Clause 3 - Advertising: newspapers, periodicals etc.

Part of Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 1 February 2001.

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Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 3:00, 1 February 2001

I am conscious that we shall soon be interrupted by Divisions in the House. I have no wish to hold up our proceedings. We have a firm end date for the Committee proceedings and it is important to us to ensure that we spend enough time on the measures that we regard as important. By not putting any mileposts into the timetable, the Government have left us with the responsibility of doing just that. We can have a relatively short clause stand part debate. That is not because the clause is not important. It is important. It is hard to debate such clauses without debating the defences. I want to probe the Minister a little about how the clause will work in practice. We spent little time on Second Reading discussing enforcements.

Staff in corner shops and newsagents work extremely hard. The hours are often anti-social, and it is literally a rush in the rush hour, with many commuters in the shop, and school children calling in to buy sweets. Shop workers are ill-prepared to meet the challenge that clause 3 sets them, particularly with regard to newspapers, periodicals and other products that contain tobacco advertisements. It is not easy for those who sell publications or offer them for sale, as defined in subsection (c).

How will the clause be enforced? Will trading standards officers visit every corner shop to ensure that each newsagent has checked hundreds of periodicals and expect him to put his hand on his heart, and say, ``Well, I assure you that, as far as humanly possible, I have checked that the publications on sale in my premises do not contain tobacco advertising—but, of course, I could always make a mistake.''?

Such checks would involve much work for trading standards officers, and they are already stretched in fulfilling the important duties that they undertake. Many corner shops and newsagents selling publications could be caught by the clause. How would it work in practice?