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Film Industry

Volume 459: debated on Monday 16 April 2007

6. When she last met representatives of the British film industry to discuss public support for the sector. (131510)

I frequently meet representatives of the film industry and regularly consult a wide-range of representatives. Most recently, at the end of March, I consulted the International Indian Film Academy in relation to the promotion of Yorkshire’s successful bid—I add my congratulations in relation to that—to host this year’s Indian academy awards.

Although there have been some notable successes—in particular the film “The Queen”, which was recognised in the Oscars this year; we recognise that that was funded in large part by organisations such as ITV—the film industry operates internationally in a highly competitive environment. What are the Minister and his Department doing to ensure that British films will continue to be made in this country, not overseas, where it is frequently cheaper to make them?

I wonder whether the hon. Lady has had a chance to look at the figures for the film industry recently. She would see that—if we simply take last year alone—between 2005-06 and last year, the spend on film production in the UK was up by 50 per cent., and that inward investment last year in the film industry by companies that want to come to Britain to make their films was up by 83 per cent.

An important, but often forgotten, part of the film industry are the regional film archives. I went to visit the Yorkshire Film Archive over Easter. Will the Minister tell us what support is being given to film archives, and will he consider visiting the Yorkshire Film Archive to see the important work that it does?

Of course the film archive in the UK is an absolutely essential part of the UK film industry. In fact, we have the largest archive of moving film image in the world. This year, the UK Film Council will make £472,000 available to Screen Yorkshire for its work, and I understand that £45,000 of that will be given to the Yorkshire Film Archive.

The Minister paints a rosy picture of the state of the British film industry, but he knows full well that that success comes despite, not because of, the Government. After the frequent changes to film tax relief, not to mention the fiasco of the British film test, one director was moved to complain that the Government change the rules “frequently and arbitrarily”. Now, the abolition of sideways loss relief has led a leading film investor—

Will the Minister make representations to the Treasury about the abolition of sideways loss relief, which a leading film investor has said will put the British film industry seriously at risk?

It is a real shame that every time the hon. Gentleman speaks at the Dispatch Box, he talks down the successes of the film industry, which is one of the great successes of our creative industries. It is estimated that the film tax relief scheme introduced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will cost the Treasury £120 million a year to ensure that we have a sustainable film industry. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should stop talking down the industry and recognise its terrific successes.