HC Deb 20 September 1948 vol 456 cc504-5
51. Mr. Gerald Williams

asked the Lord President of the Council whether his attention has been drawn to the announcement by the Film Controller for the Central Office of Information that it is proposed to make six feature films a year; what is the estimated cost of this programme to the taxpayer; what are the subjects of the films; and what objects it is hoped to achieve.

Mr. H. Morrison

The announcement made by the Film Controller of the Central Office of Information does not indicate any new departure in the scale or type of film production undertaken by the Central Office for other Government Departments. Central Office films are mainly one or two reels in length but a small number run to second-feature length. Two such films, dealing with Nursing and Cotton, are now in the early stages of preparation and others are under consideration. Each of these films is estimated to cost between £15,000 and £30,000, but they will be shown on an ordinary renting basis, which will considerably reduce the net cost. The objects of the films are, according to their subjects, to describe at home and overseas the spirit and the achievements of the nation, and, in particular at home, to encourage awareness of the economic situation and recruitment to particular industries.

Mr. Williams

As it is apparent from the reply that this will cost the taxpayer some money, will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that these films will not savour of propaganda for the Government, that they will not be used to urge people to work harder or eat less, or whatever it may be, and would he not think it wise to use some money on exports or on arms?

Mr. Morrison

As regards propaganda for the Government, I have given the House an assurance more than once that these activities will not engage in propaganda for the Government. If ever hon. Members think that they do, if they will draw my attention to the matter I will be happy to look into it. This is necessary expenditure for the furtherance of the general well being of the community, and I think that the expenditure is justified.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Are we to assume that these two cheap little films cannot bring in from the public the money that they have cost to produce?

Mr. Morrison

It is not a question of "these two cheap little films." There are more than two films, and the production of these films will continue. Actually production of documentary films started in 1931, the hon. Member may remember. If we get a revenue from them, I think that we are doing pretty well in view of the fact that they serve the interests of the community at the same time.