HC Deb 02 February 1956 vol 548 cc1059-60
18. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he will appoint a committee to survey the future of British film production.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I have been giving consideration to the problem of future policy for the film industry and I have decided that at this stage the best course is for me to take steps to obtain the views of the various sections of the industry. This I propose to do and I shall, of course, seek the advice of the Cinematograph Films Council and of the National Film Finance Corporation.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

While welcoming that statement, may I ask the President to bear in mind that the British film industry is doomed unless an adequate number of studios is kept in production? Will he consult, in addition to the bodies he has mentioned, the various associations of technicians and actors and the trade unions, who have a vital interest in the matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I should certainly expect to consult anyone who felt that they had some useful advice and help which they could give to me in matters of this sort.

Mr. H. Wilson

Since the President made a major change in film policy last year without consulting anybody in the industry or the statutory Films Council, will he bear in mind that presumably we shall have a new films Bill by 1958, and will he not institute an inquiry fairly soon into all the questions involved? Will he not institute an inquiry to bring up to date the findings of the Plant-Palache Report on Monopoly in the Film Industry, in 1944, in view of the growing tendency of monopoly in the industry today?

Mr. Thorneycroft

A great number of inquiries have taken place into this rather complex but very interesting industry. I think that the first step I ought to take in considering the policy for the future of the industry is to consult the various interests in it and to see what their views are.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will these discussions include discussion of the so-called Sunday charity levy, to which increasing objection is being taken on all sides?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not think that would be central to the whole problem of the future of the film industry, but I should certainly not exclude it.

Mr. Ede

Will the right hon. Gentleman take any steps to get some idea of consumer reaction in this field?

Mr. Thorneycroft

If it be possible, although I think consumer reaction is one of the hardest things about which to get any idea. It can be judged only by the number of consumers who go to the films.