Joint Committee On Human Rights Fourteenth Report


1. Letter to the Chairman of the Committee from Yvette Cooper, Parliamentary

Under Secretary of State, Department of Health

I am writing to you as chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. In its Eighth Report for the current Session your Committee covered Lord Clement-Jones's Bill on Tobacco Advertising and Promotion. You recommended that evidence be made available to each House about the likely effect on tobacco consumption of advertising restrictions.

Paragraph 21 of your Report states that there should be clear evidence to support the contention that only a comprehensive advertising ban would be sufficient to bring about the desired reduction in tobacco consumption.

I believe that such evidence exists. A 1999 Report from the World Bank[12] stated (Page 49) that "policymakers who are interested inn controlling tobacco need to know whether cigarette advertising and promotion affect consumption. The answer is that they almost certainly do, although the data are not straightforward. The key conclusion is that bans on advertising and promotion prove effective, but only if they are comprehensive, covering all media and all uses of brand names and logos." The World Bank suggested that EU directive 98/43/EC which included measures similar to those of the Tobacco Advertising Bill could have reduced cigarette consumption within the European Union by nearly 7 per cent.

A study of data from 22 countries[13] concluded that " ... tobacco advertising increases tobacco consumption. The empirical research also shows that comprehensive advertising bans can reduce tobacco consumption, but that a limited set of advertising bans will have little or no effect. A limited set of advertising bans will not reduce the total level of advertising expenditure but will simply result in substitution to the remaining non-banned media. When more of the remaining media are eliminated, the options for substitution are also eliminated."

Your Committee also recommended, at paragraph 33, that evidence be made available to each House to enable Members to assess the link between brandshared products and increased tobacco consumption. I enclose a report prepared for my Department by the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at Strathclyde University, part of which has been published in the British Medical Journal.[14] This found that "where other factors which are known to be associated with teenage smoking are held constant, awareness of coupon schemes and brand stretching and tobacco marketing in general, are all independently associated with current smoking."

I am copying this letter to Lord Clement-Jones and placing it in the Libraries of each House.

17 January 2002

2. Letter to the Clerk of the Committee from Lord Clement-Jones CBE

The report of the Joint Committee on the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill, a private member's bill I am sponsoring in the Lords, has been drawn to my attention.

Following the deliberations of the Committee on the 17th December, Lord Campbell of Alloway tabled an amendment to the Bill, which was debated at committee stage. This has now been retabled for report stage, due to take place on the 1st March. I enclose a copy.[15]

Lord Campbell gave the impression at Committee that his amendment is in line with the views of the Joint Committee of which he was a member.

As I read the Report, however, in particular paragraph 19, this is not the case and the amendment is not supported by the Report, since the Committee took the view that the measures in the Bill would (subject to their being "justifiable restrictions") be unlikely to fail the test of being "prescribed by law" for the purpose of Article 10 of the ECHR.

Since I was not given the opportunity of making representations to the Committee when the Bill was considered by it, I would appreciate your arranging to put the Committee's views on the amendment on record so that this would be available in time for Report Stage in the Lords on 1st March.

15 February 2002

3. Opinion of David Pannick QC on the Civil Partnerships Bill

1. At present, English law recognises only very limited rights for cohabiting couples, heterosexual or homosexual, in relation to inheritance, pensions, social security and a range of their interests.

2. The Civil Partnerships Bill will enable unmarried couples, including same sex partners, living in a mutually supportive relationship, to make legal provision for their joint protection. Couples who assume joint responsibility for their common affairs and who choose to enter a civil partnership will have specified legal rights and obligations. The Bill provides a procedure for registration of the partnership and states the legal consequences which follow.

3. The provisions of the Bill are compatible with the Convention rights, as defined in the Human Rights Act 1998, in the sense that the Bill (if enacted) will not breach any of those rights.

4. Indeed, the Bill will do much to ensure that English law provides greater protection for Convention rights, and avoids potential breaches of Convention rights:

(1)  The first relevant Convention right is the right to respect for private and family life, guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is well-established that an unmarried heterosexual couple enjoy family life under Article 8. Although the European Court of Human Rights has yet to accept that homosexual relationships are within the scope of family life, the caselaw does accept that such relationships may be covered by the concept of private life. To deny legal protection to cohabiting couples, heterosexual or homosexual, may well involve breaches of their rights to respect for private and family life under Article 8.

(2)  The second relevant Convention right is the right to property, guaranteed by Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention. Many of the interests protected by the Bill are property rights for the purposes of Article 1 of the Protocol. The State has a duty to maintain a fair balance between the public interest and the rights of property owners. To deny legal protection to cohabiting couples, heterosexual or homosexual, may well involve breaches of their property rights under Article 1 of the Protocol.

(3)  The relevance of Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of the First Protocol is all the greater when those provisions are considered—as they must be—together with Article 14 of the Convention, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination in the enjoyment of the substantive rights such as the right to respect for private and family life, and the right to property. To the extent that cohabiting couples, heterosexual or homosexual, are treated less favourably than married couples in the areas covered by the Bill, this may well involve breaches of rights guaranteed under Article 8 and Article 1 of the First Protocol read together with Article 14.

30 December 2001

Curbing the Epidemic Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control ISBN 0-8213-4519-2 Back

13   The effect of tobacco advertising bans on tobacco consumption Henry Saffer, Frank Chaloupka Journal of Health Economics 19(2000) 1117-1137 Back

14   BMJ 5 March 2001 Vol. 322, 513-517 Back

15   Not printed Back

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