Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Budget Response Speech 26/03/12

Budget Response Culture, Media and Sport              


House of Commons, 26 March 2012



A budget within a failed economic policy


Mr Speaker, may I begin by a double congratulation - to the Secretary of State and Lucia on the birth of their daughter and to the Shadow Arts Minister and Rachel on the birth of their daughter.


I congratulate them both – and also for taking paternity leave which is a thoroughly good thing.


Mind you, I imagine the Secretary of State feels well out of the debate today – clearing up after a baby is much easier than clearing up after the mess of this budget.


Mr Speaker, this is a Tory budget backed by the colluding Lib Dems. 


Two parties who told us they were coming together in the ‘national interest’.


But how can it be in the national interest

·         To fail on jobs?

·         To fail on growth?

·         To fail on fairness?


Let’s tell it how it really is – two parties coming together to give a tax bonanza to millionaires and a kick in the teeth to pensioners


Mr Speaker, this is a budget built on economic failure. 


·         More than 1 million young people looking for work

·         Economic growth – just half what they are seeing in the US

·         And the government set to borrow £150 billion more than planned.


What was needed the government to come up with a budget for jobs and growth – and they failed.


The creative industries


Mr Speaker, it’s good that the debate today is focusing on the creative industries because they must be at the heart of economic growth in the future. We're good at it. It puts Britain on the map.


We’re renowned for our arts and culture, our film and TV, video games and music, design and fashion. 


And there's a huge potential for growth – growth in jobs, in exports and its contribution to GDP.


We needed the Government to come up with a plan for jobs and growth in the creative economy – but they have not.


Tax breaks


They announced a tax break for high end television, animation and video games.


But these measures are strangely familiar.


One could almost say an homage to the policies of the last Labour government.


Because it was of course Labour that introduced the first tax breaks for the creative industries with our Film Tax Relief which has been hugely important:

·         for getting films made in Britain

·         helping our pioneering special effects industry

·         backing our studios like Pinewood and Shepperton.


The only original film policy this government has come up was axing the Film Council.


And turning to the tax break for video games.


Who first proposed a tax break for the games industry?


It was Labour. And we put it in our budget in 2010.  


But what did the Tory Chancellor say in his very first budget?


He said: “we will not go ahead with the poorly targeted tax relief for the video games industry.” 


And what did he do?


He axed it.


And for the UK games industry – it could have been game over….


He's introducing the tax relief now – but this misjudgment and delay has come at a price.


Our video games industry was the 3rd biggest in the world - but it has now fallen to 6th.


Many jobs have been lost – with nearly half going abroad to countries such as Canada, lured by their tax relief.


So – this policy is not an original – it’s a cover version. And like most cover versions, it’s just not as good as the original.


While tax credits are worthwhile, on their own they are not enough to ensure that Britain fulfils its potential as a global hub for the creative industries. 


Just as this Government doesn't have a plan for jobs and growth in the economy, it doesn't have a plan for jobs and growth in the creative industries.


And where's the long-awaited Communications Green Paper? He didn’t even say a word about it. Not one word.


Perhaps it’s still waiting for some high level policy input from some ‘premier league’ Tory donor….


Intellectual property


Where is the action on protecting intellectual property?


This is a fundamental issue for the creative industries – the bedrock of the knowledge economy.


A tax break helps boost investment.


But more investors would be more confident if they knew that the product they were committing towas not vulnerable to theft on an industrial scale.


And specially if you have given an industry a tax break, it makes even less sense to stand by and watch any of the value drain away through IP theft.


The last Labour Government recognised that – which is why in 2010, we passed the Digital Economy Act with cross-party support.


It needs to be implemented now:

·         with a clear timetable

·         and code of conduct so notification letters can be issued.


And the government needs to show leadership to get the search engines, like Google, to play their part in the fight against online piracy.


With agreement on site blocking, search engine responsibility and digital advertising. 


The government should make it clear that if there is no agreement, it will be legislated for in the forthcoming Communications Bill.


We've got the Digital Economy Act. It’s good to go.


We've even had another review into the same issues by Professor Hargreaves.


But what the industry - and the economy - is crying out for is action.


Young People and Skills


Where’s the action on young people and skills in the creative industries?


The future of our creative economy is built on our young people – young people who are consumers and many of whom want to work in the industry.


We’ve got to ensure opportunities for creative development from primary school right through to the workplace


But the signs are not good: 

·         in schools, creativity is being stifled and

·         since last year applications for creative arts and design degree courses are down 27%.


And we all know why that is – it’s because of the Lib Dems’ shameful betrayal on tuition fees.


The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.