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We should encourage our creative industries to work closely with our universities to make media studies, and other courses in the fast-growing roster of related courses, a fast track towards the skilled and creative industry openings that I have mentioned. That should not mean, however, that we forget the importance of energy, innovation and flair. It is important that we do not take an overly bureaucratic approach. Having worked in the creative industry, the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire is probably aware that it is taking a slightly schizophrenic approach to say that we want to have structures, because the very nature of working in the creative industries is that the lifestyle is unstructured. That is not to say that when such people get to their 50s and 60s, they do not regret having had an unstructured lifestyle which may mean that they do not have a pension. Nevertheless, we must avoid stifling the flair and innovation in the acting, music and other creative industries by being too rigorous. That inevitable tension and strain will surround any policy making in this area, because creativity, rather like entrepreneurialism, cannot simply be taught in the
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classroom. We can ensure, however, that the skills picked up during a degree or diploma course are made as practical as possible.

We must remember that most of those who work in our creative industries are employed in small businesses—often start-ups and one-man or one-woman shows. With that in mind, some of the changes to the capital gains tax regime are especially bad news for some small, start-up businesses. It makes a mockery of the warm words and positivity in the Government’s creative industries document if, at the same time, young, innovative fashion designers and other artists face greater barriers to the development and expansion of their businesses under the capital gains tax regime that is in place. I support the simplicity of an 18 per cent. rate, but many start-up businesses that are going to be sold off in a relatively short time would have qualified for a taper relief down at 10 per cent. Again, in fairness to the Government, that taper relief has been in place only since 2002. It is not as though they are throwing away many years of tax advantages, but it is to be regretted that, in many ways, some of the biggest losers are not those whose voices are the loudest.

As the Member who represents the City of London, I have spoken openly of some of my concerns about vocal complaints from the non-domiciled community about changes to their tax, many of which I believe would be supported by the public at large. But in respect of small, start-up businesses, particularly in this important sphere, there will be many young, creative entrepreneurs who will have good reason to regret that the capital gains tax regime has been changed to their detriment.

Our nation has been at the heart of global trade and the financial and commercial services fields for some centuries. As I mentioned earlier, there is the rapid emergence of two enormous markets today, let alone in the decades ahead: India and China, with more than 2.5 billion consumers. They will undoubtedly be the economic superpowers of the future. For Stoke-on-Trent, North, certain elements of that will probably result in somewhat heavy hearts, but there could be tremendous advantages for the creative industries.

In answer to my earlier intervention, the Minister rightly pointed out that the real challenge for our creative industries is to ensure that they can add value by employing the highest skills possible. It is all the more important, therefore, that we promote spheres of excellence and comparative economic advantage. We need to maintain our place as one of the world’s great innovators in film animation, computer games and all other parts of the creative industries. That will happen only if we encourage our young people towards creative university degree courses as well as the more academic options that are available. In that way, we will continue to compete with the growing capabilities in the Indian sub-continent and the far east, and I suspect that the benefits to our nation will be clear not just today but hopefully for generations to come.

4.31 pm

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): I am delighted that we have the opportunity to have this debate. As has been said, it is disappointing that a debate on something that everybody in the room has said is crucial for the future
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of this country is taking place at the fag end of the parliamentary week, just before a holiday. It deserves much greater prominence.

None the less, we are having a debate, and I am delighted to have an opportunity to join in. We have already had some fantastic contributions from both sides of the House. It has been a stimulating debate, and I have learned a great deal. I am grateful to hon. Members for the insights that they have shared.

I have only one criticism. It is of the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson), who, in a passing reference in his speech, referred to the excitement of the creative writers down the corridor. He said that he was at the other end of the corridor doing boring, nerdy science. Those were his precise words—I wrote them down. I am sure that he will reflect on those words and regret them. I know that he believes that science is extremely exciting. Indeed, the stories of why Tycho Brahe spent his life doing fantastic science with an amalgam nose, or of what James Prescott Joule did on his honeymoon and the contribution that that made to the development of science, are as exciting as some of the stories by the people at the other end of the corridor to whom he referred.

This is a very important debate. Sadly, nobody so far has used it as an opportunity to point out that this week we have seen the deaths of two important people who worked in the creative industries. The passing of Anthony Minghella at such an early age is a huge sadness, because he made a huge contribution, and Arthur C. Clarke, with his fantastic ideas about communication satellites, all his science fiction, the film “2001” and so on is also a great loss.

This debate is about ensuring that we can provide the framework to find, nurture and develop the talents of future Minghellas and Clarkes. I am therefore delighted that the Government, through their various Departments—I shall come back to that point shortly—have pulled together this document and shown that they believe that the creative industries are critical for our future. I shall criticise one or two of the proposals contained in it, but, broadly speaking, it is an important and exciting document that helps to chart the way forward.

I note with considerable interest Simon Hoggart’s sketch in The Guardian on 11 March, in which he referred to the Minister. I note that he says that he is fond of her—we are delighted—but makes the point, with some validity, that some of the figures that are used by the Government are enormously precise for an industry that is incredibly diverse and difficult to get hold of. To be told that it makes up

and contributes a value of £60.8 billion is probably going a little far with the gathering and analysis of statistics. None the less, that is the order of magnitude. Those figures illustrate just how important a part of the economy and the lifeblood of this country the creative industries are.

Of course, we have a difficulty in defining creative industries. I listened to the important speech of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Joan Walley) about an issue that she, coming from the Potteries, understandably feels passionate about: ceramics. She will be disappointed to note that the definition of creative industries in the document features only as a tiny footnote—it is not in
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the main body of the document. There is a definition, but it does not include the word “ceramics”. I assume that ceramics are included in crafts. The document points out that the list is not exclusive, so she can have hope that the word “ceramics” might be included.

Joan Walley: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Foster: I give way to the hon. Lady, who has read the document even more diligently than I have.

Joan Walley: I am most grateful. I have indeed read the document with a toothcomb, and I take great heart from a comment on page 64, which I referred to earlier. It states that the ceramics movement is redefining itself

That is good enough for me, and good enough to ensure that the Government will work with me in that area.

Mr. Foster: Excellent. I am delighted that the hon. Lady is satisfied, but perhaps she could persuade the Government that, if they rewrite the document, the footnote to page 6 could say a little more about ceramics. None the less, she is right. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Vaizey) from a sedentary position disagrees, but he will make his contribution in a few minutes, and all will be well.

It is important for anyone who speaks on behalf of a political party to reflect clearly their party’s views. Therefore, I want to say that there are many areas in which we believe that this country is doing incredibly well. Music has already been mentioned. There is no doubt that this country is a global force in music. It is, arguably, the third in the world in terms of the music market, but it is probably No. 1 in the world for innovation and creativity, and that is crucial.

We discussed copyright, to which I shall briefly come in a few seconds. We have already heard about the importance of addressing illegal downloading and, of course, illegal uploading. I shall not repeat the comments that I made when I intervened in that discussion, but one of the difficulties is that while we can find the internet protocol address of those who are guilty, it is very hard to obtain their physical location. Mr. Whittingdale Junior must be worried: he is one of the few people for whom we do not know the IP address but do know his physical address, and that, of course, is what is needed for prosecutions to take place.

The design industry is worth some £10 billion a year. The fashion industry, which raises £100 million in fashion week alone for the London economy, is critical. Advertising, which has not yet been mentioned, is a critical part of the creative economy, funding 95 per cent. of our national press and 95 per cent. of commercial radio.

Film has rightly been mentioned. There have been fantastic successes in films, including those supported by FilmFour, such as that wonderful animation, “Peter and the Wolf”, which is well worth seeing and won an Oscar. I strongly recommend it. There is a long list of Oscar winners, including Daniel Day-Lewis and Tilda Swinton. Tremendous work is being done to try, voluntarily—I accept the points made earlier—to tackle the uploading and downloading of film on the internet. That is as important an issue in respect of film as it is in the music industry.


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Wonderful work is being done by all sorts of organisations. BBC Blast deserves a mention, because it is targeting disaffected teenagers and getting them involved in the creative industry. Tremendous work is being done by the British Council, which is rarely mentioned in debates about creativity. However, the British Council is increasingly focusing its work in this field, which is welcome. It has created a series of awards celebrating Britain's experience and expertise in the creative industry.

The video game industry has been mentioned briefly and only once in this debate, by the hon. Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field), but we should not forget it, because it is the fourth largest in the world and, sadly, so often the all-purpose punchbag for politicians. Yet the vast majority of what it does should be applauded and celebrated by all of us in this Chamber.

We have touched only briefly, and rather oddly, on the tremendous success due to creative partnerships, a Government initiative that I was critical of in its early days that has now transformed itself so much that it deserves to get a plug for its work. Some fantastic things have come out of that. I am saddened that there is not more in the Government’s document about how to build on that existing structure and develop it, rather than suggesting adding new structures.

The document mentions some fantastic things, which I welcome, including the development of 5,000 apprentices a year, the five new centres of excellence in creative skills and the world creative business conference. It will be worth considering how the latter can develop. Although I note the Minister’s enthusiasm, I am not entirely convinced that that is the way forward. However, it is worth considering. I also welcome the creative choices careers scheme.

There are many good things, but is important to consider some of the concerns. The Chair of the Select Committee, the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford (Mr. Whittingdale), was right to say that intellectual property is central to this debate. We are talking about creative industries and wealth generation as well as everything else and, unless we address intellectual property rights effectively, the rest of it is pretty meaningless. It is critical that we get right some of the things that we currently do not get right. The most obvious example of that—I accept that it is by no means the only one—was raised with passion by the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) and by the hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford.

I shall place my cards clearly on the table. It is wonderful that the Commissioner is now talking about an extension of copyright to 95 years, because that is exactly what is required. However, were the Minister persuaded by the arguments to go ahead, eventually, there are two possible caveats that she might wish to consider. First, although nearly every item will be placed on the web, because there is a possibility of its generating at least some income, it may still be possible that some items, which are held with an extended copyright, will never see the light of day. There ought to be some sort of “use it or lose it” clause, saying that if an owner of a copyright is not going to use the item, somebody else could use it in some way. There ought to be a mechanism to ensure that that is possible.


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Secondly, although modern technology is such that this caveat is not particularly necessary, it is important to recognise that the holders of copyright have an archival responsibility. In the past, master discs have been broken up, used as rubble to provide foundations for new buildings and lost forever. There should surely be a requirement for copyright holders to hold on to the material, bring it up to date in terms of new platforms and technologies and ensure that it is secure. There should be a historical, archival responsibility alongside copyright. I hope that, with those two small caveats in mind, the Minister will be willing to look at the 95-year extension.

The hon. Member for Maldon and East Chelmsford made a valuable contribution in talking about the fragmented responsibilities in respect of the creative industries. The document mentions DCMS, BERR and DIUS—I begin to lose track of all these acronyms—and refers specifically to other Departments with responsibility, including HMT, DCSF and DCLG. Frankly, most people working in the creative industries do not have the foggiest notion what all that lot means. They do not know who to see, what the point of contact is, where to look for support, how to find out what the legislation is, or anything else. A much tighter focus is vital. Of course, cross-departmental working is important—I welcome its being discussed—but it is unclear where the funding responsibility lies.

The document mentions precise figures: I love the way it is £70.5 million, not £70 million—although the £500,000 might be important to some projects. When I mentioned the 29p per week figure, the Minister said that a lot of other things were going on. However, the figure does not just come to £70.5 million. Why that figure is included is beyond me. Millions of pounds are being spent in this area. Why have we not brought all that together and attempted to show what the Government are spending, how it is spent and where they will be bringing in extra money?

I am delighted that the Minister agrees about the fragmented responsibilities. Lottery distributors also need to be examined. Excellent work is being done by the Arts Council, the UK Film Council and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, which is critical and I am delighted the Minister mentioned it. We need to look at their areas of responsibility.

There are some simple issues in respect of which the Government have not addressed properly some of their own failings. For instance, participation in the arts and attendance at arts events is essential—the Minister acknowledges that and it is mentioned in the document—yet, at the moment, the Government are failing. Their own figures show that before they cleverly abolished the targets, they were not meeting them. The former Secretary of State for Department for Culture, Media and Sport, now the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said that the Government could get rid of those targets because they were no longer needed as the Government were achieving everything they wanted to achieve. The truth is that the Government’s own report shows that we are not meeting those targets.

If anybody doubts what I am saying, the figures are in the DCMS report, which shows, for example, that in respect of attendance at arts events by priority groups the baseline figure expectation of 33.7 per cent. only got to 33 per cent. There was also a failure to achieve the
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targets for participation in arts activities. Although the Government have rightly been applauded for the effect of free entry to museums, they have failed to meet their own targets, even in respect of attendance at museums by the various interest areas, including black and minority and lower socioeconomic groups. There is work to be done on including people.

I know that there are big ideas and big issues in the document, but some of the basics are really important. There is no point in talking about a few extra million, welcome though it is, at a time when, for instance, the number of people going to museums and the funding available to them are decreasing. Many museums are funded by local government, whose funding is being heavily squeezed under the recent settlement. If the Government want to talk about cross-departmental working, the Minister should be talking to those responsible for the local government settlement, which affects matters of her responsibility.

Interestingly, the document mentions such things as studio provision. I am sure that the Minister will know that particularly in the east end of London, perhaps because of the build-up to the Olympics, there is no point in talking about additional studio provision, because existing studio provision is being reduced dramatically. There is a lot of work to be done, and in places the document fails to recognise the basic realities that are affecting the creative industries.

Earlier, the Minister cleverly elicited from Members in all parts of the Chamber an indication that we somehow totally supported her “Find Your Talent” scheme. She listened to the interventions very well, but then suggested that we all supported the scheme entirely. The principle is wonderful in many ways, with the additional focus on and attention to creativity and culture in education, which I welcome. She has done herself a huge disservice, however, by aligning herself with the initial announcement of five hours of culture a week. That implies that culture is somehow separated from everything else.

Margaret Hodge indicated dissent.

Mr. Foster: The Minister shakes her head, but I listened to the interview on the “Today” programme with the Secretary of State, and I have listened to the way in which people have understandably picked up on the five hours of culture, done their sums and worked out that the funding for each pupil will be less than 6p an hour. Why was everybody doing those sums, if we were not talking about a set number of hours? We should integrate cultural activities and creativity far more in the curriculum, rather than talk about add-ons. I am delighted that the Minister believes that I am right about that, but I say to her that the document does not say that—it gives a very different impression.

If the Government introduce the five hours of provision, they will get into a great argument with people like me, who point out that targets are not being met and that definitions are fiddled. The Government claim that they have met their commitment to two hours of physical education in school, but they have not. Some 1 million children lose out, and the two hours include changing time. What will be the fiddles in this case? Instead, let us have culture integrated.


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