A 90 minute Westminster Hall debate took place on Monday afternoon, 8 February, and was addressed by an impressive number of MPs – all speaking up for musicians.
It was also pleasing to see politicians from all political parties speaking as one on this issue, with MPs such as Labour’s Harriet Harman, the Conservative Giles Watling, Jamie Stone from the Liberal Democrats and Pete Wishart from the SNP all pressing the Government to revisit the touring issue.
The MU was heavily involved in briefing the MPs who took part in the debate. MU General Secretary, Horace Trubridge attended a meeting on Monday morning that involved many of the MPs who spoke in the debate, and the MU’s Head of Communications and Government Relations Isabelle Gutierrez attended a meeting with Jamie Stone MP last week, which was also attended by about 20 musicians. We also sent briefings to all of our parliamentary group (the Performers’ Alliance APPG) members.
Once again MPs talked about hearing from constituents directly affected. Thanks to everyone who has written to their MPs and shared their experiences with us to use as case studies, it is making a real difference.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage responded on behalf of the Government, saying once again that the door remained open if the EU was prepared to consider the UK Government’s previous proposals. She has also set up a working group, which includes the MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge.
It would be best to reopen discussions with a new proposal
With more details now emerging, it now seems that the key disagreement between the UK and the EU was over the scope of the proposal – the UK Government suggested something that would have been specific to performers and touring crew. The EU wanted a broader visa free travel agreement for a number of sectors, which was unacceptable to the UK Government and the Home Office in particular.
The MU thinks that it would now be best to reopen discussions with a new proposal that could solve the problem, in order to move away from the current political blame game. To that end, we are working with the ISM and other music industry organisations to come up with potential solutions. More information on these will be available over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, we continue our discussions with individual EU countries to try and ensure that rules and regulations for touring musicians are as non-onerous as possible.