HC Deb 21 March 1963 vol 674 cc570-2
Q3. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Prime Minister what decision has been taken by Her Majesty's Government on the recommendation of the Royal College of Physicians' report 12 months ago in regard to cigarette advertising being prohibited on television.

Q4. Mr. F. Noel-Baker

asked the Prime Minister which other Government Departments or official bodies in addition to the Medical Research Council, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education are concerned with the problem of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking; what are their functions in this connection; and what resources they are afforded by the Government.

The Prime Minister

As regards television advertising, the Government do not propose, for the time being at any rate, to go beyond the rules which have been introduced in independent television restricting cigarette advertising until after about 9 p.m., and banning certain methods of advertising for cigarettes.

As regards departmental responsibility, in addition to the Medical Research Council, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, the Home Office is concerned in relation to the administration of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933; the Post Office in relation to tobacco advertising on television; and the Scottish Office in relation to home, health and education functions in Scotland. The Central Office of Information provides publicity material and services required by Departments.

It is not possible to identify separately the total expenditure incurred for these purposes by these Departments.

Mr. Allaun

Does the Prime Minister really believe that young men and women cease viewing at nine o'clock at night? Why is it that, although the Prime Minister last summer said three times in the House that the Government were considering the matter as a whole, no announcement of their decision has been made to the House apart from this agreement between the I.T.A. and the advertisers?

The Prime Minister

This is one of the methods—there are many others recommended—which are being produced by the various authorities concerned.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Is the Prime Minister aware that the medical profession is deeply distressed at the total inadequacy of Government measures to bring the dangers connected with cigarette smoking to the attention of the public? By the time Question Time has finished today, three people will have died of lung cancer, apart from the disease and deaths caused by other effects of cigarette smoking. Will not the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that the Government will take some effective action to bring these dangers to the attention of the public?

The Prime Minister

While the Royal College of Physicians recommended that tobacco advertisements should be restricted, it also recorded a doubt as to whether advertisements did much to initiate the smoking habit. Therefore, although I think that this is a good arrangement to be made about restricting television advertisements, the chief work is in the way of general propaganda by all the various means which I have on this occasion and on others described.

Sir C. Osborne

Is my right hon. Friend aware that members of the medical profession are among the heaviest smokers in the country?

Mr. Wilkins

Does the Prime Minister realise that the people of Britain have been smoking tobacco for 360 years and that the population of 360 years ago was five million and is now 50 million? It would therefore appear that it has not done a lot of harm to this nation. May I seriously ask the right. hon Gentleman whether he will ask the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for the Home Department to publish statistics showing the number of deaths that are known to be due to lung cancer through smoking and the number of deaths on our roads due to drunken driving so that we may get the situation into relative proportion?

The Prime Minister

I would not attempt—it would be foolish of me or of anyone to do so—to try to go behind the decision and views expressed by the Medical Research Council. I am sure that the members of the Council are the right judges. Nevertheless, nobody suggests in this free country that people should be prevented from smoking. What is suggested is that the views of the doctors and the dangers concerned should be made known to the people by a government in a free country. That is our duty, and nothing more.