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Mr. McCartney : No, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I firmly believe that that is the case. Having sat for many hours with the hon. Member for Luton, North on the Bill--Second Reading and today--I am well convinced that that is the position. I am thoroughly disgusted by the tactics deployed by some hon. Members when we are here to try to save the lives of so many young people. If it meant my being put out of this place
Mr. John Carlisle : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you clarify the situation on whether accusing another hon. Member, in parliamentary language, of "misleading the House" is legitimate and, therefore, whether the accusation should be withdrawn.
Mr. McCartney : I did not say that the hon. Gentleman does it deliberately, and, to be honest with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what is good for the Prime Minister is good for right hon. and hon. Members. The position is clear. I will not allow the hon. Gentleman to use the tactics that he has when so many children's lives are at risk. I am passionately committed to that issue. I am disgusted with the tactics that he has deployed and the misuse of this place by hon. Members when so much is at stake. I believe firmly in what I said. I am not withdrawing it. It was a fair remark in relation to the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. John Carlisle rose
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The House is getting itself in a bit of a mess. I give to the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) the same advice that I gave the Minister. He must address his remarks to the amendments.
Mr. Carlisle : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I may have misheard, but I thought that you requested the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) to withdraw his remarks and the aspersions that he cast against me. I am not sure that he did.
Ninety per cent. of smokers pick up the habit as children or teenagers, and 60 per cent. before the age of 13. Much of that is a consequence of advertising that encourages them to smoke, some of it on retail premises. [ Hon. Members-- : "Rubbish."] Evidence for that comes not just from this side of the House but from the Government's own report by Professor Smee, which is a damning indictment of the Government's failure to act appropriately. Indicating that, Professor Smee also estimated the number of lives that would be saved if his recommendations were introduced. Conservative Members may be damning of me, but more important than their snide remarks from a sedentary position is the fact that the Government damned themselves by ignoring that independent advice.
Mr. Leigh : Does the hon. Gentleman at least agree--because he is a fair-minded man--that the removal of all shop-front advertising of tobacco products is a considerable step forward ? Does not that illustrate what can be achieved by voluntary agreement ?
Mr. McCartney : It is a pity that the hon. Gentleman did not take an interest in the subject earlier. We could have advised him that since the introduction of the voluntary agreement, 1.1 million of our fellow citizens have died as a direct result of medical complaints arising from tobacco industry products. The voluntary agreement has been a disaster. It has failed to stem the flow of deaths and injury, which is why the Government introduced targets in "The Health of the Nation". They also suggested in statement after statement that they accept that tobacco advertising contributes to such deaths. We should secure from the Government agreement on how to proceed.
Mr. Alan Howarth rose
Mr. Couchman rose
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. Before anything else, I remind the House that hon. Members are continuing to stray from the amendments. I say for the last time that if Members of either Front Bench or Back Benchers continue to go wide of the amendments--and that has been most prevalent-- the Chair will instruct them to resume their seats.
Mr. Howarth : As to advertising at the point of sale, when the hon. Gentleman suggested that advertising has a damaging effect on children, several of my hon. Friends shouted "Rubbish" from a sedentary position. Will the hon. Gentleman comment on an observation from a senior and respected figure of the advertising industry, Mr. Adrian Vickers ? He said :
"Advertising is only one of the factors that can influence children to take up smoking--but it is the only one that can be eliminated simply and quickly."
Evidence collected not just in the United Kingdom but throughout the world reveals how the pernicious use of advertising attracts young people to smoking and sustains their habit. That is why the amendments are so damaging to the principle of the Bill.
Column 5011.30 pm
The amendments are designed to protect the sale of tobacco products, but during today 50 young children will be admitted to accident and emergency units and detained in hospital because of the effects of those products. Despite that, Conservative Members are prepared to support amendments that will mortally damage the Bill. I cannot accept that there are any conceivable circumstances in which right-minded right hon. and hon. Members could support a policy that is so overwhelmingly damaging to the health of the young people of our nation.
Mr. Couchman : The hon. Gentleman has quoted at some length from the report written by Dr. Smee. Will he concede that paragraph 68(ii) and (iii) of the summary and conclusions of that report state that the evidence that advertising increases consumption is not reliable ? It states :
"Other factors such as the smoking behaviour of parents and siblings are more important."
Dr. Smee also concludes that those children who react most positively to advertising are already disposed to smoke.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I would suggest that the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) has strayed very wide of the amendment, which concerns advertising on retail premises. It is fairly obvious that my pleas, if that is the right word, for hon. Members to try to speak to the amendments have fallen on deaf ears. I will no longer be tolerant ; hon. Members must address their remarks to the amendments before the House. If hon. Members fail to do so, the Chair will have to take action.
The hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) repeated a quotation that was frequently cited on Second Reading and in Committee. On each occasion, however, hon. Members have taken that quote out of the overall context of the report and have ignored its recommendation to ban tobacco advertising.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : Is not it clear that the report's recommendations were inconvenient to a Conservative Government who need hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to finance their operations ? They are prepared to do anything as long as they get that money, including allowing advertising of tobacco products on retail premises as well.
Mr. McCartney : I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is a friend or a member of the opposition, because he is trying, quite cleverly, to get me thrown out of the House. I have no problem with his remarks. I am aware that Conservative Members who support the Bill find it embarrassing that such payments from the tobacco industry are made. Those payments undermine the campaign, which we all want to succeed, to reduce tobacco consumption among our general population and, in particular, among young people.
Mr. Robert Banks rose
Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster) rose
Rev. William McCrea : Hon. Members seem to give the impression that advertising has little effect on the minds of young people. Can the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) therefore tell me why the tobacco industry will spend millions of pounds on advertising if it has no effect on the minds of those who watch television ?
Mr. McCartney : The hon. Gentleman makes a telling and devastating remark. He is correct : the purpose of that advertising is to replace the 300 customers a day who are killed by smoking. Without that customer replacement, consumption would fall even further. It is as cynical as that. That is why Parliament should not allow itself to be manipulated by cynical supporters of the industry and should not allow public health strategy to be undermined by the amendments. Hon. Members who have supported the amendments have said nothing about the consequences for current or potential cigarette purchasers. Their comments have been directed not to purchasers of tobacco products but to the vested interests of the organisations that produce them. Interestingly, those comments have been made by hon. Members who argue that the House does little to protect consumers but mainly protects big interests.
Conservative Members who have supported the amendments have not wanted to debate the consequences of smoking, but evidence from the Department of Health shows that advertising in premises stimulates interest among young people. It is irrelevant whether that is intentional.
Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) : Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most powerful reasons for rejecting the amendments is the advice that I have received from every GP practice in my constituency and from Professor Ashton of the north-west region, who is held in high regard by the Minister and who has advised me to support the Bill ?
Mr. McCartney : No one in the United Kingdom, other than the industry, its front organisations and, it would seem, Ministers in the Department of Health, supports the amendments, which may scupper the Bill. All organisations involved in health overwhelmingly support the Bill because the consequences of maintaining the status quo inevitably will fall on GP surgeries and acute wards in the NHS.
Mr. Alan Howarth : In his consideration of the amendments, the hon. Gentleman drew attention to the importance of having regard to the interests of the consumer as well as those of the industry. I know that he is anxious to be fair, but does he agree that it is excellent that the Government are promoting health education in schools, are funding a national television advertising campaign to reinforce and develop their broader efforts of health education and are encouraging GPs to persuade their patients not to take up smoking ?
Is it not remarkably contradictory, and does it not undermine the force of all the other very good efforts by the Government, that they should continue to tolerate the advertising of tobacco products, even though it may be more circumscribed by a new voluntary code ?
Mr. McCartney : The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. On Second Reading I gave fulsome credit to the Government for the targets outlined in "The Health of the Nation" and highlighted the need for an overall policy. This part of the Bill is a small but significant part of the attempt to change the attitude to smoking and the continuation of the habit.
Mr. Robert Banks rose
Mr. McCartney : I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment. I am certainly not ignoring him ; how could I, having recently spent three weeks in the Australian outback with him ? I have very fond memories of that, but they are not relevant to the amendments. Those who spoke in favour of the amendments deliberately failed to mention the evidence that shows that children see, remember and correctly identify tobacco products. Studies have proved the correlation between that awareness and the commencement of smoking, which is why the industry puts so much effort into advertising and why it is putting so much effort into getting these amendments accepted. The amendments are an attempt to retain the status quo. It was interesting that when the Minister spoke to the amendments he did not challenge the status quo or say whether he was opposed to it. He did not even rebuke his colleagues who made the ludicrous suggestion that in some circumstances smoking was good for one's health. As I understand it, even the tobacco industry gave up the ghost on that argument some years ago, but perhaps it now has further evidence to prove that that suggestion is not ludicrous. If the Minister is serious about the issue, he should state clearly what the Government are going to do to alter the status quo as defined in the amendments.
If the status quo remains unchanged, not only will the Bill be scuppered but the Minister's statement outlining further changes to the voluntary code will be completely meaningless. Unless steps are taken to break the link between young people identifying tobacco products from advertisements and their beginning to smoke, another generation of young people aged between 11 and 13 will take up tobacco. Next year, another group of young people will be smoking 50 million packets of cigarettes bought on the strength of advertising which the amendments seek to protect.
Mr. Robert Banks : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way at last. I do not know why he is being so timid because I wish to try to help concentrate his mind on the amendments we are discussing. He has already spoken for about 42 minutes. I have no difficulty with the idea of banning the advertising of tobacco products on shop fronts and in shop windows, but I disagree whole-heartedly with the idea that advertisements inside premises, but which can be seen from outside, should be banned. That would reduce the whole legislative process to a farce and would create so much complexity--for example, could one advertise in a store provided that any door within a few feet of the advertisement was not open ? It would also make it difficult to define "premises". Kiosks on railway stations sell tobacco products, sweets, newspapers and magazines. Would they be breaking the law if they carried small advertisements for tobacco products ?
Column 504I have changed my mind. Can anyone tell me of someone dying from the passive reading of a magazine ? One can certainly die from passive smoking or from taking up the habit oneself. It is ridiculous for hon. Members to attempt to defend the indefensible in the interests of the tobacco industry, as we see in the amendments. 1.45 pm
I repeat that the amendments would maintain the status quo, which goes against the Government's policy in the White Paper, "The Health of the Nation". The targets in the document relate to the absolute necessity--the imperative necessity--to get children out of the clutches of the tobacco industry. As the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth) pointed out a few moments ago, the Bill would save the lives of 70,000 children.
Hon. Members should contemplate what they have said about the amendments when they watch Manchester United and Chelsea. They should think for a second that all the seats could be filled by children who will die early because of tobacco consumption. They should think about the attendance at Wembley. That is the extent of the catastrophe in public health which the amendments would maintain. Hon. Members should consider a stadium filled by children who will die as a result of advertising and of the role of the tobacco industry in maintaining advertising at the point of sale, where young people can see it.
Mr. Leigh : The hon. Gentleman is making a fine speech, but the trouble is that he is introducing an enormous amount of emotion. There is a complete lack of rigour in what he says. He talks about 70,000 children dying. Is he really suggesting that if we banned all cigarette advertising, there would be no smoking ? That is absurd. As we all know, the evidence on whether advertising encourages any or significant numbers of people to take up smoking is terribly mixed. The hon. Gentleman must be rigorous. He must speak to the amendments and stop introducing emotional blackmail, which does not work.
Mr. McCartney : It is interesting that when it comes to life and death, the apologists for the industry say that we are being emotional. My God, why not be emotional about the House passing up this opportunity ? The hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) would not have made his point if someone close to him was involved. The amendments should not be supported and I call on hon. Members to withdraw all of them. That will give the Minister an opportunity, at some stage, to make a proper statement. We can then rigorously examine what the Government have proposed in their secret negotiations with the tobacco industry.
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.I had hoped not to interrupt the speech by the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), but, in view of the remarks he has just made and the remarks that I should like to make, I felt it appropriate that I should speak now.
I have, of course, become aware of the difficulties that have arisen as a result of the earlier exchanges about the Minister's proposed statement. I have arranged that the Minister should make a statement at 2.30 pm on the developments in the voluntary agreement restricting tobacco advertising.
Mr. McCartney : I thank the Minister and the House for their forbearance in letting me continue my speech until we got acceptance of the principle that we had been trying to establish from the outset. I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I apologise if it got a bit hairy for you in the Chair on occasions. In the end, the Government may learn lessons from this and from last Friday's debacle. It is important to the concepts and principles of the House that hon. Members' rights are not abused, deliberately or not. I look forward to discussing the Minister's statement vigorously with him at an appropriate time today.
Sir David Mitchell (Hampshire, North-West) : I recognise the strength of views for and against the Bill, and for and against the amendments. I also recognise the sincerity with which those views are held. I support the public purpose of reducing damage to health from excessive smoking. However, the promoter's purpose is to reduce tobacco consumption by banning advertising. I do not think that that purpose will be achieved at all.
I draw the attention of the House to the fact that, in 1975, Norway banned all advertisements for tobacco. Tobacco consumption at that time was 2,254 g per head. By 1991, after a total ban for all those years, the amount of tobacco consumption in Norway had declined by 1 per cent. The United Kingdom did not ban advertising. It did something more effective : it required every advertisement to carry a warning.
I should like to tell the House of my personal experience. I used to think that the condemnation of smoking was overdone, and I used to smoke. However, the constant day in, day out message of "smoking damages your health", "smoking causes cancer", "smoking causes heart attacks" and "smoking kills" has had its intended effect and I, like so many others, now very rarely smoke.
In the UK, the consumption per capita of tobacco products is down by 36 per cent. during the period in which we have had advertisements which have to proclaim on 17.5 per cent. of their space that smoking damages one's health.
Mr. Alan Howarth : I was interested and a little puzzled by the figures that my hon. Friend cited from Norway, as my recollection is that the Smee report to the Department told us that the ban on advertising tobacco products in Norway in 1975 was followed by a 16 per cent. drop in consumption. Of course, other factors that may have contributed to that fall, but Smee was in no doubt whatever that the ban on advertising had made a significant contribution.
Is it not right that all our efforts should be working together and that we should not allow advertising to continue to offset the other good efforts that we are making ?
Sir David Mitchell : I hear what my hon. Friend says,and I make two points. The official statistics of Norway for tobacco consumption from 1975 to 1991 show that consumption per capita, in grams, was 2, 254 in 1975 and that by 1991 it had fallen to 2,224--a reduction of approximately 1 per cent. I have to say to my hon. Friend, therefore, that in that instance the total ban on advertising seems to have had little effect on the level of consumption of tobacco products. Mr. Howarth rose
Sir David Mitchell : May I complete my response to my hon. Friend ? In this country, we have not had a total ban on advertising, but we have imposed a ban in a form which requires some 17.5 per cent. of the advertising space to be devoted to a health warning. I was trying to tell the House that I, like so many others, have heeded that warning. The effect on the public is to create an awareness, which was never there before, of the fact that smoking damages one's health--that smoking is a major cause of cancer, heart attacks and death.
It seems totally counter-productive to the purpose of those who seek to improve the nation's health to remove all advertisements, which carry that important warning.
Mr. Howarth rose
Sir David Mitchell : I shall give way to my hon. Friend in a moment. There is an inwardness about much tobacco advertising which I did not even recognise until I began to look into it. Many of the advertisements do not on the face of it seem to have anything to do with tobacco smoking. That is because the advertisements are concerned with persuading people to change from one brand of tobacco to another.
For example, there is an advertisement of a man with a huge Mexican hat and it is due only to the colour of the hat that the advertisement has any impact on smoking. That is because that colour is associated with a particular brand of cigarette. I do not even know which brand of cigarettes that advertisement concerns. It clearly has no impact at all on trying to persuade people to smoke, but only on persuading them to change from one brand to another. However, right across the bottom of those advertisements in big, clear writing is the warning that smoking endangers one's health, that it kills and that it causes heart attacks, and so on.
Mr. Howarth : If my hon. Friend is saying that if we are to have advertising it is better to have health warnings accompanying the advertisements, I agree with him that far. In his study of the statistical evidence from other countries, has he looked to countries other than Norway such as, for example, Finland, Canada and New Zealand ? Each of those countries has found that a ban on advertising was followed by a significant fall in tobacco consumption and by courresponding benefits to the health of those societies.
Mr. Peter Griffiths : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understood you to rule earlier that the debate would be confined to matters that turn on the amendments before us, which deal with the structures used for advertising and whether they are viewable from outside the premises concerned. The amendments do not relate to advertising campaigns in foreign countries. I am looking at the clock and wondering whether those of us who have waited patiently to talk about the amendments will have the opportunity to do so, or whether we are to have a series of general discussions. I ask for the protection of the Chair.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The hon. Member is entitled to that, and I take his point. The debate has been going rather wide, as I have said on many occasions in the past two or three hours. I hope that the hon. Member for Hampshire, North-West (Sir D. Mitchell) will bear that in mind.
Column 507participate in the debate. I am addressing my remarks to the amendments. We are concerned with a form of advertising which may be visible outside or inside premises, and it seems relevant to consider the part of the advertisement which has to bear a health warning. In this country, per capita consumption in grams of tobacco has fallen by 36 per cent. at a time when in Norway it has fallen by only 1 per cent. What accounts for the difference ? In Norway they have banned advertisements entirely whereas we have provided that there must be a health warning. That warning--I draw attention to amendments Nos. 10 and 9- -must be clearly visible. I understand from the statement made by my hon. Friend the Minister this morning
I understand that the proportion of the advertisement devoted to a health warning is to be increased from 17.5 per cent. to 20 per cent. That is a further significant enhancement of the argument that I am advancing. We discover on inquiry that the proportion of the advertising that is devoted to health warnings throughout the country costs about £10 million a year. If the Bill is enacted, warnings about damage to health will be removed. That is entirely counter-productive to the attempt by the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) to improve the nation's health.
Mr. Barron : I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's logic. I assume that he is talking about the 17.5 per cent. of the area of poster sites that is used for health warnings and not the 82.5 per cent. that is used to advertise cigarettes. Why cannot we do as so many other countries do and arrange for publicly funded organisations such as the Health Education Authority to take over poster sites ? Then 100 per cent. of the site would be used to display a warning that people should not smoke cigarettes because of the damage that it does to public health.
Sir David Mitchell : I do not wish to detain the House as I know that other hon. Members wish to speak. I am merely saying that I do not think that I am particularly different from many other people in that some years ago, when I used to smoke, I took the view that other people were getting unduly worked up about health considerations in relation to smoking. However, I have been impacted on, as it were, and I am sure that that is the experience of many of my constituents, by the warnings carried on advertisements. The health warnings constantly hammer it home that smoking damages our health. That has made me decide that smoking is a bad thing and I rarely smoke now.
"Further there does seem to me to be an inconsistency in a policy which continues to defend tobacco advertising even in a restrictive form with a policy designed to reduce smoking further" ?
Sir David Mitchell : If the hon. Gentleman wants to go the whole hog he should bring in a Bill to ban tobacco smoking, manufacture and production. He can do so by all means, but that is not before the House at present. We are discussing amendments--I have drawn attention to
Column 508amendments Nos. 9 and 10--which deal with the effect and availability of advertising that can be seen on shop premises and the like.
It seems entirely counter-productive to the purpose of improving the nation's health that £10 million-worth of advertising warning people against the dangers of smoking should be wiped out as a result of the Bill, were it to be passed.
Mr. Peter Griffiths : It may surprise you and, I hope, give you a little pleasure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, when I say that I wish to confine my remarks to the specific wording of the amendments in the group, which must be feeling a little lonely. I can give the House the assurance that, in selecting amendment No. 34 as the one to which I appended my name, I did so entirely by myself, without influence from a commercial or any other sort of body.
In the remarks by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) I resented the cutting comment that some of us might have discussed the matter with the Whips. As a matter of principle, I would not think of doing that. I felt that that comment by the hon. Gentleman was the unkindest cut of all. My comments are independent and based on the fact that I want the Bill to be defeated--I make no bones about that. It diverts attention from the real task of dealing with public health. Attacking advertising creates various problems for all sorts of people and does not tackle the basic health issue.
When discussing the amendments I want us to consider those proposals that would facilitate the Bill's operation if they were positively and practically applied. I trust that, even at this late stage, the Bill's promoter--I know that today's debate must be disappointing for him--will look at the current proposals so that if such a Bill returns to the House on some other occasion, they can be included in it so that it gains wider support.
I particularly want to consider the structures, such as kiosks or partitioned areas within stores, that might be regarded as separate premises for the purpose of the Bill. That is an important issue, particularly for supermarkets. Surely, those who wish to see the purchasing of tobacco products to be separated from the generality of purchasing within supermarkets would welcome and want to encourage the establishment of separate areas. In my experience, most supermarkets place their tobacco products in a separate area. But most of them also place those products quite near the door so that people who come in for a packet of cigarettes do not have to walk past the bread, butter, bacon and everything else.
The Bill presents a danger that the separate areas that we would tend to welcome would also be visible from outside the store and might well fall within the specified 1 m from the door. We are considering purely practical problems. Amendment No. 34 should be seized with alacrity by the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) as a good idea. If a company or a business were prepared to separate its tobacco sales from the rest of the business--I would welcome that--would not that be evidence of good will, which, perhaps, has not been greatly in evidence today ?