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Mr. Carlisle : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The legislation would have an extraordinary effect on a company's communications by letter. Tobacco companies may wish to ask, as they have in the past, Opposition Members to attend sporting functions that they have sponsored. They would receive short shrift from some of those on the Opposition Front Bench--not all of them. The Bill would make it impossible for Opposition Members to say no in response to those letters, as they would not have received the invitations in the first place.
Mr. Cash : My hon. Friend is focusing with great accuracy on the defects of the Bill's drafting, including the matter of what is or is not an advertisement for a tobacco product, which hinges on the form of communication. Let us take the point beyond the issue of stationery that my hon. Friend mentioned. Has it occurred to my hon. Friend that communication would include all the material contained in every computer in every company throughout the country--personal and otherwise--and that those forms of communication would also have to be extracted ? Has the Bill's promoter given any consideration to the manner in which that would be achieved ?
Mr. Carlisle : My hon. Friend is right. There is another amendment-- we shall discuss it later should you consider it worthy of debate, Madam Speaker--that deals with communications that take place before the Bill, if enacted, comes into force. A situation could arise similar to that mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate when he referred to the vintage cars. The sending of a letter that did not originally constitute an offence could become an offence were that letter resurrected and later, after the enactment of the Bill, sent to an intended customer or client. I commend my extremely helpful amendment to my hon. Friends-- although some of them may think that it should be voted down.
Amendment No. 17 deals, in a similar way, with a different and important matter--entries in business directories. It deals with the problems that might arise with, for example--I hesitate to name a commercial company-- Yellow Pages , a business directory familiar to all hon. Members. The amendment will allow tobacco companies to advertise their tobacco products or put their names in a directory without fear of prosecution.
We could face an extraordinary situation were the Bill passed as drafted, as tobacco companies would not be able to put their names in a business directory to invite customers or opponents to contact them. They would be unable to do so as, according to the Bill, they could be liable to prosecution for doing so. Legitimate sellers of a legitimate product would be unable to put their names in a business directory, not necessarily to advertise but to make people aware of their presence. That would be true were the Bill not amended by the modest amendment No. 17.
Column 474Hon. Members will know that on many occasions companies ring up stating that they want to insert advertisements in business directories, when they do not. The Bill would prevent even the names of those companies appearing in the directories, which would, according to the Bill as drafted, be deemed to be advertising material. I am glad to see some of my hon. Friends shaking their heads in utter disbelief at that.
Mr. Harry Greenway : I have to be concerned--as would any hon. Member who wants to do his or her job--for my 400 or 500 constituents who work for Gallaher. Is my hon. Friend saying that, without the amendment, the Bill would mean that any advertisement for jobs or relating to the company would be banned ? That would mean that in an area where there is already serious unemployment, it would be even more difficult for people to obtain jobs. Is that not a serious matter for the House, and for me, as the Member representing those honourable people ?
Mr. Carlisle : My hon. Friend is right. That will be the fear if the Bill is implemented as drafted. The hon. Member for Rother Valley complains about our amendments, but he should have thought about the Bill properly before he brought it before the House.
The Bill contains reams of words that would be detrimental to the interests of the British people and employees in the industry or the retail sector, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans) said. The House will now have some idea of the draconian measures promoted by the hon. Member for Rother Valley. That is why we are anxious to try to amend it to make it better if possible.
Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker.
Mr. Alan Howarth : My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) described the legislation as draconian. He will be aware
Madam Speaker : Order. I have a point of order.
Mr. Dixon rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
The House proceeded to a Division--
Mr. Peter Griffiths (Portsmouth, North) ( seated and covered ) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you consult your Clerk about the assurance given one hour ago by your Deputy that those hon. Members who did not make repeated or lengthy interventions would be looked upon kindly by him when the time came for them to speak ? I have sat and followed his directions exactly, only to find myself unable to speak on the amendment in my name.
Madam Speaker : I hope that all hon. Members who have the Floor will take into consideration the fact that there are many hon. Members with differing and with similar views whose voices must be heard. I hope that hon. Members will show discipline during the debate so that hon. Members-- such as the hon. Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths)--who have tabled amendments, are allowed to speak to them. That is what I wish to see --unfortunately, some hon. Members who take the Floor tend to become a little tedious and repetitious. We have to make a little progress at some time.
Mr. Couchman ( seated and covered ) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. There is an amendment within this
Column 475group--amendment No. 43--in my name which I have not had an opportunity to debate. I hoped that I would be able to do so. I accept that my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) has a great many amendments standing in his name and that he has felt it necessary to expand at some length on them, but I am disappointed that you have not found it possible to allow me to speak to the amendment in my name. It is a very important amendment and it should be debated.
Madam Speaker : All amendments are important to me. I find it somewhat disappointing that the hon. Member for Luton, North has not allowed the hon. Gentleman to speak to his amendment.
Mr. John Carlisle ( seated and covered ) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Could you advise me as to whether being tedious is being out of order, as both you and Mr. Deputy Speaker did not pull me up too many times--in fact, almost not at all--as I tried to keep to the subject ?
Perhaps I should apologise to you, and possibly to the House, if you found it tedious, Madam Speaker. I wonder whether that word could be struck from the record, as it casts an aspersion on my ability to engage the House in conversation.
Madam Speaker : Being tedious is not being out of order ; it is a matter of opinion. The hon. Gentleman will respect all our individual opinions on matters.
The House having divided : Ayes 117, Noes 9.
Division No. 238] [11.37 am
Abbott, Ms Diane
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Bray, Dr Jeremy
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Corston, Ms Jean
Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Eagle, Ms Angela
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Godman, Dr Norman A.
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Harman, Ms Harriet
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mo n)
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Lynne, Ms Liz
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth