HC Deb 04 November 1999 vol 337 c281W
Mr. Gibb

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what his policy is regarding EU Directive 97/55/EC on comparative advertisements; and if he will make a statement. [95922]

Dr. Howells

Advertising which compares a company's product with those of a competitor has always been accepted in the UK. A system of regulatory and voluntary controls ensures that any comparison is accurate and fair so that consumers are able to judge the relative merits of products. However, it is important that there is a level playing field across Europe for those who wish to advertise by objectively comparing their products with those of a competitor. At present, this does not exist because of different regulations across the EU. The Government therefore welcome the Comparative Advertising Directive which will permit comparative advertising throughout the European Community on an equal basis.

The Directive is due to be implemented in member states by 23 April 2000. My Department has recently consulted on proposals to implement the Directive in UK law by amending the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988.