Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill

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Mr. Bruce: We are hearing interesting points on both sides of the debate. The clause is unsatisfactory, and that is why my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden tabled the amendments. It would be difficult for everyone on the Committee to agree with her on achieving an even playing field, as some might feel that doing so would simply prolong the time in which sponsorship could continue. If we did intend to prolong censorship, it would be sensible for each case to be considered by the Minister, but I do not think that my hon. Friend will win support for that premise, and I encourage her to withdraw her amendment so that the Committee can simply vote on whether clause 18 should stand part.

The Government have heard many opinions, particularly those of the hon. Member for Rother Valley, who makes such a strong case. He declares in the Member's Register of interests that he has been to Formula 1. He was sponsored by a drinks company and was obviously affected by seeing ``buzzing hornets'' and British American Racing pretending not to be tobacco companies. The hon. Gentleman will have been surprised by the switch in Labour party policy, and if he joins us to vote down clause and to give us cross-party support—the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are on board—we could make the Government write another clause that could receive universal support from all parts of the Labour party.

Mr. Barron: The hon. Gentleman has very observant in spotting my attendance at Formula 1. A friend of mine was running the brewery that won the contract for Foster's lager in this country, and some people were coming from Australia to Silverstone. Bernie Ecclestone was supposed to be having lunch in our tent, but he did not turn up, which was a great disappointment to me, as we had arranged a photo-shoot.

Mr. Bruce: For once, I am glad that I gave way to the hon. Gentleman. I was not suggesting for one moment that I would not take up the invitation if Foster's invited me to visit Formula 1. Members of Parliament have to understand what is going on, and we cannot do that without visiting events.

I would like the Minister to respond on one point. Voluntary agreements exist on what can appear on Formula 1 cars, and, in the United Kingdom, all the cars are painted with buzzing hornets. Since I am not a tobacco smoker, it took me a long time to work out that that meant Benson and Hedges. Apparently, that was the brand that Benson and Hedges put on the side of the vehicle. Will the Minister say what sort of thing might be allowed, and whether the clause would give companies an open season for the six years in which they may still advertise their products when they sponsor Formula 1 and other such sports?

Yvette Cooper: It is already 6.30 pm, and we had hoped to make considerable progress this afternoon. We still have half an hour, and may still make considerable progress, but Labour Members are happy to continue beyond 7 pm, or to return later this evening if the Opposition agree. I know that the hon. Member for Meriden has an engagement, and we would be happy to recognise that, as she was very understanding about my earlier engagement.

I want to respond to some of the issues that have been raised during this debate and want to turn to some stand part issues too.

The Chairman: Order. Perhaps I can indicate to the Minister and to the Committee that I think that we have had a very wide-ranging debate on the amendments, and I propose to put the clause stand part question without debate when the time arrives.

Yvette Cooper: Thank you, Mr. Malins, for that extremely helpful guidance.

The clause sets out the power to make regulations to do with the time scale for implementing the ban on tobacco sponsorship. There will be time for consultation on those regulations, and for hon. Members, the organisers of sporting events or anyone involved in sponsorship to raise particular issues, concerns or interests about the regulations. We shall certainly listen to all representations, and that will provide an appropriate forum in which to discuss in great detail the appropriate time scale for introducing the sponsorship ban.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said on Second Reading that it remained our intention to implement the policy and the timetable on sponsorship that had been agreed with our European partners in 1998 and subject to consultation that means that UK sports and events will have until July 2003 to find alternative sponsorship and that global sporting events will have until October 2006 to do the same, provided first that they do not sign new contracts with tobacco companies and secondly, that they phase out the current sponsorship that they receive. My right hon. Friend also set out our intention to publish draft regulations for consultation during the course of the Bill, which we hope to do as soon as possible.

That policy was agreed with our European partners, and we are keen to consult them on the timing of the regulations and the ban. We are keen to work with them on proposals to reintroduce a Europe-wide ban on tobacco sponsorship and advertising. The distinction between global and UK sporting events was set out several years ago. The bottom line is that sponsorship will be banned, and that is right. In clause 18, we set out a final date—1 October 2006—by which sponsorship should be banned, which is exactly in line with the directive agreed with our European partners.

We want to go further and to draw up worldwide agreements on tobacco sponsorship. We want to agree Europe-wide bans on tobacco sponsorship. We are keen to do that in collaboration with our European partners and with WHO. I hope that there is scope to do that and to make considerable progress. It is worth noting that the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile has said that it is keen to introduce a worldwide ban on tobacco sponsorship from 2006. My hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley is absolutely right to say that would not have happened if it had not been for discussions at European level and through WHO and the extreme pressure now felt in many countries to get rid of tobacco sponsorship and tobacco advertising for the sake of public health.

This is an important clause. We need to set out a timetable. We will do so through proper consultation on the regulations, and will listen at that time to any representations that are made. It is right that we should have the flexibility to respond to the consultation process and to any issues that may be raised then. I urge the Committee to reject the amendment and to agree that the clause should stand part of the Bill.

Mrs. Spelman: Following the good advice of my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset, I shall withdraw my amendment, but I should like to press the clause to a vote. I should like to gauge the support for seeking a level playing field and giving the Government a chance to reconsider.

Mr. Barron: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Spelman: In the interests of time, I will not. The hon. Gentleman made a long and interesting speech on this subject. I have made my position clear.

Mr. Barron rose—

The Chairman: Order. Has the hon. Lady given way?

Mrs. Spelman: I had sat down. Could you guide me, Mr. Malins, on whether the hon. Gentleman can intervene?

The Chairman: It is a matter of discretion for the Chair. It might be more convenient if the hon. Lady treated this is as an intervention.

Mrs. Spelman: I accept that guidance and give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Barron: In withdrawing the amendment, is the hon. Lady giving notice that she will table an amendment that includes a date earlier than 2006?

Mrs. Spelman: There is still time to table amendments on Report. I would be guided in making such a decision by the level of support that an amendment might receive from the Committee. If the hon. Member for North Devon (Mr. Harvey) would return and reveal his voting intentions, there could be seven apiece. For once in this Parliament, we could produce a very interesting voting result, despite the Government's big majority. The level of support will guide my decision on what amendments to table on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 5.

Division No. 2]

Barron, Mr. Kevin
Cooper, Yvette
Eagle, Maria
McFall, Mr. John
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
Robertson, Mr. John
Ross, Mr. Ernie
Taylor, Mr. David

Bruce, Mr. Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Luff, Mr. Peter
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 10


Mrs. Spelman: I beg to move amendment No. 14, in page 4, line 44, leave out from `name' to `which' in line 46 and insert

    `or emblem which is identical in appearance to a name or emblem'.

The Chairman: With this we may discuss amendment No. 15, in page 5, line 1, leave out from `name' to `which' in line 4 and insert

    `or emblem which is identical in appearance to a name or emblem'.

Mrs. Spelman: We want to make progress, but brand sharing is important and we must be careful to give it the right amount of time in debate. I heard what the Minister said about continuing tonight, but that places me in a slightly difficult position, as I intended to attend a cross-party event at 7 pm involving the Minister for Women and the respective parties' spokesmen for women. [Interruption.]

The Chairman: Order. The Committee is becoming a little noisy.

Mrs. Spelman: Thank you, Mr. Malins.

Under the Bill, tobacco companies that have diversified into other areas will be penalised for using their brand name on products completely unrelated to their tobacco products, even if the logo is completely different from that used on the tobacco products. It is beneficial to all employed in the tobacco industry if those companies diversify to protect jobs.

It is difficult to understand why the Government object so strongly to tobacco companies diversifying into other areas. I would far rather that the companies produced another product, such as petrol or something that posed a lesser risk to public health. To shut the companies down completely with no alternative outlet would be a hard measure to impose on them. We need to find ways of encouraging the firms to move into other areas if possible, and not to penalise them for doing so.

However, certain companies will be caught by the brand sharing measure and innocent parties will be bound by the constraints of clause 10. I provided a good example on Second Reading—the Minister is familiar with it, but I shall repeat it to the Committee to demonstrate the problems that might arise—of a company that markets clothing and luggage under the Camel brand. It is separate from any tobacco manufacturing company and produces goods that could not possibly be described as tobacco-based products or accessories, such as boots, shoes and suitcases.

Originally, the company adopted the Camel logo that is traditionally associated with that brand of cigarettes. It is an international company that is based in Germany and the United Kingdom. In order to comply with the relevant European directive, it completely changed its logo and renamed its products Camel Active. The style of writing of the Camel name was completely different from the logo on a packet of cigarettes and the company continued to sell entirely tobacco-free products. The company is worried that it might still be caught by the Bill, so it has asked me to bring its concern to the Committee's attention. It might be an innocent victim, subjected to the clause's brand sharing restrictions.

It is interesting to reflect on the advice that was given on brand sharing when the European directive was annulled. I have a copy of a letter from the company— Worldwide Brands—which has been in close contact with the Advocate General who was instrumental in the decision to annul the European directive. As we all know, it was decided that the measure had been introduced on the wrong legislative basis. On brand sharing, the Advocate General held that

    ``the Directive's provisions on brand diversification advertising in no way contribute to the removal of trade barriers affecting brand diversification products.''

He was not minded to restrict brand diversification on internal market grounds. He concluded that

    ``since the Directive would not be an effective means of reaching its stated Internal Market goals, it was not proportionate to these goals and thus infringed the proportionality principle, the EC Treaty provisions on the free movement of goods and the basic rights to property and to pursue an economic activity.''

Brand sharing was not to be treated as harshly under the proposed European directive as it is under the Bill. Furthermore, the Advocate General held that

    ``the restrictions on brand diversification advertising violated the right to freedom of speech, as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights... the Community legislator had not presented any evidence to suggest a link between brand diversification advertising and overall tobacco consumption... there were therefore no reasonable grounds to justify the restrictions on freedom of speech provided for in the Directive.

That interesting information about the European directive is relevant to our debate on brand sharing. Clause 10 does not provide an adequate solution for companies such as Worldwide Brands, which through its best endeavours has tried to break free of the accusation that when people buy boots and shoes with the Camel Active logo, that somehow fuels tobacco consumption and increases smoking prevalence.

6.45 pm

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