Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East) : It has been a long morning, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We have just listened to 21 turgid minutes with a number of interventions. That is an extraordinarily selfish attitude when lots of hon. Members want to get in on an important debate. I was going to

Column 628

congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), but I do not have time for that. It was an excellent speech and it is an excellent initiative. Let us hope that we all have the sense to support it.

The House will remember that, three years ago, I introduced a measure designed to protect children from smoking by limiting their access to cigarettes. The Bill was called the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Bill. It was an excellent Bill whose intention, unfortunately, was nearly totally sabotaged by the Government. It got on the statute book, but with very little result. My Bill would have laid a clear duty on local authorities to prosecute in cases where the law on tobacco sales had been broken. That, however, was not acceptable to the Government, who seemed to be concerned about the cost of imposing such a firm duty on local authorities.

The legislation finally passed by the House gave local authorities far too much discretion about what action, if any, they should take to curb illegal cigarette sales. The result, as the Home Office reported this week, is that only one third of local authorities in England and Wales have brought prosecutions, even though statistics prepared for the Government by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys show that every week, 250,000 children under 16 are sold illegally a total of 17 million cigarettes. Here we have a considerable gap between the pious hopes expressed by the Government--and I quote :

"The Government is concerned to see that local authorities make proper and effective use of their powers"--

and the realities of the situation. I do not think that they really meant that. The considerable gap between that and the reality of the situation was the ineffectiveness of the intentions of my Bill. We have the same gap between pious hopes and reality in the Government's obstinate support for the voluntary code on tobacco advertising. The Government admit the principle that bans on tobacco advertising are necessary to protect children. Why else do we have the ban on television advertising? The very existence of the voluntary code is an admission that young people must be shielded from tobacco advertising. The Government admit that further bans would be beneficial-- [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members would do me the courtesy of listening, as I have waited all morning.

Mr. Cash : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Faulds : I am not giving way to the hon. Gentleman or to anyone else.

The Government admit--I shall repeat the sentence in case it was missed by anybody--that further bans would be beneficial. The Secretary of State has suggested that at least 1,100 lives a year could be saved. The Government admit the need to improve the present position. Health Ministers say that they "see scope"--I am sure that the Minister will contradict me if I am wrong--for tackling poster advertising, shop front displays and cigarette advertisements in women's magazines. But then comes the fatal flaw--that gap, again, between pious hope and reality.

The Government continue to believe that voluntary agreements with the industry are the best way in which to control tobacco advertising. What pious nonsense, and they know it is. Ministers know what sort of industry they are dealing with. It is an industry which creates death. Why are they so reluctant to try to control it? We all know the answer. It may be unpopular to make this comment, but it is a fact. The Conservatives' electoral campaigns are

Column 629

funded to a considerable extent by the tobacco industry. Surprise, surprise that there should be such reluctance to do anything about restraining that industry's advertising.

The Secretary of State, who regrettably is not here this morning-- apparently she has better things to do--has been quoted as saying that the tobacco industry would find ways to "wriggle round"--her phrase--a statutory ban on advertising. But the voluntary code is negotiated between industry and the Government. Does not the Secretary of State think that the industry will wriggle even harder during those negotiations and only agree, when pushed, to something that it already plans to undermine by taking a different approach? What scope is there in all those secret negotiations for the views of parents and of others concerned with children's health to be heard? The voluntary code is an abject failure, and we all know it, because the public have no voice in its devising and find it almost impossible to understand once it is drawn up. Even professional trading standards officers, when approached by concerned members of the public, find it hard to tell whether an advertisement for tobacco is in breach of the code--if, of course, they can get hold of the code in the first place.

Do hon. Members realise--I am sure that they do not. I am sure that they do not realise--

Mr. Fabricant : Prompt.

Mr. Faulds : I am giving a moment's contemplation--I rarely needed prompting and certainly not from that bunch. I was a real professional then and I am a real professional now. I am so relieved that I have managed to gain the attention of the House ; perhaps I can retain it for a few minutes more. I do not want to hear the conversation of Conservative Members. I want them to hear my conversation.

Do hon. Members realise that the committee set up to monitor the working of that mish-mash of a voluntary code does not even have its own telephone number? If one rings directory inquiries and asks for COMATAS--perhaps it should be more properly called comatose--the Committee for Monitoring Agreements on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship supposing--

Mr. Couchman : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The annuncators are saying "Points of Order". It has seemed to be a remarkably long point of order from the hon. Gentleman, who has been speaking for the past 10 minutes.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : The Chair is not responsible for the annunciator.

Mr. Faulds : As so often is the problem with Conservative Members, the fellow is not even numerate. He has his figure wrong. It is not surprising.

Mr. John Carlisle : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you enlighten the House, as dark rumours are abounding that you may be considering allowing the motion to be moved in the not-too-distant future? There are still a number of us who are waiting to speak. Our anxiety is that, in your wisdom--

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The Chair never discloses what the Chair is thinking.

Mr. Carlisle rose--

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. No more points of order.

Column 630

Mr. Faulds : The hon. Gentleman, if one can use the term, has made a speech about five times over this morning.

The Committee for Monitoring Agreements on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship, if one knows that mouthful of words, is not listed if one asks the telephone inquiries service. How effective it must be and how easy for the public to make their comments. In fact--

Mr. Robert Banks : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Are you aware that there have been long speeches in the debate and a statement and that, if a closure motion were to be moved, the House would have to be reminded that only two hon. Members have spoken against the Bill? That is wholly unfair--

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The matter of closure is nothing to do with the number of Members who speak for or against any Bill. The closure motion is a matter of judgment for the Chair.

Mr. Leigh : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What is a matter for you is to ensure that there is balanced and fair debate. I know that-- [Interruption.] I know that you have a difficult task because every hon. Member who has wished to speak from the Opposition Benches has, naturally enough, wanted to support the Bill. That has meant, as my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) said, that there have been two speeches against the Bill and eight in favour. During my 10 years in the House, I have never attended a debate in which eight hon. Members have been allowed to speak for a Bill and only two allowed to speak against it. That is absurd. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Member should reflect that the Chair does his or her best when making a judgment. The Chair does not know who will speak about what--some hon. Members change their minds. Speeches have been very long today ; the length of some hon. Members' speeches has meant that others have not managed to contribute to the debate. Perhaps that fact will be borne in mind on future occasions.

Mr. Barron : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It seems unlikely that the debate will continue much further in an orderly manner. Therefore, I beg to move, That the Question be now put. Question put, That the Question be now put :--

The House divided : Ayes 227, Noes 17.

Division No. 120] [2.11 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene

Ainger, Nick

Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)

Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)

Allen, Graham

Alton, David

Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)

Ashton, Joe

Austin-Walker, John

Banks, Tony (Newham NW)

Barnes, Harry

Barron, Kevin

Bates, Michael

Battle, John

Beggs, Roy

Beith, Rt Hon A. J.

Bell, Stuart

Benn, Rt Hon Tony

Bennett, Andrew F.

Benton, Joe

Berry, Dr. Roger

Betts, Clive

Blair, Tony

Blunkett, David

Boateng, Paul

Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Burden, Richard

Byers, Stephen

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)

Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)

Campbell-Savours, D. N.

Column 631

Canavan, Dennis

Clapham, Michael

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clelland, David

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Congdon, David

Connarty, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Corbett, Robin

Corbyn, Jeremy

Corston, Ms Jean

Cousins, Jim

Cox, Tom

Cryer, Bob

Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)

Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)

Darling, Alistair

Davidson, Ian

Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)

Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)

Denham, John

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Dobson, Frank

Dover, Den

Dowd, Jim

Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth

Eastham, Ken

Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Enright, Derek

Ewing, Mrs Margaret

Fabricant, Michael

Faulds, Andrew

Fisher, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Forman, Nigel

Foster, Rt Hon Derek

Foulkes, George

Fraser, John

Fry, Sir Peter

Fyfe, Maria

Galloway, George

Gapes, Mike

Gerrard, Neil

Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)

Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Gunnell, John

Hain, Peter

Hall, Mike

Hannam, Sir John

Hanson, David

Harman, Ms Harriet

Henderson, Doug

Hendron, Dr Joe

Heppell, John

Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.

Hill, Keith (Streatham)

Hinchliffe, David

Hoey, Kate

Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)

Home Robertson, John

Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Howarth, George (Knowsley N)

Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)

Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Simon (Southwark)

Hume, John

Hutton, John

Illsley, Eric

Ingram, Adam

Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)

Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)

Janner, Greville

Jessel, Toby

Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mo n)

Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)

Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)

Jowell, Tessa

Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald

Keen, Alan

Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)

Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)

Kilfedder, Sir James

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)

Kirkwood, Archy

Leighton, Ron

Lewis, Terry

Litherland, Robert

Livingstone, Ken

Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)

Loyden, Eddie

Lynne, Ms Liz

McAllion, John

McCartney, Ian

McCrea, Rev William

Next Section

  Home Page