The MU’s thanks go out to Labour MP Harriet Harman and Conservative MP David Warburton for organising a debate in Westminster Hall last Thursday (18 November) on ‘enabling visa and work permit free travel for musicians in the EU’. Both MPs have been in regular contact with the MU and spoke very well about the issues facing musicians and the cost and admin of visas and work permits.
The MU briefed MPs ahead of the debate and we are grateful to those who took up our points. MU members Kerry McCarthy (Labour, Bristol East) and Kevin Brennan (Labour, Cardiff West) both raised our issues, as did Florence Eshalomi (Labour, Vauxhall).
Conservative MPs who spoke helpfully other than David Warburton included Julian Knight (Solihull) and Sir Robert Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst). SNP MP Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) recounted case studies from local musicians who had lost job opportunities in Europe since Brexit.
Just a week since the positive news about Spain, the renewed calls by MPs for the Government to sort out the remaining issues for musicians in this debate is welcome.
It is important for the Government and the sector to work together
MU representatives attended a meeting with the new Culture Minister Julia Lopez MP last week, and the Minister was also in attendance at the debate and gave a response to the questions and comments posed by the MPs.
The Culture Minister referred to the meeting in her comments:
“I had a very good meeting yesterday with representatives of the touring sector… I took down a lot of notes myself about some of the issues that I need to raise with ministerial colleagues.
“At present, six EU member states do not offer visa or work permit-free touring. We have lobbied and will continue to lobby those countries to allow creative professionals to tour easily. I want to use the Spain breakthrough as a moment to re-engage with those member states.
“Ultimately, those are decisions for those six member states, but we are using the diplomatic tools at our disposal to get a good outcome for our industry. It is important for the Government and the sector to work together in that effort.”
The full text of the debate can be read on the UK Parliament website.