Orders of the Day — Tobacco (Health Hazards) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1971.

Alert me about debates like this


Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [23rd April], That the Clause (Regulation of labelling and advertisement of cigarettes), proposed on consideration of the Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), be read a Second time.

pay him an initial compliment before I went on. The advice of the British Medical Association is misconceived in the Bill. Although I am prepared to say that certain labelling should be considered and that there should be insertions in advertisements, this by itself will not make much difference.

What impresses me about the suggestions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is that he is going well beyond the Bill. Not only has he suggested a code of practice which will be valuable in binding companies over a long period of time, but he has reserved the right at the end of the day, if necessary, to bring in legislation. He is going further by setting up an advisory scientific committee to look into these problems and to decide what is essential in the national interest. It would be extremely valuable for members of the public to be able to examine the nicotine and tar content of various tobaccos and to be able to make a comparison between those which are more harmful and those which are less harmful. My right hon. Friend has promised an allocation of funds to the Health Education Council. I hope he will also provide funds to bodies such as the Women's National Cancer Control Campaign which may be doing much work along these lines.

I join forces with the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) in thinking that education is the right answer to this problem. People will not pay much attention to what is written on the side of a cigarette packet or to a long instruction on a cigarette card inside the packet. The only way to change social ideology is to bring up children with the right ideas. I am strengthened in this belief by the words of my right hon. Friend about the disenchantment of youth and the desymbolisation of the cigarette. While youth see smoking as an example which they should pursue, they will continue to smoke and to follow the actions of their elders. When they find that that does not pay, they will abandon the idea and say that smoking is not in vogue. I therefore hope that more stress will be put on this aspect than on anything else.

The Bedfordshire County Council is trying to persuade teachers in schools not to smoke so as to set a good example to the children. This idea should be further extended. My right hon. Friend has in mind an inter-departmental study to find out the effect on the fiscal system, on the rights of the subject, and so on. Few of these points were encompassed in the original Bill. The original Bill has been eliminated, and my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South has put his signature to the Secretary of State's Clauses which will do a certain amount, but there is much to be done in addition. The Secretary of State has said that he will bring in these measures in two or three phases and that he will try to persuade people that there should be no smoking in cinemas and concert halls. This is the way in which the matter should be approached and that is why I feel that legislation now would not be satisfactory.

As for offences and penalties, this is the first Bill that I know of which, in its original form, pointed out that certain actions were wrong but provided no penalties. A penalty was proposed in an Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South which would have created an offence liable to a fine of £1,000 on summary conviction. The Amendment was proposed, but it was dropped. It was taken up again by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis).

We have another penalty included in the group of Amendments proposed by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Sir D. Kaberry). He suggested that there should be a penalty against the packagers and vendors of cigarettes. This is totally understandable, but he went on to suggest that manufacturers and purchasers should be penalised. It is not at the point of purchase or manufacture that the Bill should be directed but at the labelling of the goods and their offering for sale and advertising. The original idea, whether it be achieved by an Act of Parliament or by agreement, was that this was the right way to put it.

More recently, my right hon. Friend has put down an Amendment which has been subscribed to by the sponsor of the Bill. We have now come to a more modest figure of £400 as a fine on summary conviction. But it would be completely inappropriate to have imprisonment for an offence of this type. Imprisonment was in the original proposal put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South, but it has since been withdrawn and has not been recreated. Two years' imprisonment would be an impossible time.

I see a great danger. If we are to have the labelling of packages, this may eventually lead to the labelling of food. One of the principal dangers to health is obesity. If people eat too much they get too fat—and these people die in enormous numbers every year. If they drink too much they are well on the road to becoming alcoholics. That is a danger. On a bottle of whisky we may have some form of warning. Therefore, when dealing with offences and penalties, I am careful at this stage about recommending them because it may be that the planners of the Labour Party may later suggest that this should be introduced.

The Government are right in their suggestions and in making arrangements, if we are to have legislation on this matter, to keep the penalties very low and to rule out the possibility of imprisonment.

Finally, in support of tobacco smokers—and I am one—I wish to indicate that the Government are right in giving the cigarette smoker an opportunity to change to the better form of smoking, cigars and pipes, with a warning that they should not inhale.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

What do the Government propose to do about this matter? If they want people to swing to smoking pipe tobacco and cigars, they ought to adjust the tax to make it higher on cigarettes and lower on pipe tobacco and cigars. That is the only effective way to achieve the object.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

This has been dealt with by my right hon. Friend. He said: But at the end of the day, the only sensible thing to do is to give up cigarettes, if one humanly can, and, if one cannot, to switch to pipes or, if one can afford them, to cigars."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd April, 1971; Vol. 815/816, c. 1586.] It is entirely up to the Government to suggest whether they will adjust the tax to try to ease the transition. They should do that.

We have a very clear view from Professor Hammond, who is very distinguished, in a report produced in 1966 in the United States: Pipe smoking seems to do little or no harm to the average pipe smoker. Professors Doll and Hill say: Differences (in death rates) between nonsmokers and pipe or cigar smokers are not significant. The best quotation is from the United States Surgeon-General: Death rates are about the same as those of non-smokers for men smoking less than five cigars daily. Death rates for current pipe smokers were little, if at all, higher than for non-smokers, even with men smoking 10 or more pipefuls per day and with men who had smoked pipes for more than 30 years. I come to the Royal College of Physicians Report which says: Men who were smoking only pipes and cigars have a risk of dying almost exactly the same as that of non-smokers. There may be a lot of reading between the lines. We are here seeking to interfere with the freedom of the individual and we are trying to persuade the individual, either by legislation or by voluntary means, through advertising, not to subscribe to smoking cigarettes and to move from one form to another which we regard as less harmful. We wish to get them into the second stage, when ultimately we shall have a society in which many people will say that smoking is not the thing to do. It will then be a rare habit. Those people who get satisfaction from smoking a pipe should not be completely dissuaded at once.

I have endeavoured to put the views into perspective. The highest authorities in the land, and in various other States, have made the suggestion that smoking pipes and cigars is relatively harmless and that this, therefore, can be pursued.

I commend my hon. Friend for introducing legislation and for thinking up the idea. He deserves commendation for that. But he is wrong, for the reasons I have stated. Voluntary agreement with firms is likely to be honoured because it is in their interests to honour it. It does not preclude the Government from bringing in legislation later if they consider that desirable. We should be wrong to go ahead with this legislation today.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

In a previous incarnation, the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) was the Member for Willesden, East, the other half of my borough. In those days we followed each other not only in the House but around London. He will forgive me if I say that I prefer his ideas about New Zealand and the Common Market to most of his ideas on this Clause. I am pleased that he supports the discussions we had during which I was able to have inserted in Committee, the Clause dealing with vending machines.

I am sorry to find that he is not prepared to grasp the nettle of what the Bill of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) is all about. The crux of the Bill is that we are seeking to lessen sales. Therefore, when he talks about the impossibility for tobacco manufacturers to denigrate their own products, that is precisely why legislation is necessary. The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on the point that it is difficult to get people who have to sell their products to denigrate them.

Another point to which he referred in last week's debate dealt with a Schedule and a Clause which will be eliminated if some of the Amendments we are discussing are passed. I refer to the five hints to smokers to lessen health risks, and I successfully had Clause 2 and Schedule 2 inserted during the Committee stage.

The hon. Gentleman said that we should have more inquiries before we move further. We have had 20 years in which to have those inquiries and it is now too late. We must now have action. Therefore, like many other hon. Members I am grateful to the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South and for the efforts that have been made by the Department of Health. My only regret is that both of those efforts are still totally inadequate.

Finally, I welcome the help of the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis) in the efforts which I have been making for four years, directed at Chancellors of the Exchequer from both sides of the House, towards a differential tax between cigars and pipe tobacco, on the one hand, and cigarettes on the other. If I could make cigars ten a penny and cigarettes £1 each, I should be delighted. I am not opposed to smoking. I am concerned only with health and with the tragedies that occur as a result of smoking.

2.30 p.m.

I must apologise for not having been in my place on the previous two Fridays. I apologise especially to those hon. Members present today with whom I endured the arduous and long Committee stage which led to the formulation of this Clause. I also apologise to the Under-Secretary of State. I was attending the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Venezuela and other concerns in America, where my attention was devoted to other no less important matters.

It had been my hope, following the unanimity expressed in Committee, after the Under-Secretary stopped blocking the Bill, that the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South would succeed in getting his Bill after only one Sitting on Report. However, since this Clause was first in- troduced, there has been a retreat, and I regret it very much. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that he appeared several times to be on the point of talking out his own Bill. All too often, he rose to the bait offered by his opponents.

The Bill has a serious aim. However, from time to time it has been hampered by the flamboyant and extrovert way in which the hon. Gentleman has sought to make his points. I accept his sincerity. He has shown great tenacity. I wish only that his tactics had been a little more effective, as they would have been had he not risen so often to address the world at large or the public and the Press. I regret also that he was prepared to withdraw so much that we had agreed upon in Committee when pressure was applied by the Minister.

I must pay tribute to the Secretary of State. Undoubtedly he is one of the toughest cookies on the Front Bench opposite amidst so many colleagues who are half-baked. When the right hon. Gentleman supported the new Clause and told us what he had ben able to achieve in his negotiations with the tobacco interests, he clearly has done his best to secure the maximum agreement for the implementation of the Report of the Royal College of Physicians. Nevertheless, what he got was the minimum. I welcomed the right hon. Gentleman's statement about matters on the periphery of the Clause and other proposals which are in the pipeline. I hope that they will be effective.

After reading the debates which took place on the previous two Fridays, I was obliged to table a further new Clause banning advertisements altogether. Unfortunately, that will not be reached today. But I reached the conclusion that we cannot tinker about with this problem any longer. Although we must accept this Clause—we have no option—there is no doubt that it does not go far enough and that it would be more effective if we could get to the root of the advertising problem, which neither the Clause nor the Bill does in its present form.

I think one thing the Secretary of State said on 23rd April reflects the view of most of hon. Members present today. Our task is to make smoking socially unacceptable. That has been part of our endeavours in the last few months. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the World Health Organisation has now banned smoking in any form during all its deliberations. However, it was able to do so quite easily since, for a long time, smoking has been prohibited in meetings of its General Assembly. The reason was that in that Chamber there is a very luxurious and expensive carpet, and there is some danger of tobacco smoke damaging it. It is a rather sad reflection that even a health authority has been prepared to take action to protect its carpet a long time before taking action to protect the lungs of its delegates.

Having read the contributions by the Secretary of State to our debates, clearly I accept his sincerity in trying to balance the weight of £52 million of argument on the one side against the £100,000 at the most on the other by proposing to launch a television campaign. But does the right hon. Gentleman intend to try to achieve any kind of balance between the pressures of persuasion to smoke and those of health education not to smoke? The short answer is that all the proposals that he outlined in his speech show that it will be a limited and finite campaign to which a limited and finite amount of money will be devoted. There will be a short television effort, after which the sales of cigarette companies will rise, as they always do after each of the efforts of those wishing to save lives has terminated.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that, if people are not able to be deterred from smoking, we should seek some means of ensuring that those who smoke do it in a way which minimises the risk to their health. Research documents in this country, in Canada, in America and elsewhere show that the five hints contained in Schedule 2 can save lives. If this proposal were adopted, the smoker buying a packet of cigarettes would be in possession of five hints to ways in which he might lessen the injury to his health.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

I appreciate that the five tips are extremely useful. However, after a smoker has seen them for the first time, he throws them away. In the United Kingdom at present, 90 per cent. of people realise the dangers of smoking. It seems pointless to underline them again if smokers are not influenced by them.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

The hon. Gentleman's mind is rather static. He seems to think that future smokers will be confined to those who smoke at present. We have been trying to deter young people from starting the habit. The hon. Gentleman suggests that constant reiteration of the dangers is pointless. However, reiteration in advertising has been shown to be extremely successful. A large number of youngsters smoking for the first time at least will see that, if they smoke in a certain way, it is likely to be less harmful than if they smoke in other ways, and this at a time when habit is being formed. The proposal is an extremely constructive one, and I am sorry that this Amendment seeks to delete it.

I recognise the intellectual capacity of the Secretary of State and his determination to achieve his wishes so long as he remains in his present post. Unfortunately, when the Government realise the potential of a good Minister of Health, they are inclined to promote him. However, should he remain in his present post, he has promised that by 1972, if the voluntary agreement has failed, he will accept that it has not sufficient teeth and is rather a gummy affair and will then provide it with a solid set of dentures.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

I am on the hon. Gentleman's side entirely. But how are we to judge whether this flabby, flacid voluntary agreement is successful a year from now? Are we to do it on the basis of the number of cigarettes consumed or the amount of money spent on advertising?

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

I suggest on three bases; first, the fact that by then there will have been another 1,000 deaths from carcinoma of the lung; secondly, the increasing amount of money spent on advertising tobacco products; thirdly, the increased sales of cigarettes.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summer-skill), who made an extremely forthright speech last week. My hon. Friend talked about the difficulty of reaching agreement. A former Minister, Mr. Kenneth Robinson, reached agreement with the tobacco people in 1966, but the agreement was broken after six months when competition between brand names became too expensive and, as a result, the agreement broke down. Our concern at not having legislation and having agreement rest partly on the fact that although it is possible to have an agreement, if after a time other pressures and reasons develop, it is quite possible for the agreement to finish.

I wish also to say how grateful I am to the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South for having had recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT one of the finest speeches on this subject that we have ever heard upstairs, that of his hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford). He was able to get that speech from upstairs into HANSARD downstairs. Like the hon. Member, I would make that speech compulsory reading in this debate.

My last point arising from the points which have been made earlier is that the excellent contribution by a former Minister of Health, the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), needs rereading, not only in the light of his experience when he was Minister of Health, but also because of the unequivocal way in which he came down on the side of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South against voluntary agreement and in favour of a legally enforceable agreement backed by laws passed by Parliament. Nobody in the House knows more about law than the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Therefore, I take with great care any advice that he tenders to the House.

Whether we pass or reject the Clause, we must not forget the size of the problem. Once again, I remind hon. Members of the Annual Report of the Department of Health, in which Sir George Godber puts on record the 80,000 premature deaths, the 190,000 man-years of working life lost, and from bronchitis alone the 38·5 million days lost to production. That, on one illness alone is nearly three-and-a-half times more than was lost by the unacceptable level of strikes that the country had last year.

To put it another way, if we had the misfortune for this one section of preventable diseases due to smoking to hit this House, namely, lung cancer, in eight days the whole membership of 630 could be wiped out. If two of the coaches which at this time of year bring visitors to see the House of Commons were to collide outside in Parliament Square and 80 people were to be killed, that would hit every headline in the country. If it happened a second day, no Government could resist the pressure for action. That, however, is the rate of death from lung cancer alone that occurs day after day. We are trying, nevertheless, to balance the books and to say that this is only one of the factors in so many commercial and other considerations with which we are trying to deal.

Another important reason why action should not be delayed and legislation should be passed is the changing pattern of the cancers. I refer in particular to the frightening rise during the last seven years in the number of deaths among females from cancer of the lung. Research has shown us the reason. These are the 1939 to 1945 crop, because in wartime women were engaged in war work and in the Forces and their smoking habits followed those of the men.

2.45 p.m.

We have other evidence, too, from the tremendous survey made after the impact of the Report of the Surgeon-General in the United States had effect. United States surveys show that the impact on men has meant that the number of cigarettes smoked in every age category has gone down. What has happened among females, however, is that in the 45 to 54 age group there has been an increase of from 26 to 36 per cent. and in the 55 to 64 age group an increase of from 13 to 24 per cent. Therefore, when I tell the House that by the late 1970s this will reach epidemic proportions I am not starting scares or frights. Once one starts to balance the number of deaths at present occurring among males with those of females, one reaches frightening and epidemic proportions.

I am very pleased to see the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East is now present. I am sorry that he missed my reference to him, but, no doubt, he will be kind enough to read my thanks to him when he reads this debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

One of the most distressing things that can arise from smoking is not lung cancer. It is not even the tremendous number of deaths. There is no hon. Member who does not know of somebody near and dear who has had coronary thrombosis. All those who have read the reports of the Medical Research Council and the Tobacco Research Council will be aware of the tremendous influence of smoking on coronary thrombosis.

I was privileged to be a member of the Central Middlesex Hospital Management Committee. One of the country's outstanding cardio-thoracic physicians, Keith Ball, is our consultant. I was able to go on a ward round with him. He told me that half a million children now at school would die prematurely through smoking and that smoking daily fills 7,000 National Health Service beds which would not be filled if it were not for the smoking habit. That kind of factor is important. That costs public expenditure.

What frightened me, however, was to see for myself the patients in a chest ward. I invite hon. Members—who are obviously interested in this subject, otherwise they would not be here on a Friday —to walk round the chest ward of their local hospital and see these things. The hon. Member for Bedford accepted my invitation last time I was debating this subject, when he was in another incarnation, and he also visited Central Middlesex Hospital. One sees what appear to be cheerful men in their 50s, but as one leaves their bedside the consultant says, "I think he will have a fortnight, or, possibly, three weeks."

What is even more frightening to the layman—the House knows that although I interest myself in health matters, I am not a doctor—is to see the elderly fighting and struggling with emphysema for every breath. That is the kind of tragedy that nobody likes to see twice. That is what we are talking about in the Clause. That is what we are trying to fight for on the Floor of the House. I therefore ask hon. Members to take these factors into consideration.

In the course of the debate, both upstairs and on the last two Fridays in the House, we have had to take account of the side effects. We have to consider what my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Michael Cocks), for instance, regards as the very human problems that would be involved if a real impact were made on this problem. I remember Percy Belcher, the late Secre- tary of the Tobacco Workers' Union, making an impassioned speech at the T.U.C. to prevent any action being taken which might lead to unemployment among his members. One understands that. As has been pointed out time and time again, the Revenue has an interest because public expenditure needs the £1,000 million which tobacco duty yields. There are, therefore, a number of side effects which have to be weighed.

The Secretary of State has had to try to weigh all these things and to compromise. He has sought to get from the tobacco industry as much as he could. They have sought to defend their interests as much as they could. What came out of it was useful but inadequate. That is why the House—although the likelihood now is that the Bill will not reach the Statute Book this year, but I think that eventually it will—needs to legislate, so that the level of agreement can be pitched much higher in the light of the health hazards that we face.

On the question of costing, the only country I know which has done an analysis of the financial costs is Canada. This is an extremely interesting report which I hope hon. Gentlemen will read. It shows that at the moment in terms of its budget the cost of smoking runs to £387 million. I am confident that we are spending a very large proportion of the £1,000 million we get in revenue on dealing with diseases due to smoking but the problem with the Treasury is that we know that any action taken will not have any effect for another 10 or 15 years in terms of reducing health costs, whereas if the action taken is effective and cigarettes cease to be smoked the Excise duty drop will have an immediate effect upon the Budget.

Unfortunately in the political world people are more inclined to look at the immediate effect than at the long-term advantages of legislation. The British Medical Journal in its leader talked about cowardice over smoking and that charge can be rightly levelled at the Government. It says: With a justified sense of Deja Vu doctors might be forgiven for asking whether the Government will still be shilly-shallying in 1981. I do not think that they will. I think events will force them to act before that. It is a tragedy that this should happen when we could get legislation now, when there is this pressure from the back benches and when all that we shall get will be this weak agreement and nothing more.

The Minister may unintentionally have misled the House. This Amendment seeks to restore the original wording of the Bill in place of the wording in the new Clause. It hinges upon two small points, whether it can cause danger or whether it is harmful to health. There is no doubt that it is harmful to health. The degree of harmfulness is a different proposition. The fact that the harm to health exists does not mean that a person will die. Physiological research has shown that many changes in the body that occur after one or two puffs of a cigarette. The heart-beat, blood pressure and the reactions of the body are all affected with the first intake of nicotine. Because it is harmful does not necessarily mean that it is a killer. It may not send someone to a hospital ward, but the fact remains that human bodily functions are impaired. Amendment (c) is undoubtedly preferable. It is the wording agree by the doctors, and accepted by the Royal College of Physicians.

There has been some discussion about the application of tobacco substitutes. I have had an assurance from the present Chancellor that he will follow the undertaking given by the previous Chancellor that he will meet me for discussion about the time when tobacco substitutes become a viable proposition. The House knows that I.C.I., working with Imperial Tobacco and Courtaulds, have made substantial progress in this area. The result cannot yet be given because clinical testing takes a long time. The Medical Research Council has a number of projects in hand. There are four grants to aid examination of the substances and a complete medical research unit at work. In addition, a committee of professors dealing with chronic bronchitis has the matter under review.

My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax, in a stirring speech last week, referred in one of her more colourful phrases to the "faceless moguls". I do not want to stir that problem up again but I have not found them to be faceless. I recall that when the first report came out I had a meeting in this House of the Labour Party Health Group attended by Lord Platt and the then chairman of Imperial Tobacco, Mr. John Partridge, now chairman of the C.B.I. The problem is not so much the faceless moguls, it is that no one in the tobacco industry ever tries to refute or contradict the medical evidence.

I pay tribute to the Tobacco Research Council whose first Report underlined the health hazards involved in smoking. What has taken place is a sophisticated piece of ju-jitsu. It is not opposed; just enough doubt is cast so that in the event the matter is not resolved. So, 20 years after the 1951 Report, the area of doubt is sufficient to make hon. Members discussing this Clause doubt whether they can give it their vote.

Photo of Mr James Kilfedder Mr James Kilfedder , North Down

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that the tobacco industry has contributed substantial sums of money to the scientific investigation of the link between smoking tobacco and health? This seems to be some indication of the concern felt by the industry. It seems that it does not wish to cast doubt, it wants to get at the facts; and some credit ought to be given for that. I know that the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) described these people as "faceless moguls" but they are not the sort of people that those who oppose smoking often make them out to be.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

The House will recall that I have tried to introduce a Bill similar to this since 1964. On each occasion that I have tried to do so I have paid tribute to the industry. The tobacco people know my position. Every time I want to go to Harrogate they are prepared to fly me there and Gallaher was prepared to take me to Geneva for two days to see what was being done there in tobacco and smoking research. The hon. Gentleman must realise at the same time, that the first tobacco company that produces a carcinoma-free cigarette hits the jackpot, so that not only is there a certain amount of public interest involved, but there is also some good commercial commonsense involved in conducting research.

The present Clause fails to deal with the gift coupon problem. The greatest opposition to this Bill since it reached the Floor of the House has not come from the tobacco manufacturers. There is £15½ million worth of advertising revenue at stake. I have seen an interesting document put out by some advertising people in which they are kind enough to commend me for my interest in research. If I may give a word of advice about this brief, it is far too complex and big. If I were an advertising man I would suggest that next time they publish far less material.

What the series of Amendments does not tackle is the way in which after both the Royal College of Physicians Report and the Report of the Surgeon-General of America in 1964, the trend to smoke less was defeated by the introduction of gift coupons. I have a new Clause, which we are not discussing now, which I hope to incorporate in a further Bill. As a result of the public awareness of the health hazards, in 1964 there was a drop in cigarette smoking of 0·7 per cent. and in 1965 there was a drop of 2·1 per cent. Those were the only two years in which there was a drop in sales of cigarettes in this century.

3.0 p.m.

In January, 1966, Players No. 6 was launched. Within three months it was the second largest seller of all tobacco products. By 1967, 67·1 per cent. of the total cigarettes sold were coupon brands. We are very much indebted to Gallahers, to whom I pay tribute, for its research into the matter. When I had the pleasure of entertaining Mr. W. F. J. Carter, the deputy chairman of Imperial Tobacco, to lunch here, I was able to give him a copy of the results so that Imperial Tobacco would be aware of the case against coupon promotion. Unfortunately, I was not able to convince Imperial Tobacco that coupons were not a good thing. I have been assured that the use of coupons makes no difference, to the manufacturers' promotion expenditure, because all that happens is that 2½d. is put on the price of the packet, and if coupons were not given that amount would come off. Therefore, the gifts are paid for not by the tobacco interests but by the consumers. That being so, why not abolish them?

It is interesting to see the way in which the tobacco interests can make separate compartments of their merchandising departments and their research. Incidentally, I see that the Secretary of State is here now. I am sorry that he was not here to hear my comments on his speech, but I am sure that he will read them with great interest. On the one hand there is an attempt among the tobacco companies to reach agreement on health matters and on the other there is the way in which the marketing is conducted. Lord Platt in another place talked about the link of virility and sex with advertising, and the advertisers' aiming for the younger market. Gallaher and Carreras were prepared to ban gift coupons in 1966, if only Imperial Tobacco had agreed. It is only because it was not possible to get agreement across the board that we have seen the tremendous increase, in coupon marketing. In one merchandising operation Gallaher produced a film called "Gallaher Love Story", telling the story of the grocer and the average housewife, with her love for shopping, and the way in which Gallaher can help to cement a happier and more profitable relationship between the two.

An increase in duty can boost the sales of the market leaders. It was always assumed that cigarette sales would drop when extra duty was imposed, but when the duty was increased in 1967 all that happened was that one brand from Players dominated the 4s. section of the market.

The crunch question is whether the Clause and the Amendments will be effective in diminishing the amount of cigarettes smoked. If they do, they will reduce the health hazards resulting from cigarettes. What the Secretary of State has had to try to negotiate is somehing which will give the semblance of an impact on sales, the semblance of deterring people from smoking, but will do neither. I predict that within five months we shall be back to precisely the same consumption.

There has been a great deal of discussion on the printing of the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes on the packets and having a league table in each tobacco shop. The tobacco industry would be only too pleased to do this, and I do not think that the advertising interests would be very worried, because it opens up a new bonanza for advertising. On my recent visit to the United States I saw that one of the effects of quantifying the chemical content of cigarettes is to provide a vast new field of advertising material. The advertising men can say then, "Smoke brand X, because it contains less tar, and therefore your health is safer." The advertising man and the tobacco companies see no deterrent to smoking in this. In spite of this, it is a very good provision, because if smokers have a right to choose how they will smoke to diminish health hazards, they also have the right to know which brands to smoke to limit the amount of chemicals they are likely to absorb.

A lot of work has gone into the Bill, not least by an hon. Member sitting upstairs. We have had much discussion with doctors and the Royal College of Physicians, and here I particularly pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Rosenheim, Lord Platt, and to Dr. Charles Fletcher for their willingness always to come to my aid. But we have got past the time when we can look at this subject as just one among many.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

The hon. Gentleman has just said that he has got past the time. He has. He accused my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) of wanting to talk out his Bill. The hon. Gentleman is now in danger of talking it out.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

That is why I was about to conclude. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has now delayed my conclusion. I am sorry to have spoken at length but I remind the hon. Gentleman that in Committee, about half the Amendments put down were in my name and that many of the Amendments on Report have been tabled by me.

We are relying upon the Secretary of State not only to give spirit to this agree-bent, whatever happens to the Bill, but also to ensure the follow-through, because subsidiary matters must have effect no later than January next year if they are to have any credibility. We, in Parliament, must be prepared to take the responsibility of making unpopular decisions. It is not fair to ask the public or the tobacco manufacturers or the shareholders or the trade unions or anyone else affected by regulations to take these unpleasant decisions themselves. That is our responsibility and it is time we took it.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

The House always listens with great interest to what the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) says about matters concerning health, particularly, as it were, the consumers. He has a great and continuing interest in the subject. But I am sorry that he chose to go on a delegation to Venezuela and miss two days of this debate. Whilst he made a great contribution in Committee upstairs, we would have benefited on Report if we could have heard him at the outset, since the debate on Report has not on occasion reached the heights which his speech has just reached. I do not agree with all his conclusions but I share his concern about the health of consumers in this matter.

It is right that we should be concerned about the problem of smoking and the damage it can do to health. We are also indebted to those hon. Members—I think that there are now 12 of them—who are members of the medical profession. I do not know whether we are going to find a description for them. Lawyers have benefited for years by the description, "honourable and learned"—and so they are. Perhaps we will have to find a description for medical Members. One can only respect the contributions they have made but I would particularly single out my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford). I also respect the information I have had from publications by the Royal College of Physicians and in the utterances of the British Medical Journal and others. I was a cigarette smoker, but gave up smoking at Christmas because of the impact of this information.

What we are considering is not so much the question of danger to health—I do not think that there is any dispute about the fact that there is a danger—but rather how best to help a free society face and meet this problem. Whilst I respect the sincerity of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) and his energy and tenacity in bringing in the Bill, after much reflection I do not feel that this is a matter which, if we can avoid it, should be the subject of legislation, rules, regulations and controls. That is not to say that I do not believe that there are many instances when consumer protection against exploitation or the consumers' protection of his or her health may require Government statutory rules and regulations. There are many occasions when they are necessary, and I could cite many such examples.

Equally, I could cite examples when we should not seek, as the phrase is, to wet nurse the consumer like a grandmother about everything that is ultimately a matter of choice and the responsibility of the individual. The doctors themselves have already set us an example. Between 1951 and 1965, no fewer than 50 per cent. of all doctors in Britain who were smokers gave up smoking. The doctors have begun to set an example not because of an edict from the Secretary of State, or because of a Resolution of the House, but because they were reading and taking note of the reports and taking action themselves voluntarily. I should like particularly parents and young people to deal with the problem voluntarily, and I should like the House of Commons, after great reflection on the difficulties facing us in a free society, to consider whether we cannot give the nation a chance to hear the serious arguments against cigarette smoking so that people may decide for themselves.

The country is very lucky to have a person like my right hon. Friend as Secretary of State for the Social Services. He is a person of great sincerity—a word I have used already—and is himself greatly concerned about problems of this sort. I have not discussed it with him, but I am sure that he did not reach this decision lightly and that he did not think that a voluntary agreement was the only way. I am sure that he has looked at both sides of the question. His advice, which I accept, is that the best solution for the country is to see whether, by voluntary arrangement with the cigarette manufacturers, we can get their full co-operation and warn the public, by warnings on cigarette packs and in advertising, of the dangers of smoking, to warn the public by a vigorous campaign on television and in other ways.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is saying, and I agree with him, that it is better to have a voluntary agreement than an ill-conceived, ill-thought-out and badly drafted Bill and that a voluntary agreement between the companies and the Government is infinitely preferable to any kind of legislation. Is that the point the hon. Gentleman is making?

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

That is the point I am making; I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) has introduced the Bill which has returned to the House as a bad Bill, as a hotch-potch of half-considered solutions to problems and of ill-defined conditions and restrictions. I have no hesitation in saying that we cannot accept it as it is, and that I infinitely prefer the strong and voluntary measures which my right hon. Friend is recommending.

I should like to continue with some of the other aspects of the warning to the public which my right hon. Friend is suggesting. It is not only the warning on the cigarette pack or in the advertising, but the warning by means of an intensive campaign by the Health Education Council, the present expenditure of which on the dangers from cigarette smoking is only £100,000, which is nothing like enough. I should like my right hon. Friend to consult the advertising industry about the size of the expenditure necessary for a campaign to have the necessary effect and to back up his declared intention.

3.15 p.m.

In addition, my right hon. Friend offered on behalf of the Government to publish a league table of statistical analyses of tar and nicotine content, naming the brands. This is education of the public. It is a warning to the members so that they can say, "It seems that there is something in this. The doctors are giving up smoking, and the House of Commons is so concerned about the matter that it had three days of debate. Now we begin to see which are the safest cigarettes." This is a positive contribution, and a very important concomitant to the voluntary arrangement.

The manufacturers have been prepared to accept two restrictions on their sales effort. First, there is the restriction on television campaigns, a most potent form of advertising for this type of immediate purchase. This is virtually a campaign to restrict the purchase of cigarettes. They have also agreed to publish every six months these league tables of such telling facts.

But we are dealing with a very delicate problem. I have referred to my right hon. Friend being obviously very much worked up about the decision he should recommend. He made a statement in the House about the voluntary agreement and, in answer to one of my hon. Friends on the subject of sweet eating, he said off the cuff that in the case of cigarette smoking we were dealing with death. He did not mince his words. We all have to face the thought that my right hon. Friend left with us then, and the thought that many other hon. Members have left with us.

I do not think that we need legislation, certainly not at this stage. I was criticised only last week for using a phrase about a gentleman's agreement. I know that the lawyers feel that a gentleman's agreement has no place in law, but it has a place in the House of Commons and in the minds of people, and it has a place as between Government and leaders of industry. I could cite many examples of Government seeking voluntary arrangements with industry. In the operation of the Health Service—in the medical practitioner service and the hospital service—there is a voluntary agreement on drug prices between the Government and the pharmaceutical manufacturers, and if the manufacturers break that voluntary agreement a very big stick comes into play. The Department has to see all the figures so that it may determine that the pharmaceutical industry is keeping its word about the promotion of sales of pharmaceuticals—

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) advocates the worth of a gentleman's agreement between Government and leaders of industry. Is he similarly advocating the worth of a gentleman's agreement between Government and trade unions?

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

Yes. It may surprise the hon. Lady to know that I agreed with her right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) in her contention from this side that we should have legislation of that kind. Before that, I had been one of the reluctant members who would have liked to see harmony in industry by means of which trade unions and employers could seek to achieve without legislation the goals that we think are practicable. It was because we have reached an impasse that I have, after a great deal of thought, favoured the need for a legislative structure. Voluntary arrangements did not work satisfactorily in the first place.

In the early part of 1968, as a member of the Opposition, I played a considerable part, in Standing Committee and in the Chamber, in the proceedings on the Trade Descriptions Bill. During the discussions on that Bill we pointed out many times the need for informing the consumer at the point of sale about the specific contents of products so that he could be better informed. The Act also refers to the need for advising the consumer on aspects of health and safety. This is a valuable contribution to our law.

There is a need for education and for moderation in the manner in which cigarettes are promoted by the manufacturers to the public. There is already a voluntary agreement about the manner in which they are advertised. The Government must continue to watch, and ask the advertising industry to watch, the manner in which the advertising of cigarettes is conducted. There has been some criticism that some of the advertising has not been sufficiently close to the agreement about promoting one brand against another. While I should not like the Government to be the watchdog in this matter, the House of Commons could be a watchdog.

In the advertising industry there are two non-statutory bodies—one for television, which does not fit this case as there is no advertising of cigarettes on television, and the Advertising Standards Authority, a voluntary body which watches over the content of all advertising before it appears. I hope that it will be warned to ensure that the advertising abides by those limits and moderation for which we have asked.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

My hon. Friend has made an interesting suggestion, but I am not sure whether it is practicable. How can the advertising industry so organise itself that it becomes judge in its own court? It is handling advertisements through all the media. If a cigarette is advertised, as many of them are, with the statement, "The finest quality cigarette", will it be said that, because of the kind of report which we have had from medical people, such a slogan should not be used? I do not see how the advertising industry can come into this matter. It must be a matter of the self-restraint of the manufacturers rather than for the advertisers.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

It is not a question of the industry acting as its own judge and jury. The industry, through the Advertising Standards Authority, has a committee composed of some people in the industry and many who are not in the industry. For example, there are a number of doctors on some of the sub-committees of the Authority who consider the health aspects of certain products. It is not for them to say whether a certain phrase is right. Two weeks ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South thought that there was sex symbolism in some cigarette advertising. That is the sort of thing which the Advertising Standards Authority can consider and ensure that suggestions about the advantages of smoking are removed from advertising.

There is also a need for choice. I emphasise what many speakers have said, namely, that there is medical evidence, in this country and particularly in America, to prove that if it is difficult to persuade people to give up cigarette smoking because of addiction to the habit, we are halfway to the objective of persuading them to give it up if we can offer them some form of smoking which is less dangerous, and is proven to be less dangerous, to health. I am referring to pipe smoking and cigars.

In the Bill as drafted—and I am not sure how it is drafted now in view of all the Amendments proposed to it—pipe smoking and cigars were bracketted as being as dangerous as cigarettes. This would be a pity, because it is a let-out for the person who can be persuaded by the warnings and the education to give up cigarette smoking for something less harmful.

It would be wrong for us to suppose that by education we mean to frighten. My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South has often used in his speeches about the Bill a phrase about his intention about the warning on the pack that the warning to the public should be lurid. The warning put forward to us by my right hon. Friend is much more sensible, because it does not go out to frighten. The phrase is a much more sober one, a less lurid phrase.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

All I want to say to my hon. Friend—to give him a breather—is that I would not like him misleading the House in any way, and that I did not say "lurid". The phrase which I used over and over again—indeed, I may say with deep humility that I coined the phrase—was "lurid, graphic, and covering one-sixth of the superficial external area of the container".

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

I have not heard my hon. Friend speak from behind me instead of, as is usual, in front. It is a little disturbing to find my hon. Friend popping up in all quarters of the House.

I honestly do not believe that the tobacco industry is fighting the Government on this issue. Of course, it is fighting for something. It is fighting to stay in business. It is fighting to try to overcome the danger which its product produces, but I do not think it is fighting the Government on this. I think it is really intent on matching the Government's intention to find a warning to the public of the danger from the product and to help in every way; the industry recognises the problems caused by the misuse of its product and wants to co-operate with the public and the Government to improve public health, and it is prepared to accept limitations on how it sells cigarettes.

Let us get in perspective what it is we are talking about. It is the human habit of smoking, one to which a great many people are addicted. We are not talking about something much more serious such as the sale or purchase of firearms or of drugs or of aphrodisiacs. We are talking about something hitherto thought to be a natural, social pattern of behaviour, and it is the Government who have begun to change that pattern.

I do not regard smoking as harmful in all or any circumstances whatever. Although I have given up cigarettes I still smoke cigars. While I accept the sincerity of the hon. Member for Willesden, West, and I know he would like us to succeed in stopping everyone from smoking—if possible, I should like that, too—I think it is very wrong in any way to force them to do so. There are certainly some occasions on which people feel rather the better for a smoke. I remember that I myself in certain moments of strain or minor strain have reached for a cigarette. On occasion, I confess, having waited a long time to speak in this Chamber, and not having been called, I have left it for a smoke or a drink. It is a platitude to say, "Moderation in all things", but moderation there should be. I must confess that I have found that I can make a better speech if I have one whisky and soda. I certainly do not make a better speech by having two.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

Yes, it depends on the hour. Indeed, late at night, or 10 o'clock, I have been advised by the Whips to go and "have a large one", after I have been sitting here waiting to speak and have been disappointed. Perhaps that was good advice.

The Royal College of Physicians in its excellent book recommends certain steps towards changing people's behaviour patterns and advises them to smoke less and not to inhale. In fact, the book gives five sensible pieces of advice in regard to moderation by smokers.

I have probably already spoken for too long, though I have not as yet sensed any feeling in the House that I have been too lengthy, but I have had a strong note from my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South, who is now in front of me, that he would like to have an opportunity to say a word or two before we end the day.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

That was not the purpose of the note. The purpose was to enable one or two of the three doctors now present in the House, two of whom are sponsors of the Bill, to say a few words on the Bill.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

My hon. Friend knows that I have already paid my respects to those hon. and hippocratic friends and I certainly would like to see them come in on this debate.

I conclude by saying that I regard the Bill as something of a hotch-potch. I believe that a voluntary arrangement would be preferable. I believe that such an arrangement would work and I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would watch to see that it did work and is conscious that he wishes to serve the interests of the House and of the whole country to that end. I feel that the Bill would be out of character in a parliamentary sense if it stays as it is. I should like to see Parliament offer a solution to the problem by a voluntary method and I wish that voluntary method success.

3.30 p.m.

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading

As one of the medical sponsors of the Bill, I have listened with interest to all the arguments I had expected today to be talking about the medical aspects, but I feel that I should be "flogging a dead horse" since it is clear from the discussion we have had that there is no argument in the House on the medical dangers involved.

Photo of Mr Michael Fidler Mr Michael Fidler , Bury and Radcliffe

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that somebody who may not be able to stop smoking might not take that view. Has he heard about the gentleman who was so upset by reading all about smoking and its link with lung cancer that he decided to give up reading? Would he apply his mind to the advantages that some smokers see in the habit in which they indulge and the fact that, in some people's minds, conclusive evidence has not yet been produced?

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading

We would all agree that cigarette smokers are susceptible to dangers, but there is a very much wider issue of social significance. Underlying the question whether cigarettes should be labelled, there is the great problem of what a community should do when, for many years, it has been accustomed to take up something which is a very great social comfort. We must admit that it is a means of breaking down social barriers and gives cigarettes a certain status. It is rather sad that advertising tries to cash in on this element.

Cigarette smoking is also a powerful stimulus; it helps jaded and tired minds. We all know that a great many people are not only dependent on smoking but are seriously addicted to it. Therefore, however strong minded they may be, if they try to stop smoking they face not only social difficulties but also difficult symptoms of withdrawal. One cannot say how difficult this is unless one has actually experienced it.

I am a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and I followed its researches with a great deal of interest and care. We have already heard that doctors led in this matter by giving up or reducing smoking among themselves and turned to pipes and cigars, which we still think are probably safer. I remember the dismay in the medical profession at the results of the study that was done on ourselves, and we discovered how many of our number had died during the five years of the study. When I was a house surgeon working in a chest unit I was dismayed by the large number of people who faced a horrific and terrible death. This has stayed as a lasting impression on my mind.

The problem is, what does the community do? Society is not ready to stop smoking altogether. I accept all the recommendations of the Royal College and I do not think they go too far, as many people have suggested. I have many points on this which I intended to bring up today but which I will keep for the Bill which is to be brought forward by the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt). I accept the observations which have been made, but I do not think that society is yet ready to stop smoking altogether.

Some time ago I laid a motion before the London County Council which was intended to reduce the licensing of cinemas and places where people could smoke in public. We were there discussing two freedoms, the freedom to smoke and the freedom not to breathe in other people's smoke. That motion was defeated by a small number of votes. When I recently tried to get my colleagues on the Greater London Councvil to support a similar motion it was thrown out unequivocally because people felt that it was an intrusion into their freedom of action. This may be the result of Stansted and the other great defences of freedom we have seen. We all feel that we must be careful to see that our lives are not intruded upon.

We are left with a great educational issue. I have many teenage patients. I know that they have increased the amount of smoking they do and that they are unaware, despite what has been said here, of the dangers they are running. Those who are aware find it difficult to be concerned about something which could make them ill possibly in 10, 20, or 30 years' time.

I do not accept what the tobacco industry has told me about advertising merely shifting people from one brand to another. Although the total sales may stay the same, advertising shifts smoking from one group of people to another so that, for instance, there has been an increase in the number of women smokers, and in the number of teenage smokers. Teenagers are smoking earlier and in greater quantities. I do not blame them, because it is a status image and helpful to them socially.

I should like to see all advertising stopped. If we are logical about this, we cannot expect people to break off a habit immediately, but we can stop spending millions of £s inviting them to do something which is dangerous.

Photo of Mr Michael Fidler Mr Michael Fidler , Bury and Radcliffe

If my hon. Friend feels that there is conclusive proof that smoking causes cancer, why does he not go the whole way and ask for a complete prohibition on the manufacture and sale of cigarettes? If he were to do that, I would accept his argument.

Photo of Dr Gerard Vaughan Dr Gerard Vaughan , Reading

I have not made myself plain on this. Society will not obey laws it is not ready to obey. We should be bringing the law into disrepute if we introduced legislation which could not be enforced. We must accept that people are likely to go on smoking. I think we are all agreed that steps must be taken to bring before people the danger of smoking, but not necessarily to prevent them from doing so. For example, it is wrong to use in advertising the theme of racing cars, to suggest that smoking add's to one's virility, that it adds to one's status and is a cool, refreshing, pleasant experience. These things are misplaced, misguided and very irresponsible. Advertising of that kind should stop. I hope that the trade will agree with my right hon. Friend that the committee which watches its advertising should take a much firmer line on matters of this kind.

The time is very late and I am conscious that my hon Friend wishes to have the last say in this very interesting debate. Whatever happens to the Bill now, it has served a most useful purpose. It has drawn not only our attention but the attention of the country to this problem. The steps which my right hon. Friend and the industry are considering are a very important and useful first stage in the programme that my hon. Friend has in mind.

I and my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford) met representatives of the Imperial Tobacco Company the other day. We met their medical representative. In fairness to that company, I should say that we were very impressed by the way in which it had seen the writing on the wall and by the sincerity with which its representatives explained to us what they were trying to do in seeking a safer alternative for those addicted to the stimulant side of tobacco-smoking.

As a result of our debates on the last few Fridays, I have great hopes that we shall now see a sincere and genuine move to a programme of education on this subject.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

It is rare, if not unique, that a private Member has been able to secure almost eight hours of debate on a Private Member's Bill on the Floor of the House of Commons, albeit divided between three Fridays—in spite of a great deal of filibustering in opposition to the Bill, by talking at inordinate length on relatively minor preceding Measures. But I shall not dwell on that because the record will show that those participating in the delaying tactics very substantially represented tobacco and cigarette constituencies and were truly reflecting the apprehensions of large numbers of workers in those constituencies, and for that reason they were advancing very legitimate views in opposition to a Measure which they felt might make a threat to their future employment.

I have no recrimination in regard to the views of my right hon. Friend, and I shall not indulge in any acrimony in this matter. We are entirely at one in seeking progress towards a desirable objective, which is not the total elimination of smoking—which, for all the reasons given over and over again in these debates, is impracticable anyway—but the securing, by one means or another, of a substantial diminution in the amount of tobacco smoking, with special emphasis on a diminution of the consumption of cigarettes.

I have always taken the view that if we were to legislate at all we should legislate over the whole field. The arguments in favour and against legislating over the whole field, for health warnings against the consumption of tobacco and tobacco products, were debated at great length in Committee and should not be repeated on the Floor of the House, because I accept that my right hon. Friend, in insisting upon legislation, if at all, in the context of cigarettes alone, would be covering approximately 87 per cent. of the whole field of tobacco consumption.

The deep divide between my right hon. Friend and myself may be summarised in these terms. He believes that a voluntary agreement would be efficacious. I do not. In this last ditch that I stand in now, I believe that legislation is imperative. But I have never suggested that legislation is the only effective method of making progress. Those on both sides of the House who have imputed to me all legislative intent to secure my objective are quite wrong. Legislation is only one aspect of a very wide, difficult and complex social and economic problem covering what my right hon. Friend described, in the only words of his which have registered with me at all, as "deep addiction".

3.45 p.m.

I have known my right hon. Friend for 20 years. I have sat with him in the House since 1953, when he first came in. I know him to be a man of honour, integrity and warm friendship, and these are all qualities that I am gratified to enjoy with my right hon. Friend's company in this House. I accept, therefore, that he is trying by his means to make progress towards a very desirable objective.

The most telling point in this long debate on an economic aspect of the matter was made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), and it may be summarised in a few words: the cost to the National Health Service. I remind my right hon. and learned Friend that, when I introduced the Bill on 15th December last, the occasion was curious, since it was the beginning of the second day's debate on the Second Reading of the Industrial Relations Bill, and the House was packed—[Interruption.] I got up early in the morning to get that place. If I get up at four o'clock in the morning so that I may be first in the queue, I deserve to succeed.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

The hon. Gentleman's party are in favour of voluntary agreements, not only on industrial relations but on the subject of smoking.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

I defined closely how the health hazards should be applied.

All Governments confronted with this problem are hesitant if not apprehensive about legislating. There is a well-known story about the late Labour Government which has the ring of truth about it. The Minister of Transport of the day, the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), asked all her Ministerial colleagues to be certain to wear seat belts when driving their motor cars. The reply came rapidly from the then Minister of Health, Mr. Kenneth Robinson, "Yes, I will wear my seat belt if you will stop smoking." The right hon. Lady did not stop smoking. History will record elsewhere whether the Minister of Health wore his seat belt in his motor car.

The degree of confusion in the public mind which arises from an anecdote of that kind is to be found in one of the thousands of letters descending on me dealing with the subject of tobacco. About 80 per cent, say that I am a good chap. About 20 per cent. say that I am a "basket". But the degree of confusion is to be found in this message which reached me a few days ago from the Pedestrian Action Committee. It says: Dear Sir Gerald, We will pack up smoking if you will pack up motoring. Both habits are filthy and anti-social. Of course, there are varying opinions on this matter. In certain circumstances, motoring is anti-social. I listened to a B.B.C. programme this morning giving reliable evidence of the effects on hospitals and the cost to the National Health Service of crazy driving on our motorways. My right hon. and learned Friend made in much more graphic terms the point I made shortly on 15th December last on the cost to the National Health Service of the appalling ravages arising from smoking.

This morning, it was reported how discontented the British Medical Association was with the conduct of the National Health Service in present circumstances. There is never enough money for hospitals, clinics or research. There never will be. Yet we are wasting, as near as medical experts can assess, about £100 million a year of the National Health Service Vote in treating chronic diseases arising from cigarette and tobacco consumption.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

My hon. Friend, who is an opponent of that view—a single voice—has not entered the Chamber during our long debates until a few moments ago.

Photo of Mr Michael Fidler Mr Michael Fidler , Bury and Radcliffe

On a point of order. My hon. Friend must not make that accusation. I have been here throughout this afternoon's discussion, even if my hon. Friend has not.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

There is no doubt about the B.M.A. view on what I have been endeavouring to do, with 11 stalwarts of all political parties. The 12 sponsors of the Bill comprise seven Tories, four Labour Members and one Liberal and there are eight laymen and four medical doctors. One of the medical doctors who sponsors the Bill—my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Dr. Vaughan)—wound up a few moments ago from the medical point of view. Another of the doctors, my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Dr. Stuttaford) made the best speech in all the debates, including the Ministerial speeches, in Standing Committee in describing the ravages of cigarette smoking. I hope that that speech is widely circulated as truly the medical case against consumption of tobacco in all its forms.

I quote from the British Medical Journal Supplement of 8th May, 1971—that is tomorrow, but so close am I to the B.M.A. that it sent me an advance copy marked "Confidential", and stamped eneath the "Confidential" was "Release 7th May", which is today. I quote from page 92 because I want these two passages to be recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT as the absolute support of the entire medical profession for what we have been trying to do legislatively in the Bill and the absolute rejection of the voluntary agreement basis. This is what the British Medical Association has printed: The Secretary of State for Social Services has announced the voluntary agreement of the tobacco manufacturers to print a clear warning on cigarette packets that smoking can damage health. The Council —the British Medical Council— insists that such a warning be made a legal obligation which is applied to the retail sale of all manufactured tobacco products". Two points are there endorsed for the legislative approach. The first is that it must be legally obligatory. The second is that it must apply to all tobacco products, including cigarettes.

The article continues: …the Association —that is the British Medical Asso-ciation— supports legislation which would make it compulsory for all containers of any manufactured tobacco offered for retail sale within the United Kingdom to be labelled in a prominent place on the outside of the container with the following statement:'Smoking IS harmful to health'. Those words are enshrined in Amendment (c) and although there will be no vote on the Clause Mr. Speaker has said that there may be a vote, if desired, on the text of the words. I, for myself and the sponsors of the Bill, reject the Ministerial approach to this matter over the warning on the side of the packet. We think that it is bad, insufficient, flabby, innocuous, and we think it unlikely to succeed. The Ministerial words are: Warning by H.M. GovernmentSmoking can damage your health. I seek to substitute the B.M.A. terminology which is: Smoking IS harmful to health". On that I think we should vote.

I want to read a letter received by my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, South (Sir B. Rhys Williams) from the Secretary of the Rosenheim Committee, Dr. C. M. Fletcher. That is the committee which produced this admirable report "Smoking and Health Now" a few weeks ago. Dr. Fletcher gives his permission for this letter to be read in the House of Commons. It says: Dear Sir Brandon,I write to ask you as my representative in Parliament to vote for the Tobacco and Snuff (Health Hazards) Bill at the Report stage on Friday, April 23rd. This Bill will, in my view, provide much more effective action to deter peope from smoking cigarettes than the rather weak provisions outlined by Sir Keith Joseph. In view of the enormous shortening of life at present caused by cigarette smoking it is of the utmost importance that the Bill should be passed. I greatly hope that you will be able to support it.Yours, sincerely,C. M. FLETCHER, C.B.E., M.D., F.R.C.P. There is no doubt that the whole of medical opinion in Britain is on the side of the sponsors of the Bill and myself.

My right hon. Friend misled the House very gravely last week, no doubt inadvertently, when he alluded to the fact that there were no provisions for advertising or steps against advertising in the Bill. He was responding to the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker). I made is clear in Committee that the Title of the Bill was drawn wide enough to include a new Clause on Report which would, if necessary, prohibit advertising altogether. Hon. Members will recall my words. I said that there was a new Clause set down to prohibit advertising in the name of the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) but that it was not selected.

The reason why it was not selected was a very reasonable one. If we eliminate Clause 3 of the original Bill and substitute new Clause 3, then we provide a limited control of advertising and the hon. Member's Clause would be deemed out of order. I said in Committee, and I repeat now, that it ought to be a decision for the whole House, not for a Standing Committee of 16 members, to decide whether tobacco and cigarette advertising is totally banned.

I conclude by saying that I remain undeterred in my determination to secure legislation in this area. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary should not grin at that statement. I hope to have many more parliamentary sittings this Session, many more opportunities. Manifestly when the voluntary agreement fails it will be my opportunity to return and to propose legislation again either here or with my colleagues in another place. My support is a majority support in both Houses of Parliament. I am determined to pursue this and to demonstrate that if it were a free vote the vote would be overwhelmingly for this legislation—

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

—and not for what I regard as a malignant minority which has deliberately deferred our decision in this important area because it is hesitant about proceeding against the tobacco industry—

It being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday next.