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British Film Institute Bill

Volume 464: debated on Friday 13 May 1949

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Considered in Committee and reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

11.40 a.m.

I am sorry to delay the House in this matter. I must apologise for not having been here when the Bill was read a Second time and also for the fact that the three hon. Members who are Governors of the British Film Institute could not be present on that occasion. I am one of the Governors and also the vice-chairman, and I want to say on our behalf how much we welcome the Bill and also how much we appreciate the kindly spirit in which the House gave it a Second Reading. We look forward to a period of very much increased usefulness as the result of the generosity of the House in accepting the recommendations of the Radcliffe Committee. In the past the activities of the Institute have been very much limited because of lack of funds. They have also been limited because it has been difficult to define precisely what the Institute was supposed to do. Our ideas are now much clearer as the result of the Radcliffe Committee, and the Governors are hopeful that for the future we shall be rendering a much better service than we have rendered in the past to those who make films and those who see them. Very favourable comment has been made about the work of the National Film Library and we look forward to the day when that may become a kind of British Museum—

With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the National Film Library is financed out of the money provided by the Bill, and I submit it would be out of Order if I suggested that we should have alteration in the copyright to enable it to become a national film depository in the sense that the British Museum Library is; but it is the only national film archive in existence and it is provided for almost entirely by the money supplied by the Bill.

On the Third Reading we cannot go into the purposes for which the money is to be used. The sole question is whether the Bill in its present form shall pass.

I accept your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but the form in which the Bill is framed is such that it fortunately enables the Treasury to increase the sums of money if the Treasury decide that the work of the Institute is being done satisfactorily. The Governors of the Institute are very pleased that this should be so, because we look forward to a time when our work, which I may not mention, will develop considerably. I had hoped to say something of the publications which are financed out of this money but I must not, and therefore I content myself by saying that we are very glad that the Bill has been so favourably received.

11.44 a.m.

Speaking for the Government, I welcome the fact that the present hon. Members who are Governors of the Institute are pleased with the provision we make in this Bill. As an ex-Governor, I am delighted that the Bill has been introduced. I believe its origin arose out of a talk I had some time ago when a Governor of the Institute with the then director, Mr. Oliver Bell. It became evident to me then that if the Film Institute was to do its work properly some further provision would have to be made to give it additional finance. As a sequel, discussions took place between Mr. Bell and the present Lord President of the Council as the result of which we now have this Bill before the House. We all wish the Film Institute well and hope that the extra finance we are now giving it will enable it to do its work with even greater efficiency than in the past.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn."—[ Mr. Wilkins.]