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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I understand the point that the noble Lord has raised. It will be a matter of great interest to your Lordships. I also believe that when we legislate we sometimes need to anticipate future developments. That is justified when it comes to the Internet. The use of the affirmative resolution procedure is surely a safeguard that allows noble Lords to debate the issues. It is noticeable that your Lordships' House has started not only to debate, but also to vote on such regulations. That is a big change, even in the very short time that I have had the honour of being a Member of the House.
Sponsorship raises some interesting arguments. We have heard two contrasting views on what action the Government ought to take. My noble friend Lord Faulkner would like an earlier end to tobacco sponsorship, but that view was not shared by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns. We have said that tobacco sponsorship will end by 2006. We are considering the most effective transitional arrangements. Our intention remains to end existing tobacco sponsorship for most sports by July 2003 and for global sports, as the noble Baroness has said, by October 2006. We will consult on the draft regulations, which will cover the timing of the end of sponsorship and the conditions under which it may be continued for a period.
We believe that July 2003 is reasonable for most sports, thus giving them considerable notice of the Government's plans. They have been offered assistance and advice from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's tobacco task force. I say to the noble Baroness that the task force stands ready to help sports to find themselves new sponsorship. Many sports have taken advantage of that help; others have chosen not to do so.
I am aware of the issues that the noble Baroness raised specifically in relation to the British Darts Organisation, which argues that it should be recognised as a global sport. She will understand that I do not want to pre-judge the consultation process during which that organisation can make representations. I believe that the task force is useful. It is not a gesture. I urge the British Darts Organisation to engage in, and take advantage of, discussions.
So far as concerns the other issues that the noble Baroness raised, I should point out that the provisions under Clause 10 do not prevent a tobacco company giving money to support an event provided that, in return, tobacco products are not given promotion. In the circumstances that she raised, I do not see any inhibition to the continuation of the type of support suggested by the noble Baroness.
It is also worth pointing out to noble Lords that a report, published by International Marketing Reports, entitled, Driving Business Through Sport, revealed that in Europe a massive £4.03 billion a year is accounted for by sports-related endorsements, with 5 per cent of that amount coming from the tobacco industry.
My noble friend Lord Faulkner referred to loopholes and felt that the Bill would not go far enough; he would prefer there to be no tobacco advertising at point of sale. The fact is--I shall return to this point in a moment--that tobacco is a legally available product. There is no question of that, and there is no question of the Government seeking to change that position. Therefore, a balance must be struck in seeking to end all advertising and promotion while still, for example, allowing the adult smoker to see the information needed to make a purchase.
My noble friend Lord Haskel asked about regulation. I confess to him that I am the Minister responsible for better regulation in the Department of Health. I have suffered the Star Chamber process, defending my department's performance before Mo Mowlam, and I can tell him that it was as uncomfortable an experience as he suggested. However, in the end, the regulations, particularly those in Clause 4(2), very much safeguard the position. They allow for a certain amount of information to communicate the availability and price of the products on sale. I believe that at the point of sale that is a necessary balance to the overall ban.
So far as concerns the Scottish Parliament--this matter was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur--ECHR legislation applies to the whole of the UK and, of course, Westminster is subject to the Human Rights Act. However, in this instance, I do not believe that that is relevant to the question of why Scotland has regulation-making powers in this Bill. It simply arises from the fact that there may be issues particular to Scotland in connection with advertising in shops; for example, where the Scottish Executive is being given the power to regulate for local conditions if that is necessary, and if it is felt that that is the right way forward.
A number of questions were raised in relation to fiscal policy and smuggling. The Government are, and continue to be, committed to maintaining a strong fiscal policy as a way of deterring people from smoking. I listened to my noble friend Lord Mason, the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, and other noble Lords, who referred to the issue of tobacco smuggling. I am the first to acknowledge that this is a major issue which must be tackled. However, the Government's view is that that should be done through intensive measures to make it much more difficult to smuggle those goods.
Noble Lords have already referred to the measures that we are taking. I believe that they are already having an effect. In the nine months following the launch of a new strategy in March 2000, Customs seized over 2.1 billion cigarettes and is confident of a better performance as extra officers and x-ray scanners
The noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, asked about voluntary agreements. It is true that smoking rates fell steadily for many years under governments of both parties during the time of some of those voluntary agreements. However, as noble Lords suggested, since the early 1990s we seem to have reached a plateau. I say simply to the noble Viscount that that suggests to me that we need to adopt a new approach. That is why we believe it is important that, as part of our army of measures, there should be a ban on tobacco advertising.
My noble friend Lord Hardy of Wath asked about passive smoking. I believe the evidence shows that prolonged exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is harmful. That has been borne out by many medical studies.
I turn to the issues of freedom, free speech and the issues that were raised at the start of our debate and threaded through it. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, does not like smoking. As noble Lords will know, my problem is that I do like smoking, and I am making yet another effort to give it up. I am not a health fascist. I do not present this Bill as an attempt to curb the freedom of smokers. I accept that restricting the advertising of illegal products is not a step that could be taken lightly. However, I believe that commercial freedom of speech must be weighed against the unique public health dangers posed by tobacco. We are talking about a product which is extremely addictive. It is a product that most of its consumers started using before the age of 20. The Government are not trying to ban smoking, but we are removing the tobacco companies' right to advertise a lethal, addictive product.
I listened with a great deal of interest to my noble friend Lord Stoddart, and I have given careful consideration to the Bill which received its First Reading immediately before this Bill. The Government will not be supporting his Bill.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will allow me to take his reference to my noble friend Lord Stoddart as a cue to ask him about another point. My noble friend Lord Stoddart suggested that my arithmetic was wrong with regard to the overall effect of the number of people who died from cancer or cancer-related illnesses. Will he confirm that a death rate of 120,000 a year represents 10,000 a month, 333 a day and, therefore, between two and three every 10 minutes? That was the point that I made in my speech.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for giving way. I want to apologise to my noble friend Lord Dubs for doubting his prowess at arithmetic. He is absolutely right. It seems
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, surely the difference between smoking and drinking is this: we know that all smoking does harm. It is my understanding, belief and experience that responsible drinking does no harm; indeed, some consider that it does good, particularly bottles of your Lordships' claret, which we enjoy from time to time.
Are the Government going to legalise cannabis? It has been suggested that two different threads go through our debate and society. The Government's position on cannabis is clear and unchanged: we continue to recognise that the drug can have serious health and social effects. The cross-government anti-drug strategy sets clear targets for reducing the availability and use of all illegal drugs. Long may that continue!
The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked why Clause 4(1)(d) was not hybrid. My understanding is that hybridity arises where persons in a class are treated differently without good reason. The Bill has been vetted for hybridity by the House authorities, who do not see that to be an issue. My understanding is that UK airlines constitute a genuine class. That is a big enough category to be a class in terms of hybridity and to ensure that no UK airline is treated differently.
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