Previous Section Home Page

Column 362

aware of the strength of feeling about that point by people in the industry, and at this stage, as my hon. Friend correctly speculated, I have to say that I and my ministerial colleagues will consider carefully all those details before deciding the final form of the regulations.

It has been suggested--my hon. Friend mentioned it--that it is inconsistent to consider legislating against the advertising of infant formula while refusing to take similar action in the case of tobacco. The fundamental issues involved are not the same. Cigarette smoking is a matter of personal and adult choice, and the Government believe that voluntary agreements with the tobacco industry provide the best way of controlling its advertising.

It does not follow that the same solution is appropriate for infant formula advertising, where we are seeking to protect the best interests of people who are unable to exercise their own personal choice--the new-born. It is necessary to consider each case on its merits, and to explore all the options before reaching a decision. Consultation, as my hon. Friend is aware, is a fundamental part of that process.

I am aware that the European Community directive requires member states to implement its provisions by 1 June 1994. It is quite possible that our regulations will not be finalised, and made and laid before Parliament, by then. That will obviously have consequences for the coming into force date that the Government will need to consider.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the arguments that he raised in the debate. I can assure him that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will bear all his arguments in mind when we consider the way in which the draft UK regulations should best be finalised, which we hope to do soon. I will ensure that my hon. Friend is informed when that occurs. I once again congratulate him on an extremely well-informed and interesting speech.

The motion having been made after Ten o'clock and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Deputy Speaker-- adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order. Adjourned at five minutes to Twelve midnight.

Written Answers Section

  Home Page