HC Deb 20 May 1952 vol 501 cc256-7
33 Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) his policy with regard to the provision of adequate studio space for British film makers for production to fulfil the quota; and if he will take action to prevent the sale or lease of film studios to non-film-producing companies;

(2) whether, in view of the current negotiations for the sale of Worton Hall Studios, Isleworth, to the National Coal Board, he will take steps to requisition these studios, with the object of maintaining film production to fulfil the British quota and to save dollars;

(3) whether, in view of the lease of Denham Studios to a non-film-producing company, he will requisition these studios with the object of maintaining film production to fulfil the British quota and to save dollars.

37. Mr. Parker

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps are being taken to prevent unused film studios passing into the hands of other industries to the detriment of future film production in this country.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)

So far as we are aware no film producer is at present prevented from making films by lack of studio space. Indeed, the remaining studios are not continuously occupied to their full capacity. If the studios at Isleworth and Denham mentioned in the Questions remained available for film making, the output of British films would not be increased, nor would dollars be saved. In these circumstances, we do not regard intervention by the Board of Trade as either necessary or desirable.

Mr. Swingler

Has the Minister seriously examined this question? Is not he aware that according to replies recently given the quota is being flagrantly violated? Is he proposing to stand by idly like another Minister on the Front Bench opposite while the productive capacity of the film industry is whittled away and his bargaining power with Hollywood is steadily diminished, when he has to renew the agreement in October?

Mr. Strauss

There is, I think, no difference among any hon. Members in this House, in that they do not wish British film productions to be hampered by lack of studio space. The only question is whether there is any reason to think it is being so hampered in the way suggested in these Questions. We are firmly of the opinion that there is not. The question of quotas is a distinct question. In fixing the quota for the coming year, the assumption has been that there will be ample studio space available.

Mr. Swingler

Are not the Denham Studios the finest in the country, and did not Mr. Rank pledge himself not to allow them to go out of film production? Is it not scandalous that, at this moment when more film production is required to fulfil the quota and for the purpose of saving dollars, they have been leased out of the film industry and simultaneously other studios are being sold?

Mr. Strauss

The hon. Member is merely repeating his allegation. He may be interested to know that since Denham has ceased to be used Pinewood is being used more efficiently. It is quite wrong to assume that because studios are no longer used others are not being increasingly used.