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One letter can delay progress of legislation

from The Times, Saturday 10 July 1982


The power of The Times was still such that a single letter in its columns had the ability virtually to halt legislation before Parliament, or at least to hold it up for further consideration, Mr Harvey Proctor (Basildon, C) said during debate on Lords amendments to the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill.
        The letter, written by Mr David Fisher, editor of Screen Digest, had warned that a clause in the Bill might be more widely interpreted by the courts than intended.
        Mr Peter Lloyd (Fareham, C), moving acceptance of the Lords amendments, said that concern had been expressed that under the Bill, which extends and amends cinema licensing arrangements, shops or stores might be regarded as exhibitions promoted for private gain because the end in view was sale of goods and so come under the Bill's provisions.
        A Lords' amendment provided an exemption for any exhibition the sole or main purpose of which was to demonstrate any product, to advertise any goods or service, or to provide information, education or, instruction.
        Another amendment would close a loophole which might be exploited by unscrupulous exhibitors who sold food and drink and exhibited films, ostensibly free, to avoid controls.
        Mr Patrick Mayhew, Minister of State, Home Office, said a loophole for bogus cinema clubs would be closed. There would be exemptions for people who provided video exhibitions in order to sell goods in the High Street—point of sale exhibitions.
        The Bill would afford additional safeguards for children. If a pub or club advertised an exhibition and provided food or drink for payment, this Bill would cover it and licensing would be required.
        If a direct or indirect charge was made for admission, the arrangements would apply.
        The Lords amendments were agreed to.

Letter to the Editor Click to read the letter.

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