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PA's PA 4th November 2016

PA's PA 4th November 2016

Welcome to this week’s PA’s PA in a week in which ‘betrayal’ was the watchword on the everyone’s lips. It began with Amber Rudd performing a U-turn on her boss’ promise to hold an inquiry into the Orgreave miners’ strike, continuing a bruising first few months in her new job. The Home Secretary must now be realising why, before Theresa May’s record breaking stint, this great office of state was not considered a long-term career option. The week concluded with a High Court ruling that the governments approach to triggering Article 50 was unconstitutional. Some Brexit campaigners were left in the unhappy position of having to argue that while they wanted to 'take back control’ and make our parliament and judiciary sovereign again, they weren’t convinced they wanted it just yet. The one party you would have thought could capitalise on the current EU uncertainty, UKIP, continues to try to elect a leader from numerous candidates that virtually no one has ever heard of. All of this led to speculation of the prospects of an election in 2017 with odds slashed to 2/1 on the basis that politicians may apparently feel that people have not spent enough time with ballot boxes in recent times. While everyone’s attention was distracted elsewhere the Labour MP, Keith Vaz, was somehow elected to the Justice Select Committee on the back of Tory votes despite the fact that the police are looking into certain recent allegations against him. Why not you may ask, this is after all often revered as the mother of all parliaments.

In this week’s edition:


Digital Economy Bill update

The Digital Economy Bill’s committee stage was completed this week.  The Bill now returns to the Commons for its Report Stage before heading to the Lords.  The clause to equalise the criminal penalties for online copyright infringement with those for physical copyright infringement passed while a probing amendment seeking to extend payment of PLR (Public Lending Right) to ebooks lent remotely was withdrawn.  Commenting, Minister Matt Hancock explained that the Government has been considering ways to remunerate authors for e-lending and has been actively engaging with industry on this issue but that any changes must be compatible with the Copyright Directive while we remain in the EU.  He also confirmed that the Government is paying close attention to a relevant court case in the ECJ where a ruling is expected later this year that will help determine any Clause to introduce.

Meeting with Research Strategy Team at BEIS

The PA, along with some of its members, met with the lead officials in BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Innovation Strategy) with responsibility for science and research strategy, including open access.  The team provided an update on the upcoming G7 meeting in Japan which will discuss, amongst other things, data sharing and international collaboration.  The UK will be represented by Prof Tickell in his role as Chair of the UUK OA Co-ordination Group and Ben Johnson from HEFCE.  The output of this meeting will be in the form of a proposal to Ministers sometime in the Spring.  In addition, following a recommendation from the Tickell Report on open access in research publications, a taskforce on Open Data has been established.  This will assess where the UK is in the international context in terms of Open Data; consider what infrastructure is required; look at which national initiatives show promise; conduct a cost/benefit analysis; and produce a roadmap to take it forward.  The taskforce is being chaired by Pam Thomas, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research at Warwick University.  The first meeting is yet to be held, but BEIS is looking for the group to report by the start of the next academic year.  The team are also keen to hear publishers thoughts on the government’s industrial strategy and how the UK’s research output can be more connected to the industrial world. 

Joint meeting of Publishing and Intellectual Property All Party Groups

The PA addressed a joint meeting of the Publishing and Intellectual Property APPG’s which met to discuss the implications of Brexit on the creative and content industries and how it may impact the current negotiations on the digital single market proposals.  Speaking alongside PACT, the BPI and the MPAA, the PA drew parliamentarians attention to the export strength of the UK publishing industry and the need for the government to not only negotiate a favourable trade deal with the European Union post –Brexit but other key markets as well.  The importance of maintaining freedom of movement was stressed as was the impact loss of EU funding (research and creative) may have.  Finally, the need for the UK to maintain its strong voice in European matters was underlined, particularly as the digital single market proposals progress; the loss of UK influence in these negotiations identified as a particular concern.    

Select Committee responses

The PA has been busy submitting responses to the many inquiries into the impact of Brexit which have been launched by various select committee.  These include:

  • House of Commons Science and Technology Committee      inquiry into the implications and opportunities for science and research      from leaving the EU
  • House of Lords EU Sub Committee inquiry into UK-EU     trade in non-financial services
  • House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market

These responses can all be accessed via the PA website here.  We are currently drafting a response to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the impact of exiting the European Union on higher education which closes for submissions on 11th November. 

Contribution of the creative industries

The contribution made by the creative industries to the economy has been raised in Parliament by Labour MP Judith Cummins. In response to being asked what assessment she has made of the contribution, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said that the creative industries were an economic success story, growing at twice the rate of the overall economy.  Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson used the opportunity to argue that in the post-Brexit economy, creative industries would become more important, and asked why the Culture Secretary did not attend the Brexit Cabinet Committee, and just the Brexit sub-Committee. Responding, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said that there was no higher table than the Cabinet, and said the creative industries concerns were continually raised. She noted that the Prime Minister had mentioned the industry in her conference address.

The value of the creative industries was also raised by the Culture Select Committee as it questioned Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock. Questioned if the new Department for International Trade should seek to increase the value of British cultural exports, the Minister said he wanted to see the UK’s assets used to generate exports, facilitate soft power and influence key figures. He also repeated the Chancellor’s commited of honouring all EU funding until 2020.

Ed Vaizey’s speech to the Royal Society of Arts

Even though no longer a government minister, Ed Vaizey is clearly still keen to engage in conversation and debate in matters relating to the creative industries.  Following a high profile twitter spat with the chief executive of CILIP back in the summer, Vaziey, delivering this year’s Chairman’s Lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, accused the British arts establishment of suffering from relentlessly left-wing “groupthink”.  He challenged the sector to stop simply asking for more money and move on from the view that no museum or library, no matter how underused must never be shut down.   Read the report in The Telegraph here and The Bookseller here

Promotion of Commissioner Oettinger

Following the appointment of Bulgarian Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva as the new CEO of the World Bank, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promoted Commissioner Oettinger to the position of Budget Commissioner.  We understand that he retains responsibility for the Digital Economy and Society portfolio (and therefore the digital single market reforms) until a new Bulgarian commissioner is appointed.   Read more here

This week we have:

Met with the Research Strategy team at BEIS; spoken to the IPO about the European Commission’s legislation to implement the Marrakesh Treaty;  met with Times Higher Education (THE); addressed a joint meeting of the Publishing and Intellectual Property APPGs; attended BBC Learning’s Industry Day; attended the Sharjah Book Fair and hosted a dual meeting with the Emirates Publishing Association.

Next week we will be:

Attending Alliance for IP Copyright and Education and Research Working Group meetings; meeting with the RNIB; meeting with of the Creative Industries Council Marketing and Communications Group; attending a lunch with Digital and Culture Minister, Matt Hancock.