HC Deb 24 June 1968 vol 767 cc84-5


Mr. Snow

I beg to move Amendment No. 78, in page 73, line 37, to leave out from 'that' to 'did' in line 39 and insert: 'either—

  1. (a) he received the advertisement for issue in the ordinary course of business and issued it, or arranged for it to be issued, either unaltered or without any alteration except in respect of lettering or lay-out, or
  2. (b) not being a commercially interested party, he received from a commercially interested party the information on which the advertisement was based and in the ordinary course of business prepared the advertisement in accordance with that information for issue at the request of that party,
    • and (in either case) that he'.
Subsection (6) of Clause 85 provides a special defence of "ignorance", similar to the one which is at present provided by Section 6(3) of the Food and Drugs Act, 1955 for a person whose business it is to arrange for the issue of advertisements. Its point is that ordinary advertising media owners are not in a position to guarantee the accurancy of all the advertisements which are put to them for issue or publication, and it is right that the responsibility in this case should remain with the advertiser who supplies the material.

In the Standing Committee, on 9th May however, this defence, though admitted to be adequate for media owners such as newspapers, was criticised by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue) on the basis that nowadays advertising agencies normally work up the advertisement from material produced by the advertiser and do not simply put out material exactly as it is provided by the advertiser. He felt that the defence did not cover this, and pointed to the fact that the agency had a defence in cimilar circumstances in the Trade Descriptions (No. 2) Bill.

My right hon. Friend has considered this criticism further in consultation with representatives of the Advertising Association and has concluded that it would be appropriate to amend subsection (6) to provide two separate defences, the first of which—that in, the proposed paragraph (a)—would be much the same as Clause 85(6) now, and would apply where material supplied by the advertiser is issued without material change, and the other—in paragraph (b)—when the agency works up material supplied by the advertiser. In the first defence the criterion is essentially that the advertisement should correspond with the material supplied; in the second, that it should be consistent with such material.

I hope that, with this explanation of what my right hon. Friend has done to meet the point made by the hon. Member for Garston, the House will accept this Amendment.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Dudley Smith

I feel that it is absolutely right that there should be additional safeguards for those working in the advertising industry and for media owners, because they undertake this work in good faith if they are reputable people, and they deserve this protection. The standards of advertising practice in the pharmaceutical industry and in the case of proprietary medicines is very high. Indeed, many of the provisions of the Bill will not be needed, for there are voluntary restraints, but it is right and proper that those responsible professionally for the preparation of advertisements and their accuracy should have adequate safeguards under the law, and I am sure that we shall welcome the Amendment.

Mr. Dean

I rise merely to thank the the Parliamentary Secretary for meeting the points which we made in Committee and for fulfilling the undertakings which he then gave.

Amendment agreed to.

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