asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of prosecutions that have taken place during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date against independent cinema exhibitors for not showing the required quota of British cinematograph films as laid down in the Cinematograph Films Act, 1927; and whether convictions have been obtained in all such prosecutions?
In the last 12 months proceedings have been taken in 25 cases in which exhibitors have failed to comply with the quota. Convictions were obtained in 22 cases, in another the defendant received the benefit of the Probation of Offenders Act, but was ordered to pay costs; the two remaining cases were dismissed. I am afraid that I do not know what my hon. Friend means precisely by the expression "independent exhibitor" in this, connection.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the independent exhibitors are those that are not in the combines, and is it not the combines that are monopolising all the good British films and forcing the smaller exhibitor right out of the business?
That raises a much larger question. My information is that these convictions were not applicable to at least the leading combines.
Will my right hon. Friend see that, in the granting of certificates to the smaller exhibitors, they are treated with a little more generosity?
That is a separate issue. It is a matter which I must consider. I will look into it.