§ Order for Second reading read.1.10 pm
§ Mr. Roger Sims (Chislehurst)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I am not an anti-smoking fanatic. I am a non-smoker, but I accept that many people, including members of my family and friends, find pleasure in smoking. However, I confess that I sometimes wish that smokers would be more considerate about where and how they smoke. I do not pursue a vendetta against smokers, although smokers are now in a minority in our community.
The evidence is massive and incontrovertible on the extent to which smoking is responsible for disease and death. Smoking is the largest avoidable cause of illness and death in Britain.
I commend to hon. Members the publication "The Big Kill" which analyses the figures for deaths from smoking-related diseases, the illnesses caused by smoking and how hospital beds are occupied unnecessarily. The figures are analysed district by district and give food for thought.
The chief medical officer at the Department of Health and Social Security estimates that 100,000 premature deaths per year are caused by smoking. It is a sobering figure. This very week 2,000 people died earlier than they might have done because of smoking-related diseases. If tobacco had just been discovered and had been subjected to the tests to which new products are subjected it would never have been allowed on the market. However, I accept that smoking is now well established and that prohibition would be neither practicable nor even desirable. It is certainly not practicable and I do not advocate it. However, it is the duty of Government and Parliament to ensure that the population is informed and educated about the effects of smoking. It is our duty to encourage smokers, if they will not cease smoking, to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke. We have a special duty to dissuade the young from taking up smoking in the first place.
The Health Education Council and Action on Smoking and Health both receive some financial aid from the DHSS and they both mount energetic campaigns. However, their resources are pitifully small compared to the enormous sums spent by the tobacco industry in promoting and advertising its products. Some of that promotion is carried out by sponsorship. There are restrictions on the extent to which tobacco products may be advertised. There are health warnings on packets and on advertisements and one cannot advertise cigarettes on television.
My specific concern is the sponsorship by tobacco companies of sporting events. The purpose of sponsorship of such events is quite clearly to publicise the company and its products and services with a view to selling them. That is a perfectly proper activity and one that is carried out by banks, insurance companies and a number of commercial concerns for the purpose of getting their names across to the target audience. They may well feel that by spending their funds sponsoring a concert or a cricket match or some similar activity, they are getting to that audience more effectively than by advertising in a newspaper.
§ Mr. Neil Macfarlane (Sutton and Cheam)
I do not want to interrupt my hon. Friend's train of thought and I 629 certainly agree with him that nobody in the House would accept for one moment that the tobacco companies are benevolent organisations. They are there for a commercial and presentational role. No doubt my hon. Friend will talk the House through the first three clauses in his Bill. The fourth clause is fairly straightforward. Clause 1(1) says:The Secretary of State may by Order make provision for the prohibition of expenditure on sponsorship by tobacco companies of sporting events,Is my hon. Friend able to rest easy with that, because many hon. Members on the Government side feel it is more akin to the sentiments of the Opposition? Is my hon. Friend happy and are his constituents happy with that phraseology? Which Secretary of State does it mean?
§ Mr. Sims
I am perfectly content with that. That is the object of my Bill and precisely the argument that I am seeking to develop, about why a Secretary of State should be given that power. I think it will be the Secretary of State for Social Services, but to the extent that we are dealing with sports matters it may be a matter for the Secretary of State for the Environment. My hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport is replying to the debate so it would appear to fall within the ambit of the Secretary of State for the Environment.
I am not critical of sponsorship as a form of advertising, and cigarette companies sponsor sports events for exactly the same purpose as any other commercial concern, to sell their products and to get their names known. At some sporting functions sponsored by cigarette companies, the companies sell or even give away their products. The object is quite clearly to promote the product and get new customers for it. My objection to tobacco companies sponsoring sporting events is that it gives the impression that there is some connection, some correlation between sport, which is a good healthy activity, and smoking. The companies hope that smoking will be perceived as a healthy activity, when we all know that it is precisely the reverse.
During the past few years, general sponsorship has grown substantially. Between 1981 and 1984, the number of companies involved in sports sponsorship doubled from more than 700 to more than 1,400. The estimated expenditure on that sponsorship increased from £50 million to about £112 million. Of the 1,400 companies involved in this sponsorship, only 22 are tobacco companies, but it is noticeable that they are especially involved in the events that receive much media coverage. To their credit, sports such as swimming and athletics do not accept sponsorship from tobacco companies, and the Football Association has said that it will not accept sponsorship from tobacco companies because it does not believe that it would be appropriate to do so.
There are two important aspects of the media coverage of such events. The first is the extent to which a sponsored sport appears on television. It is estimated that, in one year, about 365 hours of sport sponsored by tobacco companies is seen on television. By far the largest is snooker, which occupies about 176 hours. Cricket occupies 65 hours and many other sports, including tennis, golf and darts, are seen for many hours on television. In all of them, the product name is seen frequently and displayed in large, unavoidable terms. Indeed, in some cases, the participants can be seen on television smoking cigarettes.
That raises the question whether the BBC is allowing its charter to be contravened, because it states specifically 630 that there shall be no advertising. The ITV rules are that there should be no advertising of tobacco products, especially cigarettes. But that is frequently done in breach of the advertising industry's code of practice. The voluntary code of practice on tobacco products states:Advertisements should not imply that smoking is associated with success in sport. They should not depict people participating in any active sporting pursuit or obviously about to do so or just having done so, or spectators at any organised sporting occasion.Anyone who watches television for any time will draw his own conclusion as to the extent to which the code is being complied with.
One clause of the sports sponsorship agreement requires that static signs displaying the name of the sponsor or the product should be placed so as to minimise the possibility of freeze frame shots having the signs in view for long periods. Sometimes they seem to be placed so as to maximise that. Another part of the code provides that:House brand names or symbols on participants or their equipment or on officials of tobacco sponsored events, must not come within camera range.How often does one see on sports cars and on people's clothing the name clearly shown? Hon. Members can judge for themselves the effectiveness of those agreements and codes.
What worries me especially is the effect on children. It has been estimated that a quarter of all children under the age of 16 watch Embassy snooker. It must have some effect on them. Dr. Frank Ledwith, research fellow at the department of education, university of Manchester, has carried out some very interesting research. He states:A representative survey of 880 children in first, third and fifth years was carried out in five secondary schools in one education authority using an anonymous questionnaire. It was found that children were most aware of the cigarette brands which are most frequently associated with sponsored sporting events on TV. Children's 'TV viewing of a recent snooker championship sponsored by one cigarette manufacturer was positively correlated with the proportion of children associating that brand, and other brands used in TV sponsorship, with sport. Following a snooker championship sponsored by another cigarette manufacturer, a second survey was carried out on a new sample showing that awareness of this brand, and the proportion of children associating it with sport, had increased from the first survey.There cannot be much clearer proof than that of the effect of television sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies.
One could ask whether all this matters, whether it is important and whether it has any effect. The fact is that children are a very good market for tobacco products. Recent figures show that 41 per cent. of children are smoking at the age of 16. This is a horrifying figure. It has also been demonstrated that between the ages of 11 and 16, children spend about £70 million on cigarettes. This is illegal and must be a reflection upon tobacco retailers. Somebody is selling the product to children. But that is very much to the advantage of the tobacco companies. It is a lucrative market for them. There is also a good chance that if children begin to smoke at that age they will be cigarette smokers for life. It is no wonder therefore that tobacco companies believe it to be particularly worthwhile to sponsor sporting events.
My Bill proposes to prevent that kind of sponsorship. It will not stop it immediately but it will be stopped over a period of three years. It is argued that if sponsorship is banned, sporting events will collapse.
§ Mr. Proctor
I am not sure that my hon. Friend intends to deal with it. Therefore, I should like to put my question to him before he deals with the next stage of his argument. My hon. Friend is a distinguished parliamentary adviser to the Scotch Whisky Association. Would my hon. Friend extend the principle of his Bill to whisky companies and prevent them from sponsoring sporting events?
§ Mr. Sims
No, I would not. My hon. Friend is right to point out the position which I occupy, but I find no difficulty in reconciling the two kinds of sponsorship. There is a clear difference between alcohol and cigarette products. If it is used in moderation, alcohol can do one good. Most of us enjoy a little alcohol. The problem arises when the use of alcohol is abused—
§ Mr. Sims
Let me finish my sentence. I am as concerned as anybody about the abuse of alcohol. I am involved with various committees that seek to educate and inform people about that problem. It has been proved beyond doubt that cigarettes are harmful per se. Therefore, alcohol and cigarettes cannot be compared. I have no difficulty in reconciling my views on these two products.
§ Mr. Proctor
My hon. Friend said that some people believe that alcohol does one good. Therefore he says that people should be allowed to make a choice. A number of my constituents—though not me, because I am a nonsmoker —believe that it is therapeutic to smoke cigarettes. Why does he take a different view in principle about alcohol compared with tobacco?
§ Mr. Sims
The short answer is that I have ample medical evidence in respect of both. The spirits industry takes it upon itself not to advertise on television. I do not think that a precise comparison can be made, but I do not blame my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor) for trying it on.
Some of my colleagues might suggest that the sports would collapse without the sponsorship of tobacco companies. That is hard to believe. I have said that about £112 million a year is spent on sports sponsorship. Of that, about £8 million is estimated to come from the tobacco companies. One can hardly suggest that losing £8 million would make all that much difference and that it could not be replaced. A large number of companies would be happy to take over the sponsorship. When the sponsorship by a tobacco products company was withdrawn from a London orchestra, other sponsors quickly stepped in. The statistics show that, if one sponsor withdraws, another is usually arranged within two or three months.
I am sure that the sports will find no difficulty, especially as the provisions will be phased in over a three-year period, in finding other sponsors. This applies 632 particularly to those companies I have mentioned that enjoy a great deal of television coverage. I understand that there is a waiting list of companies interested in sponsoring certain sports. One imagines that some of the up and coming companies in the electronics business would welcome such exposure.
I suggest that the Bill will not be any danger to sports. I gently point out to Ministers that the Government raised £4.5 billion a year in taxes on tobacco and that a further tax of 0.25p on 20 cigarettes would produce enough money to cover all sports sponsorship money at present received from tobacco companies.
I appreciate that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment—the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) —who has responsibility for sport, will tell me that, until now, this matter has been handled by voluntary agreement and that he is negotiating a further voluntary agreement and would like to continue along that course. I understand that, but I am bound to say that experience suggests that any such voluntary agreement is likely to be breached in as many respects as the existing voluntary agreement. I suggest that the fact that a new agreement is pending does not prevent my hon. Friend from accepting the Bill. My legislation will not become active until the Secretary of State makes an order to implement it. It will be enforced over a three-year period.
Smoking is dangerous to health—it says so on every packet. Our duty is to discourage smoking. One of the best ways of doing this is by supporting my Bill, which will curtail and eventually eliminate sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies. I hope that the Bill has the support of the House.
§ Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)
I cannot praise the hon. Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) too much, not only for the way in which he has presented the Bill but for his constant endeavours with respect to prevention rather than treatment. Over the years he has achieved a reputation on both sides of the House for his health work. The Bill continues that tradition.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Chislehurst on choosing this subject, which seeks to prevent death and illness. I believe that this cigarettes legislation and the Tobacco Products (Sales Restriction) Bill, which concerns children under 16, are supported across the board, politically and socially, in the community at large. The hon. Gentleman rightly said that pressure should be most intense to stop people contracting the habit. The House recently discussed the Tobacco Products (Sales Restriction) Bill dealing with the £70 million which children under the age of 16 are spending on cigarettes. If that Bill is passed alongside this, that would be the greatest step forward for many years.
As long ago as 1960 Sir George Godber, the chief medical officer of health, said in the DHSS annual report:To prevent illness, if one could do something in this field, it would be the greatest step this century".In pursuing his line, the hon. Gentleman is pursuing a well-worn track. The House accepts that the hon. Gentleman is the last person to be fanatical about a subject. The idea that there are many people who are anti-something, and that British people want to stop and prohibit everything, has nothing to do with the hon. Member for Chislehurst. As I have said previously, if I 633 could find a non-carcinogenic, non-emphysemic, non-bronchitic cigarette, I would be happy for the good Lord to put chimneys on people's heads to allow them to smoke ad nauseam.
That is not the case, and the evidence about smoking is now clear. The hon. Gentleman, in giving the weekly figure, ought to pull the House up short in its tracks. Last week 2,000 people died, another 2,000 people will die this week, and next week 2,000 more will die, from smoke-related diseases. If that number of deaths occurred through jumbo jets crashing there would be headlines across the world. If a tourist coach crashed in Parliament square and 100 or so people were killed in one collision, something would be done.
The hon. Gentleman's argument is based on the fact that the inevitable consequence of smoking is death. Therefore, if one can stop the promotion of cigarettes to young people in one way or another, and specifically in the way the hon. Gentleman has suggested—in sports ponsorship—that would not only save life and medical bills but would prevent many tragedies.
The number of smoke-related deaths in people under 65 is horrendous. One should not just count the wage earner in the statistics of those who die under the age of 65, but should also include the consequences of the tragedy for the wage-earner's family. A man aged 44 died in hospital in my constituency, leaving four children. The consequence of his death goes beyond his decision to smoke; it has a consequence for the community.
The hon. Gentleman is going with the trend to consider sports sponsorship. as so much these days is decided by image and not by words. People project an image. The image projected to youngsters is that motor racing around Brooklands is marvellous and should be associated with a manly endeavour, but it is odd that it should be related to acting like a child with a dummy and sucking on a piece of white paper wrapped around tobacco. That is the manly image that is promoted and it is that which continues the sale of cigarettes to youngsters under the age of 16.
The hon. Member for Chislehurst was quite right to ask the Minister with responsibility for sport to examine the matter thoroughly. The Minister was kind enough to receive a deputation that I accompanied the other day and he listened to the case in connection with the present negotiations. The Minister should note that voluntary codes of practice are too frequently broken. The classic example of that occurred during Wimbledon tennis fortnight, two years ago.
It also happened recently, as the hon. Member for Chislehurst will recall, with the picture in The Observer. The Observer carried an advert with a picture of a car and a caption referring to the quality of the car and the driver. However, the large print name underneath the picture, "Marlboro", implied more strongly that the quality was due to the cigarettes. The Minister said that the advertisement was rather near the knuckle. He did not use those words, because Ministers do not reply in such a way. He was far more polite, and said that it was near the edge.
When the Minister is making his arrangements, will he consider sanctions to ensure that, if the code is broken, there is some way in which the company involved can be penalised?
I hate to mix my metaphors and talk about a liquid as a red herring, but in previous debates it as been suggested that if one thing is bad it should be compared with something else. When my children were young, if my 634 daughter was naughty, my son always claimed that he was good. The clinical difficulty with some comparisons is that carcinogenic agents do riot require that a quantity be smoked. A light smoker can contract carcinoma of the lung because the carcinogenic agent does not proliferate. If one contracts the disease, that is it. Quantity does not come into the matter because one does not contract the disease by smoking a good deal, but only by smoking.
I believe that most Members have received the document "The Big Kill". In the Brent district health authority area there were 369 deaths last year. There were 152 deaths from heart disease, 159 from lung cancer and 58 from bronchitis and emphysema. My area has closed one hospital. I am busy consulting the authority about the closure of another one. Chest and heart diseases last year cost Brent £600,000. That is a considerable sum. I would sooner see that money spent on the elderly and the other things that the area needs, rather than on treating a preventable illness.
I received a parliamentary answer the other day and found some of the comparisons in it rather surprising. The House and the country are worried about hard drug abuse. It is a problem to which the Government are paying attention; a Bill is going through the House. One wonders whether the Government have double standards when dealing with one form of addiction compared with another. In 1983, there were 64 deaths from morphine-type drugs in England and Wales. There were 14 deaths from morphine and other types of drugs and there was one death from a morphine-type non-dependent abuse of drugs.
In the same answer, the Minister was kind enough to tell me that the Government recognise that 100,000 people die prematurely from the effects of smoking. I will not weary the House — I know many other hon. Members wish to take part in the debate—with the amount spent on drug and nicotine abuse and the promotion of smoking.
It is interesting to note that, in another answer, I was told that £55.5 million is spent on advertising. It is believed that over £100 million is spent on persuading people to smoke, by sports sponsorship and other means. The Government provide a total of £3.5 million There is an uneven tug of war. About £100 million is spent on telling people to smoke and £3.5 million on telling them to refrain. Cigarette-related diseases cost the National Health Service £370 million a year. That is a large chunk out of the resources available for other important matters. I was interested to see another answer I received which stated that, if one put 6p on a packet of cigarettes, the Exchequer would take in £190 million.
The House and the country approve of sport, especially for young people. We do not want youngsters hanging about street corners, finding themselves at a loose end because they have left school and are out of work. Sport is promoted by the Government through the Central Council for Physical Recreation and through the efforts of the Minister with responsibility for sport. It therefore seems ridiculous that the Government cannot find the £8 million for sports sponsorship to provide sport for young people.
In 1966 Kenneth Robinson, a former Minister, introduced a ban on advertising for the Independent Broadcasting Authority. The hon. Member for Chislehurst has pointed out that the BBC, which does not advertise at all, is taking the brunt of advertising cigarettes through its 635 sports sponsorship. This is not only against the BBC's charter but against the intentions of all Governments of the past 20 years to promote sport for young people.
I hope that the Bill will get a further hearing. I realise, of course, that we are too late for a closure. This question goes across the Floor of the House and is not a party matter. I ask the Minister whether it is not possible for the House itself, without any Whips, to come to a decision on this matter. If that could be arranged, I am fairly certain that if — in spite of the well-known efforts of the consultants for British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and others; hon. Members who have constituency interests and are naturally concerned about employment—the House itself could have the opportunity of a Second Reading on this excellent Bill, then the House, in Committee, will be able to take it forward. This is no more revolutionary than asking for a three-year span after a decision is taken. We are talking possibly of five years; at the rate of 100,000 deaths a year, that is still a long process. I hope that the House will take this step in order to secure a Second Reading.
I am not concerned with the cost of illness alone. Death through chronic bronchitis or emphysema is torture to a degree which one cannot behold without revulsion. No human being ought to die in that way. We all have to die some time and that is acceptable —it has to be acceptable, as there is no alternative. To die gasping and scrabbling for every breath, and to spend weeks in a cardio-thoracic ward—any of us who have witnessed our friends or relations in that situation never want to see it again. If the hon. Member for Chislehurst has his way, then, although I will see such suffering, my own children will not see it in the future.
§ Mr. Michael Knowles (Nottingham, East)
I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) and also with the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt). I represent a Nottingham seat, and although I do not have a direct constituency interest, there is a large tobacco factory in the next constituency and undoubtedly some of my constituents work there.
There is no need for my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for sport to look anxious. I am not making a guest appearance after being in "Yes, Prime Minister" the other week. He will recall that I am a Nottingham Member with the same interest as that fictional sports Minister.
I am worried about various points. My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst should remember that when this campaign is over —I do not believe that it will be successful — and the tobacco industry has been destroyed, the banning lobby will move to alcohol. Indeed, there are already signs of that. There is always something to ban. Indeed, early in life I concluded that for anything I enjoyed there was a lobby which wanted to ban it. As I have a wife and three daughters—I am glad to say that none of my daughters smokes —and I both drink and smoke, I spend most of my money on women, smoking and drink and squander the rest. I expect that that is true of many hon. Members.
When I listened to the debate the apposite parallel of Macaulay speaking about the Puritans and bear baiting came to mind. They banned bear baiting, not for the pain 636 that it caused the bear, but for the pleasure that it gave to the spectators. That feeling always lurks when somebody wants to ban something. One can always make a good case. One could make a good case for banning alcohol. Indeed, the United States tried prohibition, but it was unsuccessful.
The major anxiety of those concerned with the hard drug scene in London and Nottingham is not hard drugs or tobacco, but alcohol. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug because of alcoholism and the other problems that it produces, and I do not doubt that the lobby will move on to ban alcohol next. I disagree with that because people and industries should be allowed to choose.
The tobacco companies have been diversifying into other areas. For a long time the industry has been dwindling for various reasons, including public opinion. People have stopped smoking. It has been said that a large number of young people smoke, but my subjective impression is that fewer smoke than in my young day. My eldest daughter is 18 and my twins are 15. When I was their age it was rare for young people not to smoke, but now it is rare for them to smoke. The change has been as great as that. I believe that in the long term a hard core of smokers will remain, but gone are the days when the vast majority of the population smokes. For that reason, the tobacco industry must diversify and has done so successfully. It has also spent large sums on trying to find harmless alternatives to tobacco.
Under clause 3, "tobacco product" means, not only any form of tobacco, butsmoking mixtures intended as a substitute for tobacco.The hon. Member for Brent, South said that if he could find a harmless substitute, he would be happy with it, but the Bill will ban anything and everything.
§ Mr. Macfarlane
I was interested in my hon. Friend's reference to the insidious effects of alcohol. Those of us who have been concerned with these matters for some years and who have a genuine love for the sporting arena conclude that the presence of alcohol, in whatever form, is infinitely more disruptive socially, whether in the sports arena or family circle, than tobacco. I do not deny the statistics given by the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt). My hon. Friend represents the fair city of Nottingham which has two soccer teams which, happily, have a fairly good reputation for good behaviour. The point that I am trying to make is that alcohol, related to sporting events, has an infinitely more disruptive social effect than the product that we are discussing today.
§ Mr. Knowles
I agree. We must take on board, as I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister will later, the fact that the stark reality that any Government must face is that tobacco taxation still raises £4 billion. There is no immediate way of doing away with that without vastly increasing taxes in other areas. Therefore, I refute the idea that the destruction of the industry would be a good thing. Making up lost revenue would impinge on other areas fairly dramatically.
It is not that tobacco companies are after new smokers in the form of young people. What they are concerned with is brand share. That is what they are chasing. Cigarette smoking is not a growing area. They know that it is dwindling but they will fight tooth and nail to get more of their present share of the market, and so would anyone else in the same position.
§ Mr. Proctor
The statistics to prove my hon. Friend's points are that in 1970 the consumption of manufactured cigarettes was 127,900,000. Last year that figure had fallen to 97,500,000.
§ Mr. Knowles
Indeed. I do not think that a Newcastle Member is here, but a large factory employing over 1,000 people closed there only last year just because of the lack of demand.
§ Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
There has been a drop in demand, but there has also been a considerable increase in mechanisation so that a smaller number of people are required to produce the same number of cigarettes.
§ Mr. Knowles
That is true. However, the number of cigarettes and other tobacco products that are sold has dropped at the same time. What is happening in the tobacco industry is what one sees happening in many other industries as technology moves forward —a smaller work force is needed. If that happens in a shrinking industry the effect is even more devastating. That is precisely what has happened.
It was said earlier that sports are all healthy. In the main all would agree with that but I sometimes arrive home from the House early in the evening and see darts and snooker on the television and I remember lectures from my father about a misspent youth in the snooker hall.
It is true that companies advertise to promote their products. That is a natural thing to do and they are bound to do it. Undoubtedly, tobacco can cause illness and eventually, in some cases, death. But that is true of alcohol as well. If we go too far down this path we shall produce a nanny state. People must be left with their freedom.
By coincidence, I received a letter this morning from the Nottinghamshire county cricket club asking me to speak in the debate. I was planning to anyway, but it comes as a rather useful piece of ammunition. That letter points out how much it and other cricket clubs have depended on tobacco sponsorship over the past 25 years. It also makes the strong point that probably only a minority of people would support the banning of tobacco sponsorship, and that is generally true. The British public are not keen on banning things and it shows the soundness of British public opinion that they are generally prepared to let people live their own lives.
§ Mr. Macfarlane
In the context of Nottinghamshire county cricket club is my hon. Friend not aware that, Chislehurst is in the Kent county cricket club location? Kent county cricket club has done very well in winning much tobacco sponsorship and support in recent years and, of course, a great deal of prize money. Does my hon. Friend not consider that some of the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) may have applauded Kent's success?
§ Mr. Knowles
I do not doubt that. I thank my hon. Friend for that comment. I am not just concerned about the period of time over which sports have been dependent on sponsorship from tobacco companies. I believe that over 60 sports have received sponsorship from tobacco companies of one kind or another, from the grass roots to the high profile.
A particular point has been made about sponsorship appearing on television, but there is a great deal of money which goes to fairly small clubs which never appear on 638 television so there is no direct benefit to the company. I believe that it should be up to the sporting bodies to make their decision about whether to accept sponsorship rather than for it to be banned from some source.
I believe that next Friday there will be a Bill about business sponsorship for the arts. I do not doubt that the arts would love more tobacco sponsorship or more sponsorship from anywhere because they desperately need money. To chop off that sponsorship, even over a fairly short period, let alone overnight, could have a devastating effect on many sports. I do not believe that the British public, on the whole, would support this. It is not in favour of dictating to other people how they should live their lives. It is quite happy to let them get on with it and accept the consequences, even if they are ill consequences. I support that judgment.
§ 2.2 pm
§ Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
On behalf of the Labour party I welcome the Bill and am pleased that the hon. Member for Chiselhurst (Mr. Sims) has found the opportunity to introduce this sensible, moderate and staged measure. In response to some abusive remarks made about him on the radio this morning by one of the paid representatives of the tobacco industry, I 'would like to say that he is not an oddball, and those who support the proposition are not oddballs. The health organisations which support the Bill are certainly not oddballs because they are the British Medical Association and the Royal [...]ollege of Physicians. If I have to take advice on health and have to choose between the representatives of the British tobacco industry and the Royal College of Physicians I know which advice I will listen to.
Smoking kills 100,000 people a year. The tobacco industry is unique because it is the only industry which kills 100,000 of its customers every year. Consequently, if it is to stand still it has to recruit another 100,000 smokers every year or it will go down even quicker, the natural choice is making it go now.
§ Mr. Macfarlane
I do not want to disrupt the hon. Gentleman. A few moments ago he said that he was speaking on behalf of the Labour party. I would like to be certain that he is now speaking for the shadow environment team, because, for a variety of very good reasons, no doubt his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath. (Mr. Howell) is not in his place. We are anxious to know whether his comments would carry the right hon. Gentleman and whether they would be endorsed by him.
§ Mr. Dobson
I cannot speak for my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell), who is absent for other reasons. However, it is now and has been since 1982 the policy of the Labour party that we wish to stop the sponsorship of sport by tobacco companies. That will remain our policy. I shall return to the subject that is under discussion and leave the sideshow of the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Macfarlane), who has made enough interventions already.
Faced with a loss of 100,000 customers a year, the tobacco industry is hard pressed to recruit new smokers.
§ Mr. Dobson
No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I shall not give way if hon. Members wish to make interventions of the sort made by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam.
Parliament has restricted the scope of the tobacco industry to advertise and promote smoking. As a consequence, the industry has turned to sponsorship. There are various estimates, and it is difficult to track down the correct figure, but it is believed that between £8 million and £10 million is contributed by the industry towards sponsoring and promoting sport.
Why is this happening? Is sponsorship an altruistic activity of the industry? The answer is no, of course it is not. The law requires the directors of tobacco companies as well as other companies to promote shareholders' interests. Their actions should benefit shareholders, and the actions of tobacco companies in sponsoring sport and promoting the sales of cigarettes are intended to benefit shareholders by increased sales or by maintaining the level of sales. This is done by deliberately associating sport with smoking in the mind of the public, especially the young public.
The industry's investment in sport sponsorship is aimed at recruiting new smokers, especially new young smokers. Its success is shown by the surveys that have been undertaken in Manchester and other areas, to which the hon. Member for Chislehurst, referred. The industry has found an ace way of skirting the restrictions which Parliament has placed on its right generally to advertise.
Who can fault the industry? It has been extremely successful. The most recent figures that I have been able to obtain show that there were 323 hours of tobacco-sponsored sport on television in 1984. I understand that half a minute of advertising time that is networked by ITV —I checked this today—costs about £80,000. A minute of advertising time would, therefore, cost £160,000, and an hour would cost £9.6 million. The tobacco companies are enjoying free advertising on both channels, but mainly on the BBC, for about 323 hours a year. If they had had to pay for that advertising in 1984, it would have cost them in excess of £3,100 million.
§ Mr. Dobson
No, I am not giving way. The Minister will want to reply, and I wish to ensure that he has time in which to do so.
To obtain 323 hours of free advertising, the tobacco companies contributed to sport the princely sum of about £10 million. One of my criticisms of sporting bodies is that even if they have to obtain sponsorship, they are making a pretty poor fist of securing a good bargain. The extent to which they are benefiting must be set against the benefits that the tobacco companies are enjoying as a result of the arrangement.
In this context, I am sickened by the BBC's behaviour. BBC executives —some of whom live in my constituency—write to me to the effect that the BBC should not be made to carry advertising. It transpires that they do not oppose advertising in itself. Instead, they oppose being paid for it. I regard that as carrying the cult of the amateur to a ludicrous extreme.
Unlike the BBC, the Independent Television Authority is beoming increasingly concerned about free advertising, presumably partly because it undermines its position and the position of television companies generally in selling 640 advertising. That is one of their legitimate concerns and I understand that they are having discussions with Ministers.
I speak as a sports fanatic. I am no longer a participant, as observation of my corpulent frame will show. I spend a great deal of my time watching sport, reading about it and talking to others about it, and I have no doubt that I shall continue to do so. But what are the sports doing which are obtaining sponsorship? The sports know that smoking is unhealthy. Those involved in sport know as well as the president of the Royal College of Physicians that smoking kills. They know that that form of advertising promotes tobacco sales. Our policy is to resort to statutory prohibition because the tobacco companies and the sports cannot be trusted to exercise restraint.
We are told that sport is intended to promote and sustain healthy minds in healthy bodies. That is a good idea and that is why sport receives substantial public subsidies from the Sports Council and from local authorities. Tens of millions of pounds go to subsidise sport.
Since sport receives such substantial subsidies we should expect responsible behaviour. There is an exemplary aspect to the portrayal of sport on television. Much damage is done to sport—to soccer in particular —by the portrayal on television of violence at soccer matches. We all deplore the exhibition of non-sporting behaviour. That is a further indication of how much attention people pay to sport and one of the reasons why the tobacco industry is so committed to being involved in it.
We are talking about an addictive drug and some sports are so hooked on tobacco sponsorship that they will find it difficult to kick the habit. That is why in this sensible and moderate measure the hon. Member for Chislehurst suggests a three-year transition so that sport will not have to go cold turkey by having to do without sponsorship. We support that. Some sports are so dependent on finance from tobacco that it is in the public interest to spend public money to bail them out while they find other sponsors. The evidence is that other sponsors will be relatively easy to find.
§ Mr. Dobson
The evidence is that other sponsors have put a lot of money into other activities. Between £110 million and £120 million of sponsorship money goes to sport each year. The tobacco companies' share of that is only about £10 million.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (East Kilbride)
Tobacco companies have an alternative. If the sports people are addicted to such advertising, would not the tobacco companies agree to badges being displayed on players' shirts with the words "I am only doing this for the money. Smoking kills"?
§ Mr. Dobson
That would certainly be an improvement.
In Nottingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Glasgow thousands of people are employed in the tobacco industry. It would be behaving like the Pharisees for reasonably well paid Members of Parliament or health professionals to say that they were not interested in the future of people employed in the tobacco industry. Those people should not be thrown on the scrap heap or forgotten. If, as a result of a deliberate act of policy, we put their jobs at risk we should be prepared, as an equally deliberate act of Government policy, to find them alternative employment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
Order. The hon. Member who has the Floor must decide whether to give way and to whom.
§ Mr. Dobson
The number of people employed in the tobacco industry has fallen in 10 years from about 40,000 to 24,000. That is due partly. as I said, to the drop in sales of cigarettes and equally, if not more so, to increased mechanisation in the industry. Despite all the cries of diversification by the tobacco companies, they did not diversify to create jobs for the people previously working in the industry: they have not shifted them into booze or biscuits. As an act of public policy the Opposition believe that this sort of sponsorship should be stopped and anybody presently employed in the tobacco industry who suffers as a result of a halt in sponsorship should be promptly assisted to find alternative employment. The matter should not be left to market forces.
On behalf of the Opposition I welcome this Bill.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Richard Tracey)
I welcome the opportunity to discuss this important and topical issue. I also welcome the fact that there seems to be a certain amount of cross-Chamber agreement on some of the points. My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and he illustrated that in dealing with some apposite interventions by my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Proctor). My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst has played a constant part in this issue for a number of years, not least as the chairman of the all-Party Back Bench ASH supporters group.
It was also helpful to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham. East (Mr. Knowles) and from the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt), who probably matches up with my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst. We had some interesting interventions from my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Macfarlane). I was interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). He came out positively with the view that his party would ban sponsorship of sport by tobacco companies. The hon. Member was tested by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam on this point when my hon. Friend mentioned the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell).
I remind the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras that the Howell report produced by the committee of inquiry into sports sponsorship, held two or three years ago and chaired by his right hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath, said:The Voluntary Agreement concluded between the Government and the tobacco industry is the right way to regulate sponsorship of sport by tobacco interests. Government, sport and the industry should ensure that the Agreement is properly observed at all times".We do not dispute that last sentence. The Opposition need to sort themselves out on this point, because the world at large, and especially the sporting world and cities where 642 people work in the tobacco industry, such as those represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East, will note the views of the Opposition.
§ Mr. Hayward
Could my hon. Friend speculate on the contribution made by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and the suggested redundancy of 4,250 people in Bristol? The hon. Member suggested that other jobs should be found for those people. Is it not amazing that the Labour party should be advocating the redundancy of such a large number of people without any clear commitment to alternative employment?
§ Mr. Tracey
In the House yesterday we heard a few things from the Opposition about public expenditure. No doubt they would incur further liabilities on public expenditure if they were to follow the course put forward by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras.
The Bill calls for a ban on sports sponsorship to be achieved through a phased reduction of expenditure. The Government's view is that the voluntary system of control remains the most effective way of restricting the industry's sponsorship of sport and its possible impact on the public. My Department has negotiated voluntary agreements with the industry which allow tobacco companies to continue to make a contribution to sport and at the same time to protect the public, especially the young, from excesses.
During the past 20 years, the dangers to health associated with smoking have become more apparent, and this has brought increasing pressure for controls on the tobacco industry's advertising and promotion activities. Tobacco advertisements on television were banned in 1965 by a Labour Government, as the hon. Member for Brent, South said. In 1971, the first voluntary agreement on advertising was negotiated between the Conservative Government and tobacco interests. It included a range of voluntary measures intended to discourage smoking. The voluntary agreement on sports sponsorship, which was introduced in 1977 by the Labour Government, with considerable input from the right hon. Member for Small Heath, complemented the agreement on advertising. It restricted the amount of money that tobacco companies could spend in real terms to the level spent by individual companies in 1976. It identified which sports could be sponsored and restricted the size and number of hoardings used for advertising at sporting events, as well as the display of sponsors' names on participants' clothing and equipment.
The present agreement, which was renegotiated in 1982 by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam, continues to restrict activities in the same way, but also stipulates that the Government health warning should appear on advertisements for sponsored events and on promotional signs at such events. It calls on companies to keep expenditure on media advertising and promotional activities within a reasonable proportion of total expenditure. It specifically limits the amount of promotional material at televised events, and especially prohibits the display of sponsors' names or logos on players' or officials' clothing and equipment. It places controls on which sports can be sponsored, and it calls on companies not to sponsor activities in which the majority of participants are under 18 years of age.
My colleagues in the DHSS are seeking to replace the present advertising agreement, which runs until March this year. Negotiations with the industry are in progress; the 643 details must at this stage be confidential. The sponsorship agreement fell to be reviewed at the end of last year. We have taken advice from the medical profession and other bodies concerned, including the Health Education Council and the Sports Council —both financed by the Government. I am considering seeking some changes to the agreement, bearing in mind the representations that I have received and the negotiations on the advertising agreement. Recently, the Sports Council made its views public when it declared itself against tobacco sponsorship in principle, but at the same time accepted that there is a voluntary agreement with the tobacco industry. It said that, in the review, special consideration should be given to the protection of children. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree with that.
§ Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)
Has my hon. Friend sought the advice of the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the governing bodies in sport?
§ Mr. Tracey
I am glad to welcome to the Chamber my right hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Morro), who is another of my predecessors. I can answer him in the affirmative. The CCPR has members on the Sports Council and its views have been included in the representations made by the Sports Council. I cannot, of course, be specific about the changes that I shall seek. My negotiations with the industry will be confidential. From the comments I have received, however, it is clear that there is considerable concern about the amount of television exposure that tobacco companies receive through sponsorship. Many people see this as a way round the formal advertising bans and are particularly concerned by studies that have suggested that children believe that tobacco is advertised on television. Of course it is not, and it has not been advertised for 20 years. However, in an opinion poll more than 70 per cent. of children questioned seem to believe that it is.
Although there is a lack of evidence to suggest that children take up smoking as a result of such sponsorship, the Government continue to be concerned about young smokers and will seek to ensure that there is adequate protection from sources through which they might be encouraged to take up the habit. In taking advice on the workings of the present agreement, a number of possible breaches have been pointed out to me. My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst referred to the Health Education Council's documents and to other examples which highlight these breaches. I take breaches very seriously and I shall study carefully the material that I have received. This information may provide a major input to my forthcoming negotiations with the industry.
All complaints received are followed through and, if substantiated, resolved quickly with the industry. I do not consider that these instances have been enough to weaken the case for continuing the voluntary system. It has generally worked well in protecting the public, particularly the young, from possible excesses, while allowing the industry to make a contribution to sport. My aim is to ensure that the industry continues to make a contribution, but with necessary restrictions in order to ensure that the public are not encouraged, directly or indirectly, to take up smoking.
§ Mr. Tracey
I apologise to my hon. Friend for not givng way. I must get on with my speech.
The voluntary system remains the most effective method of restricting and controlling the impact of the tobacco industry's sponsorship of sport. We consider that legislation is not needed. I hope that my hon. Friend will accept that the Bill is therefore unnecessary, especially as the industry's expenditure on sports sponsorship, being limited to the 1976 levels, is already decreasing each year as a proportion of all sports sponsorship, which is growing rapidly. Tobacco sponsorship is now below 10 per cent. of all sports sponsorship.
§ Mr. Proctor
Is my hon. Friend the Minister able to reassure me that he does not believe that the criminal law should prevent a sporting organisation from accepting money from a tobacco company or from any other company that wants to promote that particular sport and that to make this a criminal offence is offensive to most people?
§ Mr. Tracey
I hear what my hon. Friend says. I have already said that the Government consider that legislation is not needed.
This has been a constructive debate. My aim in securing a new agreement is to ensure that any doubts are eliminated. However, I shall bear in mind all the views that have been raised today. They will be of great value in considering what changes to seek to make to the present sponsorship agreement.
§ Mr. Neil Macfarlane (Sutton and Cheam)
Conservative Members will have been heartened by the closing remarks of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment. It is interesting to find that the Opposition health teams have taken over responsibility for sport and the environment. It has to be contrasted with what happened in previous years. I hope that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has cleared his speech with his right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell).
§ Mr. Macfarlane
Reading between the lines, the hon. Gentleman seems to be in some difficulty after his speech in Cambridge not so many weeks ago.
I make no apologies for intervening in the debate. I do not intend to defend the tobacco companies. I have no interest to declare, apart from the interests of a number of retailers in my constituency who depend for their trade upon tobacco products. I do not use tobacco products. My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Sims) cannot rest easy with the phrases in the Bill:To provide for a ban on sponsorshipandThe Secretary of State may by Order make provision for the prohibition of expenditure".Such phrases seem to sit a little oddly on the shoulders of Conservative Members. My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst may have wanted to put across a number of points but he has not set about it in the right way. I believe that alcohol is infinitely more disruptive at sporting events than tobacco.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst said that sports shown late at night on television were purported to 645 be healthy. My hon. Friend does not carry me with him. I watch snooker and darts late at night and I do not see them as good health-giving products.
Tobacco companies have generated a great deal of influence and interest in sports promotion, not only in Britain but throughout the world, as I have noted time and time again when I have taken trade delegations to countries, especially in the middle east. I do not believe that, in the past 20 or 30 years, there has—
§ It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed upon Friday 14 March.