Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill [Lords]

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The Chairman: Will the hon. Gentleman clarify whether he wishes to press only amendment No. 45 to a Division, or whether he intends that the Committee should vote also on amendments Nos. 46, 47 and 71 when we come to them?

Mr. Wilshire: I wish to vote on the amendments that attach to clause 10, and if the procedures of the Committee allow us to vote on amendment No. 70 as well, I shall seek to do so.

The Chairman: Yes, they certainly do.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 4, Noes 11.

Division No. 7]

Hunter, Mr. Andrew Loughton, Tim
Ruffley, Mr. David Wilshire, Mr. David

Bailey, Mr. Adrian Barrett, John Cooper, Yvette Fitzpatrick, Jim Harris, Dr. Evan Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Mallaber, Judy Moffatt, Laura Taylor, David Turner, Dr. Desmond Ward, Ms Claire

Question accordingly negatived.

Tim Loughton: I beg to move amendment No. 30, in page 5, line 35, at end insert—

    '(2A) No offence is committed under subsection (1) if—

    (a) the business referred to in subsection (2) is part of the tobacco trade,

    (b) the sponsorship agreement is for the purposes of that trade,

    (c) the purpose or effect of anything done under the agreement is to promote a tobacco product solely to persons who—

    (i) are engaged in, or employed by, a business which is also part of that trade, and

    (ii) fall within subsection (2AA).

    (2AA) A person falls within this subsection if—

    (a) he is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the business referred to in subsection (2A)(c)(i) about the purchase of tobacco products which are to be sold in the course of that business,

    (b) he occupies a position in the management structure of the business in question which is equivalent in seniority to, or of greater seniority than, that of any such person, or

    (c) he is the person who, or is a member of the board of directors or other body of persons (however described) which, is responsible for the conduct of the business in question.'.

The amendment would make a substantial addition after line 35, and deals with the issue of internal trade sponsorship schemes. I understand that it is not intended to exclude or penalise such schemes, but I fear that, as currently framed, the Bill would do so. We seek to make it explicit that such promotions and business should be exempted if within the trade. The Government have said that if tobacco advertising and promotion are confined within the trade they would not be offences. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will look favourably on the amendment—it is not too late in the day for her to concede something. Such tobacco advertisements are specifically permitted by

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clause 4(1)(a), and free distributions are specifically permitted under clause 9(3). However, clause 10 as does not permit sponsorship agreements when

    ''the purpose or effect of anything done as a result of the agreement is to promote a tobacco product''

within the trade. That is counter to what the Government intended.

I gather that when a similar amendment was discussed in the other place, a short discussion centred on private events and the giving of tobacco products in gestures of hospitality, so the point of the amendment was missed by the Government. However, there are sponsorship agreements in which the ''something''—as the Bill calls it, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds earlier highlighted—that is sponsored is within the trade and the sponsorship agreement has a restricted purpose. The amendment therefore maintains consistency in the Bill's approach to advertising and promotion confined within the tobacco trade.

The amendment has real and practical relevance. Sponsorship agreements exist. Events within the trade such as conferences, exhibitions and awards are sponsored and the agreements should be allowed to continue even when they have the purpose or effect of promoting a tobacco product, because they are conducted within the trade by people fully cognisant of that trade.

It has been suggested that such a provision is not necessary. The Bill would not prohibit sponsorship agreements within the trade in the name of a company rather than a tobacco brand, because they would not be promoting a brand. That is to miss the point of the amendment and to ignore the fact that some tobacco brands share the name of the company manufacturing the brand—Benson and Hedges, Rothmans and Lambert and Butler spring to mind, but there are others. It would be unacceptable for such brands to be afforded different treatment under the Bill.

We are told that the Government do not intend that the Bill should interfere with advertising and promotion within the trade. Sponsorship agreements that are confined within the trade, as the amendment provides, should be permitted. The amendment makes that clear. We seek to make more explicit what was intended but would not be permitted by the clause as currently drafted. It is a helpful amendment, and I trust that the Minister will deal with it accordingly.

Yvette Cooper: The Government oppose the amendment because it excludes from the ban on sponsorship those sponsorship agreements that are directed at persons in the tobacco trade. The Bill as drafted enables companies to sponsor events and use their company name as long as the company's products are not given any promotion in return. A balance has been struck because the Bill permits commercial dealings between companies and for the tobacco trade to carry on its business. The Bill also enables companies to sponsor events or to make donations to good causes. That is their entitlement. However, the Bill does not permit the tobacco trade to

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promote its products by means of sponsorship agreements.

The amendment would allow a tobacco company to sponsor a golf tournament or polo match to which those invited were commercial buyers of tobacco products. Such activities are not appropriate or necessary for the tobacco trade to carry on its lawful business and are not comparable with the exceptions under clauses 4 and 9. Exceptions from the general ban exist to permit the continuance of ordinary trade. It is not necessary to allow greater sponsorship than would ordinarily be needed. That would potentially open further loopholes.

The Bill bans the promotion of tobacco products through sponsorship. It is not about preventing organisations from discussing the merits of smoking. There should be a broader exemption for those in the tobacco trade.

Mr. Hunter: Will the Minister deal with tobacco brand products that share the name of the company? There is an anomaly as some companies will be able to advertise a product because it has the same name.

Yvette Cooper: That is why it is so important that the Bill includes ''effect'' and not simply ''purpose''. I take the hon. Gentleman's point seriously, but if the effect of a company promoting its name is also to promote a tobacco product, that falls within the scope of the Bill. The Government oppose the amendment.

Tim Loughton: I am disappointed. The amendment is serious and detailed but I do not think that the Minister has dealt with my point. She seemed to say that it is not appropriate or necessary for a tobacco company to carry on its business by hosting or sponsoring a polo match or a golf event exclusively for members of the tobacco trade. I am not sure that that is for her to judge because it is an internal matter. The guests present at such an event would all be members of the trade, who make a living out of producing or selling cigarettes and know the implications of the products with which they deal.

Such people are not impressionable in terms of smoking more or taking up smoking in the first place. The Minister said that it is not appropriate or necessary for a tobacco company to host a trade event in the name of one of its products. On what basis does she make that claim? As I have said, such events—they are perfectly legitimate—already exist, but under the Bill, they would be curtailed. I am not sure whether the hon. Lady is admitting to that, because I was rather confused by her answer. I agree that various general exceptions have been made, but I am still unclear. Is she saying that a Benson and Hedges polo tournament, where all the invitees were involved in the tobacco trade, would no longer be allowed to take place? If so, that goes against the thrust of the notes to clauses and various parts of the Bill. I am unclear whether that is the case, so I wish the Minister to state whether such an event could happen.

6.45 pm

Yvette Cooper: Let us imagine that the players at that Benson and Hedges polo tournament wore white shirts with a flash across—or whatever form of brand

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colouring—and that the local newspaper decided to report the tournament, and to include a photograph. It would be perfectly legitimate for such a newspaper to report a news event such as the victory of the local Benson and Hedges team over the Imperial team, or whomever else they might be playing. That report would not be an advertisement, but it could lead to what began as a sponsorship event within the course of trade, to have wider consequences with regard to the promotion of a tobacco product.

Such events might have an impact beyond that which is intended in the course of trade, even though that is not usually the case. Therefore, as has been said, the principle of proportionality arises. Given the potential for this kind of event to spill over and have wider effects than intended, is it so essential to the legitimate pursuit of trade that it should be given a special exception? We have allowed exceptions in earlier clauses, but there is not a sufficiently strong case to allow one here, given the potential for a wider impact.

Tim Loughton: Again, the tobacco company should be able to decide how it wants to promote its product within the trade. The Bill still allows that.

To use the Minister's example, if cameras were banned from such an event, and the press reported it only in words—not in pictures—what possible detrimental effect could that have outside the trade? It is, effectively, a closed event.

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