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4 Jun 2009 : Column 298

Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord sets out a problem that undoubtedly exists, but any decision made by anybody that is outside English law cannot stand against English law. For example, if consent is sought for some issue around children or family assets, the English courts decide. Other councils—not courts—can make an agreement, if the parties themselves want to. That applies across the board, but always behind that is the fact that those agreements cannot be enforced except by an English court.

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, can the Minister confirm whether the Government, and specifically their officials connected with the area, are appropriately aware of the distinction between Sharia and Sharia law? Are Muslim arbitration tribunals engaged in the adjudication of dispute resolution in the spirit of Sharia, or in the implementation of Sharia law as an alternative to English law?

Lord Bach: My Lords, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal may apply Sharia law only, and I emphasise only, if the disputing parties expressly agree in all arbitrations that decisions will be enforceable by the English and Welsh courts and the requirements of the Arbitration Act 1996 are satisfied. If any decisions by these tribunals were illegal or contrary to public policy under the law in England and Wales, they would simply not be enforceable. As I understand it, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal deals largely with civil matters between two parties who agree that the decision of the arbitration tribunal will stand. If one of the parties then breaks the agreement, the course would be to go to the English courts to make sure that the matter is put right.

North Korea


11.30 am

Asked By Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare a non-financial interest as chairman of the All-Party British-North Korea Parliamentary Group.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, we are working with UN Security Council partners including China and Russia to secure a robust resolution in response to the nuclear test carried out by the DPRK on 25 May. This includes action in New York as well as in capitals. What has happened is a breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 and we have strongly condemned the DPRK Government for their action. The DPRK’s

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decision to fire short-range missiles and the threat to “rip up” the 1953 armistice agreement are provocative and will further damage regional stability.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Does he recall that, when the armistice was signed in 1953 at the end of the Korean War, 3 million people had died, including 1,000 British servicemen? Did he note the figures from the report that my noble friend Lady Cox and I sent to him following our visit there in February of this year that the United Nations estimates that some 400,000 people have been executed by the regime, that 200,000 are in the camps and that 2 million Koreans died in North Korea during the 1990s as a result of the famine? Should not North Korea’s decision last week to revoke the 1953 armistice underline the urgent need for a concerted effort to prevent a repetition of a major war and the inevitable exodus of refugees into China—that is certainly disturbing the minds of Chinese diplomats at present—and for engagement in a Helsinki-style process? In the present dangerous climate, would not a declaration by the United States of a willingness to establish a diplomatic presence, as we have done in Pyongyang, and of the need to create a treaty to end the war be the first steps in a Helsinki-style process of engagement?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, made an important report after they returned from North Korea, which emphasised the need, as the noble Lord has done again in his Question, to balance the sticks of sanctions against the carrots of diplomatic engagement. Fundamentally, that remains the right twin track. Obviously, in the face of such extraordinary provocation by the regime and such a direct threat to regional stability, this is perhaps not the moment to be talking about the Helsinki engagement track. There must be a firm response, but over time we must return to engagement, because this is in every sense an outlaw regime, which is doing appalling things to its citizens outside the limelight of global public opinion.

Baroness Cox: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, while we are meeting here this morning, two journalists are on trial in Pyongyang, having been arrested on the border with China after reporting on the flow of refugees into China and the terrible fate awaiting those who are forcibly returned, who are regularly imprisoned and tortured? Can he inform the House whether our excellent ambassador in Pyongyang is monitoring that trial and working with other members of the international community to try to ensure that those journalists are not used as political pawns in the present confrontation over nuclear issues?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, let me reassure the noble Baroness that we certainly are monitoring the trial and have been following it closely. I think that Europe—not Britain alone—has some role as a bridge builder in the context of the DPRK, but we should not consider our influence to be more important than it is. This is a situation where the so-called contact group of six—the five outsiders being neighbours, with the exception of the US—probably has more direct influence on these issues than we do.

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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, we appreciate very much the expertise of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, on North Korea and the point about the need for twin tracks. However, have we not now reached the point where the six-party diplomacy has been brutally rebuffed by North Korea, which clearly has no intention of abiding by it at all? On the stick side of greater pressures, we should be mobilising and helping with the responsible efforts made by China and Russia, because they are the countries that will be most hurt by North Korea continuing on its wild course. Does the noble Lord accept that now really is the time to think about far greater examination of North Korean cargos and shipping, much more effort to stop North Korean arms exports and even travel bans on North Koreans so that serious pressure is imposed on this horrid little country?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, first, China and Russia are very engaged at the moment in crafting a sanctions resolution in New York and they are very much taking the lead in advising on which sanctions steps are practical to take and which, in the eyes of China in particular, might further aggravate the situation and become a casus belli that would further escalate the situation. I think that we have to defer to China’s judgment, in particular, on some of this because, as was said earlier, it is the country that would receive the influx of refugees and be most hit by a collapse of the regime or a renewed war. Secondly, yes, we need to hit hard against this provocation, but we also need to remember that there is a pattern to this. Missile and even nuclear tests have happened repeatedly and therefore the need for engagement remains important. Even Henry Kissinger, in an article yesterday, recommended that we try to keep the diplomatic track alive.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, perhaps on this day it might be appropriate to ask the Minister whether he agrees that North Korea, together with Burma, is the most sovereign country in the world, that UKIP members would clearly be happy to move there and that other countries have compromised their sovereignty by international co-operation to a much greater level. Having said that, I ask him to explain to us how we cope with a country that clearly depends on paranoia about the outside world to maintain its sovereignty. Is there any way that we, together with other countries, can promote cultural dialogue, with visits of one sort of another, to demonstrate that the outside world is not a threat to North Koreans and that the hostile approach to the outside world that keeps them going is self-defeating for them as well as for us?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, there is a balance between trying to keep engagement going and not allowing the regime to use its provocations and our reaction to feed its political base via paranoia. Ensuring that engagement keeps the lights on in the country is key. We were continuing English language training there, for example, and we continue to support the UN in its development and technical assistance programmes, but equally we cannot allow North Korea or the world to believe that this kind of flagrant threat to international peace can be left unanswered.

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Business of the House

Motion on Standing Orders

11.38 am

Moved By Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Motion agreed.

Business of the House

Timing of Debates

Moved By Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Motion agreed.

Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2009

Motion to Refer to Grand Committee

Moved By Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Motion agreed.

Creative Industries


11.40 am

Moved By Lord Bragg

Lord Bragg: My Lords, I think that I shall wait a moment until the select few have gathered. I am grateful to have been given the chance to mount this debate. I hope that it will prove once and for all that the creative industries in this country are the flagship and the most powerful identifying characteristic of what we in the UK in the 21st century can do well both at home and abroad, and in the process enrich not only the economy but the minds and imagination of people here and around the world.

A recent analysis by NESTA suggests that between 2009 and 2013 the UK’s creative industries will grow on average at 4 per cent per annum—more than double the rate of the rest of the economy. By 2013 this sector is expected to employ about 1.3 million people—more than the financial sector; it is likely that there will be 180,000 creative businesses here compared with 148,000 today; and it is expected to contribute £85 billion to UK value-added, up from £57 billion today. Last

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April, the Business Secretary, the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, acknowledged the contribution of the creative industries to Britain’s economy and said that it was central to ensuring the future success of the country.

I shall continue for a moment with statistics. For most of them, I am indebted to the National Campaign for the Arts, the UK’s only independent lobbying organisation representing all the arts, cross-party, cross-culture and, as its president, I can say always across the subject.

Moreover, it is worth hammering away for a few moments because there is still a stolid, ostrich, unimaginative conviction that the arts are somehow whimsical, marginal and verging on the dismissible. It is rumoured that even some of those in government still hold to that view. The industrial fact, to use the devil’s argument, is that the creative industries in this country have outstripped and will continue to outstrip even those ancient and venerable giants that powered and traumatised this country through the Industrial Revolution.

In 1997, our creative economy accounted for less than 4 per cent of UK gross value-added. In 2007, it stood at 7.3 per cent, having grown at 6 per cent per annum compared with 3 per cent for the rest of the economy. The UK has the largest creative sector in the EU and, relative to GDP, probably in the world. It employs a host of golden specialists who can and do travel the world with their crafts, works, books, music and arts, like roving European medieval scholars. Regarded as a sideshow by some, the overall impact of British theatre alone is £26 billion annually from a subsidy of £120 million.

The musicals of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber, and Sir Cameron Mackintosh, for example, spin around the globe like Ariel in “The Tempest”and bring in profits simply unheard of in any other age. These two men started out as kids on the block doing the thing they loved but they were hugely aided by the cultural density in this country and, with that help, have become creators and supporters of highly specialised skills as well as writers, composers and producers of world renown in their own right.

Inside these statistics are individuals or very small groups who form an astonishingly modern cultural collective. Curiously enough, this is very like the way in which the first Industrial Revolution—the mechanised Industrial Revolution, probably the greatest revolution of all time—got under way. Talented, pig-headed, brilliant individuals—mostly in the north of England—followed their own obsessive path. I think that what we are seeing now is the first rocket stage of what will prove to be a creative cultural revolution that is perhaps just as radical and influential.

Take as a small example the 6,000 employees in Birmingham’s magnificently rejuvenated jewellery quarter—niche craftsmen who command a world clientele. They are joined at the hip with those northern inventors of the late 18th and 19th centuries. And we have a good enabling history here. Our progress in the creative arts is not a fluke: from the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts which came out of the Second World War; to Jennie Lee at the

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Arts Council in the 1960s; to Sir John Major and the noble Lord, Lord Gowrie, and the lottery funding—boom time throughout Britain; and on to the Labour Government who, since 1997, have put up funding by 73 per cent.

Private support has grown too, through tax breaks and philanthropy, and now the sum is more than £600 million a year. And of course there are shortcomings, and missed opportunities, and bureaucratic bungling, and the constraints of philistinism, and the British sound of moan which is sometimes justified. But fair’s fair. There has been an overall success, even triumph, in culture and the arts during the past 15 or 20 years, and until very recently it has been one of our best kept secrets.

Speakers in this debate will wish to cover different parts of the territory. I see my role as giving the overview, and I shall concentrate on only two or three specific aspects. I stress again that although larger economic forces are at work and must continue to work for the creative industries—of course we need art colleges and schools and academies for film, theatre and music; and we need structures such as the Arts Council and overseeing agencies such as the DCMS; and we need the BBC, with its invaluable and massive cultural presence; and other broadcasters, such as ITV, Channel 4 and now Sky Arts—in my opinion, this is at root the story of individuals. They must be allowed to breathe and flourish.

My fear, as I read government initiatives now climbing on what I hope I may be forgiven for calling the bandwagon, is that the weight, even the blight, of bureaucracy will stifle the enterprise of those individuals. Already in the past year or two, to take a small example, overcomplex rules about the playing of live music in pubs and clubs have not only threatened the seeding ground of our exceptionally successful popular music culture, but ruined many people's idea of a good night out.

An even more harmful example of unintended consequences of government regulation and interference was pointed out yesterday in the Times by Dame Joan Bakewell, the chairman of NCA. She wrote:

“The Home Office is making a mockery of Britain's reputation”.

She wrote that immigration controls are proving so unnecessarily difficult for artists from abroad, that they are turning away rather than waste time and money on our bureaucratic complexities. She wrote that Sokolov, the Russian pianist, lost patience and called off concerts at the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall. The Iranian director of ENO’s “Cosi fan tutte” has not been admitted into the country. As Sir Richard Dearlove pointed out at the Hay Festival last week, over-extensions of the Terrorism Act threaten liberties elsewhere. For this country, a great international centre for the arts and a refuge for some of the greatest artists and musicians, to become a no-go area is surely the unacceptable fact of a lack of joined-up government thinking. Lord knows what they would have done at the time of the Industrial Revolution if they had gone north—probably strangle it at birth.

I fear the grasping claws of quangos. There is a fine book on oral history by George Ewart Evans entitled Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay. I suggest that the

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Home Office, the DCMS and all the other cultural bodies impale these words on their notice boards and websites. The arts in this country have always flourished either in solitary confinement or when two or three are gathered together in small clusters, in which individuals, a few like-minded individuals, have given us great riches. It is a delicate balance to cultivate without crushing, but to achieve that balance is one of the most important missions for the immediate future of the creative industries.

In my opinion, the way to kill the creative industries is to straitjacket them in regulations and subject them to that influential new army of consultants who, bewilderingly, claim merit from starting with a clean slate—that is, knowing nothing about the subject. Artists have their own slates and knowing about their subject is their life’s work, so ask the artists who do the work.

Of course, there is something to say about money. There always will be. Sir Christopher Frayling, who stood down as Arts Council chairman earlier this year and is still rector of the Royal College of Art, said recently:

“Most of the big performing arts companies get about a third of their funding from the Arts Council, a third from the box office and a third from merchandising or sponsorship. If government money wobbles during a recession ... that means the second two-thirds of the funding will fall away too, which could be disastrous for many companies”.

Frayling’s successor at the Arts Council, Dame Liz Forgan, who has seen a small cut in comparative terms to the Arts Council budget, announced that an extra £445 million would be invested during the next two years specifically to help maintain artistic excellence during the economic turndown. That is the good news: there are good hands on the tiller.

Kevin Spacey, the artistic director of the Old Vic, is a remarkable and unusual example of success with a company that receives no public subsidy whatever. Despite that, he has put together not only an exceptional programme inside the Old Vic, but a thrilling programme of workshops, school projects and community productions involving literally thousands of children from low-income families who live just outside the Old Vic, in its immediate neighbourhood. He wrote recently that,

Sometimes it is useful to see ourselves as others see us, such as Kevin Spacey and his fellow American, the late Sam Wanamaker, who recreated the Globe and gave us so much.

It would be flattering to ourselves to think that we had a natural and unique genius for the arts in this country, although perhaps there is something in that. More importantly, we have great traditions: first, in some of the finest artists and examples of the past centuries, but also in our colleges and in the workplace of theatres, orchestras and choirs. Perhaps even more important than that, it is a living tradition regrouped and refreshed through generations by new generations, and added to by them, and it goes on and on. The recent surge has been greatly helped by more training and interest in schools, as we see in our classical music,

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which is so strong at the moment, and tracks back through youth orchestras to school orchestras and now even to primary school orchestras. One million young people benefit from the Youth Music programme, and in the past few years more than 100 new arts buildings have been opened and more than 500 refurbished. It is not only classical music. The whole brass band tradition is undergoing a renaissance. We have the world’s leading brass band players among our children. And on popular music in this country, well, where shall we begin? There is a breadth and quality here unmatched anywhere outside the home of popular music, the USA, which has a five times bigger population.

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