Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill

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Yvette Cooper: Amendment No. 22 replaces ``printed'' with ``published''. As it stands, the amendment does not make sense, because if a publication is not published in the UK there is no offence. If UK firms print material for items that are never published in this country, even if they include tobacco advertisements, they are not guilty of an offence in this country under the terms of the Bill in clause 2(2).

Mr. Luff: I want to be clear. The Minister is dealing with an important point that I made. She is saying that if the publication is primarily intended for a foreign market and is printed in the United Kingdom, no offence is committed. Can we be absolutely clear on that?

Yvette Cooper: No. Let me clarify. If the publication is not published in the UK at all, then there is no offence. So the amendment as drafted does not make sense because it replaces ``printed'' with ``published'' and it would read:

    ``if it is contained in a publication...which is published outside the United Kingdom''.

If it is not published in the UK, there is no offence.

I recognise the Opposition's argument that the drafting, as it stands, would cover UK firms that print material for publication that is primarily for a foreign market—the principal market is foreign and they are legally distributed here. UK firms, therefore, printing material for publication for a foreign market but that are legally distributed here, under clause 4(1)(c) will also be covered and will be guilty of an offence.

I have some sympathy for the arguments put forward by hon. Members on this issue and I will consider the matter further, although I am unable to accept the amendment as drafted since it would not make sense in the context of this Bill.

Amendment No. 23 and consequential amendment No. 21 would include all in-flight magazines on principle in an exemption and in a defence against this Bill. The fundamental point is whether some UK companies should not be subject to UK law as a matter of principle. The idea that the revenue from tobacco advertising is a significant issue for UK airlines is not plausible.

I recognise that there is an issue with tobacco sales and airlines do sell cigarettes. As with other businesses, they will want to tell customers what they sell. We will certainly listen to representations from the airlines when it comes to setting out the regulations on advertisements at point of sale. There is legitimate information that all cigarette sellers will want to convey about price and the products for sale.

We do not accept that there should be a blanket exemption for all UK airlines and for their publications and in-flight magazines for all forms of tobacco advertising, although we will listen to representations.

Mr. Luff: I accept that this is about paid-for advertising: full page adverts that carry the Surgeon General's warning or that of the Department of Health. However, the issue is when the airline portrays the product in its price list. I hope that that is the issue to which the Minister is referring when she says that she will be open to representations.

Yvette Cooper: That is certainly the issue on which we will be open to representations. We have said that, by putting in clause 4(2) that we would set out regulations on advertising at point of sale, we recognise that sellers will want to inform customers about their products. That is why we will set that out in detail in regulations, consult on the regulations and listen to representations.

Mr. Ian Bruce: The Minister is in a helpful mood at the moment. Would she also say something about ferries? The ownership of both ferry companies and individual ferries changes constantly. The system should make it clear that they can advertise the products that they are selling at point of sale.

Yvette Cooper: To the extent that ferries sell cigarettes and tobacco products, they will also be covered by the point of sale regulations to which clause 4(2) refers. We shall certainly listen to representations, but it would be wrong to give ferry companies a blanket exemption to have whatever advertising they want, in any form, on ferries. We recognise that there are issues in relation to point of sale, which we have dealt with in regulations, but our broad intention is to ban tobacco advertising and we do not want to accept such exemptions.

Mrs. Spelman: The Minister's response was satisfactory. We have heard that the Government will deal sympathetically with UK-based printers who may find themselves in difficulties, that, under the regulations, following representations and consultation, a compromise will be found for airlines on indicating the value of the products, and that a level playing field will be created for ferries. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Yvette Cooper: I beg to move amendment No. 17, in page 2, line 26, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

    `(2) The appropriate Minister may provide in regulations that no offence is committed under section 2 in relation to a tobacco advertisement which—

    (a) is in a place or on a website where tobacco products are offered for sale, and

    (b) complies with requirements specified in the regulations.

    (2A) The regulations may, in particular, provide for the meaning of ''place'' in subsection (2)(a).'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 24, in page 2, line 26, leave out 'display or'.

No. 25, in page 2, line 28, leave out

    `by the appropriate Minister in regulations' and insert `by the Secretary of State in regulations under this Act.'.

Yvette Cooper: The purpose of the amendment is to clarify the Bill. First, it adds to the Bill the power to determine in regulations the meaning of place of sale. We have accepted that there are reasons for permitting a certain amount of advertising at point of sale to communicate price or the products on sale. However, that should be subject to regulations. We want to make it clear that regulations can define what is meant by the place in which the goods are sold, to prevent the place being extended and abused and becoming a loophole. For example, supermarkets sell cigarettes. The regulations will permit and regulate advertising in the area of the supermarket in which cigarettes are sold. It would be unacceptable for the place of sale to be interpreted as meaning the entire shop, because advertising—which might be permitted on the gantry by regulations—might then be extended to cover shelves where, for example, tins of soup or baby milk might be for sale.

The amendment also excludes the word ``display'' and is, therefore, in line with amendment No. 24. Until the hon. Member for Meriden speaks on amendment No. 24, however, it will not be clear whether we have similar reasons for the proposal. The Government's reason is clarity and certainty. Rather than attempting to deal with display and advertising issues together, it would provide greater clarity to separate the two and introduce new provisions to deal with display. Those provisions will be available for consideration later in Committee.

Clearly, this is not the most straightforward of areas, as there is an overlap between what constitutes display of products and what constitutes an advertisement. The Government do not intend to change the broad status quo on the display of tobacco products for sale. We have no intention of unnecessarily increasing the burdens on small businesses, nor do we expect to change the way in which tobacco products are commonly displayed on gantries in corner shops, supermarkets and ordinary places of sale. It is legal to sell tobacco products and it is acceptable that vendors should be able to display their wares for sale. However, we want to prevent future loopholes and abuses. For example, we would not want tobacco companies to promote huge displays of their products in a high street window or among a display of children's toys. We would be concerned about products being scattered over aspirational items, such as Formula 1 motor cars, or fashionable items such as the micro scooters that children and teenagers are using at the moment. For that reason, we would oppose amendment No. 24 without a new clause being introduced, which is what we intend to do. It would be wrong to have no means of controlling and regulating the display of tobacco products.

We will table further provisions on the issue, so that we can distinguish between the legitimate displays that take place as part of the status quo and promotional displays the purpose of which is clearly to encourage people to take up smoking, and to make it difficult for those who wish to give up.

The purpose of amendment No. 25 is to have regulations made by the Minister in Westminster rather than the Scottish Minister. That is a matter for the Scottish Parliament. Although Wales and Northern Ireland will be dealt with by Westminster regulations, Scotland should make its own decisions on the matter. That does not necessarily mean that there will be different regulations in Scotland from those in the rest of the United Kingdom, because we have had considerable co-operation on the issue so far. The Sewel motion was strongly supported in the Scottish Parliament, even by Opposition Members' colleagues in the Scottish Conservative party. There would be difficulties if we have different regulations to deal with the issue on the internet. For that reason, we will consult our Scottish colleagues in detail. The bottom line is that, because of devolution, Scotland should make its own decisions. For that reason, we support Government amendment No. 17, but reject amendments Nos. 24 and 25.

Mrs. Spelman: I confess to a little distraction. I am not sure what is happening, but I was expecting a vote at 4 o'clock.

Mrs. Anne McGuire (Stirling): Four-ish.

Mrs. Spelman: I thank the hon. Lady for her guidance. The Government Whip has been most helpful.

It has been helpful to listen to the Minister on the subject of the Government amendment. There is not a cigarette paper—if I can use that pun—between us on the issue. I knew that I would get the chance to use it at some point in the Committee. We tabled our amendments to find out from the Government about what we thought was a potential area of weakness. In moving the Government amendment, the Minister encapsulated what we were trying to achieve. We had entirely the same objective, which was to clarify the matter. Amendment No. 24 deals with precisely that problem. Those who are going to operate under the Bill need to know what a display is.

We have discussed the new constraints under which airlines operate.

4.3 pm

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

4.30 pm

On resuming:—

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