Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Consideration and Third Reading

1. Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be completed at today's sitting.

2. Proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at quarter past Eight o'clock.
3. Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at Nine o'clock.
4. Sessional Order B (Programming Committees) made by the House on 7th November 2000 shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading.

Consideration of Lords Amendments and further messages from the Lords

5. Paragraphs (6) and (7) of Sessional Order A (varying and supplementing programme motions) made by the House on 7th November 2000 shall not apply to proceedings on any programme motion to supplement this order or to vary it in relation to--

(a) proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments; or
(b) proceedings on any further messages from the Lords,
and the question on any such motion shall be put forthwith.

13 Feb 2001 : Column 182

Orders of the Day

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 4

Prohibition or restriction of use of symbol, name or emblem

'The Secretary of State may by regulations make provisions prohibiting or restricting the use of a symbol, name or emblem used to promote a tobacco product, to promote a non-tobacco product or service except where the business producing the non-tobacco product or service is totally unconnected financially with the business producing the tobacco product and where the primary purpose of which is not to promote a tobacco product.'.--[Mrs. Spelman.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.51 pm

Mrs. Caroline Spelman (Meriden): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 51, in clause 11, page 5, leave out lines 24 to 28.

Government amendment No. 46.

Mrs. Spelman: We now have a rather limited opportunity for hon. Members who did not serve on the Standing Committee to debate the Bill. It was quite a small Committee--we discussed earlier how many people had had a chance to have an input--so this is the big opportunity for other hon. Members to contribute to the debate.

This is an important new clause, and I am glad that it has survived the culling of several of the important new clauses that we attempted to introduce. Indeed, it was the only one to survive. We are pleased that it has been selected, because it covers an important point.

Under the Bill, the Government are choosing that our nation will go it alone with a ban on tobacco advertising in Europe. We shall be going out on a limb by introducing such a ban. Companies that have hitherto been able to produce goods other than tobacco products--such as clothes, shoes, umbrellas, leather goods, perfumes and other cosmetics--bearing a symbol, emblem or logo similar to one connected with a tobacco product, will find that that is now illegal. That represents an important change in commercial practice, and it is right that we should take the time to debate its impact and workability, and to ask whether the drafting of the Bill is fair to those companies.

If I could characterise the Bill generally, I would say that it meant rough justice for the companies that will have to work with it. As it stands, it is an example of the rough justice dimension of the plan to ban tobacco advertising. The Bill will catch companies with household names, such as Alfred Dunhill, which has diversified substantially into a range of non-tobacco products, with which I am sure hon. Members are familiar. It will also catch companies such as Davidoff, which produces a range of products including cosmetics, luggage, eye-wear, coffee, comestibles and cigars. It began as a tobacconist, but has diversified into those other areas.

13 Feb 2001 : Column 183

More worryingly, the Bill will catch companies such as Worldwide Brands International, which has diversified into a range of products that includes clothing, shoes and luggage, but not tobacco accessories. There is nothing in their palette of products that is a tobacco product, by any definition. Such a company, which is completely independent of the tobacco industry, will be caught by the Bill because its products bear an emblem that arguably resembles the logo or emblem borne by a tobacco product. I make no excuse for giving this example again, as I feel that the company is one of those to which rough justice will be meted out.

When the company started, it used the camel logo, with which I am sure Members are familiar, along with the yellow writing associated with the Camel brand of cigarettes. Even at that stage, nothing in the company's range--which included luggage, clothes, shoes and other fashion items--could possibly be described as a tobacco product. However, the company--which is based in both Germany and the United Kingdom--foresaw difficulties with the proposed European directive.

Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham): What would happen if such an organisation, based in France or Germany, advertised in one of the international newspapers that are now printed in different centres? If it advertised in a newspaper circulating in both Paris and London, what might be the impact on the newspaper circulating in London?

Mrs. Spelman: We shall discuss in detail the predicament of companies operating in more than one market when we reach the next group of amendments.

As I said at the outset, a general problem with the Bill is that the United Kingdom is going out on a limb, and as a result a large number of diverse companies will be placed at a competitive disadvantage. We tried to make the Government aware of that in Committee. As my hon. Friend has pointed out, companies might advertise in more than one market. We tabled an amendment that would remove the competitive disadvantage and make companies free to compete in a global market, and my hon. Friend will note from what the Government say on the next group of amendments that they have conceded in that regard.

I want to concentrate on the brand-sharing problem, however, because I do not think that we have been given a satisfactory answer. I have given the example of Worldwide Brands International, but there are others. When the company learned of the proposed directive banning tobacco advertising, its reaction was similar to that of the Government, who have chosen to go it alone: it made an important investment. It made a conscious decision to change its logo--to change the name from Camel to Camel Active, and to replace the familiar yellow writing that we associate with the brand of cigarettes with a black and white script in a completely different style. It is difficult to illustrate this without useful equipment such as overhead projectors, to which I fear the "mother of all Parliaments" cannot stretch, even in the 21st century.

13 Feb 2001 : Column 184

A great deal of subjectivity is attached to the whole question of whether the company's activities would now be banned. The Department has given it to understand that they would, and that its investment in the change of logo will have been in vain.

John Robertson (Glasgow, Anniesland): Why would the company continue to use the name Camel? Is it because it just happened to be there at the time, or was there some other motive?

Mrs. Spelman: I cannot answer that question, because I do not sit on the board of the company that made the decision, but, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, it is becoming very difficult to find a name that is unique, especially with the advent of the dotcom company revolution. That will make it even more difficult for the provision to work in practice.

The company has appealed to the Government for some guidance, or some amendments to the Bill. In fact--so that companies whose products have nothing whatsoever to do with tobacco, and whose primary purpose is not to promote tobacco, could be more justly treated--the company was encouraged by the Department itself to provide its own amendments. It has made the necessary investment to change its logo from one that much more closely resembles tobacco product logos--but it is still caught by the Bill's provisions.

5 pm

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): I am listening intently to the development of my hon. Friend's argument. She will be aware that, on regulations and statutory instruments, I am a procedural anorak. Can she therefore tell me whether the regulations that would flow from new clause 4 would be subject to the negative or the affirmative procedure?

Mrs. Spelman: I am sorry to inform my hon. Friend that, although the principal statutory instruments that will flow from the Bill will be subject to the affirmative procedure, interestingly, an exception, and special arrangements, have been made for the sponsorship agreements--for Formula 1. Perhaps that will encourage him to stay in the Chamber until we debate that matter, if there is sufficient time to do so. The group of amendments on sponsorship is rather far down the list of amendments selected for debate.

Next Section

IndexHome Page