HC Deb 02 February 1961 vol 633 cc1172-4
20. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a list of British film studios which have been closed in the last 10 years; and if he will give an estimate of the extent to which, in terms of studio space, these closures have reduced the film industry's production capacity.

Mr. Maudling

There have been additions to studio capacity as well as closures during the period concerned. The net effect has been to reduce floor space available for cinematograph film making by about one-third. I am circulating details of closures in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Swingler

Does not this reveal the fact that the capacity, so far as studio space is concerned, to expand the British film industry has been enormously reduced over this period of time? In view of the fact that there is still a situation where 70 per cent. of the films shown in the country are of foreign manufacture, should not the President of the Board of Trade take some action to ensure that no further studio space is lost to the industry?

Mr. Maudling

I do not think that the amount of studio space determines the amount of film production. The intensity of its use is one thing. In fact, the number of long British films registered last year was substantially greater than the number registered 10 years ago.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the President of the Board of Trade say whether the National Film Finance Corporation will be permitted by him, and has power, to intervene to keep studios in existence where it feels they may be needed to keep up production? Secondly, in view of the fact that it is becoming nonsense to talk about film production for the cinemas without talking about film production for television, will he say whether he keeps in close touch both with the Postmaster-General and with the Independent Television Authority about the joint arrangements for production between the film industry and the television companies?

Mr. Maudling

I agree that we must keep in touch with television and cinema interests which are getting more and more involved. On the first point, the N.F.F.C. has no statutory power to advance money for the purchase of studios, but if British Lion wanted to make, an approach, no doubt it could consider that with the N.F.F.C.

Following is the information:

The following studios of more than 5,000 square ft. have ceased to be avail- able for cinematograph film production since 1st January, 1951:

Denham, Ealing, Gate, Isleworth, Manchester, National, Riverside, Southall, Teddington, Walton, Wembley.

Some of these studios are now used for television purposes. During the 10 years one new studio for cinematograph film making has opened and five others have been extended.