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British Films (Dollar Earnings And Expenditure)

Volume 440: debated on Tuesday 22 July 1947

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what dollar expenditure has been licensed to British film companies for the building, purchase of, or investment in, theatres abroad; what has been the return to date; and what is the estimated return in the future.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer of my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Cooper) on 29th April.

I have not the relevant copy Of HANSARD with me, but am I correct in believing that that answer does not impart any information, and, if that is the case, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important that the House should be able to decide whether this is a good investment or not? It cannot do so without having the relevant figures.

My hon. Friend has a remarkably retentive memory. It is the case that in the answer to which I referred, it was explained that this is not the kind of question which should reasonably be answered in a public statement, because it relates to a single person and a single firm, and it is contrary to our practice to make such details public in Parliamentary discussion.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also make it clear that, in spite of the attitude of his followers, people are still allowed to invest in foreign countries for the benefit of this country?

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that in defending the rights of the individual to make private investments abroad, this is a case where the individual is a virtual monopolist and, therefore, has some public responsibility and obligations?

Is it not a fact that the net result of these developments is to attract a large amount of dollars to this country?

This is a matter of Debate, and there are further Questions on the Order Paper. All I have said in reply to this Question is that it is contrary to practice, and I think quite rightly so, to reveal by way of Parliamentary answers the financial arrangements of particular individuals, whether they are monopolists or small men. There are other ways of raising the public aspect of the matter, and I do not think it is right to give this kind of information here.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the dollar allowance granted to British film companies for general purposes during the last two years; and what has been the balance of dollar expenditure involved in the exchange of film stars, directors and technicians between this country and the U.S.A.

None, Sir, outside the usual business travel allowance. In answer to the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. H. D. Hughes) last Tuesday.

Is it or is it not a fact that while American actors and technicians employed over here are paid in dollars, English actors and technicians working in America are not infrequently, and for the most part, paid in sterling?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, during the last two years, British films have earned more in dollars for this country than they have cost us in dollars; what is the net figure for the difference; and what is the annual aggregate net figure for this and all other items of dollar expenditure incurred by the film industry over and above the £17 million to £18 million which is the admitted dollar loss on imported films.

I have nothing to add to my replies given to the hon. and gallant Member for "Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) on 15th April and to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) on 24th June.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the answers to which he has referred gave the information for which I am asking, and if not, would he give the information or, at least, give reasons for withholding information which is of the greatest public importance at a time when we are scraping the barrel for dollars even to the extent of saving a million or two on newsprint?

If my hon. Friend would be so kind as to check up on the answers, he will see that although, when the answer to the first of the Questions to which I have referred was given we had not got the statistics which I considered reliable, and, therefore, I could not give them to the House, in reply to the right hon. Member for Bromley I did give such figures as were available to us; but, owing to the nature of the case, a lot of these figures cannot be given with exactitude. There are masses of small payments out, and it is impossible to keep track of the whole thing without a fantastic increase in staff.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give particulars of the many American plays brought here by persons interested in the theatre, the loss which they have incurred and the spurious nature of most of the entertainment?