Film Industry (Policy)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:10 pm on 19th July 1984.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Bryan Gould Mr Bryan Gould , Dagenham 4:10 pm, 19th July 1984

Is the Minister aware that this long-delayed statement marks a black day for the British film industry? His failure to take the opportunity offered him by his review to place the industry's finances on a sound basis comes as a further body blow to an industry already sadly damaged by the Chancellor's withdrawal of capital allowances.

Does the Minister recognise that his refusal to extend the principle of the Eady levy to television and video, which are of course the modern equivalent of the cinema box office, means that he has failed to provide a reliable source of finance upon which expansion can be based? The money that is to be contributed by television and video is pitifully inadequate, conditional and guaranteed for three years only. It would be helpful if the Minister would confirm that latter point. It in no way meets the debt that those industries owe the film industry. It will, in any case, largely be money that they would have spent for their own purposes.

Will the Minister give an assurance that his failure to implement a levy on video cassettes does not mean that he has closed his mind to the introduction of some levy as a solution to the problems of the music industry? Will he guarantee that that industry will not have to suffer the same damaging delay as has caused such confusion and uncertainty in the film industry?

Does the Minister accept that the demise of the National Film Finance Corporation, which has done such good work with such limited resources, will be bitterly regretted by all those who care about the future of the British film industry?

This privatisation, like so many other privatisation measures, surely cannot be explained, even at a time of financial crisis, by the need to save the small amount of public money involved. It clearly arises from misplaced ideological zeal for turning the future of the industry over to market forces despite the fact that, as the Monopolies and Mergers Commission found, nothing remotely resembling a free market exists in this area.

Finally, does the Minister understand that he cannot, in good faith, express pride in real achievements such as "Chariots of Fire" and "Gregory's Girl" while at the same time announcing a policy that will inevitably bring much closer commercial and cultural surrender to the Americans, which will threaten the whole future of a valuable British industry?