HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc546-7
18. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many cinemas have closed in the last six months; and of how many closures in the next six months he has been notified.

Sir D. Eccles

One hundred and eighteen cinemas closed during the six months ended 31st October, 1958. We have been informed of five more cinemas that will have closed by 30th April, 1959. In addition, the Rank Organisation has announced the impending closure of some 80 cinemas, but I do not know when this will take place.

Mr. Swingler

Does this not reveal a very serious situation, which seems to spell doom to the independent exhibitor and, perhaps, to the independent film producer? What is the right hon. Gentleman proposing to do to maintain the level of film production, which still remains very important for export purposes, and also to prevent the cinema trade from coming under monopoly control?

Sir D. Eccles

The hon. Gentleman has asked me a large number of questions in one supplementary. The main fact is that this industry will not be healthy unless is rationalised in the way now proceeding. We are helping the production of British films, which is keeping up very much better than the number of cinemas.

25. Mr. Rankin

asked the President of le Board of Trade how many cinemas, closed during 1956 and 1957, have now reopened, following the reduction in cinema entertainments tax in the last Budget.

Sir D. Eccles


Mr. Rankin

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the figure he has just given shows clearly that the reduction in cinema tax which was announced in the last Budget has not served the purpose that he said it would? Does he now realise that it would be far wiser to remove the tax altogether?

Sir D. Eccles

We always thought that the industry was contracting as a result of competition with television. We could only arrest that trend.