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Labour is consultation about reforming film tax credits to promote diversity

The Labour Digital, Culture, Media and Sport team is considering whether a Labour Government could shape the Film and High End TV Tax Reliefs to help to foster more diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera.

The Film and High End TV Tax Reliefs are and have been instrumental in the development and success of the film and production industries in the UK. Labour wants to incentivise inclusion and equal representation standards for underrepresented groups on productions which receive the tax reliefs as part of Labour’s Treasury review of the system of tax reliefs.

This comes following growing concern from across the Film and TV industries about the lack of diversity and representation.

This consultation will take written submissions from all interested parties until the 2nd August 2019.

Speaking at the launch of the consultation, Shadow Culture Minister, Kevin Brennan MP said:

“Showcasing diverse voices, both onscreen and off is vitally important if we are to secure a representative talent pipeline for our film and TV industries.

“That is why today ahead of the BAFTA Television Awards on Sunday, the Labour Shadow DCMS team is launching a consultation on updating the film and high-end TV tax relief to require inclusion and diversity as part of the qualifying criteria.

“It is encouraging that the need for change has been recognised by the industry and that the BFI’s diversity standards are already encouraging progress. Labour believes that adding inclusion and diversity criteria to the tax credit could help to ensure that progress is sustained into the future.”

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Blog: About tonight's Brexit votes

I voted to extend Article 50 and to put in place a mechanism to allow Parliament to take the timetable on Brexit out of the Government’s control.
I support a confirmatory public vote on a Brexit deal which passes through Parliament against the option to remain. In my view today’s amendment tabled by Sarah Wollaston was premature as it was not tabled in agreement with everyone who supports a public vote and put the possibility of that vote at potential risk.

The peoples vote campaign have issued a statement which says,

“…we do not think today is the right time to test the will of the House on the case for a new public vote. Instead, this is the time for Parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.

“That is because a People’s Vote is not just another option in this Brexit crisis – it is a solution to this crisis. When the real costs of Brexit are measured up against the broken promises made for it in 2016, we believe Parliament will have better opportunities to decide it is only fair and reasonable to give the public a real say on this crucial decision for our country.”

I agree with that statement and have abstained on the vote in order to maximize the chances of getting a public vote once the extension is achieved. This will involve persuading some who will only vote for a public vote at that time.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary confirmed in the debate that the Labour Party supports a public vote. My position is, stop a no-deal Brexit, extend Article 50, support motions to take control of the agenda from the Government and then try to win a vote to put a deal to the public against the option to remain. I believe this approach has the best chance of success.

Cowboy parking firms in Wales is set to become law after MP's campaign

A bill, which has been sponsored by Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan, to clamp down on cowboy parking firms has received Royal Assent - the final rubber stamp required before it becomes law.

Mr Brennan joined cross-party forces with Sir Greg Knight MP and Pete Wishart MP (pictured with Kevin) after receiving a huge increase in the number of constituents contacting him after becoming victims of such firms in Cardiff.

The Bill will introduce a statutory code of practice which private parking firms will have to abide by or they could be heavily fined or even prevented from being able to access the DVLA database of driver’s details.

Speaking after the bill received Royal Assent, Mr Brennan said:

“I’ve seen a huge increase in people either coming to my surgeries or contacting my office after falling victims to cowboy parking firms in Cardiff.

“The tricks some of these companies have used include deliberately unclear signage, ticketing people whilst they are getting change or fining people even though they were unable to park because the car park was full.

“The anxiety and stress of receiving one of these penalty notices is often exasperated by the contempt these companies show towards the public when they completely ignore any appeals.
“In some cases I have written to complain to companies who have then failed to reply. That is completely unacceptable.

“Until now the law was powerless to prevent these disgraceful practices but this bill will now establish a code of practice and an independent panel which will be able to issue tough fines or even ban companies from accessing the DVLA database.

“I would say to private parking firms operating in Cardiff, who commits these poor practices, to get your act together now, treat the public with respect, or suffer the consequences.”

Speech on the return of cultural objects taken during the holocaust

Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) (Amendment) Bill (First sitting)
27 February 2019

Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): I thank everyone who has spoken, including my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham. I also thank my hon. Friends the Members for Bassetlaw and for Ilford North, who are here in support of the Bill and who have done tremendous work themselves in this area over the years.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet on bringing this important Bill to Committee. I am happy to confirm that it has the full support of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition. She spoke once again with great force and authority on this issue. In doing so, she does a great service to not only the British Jewish community and the Jewish community throughout the world but humanity as a whole. The Bill says that the sun should never set on justice and righteousness, and that principle, despite its application to the uniquely horrifying episode that was the holocaust, nevertheless carries universal force in its message of human redemption.

I was privileged some years ago to travel with a group of MPs, prominent figures and sixth-formers to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was one of many such visits organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, led by its inspirational chief executive Karen Pollock and supported by the then Government. I am glad to say that the scheme exists to this day. Anyone who has undertaken that visit could not help but be horrified by the capacity for human depravity exemplified in the industrialisation of death at the Birkenau death camp, or to be moved to renew their pledge to fight antisemitism and oppose the politics of racism and hatred. The Bill is a small practical manifestation of the fulfilment of that duty, and I thank the right hon. Lady for piloting it thus far.

I also pay tribute, as the right hon. Lady did, to the work done by Andrew Dismore, the former Member of Parliament for Hendon and a current London Assembly member. He was rightly praised by the shadow Culture Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson), on Second Reading. Andrew Dismore worked tirelessly to get the original Act, which the Bill seeks to extend, through the House in 2009—even sleeping ​on the floor of the Public Bill Office overnight, as one used to have to do, to ensure that he had a high enough place in the ballot to get his Bill heard.

Andrew Dismore also introduced the private Member’s Bill that established Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001. I recently attended the Welsh national Holocaust Memorial Day event in Cardiff city hall, and other hon. Members will have attended their own events. We heard from the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, and from Renate Collins, who was “torn from home”, which was the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham said. As a child, Renate Collins was evacuated from Prague in 1939, and she came to live in Wales, where she still lives.

As we know, the holocaust was one of the worst events in human history, with millions of lives extinguished and millions more changed forever. The fact that it happened on our continent, in the heart of western civilisation, is a reminder of why we must be constantly vigilant against antisemitism and all forms of racism and remember that genocide starts with casual prejudice—in the dehumanisation of others who are deemed different by virtue of religion, ethnicity, lifestyle or sexuality. That such horror could be perpetrated, not just by those directly involved, but because of the indifference of others in the general population, should make us all reflect on what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil and on our own roles in actively preventing it from taking root. Let us give thanks to the important work of all organisations that ensure that the world will never forget.

The Bill addresses an extremely important subject: the return of cultural objects looted by the Nazis. During the Nazi reign of terror, millions of precious cultural objects were stolen from the Jewish community. Some have been recovered, but many thousands remain missing. It has been estimated that around 100,000 objects stolen by the Nazis are still missing. We should do everything we can to reunite cultural objects that surface with their rightful owners. More than 70 years from the end of world war two there are still families who have not been reunited with precious artefacts that rightly belong to them.

As many survivors of the holocaust reach the sunset of their lives, it is vital that their descendants have confidence that this Parliament is committed to ensuring that the sun does not set on their ability to recover what is rightfully theirs. The Bill, as we have heard, repeals the sunset clause provision of the 2009 Act, which gave our national museums and galleries the power to return these special cultural objects on the recommendation of the Spoliation Advisory Panel.

Since 2000, 23 cultural objects taken by the Nazis have been returned to their rightful owners, including a John Constable painting, stolen by the Nazis after the invasion of Budapest, which was returned by the Tate in 2015. We must ensure that the panel can continue its vital work. It has carried out its work fairly and delivered justice to the families of those whose precious possessions were stolen. It works in co-operation with our national museums and galleries, the directors of which I addressed at their council meeting at the Science Museum yesterday. They support the panel’s work and are in agreement on the urgency and necessity of returning stolen objects to their owners.​
This is a carefully targeted, specific piece of legislation that works well. It is particularly important for those whose stolen possessions have, sadly, still not been found. For those who might not even know about this process and might not even harbour a hope of getting back what their families once treasured, the Bill can also give hope.

When I undertook that visit with the Holocaust Educational Trust over a decade ago, the spectre of antisemitism might have seemed, to some, to be on the wane, but it is clearly on the rise again, with antisemitic hate crimes, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham mentioned, hitting a record number in 2018. That should anger us all, and we must do everything in our power to face it down, including by supporting honourable colleagues from all parties who have been the subject of death threats, racist and misogynistic abuse, bullying and antisemitism. I once again thank the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet for all the work she has done on this vital Bill, which delivers a small amount of justice to those who have suffered so greatly.

In closing, let me say that I had the pleasure in 2017 of watching the Liverpool Everyman theatre production of the beautiful musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, which included—I hope no one minds my mentioning this—my brother Patrick in the starring role of Tevye. Colleagues will know that it tells the story of a Jewish family in Russia who were forced from their home by the pogroms that were the precursor of the ultimate obscenity of the Nazi holocaust. In thinking of the Bill and what it seeks to do, the words of one song my brother sang in that production came to mind:

“Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years

One season following another

Laden with happiness and tears.”

As the years fly ever more swiftly by, let us hope that the right hon. Lady’s Bill, in removing the sunset clause, will bring a small ray of happiness to some victims’ families, as they contemplate through tears the horror that befell their relatives because good people did too little, too late to stand up to evil.

UK Government break promise on free TV licences for over 75s

On the day the BBC’s consultation on the future of free TV licences for over-75s ends, Cardiff West MP and Shadows Arts & Heritage Minister, Kevin Brennan, has slammed the UK Government for breaking their manifesto promise and has accused them of using stealth methods to try and hit Welsh pensioners' pockets and cause damage to the BBC.

If free TV licences are scrapped completely it will cost over-75s in Wales a combined total of £32 million a year, this is despite the UK Government promising them their free TV license would remain in place until 2022.

The situation has arisen because the UK Government has outsourced the social policy to the BBC without giving them the financial means to maintain it. The most likely enforced options for the BBC are to scrap it completely, give concessions linked to pension credit or raise the qualifying age.
Mr Brennan says this is a disgraceful way to treat pensioners and the BBC.

"There is theme running through this Tory Government where they either kick difficult decisions further down the road or force those difficult decisions on other people and organisations to make," said Mr Brennan.

"This is exactly what they have done by outsourcing the free licence fee for over-75s to the BBC, who now face a difficult decision of slashing up to £745 million from their own budget, forcing elderly people to pay their own fee or a combination of both.

"This Tory Government is using stealth methods to hit Welsh pensioners' pockets and in the process they are trying to pass the blame onto the BBC who will also be hit hard by these disgraceful tactics both financially and through their excellent reputation.

“The Government are already going to save £220 million in 2021/22 through their changes to pension credit and by going after free TV licences as well they will make almost £1 billion by hitting the pockets of the elderly.

"The pensioners in my constituency who could lose their TV licence either now or when they reach qualifying age will be furious at this Tory Government for breaking their manifesto promise and rightly so.”

Local MP signs Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment

This week Kevin Brennan MP signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.

Holocaust Memorial Day is marked annually on 27th January, the anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In the lead up to and on Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of commemorative events will be arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country, remembering all the victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘Torn from Home’.

After signing the Book of Commitment, Kevin Brennan MP commented:

“Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity for people from Cardiff West and across the country to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. As the Holocaust moves from living history, to ‘just’ history, it becomes ever more important that we take the time to remember the victims and also pay tribute to the survivors. I would encourage my constituents to show their support for such an important day.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“The Holocaust did not start in the gas chambers but with hate filled words. Our mission is to educate young people from every background about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. We are very grateful to [MP Name] for signing the Book of Commitment, signalling a continued commitment to remembering the victims of the Holocaust as well as challenging antisemitism, prejudice and bigotry in all its forms.”