Mr Henry Strauss: I shall certainly consider any request made to me by any hon. Member on the subject of a deputation, but I would not like to commit myself until I have seen the request.
Mr Henry Strauss: Three, Sir, in the year ending 5th July, 1954. One case now awaits trial. Convictions were obtained in the other two.
Mr Henry Strauss: The hon. Member is wrong in his facts. Anyone can prosecute under the Act. As regards his implication that there are fewer prosecutions under the present Administration, I may point out that there were only two in the whole period of office of the late Government.
Mr Henry Strauss: The receiver and manager is providing distribution guarantees pending the formation of the new company which, as already announced, will continue the distribution functions hitherto performed by the British Lion Film Corporation.
Mr Henry Strauss: I am informed that the receiver decided not to proceed in one case, but that was due to factors which might in any event have deferred production of the film concerned.
Mr Henry Strauss: No. I cannot add to my answer. I think that, as far as the effect of the appointment of the receiver and manager is concerned, the steps he is taking should prevent any loss of production.
Mr Henry Strauss: My right hon. Friend would like to take this opportunity of thanking Mr. Milner Holland for his admirably clear Report. The House will agree that it deals most fully with the issues placed before him. Since the Report states that the directors acted in good faith, my right hon. Friend does not propose to take any action against them. Mr. Milner Holland, after careful consideration, has...
Mr Henry Strauss: If the hon. Member examines the very clear conclusions, I think he will find that the Report elucidates the matter very much. I think that it clarifies the law, as far as the law can be clarified without a judicial decision.
Mr Henry Strauss: I appreciate that until there is a decision by the courts there must be an element of uncertainty, but, in view of this closely reasoned Report, I think there is no reason to apprehend other directors taking similar action. If they did, I think it extremely probable that the matter would be tested in the courts. On the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary, I am not going to attempt...
Mr Henry Strauss: If the hon. and gallant Gentleman tried to draft the legislation, he would find that it was by no means so simple.
Mr Henry Strauss: No, Sir.
Mr Henry Strauss: I was not quite certain what the hon. Member had in mind in asking this Question.
Mr Henry Strauss: If he is referring to what might have been material in the inquiry which was recently conducted into the affairs of the Savoy Hotel, it would have been open to the Inspector to look into this matter, had he thought it relevant. If the hon. Member desires to ask any Question about the borrowing of money or other financial assistance in this case, that Question should be addressed to the Treasury.
Mr Henry Strauss: No, Sir. I do not think that such legislation is necessary.
Mr Henry Strauss: In this case the Inspector has found that the mistake was not deliberate. If mistakes of this sort are not made innocently, the criminal law is not without resources as things are, and, in addition, those responsible might find themselves liable to civil proceedings.
Mr Henry Strauss: I cannot yet say who will be appointed to the Cinematograph Films Council when the terms of office of the present members expire, but my right hon. Friend would not regard a representative of one section of the film industry as unsuitable solely on the ground that he had criticised another section.
Mr Henry Strauss: I am aware that Mr. Eckman has published a controversial article on the merits of which I am expressing no view whatever. I would, however, refer the hon. Member to Section 41 of the Cinematograph Films Act, 1938, from which it will be seen that it is the duty of my right hon. Friend to appoint representatives from various sections of the industry.
Mr Henry Strauss: There has been no decision to lay a White Paper on this subject, but my right hon. Friend is considering the matter.
Mr Henry Strauss: I do not think that was quite the understanding, but let me say that I appreciate the very good reasons why the right hon. Gentleman laid the White Paper in 1948. If he will refer to the Foreword of that White Paper, he will see that the occasion for the laying of that White Paper was expressly said to be the statutory review under Section 7 of the Act three years after the Act came into...
Mr Henry Strauss: That question presupposes a general merit in the laying of White Papers. There are many statutes which prescribe annual reports and so forth, but there is nothing like that in this case. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman's desire for a White Paper has been noted and is under consideration.