§ 60. Mr. Cluse
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that it is a common practice in the cinema industry to 1758 reduce the number of the lower-priced seats and increase the number of higher-priced seats, thereby inflicting hardship on the public, especially at peak times in the performances; and whether he will take powers, if necessary, by legislation to regulate these prices?
I understand that the practice in some cinemas of varying prices giving price concession during slack periods is of long standing. In London the licensing authority has dealt with the matter and presumably other licensing authorities can do the same. The answer to the last part of the Question is in the negative.
§ Mr. Cluse
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is no question of a price concession, and that the price of the seat is the same all through the sitting? Is he aware that the complaint which I have received from a good many constituents is that seats which used to be obtainable at a certain price have now had their price increased by double the amount of the increase in the tax imposed by the Chancellor? Is there any Department which can deal with this continuous profiteering ramp by cinema proprietors?
I have indicated that the matter has already been dealt with in London by the London County Council, and presumably other licensing authorities could do the same thing. I think my hon. Friend had better take the matter up with the local licensing authorities.
§ Mr. Evelyn Walkden
Could not my right hon. Friend insist that the principle applied in London of exhibiting outside cinemas a chart showing the seats and prices should obtain throughout the whole of the licensing authorities of the country? Would not that be more satisfactory?
That would involve legislation; and I do not think we can stop for legislation of that sort. Moreover, it is not a bad thing if some degree of local self-government remains.