HL Deb 01 June 1965 vol 266 cc1025-8

2.50 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is to confirm a Provisional Order which has been made by my right honourable friend the Secre- tary of State for Wales under Section 303 of the Public Health Act, 1875. The Llanelly Borough Council have made an application to repeal Section 17 of a local Act which prohibits the erection of new buildings and structures over the River Lliedi and empowers the council to require the removal of any existing buildings and structures over the said river. My right honourable friend approves the application and has made the Order; hence this Bill. The machinery of it is that Section 303 of the Act of 1875 enables my right honourable friend, on an application of the local authority, wholly or partially to repeal, alter or amend, with certain exceptions, by means of a provisional Order any local Act which relates to the same subject matter as the Act of 1875. I hope that the House will give a Second Reading to this very small Bill.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Champion.)


My Lords, I should like to welcome this Bill, particularly as it is the first Bill which has come from the Secretary of State for Wales, and especially as it relates to his own constituency of Llanelly. It is a very small matter and we welcome it on this occasion.

On Question, Bill read 2a and committed to the Committee on Unopposed Bills.


2.53 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Cinematograph Films (Collection of Levy) (Amendment No. 4) Regulations, 1965, a draft of which was laid before the House on April 29, be approved. Under the levy arrangements H.M. Customs and Excise collect from cinema exhibitors one-ninth of the excess on any seat price over elevenpence except in respect of educational and charitable entertainments and indoor entertainments in rural areas. The proceeds are paid to the British Film Fund Agency which distributes the fund to producers of British films. At present a cinema which earns no more than£300 in any one week, disregarding takings from charitable, educational and children's entertainments, pays no levy. There is also a mark-time provision so that levy payments cannot reduce a cinema's earnings below£300 in a particular week. The figure of £300 was set in 1962, since when cinema operating costs have increased by some 15 per cent. The purpose of the new Regulations is to restore the position by increasing to£350 the amount which a cinema may take in any week before incurring levy liability.

It is difficult to assess the cost to the Fund of raising the exemption limit, but it has been estimated that the change will mean that the yield in a full year will be about£100,000 less than it would otherwise have been. There is a likelihood, however, that increased takings in cinemas generally should compensate, at least partially, for the reduction. It should also be borne in mind that the change is intended to help small cinemas to stay in business and so benefit indirectly producers and distributors as well as exhibitors. The Cinematograph Films Council has been consulted and supports the proposal which, I hope, will prove agreeable to this House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Draft Cinematograph Films (Collection of Levy) (Amendment No. 4) Regulations 1965, laid before the House on April 29, be approved.—(Lord Rhodes.)


My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord for the information that he has given. I do not think that there can be any dispute that, on the face of it, it is fair that the exemption limit should move with operating costs of cinemas. I wonder whether the noble Lord could say if it is expected that the higher prices of admission, which I understand have been coming into effect, will again offset this year, as they did last, the continuing fall in cinema admissions.

There are, of course, two sides to this matter. The noble Lord told us that this proposal had received the approval of the Cinematograph Films Council, but I understand that that approval was not unamimous; and there are, of course, the producing interests to be considered as well. I wonder whether the noble Lord could say by how much the proceeds of the film levy have increased since 1962. He said that the operating costs of cinemas have increased by 15 per cent. I wonder whether he could say—I know that it is more difficult to say this—by how much costs of production of films have been increasing since then. Bearing such increases in mind, can the noble Lord say whether the British film producers are likely to be better or worse off after this change than they were in 1962. I hope the noble Lord will be able to give this information, although I am quite certain that the House will feel that, unless the interests of producers are going to be seriously affected, it would not wish to oppose this Order.


My Lords, with regard to the first question, I do not anticipate much change in the general trend. I made it quite clear that the amount by which the Fund would be reduced was about£100,000, but I should not like to go beyond that. I do not think there is much doubt that the benefit to the film producers will be about the same as in previous years. On the noble Lord's last point, I think it was made quite clear in another place that the Minister of State responsible for the film industry is quite prepared to meet its members and discuss the matter.


My Lords, perhaps I may preface what I am about to say by making it clear that I am entirely in favour of this concession to the smaller exhibitors. But has the noble Lord in mind that the producers' costs have gone up at least as much as the exhibitors' costs; and when this matter comes up for reconsideration will he keep that in mind? Will he also consider the possibility that the producer, who is also suffering from increasing costs, might be compensated by the concession that is given to the small exhibitor being balanced by increasing the contribution from the more prosperous exhibitor?


My Lords, I thank noble Lords for those comments, and I am sure that they will be brought to the notice of my honourable friend, the Minister of State.

On Question, Motion agreed to.