Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con): We do not have a lot of time, and I do not want to detain the House unduly. However, although it is recognised that this matter forms only a small part of the Bill, the importance of the creative industries to our national economy, and the contribution that they are making to growth, is so essential that we need to look very carefully at anything that affects the livelihoods of those working there—and the creative industries rest on the protection of intellectual property rights.
On Second Reading, I suggested to the Secretary of State that clause 57—then clause 56—could be used to make substantial changes to copyright law through statutory instruments. I am grateful to him for meeting representatives of a wide range of creative industries to discuss those concerns. That has led, to some extent, to the amendment that the Government have tabled. As the Minister said, several representatives of the creative industries, such as UK Music, the British Copyright Council, the Publishers Association and the Premier League have said that they are now satisfied.
However, as the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr Wright) said, that is not a unanimous view across the industry. The Minister has assured us that this is about enforcing penalties but, despite the Government’s amendment, the clause does not mention penalties. I am therefore still not clear as to why the Government did not accept the suggestion that they make it absolutely explicit in the Bill that it is all about penalties. Instead, it talks about exceptions, and it still allows changes to be made to copyright law by statutory instrument. Following the Hargreaves report, there is still great suspicion on the part of many of those in the creative industries that there is an intention to try to dilute intellectual property rights. They fear that the clause could be used—perhaps not by this Government but by a future Government—to bring forward changes to copyright law.
Those fears have been expressed, as the hon. Member for Hartlepool said, by a wide range of organisations, including Associated Press, ITN, Getty Images, the Press Association, British Pathé, Agence France Presse and Deutsche Presse-Agentur. I will quote one sentence from the letter they have sent that sums up the problem that the Government face:
“It therefore remains our concern that…the true purpose of Clause 57…as drafted”
“it will be used as a vehicle to push through a number of changes to copyright exceptions recommended by the Hargreaves Review, which we discussed with you at our meeting because of the detrimental impact to business and the creative industries as well as…ultimately…to the UK’s future economic growth.”
I welcome the Minister’s assurance that that is not the Government’s intention, but it must be of concern that a number of organisations that are important to this country retain that suspicion. Anything that the Government can say or do now to allay that suspicion and make it clear that they do not intend to implement the Hargreaves recommendations in a bundle, via a statutory instrument, would be extremely welcome and would reinforce the point that the provision is not about that, but about criminal penalties.