27 DECEMBER 1963, Page 12

The Other Hume What on earth is Hume (pronounced- Hume)

doing? The Government, through its 50 per cent interest in British Lion, has been in the film busi- ness since 1948. And until 1958, when the Boult- ing brothers and their colleagues came in, a pretty derelict business it was. Since then the Govern- ment's loan capital has been paid back and a profit of £11 million made. Some brilliant British films have also been made. But Sir Nutcombe Hume, chairman of the National Film Finance Corporation, now thinks the independent success- ful directors should accept a golden boot. His offer to them of a fortnight (including Christmas) to decide whether they could raise £750,000 to purchase the other half of the company was and must have been meant to be derisory. The unions welcome the move because full control by the Corporation will be in the public interest.' It is much more likely to lead to monopoly. Apart from the discourtesy to the directors, the discourtesy to the House of Commons demands comment. By chance a short debate had already been allocated for last Friday on the motion for the Christmas recess. As Captain Orr said flatly in that debate, this isn't good enough. The in- tentions of the Government and of the Cor- poration are at present obscure. Presumably some plans have been devised, and rumours of them have been going the rounds of the film world forsome time. Rank and ABC are watching with close and unfriendly interest. British Lion has been maintained as a result of the policies of both Governments as a third force for many years. The two great combines, understandably, would shed no tears over its disappearance.

Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive Officiously to keep alive.

When newspapers fold up, it is usually for the simple economic reason that not enough people want to read them. Sad though their disappear- 'I know. Let's plead diminished responsibility.'

ance is, no subsidy to maintain them would be defensible. But here the threat is to successful, lively, independent British films which the British public want to see. Roy Boulting has stated that if Sir Nutcombe's plans go through it will be the death of the independents. Cer- tainly there is ample reason for disquiet. Especi- ally as the Government spokesman refused to give an undertaking that British Lion would not be sold to the giant combines. Sir Nut- , combe Hume (and Mr. Heath) would be wise to call a halt until Parliament returns and has been given a full statement and a proper oppor- tunity for discussion.