HC Deb 20 March 1962 vol 656 cc194-6
28. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Postmaster-General when a decision will be reached on the proposal to restrict tobacco advertising on commercial television.

29. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Postmaster-General what decision he has now made about the need to restrict tobacco advertising on television.

31. Mr. Edelman

asked the Postmaster-General whether, under Section 4 (4) of the Television Act, 1954, he will now request the Independent Television Authority to consult him with a view to making new regulations banning cigarette advertising.

Mr. Bevins

This question is now under consideration by the Government, but no decision has yet been reached. Meanwhile, the I.T.A. is also studying the implications of the Report of the Royal College of Physicians and will be consulting with me as soon as possible.

Mr. Allaun

But is not this inquiry, sponsored by the I.T.A. through its Advertising Advisory Committee—which is itself dominated by the advertising firms—bound to be biassed and, therefore, completely unsatisfactory? Does not the responsibility lie clearly with the Government?

Mr. Bevins

I do not quarrel with that view. I had hoped that in the first part of my Answer I had made it clear that the primary responsibility here is the Government's.

Mr. Dempsey

As answers to questions have indicated that there is a serious growth in the number of deaths from lung cancer among females of advanced age, does the right hon. Gentleman think that we can afford to wait for a report? Does not he realise that medical opinion associates smoking with lung cancer? Is it not time he acted determinedly by taking the strain himself instead of leaving it to Capstan?

Mr. Bevins

I realise what was said in the report. This raises very large issues both for the Government and for the public. Any decision to prohibit tobacco advertising on commercial television would raise much wider questions of advertising generally, not only for tobacco but for other substances as well.

Mr. Edelman

Has not the I.T.A. an obligation, under Section 4 of the Television Act, 1954, to consult the Government on the methods employed in advertising? Is it not the case that the I.T.A. has abandoned subliminal advertising? In view of the fact that advertisers of tobacco now seek to entice the young by subtle mixtures of sex and snobbery, is it not time for the right hon. Gentleman to intervene and to take action?

Mr. Bevins

The answer to the first part of that supplementary question is "Yes". The romantic advertisements are being considered both by the Government and by the I.T.A.

Captain Orr

Is there not also danger of coronary thrombosis by over-eating? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, in considering the wider question, the need to keep the matter in perspective?

Mr. Mayhew

In his original Answer, the right hon. Gentleman said that the I.T.A. was making an inquiry into this question, but when my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) pointed out that this could not possibly be an independent or objective inquiry, he agreed with that view. Is he aware that the I.T.A. has officially said that its relationship with the programme contractors is one of partnership? Would it not be much better if this inquiry were made not by a partner of these companies but by a totally independent body?

Mr. Bevins

As I have indicated, whatever may be the final view of the I.T.A., the Government themselves will take an independent view and will be guided solely by considerations of the public interest.