HC Deb 31 January 1996 vol 270 cc987-8
5. Ms Roseanna Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Scottish film industry to discuss the industry's future prospects. [10789]

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State, the Minister with responsibility for the arts in Scotland, met leading figures in the film industry from overseas, the United Kingdom and Scotland on 10 January.

Ms Cunningham

As part of his continuing film initiative, will the Minister institute discussions within his Department and with other interested parties about establishing a Scottish film school, which would do a great deal to nurture and develop talent in Scotland? If he agrees to do that, will he take into consideration other international models, such as the Danish film school—which, in its 20 years' existence, has made an enormous contribution to the film industry in that country?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

We are now looking at all the options for which the Secretary of State has asked and which Scottish Enterprise is undertaking. The hon. Lady will also be aware that a number of studies are taking place, and we hope to be in a position to make a comprehensive statement in the early spring. The hon. Lady will appreciate that tourism figures have soared in Scotland as a result of the enormously successful films set in Scotland: "Braveheart", "Rob Roy" and "Shallow Grave".

Mr. Jessel

In view of the fact that the Scottish film industry is becoming more and more successful, does my hon. Friend believe that increasing tourism in Scotland could be damaged by the tartan tax? Will he also confirm that the new film "Loch Ness" is to be premiered shortly in Inverness?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Yes, that film will be premiered in Inverness shortly and I believe that it will be extremely successful.

As to the first part of my hon. Friend's question on the tartan tax, he is absolutely correct to suggest that those who provide facilities for overseas tourists would have the greatest reservations about the tartan tax if they had to pay far more than tourist operators and tourist service providers elsewhere in Britain.

Mrs. Liddell

If the Government are so anxious to do something about the Scottish film industry, why have they failed to convince the Chancellor to amend the Capital Allowances Act 1990 to encourage private investment in the film industry by redefining expenditure on film as revenue expenditure? If the Government simply duck issues such as that, it will become patently obvious that their interest in the film industry is yet another propaganda exercise and another opportunity for the Secretary of State to pose for nice photographs with Mel Gibson to use in the right hon. Gentleman's election address.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

We are looking at all the options, including the position on tax. As I stated last night, the Government will consider whether there are any lessons to be learnt from the Irish experience which can be applied to the Scottish situation in the light of the consultants' report. The hon. Lady will be pleased that the production of a CD-ROM, about Scotland as a screen location, has been funded by the Scottish Office, and many hundreds of thousands of pounds are being provided by the Scottish Office for films in Scotland.

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