HC Deb 02 December 1958 vol 596 cc997-8
3. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the continued closure of cinemas, the danger of monopoly, and the national importance of maintaining a healthy film industry, he will now set up an independent commission to investigate the state of the industry arid trade and make recommendations about future State policy.

Mr. J. Rodgers

The industry is going through a period of rapid adjustment, and my right hon. Friend does not consider that any investigation would help this process.

Mr. Swingler

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary think that "rapid adjustment" is a rather curious term to apply to the closure of over 500 cinemas in the last two years? Is he aware of the worsening position of all independent exhibitors and producers, and of the danger of bringing the whole quota and levy system into disrepute? Is not it clear that before the whole business becomes completely monopolistic, something should be done by the Government to review legislation and policy in this matter?

Mr. Rodgers

Of course, I recognise that the industry is undergoing change, but the state of the film industry is kept under continuous review by the Cinematograph Films Council, and the Board of Trade also receives constant information and advice from the trade associations and the trade unions concerned.

Mr. Jay

Even though one well understands the difficulties facing producing and distributing agencies in the industry, is the Board of Trade quite happy about the present tendency towards monopoly? Is 'this not in present circumstances as undesirable as in different ones?

Mr. Rodgers

I think that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind the rationalization scheme of the Rank Organisation. I would only refer him to my right hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Langstone (Mr. Stevens), on 23rd October, in which he said: The decline in cinema attendances has created major problems for the Rank Organisation, as for other exhibitors, to solve which they should be allowed to exercise their commercial judgment.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd October, 1958; Vol. 592, c. 268.]