HC Deb 28 January 1954 vol 522 c1956
40. Mr. Wyatt

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, although over 700 cinemas defaulted on the quota provisions laid down in the Cinematograph Films Act, 1948, in the period, September, 1952, to September, 1953, no prosecutions were instituted

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Analysis of exhibitors' returns for the quota period 1st October, 1952, to 30th September, 1953, which have only just been received, is proceeding. I do not, therefore, yet know how many cinemas may have failed to achieve their prescribed quotas, and a great deal of detailed information has to be assembled before decisions can be made about the institution of proceedings in appropriate cases.

Mr. Wyatt

Is that not a thoroughly evasive answer? The President has had over four months in which to consider the returns. Will it take him another year before he can make up his mind whether he is to prosecute defaulters?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think my answer was evasive. It is an accurate description of the legal position.

Captain Duncan

If the facts stated in the Question are proved eventually to be accurate, is it not obvious that the quotas are unrealistic? Would it not be better to alter the Act?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The mere fact that a cinema has not fulfilled the allotted quota figure does not necessarily constitute an offence under the Act. Hon. Members who are familiar with this matter will know that a number of defences are open.

Mr. Wyatt

Is it not the case that the right hon. Gentleman is in the habit of taking the advice of the principal offenders under the Act as to whether they should be prosecuted? Is it not unlikely, therefore, that there will be any prosecutions?