HC Deb 12 July 1928 vol 219 cc2448-9

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the difficulties experienced by a distinguished American astronomer who desired to bring into this country two copies of a cinematograph film showing the successive phases of the planet Jupiter during its rotation, one for the purpose of a lecture and the other for presentation to the Royal Astronomical Society; whether he is aware that the films upon his arrival at Victoria Station, notwithstanding his explanations, were impounded by the customs authorities: that the films were on the following day removed to the Bonded Films stores in Endell Street when a charge of 10s. was made: that the astronomer was fined 2s. 6d. for the offence of carrying merchandise in a trunk; and that on the third morning he was required to return one film to America at a charge of 10s. for attention and 3s. 9d. for postage, and to pay 29s. for duty on the other film, involving a visit for payment to Camden Town and a return to Endell Street for the release of the film; and whether, having regard to the trouble and expense to which the astronomer was put in this ease, he will consider making concessions in respect of the admission of films into this country which are to be used only for scientific purposes?

The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. Arthur Michael Samuel)

Yes, Sir. My attention has been drawn to this case. The importation of standard cinematograph films in passengers' baggage is quite exceptional. No occasion has hitherto arisen for the provision of the special facilities which would be necessary for the Customs examination of such films at Victoria Station. The films in question had, therefore, to be removed elsewhere for examination. The subsequent proceedings to which my hon. Friend refers were due to this necessity. In view of the present case, however, the possibility of shortening the procedure, as regards films of a non-commercial character, is being examined. As to the latter part of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the promise given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the discussion on the Amendment to the Finance Bill moved by the hon. and gallant Member for St. Pancras, North (Captain Fraser) on the 3rd July, that the practicability of an exemption for scientific films would be further considered.


Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House what it costs to answer a question of this length?


I do not think it was very expensive. It so happened that we were able to draft the answer fairly easily.