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Mr. Barron: Does my hon. Friend agree that that is different from a family or tourists returning from holiday in France and bringing in a few bottles of wine and, perhaps, cigarettes in their car? Is that not different from the white van trade, in which people leave the country on ferries at heavily discounted rates, late at night, and return before dawn with vans full of goods? No one knows where those goods come from because there are no retail outlets open during the night over in France and Belgium.
Mr. Bermingham: My hon. Friend makes a good point. I am not against Mr. and Mrs. Smith and baby Smith coming back with 200 fags for mum, 200 for dad, a few bottles of wine and the odd bottle of whisky. That is fine. I am against what is actually happening. There are two or three guys with a van loaded with 2,000 or 3,000 cans of beer, boxes of whisky and wine, and 4,000 or 5,000 fags. We all know what happens. They go down to their local club, go round the back and say, "Mrs. Smith, did you want 400?" or "Mr. Jones, you wanted a crate of wine too, didn't you?" That is criminal activity, and it must be stopped.
Mr. Evans: I disagree with hardly anything that the hon. Gentleman has said. However, surely it would be far better for the Government to direct all their attention to smuggling and get away from the existing price differential? Two tiers of cigarettes and tobacco are available in this country: that which is smuggled, which is very cheap, and that which is obtained over the counter--which I deal with--which is very expensive. Banning advertising will have hardly any impact either way. The price differential and the availability of cheap cigarettes are a real problem.
Mr. Bermingham: I disagree, because people will then go back to asking what advertising is all about. Advertising makes a product known. When I was seven--well, I concede that there were not many advertisements then, as we were just coming out of a world war, although that is another story. As advertising was not prevalent then, I had better move on a few years to the time when I was a young man. In those days, advertising billboards encouraged people to smoke cigarettes--whether Philip Morris, Players, Capstan, Craven "A" or whatever. I am beginning to show how many cigarettes I know about.
Of course, that encouraged people, as we began to choose and market-test. We would test one brand against another. There should be no advertising, and no billboards for Silk Cut, Benson and Hedges, Marlboro, or any other of today's cigarettes. After all, we are seeking to discourage young people from smoking and, if we can discourage people from smoking at 15 and keep them from smoking, we will have taken real customers out of the market. Discouraging a 60-year-old from smoking does not take so much out of the market.
That is why the Bill has value. Nothing should be advertised and, with a bit of luck, we can begin to persuade people to adopt a culture in which smoking is not encouraged and in which people on television do not smoke. On the radio, it does not matter, because one cannot see people--which is why I have always thought that radio was quite a good medium. Furthermore, if tobacco is not in the papers, although people who smoke will, presumably, learn about brands by word of mouth they will not know the difference between one and the other. With a bit of luck, that will continue to discourage people.
If we have an attack on smoking which combines education, disincentive, denial of advertising and persuasion, with a bit of luck, someone reaching the age I was a few years ago will not go through what I went through. As a result of my own stupidity, I suffered a major heart attack which, frankly, was caused by smoking. It just ain't worth it. If we can get that message
Many of us probably have a personal interest in this matter. In my case, my father, who was a heavy smoker, died shortly after he retired. I have no wish to see my grandchildren seduced by advertising when they grow up, and, potentially, have their lives cut short. The proposals are long overdue. The voluntary ban on all television advertising was agreed in 1965, but what is the difference between advertising on television and all the other kinds of advertising in which the tobacco companies are involved? As the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) said earlier, the tobacco manufacturers have always found alternative ways around whatever ban we have put in place. Even now, they are trying to find a way around the bans that we are planning.
We should see the Bill as part of a process. The scale of profits involved in that industry are such that tobacco manufacturers have a huge incentive to find ways around the Bill, so we may well have to return to the subject. Ministers will need to be robust when they consult on the regulations which the Bill, if enacted, will allow them to impose. Over the years, we have seen the way in which the industry has been able to prevaricate and string out the negotiations about health warnings, for example.
The right hon. Member for East Devon (Sir P. Emery) read out from the Select Committee report confessions from some companies that smoking caused cancer. British American Tobacco was one company that admitted that. However, the right hon. Gentleman did not read out the comments of other companies, which still tried to deny that their products caused cancer or heart disease. We are against many major manufacturers who still refuse to admit that they are peddling a lethal product. The hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) was right that those companies know just how lethal their product is, but have no willingness to admit it to the electorate.
Mr. Bercow: I understand the vantage point from which the hon. Gentleman approaches the subject. However, with reference to what he said about regulations, will he confirm that he is not suggesting that they should be subject to the negative rather than the affirmative procedure of the House?
Mr. Morgan: It is more important that the regulations should be robust and that they should achieve something rather than be something that we can get around in a hurry. I am quite happy for those that are intended to be subject to the affirmative procedure.
We should not have any sympathy for the tobacco industry which, for many years, has been a cynical manipulator of its clients and potential clients. One has only to look at the evidence that the Select Committee obtained from the industry's advertising agents to see how true that is. Nothing could be more cynical than the industry's sponsorship of sport, which was designed to
The tobacco manufacturers' main objective is to recruit new smokers. We must all be worried about the increase in the number of young smokers. It has been pointed out that it is considered fashionable to smoke, but that fashion is assiduously developed and reinforced by much of the advertising that manufacturers target at the particular brands that young people are seen to be willing to take up.
The manufacturers are also keen on putting people off giving up smoking. That is why they try to associate certain health messages with particular brands. For example, some brands are sold as low-tar cigarettes. In other words, they are alleged to be less of a risk to those who smoke them. Of course, much of the evidence suggests that it depends on how people smoke the cigarette rather than on which cigarette they choose. Low-tar brands can be just as dangerous as high-tar brands. The manufacturers' other objective is to make their consumers into addicts. The product does that naturally and without effort, so no effort at all is required from them in that respect.
We must be concerned about slippage on the Bill, especially if comments on the timing of the general election are to be believed. Perhaps the next debate, which is on the programme motion, gives us some hope in that regard, but there are obviously no guarantees on what happens to the Bill in the other place. I hope to hear from the Minister for Public Health that the Government intend to push the Bill through the House of Lords just as vigorously as through the House of Commons.
Of course, the Bill is not the only measure that is necessary. Many hon. Members have rightly alluded to the problem of smuggling. There is no doubt that the availability of bargain cigarettes that are seen as very cheap will increase consumption, especially among the groups that have access to such products. As the hon. Member for Rother Valley said, the sale of such products has a double disadvantage, as it avoids all the legal restrictions that are currently in place, including those that relate to children under a certain age, which are of particular concern. Pressure must be stepped up, to try to cut smuggling, but we should not allow it to become a red herring. The availability of a cheap product is more likely to increase consumption if advertising has already made that product desirable. A product sells not merely because it is cheap, but because people want it; cheapness will be a bonus.
We must question the morality of cigarette companies that achieve huge sales of their products in other countries of brands that are not smoked much in those countries. As other hon. Members have pointed out, it is often clear that such brands are meant for the United Kingdom
We have heard the argument that the advertising ban would deprive companies of the ability to convey information about their products to the consumers. The tobacco companies have had decades to convey to consumers the information that their products kill. They have not taken that opportunity during the past five or so decades, so, as far as I am concerned, they have forfeited their right to convey any other information about their products.
The Bill has obvious gaps. The hon. Member for Wakefield mentioned the need for a regulatory body and it was pointed out that there are regulatory bodies for medicines and food. It is ironic that we have regulatory bodies for products that are, by and large, good for people, but not for tobacco, which everybody apart from its manufacturers says is bad for people. We would be well advised to establish such a body.
I might repeat some of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) about Scotland, as many of the hon. Members now present were not in the Chamber to hear his speech. The Bill affects Scotland. Many of its provisions deal with matters that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, which has decided none the less that they should be considered in Westminster. The Secretary of State mentioned in his opening remarks the comments made on the Bill some weeks ago by the Scottish Tory health spokesman, but his research was not quite up to date.
Last Wednesday afternoon, the Scottish Parliament debated and agreed to what is known as the Sewel motion. As the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden explained, Lord Sewel agreed during the passage through the House of Lords of the Bill that became the Scotland Act 1998 that, even if the Westminster Parliament was to legislate for devolved matters in Scotland, it would not do so until the Scottish Parliament passed a resolution in agreement. I do not think that Lord Sewel ever thought that his name would go down in Scottish constitutional history during his tenure in office. None of those listening to him thought so either, but there it is.
Interestingly, the so-called Sewel motion received all-party support and went through unopposed. I know that the House of Commons has no Conservatives who represent Scottish seats, but because of proportional representation in the Scottish Parliament--a policy that the Tories opposed at the time--there are Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament.