§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Debate on Second Reading continued.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, to resume my speech, there is also the question of the Government payment into the production fund, which was touched on by the noble Lord, who spoke earlier. I have a great deal of sympathy with this suggestion, and I cannot quite understand why the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, sounded, if I understood him aright, somewhat disapproving of it. It seems to me that, instead of imposing a levy of this kind on the exhibitors, it would be far better if the Government paid a certain sum annually to the producers which could come out of the entertainments tax. It seems to me that it would make for greater stabilisation, greater simplicity in administration—it would be much simpler than this levy collection—and it would also help the exhibitors. I cannot myself see why it is necessary to have an entertainments tax at all. It is really the most unfair of all taxes, because it is paid at the same rate whether you sell a few seats or you have a full house. I cannot we why cinemas, and indeed theatres, should not be treated like any other business and pay a tax on their profits.
A great deal has been said this afternoon about this levy, which will now amount to £3¾ million for the first year, and also about the entertainments tax, which totals nearly £33 million per annum. But of course these are not the only taxes which the unfortunate exhibitor has to bear. I should like to deal for a few moments with the Sunday entertainments tax (its exact terminology is "Sunday charity contribution"), which now amounts to £500,000 and is in addition, of course, to the other two. Two out of three cinemas in England and Wales are open on Sundays, and I believe that about 2½ million people visit the cinema on Sundays during the year. Cinemas are open under the Sunday Entertainments Act, 1932, which allows a cinema to be open in an area where a majority of the electorate desire it. Agreement, of course, has to be given by Parliament—indeed, earlier this afternoon your Lordships approved an Order 1362 under this Act relating to a certain urban district.
The Act of 1932 gibes the local authority the right to levy on the exhibitor a Sunday charity contribution which the local authority applies at its discretion for certain charitable purposes. No amount is laid down, except that it is stipulated that the amount must not exceed the amount of the Sunday opening profits; apart from that it is left entirely to the local authority. As I said, the sum collected amounts to nearly half a million pounds a year. It seems to me a very unfair form of discrimination. No other kind of Sunday trading—television, newspapers and so on—is subjected to this tax. I am not suggesting that they should be, but rather that the cinemas should be brought into line with the rest of Sunday entertainment.
I know that there are a great many people who feel very strongly about Sunday entertainment; indeed, I myself do not care to go to the cinema on Sundays. But if an Act allows the cinema to be open, provided that a majority of the local electorate wish it, why, if it is wicked to go to the cinema on Sunday, does the payment of "conscience money" make it less wicked —particularly as that money is not paid by the people who go to the cinema, the so-called "wicked sinners," but by the cinema owners? Furthermore, as I have said, the amount of these charity contributions is left to the local authority to-decide, and they also decide the way the money shall be applied. The cinema exhibitor has no control at all—in fact, in many cases he does not know to whom the payment has been made. I feel, my Lords, and I should like to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, that this question of the Sunday charity contribution should receive the serious attention of the Government. If I may use a phrase which Disraeli used in another place arid about another subject, it seems to me to be an organised hypocrisy, and I hope that it will be abolished in the near future.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD ARCHIBALD
My Lords, the subject of the Bill which we are considering this afternoon is certainly not one on which the House is likely to divide on Party lines. It is not by any 1363 means a Party subject, and for that reason I think no one will be surprised if there are differences of opinion, or perhaps differences of emphasis, on these Benches and on the Benches on the other side of the House, because this is essentially the type of Bill to which we have to bring our individual and particular experience and attention to bear. When in past debates in your Lordships' House we have been dealing with the cinematograph industry as a whole, I have generally felt it necessary, even though my main interest was with the producer, to try to put also the exhibitor's point of view. I shall no longer feel that compulsion, because we have now in the House a most able and gifted expositor of the exhibitor's point of view, and I should like to join with earlier speakers in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, on his excellent maiden speech.
But though we may have differences of emphasis, perhaps only on aspects of this Bill, I do not think there will be any difference in any part of the House about the desirability of maintaining a healthy and vigorous film production industry. It was so well put in the 1955 Report of the National Film Finance Corporation that I do not think I can do better than quote:The maintenance of a prosperous film production industry is of national importance. It limits the necessity for imports, contributes to exports and provides valuable overseas propaganda for the United Kingdom.That opinion, I think, is something to which we might all subscribe. So, as there is no argument about the necessity for the industry, we have to look at why it is necessary in this, as in previous Bills, to provide some support for it.
I should like to direct, or perhaps re-direct, the attention of the House to what I regard as the background considerations that we have to keep in mind when considering British film production. In any manufacturing industry it is generally accepted that the size of the domestic market is of great importance, and it is of importance to the film industry that the domestic market for the British producer is only 15 per cent. of the world market. His American competitor starts off with a domestic market which is estimated to be 65 per cent. of the world market, and the difference in size of the domestic market is a measure 1364 of the handicap under which the British producer works. It makes it impossible for him, for example, to recover from the home market the costs of any large, lavish and spectacular film. In the remaining 20 per cent. of the world market the British film and the American film have, of course, to compete, the one with the other and with native production where that exists.
When we come to look at the native market, I think we should have regard for a moment to what happens to the money that is taken in at the box offices of the cinemas throughout the country. There is an excellent compilation of the relevant statistics in the last annual report of the Rank Organisation, and for convenience I am taking the figures from that because they are very well stated. They show that in 1955 total box office receipts were £105.8 million. From that entertainments tax took £33.4 million. and the British Film Production Fund (the so-called voluntary levy) took £2.6 million, making the receipts from the exhibitors' point of view £69.8 million. Of that £69.8 million, £9.3 million went to the distributors, whom the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, correctly described as wholesalers, for their costs and cost of prints and so on. The exhibitors' share was £45.3 million the producers' share was £15.2 million.
These are very important figures because what they show is that the makers of all the films shown in the cinemas—and we must bear in mind that without films there would not be any cinemas and there would not be any audiences, for they are the providers of the basic element in the whole set-up—out of £105 million got £15 million. One seventh of all that was paid by the public to see films went to the makers of the films. It seems to me that there is something very seriously wrong with the proportions there. In view of what Lord Westwood has told us of the plight of the small exhibitor, I am not going to suggest that the exhibitors' share of £45.3 million is too big. Even if there could be some pruning of the distributors' share of £9.3 million, there is not enough in it to make a substantial difference. So I am afraid we are driven back to a conclusion from which there is no escaping, that it is the £33.4 million going in entertainments tax which is an undue proportion—too big a slice of that particular cake.
1365 I want to narrow these figures down a shade further, because calculation has been made of what proportion of the £15.2 million went to British films in that year. It has been estimated that including contribution from the voluntary levy, from the production fund, the British producers got a total of £6.8 million. I think that no one will suggest that £6.8 million, as a total, out of £105 million taken at the box offices, is an adequate amount to ensure a sufficient supply of worthwhile British films. That is the second great handicap under which they suffer.
Let us then look to see what is the result. The result is to be found in the report of the National Film Finance Corporation, Lord Mancroft was, I thought, painting the picture in colours that were a trifle rosy when, speaking of the situation of the production side of the industry, he said that it is going on very steadily. It would have been more accurate if he had said it is going on very steadily losing money. If we look at the National Film Finance Corporation's report to March of this year, we find on page 4 a table giving the results of the films released in the years 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1955. I will take the total in order not to worry your Lordships with too many figures. The number of films released was 152. The number likely to be profitable was 62. The number thought to have been likely to be profitable without the Eady Fund was only 34. My point is that, even with the so-called voluntary levy, as the result of the two big handicaps to which I have referred—the small domestic market and the fact that, from the takings at the box offices only a very little to-day comes eventually to the producer, who is the basis of the whole structure—only 62 films out of 152 released in those four years were likely to be profitable, even after receiving about £2,500,000 a year from the production fund. That is the background against which we come to consider this Bill.
First of all, we come naturally to consider the statutory levy. May I say straight away that I regard the statutory levy as being an extraordinarily clumsy instrument for the purpose for which it is intended. I am completely at one with its intention of putting British production in a better financial condition, but I think that this is an extremely awkward way of 1366 doing it. Let us look back for a moment to the inception of the voluntary levy. I believe that the argument at that time (the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, will correct me if I am wrong) was that we cannot make a direct subsidy to British film production out of entertainments tax or out of the Consolidated Fund in general, because it would be contrary to our obligations under G.A.T.T. So what did we do?—a typically ingenious bit of British manipulation. The exhibitors were persuaded to agree to what was called a voluntary levy in return for a deal on entertainments tax. That was the original small levy.
A little later, when I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was proposing to increase entertainments tax by a considerable amount, he made a deal again with the exhibitors, that he would increase the tax by less than the amount proposed if they would agree to increasing the levy by a certain amount. If I can strip aside the words with which this is clothed, what does it boil down to? It boils down to a subsidy which until now has been paid out of entertainments tax by the exhibitors under a tax arrangement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Now it is going to be a statutory levy. One appreciates that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, had to be extremely guarded in his reference to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer may do, and that entertainments tax is under review at, the moment; but surely (if I may put it in the vernacular) we are "kidding" ourselves in considering this Bill if we are not working on the assumption that there is going to be a concession to the exhibitors to make up for the extra £1¼ million which they are going to be called upon to pay. If that is not implicit in the situation, then this Bill is most savagely unfair to the exhibitors; and I do not think that that is the intention of the Government at all. So that we are having in another form, however it may be clouded or denied, a subsidy paid out of entertainments tax; and I think that it would be much better if the Government could find some means of giving notice under G.A.T.T. that, notwithstanding the arrangement made under that Treaty, we intend to pay a subsidy direct to British film production out of the Consolidated Fund, and mentally mark the fact that it 1367 is coming out of the undue proportion that the Chancellor of the Exchequer takes of the box office takings of British cinemas. I hope that even at this late day the Government will reconsider getting rid of this befogging and beclouding method of doing it, and put the whole thing on a straightforward basis.
May I say a word about the Agency? Like my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I do not see what the Agency is to do except to rubber stamp the decisions made by the Board of Trade. Furthermore, I cannot see what is wrong with the present set-up. Under it, exhibitors, distributors and producers all together appoint certain representatives to a board, of which the chairman is, I think, a chartered accountant. Let the Government take the power to appoint that chairman. It would be much cheaper to appoint a chairman than have a paid board of three or five. Let the board of representatives from the exhibitors, distributors and producers be retained as an advisory panel to advise the chairman, and let the chairman alone be the Agency.
§ LORD ARCHIBALD
If there were to be pensions and superannuation, as my noble friend suggests, I would rather that there should be only one person eligible, and that would be the paid chairman. I think that if the Government are wedded to the Agency, at least they should agree to setting up an advisory panel from the industry to help the Agency to deal with a very complex situation.
With regard to the proposed yield, I do not want to go over the ground, but I hope that we shall get some explanation of how the figure of £3¾ million was arrived at, for I believe I am right in saying that the industry committee presented the Government with ample evidence that £5 million was needed. It looks as though the Government have followed a very old practice. They were getting £2½ million; they needed £5 million; they split the difference, and £3¾ million was the result—and that was the figure they put in the Bill. If there was any other method by which it was arrived at, I think we might be told. Then, in further years, this figure is to be not less than £2 million nor more than 1368 £5 million. But why have a maximum and minimum at all? There does not seem to be any reason for it.
The Board of Trade are to make the regulations, and they will not, I am sure, make regulations to put it up to £5 million without getting the approval of the Treasury—and they should be sufficient of a watchdog for anyone, without putting figures in the Bill which appear to me to be quite meaningless. Eight or ten years from now, before this Bill expires, £5 million may be a completely inadequate amount, having regard to the number of British films which may be made or to the rise in costs in the intervening period. If costs go on rising as they have been in all departments of life in the country during the eight or ten years from now £5 million may be copletely inadequate; and I suggest that consideration be given to leaving out this figure altogether.
I come to Clause 3 of the Bill. Looking at subsection (2) (a), I am inclined to agree with previous speakers who say that it is not good enough simply to leave this to regulations. We must be told what the Government have in mind when the Bill says:define the classes of British films in respect of which payments may be made;Are they going to exclude films made solely for television? If so, why not put it in the Bill? I am reminded of what the father of legislation on the cinematograph film industry, the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, used to say, when we were on the other side of the House: "If that is the Minister's intention, put it in the Bill." I say, "All right; what are your intentions on this matter? Tell us what they are and put them in the Bill. Do not have it all done by regulation."
Another possible class that may be defined as either coming in or being excluded has been referred to by my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth—namely, films made by American-owned companies. I think we may be on rather dangerous ground here. I would remind your Lordships, as has been referred to in another connection, that American film companies operating in this country are not allowed to remit the whole of their earnings to America. As a result, they pile up here certain amounts of non-remittable sterling, for which there are 1369 certain permitted uses: they are, in fact, encouraged to use their non-remittable sterling for the production of British films. I think it would be a regrettable situation if, having blocked their sterling and encouraged them to make British films, you then introduced some definition which said: "That is a British film only for certain purposes." I believe that that type of discrimination would be most unfortunate. If you once start with the concept that a company is an American-owned or American-controlled company, it is difficult to know where you would draw the line between that and the company that was not American-owned but was American-financed. I think it would be much better if we could have some statement in regard to the definitions intended here, and an assurance that there will be no discrimination in this connection against American-financed films. I will say a word or two about that matter in another connection when I come to deal with the quota section of the Bill.
I want now to turn to Part II of the Bill, about which not a great deal has so far been said but about which I am not entirely happy. The first section of Part II takes from the Film Finance Corporation the restriction which has been on it in the past: that the Corporation should make loans only to producers who were unable to find their finance elsewhere. It seems to be a liberal and expanding thing to say that that limitation is removed, but I would suggest that it has its dangers. The finances at the disposal of the Film Finance Corporation are not limitless; they are strictly limited. It could well happen —I put a hypothetical case, I agree—that producers who could have obtained their finance elsewhere would come to the Film Finance Corporation to borrow from them; that halfway through the year the Film Finance Corporation would find that it had lent all its available resources, and that, later in the year, producers who could not get their finance elsewhere, and for whose benefit the Corporation was originally set up, would come along and find that there was no money available for them. I feel that we must have some explanation which we have not had yet as to why this limitation is being removed, and whether there is not some danger in it such as I have pointed out.
1370 Then I am bound to say that I think the effect of Clause 11 will be to stultify altogether the work of the Film Finance Corporation. If I were the managing director of the Film Finance Corporation, and Parliament passed this Bill in this form, with Clause 11 as it now reads, I should regard it as being rather in the nature of a directive to me that I must not lend any money for any film unless I had an almost gilt-edged certainty of getting my money back on the film. It is impossible to run film production on a "no risk" basis. If the Government are determined to have some limitation, I would suggest that it should be more along the lines that are to be found in some of the Acts dealing with the nationalised industries: that it should' be the purpose of the Film Finance Corporation so to conduct their business that, taking one year with another, their accounts will be in balance. This would not be quite so restrictive as the form which appears in Clause 11 of the Bill, and would be less likely to make the managing director of the Film Finance Corporation in future years play the role of the hard bank manager, which is not intended to he his function.
I would point out, further, that if you look at the Report of the Film Finance Corporation, whilst admittedly they have made big losses, if you segregate these losses and divide them into their compartments they do not amount to a large sum. If you take out the £3 million British Lion losses, which are something separate and apart; the loss that was made, quite properly, I think, on encouraging new talent under Group 3, and subsequently the Beconsfield Group, and one or two other special losses, you find that the total loss in seven and a half years of general film operation is just over £1,200,000, which over the period, having regard to the number of films involved, is not a great amount. And this amount would have been less, of course, if the Eady Plan had been in operation throughout the whole of that period. The losses in the future are likely to be lower, and therefore I do not think it is necessarily a good time for tightening up unduly on the attitude which the Film Finance Corporation is to take in dealing with applicants for loans.
Turning now for a moment to Part III of the Bill, I am bound to say that, in 1371 my view, the Government would be well advised to delete Part III altogether, and to let us have, at a later date, a full Bill amending the Cinematograph Films Act, 1948. There is no urgency: the present Act does not expire until 1958. It is difficult to see why Part III has been tacked on to this Bill at all. I do not want to take advantage of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, but I do not know whether he is aware of a reply which the President of the Board of Trade gave in another place this afternoon. He was asked if there was any intention of varying the definition of British films, to which he replied:There is no intention to introduce in the present Session detailed Amendments to the Cinematograph Films Act, 1948, but that does not mean that I shall not be discussing with the industry possible Amendments which might be introduced at some future time.My Lords, why not have these discussions, get some agreement and bring in a proper Bill, and in the meantime delete Part III from this Bill? In conclusion, I would say that, although I may have sounded unduly critical of the Bill, in so far as it is the intention of the Bill to improve the position of British film production, I am entirely in agreement with it; and on the Committee stage, the efforts that I shall make, with my noble friends, will be directed towards improving the Bill and not in any way towards destroying it.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I am obliged to your Lordships for the careful and detailed, if not wholly uncritical, examination which you have given to this Bill. Your Lordships have asked a number of questions, one or two of which I will attempt to answer. A large number of them were, I think it is fair to say, Committee stage points which we will deal with carefully at the proper time. If some of the points which have arisen this afternoon are of a critical and slightly controversial nature, I can at least begin with one matter that is neither, and that is to join your Lordships in congratulating my noble friend Lord Westwood on one of the most knowledgeable and expert maiden speeches which we have heard for a long time. We always say in your Lordships' House that it is rash to speak on any technical subject because somebody 1372 will always "pop up" with a greater technical knowledge than yourself. None of us in future will dare speak on the film industry when the noble Lord, Lord Westwood, is in his place, because we know that if we talk rubbish we shall be put in ours at once. We look forward to hearing the noble Lord again, next time possibly in support of a Government measure.
The noble Lord raised one point which I should like to take up. I should have interrupted him were it not for the proper convention that one does not do so during a maiden speech. I think he is wrong when he says that the quota defaulters are increasing year by year. My information is not to that effect, but I will check up to make certain that I am not wrong. I was glad to hear the noble Lord's view that the exhibitors wish to see more films made in association with American firms, because I know that there are divergent views on that subject.
The noble Lord, Lord Westwood, like everybody else, talked about entertainments duty and its effect upon the industry. The noble Lord, Lord Archibald, emphasised this with many data to support his case, and I do not think any single speech was made this afternoon without a reference to it. As your Lordships will appreciate I cannot go further than the remarks I made in my opening speech. I chose my words carefully, and I then repeated them—I hope accurately —for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth. All I will say now is that I will make certain that the fears which your Lordships have voiced this afternoon are brought to the notice of my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and those who are with him conducting these investigations which I told your Lordships are going on at the moment. I do not think I can do more than that.
I must say at once to the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, that I am afraid I cannot agree with his request for a Select Committee. He is perfectly entitled to put upon the Order Paper a Motion that the House should agree to a Select Committee on this Bill at the same time as I put a Motion for the Committee stage. That he will do if so advised. But I am afraid that, if he does, I shall have to suggest 1373 to your Lordships that this is not a suitable case for a Select Committee. Most of the information that a Committee may need to find out is already well known to Members of your Lordships' House. We are perfectly able, as has been demonstrated this afternoon, to give the most careful and expert scrutiny to this Bill in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We are in a hurry for this Bill, and I am afraid that a Select Committee would add considerably to the delay. But that is a matter for the noble Earl to decide; he must make his decision when the time comes. I thought it only fair to him to tell him at once what I think the Government's reaction will be.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, had several points to make. Can we get Miss Anita Ekberg out of the way first, because she does not come within the Long Title. The quarrel is not, I may explain to the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, whether she is American, British or Swedish born. The quarrel is whether or not her picture on the hoardings is indecent. I have had the opportunity during our short adjournment to inquire from other noble Lords what they thought of the picture. One agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, but thought he was a spoilsport; three liked it very much, and seven said, "Who is Miss Ekberg?"
The Home Office have a certain responsibility in this matter, but that responsibility is delegated to the local authorities —in this case the London County Council who, I understand, do occasionally, on representations being made to them, suggest to the film people concerned that their poster has gone beyond the bounds of decency and good taste. But, after all, it is always difficult to account for matters of taste—one man's meat is another man's Ekberg; and who are your Lordships to decide? As I have not seen the poster myself, and therefore am not able to express any personal opinion, I will draw the attention of the London County Council to this matter to see whether we can unruffle Lord Lucas of Chilworth's susceptibilities. May I now come back to the Long Title of the Bill?
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
Before the noble Lord leaves that point he will appreciate the real reason why raised it. This is a good example of the dollar expenditure we have to make. I know that the noble Lord will agree with 1374 me when I say that if I had to choose between the bulk of the poster and a similar bulk of oil from America I know which I should choose.
§ LORD MANCROFT
I take the noble Lord's point fully, but I think he must also remember that two or three posters erected to which objection has been taken have been English posters.
A point which the noble Lord made, and which I think has caused most questioning from your Lordships, is this question of how the figure of £3¾ million was arrived at. I think the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, and every other noble Lord who spoke raised that point. Let me repeat what I said in my opening remarks. This is not a term of art: it is not a precise figure which can be justified mathematically. It was, quite frankly, as I said, an attempt at a happy medium. There were two or three factors we had in mind which your Lordships might like to know. We thought that the amount by which it would be reasonable to increase the revenues of producers cannot, in any case, be arrived at by an exact formula but must be an estimate of what is necessary to keep production in reasonable health.
The present fund runs at about £2½ million annually, as your Lordships know, and not more than 45 per cent. of films are profitable. On the other hand, it is hoped—and your Lordships have joined in this hope—that the figure of export earnings will continue to increase. The payments of exhibitors and their costs and overheads are rising, and obviously cannot be unlimited. In present economic circumstances, everybody, including film producers, must learn to exercise the utmost economy. I mentioned the point about the swimming baths which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, not lightheartedly but because I think the film industry has in the past done itself much harm in the eyes of the taxpayer and the cinema-goer by unnecessarily lavish displays of extravagance. I believe that the industry has realised that and has changed its ways.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, then turned, as did the noble Lord, Lord Archibald, and two or three other noble Lords, to the question of imported films. I know that it has been sometimes suggested in one way or another that the number of foreign films reaching this market should be reduced 1375 or, in other words, that there should be a fourth leg to our support for British films. This view, however, is often advanced with the reduction of American film earnings here in mind. Mere reduction in numbers does not fit the bill, since a smaller number of films might still mean equally high earnings shared between the remainder. This would not provide a fourth leg or assist our balance of payments. What is more important to watch than the number of films imported is the proportion of the American film earnings which is sent back to America in dollars. This is limited by the Anglo-American Film Agreement, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Archibald, would agree is a sensible and valuable compromise.
§ LORD MANCROFT
I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I am glad then that he agrees with me. As for the stimulation of the domestic industry by these methods, we must recognise that our resources for film-making are not unlimited and the quota legislation guarantees a definite proportion of screen time for British films.
The noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, took the point that he was opposed to the whole principle of one industry, as he called it, supporting another. I do not think that is quite accurate. I made the point that the film industry is unique in its complication and ramifications. What will happen here is for the benefit of the industry as a whole by getting more profit from more and better British films. That was the point of view which the noble Lord, Lord Jessel, supported. I do not like the idea of a subsidy which I think the noble Earl had in mind.
§ THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
Am I to understand that the noble Lord thinks that the cinema industry would profit to the extent of £5 million a year of which they are now being mulcted? They are being fined £5 million.
§ LORD MANCROFT
What we are trying to do is to bring money into the right 1376 place so that good films can be turned out to get more money. The reason why I object to siphoning off money from entertainment duty receipts for the benefit of producers, is partly that this would be a subsidy under a thin disguise, and partly that it would be closely analogous to a hypothecated tax, which I think is undesirable in principle.
I have already dealt with one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jessel. He mentioned the question of the quota, as did the noble Lord, Lord Archibald. It was decided to take the opportunity presented by this Bill to extend the quota provision of the Act of 1948 for ten years —I say this quite frankly—in case it should prove difficult to find Parliamentary time for another Film Bill in this Session or in the near future. That is the reason for it. I have heard what your Lordships have said about this matter. I will bring your Lordships' remarks, naturally, to the attention of my right honourable friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade.
I think I have dealt with the major points that have arisen in the course of this debate, and I can be justified at this late hour in not going into greater detail. However, I do not want to shirk any of, the issues raised or to dodge the points put to me. I will go carefully through what has been said and let your Lordships have individual answers to the more detailed points. I have already dealt, I think, with the bigger ones. I am grateful for the help of the House. If your Lordships have appeared slightly critical, I would only say this. It often happens that when you are looking at a new Bill you pass over the good parts, taking it for granted that the Government spokesman will accentuate them, and you yourself pick out the bits which you do not particularly like and you accentuate them in debate. No Bill is perfect, even from this Government. I hope that those who read this debate will not think from your Lordships' slightly hostile remarks that I am unjustified in suggesting that your Lordships approve generally of this Bill or that the Government are doing well by giving this important industry the security and the opportunity to carry on the excellent work they are doing.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª; and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.