Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th February 1964.
asked the Prime Minister if, in view of recent scientific reports on the causal connection between cigarette-smoking and lung cancer, he will arrange for consultations between the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Health and the Treasury on the probable results of reductions in the price of cigarettes made possible by the abolition of resale price maintenance, and on the extent to which any consequent increase in the consumption of cigarettes can be offset by inducements to smokers to smoke cigars and pipes instead.
All the implications of these reports for Government policy are considered by the Departments concerned and I am satisfied that the arrangements for inter-departmental consultations are adequate.
Are the Prime Minister and his colleagues serious in their intention to abolish resale price maintenance? Are they also serious in their intention to tackle the dangers to health from cigarette smoking? Does the Prime Minister realise that, in the context of this aspect of the abolition of R.P.M., they cannot very well be serious about both?
I should have thought that we could certainly be serious about both. I cannot tell, I cannot judge at this stage what the effect of abolition of R.P.M. might be on the price of cigarettes, but I cannot think that anybody would feel that the Government are encouraging smoking when 3s. 4d. out of the cost of a 4s. 6d. packet is tax.
Since the Government have, apparently, embarked on a Measure to abolish R.P.M., and as this will affect tobacconists to a considerable extent, does he not think that he should have some idea of its possible effects?
I said that I would not judge in advance. I may have an idea, but I will not judge it in advance.