HC Deb 18 December 1947 vol 445 cc1846-8
19. Mr. H. D. Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been reached with renters and exhibitors for the distribution of short British documentary films, either produced commercially or sponsored by the Central Office of Information.

Mr. H. Wilson

All British short documentary films can benefit by the quota provisions of the Cinematograph Films Act, 1938. For one ten-minute film every month there is also, I understand, a special arrangement between the exhibitors and the Central Office of Information which assures these films of distribution to a substantial majority of the cinemas.

Mr. Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present position is that important documentary films—as, for example, the recent C.O.I. film "The World is Rich"—are unable to obtain exhibition on any of the main cinema circuits, and in view of the shortage of British films to fill cinema time, will he exercise his influence with the distributors to get this state of affairs remedied?

Mr. Wilson

I have been going specially into the question of the film mentioned by my hon. Friend only this week, and I can tell him that I am discussing this question, and other similar matters, with the exhibitors early in the New Year.

30. Mr. Michael Foot

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the general financial implications for the British film industry involved in the statement issued on 11th December by the General Cinemas Finance Corporation, a copy of which has been sent to him, and if, in view of the fact that the Secretary of this Corporation resigned just prior to the publication of this statement, he will appoint a Commission of inquiry to examine the best methods of protecting the future of the British film industry.

Mr. H. Wilson

My hon. Friend no doubt refers to the statement issued by Odeon Theatres Ltd., which is to be considered tomorrow by the shareholders. Until this has been done, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to offer any comment. On the question of protecting the future of the British film industry, I hope it may be possible for me to deal with this matter at the time of the Second Reading of the Cinematograph Films Bill.

Mr. Foot

In view of the extraordinary revelations which were contained in this statement, of the widespread concern aroused by this matter, and of the fact that the meeting of shareholders tomorrow is a foregone conclusion in view of Mr. Rank's holdings, will my right hon. Friend consider the necessity of protecting the interests of the British film industry by having a special inquiry, apart from the action he is projecting under the new Films Bill?

Mr. Wilson

I do not think any action of any kind is called for until after the shareholders' meeting.

Major Bruce

Does not my right hon. Friend think that on the evidence already before him there is a case for an investigation under the Companies Act of 1947?

Mr. Wilson

The powers under the Companies Act as now operative would only enable me to initiate an inquiry on the application of not less than 200 shareholders who could show good reason for requiring an investigation.

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