|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Earl of Erroll: I can understand that we seek to ban the sponsorship of major events and the plastering of names, but I should be sad if the clause included, for example, hospitality tents which are used by invitation only. They are not for the general public to wander into. The amendments are entirely sensible. It would be ridiculous if cigarettes could not be dished up in a hospitality tent which is not open to members of the general public and has a restricted invitation list.
Lord Naseby: I apologise to the Committee for arriving somewhat late. I had to chair the meeting of the governors of Bedford School. I did not think that that should be put off for our third day in Committee. I hope that we shall be able to conclude the Committee proceedings today and that the sponsor of the Bill will be in a more generous mood than previously. These proposed amendments seem an ample opportunity for some generosity by the sponsor of the Bill.
Amendment No. 62 is important. Dare I mention that the Carlton Club had a cigar-smoking evening for those who were interested? Since I do not smoke I did not attend. Whether it was sponsored, I do not know. I doubt it, but I imagine that we may well have negotiated a good price for the evening. It was a private club with a limited section of the membership taking an interest.
My noble friend is right. It is a question of proportionality. First, we are dealing only with a small segment of the smoking market. We are dealing with that segment where the damage in medical terms is still questionable: it does not do damage to the same extent because one does not inhale. I think that the evidence is that cigar and pipe smoking are less damaging. The sponsorship does not involve the public but just those who take an interest in the two products. If it is a private group, involving only those people who take such an interest, there should be exemption.
Amendment No. 63 deals with the trade and not the public. With regard to the trade, it seems a gross interference in people's normal commercial rights that those who are manufacturing and selling legally are prevented from carrying out a normal promotion of their product to those who distribute it. Airlines and others would not want to have that restriction imposed upon them. It seems wrong that there should be such an imposition on the tobacco trade.
On Amendment No. 62, I am worried by the use of the word "something". The objective of the amendment is to make it an offence if sponsorship is for a public event but not when it is for a private event. Leaving that aside, what is a contribution towards "something"? In that context, it could mean anythinga railway engine or a camel. The Bill needs to be more specific. My noble friend Lord Liverpool has proposed his amendment in a way that is consistent with the purpose of the Bill.
On Amendment No. 63, perhaps I may endeavour to help the promoter of the Bill and the Government. A Bill which becomes an Act of Parliament must surely be consistent throughout. Since Clause 4(1)(a) and Clause 9(3) are very specific on this point, surely to goodness Amendment No. 63 must be agreed to in order to get some consistency throughout the Bill.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am grateful to the noble Earl for raising these two matters and I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, back to our deliberations. He was much missed in our first two hours of debate this morning. I am disappointed that he raised the issue of the Carlton Club because it meant that I could not take a crack at it, as I intended to,
The noble Lord, Lord Geddes, raised the point of "something". I suspect that we shall know "something" when we see it. The essential problem is that by attempting to define, as the noble Earl does, you risk exclusion. The context in which we debate this Bill is one in which we are seeking to exclude potential loopholes. One loophole is that by restricting the ban to a public activity or event, various other forms of promotion may become available. Perhaps a tobacco company could strike a deal with a supermarket which stocks its products to fund a private function. It could, for example, allow a tobacco company to sponsor an event at a social club to which only members are admitted. If that were done in an extensive way, as might be perfectly possible, by the tobacco industry it could be one way to get round the ban and continue to promote such products. The intent of this clause is to put in place a comprehensive ban on the sponsorship of tobacco products, which is why it is drafted as it is.
Regarding Amendment No. 63, I shall be interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, has to say. Certainly one needs to look at whether there are some specific and tight examples where the legitimate
Lord Clement-Jones: It has been helpful to have both these amendments taken together because they raise issues of proportionality and come back to the public policy issues that we debated earlier in Committee as to how far do you go in legislating for certain things not to take place. Do we start to allow only brandy and cigars to be provided at a corporate event or do we go all the way down the track to allowlet me surmise hereshooting parties or corporate hospitality to be provided by tobacco manufacturers, and then all the way through to semi-public events?
I know where I should like to draw the lineas tightly as possiblebecause I believe that anything which promotes tobacco products and has the potential effect of increasing tobacco consumption is something which this Bill is trying to attempt. That is why this clause is drafted in the way that it is. But in fact it applies to tobacco products and promotions. It does not apply to the corporate identities of the companies involved.
If a company wishes to sponsor an event, or "something" in the terms of the Bill, my interpretation of this clause is that, provided that the company does not promote tobacco products, it is perfectly entitled to do that. Therefore, if a tobacco manufacturer wishes to have a sponsored event, a trade association event, or whatever it may be, that is perfectly okay provided it does not promote tobacco products.
I do not think, in corporate terms, that this is too restrictive. In fact you might argue that because quite often the corporate name is so closely identified with tobacco products, this is quite a generous clause. Again I do not believe that Amendment No. 62 is necessary. It is a public policy issue. The noble Earl, Lord Erroll, asked why we could not carry on with corporate hospitality. It is a question of degree. In my book, private corporate hospitality events, which are extremely prevalent and are often an extremely effective way of promoting products, are just as culpable of promotion as major public events.
The Earl of Erroll: The point was made earlier about being able to serve cigarettes or cigars at the end of a meal. As I understood the noble Lord's point, if, for example, the company which happened to take the corporate hospitality tent was not a tobacco company it could give cigars and cigarettes out at the end of the meal. If it were a tobacco company, it could not do so. I tend to think that the general public would see that as idiotic and that the law was being an ass yet again. Perhaps one should have some wording to the effect that a tobacco company can behave in a normal fashion in such cases. It is wrong for the law to be seen as an ass. I originally thought that the noble Lord had said that a tobacco company cannot dish up cigarettes
Lord Clement-Jones: Perhaps I may say, off the cuff, that the noble Earl's initial interpretation is probably correct. There may well be some inconsistency there, but we come back to the principle of the clause, which is whether the effect of the sponsorship is to promote tobacco products. I do not think that the law is an ass if its principle is perfectly clear. There are always one or two unintended consequences, but clearly the aim is to get as few unintended consequences as possible. Certainly they are not got rid of by driving a coach and horses through a clause.
Lord Burnham: Might I ask the noble Lord whether in the context of this amendment and before we get to the Report stage he might consider the possible insertion at some point of the old word "nominal"?
Lord Clement-Jones: I have probably been hoist by my own petard at some stage along the way. I am not quite sure where the "nominal" phrase might fit in the context. Nominal sponsorship, as a phrase, might not fit because sponsorship is very rarely nominal; it is nearly always designed to have an effect on the sales of the product being sponsored.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page