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Business of the House
22nd July 2021


Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West

On summer reading, may I recommend that Ministers read Members’ correspondence and respond to it? The latest figures show that across Government just 70% of responses are achieved within target. Ironically, the Cabinet Office, which compiles the figures, achieved only 58%, but the prize goes to the Department for Education, which managed to answer a pathetic 17% of Members’ correspondence on time. What can the Leader of the House do to help Members debate how they get timely answers to their correspondence? When will the Education Secretary be carpeted in the headteacher’s office for being the biggest dunce in the Government?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
The hon. Gentleman has come up with the best summer reading list of all of us and makes his point well. I am concerned about this issue and have taken it up in Government with the previous Cabinet Secretary and with Ministers. It is a matter of the greatest seriousness that letters should be answered, and answered promptly. I will help any individual Member in getting answers to letters that are overdue. I have had some success with that. I fear that if I were completely overwhelmed by Members asking me to get a response from another Department, that system may not work so well, but, as long as it is a manageable number, I will do my best. I absolutely will take up his point with the Department for Education, because 17% is not where the figure ought to be.

Business of the House
24th June 2021

 
Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West
Further to the question from Mr Mitchell, no one is taken in by the Leader of the House’s sophistry on this subject. Everybody knows that he is seeking to avoid giving the House a meaningful vote on whether it agrees with the Government’s decision temporarily to reduce the amount of aid being sent to the poorest countries in the world. There is no need for him to dilate widely on this; he used to occupy a semi-recumbent position over there and regularly criticised the Executive for exactly this kind of jiggery-pokery. Why does he not come clean with his own side and allow a proper vote—not one rolled up with all such other expenditure in the estimates, but one that would truly meet the test set for him by Mr Speaker?


Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 
I object to what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Trivialising the estimates does not understand their importance. One of the fundamental things that this House does is approve the expenditure proposed by the Government. It is lost in the mists of constitutional time. It is a debate on the whole of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s budget, and it is possible to vote against it. It is a full day’s debate, but I challenge the Opposition again: if they want to debate this so much, we have given them lots of Opposition days, so why have they not used one on it? It is because they do not really want to get this message across to their voters, because it is a policy that has enormous support with the electorate. Our ultimate bosses like this policy. They back this policy and they think it is proportionate under the economic circumstances. The law set out very clearly what the requirements were with the 0.7%: if the target is not met, a statement must be laid before this House. If the hon. Gentleman does not like the law, he should have put down an amendment when the Bill was passed.

It is time we brought the rules on music streaming up to date – so that more musicians can make a living

I love music. I love to sing, play, and even write and record my own songs. For me creativity is in and of itself a good thing. But for some people it’s also their living – and they deserve fair remuneration when others profit from and enjoy their creative output.

I also love music streaming. Who wouldn’t want to be able to access all the world’s music from a device in their back pocket? For those of us who grew up saving our pennies to buy the latest David Bowie record, streaming is a modern-day miracle.

So why am I, along with MPs from across the House of Commons, proposing a new law in parliament about how artists are treated in this new world of streaming? For me it’s mainly about helping young talented people from ordinary backgrounds to have a fair chance of a career in music.

The problem is that the people whose creativity everyone is enjoying are the ones who are not getting a fair reward, while others, the major corporations who run platforms and record labels, are raking in a fortune.

Streaming is a completely new way of consuming music. In some ways it is more like radio than a record, particularly when an algorithm carries on playing songs it thinks you might like but haven’t requested.

What’s all this got to do with parliament and the law? Performers get paid when they play live, or from royalties for the use of their songs and recordings.

In the last year and a half live performance has been largely impossible due to government Covid-19 restrictions. Naturally this has focused musicians’ attention on what they get paid from their recordings and compositions

The law on copyright states that if you performed on a record that is played on the radio you are entitled to a payment. That same right does not apply in the UK if your recording is listened to on a streaming service like Spotify. My bill would bring the law up to date by creating a new right for musicians to an additional share of the revenue from streaming.

This is particularly timely because the stated aim of streaming companies, like Spotify, is to replace radio as the way that people mostly listen to music. If that happens, and the law remains the same, musicians could lose that small but valuable source of income which helps to supplement their other earnings from making music.

Many famous names in music have written to the prime minister in support of this change, but they acknowledge this is not really about them.

This is all about creating the right future structure for a secure career in music. I want young people to be able to aspire to make a reasonable living from original music. I want them to be able to make music that people will love and appreciate, and to get a fair share of the money people pay to listen to it.

Let’s be clear, not every talented person will be able to make a living out of music, but there’s something wrong with a system where record industry executives get massive salaries and share options when, as we heard recently on the Culture Select Committee, some award-nominated artists can’t afford to pay their rent.

My bill would play a part in helping to create an environment where more talented people can have that opportunity to make a living out of their creative skills.

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