HC Deb 08 March 1938 vol 332 cc1704-6
38. Mr. T. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will introduce legislation to prevent the whole of the large cinema circuits from falling under the control of one person, and particularly to prevent such combined circuits being sold or leased to any foreign interest without the consent of the Board of Trade?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Captain Euan Wallace)

As recommended by the Moyne Committee, my right hon. Friend intends to watch the transfers of interests in British producing, renting and exhibiting units, but at the present moment he sees no ground for proposing legislation.

Mr. Williams

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary see the danger which now exists to independent cinemas, both as regards the prices that may be charged to them and as regards the difficulties that may be created for them in fulfilling their quota requirements?

Captain Wallace

I think it was for that reason that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, in the Debate the other day, gave an assurance that the Films Council would be asked to consider the possibilities of co-operative booking.

Mr. Williams

Have the Board of Trade any power to prevent the contingency referred to in the question?

Captain Wallace

At the moment I do not think they have.

Mr. Williams

Then they are helpless.

Mr. Garro Jones

May I ask what advantage the Board of Trade will derive from their observation of these transfers if they are carried on in the names of nominees, as they frequently are?

Captain Wallace

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put that question on the Paper.

43. Mr. George Griffiths

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether steps have yet been taken to ascertain whether the committee which has asked for an inquiry into the affairs of a film company is being financed by the whole of the signatories to the application or mainly by the head of an opposition company who desires to extend his control?

Captain Wallace

The application for the appointment of an inspector to investigate the affairs of the company to which the hon. Member no doubt refers is still under consideration. The Board of Trade are only concerned at present with the question of whether there is a prima facie case for inquiry under Section 135 of the Companies Act, 1929. No evidence has been submitted which would support the suggestion in this question, nor would such evidence necessarily invalidate the case for an inquiry.

Mr. Griffiths

Is it not possible for the Board of Trade to take some steps to see that this does not occur?

Captain Wallace

Any evidence that can be produced to the Board of Trade which goes to show that this demand for an inquiry is either frivolous or inspired by malicious motives, would undoubtedly

The following table shows the total declared value of merchandise imported into and exported from the United Kingdom in trade with Italy during each of the years 1913, 1925 and 1937.
Total Imports consigned from Italy. Exports consigned to Italy.
Year. United Kingdom Produce and Manufacture. Imported Merchandise.
£'000 £'000 £'000
1913 8,127 14,610 1,012
1925 19,289 18,835 2,869
1937 7,822 4,941 635

NOTE.—Figures for the year 1913 relate to the trade of the British Isles as a whole; those for 1925 and 1937 relate to Great Britain and Northern Ireland only.

be taken into careful consideration by my right hon. Friend in deciding whether to appoint an inspector or not.

Mr. T. Williams

Would the Board of Trade, in an ordinary case, attempt to ascertain who were the signatories that were contributing?

Captain Wallace

The Board of Trade will take every step to see that the pro-visions of the Section are carried out; but I must point out to the hon. Member that the fact that all the signatories to an application of this kind have not contributed equally, or that some have not contributed at all, does not necessarily disprove the necessity for an inquiry.

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