HC Deb 01 April 1963 vol 675 cc13-4
15. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Health how long he has been negotiating with the joint censorship committee of the poster advertising industry regarding its ban on his posters about smoking and lung cancer.

Mr. Powell

About four months.

Mr. Lipton

While it is, of course, generally admitted that the right hon. Gentleman is not the least courageous of Her Majesty's Ministers, will he tell us how much longer he is going to put up with this nonsense? He has already described the attitude of the poster people as "silly", but now it is mischievous as well as silly. When is he going to put his foot down on this matter?

Mr. Powell

I think the matter will be put into proportion when I point out that this is only one of many posters issued by my Department to which objection has been taken and that these posters are primarily for display not on hoardings, nor are they primarily suitable for them. Nearly 1 million have already been issued, so I do not think the campaign is at all seriously suffering, but I should like to bring this matter to a conclusion in one way or another.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

While discussing the matter with the poster censorship committee, will the Minister not also talk to Ministers connected with nationalised industries to make sure that they will display Government publicity of any nature, particularly on poster sites controlled by the British Transport Commission?

Mr. Powell

That is not a question for me.

29. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Health if he will send the hon. Member for Swindon a representative selection of the publicity material, including posters, devised by his Department, drawing attention to the dangers of cigarette smoking.

Mr. Powell

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the Minister explain why this publicity makes use of no modern media of communication? Why does he do no Press advertising? Why does he not use television commercials? Is he aware that the way in which he does this publicity gives the impression that he is not interested in the subject at all seriously?

Mr. Powell

If so, it is a false impression. This is a genuine campaign which is primarily the responsibility of the health and education authorities. I am sure that they must use the methods which make a steady and consistent appeal primarily to young people. For that purpose, posters, all kinds of educational material, and films, existing and in preparation, are used.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Why did the Minister say on an earlier Question that it was not his duty to consult his colleagues who answer here for the nationalised industries and to ensure that those great industries give maximum publicity to this most important matter?

Mr. Powell

The answer is that the result of the consultation is not for me.

Mr. Paget

Is there not a certain ambivalence between the Ministry of Health and the Treasury here, in that whilst the right hon. Gentleman wishes to discourage the sale of poison the Treasury finds it too paying?

Mr. Powell

No. This is a Government policy supported by the entire Government.