HC Deb 02 March 1981 vol 1000 cc15-6
25. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what efforts he has made or plans to make to encourage low cost British film-making.

Mr. Channon

My responsibility in this area lies principally in funding the British Film Institute, whose production board already promotes low-cost British filmmaking. The proposed grant-in-aid for the institute in 1981–82 includes a substantial increase to enable that activity to be further developed.

Mr. Jessel

In view of Britain's fine record in producing low-cost films, such as the famous Ealing Studios comedies, will my right hon. Friend see what can be done to restore that tradition? Will he ensure that all he pays in grants to the British Film Institute is spent in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Channon

All that I spend will be spent on low-cost productions to help British artists and British low-cost films. By far the lion's share will be spent by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade, who gets money from the Eady levy. I suggest that my hon. Friend puts a question to our right hon. Friend about that.

Dr. M. S. Miller

I should first declare an indirect interest in that my daughter is an actress, and a fully paid-up member of Equity. Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that the low-cost film industry in the United Kingdom has led the world, not only in the quality of its content but because it is low cost? Will the right hon. Gentleman direct his mind towards giving assistance, so that many unemployed actors and actresses can gain employment?

Mr. Channon

I agree with everything that the hon. Member says. In a modest way I am trying to increase the production board's budget from under £500,000 to about £750,000. I hope that that will be a modest help to British artists and directors who are trying to make their way in this difficult profession.