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UK Music offers mixed response to the Queen’s Speech

By | Published on Thursday 22 June 2017

UK Music

So, the Queen of this disUnited Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland got all dressed up yesterday, though at the same time dressed down, to deliver her big speech to the Westminster Parliament setting out the legislative agenda of the sort-of-government that has shuffled itself forward following the recent hilarious General Election.

The Queen was sans-crown because the timing of the snap General Election, and other regal commitments, meant that Team Windsor decided against staging the full pantomime usually associated with the state opening of Parliament. Though plenty of parallels were made between the low-key nature of the event and the stripped backed speech that was actually delivered, Prime Minister Theresa Mayhem having abandoned a bunch of her plans now that she no longer commands a majority in the House Of Commons.

But among the Brexit-heavy ramblings Ms Liz was forced to read out yesterday, were there any measures of relevance to the music industry? Well, reckons Michael Dugher, former MP and now CEO of UK Music, there will be opportunities to push for stronger copyright protection, at home and abroad, via some of the government’s planned initiatives. Though concerns remain about Brexit and where the hell is ‘agent of change’?

Said Dugher yesterday: “We welcome the chance offered by the Trade Bill in the Queen’s Speech to build on the UK music industry’s £2.2 billion export contribution”.

“The Trade Bill is an ideal opportunity for the government to stress that copyright and its enforcement should be a key part of the trade negotiations”, he continued “And that the UK creative industries must not be used as a bargaining chip in any trade talks. We also welcome proposals for a new Digital Charter and hope it will cover the vital issues concerning infringements of copyright and intellectual property”. Yeah, well, it might.

What about stupid silly smelly Brexit though? “UK Music will be holding the government to account to get the best possible Brexit deal for the thousands of people who work and depend on the UK music industry”, Dugher insisted, noting concerns about the status of EU citizens currently working in the UK music business and about possible new costs or bureaucracy that could become associated with European tours for British artists.

“The proposed Immigration Bill must reassure EU workers in the UK music industry about their futures and ensure that we can still attract talented people from overseas”, he said. “And any changes to the immigration system must not put unnecessary barriers in the path of touring artists visiting the UK or our artists touring abroad”.

Finally, staying with live music, Dugher noted that the government’s new agenda doesn’t include any plans to introduce so called ‘agent of change’, which puts obligations on property developers who put new residential properties next to existing music venues. Such developments can result in licensing problems for those venues down the line. ‘Agent of change’ means the developer must protect the venue, eg by paying for sound proofing.

Dugher concluded: “We are disappointed that the Queen’s Speech does not include any ‘agent of change’ proposals – a simple planning reform that would protect the future of many live music venues. We will continue to fight for this important change to protect our cherished music venues and to campaign against any proposed legislation that could damage our industry”.