HL Deb 22 July 1981 vol 423 cc238-40

2.57 p.m.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware that a leading cigarette manufacturer is supporting pornographic magazines with advertising revenue; and whether progress is being made towards further restricting the advertising of cigarettes.

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, until the noble Lord drew the matter to our attention, we were not aware that cigarettes were advertised in pornographic magazines. New restrictions on cigarette advertising were included in the voluntary agreement with the tobacco industry which my right honourable friend announced in another place on 21st November 1980. This agreement will last only until 31st July 1982 and we shall be considering what should follow it.

Lord Airedale

My Lords, I am grateful for that reply. Is it not generally accepted that British industry has not only a responsibility to its workpeople and its shareholders, but also a social responsibility which is not being met by propping up sleazy magazines?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, I certainly agree that all companies have responsibilities to the general public as well as to their shareholders. However, I doubt whether I should comment on whether or not tobacco companies should advertise their products in pornographic magazines. I should have thought that that was a matter for them.

Lord Leatherland

My Lords, can the noble Lord tell us the names of these magazines so that we may take steps to avoid reading them?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, I do not think that I should give a "plug" to the pornographic magazines in that way.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that advertisements by tobacco companies in pornographic magazines would be likely to cancel out the enhancement of their image which these companies derive from their prestige promotion of grand opera and other valuable activities? In his coming review would my noble friend consider requiring a double health warning: "Cigarettes can seriously damage your physical health and pornography your mental health"?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, that is a very interesting suggestion.

A noble Lord

My Lords, how is the noble Lord to tell?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, I will try to get on. It might also be wondered whether the health warning on advertisements in pornographic magazines should be removed.

Viscount St. Davids

My Lords, while the noble Lord will no doubt deprecate the fact that bad purposes are supported by the tobacco manufacturers, will he not also agree that it is very sad that good purposes also have to be supported by the tobacco manufacturers? Nevertheless, would he also agree that what is really important is the final part of the noble Lord's Question, which implies that tobacco advertising ought to be decreased to the point where finally it stops?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, I know there are many people who take the same view that the noble Lord takes. My right honourable friend made a voluntary agreement last November. He did not manage to achieve all that he wanted to achieve, which is why the agreement is only going to last until July 1982. There are perpetual talks going on with the industry. At the moment negotiations are going on about sports sponsorship, the details of which are being kept confidential in the meantime.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, sharing the noble Lord's views of this subject and his dislike of nicotine- and other dope-peddlers, does he not think that if there is to be advertising at all, pornographic magazines form a far more suitable medium than sports sponsorship?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, I do not think I really see the point of that question. On the other hand, I should like to say that the Question seems to be directed to whether tobacco companies should advertise in these magazines, and I should have thought that that also applied to other companies, such as car manufacturers, manufacturers of hi-fi equipment, and so on.

Viscount Barrington

My Lords, is the noble Lord the Minister in a position to assure the House that pornographic magazines are not advertised in cigarette packets?

Lord Cullen of Ashbourne

My Lords, they are certainly not advertising.

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