HL Deb 18 July 1962 vol 242 cc601-4

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a thirl time.

Movel, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Merthyr.)


My Lords, your Lordships will remember that this Bill aroused some discussion in this House, and I see that we are now asked to approve the Third Reading of the amended Bill. Could the noble Lord tell us whether there has been any Amendment to this Bill since we passed the Second Reading?


Yes, my Lords; there have been some Amendments made by the Select Committee. I have the details here, if the noble Lord wishes to have them now; or perhaps he would like me to send them to him. In my judgment, they are not Amendments of any considerable importance; they are not Amendments to any of the major issues.


My Lords, I should be grateful if the noble Lord would let me see them. I was rather concerned as to Whether there had been any Amendments on the basis of compensation.


My Lords, perhaps I might say, as Chairman of the Select Committee which considered the Bill, that these Amendments were agreed by the two parties and are of no substance.


My Lords, I should like to apologise to your Lordships for taking the somewhat unusual step of saying a word or two about this Private Bill on Third Reading, but perhaps I have a justification, since other noble Lords have already done so. As I said when your Lordships considered this Bill on Second Reading, there is in fact a great deal which is unusual about the Bill. Although its purposes may be local, there are important principles underlying it. I need not spend long in reminding your Lordships—in fact it is not for me to do so—what this Bill seeks to do. It provides for the setting up of a Corporation called the Letchworth Garden City Corporation and for the transfer to the Corporation, on payment of compensation, of the undertaking of First Garden City, Limited. My real purpose in speaking is to draw your Lordships' attention to the constitution of the proposed new Corporation, to which my noble friend Lord Albemarle referred on Second Reading.

The Bill provides that my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government shall appoint the chairman and three other members, the remaining two members to be appointed by the County Council and the Urban District Council respectively. Since the conclusion of the proceedings before the Select Committee my right honourable friend has been giving consideration to the appointments which he should make under this Bill, if it is passed. He will, of course, be in close touch with the Urban District Council and the County Council, and if your Lordships decide to give the Bill a Third Reading and it receives the Royal Assent, he hopes to appoint members without delay, so that the new Corporation can start work and be ready to carry on the undertaking when it is transferred to them on January 1, 1963.

May I, in conclusion, congratulate my noble friend Lord Molson on sponsoring this measure in your Lordships' House, and may I also add a personal tribute to the Urban District Council's courage and initiative in dealing with this unusual situation, and wish the new venture every possible success?

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. In doing so, may I add a word to what I said in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin? The Amendments which have been made, and of which I will let him have copies afterwards, do not alter the scope or the amount of the compensation. I thought the noble Lord might like to know that.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Merthyr.)

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.


2.47 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that your Lordships may require a word or two of explanation about the precise purposes of this Order, which possibly may not be entirely clear to your Lordships at first blush. I would confess that they were not entirely clear to me at first sight. The background is as follows. Since 1950 there has been a levy on cinema exhibitors for the benefit of the producers of films. The arrangements, as I understand it, were originally voluntary ones within the industry. These, however, were made statutory by the Cinematograph Films Act, 1957, and the statutory instruments which were made thereunder. Last year, the levy, which is called the British Film Fund, yielded about £4 million. However, the continuing decline in cinema audiences may lead to the Fund's declining somewhat this year, but it can still be expected to yield broadly £3½ million to the total income of British film producers, and so bring that income to around £15 million.

The levy fund is shared out among film producers by the British Film Fund Agency, a statutory body set up by the Act of 1957 and appointed by the Board of Trade. The agency determines the producers' shares of the fund by reference to their films' normal commercial earnings from exhibition in this country. The rate of the Fund's payment, however, is different on each of the three main classes of films. Thus, short films, other than newsreels, have their commercial earnings multiplied by two and a half times for the purpose of calculating their entitlement. Low-cost films' earnings are doubled for this purpose or, at any rate, until the earnings of each film reach £15,000 or the film's labour cost, whichever is the lower. And the earnings of the remaining films, full-length first features and newsreels, are brought in as they stand. Preliminary indications are that in the levy year which ended in October, 1961, short films took from the fund about £320,000; low-cost films some £460,000; newsreels £125,000; and first features just under £3 million, £2.8 million.

If I may just continue, as I should like to explain the basis of the change from two to two and a half times—


He is waiting for the boss.


—the statutory instrument which is before your Lordships at this moment will change the existing arrangements in that low-cost films will have their earnings multiplied by two and a half, just as those of short films are already, in order to provide further encouragement to their production. I should perhaps add, in conclusion—and I gather from noble Lords on the Benches opposite that those two words are welcome—that the change is, broadly speaking, welcomed by all the interests concerned in the industry. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Cinematograph Films (Distribution of Levy) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations, 1962, be approved.—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


My Lords, may I say that the Opposition is quite willing to pass the other Order straight away. We do not need to have the House, with 26 speakers on a vastly important Motion, kept jogging along in the hope that some other meeting will finish and the "big guns" will come in.