NEW PICTURE HOUSE IN HASTINGS
MINISTER HOLDS TO PREVIOUS DECISION
REPLY TO MR. H. M. CAMPBELL’S REPRESENTATIONS
(From Our Special Parliamentary Representative)
Wellington, Nov. 16.
After hearing further representations, the Minister of Industries and Commerce, the Hon. R. Masters has decided not to prohibit the erection of the proposed new picture theatre in Hastings.
In re-opening the negotiations, Mr. H. M. Campbell, M.P., contended that there should be no interference by the Minister with the proposal, but people wishing to erect a theatre should have complete freedom of action provided they complied with all the safety regulations.
Replying to Mr. Campbell, the Minister stated that he regretted he could not alter his decisions. He mentioned that the Mayor of Hastings and Councillor Slater had raised the matter with him on November 9, and to their representations he had made the following reply: ‘‘In reference to the issue of an exhibitor’s license for the new theatre which Powdrell Brothers propose to erect in Hastings, I have read very carefully the report presented to the Hastings Borough Council by the Mayor and Councillor Slater after their representations to me in Wellington, and also the resolution passed by the Council. So far as the resolution is concerned, the position is as outlined in my letter of the 10th instant, and I cannot accede to the request to reopen the matter, which has already been very thoroughly investigated and considered by myself, by a Magistrate, and by Cabinet, and the decision conveyed to those concerned.
“There are however, one or two points in the report of the Mayor and Councillor Slater to which I desire to make reference. The report states that the Council should have been given an opportunity to give first-hand evidence of the position before Mr. E. Page, S.M., but that it ‘was not possible in the absence of an invitation for the Council to appear.’ This statement has apparently been made in error, as Mr. Page’s letter to you of August 16th was a direct invitation for the Council to make any representations it desired, and your letter to him of August 29 expressed the thanks of the Council for his courtesy in giving the Council an opportunity of considering the matter. The reference in the report of the memorandum of the chief inspector under the Cinematograph Films Act has also been noted. I cannot agree with Mr. Butcher’s statement that prior to the earthquake ‘Hastings would not support two theatres in opposition,’ as the profit and loss account of the Municipal and the Cosy Theatres for the year ended November 21, 1930 (the last complete financial period before the earth quake) shows that the two theatres made a net profit of £7037, of which sum each received £3,518 19/3 after allowing for a rental of £1560 in each case.
“I desire also to refer to the promise alleged to have been given by me at the time of the earthquake that protection would be given, and to state emphatically that I made no statement. In fact, I had no reason to make such a statement as in February, 1931, there was no suggestion of regulations being made dealing with exhibitors’ licenses and, in any event, I was not then Minister of Industries and Commerce. I may also state that I have carefully gone through all the notes taken during my visits to Hastings at the time of the earthquake and can find no reference whatever to any such statement as that attributed to me. Councillor Slater made reference to this alleged statement when representations were being made to me by him and Mr. Roach on the 9th instant, and I informed them that I made no such statement. Councillor Slater then said that it might not have been made, but he had recollection of a statement being made by a Minister. He accepted my denial, and it is, therefore, surprising to me that reference is still made in the report to this alleged promise by me.
“In conclusion, I have to inform you that the question of the issue of this license has received the fullest possible inquiry and consideration and, as already stated, it is regretted that the matter cannot be reopened.’