Clause 8 - Displays

Part of Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 14 May 2002.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 4:30, 14 May 2002

Thank you, Mr. Amess, and welcome back to the ultimate sitting of this Committee. It will be an emotional time for us all, and we will be sorry when the guillotine falls at 7 o'clock.

I was responding to the Minister's not entirely adequate response to the amendment. When Mr. Winterton rose, I was in the middle of reiterating the load of complete nonsense that came from the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire (David Taylor), who contradicted himself when drawing an analogy between jackboots and our contention that we need to tie down as much of the contents of the Bill as possible.

Amendments Nos. 38 and 27 address a need for clarity, as I said earlier. It would be much more satisfactory if the issue of the definition of ''display'', as distinct from ''advertisement'', could be resolved in the House of Commons—or, more particularly, in Committee—rather than being left to wide-ranging regulations. However, I fear that that will not be, unless the Minister has a change of heart. By approving the clause without the amendments, we are yet again signing up to the unknown.

When the clause was debated in another place, the Minister made it clear that it represents a reserve power that will not necessarily be exercised, and that point was repeated this morning. However, from what the Minister and their lordships have said hitherto, I do not understand how it is possible to avoid the need to define the word ''display'' in regulations, because not to do so leaves shopkeepers and others open to colossal legal uncertainty. We are leaving an enormous amount of territory to be exploited by lawyers if the provisions are changed by regulation, and there are large grey areas in the clause for those at the sharp end who have to deal with the regulations in their places of business. We should be resolving that uncertainty as we debate the Bill, not after it has been enacted.

I am aware that we are still woefully behind in our consideration of the Bill, having reached only

clause 8—just over a third of the way into the Bill—in this, our last sitting. That is despite our attempts this morning, at Mr. Winterton's instigation, to get a move on. We do not want to leave large quantities of the Bill undebated in Committee, but I fear that that is what will happen.

In the interests of trying to speed on into the next clause, and with a degree of protest, I shall not push the amendment to a vote, although I do not think that it has been responded to adequately. We may well want to return to the subject on Report, unless the Minister gives us further assurances before then. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.