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Lord Faulkner of Worcester: I think that the noble Baroness rather shot herself in the foot with a dart when she said that darts is a sport for all, particularly enjoyed by young people. That is precisely why the continued sponsorship of darts by the tobacco industry is so undesirable. I would be appalled if the Minister were to tell us that, for some reason, he has found an excuse for extending the ban applying to the British Darts Organisation beyond 2003. My own preference would be for a 2003 ban to apply to everyone, including global events. I understand, however, why that is not happening.

It strikes me as utterly perverse to regard darts as an exception, particularly when, as the noble Baroness said, it is watched and enjoyed by millions of young people. My understanding is that darts as a sport has done relatively little to find an alternative sponsor to tobacco, unlike all the other sports that have received tobacco sponsorship such as Rugby League, cricket and Rugby Union. I think that the problems facing darts are very much of its own making. As I said, I hope that the Minister will resist the suggestion.

Lord Peston: I, too, am indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, for raising the issue as I wish again to support what my noble friend Lord Faulkner has said. The logic of the noble Baroness's comments is that everyone should be treated equally. As your Lordships know, I chair the Economic Affairs Committee, which is devoting its life to globalisation, but it had not occurred to me that racing cars and

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snooker are central to global issues. My view is therefore almost exactly the same as that of my noble friend Lord Faulkner; we differ only in that I think it disgraceful that motor racing and snooker have been given any leeway at all. My noble friend says that he understands why they have been allowed that leeway, but I cannot understand why such alleged sports feel that it is right to take money from the tobacco companies. My own view is that, if they cannot survive without tobacco sponsorship, they should not be engaged in the activity at all.

I feel terribly sorry about the darts people. I was always hopeless at the game, but loved playing it and had great pleasure when my dart occasionally hit the board. None the less, the issue has perhaps clarified the Bill's generosity and the fact that it is not taking the draconian approach that people like me would prefer. I would love to hear my noble friend the Minister say that the Government have changed their mind and have no intention of giving special protection to snooker, let alone motor racing.

Lord Naseby: The noble Lord, Lord Peston, says that he has no idea why Formula 1 is exempt. We all know the reason: the Labour Party took 1 million-plus from that particular industry. The sum was paid back, but it caused great embarrassment on the Government Benches. I feel sorry for the Minister, who will have to reply on this point. All that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, has done is to re-emphasise that embarrassment.

I take slight issue with my noble friend Lady Noakes as I have never regarded darts as a young person's sport. I suspect that it is played in every pub in the country, and that, on the whole, darts players are not particularly young. Certainly in my former constituency, the more skilful darts players tended to be rather elderly, and darn good at it they were, too. I therefore suspect that its age profile is rather older than that of other sports.

The Bill will ban sponsorship. We may or may not agree with such a ban, but that is the Bill's purpose. My noble friend Lady Noakes is simply saying that all sports should be treated equally. Although the treatment itself and the commencement date are matters for debate, I see absolutely no reason not to treat every sport identically—other than the Government's embarrassment at having accepted 1 million from the motor racing industry, and then suddenly finding snooker on the side. It is all a bit of spin.

2.45 p.m.

The Earl of Erroll: We have massive amounts of anti-discrimination legislation, equality legislation etcetera to do with human beings. I cannot see why those concepts do not apply also to sports, companies and everything else. On the ground of equity I believe that they should all be treated the same.

Lord McNally: I declare an interest in that darts is the only game or sport that I have ever been remotely good at. It is for that reason that I intervene. It is

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probably the only time in this Bill that I shall agree with the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, in that he told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as regards why there is this shameful anomaly in the Bill.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord McNally: I shall not cry, "Author, author" at this point.

Lord Naseby: The noble Lord will know that I spent 25 years in the advertising industry. He will also know that I was party to the quote that he offered. I hope he is not suggesting that anything I have said at any stage in this Bill has been anything but the truth as I believe it to be.

Lord McNally: No, of course not—full and fair.

It is interesting to note that the Sports Council and, indeed, the department for sport refuse to recognise darts as a sport but still class it as a leisure pastime. That is an absurd slight to the sport of darts, as anyone who has ever played it will recognise. I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, approaches the matter from the wrong angle, but that the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, was correct. What should emerge is a parity of treatment which removes the privilege that has been accorded to motor racing and snooker. In the meantime, darts, along with other sports, should with a sense of urgency face up to the idea that the tobacco sponsorship option is not available. Like the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, people make money in this business through creative thinking. My creative thinking consists of asking whether those involved in darts have ever thought of approaching Slim-Fast as a possible sponsor?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I pay tribute to the eloquence of the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, on behalf of the sport of darts. I did not take her to be a darts player but I think she must have been to be able to put over that point with such passion.

Like the noble Lord, Lord McNally, I was a darts player in my youth. I spent many happy hours in my early twenties playing darts with my right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. That was a clever ruse on my part to ensure that 30 years later we might get extra money out of the Treasury for the Department of Health. I hope that that ruse will continue to pay off in the years ahead.

I was disappointed with the unusual and unworthy cynicism of some Members of the Committee in relation to the reason for the Government's policy on this matter. The Government have been coherent and straight on the matter. We said that sponsorship of events with a view to promoting tobacco products must stop as it is a powerful way to promote smoking. We also said that we do not want that ban to harm sports. For some time we have made clear that, subject to consultation, we expect most sponsorship of sporting events to end by July 2003, but that global sporting events which receive considerable income

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from tobacco interests should be given until October 2006 to do the same, provided, first, that they do not sign new contracts with tobacco companies and, secondly, that they phase out the current sponsorship that they receive. As the noble Baroness suggested, Clause 19 gives Ministers the regulation-making powers to deliver that policy.

It is some years since the Government announced their plans to bring tobacco sponsorship to an end. Frankly, sports concerns have been given ample time to think about other arrangements. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport set up a task force to help sports likely to be affected by a ban on tobacco sponsorship. I checked with the department this morning that it will continue to be available to provide advice to the relevant darts associations on finding substitute sponsorship. I am sure that that is the most appropriate way forward for darts sports as a whole.

As to which sports are likely to be included under the global classification, if the Bill is enacted there will be a consultation period before any regulations are made under Clause 19. They will set out criteria that will need to be satisfied by sports wishing to retain sponsorship for the longer transitional period. I cannot prejudge the outcome of that consultation and indicate which sports might qualify.

Subject to any persuasive arguments made in consultation, the intention remains to implement broadly the longstanding policy of distinguishing between global and non-global. Key is that, at the end of the day, all tobacco sponsorship will be banned. It is just a question of a transitional period. On that basis, Clause 19 is appropriate. In relation to darts sports, I recommend that they continue a dialogue with the department.

Lord Clement-Jones: The noble Baroness hit a double-top with this interesting debate, if not a bull's-eye. If the Minister is saying that the consequence of his playing darts with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is more health funding, the Liberal Democrats will sponsor the noble Lord's future games.

It is clear from the remarks of my noble friend Lord McNally that we deeply resent the existing exceptions to sponsorship banning by 2003. We see no justification for the exceptions for snooker and Formula 1. Max Moseley, the head of FIA, was quoted as saying that Formula 1 would be able to find the money—so it is incomprehensible that exception was given.

Clause 19 is potentially discriminatory against the sport of darts because I worded the Bill in exactly the way that the Government had it, because I knew that the Government would not support the Bill unless it was phrased that way. That is entirely the motive and justification for the Bill's current wording. If it is not satisfactory, would that the Government, at this late stage, change their mind. I suspect that is not possible and that the noble sport of darts will be discriminated against. When I watch television in the evening and see the viewing figures, it is an eminently sponsorable

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sport. I dare say that some of the crocodile tears will quickly dry and that alternative sponsors will be found.


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