38 and 39. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what representations have been made to his Department by the National Film Finance Corporation about the booking practices of two of the major cinema circuits; and what action he proposes to take;
(2) if he is now in a position to state that the assurances given to his Department in 1948 by two major film circuits to the effect that film bookings were made separately on behalf of the two circuits are still being fully honoured.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Since the debate on the Second Reading of the Cinematograph Film Production (Special Loans) Bill on the25th November, I have ascertained that the Chairman of the National Film Finance Corporation in the course of a recent letter expressed some concern on this subject. A sentence in my immediate reply to an intervention by the right hon. 944 Gentleman on that occasion was therefore misleading and I apologise for the mistake. We have no evidence that the undertakings given to the Board of Trade by the Rank Organisation in 1947 and 1948 are not being fully honoured or that there has been any change in the booking arrangements; but we are making further inquiry.
Whilst thanking the hon. and learned Gentleman for his apology for an answer given with some little heat, may I ask if he is aware that this case shows the need for making much more thorough inquiry into allegations made from this side of the House before Ministers state things categorically? Will the Minister make further inquiries among the circuits themselves to see whether they are carrying out the practices previously alleged?
§ Mr. Strauss
As I stated in my original answer, I am making further inquiry and that will be addressed to the Rank Organisation.