HC Deb 02 May 1944 vol 399 cc1241-3

Seventh Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution,"

Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)

When we were having a general discussion on the Resolutions, on Budget Day, I raised the question with the Chancellor of whether he ought not, when he made reference to authors, to extend the concession to artists and musicians, and he said, in reply, that he would consider whether that should not be done. It may be that, from the very beginning, the Government intended to act on those lines, because I see that, in the Resolution, the first line says "literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work." It is perfectly clear that it would be possible for the Chancellor to bring these categories within the terms of the concession.

I just want to give one or two reasons to-day why I think this should be done, and I venture to hope that my right hon. Friend will say in his reply that it is the firm intention of the Government to make this concession in the all-round manner that is suggested. If you confined it entirely to authors, the result would be quite absurd and obviously quite unjust. For instance, take as an example, that permanent "source of innocent merriment "—Gilbert and Sullivan. Is it to be said that Gilbert is to receive the concession, but that Sullivan must not be allowed to participate in it? It would be a truly Gilbertian situation, and I cannot think it is one which my right hon. Friend would contemplate or attempt to defend for a moment.

Let me take this question of artists. It is the custom, I believe, for artists to do their work over several years and to hold exhibitions from time to time. They have not got sufficient work, perhaps, to do it every year, but, every two, three or four years, they have sufficient, and these are cases where the work has been done over a period of years. It would appear reasonable that they should be treated in exactly the same way as authors, who have been composing their work over a period of years. I do not know how long in these days it takes artists to complete their work, but I had a certain knowledge of some periods in the past. Let me take the Pre-Raphaelites and their associates and refer to certain well-known pictures, such as Burne-Jones' "King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid." It took him four years to complete it. Then there is Ford Madox Brown's "The Last of England," on which he was working for three years. There is also the famous picture, Holman Hunt's "The Light of the World," which took him three years. No doubt, they were working on other things at the same time, but it was spread over that period. This question of copyright and the right of reproduction is a very important one in certain instances. One of the most important was Millais's famous picture "Bubbles," the model for which is an hon. and gallant Member of this House at the present time. That was reproduced all over the country and in many parts of the world, and was of very great value. There, certainly, is a case where, if that picture took more than one year to complete, a similar concession ought to have been given.

I would just refer also to the case of sculptors. It is, I suppose, usual for sculptors to take rather longer than artists to complete their work, owing to the very nature of it. I give one example that came to my knowledge the other day—the eminent Wolverhampton sculptor, Mr. Emerson, whose work, "Golden Youth," such a prominent feature of the Royal Academy in 1942, was purchased by the Wolverhampton Corporation recently. That work, as I happen to know, took him two or three years to complete, and I give that as an example to show why the concession given to authors ought certainly to be extended to sculptors as well as artists.

Finally, there is the question of musicians. I do not know exactly how long it takes a musician to compose a work, but Handel composed "Messiah" in 23 days, which was very quick work. There are many cases where famous musical works have been composed over a period of years, and I say, therefore, that there is every reason why this admirable concession, relating to literature and art, which the Government have introduced, should be made as wide as possible in its scope and should certainly extend to the particular categories which I have detailed. I venture to hope—it may well be that it is the intention of the Government, but, if so, the Chancellor did not make it clear in his Budget speech—that my right hon. Friend will here and now make plain that it is intended to cover all those referred to in the Resolution now before the House.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Assheton)

I should like to make it quite clear that the point raised by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) will be met. The hon. Member called attention to the fact that the wording of the Resolution does, in fact, refer to the authors of "literary, musical, dramatic or artistic work," and the word "author" will be used in the Clause of the Finance Bill, in relation to the authors of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic work. That includes not only the writers of books, but painters and sculptors.

Sir R. Tasker

And architects?

Mr. Assheton

The word "author" has, I believe, a similar meaning in the Copyright Act of 1911, and I think my hon. Friends will agree that the present Chancellor is a very susceptible Chancellor, so far as reason is concerned.

Mr. A. MacLaren (Burslem)

I cannot quite make out the meaning of the words, that any part of the copyright shall be treated as having become receivable, in an earlier year or earlier years.

Mr. Assheton

That means that part of the income will be put back into the income of previous years.

Sir R. Tasker

Will the right hon. Gentleman make clear whether there is any justification for excluding architects? When an architect has prepared a plan of a building, those plans are actually claimed as copyright, and he says no one can use them without his permission.

Mr. Assheton

I am afraid this is not the time, nor am I competent, to give advice to the House as to the definition of copyright.

Mr. MacLaren

Architects all copy one another, so it does not matter.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution" put, and agreed to.