asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the exorbitant prices being charged, especially during week-ends, by many West End cinemas far beyond the pocket of men and women in the services; and if he will either fix maximum prices for cinema seats or close those cinemas where this profiteering goes on?
I have caused inquiries to be made and am informed that the prices charged by West End cinemas have been increased only to the extent necessary to meet the recent increase in Entertainments Tax; and that the prices are the same at week-ends as on other days, except that the special reductions for matinees do not operate for so long a period on Saturdays. I have no power to take action on the lines suggested by my hon. Friend.
Does not my right hon. Friend, whose knowledge of London is extensive and peculiar, feel that his reputation as a fearless administrator would be enhanced by making closer inquiries into these prices? He would find that they are definitely far beyond the capacity of ordinary citizens to pay and are, causing severe comment in all parts of London and are therefore anti-social.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that cinema companies have a method of re-shuffling their seats so that, if you desire to enter one of these places, you have to pay a price which is increased much more than the new tax made necessary?
I came across that in one of my former experiences, and the London County Council dealt with the problem. With regard to the first question, I shall be glad to receive any evidence, if there is evidence, contrary to the statement I have made, but I do not know what I can do about it, because I have no legal power to intervene.
If I send my right hon. Friend information, will he pass it on to some Department which may be able to act in the interests of the community, who are being mulcted in this way?