HC Deb 07 November 1972 vol 845 cc136-7W
Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the sale of Shepperton Film Studios.

Mr. Anthony Grant

The National Film Finance Corporation which, as holders of a special preference share in Lion International Limited, must give its consent to the sale or disposal of any of the assets at Shepperton Studios, has informed me that it has reached agreement in principle with Lion International on the future of Shepperton Studios on the terms set out in the following statement issued to the Press today.The National Film Finance Corporation (NFFC) and Lion International Limited (Lion) announce that following lengthy and detailed negotiations between the parties the following arrangements have been approved in principle for the future utilisation of Shepperton Studios and its land.

There will now be constituted by Shepperton Studios Ltd.:

  1. (a) A studio complex of about 15 acres based on the existing Stages A, B, C and D and including the associated workshops, dubbing theatre and other existing facilities plus an area of open space (to be used as a Film Lot) outside the Old House.
  2. (b) A five-acre plot between the studio complex and the main road for which development permission would be sought for the purpose of offices and other facilities ancillary to the studio operation.
  3. (c) The remaining area of land (approximately forty acres) which may be used by the owners for such purpose for which planning permission can be obtained.

Lion will undertake to maintain facilities at Shepperton as a self-contained and independent studio capable of sustaining the production of two major films simultaneously. The initial staff to be employed at Shepperton under the new arrangements will be no fewer than 200 and it is hoped that other members of the existing staff will be absorbed in future arrangements which are at present under discussion with other film interests. It will be a matter for Lion to determine whether the studios will remain under their individual control or will be operated in conjunction with other studios elsewhere provided that the undertakings as to their continued operations as an independent self-contained unit are respected. The acreage of land referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) above will be subject to a restrictive covenant similar in intent to the existing restriction at present operated by the NFFC but subject to suitable clarification of wording. The NFFC is satisfied that these arrangements will enable an adequacy of studio space to be provided for the industry. The NFFC is appreciative of Lion's willingness to co-operate and the responsible concern shown by Lion throughout the discussions to safeguard the walfare of the industry and in particular of their employees. Notwithstanding the studio difficulties, Lion has continued to make films and at present has four awaiting distribution or nearing completion and delivery. It is its intention to maintain production at least to the same level as hitherto.