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UK Government's Tourism Sector Deal falls short of what's required

Tourism Sector Deal Shadow DCMS Team Response:

Today the Government announced their much-delayed Tourism Sector Deal which though welcome falls short of what is required.

Research by the Office for National Statistics shows that the tourism sector is heavily reliant on employees from other EU countries. In the UK economy as a whole, 7% of employees are from the EU whereas in the two biggest tourism industries, food and beverage service and accommodation services the proportion is far higher, at 12% and 19% respectively.  In the Sector Deal the Government have failed to acknowledge and plan for the impact of the end of freedom of movement on employment in the tourism sector.

Labour welcomes the commitment in the sector deal to shift perceptions about jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry. The introduction of the T levels in Cultural Heritage and Visitor Attractions, and Catering will go some way towards supporting workers in the tourism industry in building and developing their careers. The industry commitment to provide 30,000 new apprenticeship starts every year by 2025 shows the hard work the industry is putting in in order to support the tourism industry in the UK.

The introduction of Tourism Zones recognises the key role Local Authorities play in creating successful Tourism destinations but will not replace the need for restoring Local Government finances which have been hit so hard by austerity.

There is no recognition of the confusing landscape of destination management and marketing organisations (DMOs) in this deal. Regional Development Agencies, established by Labour and abolished by the coalition government, invested heavily and successfully in tourism product and promotion across England, creating jobs, strengthening communities and spreading the economic benefits of both inbound and domestic tourism. Now we have hundreds of often tiny DMOs working on a shoestring and directly competing with their next-door neighbours.

The lack of a national DMO strategy and the failure of this Government to require Local Economic Partnerships to take tourism seriously, and invest accordingly, undermines this deal and renders much of it academic.

The Tourism Sector Deal completely fails to address the impact of devastating Government cuts to Local Authority budgets over the past decade. The ambition behind ‘Tourism Zones’ is admirable but without the funding to back it up this will simply heap increased pressure on already severely stretched Local Authority budgets.

The deal also takes no account of and does not mention something that businesses up and down the country have been telling us at our tourism round-tables. Business rates increases have stifled the growth of many SMEs and the Government cannot claim to want to see SMEs grow - and that they are the backbone of the tourism economy – without addressing this.

Tourism should be accessible to everyone and the focus in the Tourism Sector Deal on ensuring accessible transport for everyone regardless of their health conditions or access requirements is a welcome step. The Government’s intention to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025 is welcome as is the target of increasing the number of inbound visitors with a disability by 33% by 2025, but it needs to be clear how this will be achieved.  More also needs to be done to enable poorer families to have a holiday in the UK.

In the Sector Deal, the Government have said that they intend to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme that EU citizens will need to apply for instead of a visa to come to the UK. However, the sector deal fails to say how much an ETA will cost and the Government have not included any analysis of the effect of the increased cost travelling to the UK will have on visitor numbers.

Shadow Arts and Culture Minister, Kevin Brennan MP said:
“The delayed tourism sector deal announced today is a partial step forward in supporting the vital tourism industry in this country but does not address the full scale of the challenge ahead especially in light of Brexit.

“They have not properly assessed the impact of introducing a charge for European Union visitors who want to travel to the UK and they have also failed to properly recognise the reliance of the Tourism industry on workers from the EU.

“Moreover, the failure to address the impact of cuts to Local Authorities makes it clear that more needs to be done to protect and support the Tourism industry in the UK for years to come.

“Neither is there a commitment to develop social tourism for those who cannot afford a holiday or a proper look at how more resources could be raised locally to support events and tourist infrastructure.”

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.”

You can take the survey
here.

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.”