Cinematograph Films Act, 1938.

Part of Supplementary Vote of Credit, 1941. – in the House of Commons on 16th December 1941.

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Photo of Mr Tom Smith Mr Tom Smith , Normanton

I do not intend to go into the vexed question of exhibitors' quotas as we did when the Bill was in Standing Committee, but there are one or two things which I think ought to be said at the present time. It is true that this Order is made in accordance with the Act and after consultation with the Cinematograph Films Council, but it is also true, I am told, that the Council were not unanimous on the point and that the producers in particular and those engaged in the industry are a little perturbed about the present position. We all know that studios have been requisitioned and that demands have been made on British producers. The Minister of Information has been doing a lot of work, and incidentally, some excellent films have been made. The producers, however, are concerned a good deal about the future. One of them tells me that they are a little perturbed about the position that is likely to arise as a result of the United States being in the war. I see in this afternoon's paper that Hollywood has been compelled to curtail its night filming owing to the black-out and other circumstances. Hollywood may have to restrict its production a good deal more than it otherwise would do. The people who are concerned with the production of films in this country are much concerned, and I wonder whether the Parliamentary Secretary could tell us whether any consultations have taken place between the Board of Trade and the people engaged in the production of British films outside the Cinematograph Films Council. If there have not been, there ought to be in order to discuss the position that is likely to arise in future.

Then it is said that we ought to keep in mind the fact that we have become more or less regular attenders at cinemas. I believe I am not far wrong when I say that about 23,000,000 people visit cinemas in Great Britain each week. The provision of the necessary films has to be borne in mind. I have been told that we ought to have films that could be shown in some picture-houses for more than three days a week. I know that exhibitors like to change their programmes twice weekly, particularly in localities where there are not sufficient people to guarantee a full house six nights a week for the same film. There are also other districts which could provide longer than three days. I am told that we ought to have more films of that character. It is also said that we ought to dig out some of the good old films that have been put by, many of which I could mention. I know of one or two that are worth a re-showing. I believe that in view of the complications of the quota system certain arrangements have to be made before that can be done. While I do not expect an answer to these points from the Parliamentary Secretary to-day, I think he might give some consideration to them, in order that we may make the best of what appears to me to be rather a bad situation and ensure that we have sufficient films for the public.