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Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): I am delighted that the Minister introduced this string of amendments and, quite rightly, used it as an opportunity to praise all our athletes for their successes in the Commonwealth games. Reference has already been made to the rivalry between Bath and Loughborough. Of course, the Minister will be well aware of where our swimmers were, in the main, trainedand it was not Loughborough.
Chris Bryant: I am very grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for your advice. I was going to say that, when considering the advertising of the Olympics in 2012, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that not just English images should be used. David Daviesnot the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis), nor the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T.C. Davies)won by nearly a full length, and he was not trained anywhere near Bath or Loughborough.
The hon. Gentleman is right to suggest that, on the important matter of advertising, we do not
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want people to use ambush marketing on the pretence that someone came from their area when that was not true. Of course, he rightly reminds us that the success in the Commonwealth games to date has come from all the home countries, and we should rightly applaud all those who are involved.
The Minister rightly made the point in introducing this string of amendments that the Bill has received a great deal of cross-party support. These proceedings are rather like the marathon runner who can find the extra energy to sprint at the end of a long race: we have the opportunity to make some important improvements during the Bill's final stages, as a result of the cross-party consensus.
The Minister is well aware of the history; it has been referred to already. Much of what we are debating now is based on ideas that were first suggested by the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) and myself in Committee, when the Minister was not prepared to accept an addition to the list of consultees in the Bill, particularly in relation to the advertising industry, notwithstanding the fact that the proposal was modelled on the Gambling Act 2005, which the very same Minister had taken through the House only a few months earlier. None the less, he was not prepared to accept that proposal. The Bill then went to another place for debate, and we were all eventually delighted that the Government were willing to accept that the advertising industry should become a statutory consultee.
Although I clearly welcome these amendments, because they are based on proposals that originally came from Liberal Democrat and other Opposition Members, I want to raise an issue with the Minister nevertheless. We are considering the important issue of ambush advertising and marketing, and it is crucial for the House to accept that such things can happen and that we must guard against them for obvious reasons, to protect the Olympic symbol from its unwanted use in advertising.
We therefore accept not only the need to take rapid action, as people propose novel ideas for ambush marketing, but the need for rapid consultation. That is all accepted, so it is important to take account of the fact that, only yesterday, the Joint Committee on Human Rights commented on that aspect of the Bill in its seventh report on legislative scrutiny. On page 6 of that report, on the procedures that might be adopted, it said:
It went on to point out that it would not make such adverse comments, because of the special circumstances of the Olympic and Paralympic games. However, it made a strongly worded recommendation. It said:
"We consider it, however, all the more important that the explanatory memorandum which accompanies the regulations when they are made provides a detailed explanation as to why in the Secretary of State's view the restrictions on advertising are compatible with the rights identified above".
It is crucial that the Minister use this opportunity to give absolute assurances that the regulations, when published, take account of the Joint Committee's recommendations.
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With that said, I, like the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent, am delighted to accept these Lords amendments.
Mr. Caborn: The thanks that the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) gave to my staff and all those who worked on the Bill will be passed on. They have done an excellent job not just on the Bill, but in keeping Opposition Members informed and, indeed, in considering and acting on many of their comments, and rightly so. Those thanks will be conveyed to all those concerned.
We will consider the Joint Committee recommendations that were referred to by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) and incorporate them in the explanatory memorandum. That should be available when the Bill receives Royal Assent, which, I hope, will be early in April or even towards the end of this month.
This group of amendments gives greater clarity as to how the London Olympics Association right affects publishers and broadcasters. The Bill had always provided for exemptions from the London Olympics Association right for people who broadcast reports or published information about the 2012 games. These amendments provide greater clarity and certainty for publishers and broadcasters that their activities will not be adversely affected by the new association right.
Our intention throughout has been to ensure the absolute freedom of the press to report about, or indeed comment on, the Olympic games and the Paralympic games. The amendments provide important clarification of that position, but in creating an "editorial or journalistic" exemption, we needed to ensure that we did not unwittingly create a situation that advertisers and those who seek to ambush the games could exploit. That is why the journalistic exemptions in the original draft of the Bill contained the phrase "necessary incident". That phrase caused the publishers and broadcasting industries considerable concern, and I am happy that we were able in the other place to table amendments that addressed that concern.
We have found a form of words that provide comfort to the publishers and broadcasting industries that their activities will not be unfairly affected by the Bill, but that also ensure that advertising material that is published at the same time as, or in connection with, a report or information about the games will not have an "editorial" exemption behind which to hide.
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I think that both sides of the House have always been in agreement about what this provision should achieveensuring the freedom of the press in relation to the 2012 games. I think these amendments achieve that without creating a loophole that advertisers who seek to ambush the games could exploit. While the issue came up in debate on the provisions in schedule 4, it applies equally to the Olympics association right as well. That is why we have made identical changes to schedule 3, which amends the original Olympic symbol legislation.
Hugh Robertson: As the Minister has said, this group of amendments addresses concerns raised by the broadcasting and newspaper industries and taken up by both Opposition parties both here and in the other place. On Report in this House, the issue was raised at a fairly late hour so I am delighted that it has now been properly addressed.
There was a justifiable concern that wholly legitimate and acceptable broadcasting and journalistic activity couldI say only "could"be caught by the advertising regulations, and there was particular concern about the term "necessary incident". This group of amendments addresses that concern, exempts publishing and broadcasting reports and information about the 2012 games from infringing the London Olympics Association right and gives the exemption statutory force on the face of the Bill. As you might expect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this group of amendments therefore has my wholehearted support.
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