§ 33. Mr. Maudling
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the difficulties facing the film industry, he has considered the advisability of establishing a development council for that industry.
Mr. H. Wilson
I am reviewing the whole field of policy in relation to the film industry, including the question of the most appropriate form of central organisation.
§ Mr. Maudling
As this is the first time that the House has been told that the right hon. Gentleman has been considering the possibility of this method of dealing with the problems of this industry, may I ask when he will be able to give us the results of his deliberations?
I think that there will be an opportunity in the near future to discuss film problems. That would be the time when I would give this information to the House.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
Is my right hon. Friend taking the views of the Cinematograph Films Council on this subject?
I have taken the views of the Council on the Plant Report and the Plant recommendation for a central body with independent members.
§ 36. Mr. Maudling
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will specify the provisions in our existing international obligations which preclude the granting of a rebate of entertainments tax in cases where a cinema shows a British film.
Mr. H. Wilson
We are bound under a number of pre-war commercial treaties and under the Geneva Tariff Agreement to treat imported goods no less favourably in matters of internal taxation than like domestic products.
§ Mr. Maudling
Is the Minister aware that a scheme of this nature is apparently 1379 in operation in Italy, with considerable benefit to the film industry and without any objection from the signatories to the Geneva Agreement?
I am well aware of the scheme in operation in Italy. We have been considering it very carefully, but Italy has only acceded to the Geneva Agreement in the very recent past and I am not prepared to say whether she is or is not in default on that Agreement.
§ Mr. Braine
Is it not a fact that if some easement of taxation is not speedily afforded, the production side of this industry will collapse? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the industry is of sufficient value to the country for him to address his mind to this matter before the disaster occurs?
That is another question on which facilities will no doubt be available for Debate on a future occasion. This question refers to the granting of a rebate of Entertainments Duty on a discriminatory basis.
§ Earl Winterton
Before we have the film Debate to which the right hon. Gentleman called attention in a previous answer, could we have substantial information obtained through the Foreign Office or the right hon. Gentleman's Department, to show what foreign countries are observing this Geneva Convention? My information is that they are breaking it very widely.
I have made inquiries on this question. The information as I have it is that Italy is the only country with a scheme in force of the kind referred to. I should be very glad to consider how we could let the noble Lord and other hon. Members have the information which we have.