|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mrs. Spelman: We are now beginning to discuss the reality of how the provisions will work. Government amendment No. 41 accepts our attempt to accord the United Kingdom print industry a more level playing field in tendering for publications that are destined for overseas markets and may contain tobacco advertisements, although some copies may be sold in the United Kingdom. However, United Kingdom airlines will still be at a competitive disadvantage if, unlike other airlines bringing passengers to and from this country, they cannot have an in-flight magazine. That issue has yet to be resolved.
The Government have made another related concession in amendment No. 40. The UK print industry would have been placed in a considerable predicament if the Government had decided not to leave out clause 2(3). That provision would have made it an offence for someone to publish or distribute a tobacco advertisement or
Although our amendment No. 3 is eclipsed by the Government's concessions on the United Kingdom print industry, in Committee we identified another quirky problem. I must give credit for that where it is due. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Worcestershire was driving through his constituency when, passing a local antique shop, he was struck by the fact that the Bill's provisions would cover historical tobacco advertising signs. If hon. Members cannot picture the type of sign to which I am referring, they are the old enamel ones that promoted products such as Players or Senior Service cigarettes.
Those signs are now collectors items and are very sought after, and they might be placed outside an antique shop not to promote tobacco, but because they are desirable and have increased in value. Such museum- piece tobacco advertisements are also found occasionally in pubs. Fashion has it that such signs evoke nostalgia, as they cause some people to think back to when it was perhaps customary to smoke a pipe or to roll one's own cigarettes, using old tobacco brands that have now gone by the board. However, some of those brands are still being sold. One sometimes sees mirrors bearing the Marlboro logo, or Marlboro posters from the 1950s depicting scenes from the wild west. Pubs, restaurants and similar places of refreshment often display those items to enhance their ambience. The items are really curios and novelties.
It is unreasonable to try to ban those historical tobacco advertisements as their primary purpose is no longer to increase the market share of the erstwhile companies that promoted those brands. In our amendment No. 7, we seek to protect little antique shops that wish to display such enamel signs as part of their legitimate attempt to make a living from the sale of nostalgia and memorabilia, which many of us seek to procure as an investment or for sentimental reasons.
The other Government amendments in this group deal with points that we made in Committee. Government amendment No. 42, however, seems to provide that a proprietor would be guilty of an offence simply by displaying the price of tobacco products on a website or in a place where those products are sold. I ask the Minister to clarify that point. That would apply if such displays were not compliant with regulations that set out what is and what is not legitimate. In Standing Committee, the
The Bill contains no definition of what constitutes a compliant display and what does not. That is another example of how we are not a great deal further on than we were in Standing Committee. That leaves us disquieted.
Mr. Ian Bruce: We were told in Standing Committee that the Government had no intention of introducing any regulations to tell firms what they could or could not display. The matter has been left mute, as it were. It might be that a future Government, thinking that a product was being displayed incorrectly, would bring in some regulations. Is not that ridiculous?
Mrs. Spelman: Absolutely. The problem with Government amendment No. 42 is that it clarifies nothing. The absence of the regulations means that someone will have to get the judgment wrong and be dragged to court charged with an offence before what constitutes a compliant display is clarified for everyone else.
It is legitimate to ask whether it is allowable to stack packets of cigarettes on the trolley being rolled down a plane's central aisle. Must the air hostess have the price list in her pocket to comply with Government amendment No. 42? It is an important question about the practical working of the Bill, and we need an answer.
Government amendment No. 43 is a concession from Standing Committee that we value. The Bill states that giving away coupons of a nominal value could constitute an advertisement, and that the tobacco companies involved could be caught. In Standing Committee, we pointed out that the term "nominal sum" was ill-defined. It is feasible for a nominal sum to be quite substantial--for example, for a coupon or voucher to be worth £10 off the value of 200 cigarettes. We are pleased that the Government have conceded that the term "substantial discount" is better. However, the process seems rather long winded, as now we need a definition of the term "substantial discount".
Mr. Forth: I am glad that my hon. Friend said that, as I was surprised to hear that she was unhappy about the term "nominal" yet more content with the term "substantial". If I were to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would try to develop that theme and say that the word "substantial" is not much more helpful than "nominal". Would my hon. Friend say that Government amendment No. 43 takes us much further forward?
Mrs. Spelman: The weakness of the word "nominal", which we tried to get changed in Standing Committee, stems from the fact that coupons can have quite a substantial value. One weakness of the Bill is that neither term is clearly defined. A further weakness is that we must wait an unspecified length of time before we get a regulation that gives guidance to companies about what is in order and what is not.
I touched on the issues affecting Government amendment No. 47 when I spoke to amendment No. 2 on product placement. The Bill attempts to assure us that the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996 cover tobacco advertising by the broadcast services. However, are those Acts effective? I hope that I showed earlier that it is clear that they are not sufficiently effective. A great deal of product placement goes on in the material broadcast by those services, despite the existence of the rules referred to in Government amendment No. 47. The Government should look again at the option preferred by the Opposition, which is to include the key phrase "product placement" in the Bill.
Mr. Barron: I shall speak briefly to amendment No. 2. The hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) made a good job of saying exactly how product placement appears in different forms in the media. Earlier in the debate, I said that cigarette advertising was removed from television in 1965, but that the presence of brand names on television was preserved through the sponsorship of nationally televised sports such as cricket, Formula 1 and so on. Advertising and promotion are effectively the same thing. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister will agree that we cannot simply ban something without looking at what happens afterwards.
In Committee, we discussed the advertising agency memorandum about the television news coverage given to the launch of a new Jordan racing car. The memo said that coverage on "News at Ten" and the "Nine O'clock News" was worth £180,000 of television advertising. Taking into account the coverage on Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5, the total coverage was said to be worth £250,000 of advertising on the national network. It is clear that advertising agencies and the tobacco companies that paid them wanted products to get covered in news items. Product placement is therefore very important.
Another example involves Sylvester Stallone, whose contract required that his films promoted a particular American tobacco product. The poster advertising tobacco products often plays a prominent role in scenes in Hollywood movies. Some people argue that it is relevant to the film, but I tend to disagree.
I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will consider how product placement can spread further in the media. Does she believe that Government amendment No. 47 would cover that possibility? That is especially important with television under British jurisdiction.
There is no question, as the hon. Member for Meriden said, but that young people look up to role models on television who use tobacco products. They recognise that a role model smokes a particular brand. My hon. Friend the Member for North-West Leicestershire (Mr. Taylor) said that when tobacco products appear on soap operas, often we cannot tell the brand. He should watch soaps a bit more regularly, because we can. Therefore, I think that amendment No. 2 has some merit, and I hope that the Minister will comment on it.