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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Minister backs film tax breaks
Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris was appointed arts minister in June 2003
Arts minister Estelle Morris has backed tax breaks for the film industry, but admitted there had been abuses in the system, according to reports.

She said that after lengthy discussions with film-makers she was convinced the breaks should remain in place.

The tax breaks, introduced in 1997, are due to expire in 2005 but talks have already been held on its future.

"Films about British culture won't be made unless Britain makes them," Ms Morris said in The Independent.

The tax breaks are available for British-made films with budgets of less than 15m, and has helped produced hits including Bend it Like Beckham and 28 Days Later.

Criticism has come from some quarters, accusing wealthy people of using the film industry to avoid paying tax, taking little interest in the artistic merit of the movie.

Ms Morris said that while there had been abuses in the system, including exploitation by TV companies, the case for tax relief was still overwhelming.

Clear role

A recent Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report also recommended the government continue with the tax breaks.

Ms Morris said: "The evidence is that the tax credit has done what it was meant to do. It was a sound investment and it has proved its worth.

"It will be for the Treasury to decide. But I'm quite clear what my role is and...I think (the credit) has got to continue."

She added that the decision to continue with the tax credit should be made as soon as possible to allow producers to plan ahead with certainty.

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