employ several hundred people between them, and that I am on two museum boards. I should also declare, for reasons that will become obvious, my farming interests as set out in the register.
The gross value added to the UK economy by the cultural sector in 2015 was £27 billion—I am sorry for choosing an old number, but the reason will become obvious. For the agricultural sector it was £8.5 billion, so the cultural sector is three times bigger. Both sectors, of course, depend on EU workers for key elements. In the farming sector, particularly for vegetables and soft fruit, these are actually rather skilled jobs which rely on people coming in to do them. Paragraph 21 of the report reflects on that and on what it terms “massive variations” within the sub-sectors as to what is involved. There is a very good example in paragraph 21 of the visual effects sub-sector, where one-third of all the staff come from the EU. Later on it says that for the dance sector it is 20% and for my own beloved museum sector it is 15%. If I think of who those 15% are in Perth and Kinross, they are often in utterly critical and very highly skilled jobs, but I can assure noble Lords that none is paid £30,000 a year.
I worry about the interconnectivity of the whole cultural sector and the collateral damage when you damage one sector. That becomes very obvious when one thinks of the visual effects sector, as I have mentioned, which services other bits of the cultural industry, notably the film industry. The museum industry is also interested in it. If it is taken elsewhere, that will necessarily produce a pressure for other bits of the cultural sector to move elsewhere as well. That cannot be a good idea.
Others have mentioned how much the whole sector depends on mobility. Paragraph 44 of the report notes that plenty of musicians come from outside the UK and do 50 performances a year. Certainly, as you go through what is coming up over the next year at the concert hall in Perth, as I did over the weekend, you can see that a tremendous number of people are due to come into Perth from the EU and outside the UK.
Quite apart from mobility is the necessity for speed. The quotes on this from paragraph 38 of the report are very good. Early on, it says:
“The Creative Industries Federation told us that industries relied on a ‘rapid turnaround’ to access talent, often on a ‘same-day’ basis”.
Later, the same paragraph says that,
“it was essential to be able to bring in talent at short notice, particularly in the event of emergencies such as a lead singer or dancer falling ill or sustaining an injury”.
The visa system in place at the moment for third countries is interesting to analyse. Tier 2 visas are for specified jobs; there is a cap on the total number for general ones, and the £30,000 minimum hurdle. The trouble is that DCMS’s own figures say that 47.6%—a remarkably precise percentage—of the more than 650,000 people in the sector are self-employed, so tier 2 visas could not apply to them. The same goes for tier 5 visas because, once again, you have to have a specified job for them, which you would not have on a self-employed basis.
The Government’s White Paper on immigration from December last year said in paragraph 32:
“In accordance with the MAC’s advice, we do not intend to open sectoral labour schemes, except potentially for seasonal agricultural work”.
Accordingly, I thought it would be interesting to see what that advice had actually been. It was referencing the report of the Migration Advisory Committee from September 2018 entitled EEA Migration in the UK. In paragraph 36 of that report, above which is the title “Low-skilled workers”, its recommendation is:
“We do not recommend an explicit work migration route for low-skilled workers with the possible exception of a seasonal agricultural workers schemes”.
The MAC seems aware that many of the workers we are talking about might be low-paid but are most certainly not low-skilled. It is therefore a bit naughty in logic to use that recommendation in the way the White Paper has used it all round.
On the agricultural sector, I have nothing but praise for Defra. It has drafted a fantastically helpful four-page document called Employing EU Seasonal Workers After the UK Leaves the EU. This document is very clear and helpful. It also appears in Bulgarian, Romanian and what are called accessible formats. There is also an email helpline, which farmers whom I know and chatted to over the weekend said was incredibly helpful for setting out a future and meant that, at least for a couple of years—they can only go out so far—they know the exact position. You can plan as a business; you can talk to the people you will bring into your farming business; you can plan ahead. Remember of course that the agricultural sector is one-third of the size of the cultural sector, and it is not growing, because we cannot grow the amount of land in the UK. If there are special arrangements for that, and given that I believe the interpretation of the MAC’s advice is wrong and that its advice is therefore not inconsistent with having a similar approach for the cultural sector, there should be special arrangements for the cultural sector. I have no doubt that they will be very similar to the ones recommended by the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Jay. I have only one question: does the Minister agree with that analysis?
My Lords, this report, the Government’s response to it and the eloquent introduction by the noble Lord, Lord Jay, all focus on a significant aspect of the debate about Brexit which has not had sufficient attention paid to it.
Before continuing, I declare my interests in the register, pointing in particular to the fact that I am the chairman of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. One of the themes I have introduced into our activities is that we must focus on and promote culture. We should see it in a loose, modern sense as much as traditional, 19th-century “Kultur”—spelled with a capital “K”. In Cumbria, which is my home county, the most exciting cultural thing I have experienced was a performance—I use that word deliberately—on Derwentwater, where cars and bicycles went across the surface of the lake, and it was French.
It seems to me that the impact of Brexit on culture in this country falls into four distinct bits: first, the commercial impact on those who do it; secondly, its contribution to the UK economy and the Exchequer; thirdly, the cultural offering which is available for people in this country; and, fourthly, as part of the United Kingdom’s soft power.
I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Black, who explained to us how musicians so frequently spend a great deal of their life travelling abroad. Some years ago, I spent a couple of terms as a Member of the European Parliament. That was in the age of travel agents, and I recall talking to my travel agent and saying, “Of all your customers, am I the one who travels abroad the most?” She responded, “No, I’ve a customer who is a musician”. I thought that made the point vividly. Now, people can move backwards and forwards as easily as any of us can go from Scotland to England to carry on their business. The Government want all this to be changed.
An interesting aspect of all this came to me recently, because I am involved in a small ceramics festival. One of its themes is to try to bring in a number of continental potters. In practice, they load their cars up, normally somewhere in the northern part of the continent, come over to this country, go to a couple of fairs and sell a few pots, and that pays for their trip and covers the cost of their holiday. The paperwork that Brexit will entail probably means that they will no longer come, and in turn—who knows—that may even prejudice the festival itself.
It is important to realise the impacts of all this on the economy and the Exchequer, as the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, has mentioned. It is worth recalling for a moment a point that has been made by the Commercial Broadcasters Association about how a large number of commercial broadcasters who took advantage of the European licence in this country are moving to Amsterdam—I was there the other day, and I must say that I can see why you would move there. It seems that one of the great reasons behind the vote for Brexit was that we objected to paying money to foreigners, but the effect of this will be to hand out wads of tenners to the Dutch Government.
Then there is the question of the cultural experience for those of us here in this country, if I may put it that way. As the noble Lord, Lord Jay, said, our culture is not ring-fenced by Britishness; it is linked to the other side of the channel. After all, we esteem van Dyck as one of the great painters and part of our cultural patrimony but, inconveniently for some, he was born in Antwerp. Some of the greatest images of the building we are in now were painted by Monet, who was not, as far as I know, an Englishman—although, since I gather that he stayed in the Savoy Hotel, he might have met the £30,000 threshold. There is an exhibition on in the Tate of van Gogh in London, and there is not the slightest doubt that had the rules now being proposed been in place, he would not have come and it would not be taking place. Several noble Lords have mentioned the appointment of Simon Armitage as the poet Laureate—a good poet, and I like his work. It is worth recalling that WB Yeats spent quite a number of years in London, and I do not think that he, as an Irishman, could do that any more. We will find that our cultural experiences in this country are degraded.
Finally—I do not think there is any need to elaborate on it—it will impact seriously on our soft diplomacy. Behind the situation now lies, as the report says, the four freedoms, which are at the heart of the concept of the European Union. I suppose that, as a supporter of the European Union, I am now very much out of fashion, but what we have been talking about has been an enormous benefit to our country and the people who live in it. As someone pointed out, the Government’s response to our changing circumstances seems to assume that everyone who comes here is a potential immigrant. In the case of cultural events, that is simply not true, because you cannot replace one person with another. No amount of training in the world would enable me to play a violin in a way that anyone else would wish to hear. It is as simple as that.
In the Government’s response is a picture of how they would like to see post-single market Britain relating to its neighbours. It indicates clearly how much damage may ensue. It echoes the mantra that the Government must deliver on Brexit but, after all, how do you deliver Brexit? There is only one way to do it, and that is to serve Article 50. We have done that. Once the Government have served Article 50, they are freed from the shackles of European law about how they conceive the future. It never was and is not now a vote for a no-deal Brexit; it was a vote for a future where the Government can exercise their discretion in a slightly different way from the past, which does not mean that we throw overboard everything that has gone before. In that, we have complete sovereignty, complete freedom to try—if we can succeed in negotiating it and getting others to agree—to do what we want. That should be pursued in the national interest.
If we look forward to the next chapter, that seems to me to be the role, prerogative and duty of the Government. They should cast aside,
“all private interest, prejudice and partial affections”,
in trying to bring that about. My noble friend the Minister got it right earlier in Question Time when he mentioned reciprocity. Is it not strange that reciprocity is being chucked out of the window?
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow that peroration. I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay, and his committee for what the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, described as its incisive report. I was less impressed by the incisive government response, which consists of a grand total of three and a half pages of A4, two pages of which are taken up by detailing the report’s recommendations and barely one page with the Government’s responses, which they rather misleadingly describe as answers.
As I read and reread the government response, I was reminded of the last verse of Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter”:
“‘O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one”.
I will return to that later. As with so many aspects of the potential consequences of our intended departure from the EU, there is a mountain range of questions but a dusty and barren plain of broad and seemingly deliberately vague answers.
This report is about people: real people who work in what is a thriving and economically vital part of our economy. Some of the DCMS’s definitions of what is not in the cultural sector are somewhat puzzling, as these manage to exclude music, the performing and visual arts, film, TV, video, radio and photography. I can give the Minister the relevant departmental document if he wants to see it.
It is incontrovertible that, in 2017, the creative industries contributed more than £100 billion to the UK economy; included in that is the department’s definition of the “cultural sector”, which contributed just under £30 billion. The creative industries employ more than 3 million people, which represents about one in every 11 UK jobs—twice as many as financial services and more than manufacturing.
Although it is a source of great pride that this sector should be so successful and highly regarded internationally, one of the key elements of its success is the way in which it has become deeply intertwined with EU nationals and EU organisations. One of our challenges is to map and understand the nature of these interlinkages, and the consequences and challenges that will arise from them changing and, in some cases, unfortunately, being sundered. An obvious question is: how much does the sector rely on non-UK talent and why is this so? The first and most obvious answer is that being an EU member has made this easy and straightforward. The more important answer is that, in many cases, the demand for EU talent is the result of a lack of the necessary skills and experience, which causes an imbalance in supply. Our existing non-EU immigration struggles to supply the sector with the talent it seeks; there is real concern that the struggles will get significantly worse in a post-Brexit immigration system that lumps everybody together and where everybody will be equally badly done by.
What could the Government do to help the sector continue to grow and thrive? The answer is a variety of things, if they so wish. They could comprehensively review the ways in which creative and technical skills are taught in the UK. They could ensure that any future EU-UK agreement includes measures such as visa-free travel, reciprocal rights for short-term projects and same-day access to talent for businesses that need workers with immediate notice, as other noble Lords have mentioned. They could take steps to ensure that the tier 2 salary threshold is flexible enough to meet the needs of creative enterprises. They could introduce a special visa category to take account of the fact that, as other noble Lords have said, one-third of UK creative industry workers are self-employed, typically working for multiple employers. They could expand and regularly review the shortage occupation list to ensure that it is appropriate and completely up to date; the same is true of reviewing and updating the standard occupational codes and appropriate rates. The current visa processing system, which is not digital—that is not necessarily one of Her Majesty’s Government’s great strengths—requires individuals to hand over their passports, which is hardly user-friendly for internationally touring acts.
Finally, a specific case study requires me to declare a personal interest since the organisation in question—The Place, also known as the London Contemporary Dance School—was founded by my uncle, Robin Howard, in 1969. It has just celebrated its 50th birthday and is one of Europe’s leading centres for performing and teaching contemporary dance. It is hard to develop and maintain an international reputation if an organisation is not genuinely international. The Place speaks from direct experience when it declares that,
“dance artists from the EU drive up the quality of UK dance”.
More than a third of its casual and freelance staff are EU nationals whose individual incomes rarely go anywhere near £30,000—they should be so lucky.
Touring in Europe is very effective advertising for the United Kingdom but it is also a fundamental part of artistic development. It would be a tragedy if the UK dance sector took the risk of becoming more isolated and inward-looking. Participation in initiatives such as Creative Europe has been hugely beneficial. Since these sources of funding are rapidly drying up, can the Minister tell us what plans the Government have to promote and encourage a vibrant UK creative sector, and to mitigate people’s understandable and frighteningly real concerns about the potential unintended consequences of our departure from the EU?
I think I look forward to the Minister’s reply. I pray that he has not demolished all his oysters before he rises to his feet, perhaps to give us some answers or, at the very least, to demonstrate that the Government have genuinely taken the sector’s concerns on board.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to participate in a debate led by the noble Lord, Lord Jay. Many people have expressed anxiety that Brexit will have a negative impact on the cultural sector of this country. It will cut us off from our European roots, it will make Britain inward-looking and it will take away the incentives provided by international comparison. For all these reasons, there is a deep fear that Brexit will be damaging to our country in cultural terms. I share some of those anxieties, but I want to probe a little deeper to explain why I think these consequences might come about.
If you defend Brexit on the grounds that we need to get out of the European Union to control our borders and thus the kind and number of people coming into this country, obviously you are saying that immigration control is the central motive for it. Therefore, if that is one of the main reasons for Brexit, once it takes place, it is the criterion by which it will be judged. Let us imagine our country once Brexit has taken place. People will say, “No, it hasn’t gone far enough. You haven’t executed it properly”. Why is that? “People are still coming here from France, Germany and Italy”. Who are the custodians of that society? Who makes up the vanguard of the revolution that Brexit has created? They are the people who said that the point of Brexit is to control immigration. As long as Brexit is defended in such language, it is inevitable that it will involve controlling immigration, often wrongly. There will be constant pressure on controlling immigration and our lives will be that much the poorer for it.
Therefore, if I was a Brexiteer, which I am not, I would want to make the case for Brexit on different grounds—the opposite grounds; namely, that the point of Brexit is to make Britain open to the world so that we can walk into the world and the world can walk into Britain. It is because we do not want to be limited to the European Union that we want to execute Brexit. My argument would be made in terms of openness. If you make that kind of argument, it becomes easier to say to the people post Brexit, “Let these people come in because this is why we got out of the European Union”. In other words, I want to warn people against making the case for Brexit. Unless they are careful, they will create a lot of problems, not only in cultural but in other spheres.
I want to make another point, which is just as important. The cultural life of our country matters to us a great deal. Our culture defines us as a particular kind of community. It is far more of a source of revenue than some other, more material, industries. It is also a source of soft power that allows us to punch above our weight. This is what we have been able to achieve as a result of our culture, so the point is that our reputation as one of the cultural centres of the world should not be compromised or undermined.
That means asking certain questions. How does a culture flourish? If British culture is to flourish and make an impact, what are the preconditions? I shall move on here to argue that immigration in one form is central to culture. Culture implies the fusion of sensibilities—constantly being exposed to new ideas and interacting with them. Where will those new ideas come from? Let us look at our own country. When we consider any of the academic disciplines with which I have been involved, such as philosophy or science, they have benefited from the presence of a sizeable number of immigrants. It is the same in the field of art and other areas. If immigration is central to culture, one cannot blindly say that all forms of immigration must be restricted.
This leads to another question: if you accept my argument that immigration is central to culture, what kind of restriction can you put on immigration? When can you say, “Look, we will have too many people”, or, “We will not have people of the following kind”? One needs to bear in mind the specificity of culture: it is the kind of area in which restrictions on immigration must take a particular form.
Let us take two issues that have come up time and again. First, many artists are self-employed—certainly in the field of music, where we are the second-largest exporter. They work for a little while then need to go to some other European countries to work; that is how they earn their living. How will these self-employed artists function if there are restrictions limiting them to one country or another? Multi-country, multi-entry visas will need to be easily available for these people.
Secondly, if you were to insist that anybody who comes in must have a certain amount of income—£23,000, £30,000 or whatever—you are again imposing a criterion that will not be met by the artist, because artists’ wages are lower than the national median. If you say that an artist coming from Europe must have an income of £30,000, you are asking for the impossible. These are the kinds of consideration we would need to take into account, because they are specific to culture. If, therefore, we have occasion to restrict immigration in the cultural sphere, these are the criteria by which we can do that.
The third important criterion has to do with the kind of skills this country requires. You cannot abstractly say that we have too many people and do not want more. You have to make an assessment of the kind of skills your country requires now and later, and then ask yourself how to encourage those skills. Many people have rightly expressed the anxiety that in the desire to stop immigration or to stop people coming here, we will starve ourselves of the kind of skills we badly need—for example, heritage skills. Lots of old buildings need restoration—whether it is Buckingham Palace or Parliament—and we need people with those skills; we do not have them in sufficient supply in this country. This is the third criterion: we need a total assessment of the kind of skills we require and to make sure our cultural policy fits into that.
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, who succeeded in introducing an important extra dimension to our debate. I too congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Jay, and his committee on their report. It clearly and concisely sets out why movement of people is fundamentally important to the cultural sector and makes excellent suggestions about how the needs of the sector, and thereby our national interests, could best be met following Brexit. They say that there is nothing new under the sun, and I am afraid my speech will certainly follow that rule; it may remind some of your Lordships more of Groundhog Day.
It is discouraging—indeed, alarming—that 10 months after the report’s publication we are not much clearer about whether or how its suggestions will be followed. The Government’s response last November is shockingly thin. After a promising start, it offers just three rather brief and bland policy statements in response to the report, including the rather unlikely suggestion that,
“EU exit could be an opportunity to stimulate training in the UK”—
as if the conservatoires were not already seeking to do just that. It is hardly surprising that the sector remains confused, concerned and uncertain about its future prospects and how to plan for them.
I shall focus on music, especially classical music—my own passion. Like so much of the cultural sector, this is a UK success story and not only earns us substantial economic returns, as we have heard, but helps to promote our values and culture and to enhance our standing in the world as an “exporting powerhouse”, to use the Minister’s earlier words. It is an important element of UK soft power. We have world-class conservatoires that attract top-quality students and teachers from around the world. We have outstanding conductors, instrumentalists and singers, including some of the world’s highest-profile and highest-earning pop stars. We have wonderful orchestras, opera companies, music festivals and performance venues. It is no wonder that our cultural offering is one of the main reasons cited by tourists for visiting the UK.
The music sector relies on movement of people. Many musicians working here in the UK come from abroad, and especially from the EU, and UK musicians spend time travelling or living abroad, not just to earn their living but to stimulate their creativity and artistry by sharing and learning from ideas and skills from elsewhere. Mobility is a key preoccupation of the sector, and both it and the committee’s report are clear about the issues that need to be addressed—I will not repeat those in great detail because we have already heard them from many other noble Lords.
Recent ISM research found that 85% of respondents visit EU or EEA countries at least once a year; 22% visit more than 11 times a year; and 35% spend a month or more per year working in those countries. Furthermore, one in seven musicians has had less than a week’s notice between being offered work and having to take it; for example, to replace scheduled performers falling ill. Touring is an important part of such travel, often involving visits to several countries, along with instruments and equipment.
The preferred solution, for both the ISM and the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Jay, would be a multi-country, multi-entry touring visa for musicians, valid for at least two years and matched by reciprocal EU arrangements. The ISM is clear that other approaches mentioned in the committee’s report—for example, based on existing permitted paid engagement or permit-free festival arrangements—would fall short.
What is needed from the Government—why not even from the Minister today?—is concrete reassurance regarding how the sector’s essential mobility needs will actually be met in an affordable and manageable way. This should reflect the fact that many musicians are highly skilled but fall below the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for skilled work visas and, as the report highlights, that many in the sector are self-employed and could not afford to travel as they do now if it involved expensive healthcare insurance or having to make duplicate social security payments.
I will pass over issues relating to the transportation of instruments and equipment, which other noble Lords, and indeed the report, have covered well.
As we approach the summer, many of us look forward to the music festival season. The various country house opera festivals, led by Glyndebourne, are promoting their wares. The Proms programme for 2019 has been published, including five concerts featuring Berlioz, in this his anniversary year—and I declare my interest as chairman of the Berlioz Society. Numerous other festivals will be taking place across the UK, from the large-scale such as Edinburgh, to more modest events such as the Llandeilo Festival of Music near my home in Wales. Two weeks ago, I was at the splendid Hellensmusic festival near Ledbury, which features master classes for young instrumentalists given by leading musicians from across Europe, as well as an innovative programme with the local primary school run by a violinist from Denmark.
Virtually all of these festivals and events will involve musicians from abroad, as well as from the UK, some recruited at short notice as last-minute replacements. The opening concert at Hellensmusic actually had to be cancelled because the scheduled performer—a remarkable and irreplaceable Kurdish-Iranian singer—was shockingly refused a visa. We all benefit enormously—as listeners, as performers, as communities and as a society—from their presence and contributions. It would be catastrophic if this free musical exchange between the UK and the EU and beyond, in both directions, could not continue after Brexit.
Brexit is supposed to be about the UK establishing itself internationally as an open, confident, independent, free-trading nation. The cultural sector is a major unique selling point, or USP, for the UK and should be a key part of achieving that aspiration whatever the eventual outcome of Brexit. The Government claim to recognise the importance of continued mobility of people for the sector. I hope, therefore, that the Minister in his response is able to give more details about the likely mobility provisions of the proposed co-operative accord with the EU on culture and education, mentioned in the White Paper, thereby helping to demonstrate how, whatever the outcome, the mobility needed to assure the future of this important sector will be maintained, in line with the report, as an important element of the UK’s global standing after Brexit.
My Lords, I want to frame my contribution in two ways: first, through a discussion about the service industries more generally; and secondly, by addressing perhaps a wider definition of culture than that covered by this report, so ably introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Jay.
The first point to make is that the importance of the service industries—which make up 80% of our economy —is hugely underestimated, not only by the Government but by the Opposition’s leadership too. The creative industries’ contribution alone—£101.5 billion—is worth more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas sectors combined, and is the fastest growing sector of the economy. The Arts Council states that 56% of exports in the arts went to Europe in 2014.
To take one example of the Government’s fundamental attitude towards services, I followed with a mounting sense of horror the regret Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, on 1 May concerning the treatment of services in the recent trade treaty between the UK and Switzerland, which refers only to future,
“exploratory discussions … in additional areas, such as … trade in services”.
Yet, as the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, pointed out, services are over half our trade with Switzerland.
Across the board, the service industries are being ignored in favour of goods—ignored by the White Paper on skills-based immigration, and ignored by the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration. In particular, the outward movement of British citizens offering their services in Europe is also being ignored. Yet every red line we put down on immigration, including the salary cut-off, will inevitably be reciprocated by Europe.
This brings me to my second point, which is that there urgently needs to be a wider acknowledgement of the shared concerns of the service industries. As the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, put it so well last week, “from banking to ballet” the service industries depend on free movement. The excellent, and still timely—nothing has changed—report says that,
“as our evidence confirmed, free movement between the UK, the EU, and vice versa, is crucial to the sector”.
The DDCMS may say it recognises the importance of outward mobility to the creative sector, as it has in its response to the report, but the Government certainly do not recognise its importance to the service industries as a whole, and this is deeply worrying.
Free movement is the overwhelming concern of those working in the arts. The report floats the idea of a permitted paid engagement visa but that is not the right road to go down for our creative industries in Europe. It will not have the flexibility required for carrying out work on our own continent and would demand a fast response and multiple visits over long periods. This route has already caused problems for both WOMAD and the Edinburgh Book Festival last year.
Instead, the more realistic recommendation of the Incorporated Society of Musicians—“realistic” is the key word because it is closer to the current arrangement, which cannot be improved on—is to have, at the very least, a low-cost, admin-light, two-year, multi-entry visa that would also allow onward movement. It has to be something that can be standardly applied across the whole of Europe for UK purposes. However, given that this agreement would have to be made with every European country individually, we are already in nightmare territory.
The ISM also asks for an expansion of the list of CITES-designated ports, to include Dover and the Eurotunnel, and a clarification of CITES regulations. There is a more general concern about the movement of musical instruments, props and scenery for theatre and other equipment and hardware in other areas of the arts.
I ask the Minister: will there be a dedicated hotline for all those working in the cultural sector to offer guidance on mobility issues? Will the Government provide an update on progress towards the cultural and education accord between the UK and EU mentioned in last year’s White Paper, The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union?
However, free moment is not solely about free movement per se. The EHIC or an equivalent needs to be maintained, as must the A1 certificate. What social security procedures are likely be agreed? Artists have experienced difficulty in obtaining an A1 certificate in the past.
One of the criticisms that Brexiteers always make is about the perceived bureaucracy of the Commission, but for the British public—travellers, workers and students—the bureaucracy is largely invisible. We know this from our experience in Europe. That is how free movement works, but for those who will be working in the service industries in Europe in the future, things will become more complicated and more bureaucratic, particularly if we leave the single market. Moreover, Brexit is already happening. Musicians are already losing work in Europe, as my noble friend Lord Jay pointed out, as are IT workers. It is obvious to ask this but, in a competitive situation, why would employers bother with the UK when so many other European workers continue to have access to the single market?
Some noble Lords will have read the long read in the Guardian last week by Timothy Garton Ash. He wrote:
“For everyone who is a citizen of an EU member state, this is a continent where you can wake up on a Friday morning, decide to take a budget airline flight to the other end of the continent, meet someone you like, settle down to study, work and live there, all the time enjoying the rights of a European citizen in one and the same legal, economic and political community. All this you appreciate most, like health, when you are about to lose it”.
There will be a massive gulf between what will ultimately be a narrow and mean technical solution applied to a professional activity and the kind of access to Europe available presently to all Europeans, however they engage with Europe. This raises the significant question of who will be eligible for visas in the creative industries and who will not. Will visas be available only to those who can prove formal cultural engagements? If so, it will exclude many working in the arts.
The term “cultural sector” is included in the name of this report, but the most meaningful cultural sector is surely Europe itself. It is Europe that artists, museums, academics, students and many others wish to engage with, and that is why I for one cannot accept any solution that fails to maximise that engagement for everyone and anyone who wishes it. It is vital that we remain a member of the European community. For those in the creative sector, who see more and more what the alternatives are, that position is strengthening.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay, for introducing the debate on this report and for chairing so brilliantly, as always, the committee which produced it. I am a member of that committee and I am delighted that we have produced such a challenging set of reports, including this one.
Although this report was published last year, the questions it poses are still relevant. The report has nine conclusions covering the high mobility of the cultural sector, the recommendation that the UK Government should pursue preferential arrangements for a UK-EU migration system if the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, concern about visas, the need for flexibility, the important concept of freedom to carry out short-term work in other countries, social security, and the need for the Government to negotiate an EU-wide multi-country, multi-entry short-term touring visa for citizens and make a reciprocal commitment for EU citizens. I look forward to the Minister’s response and to him updating the House on any new strategies the Government may be exploring.
This debate has already raised issues, and there is so much that needs to be explained. The Minister’s letter to the noble Lord, Lord Jay, dated 13 November 2018, recognised:
“The country benefits enormously from the sector’s contribution to its economy and society. The sector also makes an important contribution to the UK’s international image and influence”.
I am glad that this is recognised by the Government. Our actors, musicians, writers, artists, dancers and other performers have a strong reputation and presence across the world. That is deserved and applies not just to well-known names. I have recently travelled on Council of Europe business to Helsinki, Berlin, Paris and Vienna, and I was proud to see in each city a British presence and contribution to culture and the arts, not just music, which the noble Lords, Lord Black and Lord Aberdare, eulogised, but art, architecture, literature, dance and drama.
The White Paper makes reference to supporting talented people but it talks mainly about leaders in their fields. The cultural sector is wider and deeper than that, and I hope that the Minister will be able to say something about the future immigration framework. Our report calls for the Government to urgently provide more detail on how what they call a “co-operative accord” would relate to wider immigration policy or the existing visa system.
Two surveys reflect some of the problems. One produced by ICM Unlimited for Arts Council England states that most arts and culture stakeholders have a negative perception of Brexit, including,
“reputational risk, an uncertain economic and funding environment, and increasing costs and complications for their organisations in relation to freedom of movement”.
Most stakeholders interviewed could see no advantages in Brexit for the cultural sector, although a number spoke of development opportunities from the change in the exchange rate and potential increases in tourism due to the weaker pound. However, the disadvantages were more prominent: the detrimental impact on international partnerships, uncertainty, the potential lack of EU funding, reduced freedom of movement, and a possible increase in administrative costs. Such issues came up in our own interviews for the report. Working abroad in the EU for short periods appears to be the most important factor for smaller organisations. The greatest concerns were expressed by stakeholders working in literature, the visual arts, music and the combined arts, rather than in the theatre or museums.
The Incorporated Society of Musicians published a survey of 9,500 professionals in February 2019. Its key findings included the fear that the withdrawal agreement would end freedom of movement without putting anything in its place. These issues have already been explored by the noble Lords, Lord Bilimoria and Lord Black, but they are worth repeating. The survey points out that 85% of respondents visit the EU or the EEA at least once a year, a third spend at least a month there and one in seven has less than a week’s notice before being offered work; 64% felt that a two-year visa would help allay fears over mobility issues, but 95% would prefer the two-year multi-entry visa over an extension of the permitted paid engagement visa; 83% would like a dedicated hotline from a government department to offer guidance on these issues; and more than half were concerned about the transportation of instruments and equipment. Concerns have also been expressed about healthcare, as most musicians and creative cultural visitors are self-employed and would thus need private insurance. Who can afford that? The same thing applies, of course, to others in the cultural sector.
I hope that the Government will be able to respond positively to the concerns expressed in the report and to this debate, as well as to performers in the various disciplines. We would, I am sure, all wish to support those who bring such pleasure to millions through their talent and dedication. We have good reason to be grateful to those who bring such respect for the UK in the cultural field and help create a collective cultural dynamic, not just across Europe but globally. I hope that the Minister will address the anxieties we have expressed. The Government have talked about the importance of the cultural sector, and it deserves reassurances and guarantees that its reputation and future will be preserved.
My Lords, it is the evidence from those on the front line—the experts, whose names are published at the back of this report—that goes to the nub of the Brexit problem: the ending of free movement of people. That is particularly true in the cultural sector, as the report demonstrates very well. Quotes such as “a big risk to the country’s soft power and creative reputation” are typical. Then there is Bob Geldof’s open letter showing how we in the UK dominate the music culture because, as he says,
“we are brilliant at it”.
That really is global Britain. All this is threatened by a future immigration policy that is as yet unknown in any detail and, if aligned to the present third-country visa tiers, is likely to be crippling to our cultural and other industries.
This excellent and timely report, while rehearsing the likely gloomy future, also pinpoints two imminent issues: uncertainty and mobility. The first affects every corner of the UK, not just culture. The Government’s intransigence and premature red lines are preventing a soft Brexit agreement. Uncertainty affects businesses, such as the music festivals trying to attract artists to perform for our enjoyment. Organisers and employers know not how they will attract performers, whether in dance, broadcasting, museums or even heritage, as we have heard.
This House has long called for a unilateral declaration of European Union citizens’ future rights so that the EU can reciprocate for our citizens. Surely the Government can now make some initial commitments to safeguarding temporary workers and performers, to give the cultural sector some certainty. I too was going to reference the contrast with Defra’s position, which sets out a future way forward, as we heard from the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull. Even the most determined Brexiteer will surely want to go on listening to European musicians and orchestras in future.
The White Paper of July 2018 talks of taking back control of UK borders. Yes, why not? We can do that, but control can also encompass setting generous arrangements for temporary employment outside net migration. The White Paper speaks of a desire for visa-free movement for tourism and temporary businesses. I trust the Minister will enlarge on this statement in his summing up.
The other issue is mobility. We have heard how orchestras and concert organisers often have to substitute performers at short notice for reasons of sickness or disruption of some sort. If EU citizens have to revert to the current third-country visa system, which tier—1, 2 or 5—does the Minister foresee as the most appropriate future model? Tier 1 is for world leaders, so will not help our young, aspiring musicians, who are just starting out. Tier 2 visas are capped and subject to pay thresholds. As we have heard endlessly, the cultural sector rarely pays the £30,000 per annum demanded in the White Paper. To ram home the point, skill does not equate to salary. Tier 5 visas need a sponsor licence, so any sense of urgency is missing. Witnesses quoted in the report variously describe these visa tiers as “clunky” and “stymying”. If the Minister does not agree with these adjectives, could he explain why they are not appropriate?
The report does not seem to consider much the plight of our youth. They, after all, will suffer the most post Brexit. Ironically, many of them were unable to vote in the referendum nearly three years ago, because they were not of a sufficient age. The Erasmus programme has benefited many university students, helping them understand differing cultures, broadening their horizons and leading to future job opportunities. Is it the Government’s ambition to preserve access to this programme? It is fascinating to note that few in our political leadership have children, our Prime Minister among them. It is not surprising that they do not understand the ambitions and horizons of today’s young people.
The report makes recommendations which I hope the Government will heed. It points out the important contribution the cultural sector makes to our Exchequer, our image and our influence abroad. It highlights mobility and flexibility and thus advocates the preferential system for EU performers seeking to work here on short-term engagements. I add my voice to the clamour wanting the Government to address multi-entry, short-term issues. Of course, these will have to be reciprocal. We must have at the forefront of our negotiating agenda concerns for UK youth, as well as the established stars—this cannot be just dogma.
We are told that the vote for Brexit was driven significantly by immigration concerns, but we did not know then the full horror of stopping it, nor did we foresee that immigration pressure would ease as wages in countries abroad rose. We did not realise how much we relied on EU workers. The cultural sector is a good place to address this. I hope the Minister will enlighten us further on the Government’s thinking on this sector. I congratulate the sub-committee on this excellent report.
My Lords, I will speak briefly in the gap. It is a delight to follow the noble Duke, the Duke of Somerset. I endorse his comments, particularly on the premature red lines, which many of us feel very strongly about. I again declare my interests: my close family are all employed in the cultural sector. My wife, Elinor Bennett, organises an international harp festival.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay, and his committee for their excellent report. I apologise for raising prematurely at Question Time the issue of securing agreement on touring visas for those employed in the cultural sector. It was remiss of me to do so ahead of the debate and it put the Minister into a rather invidious position. I am sorry that I did that.
I draw the House’s attention to an example of the negative impact of artificial barriers on performing artists. NoFit State—that is its name, not a description—is Wales’s flagship contemporary circus company of performing artists. The revenues from international touring accounted for 40% of its turnover in 2016. Its recent experience of touring America highlights the additional costs when there is no barrier-free right to travel and perform. Its costs over and above travel costs for a few weeks in the United States were £46,000 higher than the equivalent costs of a similar tour in the European Union, on the same scale and of the same cultural nature. Major costs included visas for £13,000, carnets for £9,000, and medical and equipment insurance, as well as other significant costs such as certification.
If costs such as these were to arise relating to working in the EU, it would be totally prohibitive to companies and individuals. They need to know now what the circumstances will be so that they can plan ahead. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, who mentioned an urgent need for the provision of practical information with regard, for example, to visas, permits and carnets for those in the UK cultural sector when they hope to work in the European Union—and indeed for EU performers wishing to come to tour in the UK and the agents organising such visits and activities. A service providing information and assistance of this sort is desperately needed. I hope the Government will be able to say something about that.
Incidentally, we have seen the difficulties faced by non-EU performers coming to the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, many of whom have faced bureaucratic hurdles. Heaven help us if similar and unnecessary barriers are placed between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
My Lords, I add to the thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Jay of Ewelme, and his committee for an excellent report, which has prompted an equally excellent debate, with some very big cultural guns being trained at the Government’s policy. Despite intervening events, such as the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report and The UK’s Future Skills-Based Immigration System White Paper, it still makes complete sense.
Noble Lords have been eloquent about the damage that has already been caused in the cultural sector, particularly through the uncertainty caused by, in a sense, the lack of government policy and the delay over Brexit. Throughout the debate they unpacked a very inspiring and interesting range of organisations that they were connected with. My noble friend Lady Pinnock talked about Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. The noble Lord, Lord Black, talked about the RCM. The noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, talked about Trinity Laban. The noble Lord, Lord Russell, talked about The Place. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, talked about the Llandeilo festival. So we have heard about a huge range of organisations, which demonstrates how close noble Lords are to the cultural sector. That is very impressive. When noble Lords say that we share our culture with Europe, they really understand that. I thought that the discussion about students and soft power was of particular interest.
This March, I supported an amendment to the Trade Bill, tabled by my noble friend Lord Fox, to ensure that any trade agreement with the European Union would include a mobility framework that enables all UK and EU citizens to exercise the same reciprocal rights to work, live and study. I did this in particular because, without the right deal on movement of talent and skills, our cultural and creative industries will face the challenges emphasised by the EU Committee and all speakers today. The committee stressed the importance of the cultural sector to the UK’s economy, and a number of noble Lords talked about the wider creative industries sector. That is where I tend to focus and the message is exactly the same: the impact of a lack of mobility will be as great on those wider industries as on the creative industries. As the noble Lord, Lord Russell, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others emphasised, those industries are worth £101 billion to our GDP. Since 2010, the GVA of the creative industries has increased by a massive 53.1%. Encompassing the cultural sector, as those industries do, they now generate 5.5% of the UK economy.
One could mention many other statistics. One of the most interesting was raised by the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, about the workforce producing visual effects in films and our dependence in that sector on EU workers, with 25% of those in the visual effects industry coming from the EU—and 30% in gaming. Both are extremely important components of our creative industries. In a survey by the Creative Industries Federation last year, 74% of those in the UK’s creative industries said that they believed restricting immigration would severely limit their capacity to do business, while in its 2017 Global Talent Report the federation stressed the need for the Government to allow businesses to bring in EEA workers who do not meet the salary threshold of £30,000, which has of course been mentioned. Almost every noble Lord emphasised that this is an industry where “highly skilled” often does not equate to “highly paid”.
No wonder the Creative Industries Federation reacted so strongly against the Migration Advisory Committee report EEA Migration in the UK, published at the end of last year, and the White Paper on future skills-based immigration, which came after it. The report argued that EEA citizens should have no preferential access post Brexit and should fall under the current non-EU immigration system, including the £30,000 Tier 2 salary threshold. Many noble Lords mentioned that, including the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, and, at Question Time today, my noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter. Alan Bishop, the CEO of the CIF, said in response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report:
“The Federation has made clear that using the UK’s current visa system for both EEA and non-EEA citizens would strangle access to vital international talent”.
The analysis by the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, was particularly convincing: it showed that 45% of the workforce in that sector are self-employed and therefore that the proposal will not be of any use even if they could meet the £30,000 threshold. In response to the White Paper, the CIF made it clear that the current salary threshold of £30,000 is too blunt an instrument and not fit for purpose if applied to EU permanent workers.
Let us look at the impact on our artists going to Europe. As many noble Lords said, so much of the committee’s report is focused on the touring aspects. The music industry, as everybody has described, is of huge importance: in 2017, £2.6 billion of export revenue was generated by music. Germany, France and Sweden are in our top export markets, and are major destinations for our musicians. I am going to make an exception and not repeat all the ISM survey points; I thought that they were all relevant and made a great impact. The ISM deserves our thanks for having taken the trouble to put together such a cogent survey. Its previous survey last July demonstrated that more than a third of musicians said that they received at least half their income from working in the EU 27. That is a pretty stunning figure.
The impact of an impending Brexit on musicians has increased since the previous survey. There is a clear rise in concern by musicians; if they were not concerned at the outset of these surveys in 2016, they certainly are now. More than 50% of musicians said that they had noticed an impact on their work as a result of Brexit. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, made particular reference to that.
All this demonstrates that musicians, in particular, rely on being able to work and tour in Europe freely, easily and often with very little notice. It is equally important that other people vital to touring, such as roadies and technical staff, are able to travel on the same basis. It is also vital that instruments and equipment can be moved around easily when touring, as a number of noble Lords said. There is a real concern about the future in that respect—musicians very much want to avoid the reintroduction of anything like a carnet. There are several “old rockers” who remember the bad old days in the 1960s when they had to get carnets to lug their equipment around Europe. Experience in third countries such as the US is very frustrating for artists.
The leaving the EU White Paper said that the UK would look to reach an agreement allowing musicians and museums to tour major events with their equipment and goods. What is considered a major event? It is not clarified in any government communication and there are few details of what an agreement would look like. As many noble Lords have said, there will need to be considerable changes to these proposals if the Government are to ensure that sectors such as the creative industries continue to thrive post Brexit. There is still a huge lack of clarity, with a chorus of criticism from UK Music, the MU and the ISM, among others. UK Music expressed its strong concerns in a letter directly to the Prime Minister last December, but the response was thin gruel compared to the size of the issue. A number of noble Lords have mentioned the Minister’s response to the Select Committee report—I think that was pretty thin gruel as well. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Russell, “Not many oysters there”.
Top UK musicians wrote an open letter, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria; Organised by Bob Geldof and backed by dozens of pop, rock and classical heavyweights, including Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora and Damon Albarn, it called for a rethink on Brexit and explained why Europe is so important to the music industry. I shall not repeat the quotes, but they expressed very great concern, and that is why the recommendations in the Select Committee report are so important. Its recommendation in paragraph 59 is particularly important, asking the Government to seek a commitment to an EU-wide, multicountry, multi-entry short-term touring visa for UK citizens. Many noble Lords re-emphasised that today.
As the committee says, these must be reciprocal arrangements. Otherwise, as the MU says:
“Our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged”.
That is why the final recommendation in paragraph 60 is so important. As the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, pointed out, we already have reciprocity, and it is a fine thing to have that existing arrangement within the EU.
Of course, many other issues need to be tackled to ensure continuing mobility for our artists. There are social security issues, which are dealt with in the committee’s report; there are issues relating to the movement of instruments which are covered by CITES, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lipsey; and there are health insurance issues. The MU calls for consideration of a permitted paid engagement scheme and permit-free festival arrangements—we have heard already about some of the problems with Edinburgh, WOMAD and Llangollen. We need those arrangements in place.
I hope that we will get satisfactory answers from the Minister—or more satisfactory answers than we have had from the Government to date—but in the face of the serious consequences of a lack of mobility for the sector after Brexit, it is appropriate in this debate to say it in music. On these Benches, as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang in the film “Shall We Dance”, we say: “Let’s call the whole thing off”.
Not yet, my Lords—let us not call it off until I have had my minute in the sun.
I concur with what has just been said about the continuing appositeness of the report, even though it has taken so long to be aired in this debate. It continues to have point and poignancy despite all the documentation and reports that have come between then and now—that needs to be emphasised again. The noble and embattled Lord the Minister, who now faces the concerns laid out so pungently by Members on all these Benches, will have to do his best to answer some very direct questions. We have been asking the questions for a long time. It is not the first time that even I, a rookie in these affairs, have stood here making these points and asking these questions, yet we still do not have a clear idea of how this part of our national economy, which represents an enormous percentage of what is earned for this country, will manage its future.
How could we expect differently? Almost all the Answers to the Written Questions gathered together at the end of the excellent briefing from the Library begin with a sentence that damns this whole process. It runs like this: “The Government is clear that free movement of people will end when the United Kingdom leaves the European Community”. If they begin in that way, any attempt to answer the particular Question seems to run into the sand right from the start. It is a fixed point, a red line, a determined position from which very little movement can be expected, yet it is in respect of a part of our national life that is about movement, development, unpredictability and glorying in spontaneity, colour and shape.
We are glad to have the report. Its questions—and they have been mentioned many times around the House—focus on uncertainty. The uncertainty which this sector of all sectors is faced with prohibits planning programmes and activities. In the gathering of information in the Library briefing, I looked at the ISM and Arts Council reports and noted for a start that they are so recent. Why do we have to wait for them, with their concerns about the uncertainty facing them, to produce the kind of evidence that should inject urgency into our debates? But that is what they have done.
I liked in particular the two case studies at the heart of those reports, not about country house music, which we heard mentioned earlier, nor indeed about the many organised festivals, but about the Hallé Orchestra and Sage Gateshead—nice, too, to get out of London when thinking about the arts and the cultural life of the country. Each of those case studies ends by stating that no preparations have been made in either case for a post-Brexit world. That does not mean that they are lacking in foresight, endeavour or energy, but that they do not know what they are responding to or preparing for. That is the uncertainty and I hope that the Minister will recognise the emphasis on that word “uncertainty” and have something to say about it when he rises.
Much has been said about visa requirements. I will say no more, but we must have a word too about flexible and usable visas for people who are travelling at short notice in the ways described. What provision will the Government make for people working in this way in this sector? Do the Government recognise that without such arrangements, it is a death knell for so much of what happens in the sector?
We have heard about social security, healthcare and so on, and I think there is enough clarity there, but we need some reassurance in those areas too. I was interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Jay, that the impact of what has been happening—or rather, what has not been happening—is already telling in the sector. There are already repercussions. We are already impoverished: bookings are down, and people are unready to make arrangements ahead of time. That too is a sad thing to say when we have been arguing this case again and again over the months and years that followed the referendum.
My noble friend Lord Parekh touched on something that has not been adequately mentioned: skills. People taken on in apprenticeship positions in order to acquire skills cannot qualify for the full apprenticeship scheme, because of the nature of the contracts and the way the work is done. I wonder whether we might consider a way for people to accumulate the necessary experience, by having a card which is stamped or something, to make it possible for people who learn skills in the sector to accumulate enough experience and qualification to fall within the terms of the apprenticeship scheme.
I hope that the Minister is going to speak about the £30,000 salary limit, because we have all recognised that it does not correspond at all to the reality of the levels of pay received by many people in the cultural sector. Incidentally, I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, who wanted us to remember certain definitions of culture. I remember that a Bishop of Liverpool, describing to his congregation what he thought culture was, said, “Culture, my friends, is what happens around here”. It was reported in the newspaper the next day that the Bishop of Liverpool had stated that “Culture happens in Liverpool”. I mention that because I think culture happens in an indirect way, and the work of this sector has repercussions when we encourage people to travel to European countries. When in Vienna, Salzburg or wherever, ordinary people on their ordinary holidays have their horizons widened and their sensibilities touched. I think we should see that culture is a people’s thing; it is not just high culture and it can be caught and taught, so we must think seriously about the freedom of movement of people going on their holidays and visiting the continent of Europe in due course.
I was so pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Jay, mention for a moment the Cinderella in all this—poetry, my preferred option as well. I also heard “The Walrus and the Carpenter” as we were talking about high culture earlier in the debate. I will end, as I contemplate Brexit and the departure from Europe, with words from nearer to where I come from. I wish I could raise the country to its true height and rise, as Milton put it, to,
“the height of this great argument …
And justify the ways of God to men”.
I would say to the nation, alert and listening:
“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.
Over to the Minister.
My Lords, I had not detected, even before the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, pointed it out and confirmed it, a huge wave of support around the House for the Government’s position—still less for my reply, which was politely castigated by the noble Lords, Lord Russell of Liverpool and Lord Aberdare, the noble Duke, the Duke of Somerset, and, slightly less politely, by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. They may have underestimated the difficulty of producing a reply just one month before the Home Office produced its immigration White Paper.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay, for today’s debate and all noble Lords who have brought it to life with such enthusiasm. I know that your Lordships will agree with the noble Lords, Lord Jay and Lord Whitty, and many others on the importance of our cultural sector. It is a thriving industry, contributing £29.5 billion to the UK economy in 2017. That is an increase of 38.5% since 2010.
But it is not just economically important; it represents the best of British talent, and is admired the world over. Indeed, last week I was luckily able to see that when I spoke at the opening of the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with Cathy Wilkes’s six-room exhibition. I took the opportunity to highlight the opportunities and rewards of international cultural collaboration and exchange. Thanks in part to the benefits such cultural exchanges bring, the UK recently reclaimed top position in the global soft power index. Now that we are back on top, I absolute agree that we need to stay on top.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Jay and his committee for the report and their work in what we all agree is an important area. As he said, the report outlined proposals on mobility arrangements for the cultural sector once we have left the EU. These covered preferential treatment of EU 27 nationals once we have left the EU, visa salary thresholds—which I will come to—social security co-ordination and both permitted paid engagement and permit-free festival visa routes and their extension to EU 27 nationals.
As has been said, I wrote to the noble Lord, Lord Jay, in November, acknowledging that access to international talent is a key issue for the cultural sector. For example, we know that touring is important for the music industry across all genres; for the performers themselves and for live industry workers including stage managers, engineers and make-up artists. We know that professionals in screen industries, ballet, theatre, classical music and architecture, among many others, use international work as a valuable part of their income stream. As several noble Lords mentioned, many of these workers are freelancers; 49% of workers in the cultural sector are self-employed. Many also work for smaller enterprises. The sector is dominated by microbusinesses, with 95.4% of businesses employing nine people or fewer.
In my letter, I outlined that the UK’s future immigration system will be based on skills, not nationality. The same rules will apply to EEA nationals as to those from outside the EEA. I also referred to the White Paper The Future Relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, which sets out the Government’s ambition to seek a mobility framework that is reciprocal and consistent with the ending of free movement and that enables businesses to move their talented people. I will come to that in a minute. While the details of these arrangements are yet to be negotiated, the ambition remains. The DDCMS is committed to ensuring that our future mobility framework encourages our cultural industries to continue to thrive.
We must also support domestic talent in ensuring that our world leading cultural sector continues to thrive, which the noble Lord, Lord Russell of Liverpool, asked for. We are working collaboratively with the rest of government to ensure that the necessary direct support is available to allow the creative sectors to flourish. For example, in the 2016-17 academic year 870 apprenticeships were started in the arts, media and publishing sector, under which this industry falls. We have announced almost £500 million of funding between 2016 and 2020 to support a diverse portfolio of music and arts education programmes. My noble friend Lord Black will also approve of the fact that this includes £300 million for music education hubs, which aim to reach at least 600,000 pupils in two years, and almost £120 million for the music and dance scheme, supporting exceptionally talented children to attend specialist music and dance institutions. Let us not forget as well that just under £0.5 billion a year is spent by ACE and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Since my response to the noble Lord, Lord Jay, was sent, the Government’s White Paper on immigration has been published. Furthermore, the withdrawal agreement and political declaration have been agreed by the Government and the EU, although not yet supported by the House of Commons. The political declaration sets out where the EU and the UK have agreed to discuss reciprocal mobility arrangements—the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, highlighted their importance—and recognised the importance of mobility for enabling cultural co-operation.
The White Paper noted the MAC’s recommendation of £30,000 for a minimum salary threshold for skilled workers, which most noble Lords have mentioned. MAC is the independent adviser to the Government on all things migration-related, and has considered the best means for assessing who should be able to migrate to the UK. It has repeatedly said that a salary threshold is the most objective way of assessing this and provides certainty. In its most recent report it suggested that a salary threshold should continue to apply; it suggested that this should be £30,000.
However, the Government realise that this has caused concerns, including among the cultural sector. We are currently engaging on where the future salary levels should be set. Indeed, the Secretary of State for DCMS said at the Creative Industries Federation conference, “Salary alone is too blunt an instrument with which to measure skill level”.
The Government have launched a year-long engagement programme on the White Paper proposals. The DDCMS is working with the Home Office and cultural industries throughout this process so that we can approach policy well-informed by those working in the sector. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, that the Home Office does not understand these things. For example, this January the Minister for Arts met One Dance UK, the Association of British Orchestras, UK Theatre and officials from the Home Office to discuss the future skills-based immigration system. In June, the Secretary of State will meet the Creative Industries Council and a sub-group looking at immigration will produce a paper for discussion at that meeting. Officials have met over 100 stakeholders at least once and held four round tables in different UK cities.
I will come on to some of the points that have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Jay, asked in introducing the debate whether a touring visa had been ruled out. As I said, we appreciate the importance of touring to the cultural sector and recognise that it depends on the ability to move quickly and easily between countries. The Government have proposed that we should seek to agree with the EU reciprocal mobility arrangements that support businesses to provide services and move their talented people. The political declaration agreed between the UK and the EU—although, as I say, not yet agreed by the House of Commons—specifically acknowledges the importance of mobility for cultural co-operation. That is why the government position is still, as I said, that we must try to get the withdrawal agreement.
The noble Lord, Lord Jay, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, asked whether we will consider waiving social security payments. Again, this depends on getting an agreement with the EU. Under the withdrawal agreement, the EU social security co-ordination rules will continue to apply in full to EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU at the end of the implementation period for as long as they remain within the scope of the citizens’ rights agreement.
I want—if I can—to bring a little optimism after the rather gloomy tenor of some noble Lords’ speeches about the proposed immigration system. The ability for UK nationals to tour in the EU is dependent on what we are able to agree reciprocally with the EU. However, there remain many ways in which talented EU artists, including freelancers, can come to the UK. Until 2021, EU nationals will be able to come here for up to three months and a further 36 months, subject to security checks, even if we leave with no deal. Exceptionally talented performers—I accept that this is for only a limited number of exceptionally talented international people—can still take advantage of our popular tier 1 visas. For short-term visits, creative professionals can come with a certificate of sponsorship for up to 12 months under tier 5, which is extendable, and for other visits they can take advantage of permitted paid engagement rules or permit-free festival arrangements. Under our new proposals, low-risk nationals will be able to apply to come to the UK for up to 12 months to work, regardless of their skill or salary level, or whether they have an employer. We are engaging with many organisations in the cultural sector to ensure that these routes reflect their needs. I am not saying that this is therefore the same as or equal to being in the single market, because leaving the EU has consequences. However, I maintain that the picture is not as gloomy as some Peers have said. Even if it was, we are having a year-long consultation.
On a small but equally important level, I can reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, that the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is a permit-free festival, which means that a performer can take part and be paid without needing to obtain a work visa. Glastonbury is also a permit-free festival.
My noble friend Lord Inglewood asked about Irish nationals in the future system. They will not be subject to future immigration arrangements, reflecting the long-standing and historical relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, talked about seasonal worker pilots in agriculture and whether that system could be extended to culture. The MAC has opined that agriculture—more specifically, seasonal agriculture —is the only sector of the labour market that would benefit from a sectoral immigration scheme. The Government have listened to concerns from the industry and have introduced a pilot scheme to test the immigration system’s ability to cope with seasonal demand. It is limited to edible horticulture sectors, which are a unique British success story, performing uniquely seasonal work. The MAC’s EEA report says that seasonal agricultural labour is unlike any labour market in the UK and therefore it is right that it is treated differently. However, I agree with the noble Lord that the similarity between agriculture and culture is that they move just beyond the economic benefits to this country, important though those are. It concerns something more: the place we live in and the values we hold as a country. Therefore, when we discuss this with the Home Office, we will make a strong case that culture and the movement of cultural workers has an importance beyond simply the economic numbers.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, accused the Government of, among other things, ignoring the value of services to the UK economy. I simply do not recognise his categorisation that the Government would ignore 80% of the economy. Leaving the EU means that, for the first time since we joined, the UK will be able to negotiate bilaterally with our cultural partners all over the world to agree arrangements similar to those we have been pursuing with the EU and to facilitate the mobility of professionals for the purposes of delivering services. The noble Earl may have seen that within the DCMS sector, it has just been announced that fintech is the largest generator of finance for that industry. Within DCMS we pay attention to services, as do the Government as a whole.
The noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, asked whether, in supporting the reconstruction and renovation of Notre-Dame Cathedral, this type of important collaboration will be affected by EU exit. Obviously, we sympathise deeply with the French people after that fire, and we have offered full assistance to France in the task of rebuilding the medieval cathedral, using our particular expertise in this country. That support will not be affected by leaving the EU.
The noble Lord, Lord Lipsey, talked about CITES and ports in relation to musicians bringing in and taking out instruments. I completely understand the importance to those in the sector of being able to travel with their equipment, including musical instruments —obviously it is an important part of a musician’s job to travel with their instruments. The noble Lord is right that the rules of the convention sometimes apply to these important instruments. Leaving the EU and the customs union has consequences for how these rules will apply. I took on board the noble Lord’s point about the ports, and I will be happy to write to him with more detail on this subject, and to talk to him if he would like to do so.
One of the benefits that we are trying to introduce into the system is swiftness. The Government want to ensure that the new immigration system is smooth and swift. We set out in the immigration White Paper how the new system will be digital. We will make the best use of the information the Government already hold and provide the very best service for those who use it. One of the things we want to do—and one of the difficulties, bearing in mind the special nature of not only the cultural sector but other sectors—is to make a system that is efficient and quick and without too many complications. We have seen before that that is where problems lie in immigration and other government systems.
The noble Lord, Lord Jay, asked us to acknowledge the impact that exit is already having; he and other noble Lords talked about the music industry in particular. I accept that there is some evidence that that may be happening but, on the other hand, the creative industries in general are thriving and the sector is growing and has been successful since 2016. It is therefore important not to exaggerate these fears, although I accept that we need to pay attention to the situation. I accept that one of the issues will be the long-term effects rather than what will happen immediately.
I have tried to paint a slightly less gloomy picture, but we realise that there are issues with the cultural sector. We at DCMS think that it is an important sector, not only economically but for the health of this country and what makes it worth living in. We will take the White Paper consultation seriously and ensure that the cultural sector’s views are well understood by the Home Office.
My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have spoken in this debate: there have been some very powerful speeches this afternoon. I am also grateful to the Minister for his thoughtful reply and his undoubted commitment to our cultural sector. The debate has confirmed the importance of our culture, both for its intrinsic excellence and for its benefit to our economy and soft power aboard. I well remember, when I was ambassador in Paris, an excellent production of a British play sponsored by the British Council, whose title bashfulness forbids me to mention in the confines of your Lordships’ House.