HC Deb 22 April 1948 vol 449 cc1981-3
12. Mr. Oliver Lyttelton

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he will publish full details concerning the recent arrangements about the import of U.S. films into the United Kingdom.

Mr. H. Wilson

As I informed my hon. Friend, the Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) on 15th April, the full text of the Agreement will be published as soon as its detailed provisions can be finalised. I am, however, arranging for the publication in next week's issue of the Board of Trade journal of an article which will explain fully its main provisions.

Mr. Lyttelton

Since the terms are either fully or partially known both to the United States industry and to the industry here, does the right hon. Gentleman think it is treating the House of Commons fairly and respectfully to withhold this information from the House?

Mr. Wilson

This agreement was, of course, an agreement between His Majesty's Government and the industry in the United States, and that may explain why there has been unauthorised, unofficial leakage over there. The reason it has not been published is that a number of details of drafting have to be worked out, affecting not the relations between the Government and the American industry, but the relations between particular parts of the American industry. I have told the right hon. Gentleman that we shall publish all the general terms of the Agreement in the Board of Trade Journal.

Mr. Henry Strauss

In the drafting of answers to Parliamentary Questions, will the right hon. Gentleman instruct his civil servants to have regard to the book of Sir Ernest Gowers?

Mr. Wyatt

Would my right hon. Friend say whether there is anything in the Agreement to prevent the use of blocked sterling by the Americans for acquiring the existing British studios from their present owners?

Mr. Wilson

As the House knows, blocked sterling may not be used in a way which could prejudice British production, and, in default of special circumstances, we shall have to veto that as being harmful to the legitimate interests of the British film industry, and so an infringement of the Agreement.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Why do the British Government have to negotiate with an American industry? Do not Governments negotiate with Governments, and industries with industries?