Mr. Henry Bellingham (Norfolk, North-West) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I seek your advice and guidance on a particular matter which is for the Chair. During this afternoon's proceedings, the shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), accused a Cabinet Minister of dishonesty. That disgraceful unsubstantiated allegation is wholly unworthy of a Member of the House. Do you not think that the hon. Gentleman should be made to withdraw it?
Madam Speaker : Nothing that was said this afternoon sounded to me anything like a reference to a Member of either House of Parliament. [Interruption.] Order. The hon. Member has asked for my guidance and advice, and I am giving it to him.
Nothing that was said sounded to me like a reference to a Member of either House of Parliament. However, I remind hon. Members on both sides of the House of the wise words of "Erskine May" :
"Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language."
I hope that the entire House--
Mr. David Shaw (Dover) rose --
I hope that the entire House will take to heart the wise words of "Erskine May".
Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. My point of order arises as a result of last night's debate on an order relating to a grant scheme for companies which are attempting to manufacture newsprint from recycled fibre, when the Minister for Industry suddenly announced the abolition of the scheme. Thank you for allowing those Members who were present to debate the wider issue, but would it not have been more appropriate for the Minister to announce in advance on the Order Paper his intention to abandon the scheme? That is particularly important as Gartcosh intends to apply for a grant under the scheme and last night's announcement means that it will now have only 28 days to make a final grant application. Would it not have been more appropriate if that announcement had appeared on the Order Paper, so that hon. Members who were interested could have debated the matter fully?
Madam Speaker : The hon. Gentleman and the House might have seen what I hope were my wise words last night, when I allowed a wide debate on the motion. However, the Chair was placed at a disadvantage in so doing, as was the House, because hon. Members were not
Column 1040notified. I hope that those on the Government Front Bench have taken notice of what I said last night and in this exchange today.
Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You mentioned "Erskine May" a moment ago. Has "Erskine May" anything to say about the length of ministerial answers in Question Time? Today, we got as far as question 14. A number of us have observed that a considerable part of Question Time--perhaps an increasing proportion--is now taken up by extremely long, filibustering responses from Ministers.
Madam Speaker : I cannot remember what is on every page of "Erskine May", or refer the hon. Gentleman to an appropriate page. I doubt that "Erskine May" has any comment to make on that point, but I assure him and the House that the Speaker has.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. There have been a number of references to "Erskine May", which is a very important document : it is the bible of the House of Commons. Will you protect it from Maastricht?
Madam Speaker : There are a good many documents around the House that I seek to protect, in more than one way. Some I may have to protect from the ravages of the hon. Gentleman. Now, perhaps we can move on.
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 101(3) (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.),
That the Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (Dioxins) (England) (No. 2) (Revocation) Order 1992 (S.I., 1992, No. 3188) be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments &c.
That the Social Security Benefits (Amendments Consequential Upon the introduction of Community Care) Regulations 1992 (S.I., 1992, No. 3147) be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments &c.
That the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 1992 (S.I., 1992, No. 3217) be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments &c.
That the Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 1992 (S.I., 1992, No. 3280) be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments &c.
That the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 1993 (S.I., 1993, No. 15) be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments &c.-- [Mr. Robert G. Hughes.]
Question agreed to.
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make illegal the advertisement of tobacco and products containing tobacco other than at the point of sale ; to make illegal the promotion by other means of tobacco and products containing tobacco ; and for related purposes.
The case against tobacco is easy to state. Each year, according to the Government, 111,000 people die from smoking--26,000 from lung cancer, and the rest from other diseases caused by tobacco. Smoking is by far the biggest public health hazard in Britain. The Government say in their "Health of the Nation" White Paper that, of every 1,000 smokers, one will be murdered, six will die in road accidents and 250 will die before their natural time from smoking.
For the tobacco industry, 111,000 customers are a lot to lose each year, so the industry seeks to replace them--to recruit new smokers to take the place of those who have died--by advertising. Nearly all adults who smoke started smoking before the age of 20 : I was one of them. For that reason, despite the advertising code of conduct, tobacco advertising is directed at teenagers and children. Those are the only age group in which the number of smokers in the country is not falling.
For the tobacco industry, advertising itself is big business. The industry spend, £100 million a year on advertising cigarettes. It claims that it is simply promoting brand switching--persuading smokers of one brand of cigarette to switch to another. But people cannot be persuaded to switch brands if they have not already been persuaded to start smoking.
In the White Paper, the Government have set an ambitious target : to reduce the number of cigarettes sold by 40 per cent. by the end of the decade, from the 100 billion cigarettes sold in 1990 to just under 60 billion by the year 2000. The Government should be commended for the bold goal that they have set ; the question is, are they going to achieve that goal? They are already using price regulation, health warnings, voluntary codes of conduct--which are frequently circumvented by the tobacco companies--and health education, and the number of smokers is indeed falling ; but it is falling more slowly now than it has fallen in the past. It is falling by 1 per cent. per year among males, and by 0.5 per cent. per year among women. The "Health of the Nation" target is to reduce the incidence of smoking by 40 per cent. by the end of the decade. It is evident that, if that target is to be reached, more needs to be done. One major step that the Government could take, but to which they are not yet committed, is the banning of tobacco advertising.
A ban has been imposed in other countries, with positive results. The chief economist at the Department of Health, Dr. Clive Smee, recorded in a recent report that, in New Zealand, an advertising ban reduced tobacco consumption by 7.5 per cent. In Canada, consumption was reduced by 6 per cent.; in Finland, by 7 per cent.; and in Norway, by 8 per cent. Dr. Smee's figures take account of the other factors, such as price changes, that would also have affected consumption in those countries.
The Select Committee on Health considered the Smee report, and took evidence from Ministers and from many
Column 1042other people, including representatives of the tobacco industry and lobbying organisations on the tobacco industry's side.
Having considered all the evidence, we agree with Smee's findings. Before I became a Member of Parliament, I was a health economist. I think that his methodology is sound. The British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Health Education Authority agree that there should be a ban on tobacco advertising. So who is on the other side of the argument? The tobacco industry itself, of course. What are the arguments put forward by the tobacco industry? First, it points to the revenue that would be lost to the Treasury if advertising were to be banned. That suggests that the tobacco industry agrees that a ban would reduce the number of cigarettes consumed. The Government have already agreed, however, to seek a 40 per cent. cut in the number of cigarettes smoked. I presume that that policy objective has been costed, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been told and that his revenue plans therefore take account of that fact.
Secondly, the people who oppose a ban argue that there should be freedom of choice. In her evidence to the Select Committee, the Secretary of State for Health said :
"If cigarettes were introduced today, their production and sale would probably be banned."
In other words, the Secretary of State agrees that in some cases the public interest is more important than the interest of personal freedom of choice.
I am not seeking in the Bill to ban smoking. I am not even proposing, as the Minister for Health did yesterday, that smoking in public places should be restricted. Smokers must choose for themselves whether to smoke. My Bill aims only to ban the promotion of tobacco and to prevent tobacco companies from persuading more people to buy their brands. The majority of people they persuade to smoke are young people--people under the age of 20, the only age groups among whom the incidence of smoking is not falling. There is a freedom of choice issue, but the question that the House should address is whether the freedom in question is freedom to do good or evil. Is tobacco advertising in the public interest, or against it? Tobacco is a unique product. It is the only product which, when used in moderation and as the manufacturers intend, kills people. In Britain it kills more than 100,000 people a year. It is a unique product and, as a unique product, it requires a unique response.
Among the arguments against a ban are those put forward by the Euro- sceptics--I see one sitting opposite me--who dislike the idea of yet another European Community directive. But the Euro-sceptics have a choice. If they vote for the Bill, it will mean that a British law takes the step that needs to be taken in this area.
Public opinion clearly supports a ban. Yesterday, the Health Education Authority revealed the results of a survey of 5,000 people who had been randomly selected, of whom 75 per cent. said that they supported a total ban on tobacco advertising. Most surprisingly, 64 per cent.--almost two thirds--of smokers supported a total ban on tobacco advertising.
The Bill has support in all parts of the House, from smokers and non- smokers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I commend it to the House.
Column 10433.44 pm
Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes) rose --
I should like to make one thing clear before speaking against the Bill. I have no connection with the tobacco industry or with the advertising industry, although I have spent much of my business life in advertising and perhaps understand it a little more than the hon. Member for York (Mr. Bayley) who introduced the Bill. I agree, however, with 75 per cent. of what he said. The Government must do more to reduce the incidence of smoking, particularly smoking among the young. They must concentrate more than they have so far on controlling the illegal sale of cigarettes to the under-18s. They must also do much more in terms of health education to persuade not only children but their parents of the harm which, as the hon. Gentleman said, naturally comes from smoking cigarettes.
However, it is self-deception and a deception of the people of this country to suggest that banning advertising will achieve the ends that the hon. Gentleman suggests. It is a tempting and attractive short cut, but it is not working. The hon. Gentleman cited instances from New Zealand, Norway and Canada. He said that the gentleman in the health service who gave opinions on them drew into his assessment the fact that cigarettes had increased in cost in those countries, while at the same time advertising had been banned. A rational and careful analysis of the research there provides a direct link between the price of cigarettes and the drop in consumption. Therefore, the Bill, if correctly drafted, would call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tax tobacco even more, because it would have an effect on the consumption of tobacco, especially among the young. Another point which is seldom made but which is crucial is that, in a market such as that in the United Kingdom, where the advertising of cigarettes is the best developed and done with great creativity, we have the greatest incidence of the smoking of low tar cigarettes. If you are going to smoke--I am sure, Madam Speaker, that you are not--you would be wiser to choose low tar rather than high tar cigarettes, because they reduce the chance of getting cancer from a nauseous habit. It is only because of advertising and promotion that low tar cigarettes have penetrated the market as they have.
Therefore, banning advertising would do a disservice to the health of the nation and would work against the aims of the Bill and of the Government. For that reason, I humbly beg to oppose the Bill. Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 19 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business) :--
The House divided : Ayes 206, Noes 61.
Division No. 126] [3.47 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)
Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Column 1044Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F.
Berry, Dr. Roger
Bray, Dr Jeremy
Browning, Mrs. Angela
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Chaplin, Mrs Judith
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Corston, Ms Jean
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Cunningham, Dr John (C'p'l'nd)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Ms Angela
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, John (St Helens N)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret
Foster, Don (Bath)
Godman, Dr Norman A.
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hannam, Sir John
Hendron, Dr Joe
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Home Robertson, John
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kilfedder, Sir James
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Lynne, Ms Liz
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Pike, Peter L.
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Quin, Ms Joyce