Oral Answers to Questions

Julia Lopez Excerpts
Thursday 9th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP)
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7. What discussions she has had with music industry representatives on the impact of increases in the cost of living on musicians.

Julia Lopez Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Julia Lopez)
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Ministers regularly engage with music industry representatives from across the live music and recorded music sectors. I met representatives from Live to hear directly about the challenges facing musicians. I look forward to meeting the Music Venue Trust shortly, to hear more from the grassroots music sector on the cost of living pressures.

Pete Wishart Portrait Pete Wishart
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I am sure the Minister will want to join me in congratulating Mae Muller on being selected as the UK’s representative at Eurovision in Liverpool.

Surely the Minister acknowledges that the creative sector has probably been the most heavily impacted sector throughout this cost of living crisis, and that musicians have probably been the most impacted within that sector. Earnings for recordings are next to zero, Europe is effectively closed to them, musicians who want to travel to the US face visa problems, and studios and rehearsal spaces are at great risk because of sky-high energy bills. The charity Help Musicians has found that 90% of musicians—the lifeblood of the music sector—are worried about how they are going to pay their next food bill, and half are thinking about leaving the industry. Does the Minister believe that this is the worst possible time to be an aspiring musician, and what is she going to do to rectify the situation and support our musicians?

Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez
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As a musician himself, the hon. Gentleman is a tremendous champion of the music industry, and I appreciate all the work he does. He has raised a series of points. On an individual level, the Government have put forward a substantial package to help people through the cost of living crisis. That is an extension of the cultural recovery fund. We also have the Arts Council England fund for supporting grassroots live music. He highlighted issues about US visas, which I am very concerned about and on which we are engaging with US counterparts. I encourage him to get the industry to engage with that consultation, and I am happy to engage with him on some of the issues he raises.

Robert Neill Portrait Sir Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con)
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Many musicians are self-employed and lose out on cost of living payments, particularly early on in their careers, because of the operation of the minimum income floor. They have variable incomes early on, which was raised on Monday with Department for Work and Pensions Ministers. Will the Minister and her DCMS colleagues give their support to meeting representatives of self-employed musicians, to find a workable way through and to make sure that they are not unfairly penalised by how they build their careers in their early stages?

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Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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T3. The Theakston crime writing festival launches its 20th anniversary programme later this month, and the festival itself will take place in July. It brings people to Harrogate from across the country and across the world. Has my right hon. and learned Friend made an assessment of the role of arts festivals in driving the visitor economy, including international visitors?

Julia Lopez Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Julia Lopez)
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I thank my hon. Friend for championing a fantastic festival in his constituency and congratulate the organisers on their 20th anniversary. VisitBritain has found that 3% of trips in the UK are made to attend a festival, which equates to more than £1.4 billion a year in spend. That is making a tremendous difference to communities such as the one he represents.

Florence Eshalomi Portrait Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall) (Lab/Co-op)
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T4. I am sure that the Secretary of State will be aware of the tragic crush during the O2 Brixton Academy concert on 15 December. Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson sadly lost their lives, and I am sure that the whole House will join me in passing on our condolences to their families. Three separate investigations have been launched into the criminal, licensing and security aspects, but there is no single authority looking at what happened. I have written to the Secretary of State and her predecessor. Will she meet me to discuss the Government’s role in getting full answers for the victims’ families and ensuring the safety of similar venues nationally?

Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez
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I thank the hon. Lady for her question. What happened in her constituency was an absolute tragedy and I pass my condolences on to the people affected. We have received her letter, and I am terribly sorry that it has not yet received a response. I was made aware of that only last week. I am asking for this to be looked into, because I appreciate that she has highlighted things that she sees as gaps in the system, but, as she knows, the Met is also investigating this. I will look very carefully to see whether they highlight issues that the Government themselves need to consider.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
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It was encouraging to see the news this week that Amazon Prime video is taking steps to adopt the British Board of Film Classification ratings. However, this makes the decision of Disney+ to continue to disregard UK best practice even more disappointing. Do the Government agree that it makes it far harder for parents to properly regulate their children’s viewing when age ratings are unfamiliar?

Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez
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I know that my hon. Friend has done a lot of work on supporting parents and children in transparency in this area. Something that we want to do in the media Bill is to regulate video on demand in the same way that we do with broadcast. We continue to view the BBFC age ratings as best practice, and I too welcome the news this week about Amazon taking on those ratings.

Mohammad Yasin Portrait Mohammad Yasin (Bedford)  (Lab)
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T6.   The leisure sector faces severe challenges coming out of covid and seeing energy bills increasing by 300%. Leisure centres in my constituency have contacted me to ask why they are excluded from the Government’s energy and trade intensive industries scheme. Can the Minister tell me why publicly owned pools and centres have been left off the list of sectors eligible for vital support, and does he acknowledge that closures of not-for-profit facilities are inevitable unless something is done?

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Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez
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I thank my hon. Friend for championing this role and for all the work that he does on science, technology, engineering and maths, which has such an important overlap with what is going on in the creative industries. We have a creative sector vision coming up, and I am also pleased to highlight that his council, Basildon, has put forward a fantastic bid for a creative centre for screen and immersive tech, and we will be announcing soon whether that has been successful.

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
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T7. What plans does the Secretary of State have to undertake a rigorous research project on the positive societal benefits of community boxing clubs, such as those across my constituency?