|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Monson: I support the amendment and in fact would go a little further than the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and say that I think the devisers ought to be included as well. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, said it would be shocking if publishers were not looking through their material. Well, really! How can publishers go through every single page of everything they publish in the course of a year, a month or a day? It is nonsensical. I have a particular interest in this issue in that the brother of one of my daughters-in-law, who runs a printing firm in Nairobi, was thrown into prison because he printed some election material for the opposition party which contained something that offended either the ruling party or President Moi: I am not sure which. But of course he did not write the material, he did not edit it or draft it: he simply printed it. I am not even sure whether it was in English or Swahili, although he does speak some of the latter. This has some relevance in this country because of course printers inevitably print a lot of foreign language material as we are home for members of the EU and the wider world. The man to whom I referred was eventually releasedI am glad to say that the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, helped over the matter. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, dealt adequately with distributors and whether the Bill would apply to a newspaper delivery boy, who, technically speaking, would be a distributor.
As for devising, I think the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, has it wrong. A copywriter would be devising advertisements, would he not? Some years ago I worked in a London advertising agency. If a London copywriter drafts advertisements which he knows are to be published in the United States, Australia, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, which are not part of the United Kingdom, how is he to know if subsequently those advertisements appear in a United Kingdom publication? I believe that the word "devise" should certainly be included. This is an important amendment and it is a pity that it has coincided with
The Earl of Erroll: This is an extremely important issue. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has great faith in trade associations. I am sorry to say that I do not. They are not all wealthy and if you have the great weight of some very expensive QCs on one side and the other side cannot afford nearly such expensive people, sometimes justice is not done. It is a heavy burden for a small company with few resources to attack a large company with large resources.
We do not need to impose more burdens on small businesses. That is the obvious point for certain people who feel strongly that these things should be stopped at that end, because it is the soft under-belly. The provision could cause many problems for certain small traders. I support this amendment.
Lord Peston: I rise partly to thank the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, because I am learning something about the printing trade these days and its relationship to corporate responsibility. His amendment leads to a request which may be relevant to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, to which we shall come shortly. In Clause 2(2) there appear the words,
In normal English I read that to mean a tobacco advertisement which is published in the United Kingdom. Therefore I ask my noble friend the Minister this question. As producing cigarettes in the United Kingdom is still a legitimate business, to my regret, and British tobacco companies can still go around killing people abroad if they cannot kill enough in this country, can I assume that they can still do all their advertising work here although it cannot be published in the United Kingdom? Does that get over part of the question of the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, as to who is responsible? Am I right in assuming that the expression "which is published in the United Kingdom" has real meaning and limits the clause to what happens in the United Kingdom even though the work may happen in the United Kingdom?
Lord Skelmersdale: I do not think that this has anything to do with electronic media. We have not yet reached the parts of the Bill that deal with electronic media, which are scattered willy-nilly throughout the legislation. One of my objectives is to bring them together in due course, but not while we debate amendments in Committee.
The noble Lord, Lord Peston, has raised a point which I had forgotten about since it was last discussed in your Lordships' House some two years ago on another Bill; namely, where material is published. Newspapers and periodicals are often published abroad because it is cheaper to do so. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Peston, in wishing to know whether
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have strayed a little from the thrust of the noble Lord's amendment. In all legislation, we come to one issue that we did not think would be explored to any great extent, but then many happy hours are spent discussing it. I realise that the organisation of the printing trade will exercise noble Lords over a considerable time. Having been both a publisher and a printer for a trade associationI add that comment for the noble Earl, Lord ErrollI can tell the Committee that I always looked very carefully at what was being published and printed. In general, one would always expect printers to put in place systems for protecting themselves in the course of their business. That would mean instituting checks on the material that they print. However, no doubt we shall learn a great deal more about the printing trade as we progress through the legislation.
I also accept that we need to be proportionate as regards burdens that are placed on small businesses. Through better regulatory procedures, the Government have sought to ensure that those burdens are reduced. I know that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has been particularly forceful in ensuring that each government department puts in place a process for reviewing carefully how the regulatory burden can be reduced. Nevertheless, the tobacco companies are large and well able to look after themselves and their own.
At all times when considering the Bill, we need to strike a balance between the absolute necessity of ensuring that tobacco advertising is banned and being careful to check that no loopholes are introduced. I repeat, the history of the behaviour of the tobacco industry reveals that it is extremely clever at finding loopholes. Given that, I believe that the construction of the Bill, with targeted defences in place, is the right way to progress. It is right that the provisions should apply as much to printers as they do to the other parties involved in the advertising and promotion of tobacco.
I was interested in the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, when he referred to the circumstances of a corner shop proprietor. Could that proprietor reasonably be expected to look through every page of all the publications displayed in his shop? In that case, the defence in Clause 5(7); namely,
I suspect that there will be disagreement across the Committee on this matter. However, I believe that the construct of the Bill is right and strikes a fair balance. The targeted defences are robust and the prosecution would have to work hard to secure a conviction.
The Earl of Erroll: Before the noble Lord sits down, on reading the clauses in the Bill I should like to raise a point as regards the difference between publishing material and printing it. I believe that there is rather a muddle here. Sometimes we refer to printing and sometimes we refer to publishing. The publisher of material reads and checks it, but does not imprint it on to paper. A printer may well not be involved in any way in the editorial process. In a particular case, I am not sure whether the Bill would seek to punish the publisher or the printer.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I should apologise because I believe that my comment to the effect that I have been both a publisher and a printer may have confused the Committee. Of course I accept that the task of publishing material is different from that of printing it, although sometimes one person may undertake both tasks. However, the point I wish to stress is that I do not think that the constraints being placed on printers by the provisions of the Bill are unreasonable.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page