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Mr. Barron : The amendment as it stands probably would have been accepted if it stood on its own and was able to be debated properly. Some of the amendments which were tabled in Committee were also acceptable.
The one thing that I cannot square with the hon. Gentleman is that he says that he wants to amend the Bill
Column 509in one place, but he started his speech in relation to amendment No. 34 by saying that he did not want the Bill to succeed. Clearly, that is a matter for him.
Mr. Griffiths : I thank the hon. Gentleman for clarifying the position. The grouping of the amendments, which I do not wish to discuss, was not a matter for me. The fact that amendment No. 34 was grouped with other amendments was not the choice of those of us who wished to support that amendment.
The hon. Gentleman should take seriously the point about the practicality of carrying out restrictive activities within the commercial field. I am sure he would wish tobacco-related activities to take place in a separate section of a shop and away from the main entrance.
Another difficulty with the Bill is that the hon. Gentleman does not wish the advertising to be seen from outside the shop. I am not aware of conditions in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, but most supermarkets, convenience stores and small sweetshops and newsagents which have tobacco sections in my constituency do not switch off their lights at night. They leave all their lights on inside as a safety measure. That means that anyone walking past the windows can look inside.
I find it difficult to understand how it could be possible to ensure that the advertisements for cigarettes or other tobacco products could not be seen from outside, even in a sizable store, if the lights are left on.
That point leads me to another practical issue which was also raised earlier. Would the aim of the Bill be to black out the view of people outside by covering the shop's windows with advertisements ? Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the worst features of modern supermarkets and convenience stores is the plastering of their windows with large paper posters which get torn and defaced and which destroy the civic amenities of the area ? The idea that one could cover the windows so that one cannot look in and see cigarette advertisements seems to be utterly impractical.
If we were to take amendment 34 as a basis from which to start, and we encouraged the establishment of separate areas for the sale of tobacco goods which we would accept could be seen from outside, it would probably be useful rather than damaging.
There is one further and final point on the purely practical issue which I am to trying to raise. Many supermarkets these days use a system of automatic doors, and one has only to walk along some of the roads close to the House to see supermarkets which have automatic doors. Those can swing open as people walk past them--one does not have to go through them--and the cigarette kiosk inside can be seen. It would not be sensible that it should be an offence because a door opens to make it possible for the items to be seen. It is unlikely that many people will walk close to the door who are not on their way in to the supermarket. As they are about to go in, the doors open and the advertisement is seen when they are still outside.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will say, as he said earlier, that it is unlikely that these detailed points would be matters of issue, but I suggest that they would. There are people who take great joy in saying that they can see this, they can do that or this is a danger to them. They enjoy the contention that arises and the publicity that might arise from raising such matters.
Column 510At this late stage, I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to indicate that he accepts that there are weaknesses in his Bill with regard to the carrying out of normal, ordinary commercial activities in supermarkets and other establishments where the sale of tobacco products is perhaps a relatively small part of those activities.
Mr. Barron : The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. Clearly, most areas of law settle on these matters. Can we have black or white in what the hon. Gentleman is describing as a grey area ? I was interested to hear him say that advertisements can be seen through doors and windows. The authorities would have to be satisfied about what constitutes an advertisement. Many of the kiosks to which the hon. Gentleman referred have illuminated signs that can be seen clearly from outside. They would have to go. Alternatively, if cigarette packets are stacked on the counter, there may be advertisements which are not illuminated and which cannot be seen clearly from outside. If a few kiosks will not reposition their advertisements, I am sorry.
In the end, we must interpret the Bill as it is meant. Advertising is important when selling tobacco products--it is important to the industry in terms of brands and so on. However, it is more important in terms of public health. In the end, public health must be the dominant factor and that is why the Bill is framed in such a way--to protect public health.
Mr. Griffiths : Indeed, we do not find ourselves greatly at odds on the matter. Earlier, the hon. Gentleman said that he wished that hon. Members had addressed themselves to the consumers, rather than to the interests of those who provide the premises or who might make a profit from sales made therein.
There is a clear distinction to be drawn between informing customers and others who enter a store, and simple advertising. The role of advertising is to increase sales or to increase interest in a particular brand of product. We can have a lengthy discussion about that in a different part of the Bill. What I am saying is that we need to ensure that normal, ordinary commercial information is made available to people. The amendments in this group are worthy of careful consideration because they offer encouragement to the owners of commercial premises to come forward with changes in their premises, which would facilitate developments in public health, and recognition of the dangers that tobacco use can cause.
It is not reasonable to suggest that all the amendments tabled today were simply tabled, as the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) said--I objected when he said it--as "wrecking amendments" ; they were not. They were tabled by hon. Members who may dislike the Bill, but they were chosen to try to improve it. That is a legitimate exercise at each stage of a Bill. Proposals at Second Reading and in Committee
Mr. Griffiths : I shall give way to my hon. Friend in a moment. The fact is that such terms are used loosely sometimes. The hon. Member for Makerfield used the word "wrecking" and I objected to it. It was accepted that the amendments could not be wrecking amendments because they would not be in order. Sometimes such terms are used loosely. At the start of my speech I said that I was opposed to the Bill but I tried to show that the amendments could not be categorised as wrecking amendments.
Mr. John Carlisle : The hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) has not graced us with his presence for most of our deliberations, and perhaps I can take this opportunity to put him right. If he had been here he would have known that my short interventions on four or five amendments were helpful. In terms of the proceedings of the House I was trying to help the hon. Member for Rother Valley to improve the Bill. I made no secret of my opposition to the Bill and if at the end of the day the House or I have anything to do with wrecking it, I shall make no apology whatever for that.
Mr. Griffiths : I think that my hon. Friend's comment is in accord with what I have suggested. Perhaps it is best not to examine closely remarks made outside the House. It is better to look at those made in the Chamber.
The amendments may well aim to change the Bill but the objectives of those who tabled them are just as legitimate as the aims of those who promote and support the Bill. It is just as right to seek to improve a Bill as to promote one. I think we must accept that the Bill will not reach the statute book.
Mr. Griffiths : That is a matter of opinion, but its proposals could be improved so that on another occasion a Bill with far less contentious material could be produced and would not face lengthy and inconclusive discussions such as those that we have had on this one.
Mr. Bennett : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you confirm that it is normally considered discourteous for an hon. Member to introduce a group of amendments and then depart from the House and appear to take no further part in the debate ? Does not that suggest that rather than tabling amendments in an attempt to improve the Bill, the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Hendry) appears to have acted in a spirit of trying to damage the Bill ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : In recent years I have noticed that many courtesies of the House are beginning to fall by the wayside. That is regrettable and I hope that my words will encourage hon. Members in future to abide by the courtesies of the House.
Mr. Couchman : I am pleased at this late stage in our discussions to make a short speech because it allows me to declare that, contrary to scurrilous sedentary comments from the Opposition Front Bench, I have absolutely no interest in the tobacco industry.
Mr. McCartney : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not rising to the bait but it is important to get the matter clear. I and others have somewhat jaundiced views of the hon. Member's involvement in these matters
Column 512because he is a paid adviser to the pharmaceutical industry which makes hundreds of millions of pounds a year selling products
Mr. Couchman : The hon. Gentleman may be unaware that the pharmaceutical industry does not make cigarettes--surprise, surprise. I propose to speak only to the amendments, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths). In a brief intervention I said that my small family company runs seven London pubs. Cigarettes are sold from vending machines in those pubs, as they are in pubs and clubs throughout the country. It will be a matter of considerable concern to people who, like me, run public houses and sell cigarettes through such machines that the Bill mentions premises that are used wholly or mainly for the purpose of selling cigarettes and gives some exemptions in relation to them. Public houses and clubs do not wholly or mainly sell tobacco products ; they are a minor part of the product that we sell. They make little contribution to profit and are not much loved by any publican. But none the less there is a demand for those products and we sell them, usually through vending machines to avoid pilferage either by staff or customers.
My problem is whether advertisements for particular brands on those vending machines may or may not be seen outside the premises and thus contravene the Bill, were it to become an Act. That would leave us vulnerable and in jeopardy of draconian and substantial penalties. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths), I am extremely concerned that the Bill has been sloppily drafted. The Bill relies on interpretations on which we should not rely, for I can give many instances where bureaucrats seek to interpret something in an absolute way when the spirit of the legislation may be in a different direction.
I am very much in favour of the group of amendments being passed. I hope that the House will accept them as amendments to what is a bad Bill. I have no love whatever for the tobacco industry. It is 15 years since I smoked a cigarette, and I have a wife who had a very nasty brush with cancer through smoking. So I have no time whatever for the tobacco industry. I am worried about the sort of precedent that the Bill, were it to become law, would set for the Stalinists who introduced it.
Sir Peter Emery : Having sat here for nearly five hours, it is quite interesting that I am the first Conservative Member to be able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to speak in favour of the Bill. A considerable number of Conservative Members are in favour of it, illustrated, perhaps, by the 150 members of the all-party group on asthma, all of whom are in favour of the Bill.
Column 513I now refer to the basic health matters within the amendment, which are of considerable concern. Nobody other than those who were listening to the lobby of cigarette manufacturers does not accept that advertising has some effect in increasing the use of cigarettes, whether the advertising is outside or inside, as the amendment refers to, and I wish to stay in order. I suggest to the House that, where young children can see retail advertising, positive academic considerations and studies have shown that advertisers are increasingly moving to target directly young women and young people to encourage them to begin smoking. That cannot be right. It cannot be right for any hon. Member, whatever he or she believes, that any aspect of advertising should encourage young people to begin smoking.
I refer specifically to the approach of Professor Dame Margaret Turner- Warwick, ex-president of the Royal College of Physicians. She drew my attention to the report by professors Pierce, Lee and Gilpin, in which they studied the matter, not just for a short while but positively since 1944, as I suggested, with surveys in 1970, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987 AND 1988. Those reports found that there was not necessarily a positive increase in smoking among young men aged 18 to 20. I give both sides of the report, to be absolutely fair. As to advertising, including that on retail premises, the reports made the situation absolutely clear. Dame Margaret stated :
"The study concludes that the increased marketing and promotional activities by tobacco companies were associated with a major increase in the uptake of smoking by females younger than the legal age for purchasing cigarettes."
If that is the conclusion of a study that has been under way for 20 years, surely the House should pay attention to it.
I do not claim that there are no other major factors--of course there are. But if advertising is one factor and the House can do something, it should take a positive step. That is why I support the Bill.
The National Asthma Campaign--and I declare an interest as its chairman-- has 198 branches, and every member of them wants the Bill to progress. The House has not done itself a great service. We should consider not the interests of tobacco manufacturers but the need to reduce the incidence of lung cancer--which in many areas is becoming a greater killer than breast cancer. Smoking is the major factor, and advertising on premises and outside them must have an effect. I hope that the amendments will be defeated and that we can get on with passing the Bill.
Mr. John Carlisle : I have great respect for my right hon. Friend's views, which he expressed eloquently in Committee--he holds a distinguished post with the National Asthma Campaign. However, my right hon.
Column 514Friend and other opponents of the amendments failed to address the type of advertising that influences young people to smoke. My right hon. Friend read letters from senior members of the medical profession and quoted surveys undertaken over the past 20 or 30 years--but at no point has my right hon. Friend or the Bill's supporters indicated the sort of advertising that might attract young people to smoking--and obviously that is important.
It has been said before, and it will be said again, that many tobacco advertisements are totally misleading to non-smokers. They include hon. Members who are in some cases aged and respected members of society, having the degree of intellect that I suppose is necessary to enter the House-- although I sometimes wonder when I look at some hon. Members opposite. If we cannot understand tobacco advertising, how are we
Mr. Austin-Walker rose
Mr. Barron rose
Mr. Barron : I was interested in the hon. Gentleman's remark that he was anxious to get through the amendments, because he wrote to me on 15 May that he hoped that my Bill would be consigned to the legislative dustbin. Does an hon. Member need to be particularly articulate to comment in such a way on legislation that concerns public health and the well-being of our young people ?
Mr. Carlisle : Perhaps I made that remark because I know the type of person that the hon. Gentleman is, and I thought that he might understand that kind of language, whereas he would not have appreciated something more sophisticated.
This debate has been an interesting exercise. The hon. Gentleman presented his Bill with some eloquence but did not appeal to those of us whose fundamental concern is his unique attempt--and I am glad that at twenty- eight minutes past one o'clock one can say this--to stop 16 million people who take part in a legitimate pastime choosing for themselves whether they smoke one brand or another, or whether to smoke at all. The hon. Member for Rother Valley was trying to impose the nanny state upon the British nation- -those who smoke and those who do not--in his attempt to ban advertising of a legitimate product. To imply, as certain of my hon. Friends have done, that children will take up smoking because of advertisements that they see and that by banning them, children will be prevented from smoking, is absolute nonsense.
Under the voluntary agreement--we are about to hear about a new agreement-- the tobacco companies, in agreement with the Department of Health, specifically state that their advertisements should not be pitched at children. That does not happen and
It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
Order read for further consideration ( not amended in the Standing Committee ).
To be further considered upon Friday 15 July.
Order for Second Reading read .
Second Reading deferred till Friday 15 July.
Debate to be resumed on Friday 1 July .
Order for Second Reading read .
Second Reading deferred till Friday 20 May .
That, at the sitting on Monday 23rd May, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No.14 (Exempted business), the Speaker shall
(1) put the Question on the Motion in the name of Mr. Secretary Heseltine relating to the draft Coal Industry (Restructuring Grants) Order 1994 not later than one and a half hours after it has been made ;
(2) put the Question on the Motion in the name of Sir John Cope relating to the Value Added Tax (Education) Order 1994 not later than one and a half hours after it has been made ; and
(3) put the Question on the Motion in the name of Mr. Secretary MacGregor relating to the draft Railways
Column 516Pension Scheme Order 1994 and the draft Railway Pensions (Protection and Designation of Schemes) Order 1994 not later than Ten o'clock.--[ Mr. Conway .]
Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In view of what has happened to the Tobacco Advertising Bill, is there any way in which the House can protect the interests of hon. Members who come near the top of the list of those successful in the ballot to introduce private Members' Bills ? It was clear from day two that the Government offered me a Bill through their Whips' Office which would get through the House. Today my Bill has been subjected to a procedural mugging by the use of contemptible tactics. Is it not a contempt of the House and disgraceful that the Minister should make a statement now instead of doing so in the proper parliamentary way ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse) : The House has already considered the first part of the hon. Member's point of order. I will not respond directly to his question about contempt, but I must tell the House that I strongly deprecate what has taken place and, in particular, the fact that a press release was issued purporting to report what a Minister had said in the House before the relevant statement was made.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I place on record on behalf of my constituents my strong objection to the fact that the National Parks Bill was objected to by the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) and
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether it was clear to you whether the Government Whip knew precisely what he was doing when he objected to Government new clause 2 to the Energy Conservation Bill ? I always understood that Government Whips were paid to do the Government's business, but I had hoped that we might make enough progress on the Bill to pass a Government new clause, which had already been debated for two hours, without a Division. I would have let it through on the nod just a few moments ago.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville) : With permission, I should like to make a statement on anew voluntary agreement controlling tobacco advertising. Before doing so, however, I should like to apologise to the House for the fact that the text of the remarks that I hoped to make in the earlier debate, but did not make, were prematurely released in the Vote Office.
I am pleased to announce that the United Kingdom health Departments and the tobacco industry have concluded negotiations on the main elements of a new voluntary agreement on tobacco advertising and promotion. A number of significant new measures to control tobacco advertising will be introduced that will have a wide-ranging impact, in particular on the exposure of young people to advertisements and on the effectiveness of health warnings. I believe that they provide reassurance as to the value of the system of voluntary controls on tobacco advertising in delivering an effective level of health protection.
The main additions to the existing agreement agreed between United Kingdom Health Ministers and the tobacco industry will be : the removal of all permanent shop-front advertising for all tobacco products by the end of 1996 ; a reduction in the expenditure allowed on cigarette poster advertising by 40 per cent., which will give a new limit for cigarette poster advertising spend of 30 per cent. of the 1980 expenditure level, allowing for inflation ; the removal of all small poster advertising for cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, including bus stop advertising, although 48-sheet posters and above will still be allowed ; the removal of all mobile advertising for cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, including advertisements on buses and taxis ; the removal of all poster advertising for all tobacco products from within a 200 m radius of school entrances ; a significant increase in the size and impact of health warnings on cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco advertisements, including increasing the space devoted to the health warning to 20 per cent. of the total area of the advertisement, increasing the size of the lettering of the health warning by approximately 80 per cent. in posters and 50 per cent. in press advertisements and rotating the presentation of health warnings between black lettering on a white background and white lettering on a black background to increase impact ; the introduction of health warnings on cigar and pipe tobacco advertisements for the first time, covering 10 per cent. of the total area ; a requirement for all point-of-sale advertising material for cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco, cigars and pipe tobacco to carry health warnings, not just larger items of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco advertising ; the introduction of health warnings on certain items of promotional material for cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco, including, for example, beer mats and ash trays ; controls on the content of cigarette advertisements, currently being updated by the Advertising Standards Authority, should prevent the use of humour in cigarette advertisements that would be likely to have a particular appeal to the young ; the introduction of a new code of practice to help to ensure that free samples of cigarettes are not available to under-18s ; a ban on advertising tobacco products on computer games and other
Column 518computer software ; and provision for increased expenditure by the committee for monitoring agreements on tobacco advertising and sponsorship on monitoring compliance with the new agreement. The new agreement, which will run for five years, will be published and come into force shortly. It will need to be approved under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976.
This statement will do nothing to reduce the 300 deaths a day that are caused by the consumption of tobacco products. It is a repudiation of Professor Smee's direct advice to the Government and of the Government's "Health of the Nation" targets, which now will not be reached because of the continuation of the insidious advertising of tobacco products. The Minister did not mention how many lives would be saved or the effects of the targets on the consumption of tobacco products.
The Minister mentioned
"a reduction in the expenditure allowed on cigarette poster advertising by 40 per cent."
"a new limit. . . of 30 per cent. of the 1980 expenditure level, allowing for inflation."
What does that mean ? How much in real terms will the tobacco industry be allowed to continue to spend, year on year, to continue the consumption of its product by children to replace the 300 people a day whom it kills ?
Poster advertisements are to be removed from within 200 m of school entrances--what a joke. Does that mean that children will have to go to school with their eyes closed and not look at posters from the time they leave their houses until they get to school ? If the Minister is serious about this matter, why not take into account school premises rather than school entrances alone ? Will the industry still be able to advertise on sites opposite school playing fields and on other premises owned by education authorities ? The Minister's statement is confirmation of the fact that the Government are not serious about tackling the industry which is targeting children specifically but not only on their way to and from school ; every time children leave their homes, they are confronted by tobacco advertisements whose specific purpose is to encourage children to start smoking and then to continue doing so.
The space devoted to health warnings is to be increased to 20 per cent. of the total area covered by an advertisement. However, a few weeks ago the Government were saying that they were would be tough on the industry and would sort it out. After great negotiations--hard hours spent by the Minister for Health at his Department--there is to be a 2.5 per cent. concession. Why is there not to be 80 per cent. warning and 20 per cent. advertising ? Is it something to do with the £200,000 that the Conservatives got from this country's biggest manufacturer of tobacco products in the weeks leading up to the previous general election ? Is this the pay-off for the tobacco industry ?
As for the content of advertising, will the Minister give a commitment that the Advertising Standards Authority will introduce the new controls only after consultation with the medical profession and other interested parties ? So far, the ASA has failed disgracefully adequately to police the agreement. The fact that it has done its job inadequately