HC Deb 19 October 1972 vol 843 cc133-4W
35. Mr. Mason

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will now make a statement on the discussions that have taken place between the National Film Finance Corporation and British Lion regarding the future of Shepperton Studios, particularly the recommendations of the National Film Finance Corporation which were submitted to his department in early September; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Anthony Grant

I have nothing to add to the statement issued by the National Film Finance Corporation on 30th September last.

Following is the statement: Under an arangement made with British Lion in March, 1964, the consent of the National Film Finance Corporation is required to the sale or disposal of Shepperton Studios. At that time the Corporation gave an assurance that such consent would be given if:

  1. (a) assurances were given which satisfied the Corporation that there were satisfactory alternative studio facilities available to British Lion (to which similar restrictions would then subsequently apply); or
  2. (b) it could be shown to the satisfaction of the Corpartion that the Shepperton Studios could only be operated at a critical loss and that there was no reasonable prospect of their being operated as Studios for cinematograph film production on a profitable basis in the foreseeable future.
While the Corporation recognises that Shepperton Studios Limited have sustained serious losses which are currently continuing, the Corporation has not been able to satisfy itself that the circumstances set out above necessarily obtain in view of the wording of sub-paragraph (b). With the consent of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Corporation is continuing discussions with British Lion to endeavour to find a satisfactory solution to the problem which all parties are agreed must he in the best interests of the industry and its employees. British Lion have stated that the Studios. meanwhile, continue to operate.

36. Mr. Mason

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will ensure that no part of Shepperton Film Studios will be disposed of by Barclay Securities Limited until agreement has been reached through consultation with the film trade unions and after parliamentary debate.

Mr. Anthony Grant

It is for the National Film Finance Corporation, as holder of the Special Preference Share in British Lion, created in 1964 for this pur-purpose, to decide whether British Lion is entitled to dispose of the whole or part of the assets at Shepperton.