HC Deb 18 April 1994 vol 241 cc629-30
10. Mr. Clappison

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what consultations he has had with representatives of the film industry about promoting the film industry in Britain.

Mr. Brooke

Last year, I held a series of consultative meetings with all sectors of the United Kingdom film industry to review the state of the industry and hear their ideas about possible further action to raise the level of private investment in film production. I have also received numerous other representations. I shall announce the Government's conclusions as soon as practicable.

Mr. Clappison

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the Impact initiative, which has received wide support from the film industry, to promote film-making in Britain. In considering the initiative, and in his wider discussions, will my right hon. Friend give full account to the calculation made by Impact that relatively modest fiscal changes could result in a big expansion of film-making in this country? Will he give every encouragement to the seven big American studios, which control 90 per cent. of cinema revenue in Britain, to make more films in this country, rather than just market United States-made films, as the British components of such films almost invariably result in a big improvement in their quality?

Mr. Brooke

I am aware of the proposals that underlie the Impact campaign; indeed, I have been in conversation with PACT—the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television—as part of the review. Our preoccupation in the review is to ensure that we achieve what I will describe as the self-renewal of the industry, rather than simply giving it a quick fix. However, I acknowledge the point made by my hon. Friend about fiscal incentives. As for the American studios, I am delighted that this year some large budget films are being made here by the Americans. The film industry as a whole is profoundly encouraged by the signs of renaissance.

Mrs. Dunwoody

Does the Minister accept that while it must be nice to have large budget films being made here by American majors, it would be pleasant if we had one or two films made by the British? The British have the ability in writing, acting and directing. Would not it surprise everyone if the Minister were to highlight that by giving some support to this very hard-working and necessary industry?

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Lady and I have regular exchanges on this subject across the Floor of the House. She does not always demonstrate total familiarity with the underlying support that the Government are giving. As for the British industry, I am delighted to say that 67 feature films were made last year compared with 47 the previous year, and the amount of money that was invested in those 67 films was £214 million, compared with £169 million a year earlier.