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Mr. Hendry : With the greatest respect, my hon. Friend has asked the wrong person. I cannot tell him the answer, because it is not covered by the Bill. The Bill is sloppily drafted and inadequate. It makes no definition whatever of how those terms should be defined.
Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South) : Does my hon. Friend agree that, because of the changing level of tobacco consumption and the fact that many more outlets, such as supermarkets, sell cigarettes than did, say, 30 years ago, only a very small number of shops could say that the majority of their turnover comes from cigarettes. If one used the criterion of turnover, profits or whatever, it would relate to very few shops indeed, and it would be a draconian change in the law.
Mr. Hendry : I strongly agree. We could also take it a little further and look at the fact that, within a supermarket, where, proportionally, a small proportion of its floor space is given over to the retailing of tobacco, its sales and profits from that would be infinitely higher than that of a newsagent in a small retail outlet, where the amount of space given over to the sale of tobacco would be significantly higher as a proportion.
Mr. Barron : I feel that I should help the hon. Gentleman. Given that he sat on the Committee, I am surprised that he has not read the Bill in its entirety, which is a great shame given that it is such a small Bill in terms of its clauses. The Bill makes it an offence to advertise or promote tobacco products. Usually, if anybody in this country breaks the law, it is the police, not any bureaucrat from a local authority or anywhere else who takes action
Column 482against law breakers. I shall be grateful if the hon. Gentleman reads his own Bill. He would then know that advertising can be displayed on premises that sell only tobacco products, provided that it cannot be seen outside. We are seeking to extend that principle.
Mr. Alan Howarth : My hon. Friend agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall), who characterised the Bill as draconian. My hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Hendry) was educated at a school that excelled in classical studies, so he will know that Draco was an Athenian law maker under whose rule many trivial activities were punishable by death. Would it not be fairer to say that the existing legislative regime relating to tobacco products is draconian ? Is not that borne out by the comments of, for example, Sir Richard Doll, who said that the Bill's introduction would save 70,000 premature deaths a year ?
Mr. Hendry : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning the outstanding classical education that he and I received. I believe that I might even have been taught by my hon. Friend's father, in the course of getting a grade 1 pass in O-level Latin. Unfortunately, my Greek was less powerful, so I am grateful for my hon. Friend's assistance.
The principle in the Bill is that advertising encourages smokers to switch brands. We have covered that point in great detail already. Some £3 billion of sales are accounted for by switching by customers who are not committed to a particular brand. They are a legitimate target for tobacco companies in persuading their customers to choose one brand rather than another.
Mr. McCartney : Speaking of customers, since this debate started-- with a somewhat cavalier attitude being taken by some Conservative Members- -56 customers of tobacco products have already died, 10 children have been admitted to hospital and one child under the age of one has died prematurely because of the effect of tobacco products. Will the hon. Gentleman comment on that ?
Mr. Hendry : The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, because of Madam Speaker's strictures, I cannot do so. If the hon. Gentleman will refer to the proceedings in Committee, he will learn that I addressed those precise points. I and the overwhelming majority of my hon. Friends, if not all of them, have a deep commitment to seeing the Government's targets in "The Health of the Nation" achieved. The amendments would remove the necessity to take "wholly or mainly" into account and would allow a more generous application of the principle. They would also give the Secretary of State the power, if that provision is not removed, to decide how those terms should be determined.
The Bill also states that advertising inside premises should not be visible outside. That returns us to the whole issue of communication. Reference was made to the obscure nature of much tobacco advertising. I think that the most obscure of all that I have seen showed a red traffic light with a sign underneath saying "Smoking kills." I cannot understand any person saying, "Good heavens. Smoking kills, so I must go out and buy something to smoke." Another advertisement shows cut silk. What 16-year-old would say, "I have just seen an obscure poster with a piece of silk slashed in half, so I must start smoking--which otherwise I would not have done" ?
Column 483Yesterday's Evening Standard published another advertisement that depicted a particularly vicious, man-eating plant, with the remains of the groin of a pair of purple jeans stuck in its mouth. That would put me off smoking for ever. It would make me wince with pain rather than make me think that smoking was an enjoyable activity. Much tobacco advertising is obscure, and on many adverts the only wording that appears is "Smoking kills you", "Smoking damages your health" or "Do not smoke in front of children." Such advertising is so unlikely to make people start smoking that it is almost irrelevant.
Mr. Forman : Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent every year on tobacco advertising. That advertising has become more and more subtle and subliminal--and as my hon. Friend said, it is principally about market share. Nevertheless, the fact remains that tobacco companies perceive it as worth while to undertake such advertising. Will my hon. Friend explain how that can be ? Otherwise, the only possible explanation is that the tobacco companies are wasting their money.
Mr. Hendry : I tried to cover that point, but I will repeat my argument for my hon. Friend's benefit. Some £3,000 million a year is spent by smokers on one tobacco brand or another. Tobacco manufacturers do not spend hundreds of millions of pounds but about £50 million a year. If one can influence a £3,000 million market by spending £50 million, that--as I am sure my hon. Friend, who is immensely knowledgeable in economic and business matters, would agree--is a sensible business proposition.
The provisions in the Bill relating to advertisements visible outside premises are wholly unworkable. They would require premises to be boarded up like some unpleasant sex shop. I apologise for introducing unpleasant terminology but to abide with the law, it would have to be arranged that nobody could look through the window of any premises and see any tobacco advertising or other indication of the product. If some interfering little individual standing on a soap box with a periscope, looking over the signs in the window, could see such advertising, then, under the Bill, those premises would be breaking the law. That is nonsense.
Mr. Couchman : I am involved in a small company that runs a number of public houses that sell cigarettes in vending machines. Would my hon. Friend venture to suggest that under the Bill, if such vending machines could be seen from the window of those public houses, they would represent an offence--because they carry a row of advertisements above each column of the machine, indicating which brand is available ? Would the bureaucrat concerned consider that an offence ?
Mr. Hendry : Undoubtedly. It goes further. One sees in almost every newsagents a clock behind the counter that bears on its fascia the name of a tobacco product. Such an item would also be considered illegal. I do not believe that such clocks have ever made someone start smoking, yet under the Bill they would be made illegal.
Mr. Robert Banks : Is it not also the case that behind the counter at which one pays, near the entrance of many small shops, a rack of cigarettes is displayed ? I could take my hon. Friend to a dozen or more shops in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster to illustrate that point. Anyone looking through the door of such a shop could see the cigarettes behind the counter.
Mr. Barron : In Committee, the hon. Gentleman missed the point that the Bill allows the advertising of tobacco products at the point of sale. A vending machine and a shop counter are both at the point of sale. However, hon. Members in all parts of the House know that the windows of school tuck shops are covered with advertisements for tobacco products, and that shop sun awnings, static advertising boards and illuminated signs promote tobacco products. They are not necessary to promote a product that is on sale inside a shop, properly placed. The hon. Gentleman should know that-- it was debated at length in Committee.
Mr. Hendry : The hon. Gentleman fails to grasp the point that the Bill specifically states that people outside a shop should be unable to see point-of-sale adverts. It is possible that some little person from ASH may crawl on his hands and knees, look through a letter-box and see such an advert inside a shop. Such a possibility should be outside the terms of the Bill. The hon. Member for Rother Valley appears to argue that every shop window should be covered with placards and posters advertising something else to ensure that no one, however hard he tries, can see an advert of any description for a tobacco product.
Mr. Nigel Evans : The fascia in my retail establishment advertising Peter Stuyvesant has been replaced by Coca-Cola. We have only rather dull cigarette advertisements on the shop window giving the price of the product. I find it difficult to understand why certain people will not come into my retail establishment, but some people just pass the window, although they do look in. The majority of people do not smoke. If we ban advertising, however, we would deny people the opportunity to read that 17.5 per cent. of an advert that carries the words "smoking kills". Who will pay for such advertisements, which have a useful role in warning youngsters and all sorts of other people that smoking damages health, to appear in my shop window ?
In trying to educate the public about smoking with a view to achieving the "Health of the Nation" targets, we are trying to make the public and the consumer better informed. We want the public to know when a new low-tar cigarette is available. We want them to know that they should be encouraged to switch from a high-tar brand to a low-tar brand. That information is relevant to people.
Mr. Hendry : It should not just be offered at the point of sale. Why not tell people who are currently smoking a high-tar cigarette that a low- tar equivalent of a similar taste is available, which would do less damage to their health ? Such key facts are vital. If we ban the advertising of tobacco, competition will be based on price. The winners will be those cheap, imported
Column 485high-tar cigarettes, which will cause more damage to the health of our people and set us back in our battle to try to discourage people from smoking.
Mr. Forman : I can see why my hon. Friend and many hon. Members would want information to be conveyed particularly to young potential smokers about the dangers of smoking and the fact that it causes death. Why should the tobacco industry want to spend money deliberately to reduce its own market ? That is entirely counter-intuitive and that is why I doubt the good faith of the tobacco industry.
Mr. Hendry : I will endeavour to answer that. If a market is switching, producers will target advertising towards it. When my hon. Friend or his wife go out to buy Persil or Daz, they will be aware of the advertising campaign that endeavours to persuade them to buy one brand rather than the other. The producers do not tell my hon. Friend to wash his clothes more often just so my hon. Friend will buy more washing powder. Petrol producers do not tell him to drive another 100 miles, which he had no intention of doing, just so he will buy more petrol. Producers will simply argue that there is a legitimate market which is capable of being switched and that they are trying to influence it through legitimate methods. That is the purpose of advertising tobacco.
I have never smoked and no tobacco advert will persuade me to start. No tobacco advert is so powerful, however hard producers may try, that it will make me smoke a single cigarette during the rest of my life. I accept, however, that tobacco advertising may encourage people to switch from one brand to another.
Mr. Forman : I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, because he is entering into legitimate debate. Why is it then that there has been a marked tendency in recent tobacco advertising, which anyone would notice with his own eyes, to concentrate advertising upon young women--females between the age of 12 up to 25 ? Is not there more than just an unusual correlation between that focus in advertising and the fact that that particular group of potential or actual smokers has expanded faster than any other group ?
Mr. Hendry : I understand that point, but we come back to the crux of the debate. The tobacco advertising that I have seen is obscure and is as unlikely to appeal to a young woman as it is to an old man. I have no evidence to suggest that producers are deliberately targeting the group to which my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) referred, but if it is felt that they are targeting people improperly, a voluntary agreement, which has already been strengthened 10 times since it was introduced, can be brought into play.
That agreement could be strengthened even further and I hope that we may learn today that that has been agreed. There is scope within existing legislation and the agreement for the exact concern to which my hon. Friend referred to be taken into account. Given the way in which the voluntary agreement has been working so far, to start imposing punitive fines and making illegal the advertising of a legally available product, the makers of which which employ thousands of people in our constituencies, would be extremely dangerous and could not be justified.
Sir Peter Emery : I had hoped to make this short point in a speech, but I shall make it even shorter in an intervention on my hon. Friend, who I know is interested in these matters. I draw his attention to the study by Pierce Lee and Gilpin, which ran from 1943 to 1989. It conducted surveys in 1970, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1987 and 1988 about smoking by adolescents. The study's conclusion, which considers the findings year by year, states :
"In this study, we have demonstrated that tobacco advertising has a temporal and specific relationship to smoking uptake in girls younger than the legal age to purchase cigarettes. Our findings add to the evidence that tobacco advertising plays an important role in encouraging young people to begin this lifelong addiction before they are old enough to fully appreciate its long-term health risks. The prudent public health approach to prevent an other increase in initiation among young people is urgent action to extend the ban on tobacco advertising to cover all forms of advertising and promotion."
My right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) and I have discussed the matter on many occasions. I refer him to the clear view of the Chief Medical Officer, the foremost medical authority for the Government, who, when asked whether tobacco advertising encouraged children to smoke, answered :
"No. I think it's partly a cultural thing and it's also about the family and the school and their colleagues and people they talk to. All of that kind of peer pressure sometimes increases smoking." He did not say that cigarette advertising was a factor.
The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys study into the factors that encouraged young children to smoke identified six or seven other factors, including peer group pressure, friends at school, parents at home and older brothers and sisters. Those are much more important ; tobacco advertising did not feature.
Mr. Barron : The hon. Gentleman will remember the debate in Committee on the OPCS report and on what makes people start to smoke. Many arguments against banning tobacco advertising were published to stop my Bill. The procedures of the House may stop it, but those arguments will not. Our debates in Committee have clearly slipped the hon. Gentleman's mind. One of the arguments published suggested that young people have
"relatively less negative views about smoking."
That was accepted by the majority of members in Committee. The Health Education Authority has expressed negative views about smoking ; less negative views are achieved by advertising and promoting smoking.
Mr. Hendry : I understand why the hon. Gentleman has a hazy recollection of the Committee. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie) continually tabled amendments with which he said he did not agree but on which he then forced Divisions, leaving all hon. Members in Committee confused about his aims. The hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) will recall our debates in Committee, where it was clearly said that many factors encourage children to smoke. The "Health of The Nation"
Column 487targets for young children smoking have already been met in households where the parents do not smoke. They have not been met in households where parents do smoke.
Children from both households go past the same adverts every day, they read the same adverts in magazines and they are under the same pressure from advertising. The fundamental difference is that in one household they are conditioned to smoking by the family environment and in the other they are not. I see that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are looking at me as if to say that this is not wholly relevant to the amendments, so I shall make progress after I have given way.
Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South) : I have listened to the debate from the beginning, except when I left the Chamber to have a smoke. The figures with which I have been provided show that in 1980 the number of 16- year-olds and over who smoked was 20.2 million whereas about 16 million do so today. If that is correct, it appears that the present voluntary arrangement, regularly updated and strengthened, is working, so what is all the fuss about ?
Mr. Hendry : My hon. Friend clearly derived tremendous strength from his momentary absence from the Chamber, which perhaps endorses the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) to the effect that a little tobacco can occasionally do one a bit of good. I understand the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter). Our concern is to prove that the voluntary agreement can be tightened and be used to tackle abuses where they exist.
Mr. Robert Banks : Is it not better to have a voluntary agreement than legislation that ties everyone up, creates complexity and leads to mistaken interpretation and all the other rubbish that stems from legislation that has not been properly considered ?
Mr. Hendry : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Those of us who have listened to and participated in the debate and who have analysed the facts recognise that the case against the Bill is overwhelming. Many Labour Members who are not present today will nevertheless vote in favour. They will not listen to the arguments
Mr. Barron rose
Mr. Barron : What I have to say relates to the hon. Gentleman's comments about the effectiveness of the voluntary agreement. In February this year the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville), answered a question about the voluntary agreement and the findings of the Smee report, with which all hon. Members will be familiar.
We have two concerns. First, the definition of premises in the Bill is inadequate. Secondly, I hope that I have been able to prove that it is ludicrously full of loopholes,
Column 488especially in relation to the notion that an advertisement should not be visible from outside certain premises. The Bill is fundamentally flawed. The fact that we have discussed these amendments at tremendous length proves our serious and genuine concern, and I hope that the House will support us.
Mr. McCartney rose
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville) rose
Mr. McCartney : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not the normal practice that, if an hon. Member on one side of the House rises to his feet after a Member from the other side has spoken, he is given the opportunity to speak ? I, like several of my colleagues, have been waiting for a considerable time to make a contribution. I had already made it clear behind the Speaker's Chair that I wished to speak briefly, as had the hon. Member for Rochdale (Ms Lynne). Conservative Members have been controlling the debate, thus excluding the alternative viewpoints of those of us who served on the Committee and who have done a considerable amount of work. It now appears that the Minister is going to make a statement before we have been able to contribute.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity to participate. I am not aware that the Minister is going to make a statement. I understand that he is going to speak to the amendments, and the House will be interested in what he has to say.
Mr. McCartney : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister is to make a statement to the House, as I said on my previous point of order. The Minister and I have spoken about the matter. This is a total manipulation of the time of Opposition Members. We are entitled to make a contribution in turn ; it is the turn of an Opposition Member to make a contribution.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The Chair will call hon. Members as they catch his eye. I am sure that the hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) may be fortunate in catching my eye during the debate. 12.45 pm
Sir Peter Emery : No. You ruled quite rightly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, during the previous debate that discussion of the voluntary agreement did not arise under the amendment that was then being discussed. Will that ruling apply to Ministers, as it applied to Back-Bench Members ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I repeat that I am not aware that any statement --I repeat the word "statement"--is to be made by the Minister. I shall be interested, as will the House, in listening to what the Minister says as it relates to the amendments.
Mr. McCartney : This is an important and serious matter of debate and procedure. Perhaps the Minister can clarify the matter and advise us whether there will be placed in the Vote Office, either at the beginning or the end of his contribution, a statement for hon. Members. It is my clear understanding that that is precisely what will happen. I asked for a copy of the statement and the Minister informed me that I could get it from the Vote Office when he concluded his speech on the amendments.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I repeat that the Chair has no knowledge of any statement. The present occupant of the Chair is not aware of what has been going on behind it. [Interruption.] Order. I call the Minister to speak on the amendments.
Mr. Sackville : I am glad to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would have done so earlier, but my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) was in good form and we had a short procedural interruption. I am glad to
Mr. Campbell-Savours : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Let us establish the precedent. May we have an assurance that you will deprecate the act of any Minister who today places a statement in the Vote Office after he has spoken. In your own words, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is not a statement. The Minister is speaking to the amendments. Could you give us warning of the fact
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not need that assurance from the Chair. If the Minister or anyone else strays outside the amendments, the Chair will bring that person to order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. Hon. Members must be clairvoyant ; the Chair is not. I have not yet heard anything that enables me to pull up the Minister. If hon. Members will momentarily put their crystal balls away and listen to what the Minister says, they can safety leave the matter with the Chair.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I distinctly heard the Minister start to say that he would update the House on the negotiations. Would you confirm that, normally, ministerial statements on a Friday are made at 11 o'clock, with notice, but that if the Minister wishes to make a statement, he could still do so at 2.30 pm, ensuring that the usual channels have a copy beforehand, and so that Opposition Members have the opportunity to ask questions ? That would avoid creating the appearance that the Minister is using his statement to avoid questions from this side of the House and is part of a filibuster.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I confirm, if I need to, that statements are normally made at 11 o'clock on a Friday. I repeat that I have not been informed that there is any statement to be made. If there is any attempt to talk outside the amendments before the House, the Minister or anybody else will be pulled up.
Mr. Sackville : During my remarks, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope to update the House on negotiations that have taken place between my right hon. Friend the Minister for Health and the industry on matters pertaining directly to advertising at point of sale, which are highly relevant to the amendments and, which, indeed, in my view, make the Bill and its amendments obsolete and redundant.
Mr. McCartney : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The amendments are clearly structured on the specific subject of retail matters, which is in no way covered in the scope of the negotiations about the voluntary agreement. I put it again to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are being manipulated in the House in respect of the matter. The rights of hon. Members on both sides of the House are being abused and it is about time
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The Chair will not allow hon. Members on either side to be abused. The Minister will have to watch what he says very carefully. I will not tolerate any debate whatever outside the amendments, which address retailing on premises. If there is anything said outside that subject, which can be considered at Third Reading, that is a matter for consideration at that time. At present, I must insist that, if the Minister --I am not suggesting that he is--is intending to introduce any subject that may be outside the amendments, covering matters which could resemble a statement, the Chair will not allow him to do so.