HC Deb 02 March 1970 vol 797 cc206-24
Mr. Hay

I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 3, line 40, after '(c)', insert: 'after consulting with the Cinematograph Films Council and'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this Amendment we are to take Amendment No. 7, in page 4, line 1, after '(d)', insert: 'after consulting with the Cinematograph Films Council and'.

Mr. Hay

Clause 6 proved in the event to be the most controversial. It was most completely vilified by people outside the House because the whole of the industry condemned the idea of robbing the Eady money, which it regards as industry money, to provide payments towards the British Film Institute for making films and for enabling film schools to be financed.

I am concerned with a situation which arose in Committee, when we were discussing each of these subsections in Clause 6. The hon. Lady clearly said that it would be the intention of the Government, before making payments, on the one hand, to the British Film Institute and, on the other, to the film schools, that there would be consultation with the C.F.C. Taking her at her word, we have tabled these Amendments, which would place the obligation on the Government to ensure that this consultation with the C.F.C. takes place.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

During the debates in Committee, I gave an assurance that the Board of Trade would always consult with the C.F.C. before approving payment by the British Film Fund Agency of grants either to the British Film Institute towards the cost of making films or to a film school. This has certainly always been our intention, and has already been the Board of Trade's practice in relation to the annual payment by the Agency to the Children's Film Foundation.

I have no objection to the proposal to make this a statutory requirement and I am, therefore, happy to accept the principle embodied in the Amendment. For the sake of consistency, and because it would do no more than confirm present practice, I propose to make prior consultation with the C.F.C. a statutory obligation of the Board of Trade in respect of payments to the Children's Film Foundation also. A Government Amendment will be moved in another place.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

I must express my regret that my hon. Friend has decided to accept these Amendments. If she had accepted the proposal I made for the reform of the C.F.C., then consultation with a reformed body would have been worth while. Consultation with this collection we are now saddled with serves no useful purpose.

Mr. Hay

I am almost dumbfounded. I can hardly believe that we have actually squeezed an acceptance on one point from the hon. Lady. However, it is a poor heart that never rejoices, so Thank you for this very small gesture.

My astonishment is probably equalled by that of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), who was really thrown back on his heels. He has been following the Minister religiously, urging her on to resist everything, but suddenly he finds himself let down. The hon. Member went quite white, I do assure him. I hope that he will have learned his lesson, never follow a Minister too religiously. Ministers are often just as wrong as back benchers. The only trouble is that when Ministers make mistakes they are usually bigger.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

If the hon. Gentleman does not mind my saying it, it is for me to decide which hon. Gentlemen follow me, not for the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hay

The hon. Member for Putney followed the hon. Lady. He jumped to his feet in indignation before I was able to rise.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Silvester

I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 3, line 40, after 'payments', insert: 'not exceeding in any such period of fifty-two weeks as is referred to in subsection (1) of section 2 of this Act one half of one per cent. of the amount of the levy so imposed'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this Amendment we can also discuss Amendment No. 8, in page 4, line 1, after 'payments', insert: 'not exceeding in any such period of fifty-two weeks as is referred to in subsection (1) of section 2 of this Act three per cent. of the amount of the levy so imposed'.

Mr. Silvester

These two Amendments, taken together, relate to the depletion of the British Film Fund for two causes. One is the British Film Institute Production Fund and the other is the National Film School. It is not my intention to repeat the general reasons for objecting to both those grants. It is sufficient to say that behind our specific objection are two reasons. First, the fund was originally set up on the understanding that it was designed to encourage British commercial production. Secondly, once that principle is breached in the interests of education, culture or anything else, numbers of possible claimants spring up from all over the place.

Amendment No. 6 deals with the British Film Institute Production Fund and would have the effect of limiting the contribution from the British Film Fund levy to one-half of 1 per cent., which at the current rate would be £20,100 per annum. The original fund was contributed to by the levy in its original voluntary form and an agreement was made by Sir Wilfrid Eady with the four trade associations concerned in 1952 for a sum of £12,500. Since then, the fund has obtained money from the Gulbenkian Foundation and other bodies, charity premieres and various other sources and from commercial ventures on its own of a few thousands pounds. More recently, it has been taking money from the general grant from the Department of Education and Science, and I believe that last year £6,000 was spent on the production fund.

I believe that it would be better for the Institute to be given funds by the Department of Education and Science and to allocate them as it wished—in other words, to make its own choice of where the priorities lie between the archives, production and the theatre in its various forms. This would force the Institute to decide for itself what were the proper priorities within the amount of money available. By all means let it supplement the money by such voluntary contributions as it can get from industry and other fund-raising operations.

The purpose of the Clause is to remove that discipline. The dangers become immediately apparent. The Institute put out a release to members of the Standing Committee which emphasised the rising costs that the production fund faces. One is the increased use of colour. Another is the greater number of applications from apparently deserving people, particularly now that the film schools are developing more. Thirdly, more ambitious projects are coming forward. Fourthly, higher living allowances have to be given to the students whom the Institute encourages. Fifthly, there is a desire to expand into longer films costing £15,000–£20,000. The Institute put that out as an explanation of the need which it foresaw, but it can also be read as a danger to an open-ended commitment from the fund. The Institute stated in its release that it would be nice for 1970–71 to have £25,000 or more a year for meeting these needs, although it was not able to make up that amount of money.

What I propose is £20,100 at the current rate. That is not very ungenerous. It means, however, that we would be putting a limit on the amount, and this is important. If it is argued that the commitments are rising astronomically, it seems right to place a limit on the commitment that the fund can be asked to bear.

When Sir Wilfrid Eady made his arrangements 18 years ago, they were done on the basis of a voluntary oncefor-all commitment. What is proposed in the Bill, unless it is amended—or even if it is amended—will be a continuous compulsory commitment. That is not something that we should be asking of the industry. The Institute would do better to seek voluntary contributions. Failing that, however, it is certainly fair that we should seek to limit the contribution in that regard.

12 midnight.

The second Amendment concerns the financing of the National Film School. The difficulties here spring from the Lloyd Report, which suggested in the first place that the money should come from the levy. I find it very difficult to accept that the school should receive any moneys. We discussed this in Committee. This Amendment is, therefore, second best. Let me just explain what I have in mind.

The Lloyd Report recognised that there is a case for the Industrial Training Act to be used as a means of financing education of one kind or another within the film industry, but for some reason which is not explained it said that this money should be devoted to technical training, not to any other kind of training, automatically leaving out of account other possible means of financing. It rejected those alternatives as a means of financing, and went on to say it recognised that there are other beneficiaries besides the feature film industry. It said that film schools apart from the National Film School would contribute Widely to the staffing of the feature film industry, and that from 10 per cent. to 20 per cent. of the output of the film industry could be expected to go to television, and that the National Film School would be providing courses for, for example, medical specialists and engineers. Therefore, there will be many people who will benefit from the National Film School, apart from the feature film industry.

So other means of financing are cut off because there is a milch cow set up which is an obvious source of funds for the school. It wants a secure income, and there is a source to hand without the bother of finding a better or a more reasonable system of financing training in the industry.

I come specifically to the proposal in the Amendment to limit the amount to 3 per cent. of the fund. This is extremely important. The attitude of the Lloyd Committee to the fund shows the danger very clearly. In paragraph 163 there is an analogy with the Swedish situation. It says: A proportion of this is devoted to cultural developments of the film industry, including the running of the National Film School. It shows that the committee regards the fund as a means of supporting cultural and educational activities. That may be a good idea; it may be a good idea for the fund to do this, but that is not what the fund was set up to do. The original purpose of the fund was to encourage current employment of British labour and studios for the immediate production of British films.

The analogy with the Children's Film Foundation is not exact, as I have pointed out before. It is true that the Foundation has educational value, but it is education of future audiences, not education of the members of the industry. As far as the exhibitors are concerned, who contribute largely to the fund, it is also provides them not only with future audiences but with current products to show at their special children's cinema shows.

I would point out two further dangers which this open-ended commitment in the Bill raises. The original calculation was made by the Lloyd Committee three years ago, and it said: It is not part of our terms of reference to embark upon the costing of the present enterprise. It arrived at a figure of £1,000 to £1,200 per student. The figure in universities, is £877, but here are included social science and arts students, which are low by comparison, and this has gone up 14 per cent. in the last six years. It was hoped that local authorities would contribute to the student grants, but most of those grants are taken up by the maintenance of the students and will not assist the film school. So the whole burden of the 120 to 150 students, 30 of whom will come from overseas, will fall on British film levy, which is largely contributed by the exhibitors. That is grossly unfair.

Half the members of the Lloyd Committee thought that the fund should pay everything, that is, £180,000. They assumed that this was about 3 per cent. of the fund. It was not; when they did the sum it was 4 per cent. and, as the fund has now fallen, the percentage has already risen to 4½. These doubts about the cost of the school and how much would be drawn off the fund indicate strongly that there should be a limit to what can be drawn from the fund.

The figure which we propose is 3 per cent., which produces about £120,000. Half the committee were thinking of 3 per cent., although their calculations were wrong; the other half thought it should be between 1½, to 2 per cent., so we are being more than generous. The amount of money which we suggest does three things, which I urge very seriously on the hon. Lady. First, it limits the commitment, and people can see where that commitment lies. Secondly, it overcomes the difficulty that the Bill speaks of any film school and not of the National Film School only. The limitation of the commitment means that there will be no money available for any other school. Thirdly, it forces the initiators of the project to look for sources of finance from other beneficiaries of the project, in addition to the fund. It is a simple Amendment, and a fair one, which I hope will be acceptable.

Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)

This is the first opportunity I have had of speaking on the Bill. In view of the hon. Lady's strictures on my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott) when he had the temerity to intervene without having had the fortune to serve on the Committee, perhaps I should say at the outset that I have read all the debates on Second Reading and in Committee and have been most interested in all the proceedings. My only reason for rising at this late hour is that I am interested in Clause 6, to which the Amendments relate. My name does not appear on the Amendments, and I am not particularly wedded to the actual figures which my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Silvester) suggested in his powerful speech should be applied to the two objects, the British Film Institute and the National Film School. I hope the House will be told in some detail about the application of the levy for these two purposes.

I have been astonished to see the controversy that arose in Committee about Clause 6 and the purposes for which Eady money should be used, and I can understand the objections that have been raised to Clause 6. The Amendment is an attempt to resolve the difficulties. I strongly support the British Film Institute, both in its present activities and in what it must do for the future. I strongly support the institute's desire for adequate funds, but the hon. Lady must convince us that these are the right funds. There should be a limit on the percentage of levy allocated. It would obviously be wrong if it were 100 per cent. but I understand that that is the position in the Bill now. I am sure that that is not the hon. Lady's intention, but she will understand that there is some real concern here.

It has been and will be in the industry's interests to support the institute's work. It has done remarkable work in finding and training young film makers, as well as other things, but it has grave financial difficulties. My hon. Friend moved the Amendment in no spirit of unfriendliness towards the institute, whose work all hon. Members admire. I only wish that some compromise could be found between the differing points of view in the industry. The most constructive thing which the hon. Lady could do is to use her good offices to try to bring this about.

Amendment No. 8 relates to the funds which Clause 6 would provide for a National Film School. If money is to be diverted for that purpose—the wording is wider than that, although I understand that that is the intention—we are entitled to know what sort of school we will get for the money. Will the money be spent just on the National Film School—

Mr. Hay

The Bill says "any" school.

Mr. Channon

Exactly. Is it intended that other schools—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are discussing not Clause 6, but two Amendments which limit certain payments.

Mr. Channon

Of course, Mr. Speaker, I was trying to say that the Amendments would provide that the money to be devoted to this purpose should be limited to a certain percentage of the levy.

I should like to know what any of the levy is to be spent on. The limit suggested may be correct, or it may not. If this school is to be an outstanding success, perhaps more of the levy should be spent; if not, perhaps not a penny should be spent. We want to know the intentions here so that we may decide whether this 3 per cent. will convey the costs. What are the capital and annuai costs of the school likely to be?

12.15 a.m.

What stage have we now reached? Clause 6, with the introduction of the Amendment, to a limited extent allows money to be spent from an early date on the National Film School. From what date is it intended that such money will be spent? Have we now reached a stage at which the school is to open in the near future? I understand that it was originally intended to open this September. Is that still the situation?

Most important of all, if a penny is to be spent on the National Film School, can the hon. Lady reiterate the earlier assurances that the graduates of the school will automatically receive tickets to enable them to enter the profession? If the answer is that they will receive such tickets, in spite of restrictions which have been imposed in the past, I understand that it will be only the National Film School which will have this qualified right—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are not discussing whether Clause 6 should stand part of the Bill. We are discussing two Amendments which restrict the amount of levy. The hon. Gentleman must confine himself to the Amendments.

Mr. Channon

I am trying to discover whether the right percentage of the levy is to be spent on the National Film School. Before deciding how much of the levy should be spent on the school, I think that we are entitled to ask some questions about the sort of National Film School that is intended.

If this money is to be spent, have studios been acquired? Is the hon. Lady assured that the overwhelming state of opinion in the film industry is still favourable to the national film school? If not, the money should not be spent. Why is it considered that the National Film School has to be a separate institution? Would it not be possible to expand the department of the Royal College of Art, which is recognised by the international organisations concerned? Before deciding how much, if any, of this levy should be spent on a film school, we are entitled to answers to these questions.

Mr. Hay

This is the Clause which proved the most controversial in Committee. The reason is that it is greatly resented by the industry that the Eady money should be raided and siphoned off for the purposes of the production fund of the British Film Institute and any film school.

I want to underline what we made clear in Committee. The industry outside regards this as the industry's own money. A little research has shown that the hon. Lady acknowledged this in her Second Reading speech, when she said of the British Film Fund: It is a scheme for redistribution of the industry's own income."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1970; Vol. 816, c. 77.] The main reason why the Clause has met with such resistance and why it would be right even now to impose these limits is that, until now, the industry has always been consulted before any alteration was made to the source to which the money was to go. It would be out of order to rehearse the history of the Eady levy, but originally it was a levy on exhibition at the box office designed for film production. A slight alteration was made with the consent of the industry in respect of the Children's Film Foundation.

People outside very much resent that unilaterally, without consultation and certainly without industry agreement, these two new recipients of the money have been inserted in the Bill. Therefore, it is important that there should be some limit on the amount that is to be taken in this way.

That is why 1 fully support the Amendments. My hon. Friend explained what it meant in cash terms to the B.F.I., on the one hand, and to the National Film School, on the other. The amounts are reasonable. If the amount of the fund goes up, as we hope, year by year, so the amount available for the B.F.I. fund and for the school will go up as well if we use the percentage formula. We were tempted to put in actual sums by way of Amendment, but the percentage idea is good and I hope that it commends itself to the Government.

I see the right hon. Lady the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, on the Government Front Bench. We are delighted to have her with us, even at this late stage. I hope she will take it from all on this side that we have done our best to make clear that we are not against the B.F.I. as a body. Many of us support it financially. Many of us are members of it. We want to see it continue to prosper, and we hope that it will. But we do not like the method which has been adopted by the Government in using the Bill to take money away which the industry regards, and has always regarded throughout the history of the fund, as properly its own.

With those qualifications, I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to accept the Amendments now proposed, because they will do a great deal to remedy the sense of grievance that is genuinely held by almost all branches of the film industry.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have put forward some very interesting arguments on the Amendments. I hope that I will not be misunderstood in saying that I found myself more in sympathy with some of the points made by the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) than some of his hon. Friends.

I must say that I was not in any way taking to task the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Nott) for not having physically taken part in the debate. I felt that he had not read any of the arguments which had been deduced. Although I found many of his questions tonight to be not only interesting, but also of importance, I think that most of them would be best addressed to the Department of Education and Science, and I will explain why.

We are talking about a National Film School, but, because it is not yet officially in existence and as this is a drafting point, it is phrased in the way that it is in the Bill. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, will have taken note of many of the points that he has made and that they will be more fully discussed at some other time.

Hon. Members will know that the 1957 Act—

Mr. Channon

Since the Minister is unable to answer the points which I think are relevant but which I understand are not within her province, may I ask her to ask her right hon. Friend, who has heard some of the debate, whether she will be able to write to me about the matter?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will have taken note of the questions that the hon. Gentleman posed in his speech.

Hon. Members will know that the 1957 Act provides that the British Film Fund Agency, with the approval of the Board of Trade, may make payments to the Children's Film Foundation. There is not, and never has been, in the legislation any maximum figure, expressed either in terms of money or as a percentage, for such payments. What has happened is that the Board of Trade has consulted the Cinematograph Films Council annually about the amount of the grant for the succeeding levy year, and the council has never had the slightest difficulty in deciding on an appropriate sum. Nor has the Board of Trade ever dissented from the council's annual recommendation in this matter.

The same procedure will be followed as regards the grants which the Bill provides may be made to the British Film Institute towards the cost of making films and towards a National Film School. The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) has said that this is very much resented, because the industry feels that this is its own money. He is quite right to say that I made that point; in fact, it is one of which the Board of Trade take great cognizance—but it is precisely because the National Film School would be set up with the object of assisting the industry as a whole that this sort of recommendation in the Lloyd Committee Report has been looked at in this way. We have considered the whole question very closely.

I have great confidence that good sense will prevail on the Cinematograph Films Council in respect of these two new grants. If I reject the two Amendments it is because I do not believe that they are necessary. I am quite prepared to accept that some discussion is needed with the industry on the question of the amounts and the length of time, but if we give the undertaking that we have always given before, in relation to the 1957 Act—which we have always found to work efficiently and which we believe sincerely will be accepted by the industry after it has had its own discussions on the question—I hope the House will accept that these two Amendments would neither assist the industry as a whole nor do precisely what the hon. Member has in mind. We have great faith in the relationship that we have with the Council. We believe that it will have ample opportunity to express its views. The hon. Member has said that it represents the industry as a whole. Therefore I ask the House to reject both Amendments.

Mr. Hay

Before the hon. Lady—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay) has exhausted his right to speak. He may, however, intervene before the Minister sits down.

Mr. Hay

Yes, Mr. Speaker; I was going to say "Before the hon. Lady sits down". In order to avoid any dubiety in this matter, will she say whether it is her intention that before grants are made under the powers contained in Clause 6 to the Production Fund and to the National Film School there will be consultation with the Cinematograph Films Council as to the amount and the period to which the payment will relate.

Mrs. Dunwoody

That is precisely the undertaking I gave.

Mr. Hay

I am much obliged.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

I was a little worried to hear my hon. Friend say that she will consult the Cinematograph Films Council before making the payments set out in these two subsections. I was glad that she did not accept the Amendments. She has said that the council has behaved reasonably well in respect of the Children's Film Foundation. I have no confidence that the council, as at present constituted, can be trusted to behave reasonably in relation to the National Film School or the British Film Institute. I therefore hope that my hon. Friend will be able to say that although she will consult the council she will not necessarily find herself bound by the advice that it may tender.

Mr. Ridley

This will probably be the last speech on the Bill. I promise that it will also be a short one. The case against these two sums of money being made from the Eady levy has been adequately put by my hon. Friends. I want to add only one thing. If the Government are alleging that it is in the interests of the film industry that it should contribute towards the Institute and the National Film School it seems curious, to somebody who is not directly concerned in the industry—such as I—that the industry does not see it.

I do not think that any hon. Member has any other than the highest regard for the work of the Institute, and nothing that has been said derogates from all that it has done or wants to do. Equally, although it does not yet exist, nobody is against the school in principle. I suppose that hon. Members will want to reserve their judgment about the school until the thing exists. But, these being good institutions, I draw one point to the hon. Lady's attention.

12.30 a.m.

There has been a change of heart in the industry, which was much keener to contribute to these two institutions a few years ago than it is now. How can it be that there is this slight mistrust in the industry as regards its responsibilities to finance, in part, these two bodies? There is need for improved relations here, and it is a pity that the Government have taken the big stick of legislation to force the industry to contribute to something to which it ought in its own commercial interest to contribute voluntarily.

There may even be need for a greater say on the industry's part in the affairs of both the Institute and the school. There is a lot to be said for those who are providing money for training, for production and for the school having some say in the type of training—

Mr. Speaker

Order. With respect, we are discussing not Clause 6 but two Amendments to it. The hon. Gentleman must address himself to the Amendments.

Mr. Ridley

I am trying to show why there is even greater need to have limits put upon the amounts of contribution while the feeling still exists in the industry that this is not a proper course to take. My hon. Friend has made the case. I shall not go over it again. I merely make the plea that the hon. Lady should not use the big stick of the Bill to extract sums of money unwillingly but should instead try to get everyone concerned round a table to agree what the right contribution, if any, would be, and to make sure that a better spirit prevails on this matter than has been shown in the past.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment No. 7 made: In page 4, line 1, after '(d)', insert after consulting with the Cinematograph Films Council and".—[Mr. Hay.]

12.32 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

We had useful and stimulating debates in Committee, in the course of which I specifically undertook to look further into a number of questions, and it may assist the House if I explain briefly the outcome of my investigations into those matters.

The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay), in referring to Clause 11, which among other things removes from the existing quota legislation the former provision which required quota films to be shown during the normal hours in the ordinary programme, asked for an assurance that a recent development, that of showing films right round the clock, on a 24-hour basis, will not be inhibited or restricted by the Bill. I am nappy to say that I can give him that assurance. The extent to which cinemas are obliged to show British quota films is defined in Section 1 of the Films Act, 1960 and, following the change now made by Clause 11 of the Bill, it will no longer matter at what hour of the day, or night, those films are shown.

The provision in the present legislation under which, if it is to count towards fulfilment of quota, a British film must be exhibited at least once between the hours 5 and 10 p.m., was included in the Cinematograph Films Act, 1938 in order to put an end to the abuse whereby exhibitors took quota credit for cheaply made British films shown at times when hardly anyone was likely to be in the cinema. There is no longer any danger of abuse of this kind, but the provision restricts the freedom of the exhibitor to plan his programme in a way best suited to his customers. I am glad to see that more flexibility is being shown in programme-planning, and that the somewhat rigid system which worked well enough 20 years ago is being adapted the better to suit present-day needs.

Clause 12 specifies three new classes of cinema which will be eligible for the grant of quota exemption or relief: one of these is cinemas which, for the most part, show films in which the dialogue is in a foreign language. My hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr) asked whether a film in a foreign language with English subtitles would count as a foreign language film for this purpose. The answer is that it will so count. I should add that it will continue to be a requirement that the Board of Trade shall consult the Cinematograph Films Council in regard to all applications for quota relief.

The hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Michael Shaw) suggested that the Bill should provide that when an exhibitor's or renter's licence is surrendered a refund should be allowed in respect of the unused portion of the period of time covered by the licence. On the face of it, this seems to be a reasonable proposal, but we must consider it in the light of Section 44(3) of the 1960 Act, which requires the Board of Trade to recover by way of fees the expenses of administration. The great bulk of these expenses are of course incurred when considering an application for a licence. Surrender of a licence in mid-term cannot reduce the administrative expenses already incurred. On the contrary, it may increase them. There can, therefore, within the terms of the statute be no case for a refund.

Finally, I have considered the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) that renters should be required to keep records of rentals paid for all films. I have great sympathy with him—I know that what he had in mind was to assist the makers of short films—but I do not think that it would be right to impose on renters a requirement of this kind. The principle underlying the requirements regarding the keeping of records is that only such information as is required for the proper administration of the Act is required to be kept. This seems to me an important principle and one from which we should not depart. Cases arise where in order, for the purposes of Section 1 of the 1960 Act, to determine which of two long films is the feature film it is necessary for the Board of Trade to know the rentals paid. No such necessity arises in relation to supporting programmes, and I cannot therefore accept the Amendment to Section 30(1)(c) of the Act proposed during the debates in Committee.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady knows that she cannot talk on Third Reading of the Bill about something that is not in the Bill.

Mrs. Dunwoody

I gave assurances during the Committee debates that the Board of Trade would consult with the Cinematograph Films Council about payments by the Film Fund Agency to the British Film Institute and towards a National Film School. I have given further thought to this and we propose to move an Amendment in another place which will make such consultation a statutory requirement.

I am grateful to all members of the Committee for their assistance in considering the details of this Bill. I believe it is a good Bill and a necessary one, and that it will prove to be of immeasurable importance and help to the British film industry as a whole, and am glad to commend it to the House.

12.37 a.m.

Mr. Hay

It would be churlish if someone from this side of the House did not thank the hon. Lady for giving replies to some of the points raised during the Committee stage, albeit she has gone back to her quick-fire method, but I understand the reason having regard to the lateness of the hour.

I am particularly grateful to the hon. Lady for her reply to the point that I raised concerning 24-hour programmes under Clause 11. Would she give further thought as well to the point that several of us discussed mainly in connection with the offences against the quota requirements. We pointed out that to comply with the requirements of the Acts, for which the penalties are being altered by the Bill, and to provide documents which have to be sworn before a justice of the peace or commissioner for oaths places a heavy burden on the cinema manager.

I should be grateful if as the Bill proceeds to another place the hon. Lady would give further thought to whether something can be done to relax the burden a little. It will be possible, I think, without departing from the spirit of the main legislation.

Apart from that, I do not quite regard the Bill with the enthusiasm of the closing words of the hon. Lady, but I think it is a useful Measure which has been on the whole welcomed throughout the industry, and I hope it will prove worthy of the attention that the House has given to it.

12.38 a.m.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Even at this late hour it is desirable that someone from this side of the House should say that it was a good Bill at the beginning and it remains a good Bill at the end.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend has not accepted any of the proposals that I have pressed upon her further to improve the Bill. If she had done so, it would have been a better Bill. All I can say is that she has resisted all except one of the nefarious propositions put forward to her from the other side of the House, and congratulate her.

12.39 a.m.

Mr. Ridley

I must thank the hon. Lady for the trouble and care she has taken over the conduct of the Bill, which deals with a highly technical and complex subject. Some parts of it have been contentious, and with them we on this side have not entirely agreed. But the hon. Lady has done herself great credit in the knowledge she has acquired of the industry, and the time she has taken to find out those things about which she might not at first have been so knowledgeable.

This is a useful Bill for the industry. It will help the industry to move to more prosperous and profitable times, when further changes can be made in the industry. In parting with the Bill, we wish the film industry the very best of good fortune and success in the years to come.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

Back to