asked the Minister for Justice if, having regard to the need to prevent further disruption of and harm to the film exhibiting industry, he will introduce legislation to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1909, to provide that no new cinema licences be granted unless the applicants for such licences surrender not less than two old licences in respect of each new one granted.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cinema Licences.
The Cinematograph Act, 1909, was enacted for the purpose of ensuring the safety of persons attending cinemas where inflammable film is used and it provided for the grant of licences in prescribed circumstances by local authorities.
It would not be possible to amend the Act for a purpose unconnected with safety precautions.
Would the Minister, as Minister for Justice and the Minister responsible for the licensing of cinemas, consider the problem which is arising, in the Dublin area in particular, where there is a drift towards monopoly ownership of film exhibitions in the control of foreign interests which will jeopardise Irish-owned interests and also the whole film exhibiting industry here? Having regard to this and the fact that the Minister is responsible for the conduct of cinemas, would he consider this position before it is too late to cure this monopoly situation which is potentially very harmful to the film exhibiting industry?
If there is such a danger as the Deputy mentions, it would not be a matter for me but, rather, would be a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I am concerned only with ensuring the safety of persons attending the cinemas.
Does the Minister consider that this is on the same basis as intoxicating liquor licences where, in certain circumstances, two licences must be surrendered to obtain a new one and this is done in the interests of preserving good trading conditions? A similar issue arises here and I respectfully urge on the Minister that it is his responsibility.
I reject that suggestion. I have no responsibility for the matters to which the Deputy referred. I have, of course, a special responsibility for the licensing law but that is a different matter.