HC Deb 16 November 1983 vol 48 cc844-5
16. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the future of the British film industry.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

I intend to make a statement of the Government's intentions as soon as possible.

Mr. Dormand

I assume that the Minister is referring to the review of the film industry. Indeed, I see him nodding in agreement. However, will he give an assurance that there will be full consultation on this issue, particularly with the unions involved? Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the great worry that has been expressed about the possible winding-up of the National Film Corporation? There are strong rumours that that is to happen. Will the Minister tell us whether he is considering the institution of the Eady-type levy on films that are being shown on television?

Mr. Baker

The hon. Gentleman is asking me to anticipate my statement to the House. I assure him that I have consulted hundreds of people about the film industry. I included in those consultations the unions represented by Mr. Alan Sapper. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall be dealing specifically with the points that he raised about the levy and the National Film Corporation. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the British film industry is enjoying a revival. Last year, British films and television programmes added about £163 million to our exports. It has been a success story for us around the world. I want to encourage the revival that is under way.

Mr. Bermingham

Will the Minister give an assurance that, when making projections about cable television and the importation of films on video cassette, some steps will be taken to protect the British film and feature industry from those cheap imports, which could harm a developing and profitable export industry?

Mr. Baker

We made it clear in the cable White Paper that the cable authority, in issuing the cable licences, and the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, when allocating the first 12 licences—that will be done by the end of this month—will take into account the amount of British content that the various consortia are prepared to make available for cable television.