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Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. Following a previous long intervention, I informed the House that I would not tolerate another. Many hon. Members want to catch my eye, and some of them are making long interventions. I may bear that in mind.
Sir Trevor Skeet : I am much obliged. I feel that I have done justice to the amendments. I much regret that I cannot answer my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Howarth), but perhaps I shall be able to deal with his point on another occasion, with full force.
I make a final plea to the hon. Member for Rother Valley. If he is wise, he will take into account the fact that another side must be considered--that most of his arguments are wrong. It is for my hon. Friend the Minister to declare the nature of the voluntary arrangement so that the House may be informed
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I have already intervened in the remarks of the hon. Gentleman on that very point. The House is discussing not what happened last night or what the Government may or may not decide, but a particular group of amendments.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : What is happening in this Chamber today is a constitutional outrage. [ Hon. Members-- : "Oh."] We know, and I will prove, that Conservative Back Benchers tabled nearly 100 amendments paid for by the tobacco industry. I will show that the amendments that we are now debating--moved almost entirely by one hon. Member and supported by
Column 455three other hon. Members--have been arranged through a public relations company and parliamentary agents in central London. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association is responsible for many of the amendments that we are discussing today and, in particular, that just moved by the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet). Philip Morris is a member of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association and it is a client of Ian Greer Associates. Ian Greer is employed as an adviser to Philip Morris. The account principal at Ian Greer Associates is Simon Milton. Ian Greer introduced Philip Morris to Sharpe Pritchard, solicitors and parliamentary agents
Mr. John Carlisle : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House seeks your guidance as to whether the aspersions cast against hon. Members are in order. That is obviously for you to judge. It is also for you to judge--having mildly chastised my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet) for moving off the amendments--whether the hon. Gentleman's remarks are in order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The hon. Gentleman may rest assured that I am listening carefully to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell- Savours). If he does not remain in order, he will be ruled out of order.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : I shall endeavour to prove the motive of the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, North in tabling amendment No. 39, because that has some bearing on whether the House should be prepared to accept it.
Mr. H.M.V. Pritchard of Sharpe Pritchard was the solicitor responsible for organising the drafting of what were described to me as wrecking amendments in the trade. It is interesting that they all stand
Mr. Leigh : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it to be a new principle of the House that an hon. Member can speak in any way that he likes about another hon. Member's motives in tabling an amendment ? I might speak on this and talk about a voluntary agreement. It is absurd. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is ranging way beyond the ambit of the amendments.
Mr. Campbell-Savours : Upstairs in the Public Bill Office, hon. Members can find a box containing all the amendments submitted by hon. Members, having been briefed by their own Whips and by parliamentary agents as to the merits of the amendments that they drafted.
What is interesting about the amendments
Mr. John Carlisle : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is now casting further aspersions on the Government's Whips Office by suggesting that it colluded in the drafting of the amendments. Is the hon. Gentleman in order when he casts such aspersions ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : So far, the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) has not been out of order, and I can assure the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) that I am listening closely.
"In Parliament in the Session 93-94."
Those of us who understand such matters--hon. Members should be doing their homework--know that that means that they were all drafted by parliamentary agents, although they may have been tabled by certain hon. Members. They were all drafted by the parliamentary agents to whom I referred.
The reality is that the amendments were the product of two meetings that were held at the Department of Health at the end of February and at the beginning of March. My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) managed to establish that fact and, some months ago, he tabled a parliamentary question about them, because representatives of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association were present at those meetings when the tabling of amendments, if not their nature, was discussed. The purpose of that discussion was to ensure that parliamentary agents could properly understand the nature of the amendments that they were required to draft.
Mr. John Carlisle : I have been worried about the hon. Gentleman for a long time and obviously my concern is fully justified. Can he enlighten the House as to whether he knows of any consultations that his hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley had with the Department of Health about the Bill, and the clauses and amendments that his hon. Friend may have drafted, once he was successful in the ballot ? Does the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) know whether his hon. Friend discussed the Bill with the Department of Health ?
Mr. Campbell-Savours : That is not relevant to my contribution. If that is the case, however, I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley will intervene to confirm that. There is nothing wrong, in principle, with such meetings. If my hon. Friend had them, he would have been doing his job, because he was obviously seeking the widest possible consultation.
Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The basis of the allegations made seems to be that certain hon. Members have sought professional assistance from solicitors, parliamentary agents and other people outside the House to draft amendments. This important matter affects us all across the range of our parliamentary work. Would you confirm, for the purpose of removing any ambiguity, that, when trying to amend legislation, there is absolutely nothing wrong in obtaining professional advice, including that from lawyers, to ensure that any amendments that one tables are properly drafted and technically effective ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : All hon. Members are aware of the procedures and customs of the House. Before the hon. Member for Workington rises, let me repeat that the preliminaries are over and he must speak to the amendments.
Mr. Barron : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was not aware of what my hon. Friend the Member for Workington intended to say, but I can tell the House that I received a letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health earlier this week, in which he stated :
"Neither I nor any of my Ministerial colleagues nor any officials in the Department of Health have been involved in the preparation of any of the 108 amendments or 5 new clauses".
Will the Minister confirm that those amendments were discussed at the meetings in February and March with representatives of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association ? If that is true, I should like a ruling from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, about whether that is
Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that those who are complaining about today's amendments are the self-same people who put down hundreds of amendments to the Abortion (Amendment) Bill ?
Mr. Campbell-Savours : It is difficult for me to respond to a point of order with a point of order, but, for the benefit of the hon. Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies), suffice it to say, yes, it is perfectly correct that hon. Members may ask outside draftsmen to draft amendments ; but the question is who pays the bill. According to a Speaker-approved list of charges, which was published for 1993, the standing charge, rate per hour, for parliamentary agents or solicitors' partners is
Mr. Campbell-Savours : I will discuss those amendments, but let me say that that bill was paid by a member of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association--at a rate of £146 an hour. The amendments that Tory Members have tabled
Mr. Couchman : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member is casting aspersions on those people who wish to improve the Bill. [Interruption.] Would he care to tell the House who paid for the Bill to be drafted in its first dreadful Stalinist form ?
Mr. Campbell-Savours : Amendments Nos. 39, 78, 79, 80, 95, 2, 17, 28, 23, 22, 98, 99, 107, 30, 29, 42 and 57 have all been paid for by the tobacco industry. Tory Members are being used to destroy a Bill that everyone wants because we all know that smoking damages people's health. The behaviour of the Conservative Party today is a disgrace.
Column 458hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell- Savours), who cast aspersions on me, my hon. Friends and the industry.
I will confine my remarks to the amendments and give notice that I wish to move the following amendments : Nos. 78, 79, 18, 95, 2, 17, 28, 23
Mr. Carlisle The amendments will obviously be debated, but since all the amendments are different, I will ask the House to divide on each one.
Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North) : When my hon. Friend or any other hon. Member refers to the "industry", I should like to point out that they are talking about 500 of my constituents who work most honourably for Gallaher in Northolt. They are fine people and as honourable as anyone in the House or outside it. They cannot be condemned wholesale, as they have been by certain hon. Members. I will not have it.
Mr. Carlisle : The Bill will affect the employment of several thousand of our citizens, many of whom are honourable citizens employed by tobacco companies. One would have thought that Opposition Members would be somewhat more sympathetic not only to those employed in the manufacture of tobacco, but to those in the retailing of it whose livelihood is threatened by the Bill.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, North (Sir T. Skeet) dealt ably and comprehensively with amendment No. 39 and I should like to discuss amendment No. 38.
Mr. Quentin Davies : My hon. Friend has referred to the Bill's inherent dangers to employment. Does he have in mind the dangers to employment in the advertising industry or in the tobacco industry ? If he is arguing that the Bill would endanger employment in the tobacco industry, he is accepting the thesis that if tobacco advertising is banned, the consumption of tobacco will fall and, therefore, the turnover of, and employment in, the tobacco industry will fall. That is a central argument in this debate and it is interesting that my hon. Friend, given his views on the Bill, accepts that thesis.
Mr. Carlisle : I hear the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies), for whom I have the utmost affection and respect, but part of the crux of the Bill is whether the House should seek to ban the advertising of what is, like it or not, a legitimate product. The basis of the argument is whether we, for the first time in our history, should consider banning a product that is legitimately used by some 16 million people.
Mr. Flynn : The hon. Gentleman, almost certainly inadvertently, said that the Bill sought to ban the sale of a product, but it does not. That is the second time that that has been said. It seeks to ban the advertising of a product, which is different. Will he correct what he said ?
Mr. Carlisle : The hon. Gentleman is sitting a long way from me ; perhaps he did not hear exactly what I said. He should check Hansard . The Bill will ban the advertising of a legitimate product. I agree that some Opposition Members would like to ban the use of that product, but we are not debating that.
Mr. Leigh : Is not the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Mr. Davies) that it is a proven fact that, each year, about 7 per cent. of smokers change their brands ? If one were to ban advertising, therefore, there would be much less brand switching, which would affect employment in tobacco companies and the ability of foreign tobacco companies to export to this country.
Mr. Carlisle : My hon. Friend is right. He is perhaps being modest in his assumption, because I understood that 26 per cent. of smokers change brand each year. That is what the advertisers are after. As my hon. Friends will know, to many of us non-smokers, cigarette advertisements are virtually gobbledegook--we do not understand them. I do not see, therefore, how they can attract people into smoking.
Mr. John Austin-Walker (Woolwich) : Does the hon. Gentleman accept that a number of non-smokers are children and that they do not find advertisements gobbledegook ? Those advertisements have a substantial impact on young people and their take-up of smoking.
Mr. Carlisle : Obviously, the hon. Gentleman has not seen the evidence and the proof. We all deplore children smoking, including the tobacco industry. Children begin to smoke because of the influence of parents, brothers and sisters and because it is fashionable. According to the latest report from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, advertising was not even in the first 10 reasons given by children as to why they take up smoking. I share the hon. Gentleman's view that we should do all we can to discourage smoking among children. To a certain extent, that is what the voluntary agreement is all about. If he wishes me to, I shall read the relevant passages of the agreement.
Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley) : The hon. Gentleman made great play of the aspersions that he said were cast against him at the beginning of the debate. Will he clarify whether he drafted the amendments or whether they were paid for by the tobacco industry ? Were Ian Greer Associates involved with their drafting ?
Mr. Carlisle : I do not know whether you would find it in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I went down that line, but I am happy--you seem to be shaking your head, so I shall apologise to the hon. Lady because, although I should have liked to give her a full and honest answer to her question, I cannot do so.
Mr. Walter Sweeney (Vale of Glamorgan) : My hon. Friend said that young people probably take up smoking for a variety of reasons other than advertising. I accept that peer group pressure must be a far greater cause. Does he
Column 460accept, however, that cigarette advertising is bound to have some influence on young people and that that is justification for the Bill ?
Mr. Carlisle rose
Mr. Flynn : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, which I raised earlier, but which has not been respected. I suggested that it would help the reputation of the House if hon. Members made it clear, to absolve us from any suggestion of partial influence, whether they or their party have had any financial inducements or favours from the tobacco industry.
Mr. Carlisle : I am anxious to help the House and keep to subject of the Bill, but I should like, if I may, to answer my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Sweeney) on the issue of children smoking. Any form of advertising is bound to wash off on children to a certain extent. The available evidence, which has been produced by non-biased lobby groups, shows that advertising is not--let me be kind to my hon. Friend--a prime reason why children take up smoking. They take it up because of the other reasons that he mentioned.
In many cases, advertising is bound to have some influence on children, whatever the product. The voluntary agreement specifically states that there shall not be any advertising directed at young people. That is in the agreement, and who knows what the new agreement will say if my hon. Friend has a chance to speak, which he may not have if Opposition Members keep interrupting me ?
Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth) rose
Mr. Campbell-Savours : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not want to query your ruling, but there is a precedent, approved by Madam Speaker, for hon. Members asking other hon. Members whether they have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in an issue. Will you consider your ruling that my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) must keep specifically to the amendment ? As I understand it, he can keep to it yet still ask whether the hon. Gentleman's company has a relationship or is expecting to have a relationship with any company or firm involved in the tobacco industry.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I repeat the advice that I have already given : all right hon. and hon. Members know the procedures and are aware of the Register of Members' Interests. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) is responsible for his speech, to whom he gives way and the answers that he gives.
Mr. Carlisle : It may be of help to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the House if I say that the Register of Members' Interests is accurate on my interests : there is no mention of tobacco companies. I would plead guilty to attending various sporting functions at the invitation of tobacco companies, but some Opposition Members have enjoyed the hospitality of tobacco companies, such as the Benson and Hedges final, some years ago. Those hon. Members are not here, so it would not be fair to name them or say whether they were an Opposition spokesman on sport
Mr. Campbell-Savours : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Do you accept that there is a distinction between an hon. Member receiving a ticket for a visit to a sporting function, which I have never done and would never do, and his or her moving an amendment that relates to an industry from which he or she has received such benefits ? That distinction is the reason why the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) cannot relate his position to that of my hon. Friends or any other hon. Member.
Mr. Carlisle : Enormous aspersions are being cast on my integrity in relation to the Register of Members' Interests. I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I have registered my interests, as I want to do, and there is no indication that they involve a tobacco company. I repeat, I have received their hospitality, as have Opposition Members, several times. I have attended functions
Mr. Carlisle : We have all enjoyed the hospitality and the games. I know that the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) enjoys games sponsored by tobacco companies and I do not criticise him for that. He especially enjoys rugby league and has attended several games sponsored by tobacco companies. May I return
Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman has raised this matter for the sake of a filibuster, but I place it on record that I attend sporting matches at the behest of no one, especially not at that of the tobacco industry which I abhor because of its attempts to sponsor sports, including my own, and to use that sponsorship as a way of disguising its disgusting products. The hon. Gentleman has been informed on numerous occasions by the Rugby Football League that his accusations are completely false and erroneous.
Mr. Alan Howarth : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. For reasons that we all accept, there was no opportunity yesterday to question the Leader of the House on the business statement in the usual way. It is a convention of the House that, if the Government are to make a statement on a Friday, they do so at 11 am. We are
Column 462now approaching that time. Have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, received notification from the Leader of the House that he intends to make an announcement about the Government's plans to make further time available for consideration of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill ?
This is an urgent and important matter. It is a week since the fiasco of the Bill's Report stage and a fortnight since the House passed a resolution requiring the Government to provide time to enable us to complete consideration of the Bill. Will you convey to the Lord President on our behalf the fact that it would be wholly unacceptable for the Government to ignore the will of the House
Amendment No. 78 would delete the words "specific tobacco product". We must ask what exactly is a "specific tobacco product" ? The term is extremely ambiguous. A cigarette is clearly a tobacco product, as is a cigar, but I fear that the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) has in mind a specific type of tobacco product.
Most of the amendments that I have tabled are modest, but they are important in their own way. Amendment No. 78 is such an amendment and seeks to provide a better definition of what the hon. Gentleman means by the word "specific". I believe that that is helpful, although some of my colleagues may not think so and may vote against the amendment if given the opportunity to do so. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to explain the word "specific", I shall be happy to give way to him ; but he clearly does not wish to do so.
Amendment No. 79 also goes to the heart of the Bill. It is a probing amendment and deals with the word "communication" which appears frequently in the Bill. We have every right to ask what exactly the sponsor means by the word "communication". Does it mean communication by word of mouth or by mail shots, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, North ? Does it mean advertisements ? When is something an advertisement and when is it not an advertisement ?
Mr. Cash : On my hon. Friend's earlier point about what is or is not a tobacco product, is he aware that ubiquinone, otherwise known as vitamin Q, is found naturally in our bodies, but can be synthesised from tobacco leaves ? It boosts the immune system, helps combat high blood pressure, aids the regeneration of cells and acts as an anti-oxidant. Therefore, the prevention of certain advertisements could be deleterious to health.
Mr. Carlisle : I agree with my hon. Friend. That is why we need a clearer definition. He is probably aware that tobacco can be used medically to calm people down and should perhaps be distributed a little more frequently to the hon. Member for Workington. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that, without a proper definition as sought by amendment No. 78, we could be banning the advertising of substances that are beneficial to the health of the nation.