Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which the economic impact of Brexit started to be felt with the £1 dropping to less than €1 at many airport money exchanges. This in turn has led to a spat between the country’s largest retailer and largest food and drink manufacturer over who will take the ‘hit’ on such currency fluctuations and the increased costs of goods being imported. The party conference season also came to a close this week with the SNP gathering in Glasgow which saw Nicola Sturgeon announce plans for a second referendum on Scottish independence. She told the party's Glasgow conference that an Independence Referendum Bill would be published next week and that Scotland had the right to choose a different path if it was not allowed to protect its interests "within the UK".
House of Lords debate on the importance of books and libraries
Peers debated the importance of bookshops and libraries in the House of Lords this week, with Baroness Gail Rebuck using the debate to highlight books as the “epicentre of the creative industries”, inspiring West End and Broadway hits, TV shows and films. She said that books and the role of bookshops and libraries in ensuring their continued success were vital to achieving 100% literacy. She also noted that whether the UK opts for a hard or soft Brexit, books will still have a significant role to play in the export market, citing PA statistics which show that last year book export revenues were over £1.4 billion. Meanwhile Lord Bird warned about the implications of cuts to public library funding, while rebuking the “unfair competition” in the book market between bookshops and Amazon. He said “Let us not allow a situation where a behemoth has grown among us – Amazon – which sells 97% of all of our e-books. If Amazon were a newspaper, it would be in a monopoly position and both Houses would be all over it.”
Responding to the debate Lord Ashton, Culture, Media and Sports minister, echoed Baroness Rebuck’s comments on the international and economic success of the UK publishing industry, welcoming the increase in the number of physical book sales last year. He said the Government was determined to support libraries and took its duties for local authorities to provide a proper library system under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 seriously. He noted that the Competition and Markets was working with the European Commission on its antitrust investigation into Amazon. He also welcomed initiatives to support bookshops such as Bookshop Day last Saturday, saying he visited his local bookshop as part of the campaign.
Update on Labour front bench
Jeremy Corbyn completed his reshuffle this week. Members of the shadow front bench of interest to PA members include:
Tom Watson – Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary
Kevin Brennan – Deputy Shadow Culture Secretary and Shadow Minister for Arts and Heritage
Louise Haigh – Shadow Digital Economy Minister
Lord Stevenson – Shadow Culture Media and Sport Spokesperson
Angela Rayner – Shadow Education Secretary
Mike Kane – Shadow Schools Minister
Tulip Siddiq – Shadow Early Year’s Minister
Lord Watson – Shadow Education Spokesperson
Clive Lewis – Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary
Gordon Marsden – Shadow Higher Education, Further Education and Skills Minister
Chi Onwurah – Shadow Industrial Strategy Minister
Keir Starmer – Shadow Brexit Secretary
Paul Blomfield – Shadow Brexit Minister
Jenny Chapman – Shadow Brexit Minister
Matthew Pennycook – Shadow Brexit Minister
Education Policy Institute report on teacher workload
A report this week from the Education Policy Institute has revealed that teachers in England work longer hours than their peers in most other countries, with a fifth of teachers saying they work over 60 hours a week. The report into teacher workload in secondary schools shows that teachers in England work on average 48.2 hours per week. Only Japan and Alberta reported working longer hours out of the 36 developed countries and jurisdictions surveyed. The report found that the main reason for the longer hours was time spent marking, administrative tasks and lesson planning rather than exceptional teaching time. It said that the long hours and low starting pay created a risk of teacher ‘burn out’ especially in the early stages of careers.
Responding to the report, NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney commented: “The report confirms what the NUT has been saying - that excessive accountability measures, which have little to do with improving education, are the driving force behind this long-hours culture." This, he adds, means “it is hardly surprising that teachers are voting with their feet and leaving the profession in such large numbers.” “All of the issues facing teachers and education in England can be resolved by Government if they only listened to the profession,” he goes on to say.
The Independent, Page: 15
Brexit and higher education
In an interview with Times Higher Education, CBI President Paul Drechsler has called on UK universities and businesses to work together to ensure that the post-Brexit immigration regime welcomes “brilliant” foreign researchers and for there to be an “honest” national debate about the role of immigration in the economy. In the article he stresses the importance of university research to British business and the importance of European Union funding to that research.
The government has announced that EU students applying for a place at an English university or further education institution in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will continue to be eligible for student loans and grants - and will be for the duration of their course, even if the UK exits the European Union during that period. Commenting, Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: “We know that the result of the referendum brought with it some uncertainties for our higher education sector. That is why in June we acted quickly to provide immediate funding guarantees for existing students and those applying to study this year. International students make an important contribution to our world-class universities, and we want that to continue. This latest assurance…. will provide important stability for both universities and students”
PA responds to industrial strategy inquiry
The PA has submitted a response to the business select committee’s inquiry into the government’s plans to develop an industrial strategy. The response emphasised the importance of including the creative industries within any industrial strategy, noting that in previous strategies the creative sector has been overlooked. It said that areas where an industrial strategy would be beneficial include ensuring a strong intellectual property framework, helping the sector take advantage of fast-growing markets and making sure the government’s policies post-Brexit do not impede the sector’s growth. Read the response in full here.
New IP attaché for Brazil and Latin America
Angelica Garcia, the former Innovation Manager for the Department for International Trade at the British Consulate in Sao Paolo, has been appointed by the UK IPO as the new IP attachéfor Brazil and Latin America. She replaces Sheila Alves.
This week we have:
Attended a special meeting of the Creative Industries Council to discuss the implications of Brexit on the creative sector and attending the Council’s education and skills working group; met with the Department for International Trade Creative Industries Sector Advisory Group; met with BBC Learning and discussed upcoming activity; continued planning for next year’s Academic Book Week.
Next week we will be:
At Frankfurt Book Fair. Information on the meetings and events we are hosting can be found here. Meeting Lord Clement-Jones; attending the CIC IP subgroup meeting.