Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Rea: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way for one moment. The AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa is spread predominantly by heterosexual intercourse, in association with other sexually transmitted diseases, not homosexual intercourse.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for putting that point of view, which is contradicted by many who have long experience in

28 Mar 2001 : Column 278

Africa and know perfectly well that anal intercourse is extensively practised among the heterosexual population as a form of birth control.

Lord Waddington: My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will give way. The noble Lord opposite is partly right. AIDS occurs as a result of anal heterosexual intercourse. It is anal intercourse which the Government have encouraged.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I do not want the debate to be side-tracked by a discussion about those matters. My point in introducing this matter is to support the charge of humbug against the Government. They proceed against smoking, and there are good reasons why. For example, I do not know how many members of the Cabinet smoke. Certainly, when it comes to votes perhaps the Government believe that smokers are now a small minority who can be treated rather harshly.

I recollect that in July 1999 I tabled two Questions for Written Answer. I asked whether it was the Government's view,


    "that smoking by fictional characters in popular television soap operas such as Coronation Street and EastEnders is likely to cause young people to smoke".

I received a very robust reply from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, of the Department of Health:


    "The Government believe that viewers, especially children, should be protected from broadcast material portraying smoking as a glamorous or attractive activity".--[Official Report, 5/7/99; col. WA 71.]

Note the words "should be protected".

Slightly mischievously, I asked a similar Question about the Government's view as to whether,


    "acts of adultery, fornication, sex between juveniles, perverted sex, violence within marriage, theft, trespass, or use of drugs by fictional characters in [such] popular television soap operas ... are likely to cause young people to emulate such behaviour".--[Official Report, 22/7/99; col. WA 128.]

I believe that that Question was answered by the Home Office through the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey. I seek not to criticise him; I think he is one of the nicest and most hard-working Ministers in the Government and is essentially called on to answer anything which is awkward. But his answer was rather different. He said:


    "Successive governments have acknowledged the sensitivity of broadcast output and its possible adverse effect on young people ... The Government believe that, in general, the current arrangements are working well".--[Official Report, 22/7/99; col. WA 128.]

In other words, there is a difference in standards: tobacco is the ultimate sin, smoking is awful and the Government think that something should be done about it; but, in other areas, "Oh, well, the arrangements are working pretty well, aren't they?". That is another part of the charge which I make of humbug.

I have offered some explanation for the difference in attitudes towards the cause of smoking-related diseases and towards AIDS. However, there is something else that concerns me about the Bill. It is

28 Mar 2001 : Column 279

another example of the criminalising of activities of which the Government do not approve. Yes, it can be argued--the Minister argued very effectively--that not only should smokers be protected from themselves, but that taxpayers at large pay a heavy cost, not least in the National Health Service, for the consequences of smoking, although, as I have said, that argument is not carried through into certain other areas.

I am not sure that the Minister gave us an estimate of what the loss of revenue would be as smoking falls by the amounts anticipated, or what the saving is to the public purse in terms of pensions and other costs in respect of those who die of smoking-related diseases perhaps seven years prematurely.

As the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, hinted before we started the debate, what about alcohol? Is this like the decision to seek to prohibit hunting by hounds--a minority sport--but not fishing? There are too many votes to be lost on that issue, are there not? There would be too many votes lost on the prohibition of advertising of alcohol. So that will not be an issue. The Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, will not progress very far. So humbug it is, and that is why I shall not support the Bill.

3.42 p.m.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, some 60 years ago when I became a medical student, I and my colleagues were strongly advised by the then dean of medicine that we should smoke cigarettes in the dissecting room and in physiology demonstrations in order to overcome the effects of the smell. We did so. Indeed, shortly after the war when I served on a hospital ship we could buy 50 Senior Service for 1s 8d. I used to get through a can of 50 cigarettes in two days--25 a day.

At that time none of us recognised the serious health hazards associated with smoking. But, as the results of the seminal results by Sir Richard Doll and Professor Austin Bradford Hill and others became available, it soon became apparent to members of the medical profession that smoking was a serious issue in relation to its effect on health.

At first it seemed that to smoke a pipe was significantly less damaging. So, after a struggle, I gave up my cigarettes and moved on to my pipe, which was my constant companion for some time. Twenty-five years ago I eventually gave it up. This story is not totally unrelated to a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit. When I went with my family on a skiing holiday in Switzerland, whenever I wished to smoke my pipe, I was banished outdoors in sub-zero temperatures because the family refused to have the smell of tobacco smoke within the apartment.

So, I managed to give up smoking 25 years ago. For a year or two I had the feeling--if one can misquote the speech of Lady Macbeth--"Is it a pipe I see before me, its handle towards my hand? Come let me clutch thee. I have thee not, but yet I see thee still". Happily that feeling eventually passed. For the past 20 or more years I have had no craving for tobacco of any kind.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 280

There is no denying that smoking is the single biggest cause of ill health and premature death in the UK. It is responsible for nearly one in five deaths. However, it is never too late to stop. About five years after giving up one's risk of cancer, stroke and other smoking-related illnesses is greatly reduced.

At present, about 12 million people in the UK are addicted to cigarettes, well over one-third of adult men and women. Each year around 120,000 smokers die as a result of their habit. Most of these deaths are due to lung cancer and other chest diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, but heart disease and stroke contribute to that number. Smoking increases the stickiness of certain blood cells called platelets. These in turn increase the risk of blood clots forming in major arteries to the brain and heart. Smoking also has a seriously adverse effect upon blood pressure, causing high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke.

Professor McVie of the Cancer Research Campaign believes, along with all his colleagues, that the Bill, as it stands, will encourage smokers to quit and will, above all, help young people not to start smoking in the first place. As they say,


    "tobacco is the greatest single preventable cause of cancer death and we owe it to future generations to do all in our power to reduce this toll".

They believe, as the Minister said the Government do, that an advertising ban could reduce tobacco consumption in the long term by 2.5 per cent, thus saving an estimated 3,000 lives a year.

As the Minister said, the report of Dr Clive Smee, the Department of Health's economic adviser in 1992, after a very comprehensive study, concluded:


    "The balance of evidence thus supports the conclusion that advertising does have a positive effect on consumption".

In a detailed analysis of four countries, Smee concluded:


    "In each case the banning of advertising was followed by a fall in smoking on a scale which cannot be reasonably attributed to other factors".

Four countries have banned tobacco advertising--Norway, Finland, New Zealand and France. Adult per capita consumption of cigarettes fell between 15 and 34 per cent after the implementation of the ban. There were other initiatives which may have played a part in reducing that consumption. Nevertheless, the study showed that tobacco advertising bans work best when they are implemented as part of a comprehensive tobacco control policy.

Like many other noble Lords, I received the interesting photograph from QUIT, the organisation helping smokers to give up smoking, showing a tobacco advert close to the entrance to a primary school. I have also received the letter from the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association indicating that that offending advertisement was soon removed under the voluntary agreement.

Nevertheless, I draw your Lordships' attention to a most important paper published in the British Medical Journal on 3rd March of this year. This article is based upon a very careful detailed study of the smoking

28 Mar 2001 : Column 281

habits and knowledge about smoking of young people in north-east England carried out by Lynn MacFadyen, and others, at the University of Strathclyde. I shall not go into detail about the nature of that study; I simply quote the conclusions:


    "Teenagers are aware of, and are participating in, many forms of tobacco marketing, and both awareness and participation are associated with current smoking status. This suggests that the current voluntary regulations designed to protect young people from smoking are not working, and that statutory regulations are required".

I could not possibly agree more. We owe it to the country at large and to future generations to implement the Bill, to which I give my warm support.

3.49 p.m.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I support the Bill for all the health reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Walton. I certainly agree that advertising affects consumption. But the Bill is not about the right to smoke or grow tobacco; it is not about humbug and it is not about sex. It is all about banning the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. It is an attempt to regulate tobacco advertising and promotion. I should like to address the single matter of regulation.

I remind your Lordships that we are firmly in deregulation mode. Noble Lords opposite are constantly criticising the Government for adding to the regulatory load--it worries the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit--and Ministers on this side of the House are constantly battling to keep regulation to a minimum. Indeed, each department has its own regulation Minister, who has to go through a Star Chamber where regulations are scrutinised. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be sympathetic to his departmental regulation Minister because business and industry constantly complain that regulation acts as a barrier to greater productivity and to increased competitiveness. The CBI, the Engineering Employers' Federation, the chambers of commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses have all recently raised the matter of red tape with the Government.

Yet in Clauses 4 and 5 of the Bill I see that there is to be discussion about regulating point of sale advertising, about regulating displays at the entrance to shops, about the responsibility of Internet Service Providers and about regulating extending the brand to other products. The decisions will be difficult because most shops selling cigarettes sell other products, and those are often attractive to children. That will mean detailed regulation and yet more hard work for the already hard working trading standards officers.

My noble friend can be sure that if there is anything other than a complete ban, the Government will immediately receive complaints of yet more regulation, perhaps even from the shopkeepers themselves. That is why the ban must be complete. It must include no point of sale advertising; no promotion through the Internet, so that the uncertain position of Internet Service Providers is not called into question, especially where websites are established outside UK jurisdiction; and no brand stretching to

28 Mar 2001 : Column 282

other products in order to limit all the marketing activities carried out in any modern economy. Anything other than a comprehensive ban on all marketing activities--the noble Lord, Lord Walton, gave us the medical reasons for a comprehensive ban--will require some kind of regulation or supervised voluntary arrangement that is no longer enforceable or acceptable in today's business environment.

I hope that my noble friend the Minister will bear that in mind when responding to the debate and reassure us that noble Lords will be saved the need to move amendments in Committee to secure a complete ban.

3.53 p.m.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I welcome the Bill. I am delighted that the Government have at last set out to deal with this difficult problem. I do not disagree with my noble friend Lord Tebbit that a great deal of humbug surrounds the Bill, but humbug is an inevitable feature of anything to do with narcotics. The whole of our discussions on alcohol, tobacco, banned substances and even substances such as caffeine are inevitably attended by humbug: what a lot of people do, we can permit; what a few people do, we try to ban. It is just the way of the world, the way of politics, the way of the media, and we have to accept it.

I tend to look at the issue and ask, "Will the Bill do good?" My answer to that is that it will help to reduce tobacco consumption, and therefore the consequences of tobacco consumption, and so it is a good Bill. However, I shall oppose the Bill as currently drafted with all my heart and to the very limits of my power. I shall do so because the Bill reverses the burden of proof in a totally unacceptable way.

It is one of the fundamental tenets of our civilisation that someone is innocent until proven guilty. There are, of course, occasions when you can trespass on that and go the other way. You can go the other way, as was said in the debate on hunting, when you are totally clear about the offence. You have to prove that it was not you driving when you were snapped by a speed camera. It is clear what the offence is. There are no fuzzy edges.

I would not feel uncomfortable about trespassing on this territory when we are dealing with extremely serious and difficult crimes--major drug trafficking and so on. There is a proposal to bring forward legislation to provide that if someone has 20 million but cannot explain how he obtained it he should have to show how he obtained it, or risk the Government at least taxing it. I do not find that unacceptable. But I do find it unacceptable that ordinary citizens and ordinary businessmen should be subject to a reversal of the burden of proof for absolutely no good reason. That is what the Bill does in several places.

The offences under Clause 2 are all absolute offences. If you have engaged in publishing, printing or distributing a tobacco advertisement, you have committed an offence. You then have to prove that you did not know that it was a tobacco advertisement. You have to prove it. There is an obligation or burden

28 Mar 2001 : Column 283

on you to show that you did not know. In certain circumstances, that will be impossible. Under Clause 3(c), an offence includes a newsagent selling a magazine. If a newsagent sells a magazine that has in it a tobacco advertisement and he has displayed the magazine openly on his shelves, how on earth will he prove that he did not know that there was a tobacco advertisement in it? All he had to do was look at the magazine and read it. The fact that he has so many magazines that he cannot read them all is one thing, but how can he prove that he did not read the magazine and did not know that it contained a tobacco advertisement? How can you prove that no one told you that there was a tobacco advertisement in it?

When one considers the type of people who will be subject to Clause 3(c), it is entirely unreasonable to impose a burden on proof on them. They have taken no active role in promoting tobacco. They just happen to be part of a chain which ends up including a tobacco advertisement. Under those circumstances, I cannot see any justification for undermining one of our fundamental liberties. It will put ordinary people--ordinary newsagents--in an impossible position.

The principle can also reasonably be extended to people who run big, serious businesses--I have in mind editors and proprietors of newspapers--because, necessarily, the Bill is wide in its definition of what constitutes a tobacco advertisement. It includes advertisements whose effect may be to promote a tobacco product even though that is not at all obvious. One is aware of a good many tobacco advertisements that do not appear to feature a tobacco product except for the health warning at the bottom. If the tobacco industry chooses to advertise under the ban, it will do so in very subtle ways. Why should a newspaper proprietor have to prove that he did not know that a particular advertisement promoted tobacco? Under any reasonable circumstance, if the advertisement is clearly one that promotes tobacco, it is possible to prove that the proprietor knew or should have known. But the burden of proof should be on the prosecuting authorities.

Another dimension to the problem arises in the case of internet service providers. Last year we passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. It, too, included a reversal of proof provision that we managed to get struck out. Under the Act it is a criminal offence for an Internet service provider to know what is in the e-mails that go through its wires. The Government are now seeking to make it a criminal offence not to know what is going through its wires. The ISPs will be caught coming and caught going. I do not see why it is necessary to catch them in that way with a reversed burden of proof when we have already made it impossible for them legally to know what is going through.

I agree that when we know someone is sending out Spam e-mails about advertising tobacco products we should be able to make the ISPs do their very best to stop those going through. That is entirely reasonable. But if you are notifying an ISP that something is happening, but he does not do it and you prosecute him, then he knows. The first thing that happens is that

28 Mar 2001 : Column 284

he is told officially that there is a tobacco advertisement coming down the wires and that he must stop it. A reverse burden of proof is not needed because it has no function. Under any practical circumstances, the ISP has been told what is happening. The ISP should be attacked only when he knows what is happening and does nothing about it. Again, there is no reason to reverse the burden of proof.

These fundamental freedoms have to be guarded at every turn. Generally we do not lose them as the result of big events; we lose them through erosion, by precedent and by letting little holes appear in the dyke and then watching the water stream out gently, imagining that that will be the end of the matter certainly not, so far as concerns the reversal of the burden of proof. This has come up in three recent pieces of legislation. We saw it in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill, we have it in the Hunting Bill and we see it again in the Bill before us. It is something which I believe ought to be taken extremely seriously because it disfigures what is otherwise an excellent Bill.

4 p.m.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, banning tobacco advertising was a Labour Party manifesto commitment. That commitment would have been effected by the implementation of European directive 98/43/EC which would have banned tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. However, that directive was annulled on the decision of the European Court of Justice on the basis of it having been introduced on an incorrect treaty base. The Bill before us today, which I support, remedies domestically the decision of the European Court of Justice and enacts the Government's tobacco control strategy.

However, at page 10 the European Commission work programme for the year 2001 states:


    "In the more general field of consumer protection and public health there are plans to introduce, among other things, new proposals on the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products".

In the Government's explanatory memorandum to the Commission's work programme, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office states:


    "The United Kingdom Government warmly welcomes the Commission's intention to propose a new directive relating to the advertising and promotion of tobacco products".

On behalf of the Government, Mr Vaz continues:


    "The United Kingdom Government is committed to a ban on tobacco advertising--a commitment which, following the annulment last October of the previous EC directive banning advertising, is currently being pursued domestically through the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill. The Government supports the Commission in its initiative and would urge the Commission to take particular account of trans-national issues such as band-sharing and the Internet when drafting its proposals".

Like the Government's explanatory memorandum, I welcome the Commission's proposal for a new directive in 2001 in order to mitigate the effects of the ruling from the European Court of Justice.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 285

I also welcome this Bill, more as a token of the Government's commitment to an early European directive than as a national do-it-alone proposal. But such European action needs to be properly planned and internally consistent to avoid accusations of hypocrisy.

I am not a Euro-sceptic. I voted "Yes" in the 1975 referendum and for over a quarter of a century I have never wavered as one who believes that our membership of the European Union has been consistently of great benefit to this country and its people. Despite those views, however, I find myself in some agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, in the first part of his speech. This is, I think, the first time that I have publicly acknowledged such agreement and I suspect that it may well be the last. However, Europe cannot expect plaudits for its planned tobacco advertising directive without being subjected to criticism over policies which are counter-productive to a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

To propose a ban on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco on the one hand, while spending annually over 1 billion euros of taxpayers' money on subsidising the European growing of tobacco, as if it were a harmless agricultural pursuit, is clearly inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst.

My concern is enhanced when, on looking further at the Commission work programme for 2001, I find listed under "New Measures", at Programme No. 2001/014, a proposal for a Council regulation on fixing the premium level and guaranteed thresholds in the tobacco sector. This regulation is being proposed for adoption by the Commission under a written procedure for the third quarter of 2001 and is subject only to consultation with the European Parliament, not to co-decision. One might ask: will this regulation increase or decrease the premium level? I think that the answer is self-evident and clear: it will, as it always does, increase the premium level. If that is the case, then I believe that Her Majesty's Government must oppose it, not only in the privacy of the Council meetings, but publicly--and vigorously.

If tobacco is so harmful--and I believe it is--that its advertising, promotion and sponsorship must be banned, then its European public subsidy must also be banned. The Government must not only say that they support changes to the common agricultural policy, but they must, in a high profile way, demonstrate their opposition--as a net contributor to the European budget--to its budgetary resources being disbursed to a cause which is not merely unworthy but in direct conflict with what is being seen as a public health imperative. The money saved by banning expenditure on the tobacco regime could help to support many of our sports governing bodies, which are currently finding it extremely difficult to secure alternative and continuing forms of sponsorship beyond 2003.

Perhaps I may raise another aspect of government commitment concerning action to reduce tobacco consumption. At present, the European Commission

28 Mar 2001 : Column 286

is engaged in a civil legal action in the United States against two American tobacco firms, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. This is a civil legal action seeking compensation amounting to 3 billion euros for lost European Union revenue arising from those companies being complicit in tobacco smuggling. The European Commission has invited the member states of the European Union to join in that civil action.

My noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey, in reply to a question that I directed to him on 8th February, stated:


    "Customs and Excise is actively considering whether to join in the case. I am sure that Treasury officials will also wish to consider this matter".--[Official Report, 8/2/01; col. 1267.]

Treasury officials did consider the matter and, in a letter dated 2nd March 2001 to the European Union Select Committee, an official from the Treasury stated that,


    "the United Kingdom had decided not to join in the action because, as there is no suggestion that the United Kingdom was the destination for the smuggled product, there is no direct United Kingdom revenue loss to seek to recover and therefore it is unlikely that the United Kingdom has valid reasons for joining this action".

I urge Her Majesty's Government to think again about that answer. The Treasury official is, I believe, guilty of a most specious form of argument. In so far as revenue is lost to the European Union budget, all member states suffer, especially those which, like the United Kingdom, are net contributors to the budget. Our interest is specific, direct and calculable. Smuggling costs money. We pay more, and we should join in the action to recover moneys lost. We should do that in defence of the interests of our taxpayers.

I do not apologise for focusing on these somewhat narrow European issues. I do so because I believe that the European directive will possibly supersede the Bill. I am content for that to be the case. Indeed, I believe that there are certain advantages in the matter being dealt with in that way. However, the advantages will be seriously undermined if the European Union continues simultaneously to be both a banner of advertising, promotion and sponsorship and a subsidiser of the growth of the offending product.

4.10 p.m.

Lord Geddes: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers Club. Indeed, I can see at least two other noble Lords who are equally proudly wearing that club's tie today.

I should like to take this opportunity--which is almost unique, as far as I am aware--of underbidding the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant. If I noted correctly, he said that he was tempted by 50 cigarettes at 1/8d. When I joined Her Majesty's Navy as an extremely junior junior some 45 years ago, I was offered and accepted 200 cigarettes for 2/4d. They were virtually unsmokeable; they were called Blue Line and were clearly the sweepings off the factory floor. Nevertheless, it was a carton of 200 cigarettes for 2/4d.

28 Mar 2001 : Column 287

I, too, dislike the Bill; I am against it. However, I am against it for slightly different reasons from my noble friend Lord Lucas. I am concerned about the Bill from the point of view of human rights. I notice that on the front page of the Bill--not page 1, but the front page--there is the absolutely standard claim or disclaim, I am not sure which word to use, from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath. I am very glad that I am not in the noble Lord's position. That claim or disclaim states that in his view--I paraphrase, of course, because it states "In my view"--that,


    "the provisions of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill are compatible with the Convention rights"--

that is, the Human Rights Act 1998. I think that the Minister will have problems in that respect. One could drill hole after hole in the Bill in that context. I do not intend to do so.

However, perhaps I may refer, as did the Minister, to Clause 4(1)(b) and, in particular, to the Explanatory Notes to the Bill--which, interestingly, are two pages longer than the Bill itself. That may say something about the Bill. The clause and the Explanatory Notes refer to the exceptions; that is, where advertising is allowed. The notes go on to state in paragraph 17:


    "However, this does not permit tobacco advertisements to be sent to all consumers on a database; each consumer must individually request that information on each and every occasion".

The Minister also quoted that passage. The paragraph goes on to state:


    "A request for information cannot be considered as a request for further information in the future".

Clearly, the purpose, as I read it, is to prohibit manufacturers or sellers of tobacco products from generally communicating with smokers who are purchasers or potential purchasers of their brands, even if that communication is personal and private. This is despite the fact that the product itself is legal; that it is perfectly legal to manufacture and sell it and for adults to purchase it.

I have real problems with the conflict between a legal product--to which I shall return in a moment--on the one hand and a banning of advertising on the other. To be consistent--I hope that this does not happen--surely tobacco should be declared illegal. Then there would be some logic in the Bill and in the ban on advertising because, in that context, you would be banning advertising of an illegal product. Here you are banning advertising--or proposing to--of a legal product. I cannot get my mind around that.

I am advised by much better legal brains than mine--I am not a lawyer--that, in their opinion, this seriously violates the fundamental freedom of speech and expression contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. This is where I have great sympathy with the Minister. The Bill bans virtually every possible means of bringing a tobacco product to the attention of smokers. The prohibition of any communication whatever, even a communication of a factual or informational nature, with regard to a product which is lawfully available--I come back to that word again--is a disproportionate restriction

28 Mar 2001 : Column 288

contrary to Articles 10 and 8 of the ECHR. The Government should look at that issue extremely carefully.

I wish to raise only two other points. I have twice mentioned the question of legality. In another place, the Minister stated:


    "We are relaxed about the way in which products and prices are ordinarily displayed, and we do not intend to restrict that. It is perfectly legitimate to have a certain amount of advertising at point of sale and for products to be displayed, with prices, so that they can be sold".

So far so good. The Minister continued:


    "because after all tobacco is a legal product".--[Official Report, Commons, 13/2/01; col. 220.]

That brings me back to the same dilemma, but I shall not dwell on it further.

I believe that it was the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, who mentioned regulation. I totally agree with what he said. Certainly, Members of the House and many others outside the House are getting fed up with the amount of regulation. However, the problem lies in Clause 18 of the Bill. Subsections (1) and (2) of that clause are very frightening indeed. The clause states:


    "(1) Powers to make regulations and orders under this Act are exercisable by statutory instrument.


    (2) Regulations, and orders under Section 7, may make"--

my noble friend Lord Tebbit mentioned this--


    "(a) different provision for different cases or circumstances, and


    (b) any supplementary, consequential or transitional provision which the appropriate Minister (or Secretary of State) considers necessary or desirable".

The industry does not know where it is; we do not know where it is. The Bill has holes driven right through it.

4.17 p.m.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I very much welcome the Bill. I am aware from the statistics we have been given that, by the time I sit down in a few minutes from now, two to three more people in this country will have died as a result of smoking. That is a sombre thought. The Bill is part of a wider-ranging government strategy to tackle the problem of the large number of people in this country who die as a result of smoking. I welcome that strategy.

Looking at the history of anti-smoking measures over recent years, it is clear that raising the price of cigarettes and making them fairly expensive has proved to be one of the most effective deterrents to smoking. It discourages young people from starting and, indeed, it lessens the tendency for adults who have already started smoking to go on doing so, or they smoke fewer cigarettes.

I therefore find myself, as did my noble friend Lord Tomlinson, in agreement with the first part of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit. I am sure that his reputation will be totally damaged if speaker after speaker on these Benches praises something that he said, but the truth must stand.

I do not share the noble Lord's views about the European Union but I agree with him that it is unacceptable that the taxpayers of Europe--including

28 Mar 2001 : Column 289

the taxpayers of this country--should contribute money to encourage the production of a product which we are, in other senses, trying to discourage. That is unacceptable. I hope that the Minister will hear our call and that the Government will act accordingly in their discussions in Brussels.

In relation to European Union matters, a second element is worth mentioning. People take their cars and vans across the Channel to Calais, stock up with cigarettes at prices significantly lower than here, bring them into this country and either use them themselves or sell them on. I understand that the trade is significantly damaging Treasury revenue from tobacco duties. I am not sure whether my noble friend the Minister will have that information to hand. It is also undermining the sensible policy of successive governments of increasing the price of cigarettes as a deterrent to their consumption. The volume of cigarettes coming across the Channel is now large enough to damage the effectiveness of that policy.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page