Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Bruce: It shares a name with tobacco. Once we have seen the regulations, will we be able to attach "imperial" to any product, company or anything else, given that that is brand sharing? The Minister does not have an answer, but perhaps she will surprise us later.

What about Marlboro? The Marlboro cafe in my constituency serves some of the best fish and chips in the country. I do not know why it is called the Marlboro cafe, but it is. It is advertising the well known name of a tobacco product. Is the cafe to change its name? Is it to be prosecuted? I need to know.

There is Embassy, and hundreds if not thousands of companies use that name at the beginning of their--

Mr. Taylor: So what?

Mr. Bruce: If the hon. Gentleman owned Embassy Cars, which I think is a company in my constituency, he would be concerned. He would have to ensure that all his advertisements were changed. He would have to ensure that they referred to cars and not to the tobacco company. That sharing of a brand name has nothing to do with the ownership or the promotion of tobacco. That was never thought about. That is an example of what we must be worried about.

There are other examples. Dunhill is a brand of lighters as well as cigarettes. It might be said that brand sharing is taking place, but I think that Dunhill--

Mr. Luff: Watches and aftershave.

Mr. Bruce: I wish that I had asked my hon. Friend to write my speech in advance. If he had done so, I would not have to keep referring to him. I know that there are many products with the name Dunhill. They may originally have been attached to tobacco, or they may have been completely independent, in common with the examples that I have already given.

What about Lambert and Butler? Will it be necessary for people to change their name by deed poll if it is either Lambert or Butler, especially if someone wants to start a business? I suspect that there are a few Rothmans floating around. Superking is a nice brand name. An enormous number of products use "super" and "king" in their names. There is St. Bruno rolling tobacco. Are we not to have Bruno Brookes on the radio any more? Will the boxer no longer be able to fight?

There is Golden Virginia--[Interruption.] Members laugh, but I am giving examples of people who will have to ask, "Is this brand sharing?" The Government and the Minister have not given us an inkling of what the regulations will provide. What is the point? The Government are trying to ensure that, come the general election, they can say that they have done the business and introduced an Act. If they have not published the draft regulations by then, they certainly will have not done the business.

13 Feb 2001 : Column 195

What will happen if the Bill succeeds in stopping advertising? The tobacco industry often wants to launch new products, sometimes ones that are less lethal than others currently on the market. We should necessarily encourage that, but what will a company do when it names its product? It will almost certainly use a generic name--a household word--associated with other products that already share the brand. Why should a British company be attacked by a tobacco company--with the tobacco company, in effect, stealing a generic name that it cannot patent or copyright--and be caught by the Bill when it has never had anything to do with the tobacco industry?

5.45 pm

Brand sharing is about trying to link qualities that people associate with the word "king", "golden" or "Golden Virginia" with the quality of the product that a company is trying to sell. Its product may kill people more quickly, but it is trying to shift that perception towards something that we automatically think is good. The Minister said that that was brand sharing. She cannot therefore ask Parliament, sight unseen, to pass the Government amendment without accepting the amendments that my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden has tabled, or explaining how companies unrelated to tobacco activities will not be affected by the regulations.

Parliament has waited for the Government to introduce something that they said they were going to introduce four years ago. The European Union introduced regulations that were found to be illegal. I do not believe that the Government have done their homework and got this right. We should not accept the Bill without new clause 4.

Mr. Barron: I rise, not to speak too long on the matter, but to say that there is a bit of history behind it which Opposition Members seem to have forgotten. I know that they have been told before that brand sharing is one way in which tobacco companies have got around tobacco advertising Bills. On Second Reading, I mentioned what happened when the Italian Government introduced a ban on tobacco advertising. There were brand names on children's toys and all sorts of things were advertised on television, so it was clear what the ban was designed for.

In view of my criticism of the Conservative party over the years, I should not be surprised at the fact that not only was it addicted to tobacco companies for a long time, but it is still addicted to them. I should have thought that it would take up one of the cessation programmes that the Government have been making available for the past four years to try to get people off their unhealthy addictions.

Mr. Bruce: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Barron: In a few minutes; I just want to get on to some of the surrounding issues.

The hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) seemed to think that the Government do not want tobacco companies to diversify. Of course, we do; that is exactly it. However, by presenting her publication at the Dispatch Box, the hon. Lady was trying to defend a company that came into being when tobacco advertising bans started to appear around the world. She must ask herself whether a brand like Camel, which has been advertised across the world, would allow somebody to come along, take its

13 Feb 2001 : Column 196

copyright and use that word to sell another product. It is not believable that there was not, and is not, a connection between that publication, which sells clothing, and Camel's advertising and organisation.

The hon. Member for South Dorset (Mr. Bruce) ought to ask whether the Marlboro cafe in his constituency, the Marlboro Classics shop in Covent Garden and Marlboro coffee are connected with Marlboro tobacco and Philip Morris. They are connected, and were brought into being to brand-stretch and brand share because of public health decisions that were taken to stop the promotion of tobacco products around the world. When the hon. Member for Meriden says from the Dispatch Box that the Government's decision today will mean that Britain is the first country to ban tobacco advertising, after previous attempts resulted in losing cases in the European Court and defeat by the tobacco companies, she is wrong. Many countries have banned tobacco advertising for many years.

I draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister to that fact that, when I tried to promote a Bill not dissimilar to this under the private Members' Bill procedure back in 1994, there was one company that stood out. One could honestly say that it was using a name that was now on a tobacco product, but which had not initially been associated with the promotion of tobacco. That firm was Alfred Dunhill. I do not believe that it is a front for a tobacco company to get round a ban on tobacco advertising.

I shall be interested to see what regulations are drawn up. They are necessary, whatever the Opposition may say. The reason for sports sponsorship in the UK is that the advertising of cigarettes on television was banned in 1965. That is why tobacco firms started to sponsor cricket and Formula 1. They do it throughout the world.

My hon. Friend the Minister quoted documents arising from the litigation of RJ Reynolds, an American tobacco company, in the United States. The documents show what such companies do when they brand share or brand- stretch: they promote tobacco products. That is what Marlboro Classics is about, and in my view, the same applies to the Camel company. I hope that the Government will come down hard on that. It makes no sense to ban tobacco advertising if the companies are allowed to spend their hundreds of millions in other ways to promote tobacco in this country or any other.

Yvette Cooper: I shall respond briefly to the points raised. We will be happy to have a considerable period of consultation on the regulations. We are sympathetic to appropriate transitional periods for the implementation of the regulations, as we have demonstrated with regard to other aspects of the Bill.

International publications are dealt with in clause 4(1)(c). Publications whose principal market is not the UK are excluded. The intention of the Bill and the brand-sharing regulations is to prevent the promotion of tobacco products. That will be the test. It is not our intention to prevent diversification, or to catch companies or products just because they bear the same name.

New clause 4 would introduce a substantial loophole. That is why we are opposing both it and amendment No. 51.

Mr. Bruce: The hon. Lady cannot get away with saying that the regulations will protect firms that have

13 Feb 2001 : Column 197

nothing to do with tobacco. Can she describe to the House how the regulations will be phrased?

Yvette Cooper: We will publish the regulations for full consultation. We have made clear in this debate and in Committee our intention with regard to brand sharing, and the clear intention of the Bill to prevent the promotion of tobacco products.

Next Section

IndexHome Page