HC Deb 28 March 1938 vol 333 cc1649-66

Lords Amendment: In line 5, after "films" insert: to make provision as to the wages and conditions of employment of persons employed by makers of cinematograph films.

3.54 p.m.

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

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

The insertion of this Amendment is consequential on a new Clause relating to fair wages and conditions of employment which was inserted in another place. The Clause was accepted by the Government in view of a promise given in Committee by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade' that if it were possible to introduce a fair wages Clause into the Bill, it would have the support and blessing of the Government. It may be for the convenience of the House, as the question is raised in the Title, if I deal briefly with the Clause in question and the two other Amendments which are consequential to it. The new Clause will come in page 30, line 17. It follows, I am informed, exactly the accepted form of Clauses of this nature, and it meets the wishes expressed on all sides of the Committee. The consequential Amendments are those in page 38, line 9, and the insertion of a new Sub-section at page 40, line 17.

The object of these two Amendments is to make clear the application of the Fair Wages Clause in relation to laboratory workers engaged in the processing of films covered by the Bill. The definition of "making" introduced into Clause 43, which is the latter of these Amendments, means that the Fair Wages Clause will apply to persons employed on processing work in connection with actual film production whether they are employed in the studio itself or by outside processing firms. I do not think, in view of the previous history of this Clause and the general desire that it should be introduced, that there is any need for me to take up further time with it.

3.57 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

I should like to express our thanks to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade for accepting this Fair Wages Clause. Hon. Members who were members of the Committee will remember that we had a similar Clause on the Order Paper, but at that time it was out of order because of the Short Title of the Bill. However, the right hon. Gentleman felt that this would be the only safeguard of the employés in a very difficult industry, and he agreed to accept the Clause and to extend the Title to make the Clause possible. This has been a very uncertain industry, and while there are 8,000 people in it unemployed compared with 2,000 employed, they have obviously no bargaining power. As the right hon. Gentleman desires to stabilise the industry, to get it on a firm foundation, and to better the relationship between the employés and the producers, the insertion of this Clause will be better for the industry itself. We are glad that the right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to accept it.

Lords Amendment: In page 2, line 36, after "doubled" insert "or trebled."

3.59 p.m.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

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

This is the first of a series of Amendments which deal with the same point, namely, what we call the treble quota. This Amendment, the next two upon the first page of the Amendment Paper and the long Amendment on page 2 all deal with the same point. On page 5 also there are Amendments on page 27, lines 21, 25 and 27, which are all part of the same scheme. This proposal for what we call the treble quota has a Parliamentary history. On the Committee stage I said that for the purpose of encouraging the making by foreign companies of pictures in this country which were designed for the world market, I proposed to introduce further measures of this kind.

As the House will recollect, there is already a provision in the Bill that a film which costs three times the minimum of labour costs is to count twice for quota purposes. On the Report stage I put down an Amendment which would have the effect of providing that a film which costs four times the minimum labour costs would have counted three times for quota purposes. I apologise for the fact that it was not possible for me to be there to defend my own proposal. In particular I must apologise to my hon. and gallant Friend, whom I left at the very last moment to hold the field, though I am sure that the advocacy of this proposal did not in the least suffer from my failure. But at the time, it will be recollected, considerable opposition to this proposal was voiced in some quarters of the House, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health withdrew it at the time, with a proviso that as I was unable to be there and he was not in a position to consult me, if I thought it necessary for the benefit of the industry I would draft an Amendment to be moved in another place.

An extension of this character is of the greatest importance to the industry. I am extremely anxious to see the American and foreign renters filling their quota in this country as far as possible by films which are intended for, and capable of, sale outside the limited market of this country. I want to see them making not the sort of film which up to now they have been making in order to fulfil the quota, but the sort of film which will find a place in the American and the world market. I think that that is of immense importance. It is not always easy to distinguish what we mean by a British film. Sometimes it seems only to depend on the original nationality of some particular gentleman who has since got naturalisation. But the great importance to my mind is not this very fine distinction between a British film and a film produced in Britain, but the fact that a film of this character has to be made in the first instance for the British market, and has therefore to be a film which is in sympathy with Britain, which is acceptable to the people of this country, and which if shown abroad will be good and not bad propaganda for the people and institutions of Great Britain. Because of that I am anxious to see the foreign renters filling their quota by the bigger type of film of this kind.

There is another reason. It seems to me that in so far as the American renter fills his quota with the type of film that we are encouraging in this proposal, that is of definite assistance to the small independent producer in this country. In this country there is a number of producers who, from their financial restrictions and lack of experience, from the fact that they have no "stars" under contract with them, are not able as yet to enter into this competition in films for world sale, and yet can make quite good pictures of a smaller type for which there is a demand as second feature pictures. At the present time they have to meet intense competition from similar pictures being made by the foreign renters to fulfil their quota. In so far as we can get that quota filled by the bigger type of picture, in so far will the pressure of competition on the independent producer of the smaller films in this country be reduced, and in so far will his prospect of successful production be increased.

Although it was not possible for me to be here during the course of the last Debate, I did study very carefully the OFFICIAL REPORT of the speeches which had been made and the objections which had been voiced against the proposal. It seemed to me that there were two main lines of objection. The first was that it was possible that a proposal of the kind would reduce the opportunity for employment in this country. Hon. Members will realise that to fill a quota in this way is actually more expensive to the producer than to fill it by a number of smaller films observing the exact legal minimum; but still hon. Members felt that in some cases perhaps the producer anyhow would spend more than his legal minimum, and that to give him extra credit for it might reduce the number of films, and therefore, the amount of employment. That was one line of objection. The other line was that if the renters were to fill a large proportion of their quota by these treble credit films, the number of films would be largely reduced even if their quota was increased, and that that would restrict the choice of the exhibitor and make it difficult for him to have an attractive programme.

I studied both those objections, and I have attempted, and I think succeeded, in the Amendment which was proposed on my behalf in another place and which I am now asking this House to agree with, to meet both those objections. The objection with regard to the reduction of the opportunities for employment was quite simple to meet. Whereas in the original suggestion made on Report stage it was suggested that a film which had cost four times the minimum labour cost, that is to say £30,000, should count three times for quota, I have altered that four to five and the minimum to £37,500. With regard to the other point, I have attempted in the long proviso which will be found at the bottom of page I and on pages 2 and 3 of the Amendment Paper, to safeguard the position of the exhibitor, and to ensure, as the Amendment does, that the exhibitor's position with regard to the number of films available is no less safeguarded than it would be in the bill if this new provision had never been introduced. That is done in this way: The position of the exhibitor under the Bill, if this Amendment were not introduced, would be as follows: The renter can fill a certain proportion of his quota by buying foreign rights. He can fill the rest of his quota by the buying of films which are entitled to a double credit. That is to say, he must as a minimum provide in actual footage half of that quota which remains to be filled after buying foreign rights.

I have inserted a proviso in the Bill, in order to see that that position is not altered by this new extension of the principle of the multiple quota. It is now laid down that, leaving aside the amount of the quota which the renter fills by the buying of foreign rights, he must fill at least 50 per cent. of the remainder of his quota by actual footage of film. He cannot make unlimited use of the multiple credits bound up in this double and treble quota proposal. Further, it seemed to me that in a matter of this difficulty it was well that the Films Council should have a real opportunity of investigating the manner in which it worked and if necessary of suggesting appropriate remedies.

Therefore, I have included in the proviso a reference to the Films Council, and I have given power to the President of the Board of Trade, on the recommendation of the Films Council, and in the usual manner by an affirmative Resolution, to do one of three things: He can either abolish this new idea of treble quota altogether if he finds on experience that it does not work; or he can lower or raise this 50 per cent. limitation which, as I have explained, we have introduced—the 50 per cent. which must be filled by actual footage—or, if the Film Council so advise, he can abolish altogether that proviso with regard to the limitation of the action of the treble quota and the renter can fill his whole quota, if he so cares, in this manner. The House will agree that in these alterations I have made a genuine effort to meet objections which were raised to a proposal of this character on the Report stage. I hope that I have managed to get rid of the difficulties which were then seen in the proposals, and I now commend the Amendment to the House, because I do believe it to be of extreme importance to the industry and as likely to lead to the production in this country of films primarily for the market of this country but which will be able to find their way into the markets of the world as well. Therefore, I hope that the House will agree with the Lords in their Amendment.

4.13 p.m.

Mr. T. Williams

Since I was the Member responsible for putting the case against treble quota previously, I must say a few words in order to explain why I can now support the treble quota. The right hon. Gentleman has truly said that the last proposal clearly endangered a large body of people who did not want to default against the law. The treble quota could have applied to the whole of the notional footage, reducing the number of films to one-third; and quite clearly a position would have arisen which would have been very awkward for the exhibitors in this country. However, I support the new proposals for two major reasons. First of all the right hon. Gentleman has removed the danger of imposing default upon unwilling people. He has limited: the notional footage permissible under the alterations of treble quota down to 50 per cent., which is leaving us exactly as we were prior to the introduction of these treble quota proposals. Since the producer of films is required to produce no less films than he needed if he made all £22,500 films and claimed double quota for them, from that point of view the position stands to-day that this new proposal leaves us exactly as we were prior to the introduction of treble quota on Report.

My second reason for the course I am taking is that the £30,000 labour costs referred to in the treble quota proposals on Report are now being increased to £37,500. That means two things. It means that five times the normal cost of an ordinary film will be expended instead of four times that cost, which means more work for the producers of pictures in this country, and that is a very important thing indeed. Secondly, it means that the films ought to be superior films, if there is anything in the point the greater the cost the better the film. It does not always work out in that way, but in theory the fact that five times the amount of money is to be spent before triple quota can apply is a clear indication of the desire of the Minister for better quality films. Therefore, from the point of view of employment and the production of better quality films, the proposal is now all to the good. We are likely to have films that may find their way into the world markets, and I am one of those who believe that unless and until we do qualify for the world markets as well as our own market we shall never have the film industry in this country which we are entitled to expect. To the extent, therefore, that this arrangement will fructify in the production of better films, capable of meeting the needs of the world markets, I think the proposal is all to the good.

There is, perhaps, a fourth point which encourages me to support the new proposal, and that is that to the extent to which producers of higher quality films fulfilling the highest cost test do take advantage of it, the margin left for independent producers will be widened. The opportunity will be there for them to produce more films than if double or treble quota had not been introduced. I have not seen anything said by producers regarding these treble quota proposals, but it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman has done two things at one time. He has not only encouraged the production of higher quality films, but is creating a bigger opportunity for independent producers. For those reasons I am prepared to support the right hon. Gentleman's new proposals, because I think he has fairly and squarely met our submissions on the Report stage. Some of the producers, I do not know whether to call them the smaller producers, or the independent producers, or what kind of producers, have an opportunity to start a new phase in film production in this country. They can lay a foundation stone upon which they will be able to build. I hope they will not hesitate to copy their American parallels. If there is anything to learn from them, I hope they will learn it quickly. If they wish to supply the foreign market they must know exactly what that market calls for. If they can take advantage of the opportunity now presented to them it ought to be good for the industry, and they may look back upon this new set of proposals as the starting point of a new orientation.

4.19 p.m.

Mr. G. Strauss

I fully agree that the President of the Board of Trade has gone some way to meet the objections which were voiced in this House on the Report stage, but I am still doubtful whether we shall find that the idea of encouraging producers to spend more money upon their films will give us better films with which we can capture world markets. One can quite well say, as has been argued by the President of the Board of Trade, that in order to do away with the "quota quickie" it was necessary to set a minimum cost below which no film could claim to come under this Bill, but to say that the more money above that minimum that is spent on a film the better chance we have of establishing a British film industry—to give bribes, shall we say, to producers to spend more money on films—is simply not the way to go about it. If producers have a really good story, good technicians and good actors they will, one assumes, go ahead and produce a first-class film, and will not need the stimulus of the Government saying, "If you spend a little more money you will be given certain advantages." One could go on indefinitely in that way, saying, "If instead of £37,500 you spend £50,000 in labour costs we will give you more advantages; and if you spend £60,000 will give you yet further advantages." I do not think we shall establish a British film industry in that way. It is quite possible that certain producers will try to get the further advantages held out by adding to the cost of a film. The argument will be, "Cannot we have an extra crowd scene? Cannot we take the actors and actresses down to the races, or have a ball room scene? It will be worth our while. We shall be building up the labour costs and we shall get more quota advantages."

I do not believe that by bribing renters or British producers to spend more money we shall capture the world markets. We are tackling the problem by wrong methods. We are taking too commercial and material a view of the film industry. I do not believe the success of a film depends ultimately on the amount of money spent on it. Now and again that may be a factor, but I do not believe the greatness of a film can be judged by the amount spent on it. Anyone who has a really good film in mind would, presumably, spend the right amount of money, without being unduly extravagant; all would very rightly do their very best to produce a good film at a minimum of outlay from the point of view of securing better profits. Therefore, I must express my doubt as to the value of the proposal before us. It may succeed, and I hope that it will, but I feel that it is based upon a fundamental fallacy which will be proved in the years ahead when we look back to see what the Bill has accomplished.

4.24 p.m.

Sir Adrian Baillie

On the Report stage I was unable to support the proposal for treble quota, primarily because it had been introduced at the eleventh hour and I was too slow-witted to be able to appraise its merits and repercussions without further time for consideration and consultation, but in the form in which the treble quota has been reintroduced and carried in another place, and seeing that the objections which were raised have been met in a wholly admirable way, I should now like to take this opportunity of congratulating my right hon. Friend on the change he has made. I also feel a few apprehensions as to whether the ideals in view in introducing the treble quota will in fact materialise. I felt in regard to the double quota that it might not be a sufficient inducement to our American friends to make good British pictures in this country, and, equally, when the treble quota was introduced I had doubts whether it would prove to be a sufficient inducement, but in the form in which it has been drawn up to-day I feel that it will be a real inducement to American renters and American producers to fulfil their quota requirements by making good pictures for the world market. I cannot agree with the apprehensions felt by the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss). It is true that up to a point the cost test is not a guarantee of quality, but if we are to produce British films which are to be sold and distributed in world markets, we shall have to compete with Hollywood, and we all know how the cost of production there has grown in recent years. A few years ago £100,000 was regarded as a lot of money to spend upon a film, but to-day £400,000 is not considered excessive, and it is competitors who think in those terms that we shall have to meet if we want to get into the World markets.

Mr. G. Strauss

Does the hon. Member think that a film on which £37,500 has been spent can compete with that type of film?

Sir A. Baillie

I can answer that observation by saying that the £37,500 represents labour costs only, and that probably the total cost would be £70,000 or £75,000, and I suggest, after having consulted certain people in the industry, that once a foreign renting company or an American producing company has to go to the expense of £75,000 upon a film, it will realise that it is too big a sum to get back from this country alone and that it will have to push the film in the world market, and will probably not be content with an expenditure of £75,000 and may spend up to £275,000 in order to ensure its success. For these and other reasons I would like to offer my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman upon introducing this encouraging feature into the Bill which, I think, will do much to help British industry in years to come.

4.27 p.m.

Mr. Bellenger

In spite of what the President of the Board of Trade has said, I am inclined to take the same pessi- mistic view as my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth (Mr. G. Strauss), but I suppose that it would be somewhat indiscreet to disagree too fundamentally with my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). Let us be quite sure of what we are going to get by this Amendment and of what we are not going to get. The President said in his concluding remarks that he had no doubt that this proposal would ensure, as far as any Bill could ensure it, the production of more films which would be nearer to British requirements. I do not think it will do anything of the kind. I took down the right hon. Member's words. He said, "Films of British character." I do not think this Amendment will produce any more films of British character than any other feature of this Bill. What it will do, probably, is to ensure that more first-feature films will be made in this country. That may be a good thing or it may be a bad thing. I suppose that from the point of view of the technicians, the film stars, and all others who are engaged in the making of a picture, it will be a good thing if we can have more first-feature films made in this country, but the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Sir A. Baillie) knows very well—in fact he said it—that in the world markets we shall have to compete with foreigners. That means that we have to spend more money on the production of our films. It also means that more Hollywood pictures will be turned out, in order that those pictures can be sold in the American market. I have no objection to more first-feature films being produced, but I am under no illusion whatever that those films will be truer to British character than those we have hitherto had under the aegis of Hollywood.

One point upon which the right hon. Gentleman touched is that we have made provision for a review of the whole position by the Films Council—either upwards or downwards—as far as the 50 per cent. footage is concerned. That is a good thing. We have from the first tried to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the advisability of using the Films Council not only for things of this nature but for other things which were mentioned in Committee. I pay the right hon. Gentleman a tribute; it is as well that he has put this saving provision into the Amendment.

The important question is whether the Amendment will result in real reciprocity; in other words, whether it will result in more British-produced films, or films produced in this country, being sold in the American market or other markets of the world. Like my hon. Friend the Member for North Lambeth I can only hope that that will be so. My knowledge of the subject is not so extensive as that of some hon. Members, but I believe, in view of the hold which Hollywood has at the present time in this industry, that Hollywood will not allow us, by this or by any other method, to crash into the American market to a greater extent than we have done hitherto. I cannot offer much evidence of the position which I have put to the House, but I can only echo the hope of the right hon. Gentleman that the Amendment will enable us to get a better portion of the American and other markets. Although one result may be the production of more Hollywood pictures which do not represent British character, I shall be glad that I have supported the Amendment.

4.32 p.m.

Mr. H. G. Williams

I strongly opposed the treble quota when it was brought before the House upon the Report stage. We all very much regretted at that time the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, and we remember the difficulties in which the House was put in consequence. The Cabinet Minister who was in charge withdrew the proposal on the ground that something similar was to be introduced in another place. I congratulate the President of the Board of Trade upon the great ingenuity he has shown in producing this scheme, which is a triple quota but is equal only to a double quota. I did not like the double quota because I saw no reason why we should bribe the Americans to make decent films and fulfil their obligations. I should like a single quota, and with a high price at that, although I did not get very much support upstairs for my views. I believe that the Americans at the present time get about £8,000,000 out of this country, so far as I can make out, and they do not pay Income Tax upon it. There is no reason why we should go out of our way to assist them. The President of the Board of Trade is now asking us to agree to something which is in substance only what we agreed to in Committee. I must congratulate him on the way in which he has rescued himself from a difficult position and has secured a triple quota scheme without doing any more harm than would have been done by the double quota.

4.34 p.m.

Mr. Day

I should agree to any proposal which appeared to make for an improvement in British film production, but the President of the Board of Trade has made a mistake in thinking that the triple quota will have that result in this country. If hon. Members refer to answers given by the right hon. Gentleman to questions put in this House they will see that in three years 484 exhibitors could not supply their quota under the last Act. Those people had all broken the law and more or less committed offences. There were 17 renters in the same position. Are we to put the producers in a position in which they will not be able to compete, no matter what they may do, in the production of films that will go into the American market? The right hon. Gentleman spoke of labour costs. I saw a film last night which must have cost 15 times the labour cost mentioned in the Bill. I should think that it was not produced under £340,000 or £400,000. If we were able to produce films like that in this country we might be able to get into the American market, but with our limited knowledge of production it is impossible for us to crash into that market.

British producers do not bring all the people concerned in the production of films over here. The mistake they make is that they do not bring in the persons who are particularly useful in the organisation and the production of films. If you go to Hollywood—and I have been there several times—[Interruption.] If hon. Members do not want to listen to my experience I will sit down—you see there magnificent studios, all run by Britishers. The principal technicians, scenario writers, dressers and others are mostly Britishers. The whole outfit, right throughout, is controlled and run by British people. Producers in this country who are trying to produce British films that they hope will be successful in America make the mistake of bringing over a star artist or a star British producer. They may bring technicians, but they forget the scenario writers, dressers and others, and even the persons who cut the film, who are British. We find that the people who make the wardrobes in Hollywood are nearly all Britishers. If they were to bring those people here and set up a complete organisation they would be able to get films comparable with those produced in America. Money alone will not make British films successful in the American market. We must give the Americans what they are used to. We have to give them an article which is as good as they can see.

Although I did not mention names, I referred on the Third Reading of the Bill to about a dozen films that had cost anything from £60,000 to £120,000 and had all been failures in the American market because they had not been done in the proper way. If we wish to produce films of British character we have to produce them in the same manner as they are produced in Hollywood. I remember some of the Hollywood producers who are now among the biggest, coming over here some years ago and trying to break into our theatrical market. It was hopeless, because they were not quite accustomed to our methods. In the same way we cannot break into the American market because we do not study American methods. If we wish our production to be able to command a world trade, we have to try to compete with the organisations which are competing so heavily with us at the present day.

4.41 p.m.

Sir William Wayland

I congratulate the Minister upon going a long way along the road which was indicated by some Members in the Committee. The greater advantage which we can give to the American renter the better it will be for our producers. With that end in view I moved an Amendment that the limit should be £50,000 with great advantages. We shall certainly benefit by the Amendment. In regard to what has just been said about costs of production I would remind hon. Members that if an American company produces a film which costs £150,000 or £300,000 it knows from its experience and from its calculations that the picture will pay. In this country we have made pictures costing from £120,000 to £160,000, but those pictures could never pay here; we must have a larger market.

4.42 p.m.

Mr. Beverley Baxter

I will add my congratulations to those which have been offered to the President of the Board of Trade, whom we are glad to see back upon the Front Bench. I am glad to have this opportunity of refuting one or two things which were said in Committee and on the Floor of the House. There is no question that British film production has not, on the average, been good, but we have neglected to pay our tribute to the very fine films which have been made. A surprising number of superb films have been made in this country. I regret that in Committee we may have added to the discouragement of the industry by failing to give recognition to them. The hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Day) has been good enough to give us his Odyssey. He told us what he saw in Hollywood. I think he put his finger on exactly the wrong spot. He said that if we were to study the American market we could crash into it; in other words he wants us to delight the American public with imitation American films. Believe me, we have made some of the worst American films by bringing over here second-rate and out-of-date American stars and out-of-date producers. The one thing we do not want to do is to study the American market.

Mr. Day

You cannot make a profit unless you do.

Mr. Baxter

If I may quote Shakespeare in the presence of so great an impressario, I would suggest that this industry should repeat to itself: To thine own self be true. If we give expression to the genius, the tempo and the life of this country, and if we are prepared to spend the right amount of money, we shall succeed.

I commend this Amendment, and congratulate the right hon. Gentleman for so skilfully bringing it through, because if we have to choose between a cheap, bad film and an expensive bad film, I should say, let us have the expensive bad film. Hitherto, under our legislation, owing to mishandling by the Americans and by the very wrong and unfair attitude of the American renters, the British film industry has been associated with nothing but cheapness and second-rateness. This Bill, for the first time, associates legislation with costly and first-rate production. You may have a work of genius at a small cost, but in the end, whether you are building a house, or a motor car or a battleship, provided that your plans are good and your personnel are first-rate, the more money you spend on it the better it will be. For that reason I desire to add my congratulations to those which have already been offered to the President of the Board of Trade.

4.45 p.m.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

With reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter), I do not want to get angry with the Member for my neighbouring constituency, but, at the same time, I think he was a little off the mark in trying to make out that the Americans have been remiss in this matter, and that we British have been doing such marvellous work in producing films. If there was one thing that every Member who served on the Committee hoped for from this new legislation, it was that the history of the British film industry would be different during the next 10 years from what it was in the past 10 years. The difficulties during the past 10 years have not by any means been entirely due to the Americans. We know the financial practices that have been associated with the British film industry in the recent past, and I am sure that every Member in every part of the House will hope that, if our labours in the Committee, which are now being concluded here, have no other result, they will prevent a repetition of the kind of thing that has been happening in the industry during the last few years.

One point which I should like to put has not been mentioned at all in this discussion, and that is that the real people who make the film industry, whether the British or the American, are the people who pay their money at the box office and go to see the pictures. It does not matter what anyone else thinks; they are the people who count. This proposal is intended as a great effort on the part of the British film industry to get into the American market, but I think we ought not to lose sight of one important fact. Some people seem to think that the British working man and his wife go to the pictures once or twice every week no matter what is on. That is not so. There are many counter-attractions; there is a whole variety of recreations that the younger generation are beginning to take up, and many of them are not content, when they have done their day's work, to go somewhere and sit quietly—they want to take part in something in which there is movement. To take one example, which is perfectly well known, the owners of hundreds of very small cinemas in the poorer districts are finding that the football pools are attracting people away from the cinema. They have not enough money for both, and so, if a picture is good, they decide that they will go to the cinema, but, if the pictures are not good, they stay at home and spend their money on football pools. Therefore it seems to me that the President of the Board of Trade is perfectly correct in doing all he can to try to encourage the production in this country of pictures of a good type, because, if that is not done, the money taken at the box office will go down and the whole thing will collapse.

As I said on the Second Reading, it seems to me that a good deal of misconception arises from the idea that, if a picture is made in the vicinity of London, it is bound to be a faithful representation of our British characteristics. That does not follow at all. It will be within the recollection of most Members of this House who go to the pictures that two of the finest representations of our British life of recent years have been made in Hollywood, namely, "David Copperfield" and "Cavalcade." They were remarkable representations, and after seeing them one left the cinema marvelling that they had been made in another country. I join in the general congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman on his recovery, which we hope is complete and thorough, and also on the fact that, in settling this thorny subject, he has clone so in the good old-fashioned British way, by compromise.

4.52 p.m.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

I should not have risen had it not been for the speech of the hon. Member for Central Southwark (Mr. Day). He said, quite rightly, that British films have not been a success in America, and he put forward the suggestion that we should, as my hon. Friend has said, try to copy the Americans, though I admit that he did not use those words. He did not, however, tell the House that the reason why British films have not been a success in America is not due to lack of quality, but to the fact that exhibitors and renters in America would not show them. They put them in cold storage, or showed them at wrong times when they could not possibly pay. They had no desire whatever to show British films in America. Why should they, when they are producing plenty of films of their own at Hollywood? Now the President of the Board of Trade is taking action under this Clause of the Bill to endeavour to force the Americans to show British films in America. If he succeeds in doing so by means of this particular provision in the Bill, he will deserve the heartiest congratulations of us all. I hope he will succeed.

4.54 p.m.

Mr. Alan Herbert

I certainly congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, and the House, on his return, but I cannot honestly join in congratulating him on this Amendment, though, like everyone else, I do not intend to oppose it. I really rise because my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) spoke of costly and first-rate productions. That not only carries the implication that what is costly becomes first-rate, but, when argued to its logical conclusion, is an extension ad absurdum of the barbarous and loathsome principle that money is a measure of merit. I raised my feeble voice in Committee against that principle, but I was defeated. Now, at the last moment, I cannot allow the Bill to go forth without at least one Member raising his voice in the House against it. Subject to this reservation, I support the Amendment.

Subsequent Lords Amendments, to page 2, line 40, agreed to.