Mr Henry Strauss: I tried to explain to the right hon. Gentleman that the question of registration was considered and rejected at the time the statute was passed. What I am saying is that, before embarking upon further legislation dealing with monopolies, the House should certainly await the report which the Commission will make upon the most important reference to it, under Section 15 of the Act.
Mr Henry Strauss: Exactly the same difficulties and objections exist as existed when the right hon. Gentleman's own Government introduced the original Act. At that time this question was considered and—for good reasons, in the view of both main parties in the House—was rejected. If there were time to debate the question, I could mention many difficulties which arise in relation to the proposal.
Mr Henry Strauss: My right hon. Friend deplores what happened in this case, but does not think that import restrictions would be an appropriate method of dealing with these problems.
Mr Henry Strauss: I do not think this problem could properly be dealt with by restrictions on transhipment. Of course, I sympathise with what prompted the Question by the hon. Member, but I think that this matter is really better dealt with under the Protection of Animals Act than under import or transhipment restrictions
Mr Henry Strauss: I cannot yet add to my letter to the hon. Member of 31st January, 1955. The case is still sub judice.
Mr Henry Strauss: I do not agree at all with the implications of what the hon. Lady has said. She really must not press me to comment on a case which is sub judice. I appreciate her interest in this case, and I will write to her as soon as I can.
Mr Henry Strauss: If the hon. Lady wants an answer to that question, she had better put it down on the Order Paper. I do not think the House will suspect me of having any prejudice against the employment of counsel, but I must dissociate myself from the implications of the hon. Lady's original supplementary question.
Mr Henry Strauss: Some anxiety has been expressed about competition from exports of certain low-priced textiles from Hong Kong. The few cases of copying known to my right hon. Friend have been effectively dealt with under existing Acts.
Mr Henry Strauss: The hon. Lady is well aware that it is not the policy of H.M. Government to restrict imports from the Colonies by quotas or tariffs.
Mr Henry Strauss: The Rank Organisation and the Associated British Picture Corporation have been told that the Board of Trade will not use their powers under the Section to prevent either from acquiring up to 607 cinemas.
Mr Henry Strauss: The right hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken in thinking that there has been any change of policy. If he will refer to the correspondence of about 11 years ago— [Interruption.] Yes, 11 years ago, because that was what the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. If he does so, he will find that the maximum prescribed was something less than 607. That is where the figure 607 comes from, and we are...
Mr Henry Strauss: The matters are dealt with by this Section of the Act, and it is this Section on which we will rely and on which the large circuits have approached us. For the reasons I have given, there is no change in policy between what was announced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) at the time I mentioned and the policy now being adopted.
Mr Henry Strauss: No; on the contrary, what I have announced is likely to be in the interests of independent British producers, who require large circuits for their bookings. The hon. Member assumes that all these cinemas are being acquired from somebody else, but they may be newly-built cinemas or war-damaged premises repaired.
Mr Henry Strauss: Some purchases of textiles have been made by a Czechoslovak purchasing organisation, but my right hon. Friend is not aware to what extent further purchases would be made if import licences for Czechoslovak consumer goods could be resumed. The issue of such licences must await the conclusion of a trade and financial agreement on which negotiations have, unfortunately, been in suspense for some...
Mr Henry Strauss: My right hon. Friend will certainly consider anything that the hon. Member sends him. Meanwhile, I should like to refer the hon. Gentleman to an article on the subject in the "Board of Trade Journal" for 5th February, 1955, which gives an explanation of our policy on this matter.
Mr Henry Strauss: No; there are difficulties. The article to which I have referred the hon. Member explains that we restricted imports of less essentials, including consumer goods, except in the context of an agreement which includes the settlement of financial claims.
Mr Henry Strauss: No reliable figures are available of dollars earned in the United States from the exhibition of British films. The figures asked for in the second part of the Question are $24·16 million, $22·68 million and $25·2 million.
Mr Henry Strauss: Shall I repeat it?
Mr Henry Strauss: I said that no reliable figures are available of dollars earned in the United States from the exhibition of British films. The figures asked for in the second part of the Question are $24·16 million, $22·68 million and $25·2 million.
Mr Henry Strauss: I should be happy to explain to my hon. Friend why the figures are not available. I certainly agree with him that we desire all possible facilities for British films in the United States, but I do not think, when my hon. Friend considers the relative sizes of the two industries, that he can expect exact correspondence.