HC Deb 18 May 1960 vol 623 cc1247-8
1. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Postmaster-General when he will consider the Report of the Advertising Advisory Committee of the Independent Television Authority regarding misleading advertisements, which include substitute products; and what action he proposes to take, in consultation with the Authority, under Section 4 (5) of the Television Act, 1954.

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Reginald Bevins)

The Independent Television Authority tells me that its Advertising Advisory Committee has advised it that, because of the technical limitations of the medium, it is sometimes necessary to take special measures to achieve verisimilitude in the reproduction of products; and that the use of special methods of reproduction and demonstration to overcome these technical limitations is not in itself unjustifiable. It emphasises, however, that the resultant picture should be fair and reasonable and not such as to mislead viewers about the quality of the product or its effects.

The Independent Television Authority has accepted that advice. In view of the Authority's insistence that the picture should not mislead, I do not propose to issue any directions.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Am I right in understanding from the right hon. Gentleman's answer that in many cases the picture on the screen is something entirely different from the product alleged to be advertised to the public? Is he aware that the I.T.A.'s code of principles lays it down that No advertisement shall contain any visual presentation of the product or service advertised which, directly or by implication, misleads."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th March, 1960; Vol. 619, c. 407.] Is the right hon. Gentleman really satisfied with this extraordinary situation? Will he answer my Question, which asked when he will study this Report? He told us on 16th March that he personally would consider it. Has he done so, and what conclusion has he reached? Will he allow Members to see the Report?

Mr. Bevins

It is the duty of I.T.A. to comply with the recommendations of its Advertising Advisory Committee, and it is saying to me that although certain special methods of reproduction and demonstration are in themselves desirable for technical reasons, it is proposing to insist that the picture should always be fair and not such as to mislead. If I felt at any time that advertisements on I.T.V. contravened that understanding, I should naturally reconsider taking action under the Act.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Is it not the case that when one fabricates the result it is not the real result? In that sense, is it not misleading? Will the right hon. Gentleman place this Report in the Library of the House so that Members may examine it?

Mr. Bevins

I do not think that this is a question of fabricating a result. It may be justifiable, on occasion, to fabricate the means, provided that the result is an honest one. I do not think it would be right to place a copy of the Report in the Library. It was made by the Advisory Committee to the I.T.A. and not to me.

Mr. Noel-Baker

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall seek an early opportunity of raising this matter on the Adjournment.