HC Deb 28 March 1938 vol 333 cc1666-9

Lords Amendment: In page 4, line 22, leave out from the second "as," to the end of line 23, and insert: doubled or trebled for the purpose of renters' quota.

4.55 p.m.

Mr. Stanley

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Although this Amendment is rather on the same lines as that which has already been considered, it is a different proposal. It was so inextricably bound up in drafting with the treble quota proposal which was put forward on Report that it fell with it, and it has been reintroduced as an Amendment in the other House. The object of the Amendment, which is the first of a series extending to the Amendment in page 5, line 21, is to meet the point of view, which was generally expressed in the Committee upstairs and was expressed in particular by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Sir W. Wayland), that there should be some extension of what we call the reciprocity proposal, that is to say, the giving to the American renter of an opportunity of fulfilling his quota, not by making a film himself, but by buying the foreign rights of a British film, in the hope that, having bought those foreign rights for a substantial sum, he will press the exhibition of that British film in the American market.

As the Bill stands at the moment, in the case of a film which has cost not less than three times the minimum labour cost, that is to say, £22,500, and of which the foreign rights have been bought for not less than £20,000, that film will be allowed to count once for renters' quota. The purpose of this Amendment is to extend that and to say, in the case of a treble quota film, that is to say, a film which has cost five times the minimum labour cost, of which the foreign rights have been bought for a minimum of £30,000, the film shall be allowed to count twice for renters' quota purposes. This is an extension which I think will be generally welcomed by hon. Members.

I hesitate to say anything about the general principles of film making, which have been discussed from many angles on the last Amendment, and, in particular, I hesitate to say anything to make my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University (Mr. A. Herbert) think that I regard either the film or the theatre in the light of a sordid money-making institution. Whenever I go to see my hon. Friend's contributions to either, I know that he has had in his mind no such low motive, but has always been thinking of art for art's sake. I want, however, to say one word in defence of what I know appears at first sight to be a challengeable proposal—to try to get people to spend more money. It may well be said that you do not necessarily get a better film because you spend more money, and, of course, that is quite true. There have been films costing hundreds of thousands of pounds which, I have been told, have been scrapped by the producers because they were so bad, and there have been films made at much less cost which have been excellent; but I think everyone with any knowledge of the film industry will agree with me that, unless a film does reach a certain standard of production cost, that is to say, unless it is not obviously "done on the cheap," whatever its merits are, it has not, in the unfortunate circumstances of a sordid materialistic world, any chance of getting into the world market.

As things are at the moment—and we are dealing with the moment—a film costing £10,000 or £15,000 may not have any chance of getting a show in America, and that is why I want to encourage the production of a type of film which at least has an opportunity of being shown in the world market. I believe that there is a far better opportunity for films made in Great Britain to get into the world market, and particularly into the American market, than there has ever been before. The public are becoming very selective about their films, as has already been said. Hollywood has had its financial difficulties just as the London production industry has had its financial difficulties, and production in Hollywood has fallen off just as production in this country has fallen off. In the next few years there is going to be a shortage of good films, and I do not believe that the American renter, who, after all, has to study the man who ultimately controls the film industry, namely, the man who pays his shilling a week to go and see a picture, is likely, in a time of shortage of good films, to cut off his nose to spite his face and refuse to take a good film, which will fill his cinemas, simply because it is made in Great Britain. That may have been the case a few years ago when times were much more prosperous, but now, I believe, a good film is going to have a real chance all over the world, and I beg the House to agree with the Lords, because I believe that the Amendment will give added opportunity to get into a market which, more than ever before, offers possibilities to the producers of this country.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 5, line 7, agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 5, line 21, at the end, insert: (4) If, and to the extent that, Section one of this Act has effect subject to the modification made therein by an order containing such a direction as is authorised by paragraph (a) of Sub-section (3) of that Section, this Section shall have effect as if in Subsection (1) of this Section for the words 'doubled or trebled for the purpose of renters' quota 'there were substituted the words' doubled for the purpose of renters' quota or capable of being doubled under this Section, 'and as if in Sub-section (2) of this Section for the words' trebled for the purpose of renters 'quota' there were substituted the words 'capable of being doubled under this Section'.

5.2 p.m.

Mr. Stanley

I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Mr. Ernest Evans

Why is the Subsection in this Amendment called Subsection (4)? I cannot find Sub-section (3).

Mr. Stanley

I will look into the matter and see whether there has been a printing error. I am very much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for drawing my attention to it.

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