Skip to main content

First Schedule—(Amendments Of Principal Act And Repeals)

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 4 February 1948

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move, in page 8, line 18, to leave out "exhibitors' licensing year," and to insert "quota period."

This Amendment is consequential on the Amendment in page 1, line 20, accepted by the Committee yesterday.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 8, line 33, leave out "to (3)," and insert "and (2)."

In line 34, leave out "wherever," and insert "in both places where."

In page 9, line r, after "(3)," insert:

"for the words this part of this Act in the first place where those words occur, there shall be substituted the words 'the Cinematograph Film Act, 1948.'"

In line 22, at end, insert:

"for the words 'as soon as practicable, record in a book to be kept by him for the purpose' there shall be substituted the words 'to keep records of.'"

In line 28, leave out "and."

In line 35, at end, insert:

"and for the words the said book' there shall be substituted the words 'those records.'"

In line 50, at end, insert:

"In Subsection (4) for the words from 'who is required' to 'so entitled,' there shall be substituted the words 'fails to comply with any of the requirements of this Section.'"

In page 10, line 2, leave out from "omitted," to "any," in line 5, and insert:

"for the words 'to fulfil any relevant quota conditions,' there shall be substituted the words 'to comply with any of the requirements of Section one of the Cinematograph Films Act, 1948, or with.'"

'Section thirty-fourIn subsection (1), after the word "making." there shall be inserted the words "renting or exhibiting"; for the words "that business," there shall be substituted the words "the making, renting or exhibition of any films at any place where that business is carried on"; and after the word "employer," there shall be inserted the words "or any organisation representative of persons carrying on the business of making, renting or exhibiting films, as the ease may be."
In subsection (3), for the words "later date," there shall be substituted the words "other date, not being earlier than the date on which the dispute to which the award relates first arose:"

This Amendment requires some explanation. The purpose of the first part of it is to bring the renting and exhibiting, in addition to the making, of films into the scope of Section 34 of the principal Act. The second part of the Amendment deals with the Fair Wages Resolution which was passed by this House on 14th October, 1946, and which requires the contractor to comply with the general conditions of the Resolution in respect of all persons employed by him in the way of the execution of the contract in every factory, workshop or place used by him in the execution of the contract. The Act of 1938 requires such compliance only in respect of such

"persons employed by him in connection with that business."

The purpose of the Amendment is to bring the Section into line with more recent requirements of the House of Commons. The third part of the Amendment is required for another reason. Employers in the film industry are now largely organised, and this part of the Amendment provides for agreement not only between employers and workers' organisations, but also between employers' organisations and workers' organisations. The fourth part is simply for the purpose of bringing the former legislation into line with more recent legislation.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the In line 7, leave out "the Cinematograph Films Act, 1947," and insert "that Act."

In line 14, after "1947," insert:
"for the words 'relevant quota conditions' there shall be substituted the words 'requirement of Section one of that Act,' for the words 'those conditions' there shall be substituted the words 'that requirement.'"—[Mr. H. Wilson.]

6.15 p.m.

I beg to move, in page 11, line 52, at the end, to insert: proposed Amendment, in line 9, at the end, to insert:

"In Subsection (2), for the words 'have regard to,' there shall be substituted the words 'award terms not less favourable than these contained in.'"
The general purpose of my Amendment is very similar to that of the Minister's Amendment.

On a point of Order. We are not now precluded from speaking on the Minister's Amendment, are we? I wanted to speak on that Amendment.

I rose to catch your eye on the Minister's Amendment, Major Milner. Are you suggesting that we can discuss the Amendment and the Amendment to the Amendment at the same time?

The purpose of my Amendment to the proposed Amendment is also to bring the Section into harmony with the Fair Wages Resolution. At present the phrase in the Subsection of the Section is:

"shall have regard to any determination that may be brought to its notice."
In a recent arbitration case the arbitrator appointed by the Minister of Labour ruled—I think quite rightly—that this phrase means exactly what it says, namely, that regard to this determination shall be had, and no more: in other words, that there is no obligation upon the arbitrator to see that the decisions taken in joint industrial councils or conciliation boards or other similar bodies are, in fact, furthered. I suggest that if this phrase "shall have regard to" is amended in the sense I propose the ambiguity will be removed.

It is entirely for the Chair to settle these things, and these are rather complicated matters, but I must claim my right to speak on the original Amendment. I want only an assurance from the Minister, which I am sure he will be ready to give, that this matter has been very carefully discussed with both sides of the industry.

I should be very glad to give the noble Lord the assurance. The facts are as he suggests. As to the Amendment to my proposed Amendment, what my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Levy) is proposing is an Amendment to Section 34 (2) of the 1938 Act. It is that particular Subsection which, through a like Amendment on the Order Paper, I propose later to ask the Committee totally to repeal. Of course, if we were to secure that repeal, then my hon. Friend's Amendment to this Amendment would not be necessary or applicable. If the later Amendment is accepted, this Subsection will no longer be necessary because we feel—I do, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour whom I have consulted about this agrees—that paragraph r (a and b) of the Fair Wages Resolution of 14th October, 1946, provides such guidance as might be required by any industrial court in settling disputes referred to it under the Act. I may say that the repeal which we are proposing in the later Amendment has been asked for by the Association of Ciné Technicians, who are affected by the case my hon. Friend has in mind; and they are completely in agreement that this is the best way of dealing with this matter—that is, by the later Amendment we have on the Order Paper. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment to my proposed Amendment. If that does not satisfy him, I should be ready to deploy arguments against his own arguments, but I hope that he will consider our later Amendment adequate.

This does raise rather a problem, because we do not quite know whether the Subsection is to be repealed or not. There may be a substantial difference about that. There are certain misgivings—I have certain misgivings, too—about the wholesale repeal. I should like my misgivings to be allayed before I personally assent to the repeal. I wonder if I could get from my right hon. Friend a kind of conditional undertaking, that in the event of the repeal he anticipates not being made, he will be prepared to accept my Amendment?

I had not envisaged that possibility, I must say, and it is rather difficult to know what our line would be in those circumstances; but certainly, if the Committee do not agree to the total repeal—and I agree with my hon. Friend that it is a debatable matter, on which hon. Members may have very different views—then I should certainly be prepared to take my hon. Friend's Amendment into consideration, to decide whether we should put down a Government Amendment at the Report stage in either the words of his own Amendment or in some other words. That would be the only way of dealing with it.

I should be satisfied with that course, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.

Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Proposed words there inserted in the Schedule.

Further Amendments made: In page 12, line 7, at end, insert:

"and the words 'by the Board of Education shall be omitted."

In line 11 leave out "and."—[ Mr. H. Wilson.]

I beg to move, in page 12, line 14, at the end, to insert:

"and after the words 'specified in the order' there shall be inserted the words 'and any such order may specify different sums in relation to long films and short films respectively."
The purpose of this Amendment is to empower the Board of Trade to prescribe different cost test figures for long and for short films respectively by making an order for that purpose under Section 36 (1) of the Act of 1938, if and when experience shows that course to be advisable. I referred to this Amendment yesterday, and it was upon my giving the assurance that I would move this Amendment that my hon. Friends were satisfied to withdraw an Amendment of theirs yesterday.

I understand that this Amendment also has been discussed with those who represent the trade?

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 12, line 17, leave out "exhibitors' licensing year," and insert "quota period."

In page 13, line 22, leave out from "1947," to end of line 31.

In line 35, leave out "Section ten of."—[ Mr. H. Wilson.]

I beg to move, in page 14, line 23, after "twenty-six," to insert "Subsection (2) of Section thirty-four."

This is the Amendment to which reference was made in the Debate we have just had on an Amendment to an Amendment of mine. Section 34 (2) of the principal Act is now no longer necessary as it is considered that paragraph 1 (a and b) of the Fair Wages Resolution of 14th October, 1946, provides such guidance as an industrial court might require in settling disputes referred to it under the Act. As I said earlier, the Association of Ciné Technicians have asked for this repeal.

My right hon. Friend has astounded me by mentioning that one of the trade unions in the industry has actually suggested the deletion of this Subsection. Thereupon, he has, evidently, acted upon the suggestion of the ciné technicians. I do not think the Minister deliberately intended to catch us on the wrong foot, but he has certainly caught two or three of us in the Committee on the wrong foot, because we did not know, until he mentioned it, the particular reason why he wishes to repeal this Subsection. Many of the sections of organised labour do not share his view, nor the view of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, that the Fair Wages Resolution thoroughly stitches up what is proposed by the repeal of this Subsection. I should have imagined—I mean this in a friendly way—that before my right hon. Friend took cognisance of the desires of one trade union in the industry which trade union happens to be one of the smallest, he would have taken into consultation the two or three larger unions more involved in this matter than the organisation to which he has referred. I do not know what we can do about it now. If the repeal is agreed to, we may find five-sixths of the organised workers in the industry as a whole being put into a prejudiced position. However, if he is satisfied—and I am prepared to take his assurance—that this is necessary and practicable I should feel more reassured, and the people I am indirectly representing, so far as this matter is concerned, will also feel more reassured.

6.30 p.m.

I have been reading the relevant paragraphs of the Fair Wages Resolution referred to by my right hon. Friend. I think my hon. Friend the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. O'Brien) will agree that they cover completely the matters in respect of which he and I have been anxious; in other words, they have precisely the same effect as my previous Amendment.

Let me, in a sentence—I hope without offence and without appearing patronising—pay tribute to the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. O'Brien) and those he represents. It is very desirable that he and his friends should be satisfied in this matter, and I am sure the Minister will endeavour to meet them.

The noble Lord is quite right in that. I am extremely sorry if there has been some slip up in the consultations with the trade unions concerned in this matter. I should make it clear at once to my hon. Friend that our reason for acting in this manner was not because one of the unions asked us so to do, but because of the advice of the Minister of Labour, who has been considering this matter in relation to a number of industries since the acceptance of the Fair Wages Resolution of October, 1946. One of the unions concerned—and I realise it is only one—asked for this repeal. However, I would not wish to have represented to the Committee that this was an agreed measure had I known that by, perhaps, some unfortunate accident, due to the fact that two Ministries were concerned, my hon. Friend and his colleagues had not been consulted. I am quite sure that when he has looked at it he will be satisfied. At least, I hope he will be. I certainly give him the assurance that, if the Committee now accept this I will enter into discussions with my hon. Friend and his association, and if he is not then satisfied we shall be prepared to bring it back on Report stage. I should not like the Committee to agree to the Amendment unless quite satisfied that everybody concerned had had a chance of a hearing.

I have just read the Fair Wages Resolution, which has been brought to me from the Vote Office, and I think it expresses what my right hon. Friend has assured the Committee it would express.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Schedule, as amended, be the First Schedule to the Bill."

Would I here be in Order, Major Milner, in referring to an Amendment standing in my name, but which was not selected—in page 9, to leave out lines 46 to 50?

As that Amendment has not been made and is not in the Schedule it cannot be discussed.

I wondered if it would now be in Order to indicate why I submitted that those words should be left out. I put down the Amendment because I was under the impression that there had been some discussions with the Board of Trade about it. I was hopeful that if the Amendment had been selected the Minister might have been sympathetic. I can put the point quite shortly, and I hope the Minister might be prepared to consider the matter between now and Report stage.

The effect of that Amendment would be to introduce an alteration in Section 12 of the Act as amended, and it can be best appreciated by considering the Second Schedule at page 19. As the law stands, both renters and exhibitors are required to keep certain records, and to make certain returns. The Bill, in its present form, provides that certain additional information shall be kept by both renters and exhibitors. The object of my Amendment was to suggest to the Minister that it would be quite sufficient for his purposes if the additional obligation which he desires is placed upon renters, and that it would be unnecessary to extend its scope so as to require the exhibitors also to keep this additional information. It would impose upon them a considerable amount of clerical work which would be duplicating information available elsewhere. I hope the Minister will consider the matter between now and Report stage with a view to removing this additional obligation from the records of information which have to be kept by exhibitors.

Two points are raised here. First, whether exhibitors should or should not be required to maintain these records; and, secondly—though my hon. Friend did not refer to it—where they should be kept. The question where they should be kept was one of the subjects on which discussion took place, and whether they are required to be kept at individual theatres. On the main point, whether it is necessary to require exhibitors to maintain these records, I am afraid I must tell the Committee that it is essential to require that. I agree there is an apparent duplication if renters have to keep records, and exhibitors have to keep records of presumably the same payments for presumably the same film. If no records of rentals were kept, there would be no evidence in the exhibitor's records on which he could be convicted of knowingly making false returns. These returns are required for assessing which of the two features in the same programme represents the first feature, because there was a test applied in the relevant Clause of the Bill, based on the amount of daily rentals. If we did not have these records, we should not be able to convict an exhibitor—although I hope it will not be necessary—of knowingly making false returns.

On the other hand, it is certainly not essential that exhibitors should be required to keep these records at each individual theatre. I know that in many of the larger circuits particularly this would be a very heavy burden, because most of the records are usually kept centrally. The important thing is that records should be kept and produced on demand to an authorised officer of the Board of Trade. Subject to that, in my view the exhibitor ought to be at liberty to keep these records of returns where he likes. I quite agree that the present wording of the Bill would not allow exhibitors to keep the records wherever they consider most convenient, but requires them to keep the records at each individual theatre. I would be prepared to meet my hon. Friend to this extent, that on Report I will put down a form of words to make clear that records can be kept in a central place and not necessarily at each individual theatre. But we must insist on records being kept somewhere.

Question put, and agreed to.