Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 880 -900)



880  Nothing at all. It will be there on the record. The figures in that report were exactly the figures which the Government used and a great deal of the report was used to justify the exemption of Formula 1 from the advertising ban, but this is nothing at all whatsoever to do with your good selves.

  (Mr Mosley) Not at all.

881  Obviously I listened very carefully to the piece from the newspaper when you said how much you admired the leader of the Labour Party.

  (Mr Ecclestone) You must always believe what you read in the newspapers.

882  Did you not know that Mr Mosley was going to read that extract out from the newspaper? I thought Mr Mosley read out the extract from the newspaper about 40 minutes ago.

  (Mr Ecclestone) Yes; he read a letter which I had written to The Times.

883  So you stand by that letter.

  (Mr Ecclestone) It is a matter of fact, is it not?

884  Yes. Did you write the letter?

  (Mr Ecclestone) Absolutely.

885  Saying you admired the leader of the Labour Party.

  (Mr Ecclestone) Absolutely.

886  Fine. Have you ever met the leader of the Labour Party?

  (Mr Ecclestone) Yes.

887  On how many occasions roughly?

  (Mr Ecclestone) Two.

888  On two occasions. Did you ever discuss with the leader of the Labour Party your sport, Formula 1 racing, at all?

  (Mr Ecclestone) I never discussed with him anything to do with tobacco advertising or tobacco related anything.

889  I did not ask you that.

  (Mr Ecclestone) I know the question. It is quite all right. You do not have to repeat that one. It is okay. The first time I met him was at Silverstone where we were holding a Formula 1 race, so we did not talk about knitting and things like that, we talked about Formula 1 racing. The second time I met him was certainly the same thing: we did not talk about anything in particular.

890  When, roughly, did you meet him for the first time?

  (Mr Ecclestone) Whenever Silverstone was.

891  I am sorry, I am not into the world of motor racing. When was this?

  (Mr Ecclestone) You should be, then you would get asked some good questions.

892  When was this meeting?

  (Mr Ecclestone) July 1996 for the first time.

893  When was the second occasion you met him?

  (Mr Ecclestone) I do not remember.
  (Mr Mosley) The second occasion was in Downing Street.
  (Mr Ecclestone) Yes, but I do not remember the date.
  (Mr Mosley) I can tell you the date. It was 16 October 1997.

894  Finally, just so I understand completely, All Sports Management is nothing at all to do with your good self.

  (Mr Ecclestone) One million per cent nothing in any shape or form to do with us.


895  I hope we are about to conclude. We are grateful for your cooperation. May I ask one final question? I and the Committee are very conscious of the issue of young smokers and children and young people. I have teenage children; in particular it concerns me that I have a son who is nearly 15 who is interested in two particular sports: one is rugby league, which you will appreciate coming from my area is the major sport; the other is Formula 1. Both these sports of course are involved with tobacco. The voluntary code of practice on tobacco advertising agreed between the companies, the Department of Health and the Advertising Standards Authority, precludes advertisements involving "... heroic figures and personality cults" in ways which might appeal to young people. From what we have heard of the efforts which have been made by the advertising industry in respect of Formula 1, and unfortunately you have not been part of this evidence today, does it not worry you that perhaps what is being attempted actually is genuinely trying to get round this basic agreement, this basic area of preclusion of certain types of marketing?

  (Mr Mosley) When we were trying to come to a deal so that we would do something worldwide and so on, one of the first things we offered was to take the decals and all the things off the drivers so that we separated the drivers from the tobacco even if we did not separate the cars. Unfortunately that deal did not progress. May I say one very quick thing about the point I think Mr Amess was making and the connections he was trying to draw between money, the tobacco industry and politics being very important? Perhaps the place to start is with the half million pound retainer which Philip Morris paid to Mrs Thatcher when she was still in a position and she still is in a position of a great deal of influence in the Conservative Party. I also find it disappointing that the other big tobacco sponsored sport, namely snooker, is not being discussed so that the great colleague, Lord Archer—if he is still a colleague—could perhaps be here to answer in person. He would probably be very helpful.

  Chairman: I prepared myself for today's session with copies of the Register of Members' Interests over a number of years which do make indeed interesting reading as to who has taken money or hospitality from the tobacco industry. This is why in a sense we wanted to talk to you, because clearly whatever one accepts as the truth or not, certainly the media were suggesting that political donations have influenced Government policy. Are there any other further points?

  Dr Brand: On a point of order, Chairman, having mentioned the Register of Interests, could you formally lodge that as evidence for the Committee because I should quite like to look through it?

  Chairman: It is important. It certainly makes interesting reading. In actual fact it is worth making the point that when our Committee produced the initial report which related to Formula 1, a particular Member of Parliament raised a point of order in the Chamber objecting to the fact that at this evidence session with Tessa Jowell we had not included the tobacco industries. It is interesting to note that MP's connections with tobacco which are declared in the Register.

  Dr Stoate: Can you place that on the record?

  Chairman: We certainly can.

Mrs Gordon

896  I just wondered whether Mr Mosley and Mr Ecclestone would like to be sent a copy of the summary of the University of Strathclyde research? I am sure they would provide you with much more information about young smokers.

  (Mr Mosley) Thank you; that would be very helpful.

Mr Syms

897  I did actually ask the House of Commons Library how much tobacco subsidies were. We are not too familiar with ecus but the figures I was given for 1998 were 586 million and for 1999 a projected figure of 687 million spent on subsidising tobacco.

  (Mr Mosley) The figure I have from the EU Parliament is 998 million ecus for 1997 being the last year for which figures were available. Interestingly five per cent is usually taken as the UK contribution. So moving back into pounds, it means the UK taxpayer is paying each year £30 million to subsidise the growing of tobacco in the EU.

  Chairman: We have met the EC Commissioner to discuss this directly and we fully take on board the point you are making.

Mr Amess

898  I only speak for myself, but Mr Ecclestone and Mr Mosley were called before this Committee to give evidence—

  (Mr Mosley) Invited.

  Chairman: Invited. You accepted our invitation. We had a little correspondence before you accepted our invitation.

Mr Amess

899  I think to waste time on semantics is ridiculous but these two gentlemen were called here to answer questions on Formula 1. I have had an exchange with Mr Ecclestone and Mr Mosley and am very, very clear, eventually, where you stand on the issue. I am very happy with that. I could not quite see, Chairman, why Mr Mosley, after five minutes, had suddenly to mention other matters. It did not seem relevant to me. I rather hope that is not the normal procedure in Select Committees. I do not understand why you suddenly had to come back.

  (Mr Mosley) You started, I finished.

  Mr Amess: No. That is okay, Mr Mosley, but I would have thought if you were actually as bright as that you could have dealt with it when I was actually asking you the questions, not after there was a pause.


900  May I say I think it is very relevant, whichever party any contributions have gone to that relate to tobacco, that we are aware of it. Certainly the information is on the record here and certain colleagues have asked that we might include this as evidence. I think it would be very relevant evidence to looking at the reason why—a point I made right at the outset—in 1954 in this place there was an acceptance of a connection between smoking and ill health and yet here we are in 2000 with 120,000 people dying every year. Gentlemen, may I thank you on behalf of the Committee.

  (Mr Ecclestone) May I just say one thing. Like you I have two younger children: one is 11 and one 16, both girls. When the older one, the 16-year-old, comes in after ten o'clock she gets interrogated about whether she has been smoking or not. We know she has and honestly it is nothing to do with advertisements she sees on television.

  Chairman: I hope you will look at our conclusions. May I on behalf of the Committee thank you for coming along today and helping us with our inquiries? We are most grateful to you. Thank you very much indeed.

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