HC Deb 04 April 1944 vol 398 cc1798-800
40. Mr. McEntee

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the number of full length films produced in this country in 1943 was only about 12½ per cent. of those produced in 1938, and, in view of the value of films for propaganda and for educational and cultural purposes, what action is he taking to encourage the British film industry and to prevent its being entirely dominated by interests outside the British Empire.

Mr. Dalton

My hon. Friend is misinformed. The number of British long films registered during the year ending March, 1944, was 70, as compared with 103 for the year ending March, 1939. I keep in close touch with representatives of the film industry and shall continue to take any action open to me to promote and develop the industry in this country.

Owing to shortage of man-power and of studio space, production of British films has had to be curtailed during the war, but I am satisfied that there is no danger of the industry being dominated by foreign interests.

41 and 42. Mr. McEntee

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he is aware that the continued existence of the independent British film producer is dependent upon the continued existence of the independent British cinema owner, who often provides the only outlet for British-made films; and will he ensure the continued existence of the independent cinema owner by regulating the conditions of film marketing practised by non-British interests, which are making the continued existence of independent cinema owners more difficult;

(2) if he is aware of the grave dissatisfaction which British motion picture exhibitors feel against the conditions of sale which are being imposed on them by representatives of American film interests in this country; and will he take steps to prohibit the continuance of conditional selling and institute a system more in accord with British custom and the generally accepted standards of international trade.

Mr. Dalton

As the House knows, I have obtained undertakings from the chief shareholders of the three major circuits, which effectively limit the number of cinemas they may control. As regards the conditions of sale imposed on exhibitors by film renters, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Moss Side (Mr. R. Duckworth) on 4th November, 1943, and 10th December, 1943. This matter is, I understand, also under examination by the Committee of the Cinematograph Films Council which was set up, on my invitation, to consider and report on what further practical measures, if any, are necessary to check the development of monopoly in the film industry.

Mr. McEntee

Is my right hon. Friend aware that hundreds, if not thousands, of our own small shopkeepers are being prosecuted every week for infringing the law and imposing conditions of sale, and that the conditions of sale imposed by these big industries are almost putting people out of business; why is one law applied to those outside this country and a more strict law enforced on our own people?

Mr. Dalton

I do not think that my hon. Friend has quite fairly stated the position. It is not possible within the limits of an answer to go into the details of this matter, but I shall be very glad to discuss it with him, as I have given a good deal of thought to it.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, following the undertaking he said he had received from the cinema proprietors and great undertakings, new cinemas are being acquired on a very considerable scale and new negotiations are being instituted even after the assurance he received and gave to the House?

Mr. Dalton

No, Sir, I am not aware of that, and if my hon. Friend can assist me by giving me particulars, I shall be grateful to him.

Mr. Bevan

I shall be happy to do that.

Major Lloyd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not the people outside this country who are injuring the small trader, but powerful interests inside this country?