Lords Amendment: In page 35, line 8, leave out from "persons" to the end of line n, and insert:
appointed as being independent persons.
§ 6.36 p.m.
This Amendment should be considered with the Amendment at the bottom of the same page, to insert a new Sub-section (2), as follows:
(2) It shall be the duty of the Board of Trade to satisfy themselves, with respect to any person whom they propose to appoint under paragraph (a) of the preceding Subsection to be a member of the said Council or who is a member of the Council by virtue of an appointment made under that paragraph, that he will have or has, as the case may be, no such financial or commercial interest as is likely to affect him in the discharge of his functions as a member of the Council; and any such person shall, whenever requested by the Board so to do, furnish
to them such information as they consider necessary for the performance of their duty under this Sub-section.
They are the outcome of a suggestion made in another place by Lord Moyne, in which he said that he thought that under the Bill as drafted the discretion of the Board of Trade as to whom they should appoint on the new Films Council was rather too limited. Lord Moyne, who has, of course, a particular title to speak on this subject, thought the Board should have wider discretion in appointing independent members and should not be debarred from appointing any particular person simply because he had had at some time a small interest in a financial way in the film industry. I hope and believe that the House will agree that that fact need not necessarily disqualify anybody, and the Amendment provides that the Board of Trade must satisfy themselves that either anybody who is to be appointed or anybody who has been appointed has no financial or commercial interest in the industry of a kind
likely to affect him in the discharge of his functions.
§ To enlarge the Clause in that way would give my right hon. Friend a somewhat wider choice of persons, and as we are all most anxious to get the best possible independent members on the Films Council, I hope that this House will agree with the Lords in this Amendment.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger
While I am in agreement with the principle of the Amendment, I should like to know what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has in mind in saying "a small interest." If this Amendment is to exclude any interest whatever, small or large, I am quite in agreement with it, but if we are to have a qualification that the interest shall only be a small one, it is as well that the House should have a clearer definition of what that small interest may be. Another point on this Amendment is whether when the appointment is made the person may have an interest in the film industry of which on appointment he will be able to divest himself, the same as I believe prevails in one or two other Acts of Parliament, such as the Sugar Act, where we set up a commission of this nature. As I say, I am in entire agreement with the principle of the Amendment, but I think somebody ought 1698 to say what that interest is, whether any interest whatever, small or large, is excluded, and whether the person to be appointed can divest himself immediately on appointment, or whether he must not have had any interest whatever.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
I think the other place has been wise to insert this Amendment, because I do not think it would be useful to tie the hands of the President of the Board of Trade too closely in this matter. What the House really wants is that after the trade representatives have been appointed, the ordinary panel of the public should not be used as a back door for further trade representatives getting on the Council. Anyone who has a few shares in the industry should not necessarily be debarred. Therefore I am in favour of wider elasticity being given to the President of the Board of Trade.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Mander
I cannot help feeling that there may be a certain amount of danger in this Amendment, because later on we might get a system growing up whereby it might be said that a particular individual noted for his broadmindedness had a considerable number of shares and quite a considerable holding in the industry, and yet the Board of Trade might say, "We think that under this Clause it would be right to put him on the Council, because we can trust him to disregard altogether his personal interest." I think it would not be desirable that anybody should be put on who has any substantial holding in the industry at all. Perhaps we shall hear whether it is contemplated that anything of that kind should be done.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Captain Wallace
If I may, with the leave of the House, speak again on this Amendment, I will say that the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison) has really answered the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). The answer is contained in the second Amendment to which I referred, namely, the new Sub-section (2):… no such financial or commercial interest as is likely to affect him in the discharge of his functions as a member of the Council.I entirely agree with the hon. Member for North Tottenham that it is desirable that we should have the widest possible 1699 choice. In regard to what the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton said I cannot imagine that either my right hon. Friend or any President of the Board of Trade would fail to be guided by exactly the same considerations as those by which he himself would be guided. We want to get the best people we can, and we do not want to be tied down to having to rule out some particularly good man, with exactly the broad point of view that we require, simply because he happens to have a few shares in some film business. I hope the House will leave the President of the Board of Trade the widest discretion in this matter.
§ Lords Amendment: In page 35, line 13, after "of," insert "British."
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Captain Wallace
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
This and the next Amendment on the Paper were moved in another place apparently with the intention of effecting a limitation of the representatives on the Films Council to persons representing purely British interests engaged in the making of films as opposed to foreign interests engaged in film production, but I think that those Members of the House who have followed the intricacies of this Bill will realise on reflection that the Amendment will not carry out that intention. The first of the two Amendments states that two representatives should be appointed as representing the makers of British films. Of course British films can be, and indeed are, made by companies under foreign control. One of the objects of the original legislation was to induce American companies make films in this country. They have to comply with certain formalities, and then their films become British. Furthermore, a British film can be made in any part of the British Empire.
The second of the two Amendments, in line 19, seeks to give representation to persons employed by makers of British films. British films, of course, can be made by foreign controlled companies working in pursuance of their statutory duty under this Bill, and representatives 1700 of persons employed by such makers are included in the Trade Unions with those employed by purely British companies, and could not be separately defined. But the Amendments were accepted in another place by the representatives of the Government in a spirit, I think, of appreciation and of encouragement for British films, and for that reason we may as well let them remain.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
I do not want to disagree with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but this is merely inserting a couple of words that mean nothing at all. They just satisfy a patriotic sentiment and nothing more. One might expect this kind of Amendment from another place, and while I do not disagree with them, since they mean nothing, I would point out that they mean more printing and more paper, and perhaps a waste of national finance.
§ Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 35, line 19, agreed to.
Lords Amendment: In page 35, line 23, at the end, insert:
The Board of Trade shall not appoint to be a member of the said Council any person who has been convicted of an offence under the Act of 1927 or this Act.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ This Amendment was moved in a rather different form in another place and was accepted by the Government in the modified form now set out
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Williams
When the prosecution takes place of a cinema which is part of a circuit or company, is the individual or the company prosecuted, and which individual, if any, will be debarred from becoming a member of the Council if this Amendment is agreed to? I think the spirit of the Amendment is good and should be supported, but we ought to know which person would be debarred in the event of a prosecution. In the case of a small independent cinema the proprietor would be prosecuted, but what would be the position in the case of a 1701 large company. Would all the directors of the company be debarred?
§ Mr. Mander
May I ask whether individuals who are now members of the Board of Trade Advisory Committee and have been convicted will be ineligible for the Films Council?
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Captain Wallace
The answer to the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) is to be found in Clause 38, which says:Where a body corporate is guilty of an offence under this Act, and it is proved that the offence occurred with the consent or connivance of, or was attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the body corporate, he, as well as the body corporate, shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.If any particular person were convicted, he would be ineligible to be on the Council, and if he were already on the Council his seat would become vacant.