We had a brief discussion on amendment No. 11, the purpose of which is to delete from section (2) (g) the words "considers necessary". This relates to information which he might require. I suggested that the wording used by the draftsman in other parts of legislation, "may reasonably require", would be more appropriate. In reply the Minister said the reason he considered it better wording was that in the event of a tobacco firm disputing the information they should give, the phrase "considers necessary" would give him more power than the phrase "may reasonably require". That is the very aspect which I pointed out in support of the amendment. If there is a dispute as to whether the Minister is over-stepping what a Minister for Health could legitimately seek by way of information on the operation of tobacco firms, the wording "may reasonably require" would strengthen the Minister's hand if the dispute were to find its way into the courts. I have no reason or desire, to hold up the business of the House and I would ask the Minister to consider whether he would be safeguarding himself more by using the wording which has been tried in legislation and which apparently works. I refer particularly to section 15 of the Restrictive Practices Act, 1972.
Tobacco Products (Control of Advertising, Sponsorship and Sales Promotion) Bill, 1978: Committee Stage (Resumed).
Amendments Nos. 12 and 14 in the names of Deputies Dr. O'Connell and Dr. Browne. Amendment No. 14 is related.
Can I move the amendments?
We only move one at a time. We will take amendment No. 12. Let Deputy Boland move them and, if the Minister is accepting them, that is all right.
I am prepared to accept amendments Nos. 12 and 14.
I take it that Deputy Boland is moving amendment No. 12.
I will move amendment No. 12 and accept it at the same time. I move amendment No. 12:
In page 3, subsection (2) (h), line 28, to delete "control or regulation".
As Deputies will see, section (2) (h) talks about the prohibition, control or regulation of any offers to sell tobacco products of a particular brand at prices lower than those otherwise obtaining for that brand by making available to persons a coupon or similar document or otherwise. There are no circumstances in which we would either control or regulate. All we would do would be prohibit, so I am agreeable to the amendment which eliminates the words "control or regulation" from section (2) (h). The paragraph will then read "the prohibition of any offers to sell tobacco products".
There is some question of the deletion of a comma which would be necessary after the words "the prohibition".
The comma is deleted.
Deputy O'Connell, amendment No. 12 has been agreed.
It was moved by me on the Deputy's behalf.
Amendment No. 14 has also been agreed but we have not reached it yet. Amendments Nos. 13 and 25 may be taken together.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 3, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following paragraph:
"(i) the prohibition, control or regulation of the sale of tobacco products at prices which are so much lower than those at which tobacco products of a similar type or character are at the material time being sold that the sale at the lower prices constitutes in the opinion of the Minister a sales promotion device,".
Since the Bill was framed and introduced my intention has been directed to a situation which could arise and which it is as well to deal with, that is, the practice of tobacco companies in launching new products to offer them at a discount price; in other words, at a price well below what they would normally charge. This is the same as any other mechanic of promotion. It is the same as advertising. It is another device whereby a tobacco company promotes the sale of its products. My amendment is intended to deal with that situation. It would prevent the sale of a particular brand of cigarettes at a price which is clearly below its normal market value, a price which amounts to a sales promotion device. At this stage I want to amend my amendment. I am doing so to keep it in line with the adoption of amendments Nos. 12 and 14. Deputies will notice that my amendment, as it is presently phrased, reads, "the prohibition, control or regulation of the sale of tobacco products". As in the other case, no circumstances would arise in which we would control or regulate this device. All we would do is prohibit it. I want to take out the words "control or regulate" plus the comma. Therefore the amendment will read:
In page 3, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following paragraph:
"(i) the prohibition of the sale of tobacco products at prices which are so much lower than those at which tobacco products of a similar type or character are at the material time being sold that the sale at the lower prices constitutes in the opinion of the Minister a sales promotion device,".
Deputies will agree this is a necessary power to take.
An amendment to the Title comes in at this stage.
I will explain that. In order to do this it is necessary for us to amend the Title to the Bill, and amendment No. 25 proposes to do that—to take out of the Title the word "advertising" and to substitute "promoting the sale of".
The amendment, as amended, is now before the House.
I agree with what the Minister has said but would it not be much simpler and more comprehensive to ban the lot completely? The Bill is only trying to close loopholes.
We would have to mention this device specially anyway because it would not be under the genetic heading of advertising.
It is a promotional aid.
It is as well to spell it out specifically. In the amended version, of course, the comma after "prohibition" will be deleted.
I move amendment No. 14:
In page 3, subsection (2) (i), line 33, to delete "control or regulation".
I move amendment No. 15:
In page 3, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following paragraph:—"() the prohibition of entering into a contract to broadcast any kind of advertising of tobacco products by any person engaged in broadcasting by means of wireless telegraphy, television or similar broadcasting media, whether or otherwise such broadcasts are made in accordance with the Wireless Telegraphy Acts,".
The purpose of this is to endeavour to achieve two things. The advertising of tobacco products is not prohibited by statute, contrary to what might be inferred by contributions this morning. By agreement such advertising has been prohibited by the RTE Authority. It seems strange to have in legislation the headings under which a number of regulations can be made but not to refer to the broadcasting medium simply because the RTE Authority by agreement had decided not to allow tobacco advertising. It is something they themselves do not allow under the heading of unacceptable products or services in the same way as they will not allow advertising of smoking cures, an interesting feature in the light of the Minister's exhortation.
There are two things that can happen. First, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility, with the technological advances taking place, that in a relatively short time an independent television authority may be licensed to broadcast in the future, but there is not any proposal in the Bill to suggest that such an authority would not be allowed to carry advertising for cigarettes, and the entire debate might have to be re-opened. In addition, we all know there are many organisations, known as pirate radios, who are broadcasting and there does not appear to be anything to stop them advertising cigarettes because the State appears to be unable to move to prevent them broadcasting. However, since I tabled this amendment the appropriate Minister has indicated that it is his intention to move against illegal broadcasters. The effect of this amendment would be that in the event of any independent authority being licensed to run a television system the Minister would have power to make regulations to prohibit such a station from carrying tobacco advertising.
I appreciate the suggestion by the Deputy, but I am advised this proposal is not necessary. In section 2 (2) (a) I have the power by regulation to prohibit particular kinds of advertising and that would cover advertising on radio, television or anywhere else. I propose to take that power in the regulations.
I move amendment No. 16:
In page 3 between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following subsection:—
"() The Minister may by regulation amend or revoke regulations under this section (including a regulation under this subsection).".
It appears rather strange that when the Minister was providing himself with discretionary powers to make regulations he did not give himself power to amend or extend these regulations or any aspect of them. This amendment gives us an opportunity for discussion on this matter.
I am grateful to the Deputy but this is already covered fully by section 3 (15) of the Interpretation Act, 1977, which applies to all regulations made in subsequent legislation unless specifically stated to the contrary in the legislation. Under that section of the Interpretation Act I have all the powers of amendment or revocation I might require.
I move amendment No. 17:
In page 3, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following subsection:—
"() Prior to the making of regulations under this section the Minister shall have consultations with such persons as appear to him to be substantially interested in the general subject matter of the regulations.".
When the Minister was introducing the Bill he stated it was his intention to have discussions with the different people who might be affected in various ways by the making of these regulations. From listening to the debate I am inclined to think that only angels and those opposite to them appear to be involved in this. Although the measure is obviously worth while, it must be accepted that it has to be done in an orderly fashion, to use the Minister's expression. The regulations to be made would be strengthened, I would have thought, by the Minister having discussions not only with the tobacco interests but also with the bodies who have been receiving sponsorships. It does not appear from the Bill as if there is any obligation placed on the Minister to hold such consultations.
In an earlier contribution I referred to the Merchandise Marts Act under which the Minister in question, when he intends to make an order in relation to advertising, must publish a note in Iris Oifigiúil of his intention to make a regulation two months before making it.
I thought that was excessive but in section 2 of the Merchandise Marks Act he provided that prior to the making of an order the Minister would have "consultation with such persons as appeared to him to be substantially interested in the general subject matter of the order". I thought we might look at the suggestion that the Minister should have the same provision written into section 2 (2) of this Bill which would mean that he would have consultations with the interests who will be affected.
I referred already to the possibility that if this Bill is not as watertight and effective as it might be, action could be taken by the interests involved in an effort to negate the Minister's intent. I thought that if he were obliged to have consultations with those interests before he made the regulations, which would then be published and available to us all, there might be a better opportunity to have the regulations administered effectively without their being challenged.
This is the kind of amendment I would like to accept but unfortunately the exigencies of the situation are such that I could not possibly do so. I have given an undertaking to consult and I am afraid the various interests concerned will have to be satisfied with that. I could not attempt to bind a successor in office on a matter like this. It just happens that my approach to this matter is that I believe consultation would be desirable and I propose to do that but that is a long way from making it statutory on the Minister to have consultations. The Deputy's amendment is very widely framed in that he suggests that consultations be mandatory with such persons as appear to him to be substantially interested in the general subject matter. That would open up an enormous field. Whatever about the desirability of consulting with the commercial interests and perhaps the trade union representing the workers involved and a few limited areas of that nature, I do not think we could possibly undertake to consult all those who might have an interest. That could include the medical profession and a variety of bodies who would claim, with some legitimacy, to have an interest.
While I have undertaken to consult as far as possible, and I will adhere to that undertaking, I ask the Deputy not to press this amendment and not to put what could turn out to be a very onerous obligation on a Minister for Health.
I would point out that the same reason why the Minister would find the provision inoperable should apply equally to the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy operating the Merchandise Marks Act in relation to his making an order regarding the way goods are to be marked as to their contents and the weight of the contents. In the same way as this Minister considers there might be a wide variety of people with whom he would have to consult in relation to the regulations, the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Energy equally could say that he would have to consult with a wide variety of interests, including trade unions, packers, markers, retailers, wholesalers and so on. Apparently he did not object because he put more strictures on himself than even I had suggested. He put on himself the obligation of publishing a notice of his intention to make an order two months beforehand. From that point of view I do not think there would be an undue obligation on the Minister for Health.
I am intrigued to hear the Minister express concern for his successor. Usually it is the other way around——
I may very well succeed myself, of course.
The Minister has tried about everything else. I would not be surprised if the Minister tried to succeed or to exceed himself. I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to an aspect which I omitted to mention when I moved the amendment in relation to sponsorship. The Minister reminded me of it when he referred to his successor. The example always given to the House at a time like this is that the successor may not turn out to be as reasonable a man as the Minister of the day. We can all decide then the degree of reasonableness of the successor in relation to the reasonableness of the occupant of the office. The suggestion might be made that somebody would prohibit completely the sponsorship of a major event that was at an advanced stage of preparation and that he might do so two or three weeks before the event in question. Quite obviously this would cause extreme difficulties, if not the cancellation of the entire event. For that reason I should have thought the Minister would see the validity in the suggestion that he or his successor would have consultations with those interests. They would have the opportunity to point out to this unreasonable successor that it would not be feasible to cancel sponsorship at short notice where the event in question had been advertised and where much of the preparatory work had been done.
All the time we are assuming that the entire approach will be realistic. I have no reason to suspect otherwise but there is the distinct possibility that at a later stage someone may not be realistic. There is even the possibility that if the present Minister became irate and unreasonable if things were not going his way on a broad ministerial or political front, that because of pressure he might decide to make regulations in relation to sponsorship under this section which would not allow those involved to seek an alternative sponsor or to make arrangements about the event in question. From that point of view I should have thought it reasonable to suggest that the Minister should have consultations with them.
If this hallowed office is ever inherited by such an unreasonable person who would indulge in such capricious behaviour, I do not think the fact of compelling him to have mandatory consultations would be to any avail. The only thing we can rely on there is the normal democratic process.
The power of pressure politics.
There is no doubt that if the kind of situation described by Deputy Boland were to arise and the people concerned considered themselves hard done by, they would have the normal political avenues open to them to make their voices heard. The mere provision here of mandatory consultations would not help their cause in any way because if the Minister acted arbitrarily or capriciously in regard to making the regulations he would not give any great heed to the consultative process. There is always the fall back safeguard in this legislation, that is, that any regulation made in this House can be upset. Regulations must be laid on the table in the normal way and an opportunity is provided for the House to consider them and if it wishes to reject them.
I move amendment No. 18:
In page 3, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following subsection:—
"() Regulations made under this section for the prohibition of or control and regulation of, or restriction of expenditure on, advertising of tobacco products (or of the name or names of a brand or brands of tobacco products) shall apply equally to all advertisements appearing in printed newspapers, periodicals, journals or similar publications circulating within the State, whether or not such publications have been published within the State and, in any case in which advertising of a name of tobacco product (or name or names of a brand or brands of tobacco products) appears in publications published outside, but circulating within the State, similar to a name or names of tobacco products or brands of tobacco products on offer for sale within the State the regulations shall apply as if such advertisements were advertising the tobacco product (or brand of tobacco product) on offer for sale within the State."
This amendment is rather long and of necessity tortuous. The reason is that I am making an effort to deal with this question of over-spill advertising. There are three main firms in the tobacco industry in this country producing different brands of cigarettes. One is a native Irish firm and the others are offshoots of multinational firms.
The Minister intends to introduce legislation to control, limit or set a percentage of this year's advertising budget which they will be allowed to spend advertising in publications. That sounds reasonable and fair if the three firms are allowed to compete fairly and have their advertising budgets restricted in the same percentage. Because two of these firms are offshoots of multinational organisations they have the very real benefit of what is known as over-spill advertising, that is, the same brand of cigarettes and tobacco products manufactured here are also manufactured in Britain and other countries. There is a wide variety of publications, newspapers, periodicals and journals coming into this country either directly on sale here through retail outlets or being circulated to subscribers to those journals which are sent through the post. Consequently the two non-Irish firms have the benefit of enormous over-spill advertising which helps in the marketing of their products. The Irish firm does not advertise in the British printed media and consequently cannot benefit from that over-spill.
If we were to tell the three firms that they must only advertise to 80 per cent or 100 per cent of last year's advertising budget that would be fair as regards company A trading against company B, and vice versa but if company C is not getting the benefit of the over-spill advertising in the British publications which circulate in this State they are at a disadvantage.
I thought about this for quite some time, and I came to the conclusion that if the Minister intends to make regulations to limit the volume of advertising in the printed media for any particular tobacco product, these regulations should apply to the advertising of that product in publications circulated within this State but not printed here. For instance, if tobacco product X is manufactured here and regulations are made to control its advertising and if a similar tobacco product X is manufactured in Britain and advertised widely in British publications which circulate here, the regulations should apply also to that advertising. The firm manufacturing here and availing of the advertising over-spill in Britain should be compelled to curtail its advertising in this country to an even greater degree in order to maintain an equitable balance between advertising the three products. The question of fair trading is involved here.
This is the first time legislation to control advertising has been introduced. Presumably these firms will accept it when it is passed, but it should not be our intention to introduce legislation which would discriminate unfairly against an Irish based firm or which would not allow it to trade on equal terms with its two main rivals operating here. If an amendment along these lines is not incorporated in this legislation or if the Minister cannot deal with the over-spill advertising, the Irish firm will be affected and will be put at a disadvantage compared with the other firms.
The Minister said he hoped the firms advertising their products in Britain would take notice of this legislation and mend their hand accordingly because if they did not he would have to do something about it. If advertising needs to be controlled, provision should be made in this legislation. If it is not controlled now there is no way it can be controlled in one year's or two years' time when it is seen not to be working and we are not getting voluntary co-operation from these firms. There is an onus on the Minister, not as Minister for Health but as a Minister in an Irish Government, to ensure that no action of his will unfairly militate against an Irish firm.
As the Deputy is aware, my intention has been directed very specifically to this matter, which has caused a fair amount of concern and to which I have given some thought. The first point I want to make is that this situation has always prevailed. The firm which is mainly Irish has always had to compete so far as its two rivals are concerned with this over-spill situation. The other two companies, without doing anything, could get the benefit of considerable advertising campaigns carried out by their parent organisations in Britain, and the locally based firm has always had to deal with that situation, and dealt with it successfully. Nothing I am doing will change that. The fact that these firms operating here are subsidiaries of multinational organisations is something I cannot change and is something which this legislation and these regulations will not affect. The legislation will not make the situation any worse so far as the mainly Irish firm is concerned. However, it is my intention very definitely to ensure that nothing we do under this legislation will in any way disadvantage either the one Irish firm in relation to its competitors in Ireland or the three Irish firms in relation to competitors outside. I think the House will generally accept that principle to which I propose to adhere. I propose to ensure that the enforcement of these regulations will be general and impartial and that there will be no question of anything being done by the enforcement of these regulations, whether with regard to advertising or sponsorship, which will favour one against the other. There is certainly no question of favouring outside multinationals against the three companies which operate here. The regulations will be enforced in regard to all media circulating here. The stipulations we will lay down in regard to content and so on will be equally applicable to advertising emanating inside or outside the country.
There may be some problems in ensuring that this is the case, but we intend to solve those problems. We intend to ensure that all media circulating here will obey and adhere to the regulations we lay down. That is as far as we can go and as far as we need go. In so far as any company operating here benefits from or is disadvantaged by a relationship with a company outside the country, the situation exists at the moment and has always prevailed and will not be affected by these regulations.
It is possible that the impact and attractiveness of advertising emanating outside the country could give an unfair advantage to a particular product. We intend to ensure that this cannot happen by a strict application of the regulations. As to any overspill by virtue of the size of the advertising budget in Britain, there is nothing I can do about that.
What the Minister is now saying puts at nought the whole question of curtailing, regulating or controlling the amount of money spent on advertising. The Minister can take his Bill away with him because he will not be able to enforce it, for the simple reason that the tobacco companies will tell him they are at an unfair disadvantage vis-à-vis multi-national companies. This is a futile exercise.
The Deputy is not following up what he is saying.
Ban it all together and thus ban all advertising coming into the country. The Minister is trying to curtail or control or regulate. If he cuts back the advertising budgets of these companies, they will say they are at an unfair disadvantage. The Minister could ban advertising coming into the country, as happened in the case of the football pools.
The Deputy is assuming I will accept their first statement.
If I were a tobacco manufacturer and I saw the provisions in this Bill and heard the ever-vigilant Deputy Boland bringing out these points, I would be very happy knowing that the Minister for Health would not be able to curtail my advertising budget. I would feel very confident that he would not be able to do so. Deputy Boland is showing that the Minister has lost his case against the tobacco companies here. If the Minister curtails their advertising, they will tell him——
The Deputy is saying they will tell me something and assuming I will do something because of that.
The Minister said he would not allow them to be at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their counterparts in Britain and abroad, ergo we have a situation in which the Irish companies will say they are at an unfair disadvantage.
I will decide whether they are or not.
The Minister has lost his case.
That has been the Deputy's argument from the beginning.
It is not I but Deputy Boland who has put his finger on this. The Minister is powerless to deal with the advertising budgets. He is beaten from the start.
I reject that entirely. I do not know if the Deputy has given the same amount of thought and examination to this as I have. I would not expect it because it is not his responsibility. It is my responsibility and I have gone into this matter.
The Minister has not a monopoly of wisdom in this.
I did not say so.
The Minister has said——
Does the Deputy wish to come in on a point of order? The Minister is in possession.
On a point of order, I wonder if the Minister has the right to say that I would not have the interest in this that he would have. He has not the monopoly of interest. The fact that he is Minister for Health does not mean that he has the monopoly of interest in anything.
The Deputy has made his point. The Minister to continue.
The point I am making is that the Deputy has not the opportunity or resources available to him which I have in order to go into this measure in depth.
How does the Minister know? The Department of Health is no great fountain of wisdom or knowledge.
If the Deputy does not accept it I will not make an issue of it.
I do not accept it at all.
I have gone into it very carefully and in detail.
So have I.
The overspill of advertising is comparatively miniscule compared to local advertising resources. The amount of overspill here is of very minor dimensions in relation to the total advertising situation. That fact is clearly established, and I have the facts and figures. It is shown that the locally-based company have established a predominant position for themselves in the Irish market. Let us not exaggerate the impact of overspill, because it is of minor dimensions.
It is quite feasible for me and the Department to ensure that the regulations we make in regard to the nature and content of advertising will be adhered to in any media circulating here. That is the extent of our obligation in the matter. We have no obligation to enter into the machinations of multi-national companies, but we have an obligation to see that the regulations we make are adhered to. As far as the budgets of the companies here are concerned, the amount spent on advertising will be controlled. Advertising here and in Great Britain will diverge, because our regulations will be much more strict and coercive than those in Britain and the British advertising campaigns will be disqualified here.
I am satisfied that the objectives I have set can be reached. There will be difficulties but they can be overcome. We will control the budgets and the quality, type, content and impact of advertising emanating inside or outside the country. We will ensure in doing so that no unfair advantage is given to one organisation over another.
That is the very point I was making. That is what prompted the amendment. Speaking on Second Stage, referring to the disadvantage in which the Irish industry might be placed in relation to imported products, the Minister said:
I intend to ensure the Irish industry will not be placed at any disadvantage in this way. I believe that those concerned in the UK will respect the statutory standards imposed here but, if some do not, measures will have to be taken to deal with such a situation.
I am amazed that the Minister would expect those engaged in tobacco advertising in the UK to respect statutory standards imposed here. Is the Minister suggesting they will change their advertising or remove advertising from a variety of publications coming in here? I do not accept that the volume of advertising is of a miniscule nature and I do not accept that allowing it to continue, whilst restricting domestic advertising, will not operate to the disadvantage of the Irish firm. We all know that the Irish firm has a dominant place in the Irish market. The Minister was at pains this morning to point out that it is his intention to remove all outdoor advertising completely before the end of 1979. The Irish firm he speaks about as having a dominant place in the Irish market is also the dominant outdoor advertiser. It is the dominant outdoor advertiser because it is trying to compensate for the effect of overspill advertising here. Is it proposed that the Irish firm will lose its position as the dominant outdoor advertiser? The Minister says the firm will not be disadvantaged but it will lose its dominant position and it will not have an opportunity of benefiting from overspill advertising, which is not of a miniscule nature. The Minister then tries to convince the House that if British interests do not respect statutory demands he will take steps to deal with the situtation. What steps? The only spin-off benefits I can see are perhaps job creation. The Minister spoke this morning about the heavy cross he has to bear.
The Opposition is the cross I have to bear.
Suffer little children.
That cross can be taken from the Minister's shoulders at any time. He knows there is an easy way of having that burden removed completely.
We would be wise to get away from that cross now.
The Minister painted a harrowing picture. Is the Minister now, as well as all the other duties he has taken on himself—the role of liberal reformer, the only one in Ireland struck by a thunderbolt on the road to Damascus, the role of trying to drag the people, unwilling, kicking and screaming with him as he heads along at the——
——apex of his group of some 10,000 to 15,000 supporters and friends—he was not sure how many he had——
The only thing I was sure of is that they are increasing.
Perhaps we could get back now to overspill advertising.
Is the Minister now going to take upon himself the role of censor of publications? Will he go back to the situation where you had little groups of men at every port examining every journal to see whether or not advertising complied with regulations? The only way the Minister can make this work, if he is serious, is by having hundreds of men around every port armed with razor blades or a pot of paint and a brush to deal with advertisements that do not comply with our statutory demands. The Minister knows very well he cannot effectively control advertising.
We have to have something to replace the Contraception Bill. That will go now and there must be something to replace it.
We are certainly not dealing with contraception. Deputy Boland now on overspill advertising. That is what the amendment is about.
I hope the Minister will be more forthcoming when he produces his Bill on contraception as to how he intends to have it implemented.
Again, I will fall into the same situation. For some I will be going too far and for others not far enough. You can be certain of that.
So long as the Minister produces it by Christmas, as he promised, he will have gone some way along the road to lightening his cross.
I will take the Deputy's word for that.
The Minister has got a good deal of co-operation today but I think he ought to be honest with the House and explain the difficulties in regard to controlling advertising. Efforts were made to control football pools in the past quite unsuccessfully. I do not see how the Minister can possibly exercise control remembering that some of the Sunday papers sell more copies than some of the Irish daily papers sell everyday.
The News of the World sells 180,000 copies on Sunday.
I do not take that particular journal.
The Minister thanks God he is not like the rest of men.
Does it carry cigarette advertising?
The Deputy argues against himself because if there are 180,000 copies circulating that is enough to have a separate edition.
Apart from the major Sunday papers circulating you have a large variety of journals of limited interest.
These journals which might have a sale of several thousand copies——
They do not count.
They advertise tobacco products. I made it my business to check.
But we are talking about a circulation of 500,000 or 1,000,000.
I am talking about the cumulative effect of overspill advertising from a variety of journals with a circulation of several thousand copies plus the Sunday newspapers, the sort the Minister does not take, which have a circulation of 180,000 copies. I sometimes think that, if I keep on listening to the Minister, I will have to get to heaven because he seems to think he is there already.
That does not arise on the Tobacco Bill and the Chair would like the Deputy to get back to the amendment now.
I do not think the Deputy can suggest I am particularly sanctimonious because I do not take the News of the World.
We will leave heaven and hell for another occasion.
I invite the Minister to explain how he intends to operate this provision dealing with advertising.
The Minister might be able to help us on the matter of overspill advertising. Is it not likely that the kind of legislation he says he is going to introduce, the limitation of advertising in the Press, various types of magazines and newspapers will be paralleled particularly in English speaking papers and journals? That probably they are already very much more rigid than we are but that certainly they will come to the position in which we are now and which we hope to achieve and that in fact the problem will not arise because papers and magazines coming in will also have their advertisement restricted at the point of origin? Has the Minister any information on that?
I sympathise with the Minister. He deserves sympathy. It is very frustrating trying to bring in a Bill like this where there are limited powers. Certainly, the Minister has the best intentions in the world but his powers are very restricted. He says: "leave it to me; I will take care of it." It is not possible to do that. The Labour Court and Department of Social Welfare which we released yesterday as a result of transferring the stamps to the Department of Finance would, I think, now have to be absorbed into the task of checking all newspapers, magazines, periodicals, booklets and so on that are imported. English publications have a total circulation here of almost £1,000,000 in a week. That is a substantial sum. Again, with the curtailment in Britain of advertising on radio and television more and more advertising is placed in newspapers and periodicals. You have the problem that the vast bulk of advertising is being placed in newspapers, magazines and periodicals. I feel sorry for the Minister in his dilemma. First, he says he will curtail the budgets of Irish manufacturers, and secondly he says he will protect the interests of Irish manufacturers and see that they will not be placed at a disadvantage vis-à-vis English manufacturers. Knowing there is such a massive overspill from Britain, the only way he can do that is not to curtail the advertising budgets of the Irish manufacturers. So, we are back to square one. I think the Minister is a little peeved that we highlight these defects in the Bill. Anyone would be; I should be twice as much frustrated if I were sitting there.
I am only peeved at accusations of bad faith and lack of courage.
Intentions cannot be incorporated by means of say-so in a Bill—"I will take care of things." There is no such clause in the Bill. So, with the best intentions and with all the facilities and powers at his disposal, if the Minister died tonight another Minister would move in and he would not have the same good intentions. This is not in the Bill and so the Bill is a farce.
It would be very unfair for him to die after giving up cigarettes and drink.
The Bill is a farce unless we are able to say that our Minister should consult tomorrow with the British Minister for Health and Social Security and ask him to have a similar Bill introduced in Britain curtailing advertising. Then we might get some semblance of rationality about the whole matter. The Minister is trying to be ahead of his counterparts in Britain and other countries in this matter. His job is a very difficult one, but that does not mean he should not try. The Minister's dilemma is that he is going to curtail Irish advertising and at the same time Irish manufacturers will be reading these debates and will see that they have a case iron case against curtailment in the light of the overspill from Britain. I hate saying it but we are back to square one. The Minister might consider, when he is introducing a Bill like this and where there is a situation in which our neighbours can have such an influence on our economy and advertising, that consultations should take place with the British counterpart specially in regard to English magazines and newspapers. They could undermine the whole plan in this regard. I do not think the Minister could possibly undertake the task of curtailing them, nor would he have the power to restrict them at source. I am honestly sorry for the Minister, and I am not saying this patronisingly. I do not know what I should do. I do not know how he will come up with the proper answer. I know he is anxious to speak but it is very difficult for him and I shall now let him have his say.
Fortunately, I have infinitely greater belief in my own resourcefulness than has any Member of the Opposition.
Deputy O'Connell, where are you?
Has the Minister 42 followers?
A fact. A person representing an organisation vitally concerned in this matter set out in their own interest to quantify the impact of the advertising overspill in this country in relation to tobacco products. They were unable to do so. In my opinion this was because it is minor, miniscule, of no particular significance, and all the figures under all the different headings confirm that. That is just one factor of the situation which we can leave aside for the moment. I am not completely helpless in this situation. It just struck me listening to Deputy O'Connell that he in his personal capacity is in a position to know something about this area that I had forgotten about. Perhaps I may be permitted to withdraw the implication that I know a great deal more about this than he does, because I realise now that in another capacity perhaps he knows all about circulation figures and so on.
The next point I want to make is that I shall be meeting the British Secretary very shortly—next week in fact.
Very good. That is the answer.
But I did not have to wait for that event. We have been in touch with the situation for a considerable time now.
Has the Minister discussed this with him before now?
Certainly we have discussed it with him.
Did the Minister persuade him——
I cannot disclose the content of our discussion, but we have had other very important significant discussions—these are not between me and my counterpart; these are other discussions at official and other levels—but for a number of reasons I shall not elaborate on them here. However, I am quite satisfied from the course of these discussions and the explorations we have carried out that it will be possible to police and give effect to the regulations which we will make. Of course I cannot guarantee final 100 per cent effectiveness.
In so far as the extent of the problem is concerned I am satisfied that we can overcome whatever difficulties there are and we do not have to have men or women standing at ports with scissors.
There are other ways of dealing with it. One can go to other sources. Deputy Boland should know that there are centralised authorities in most of these areas to whom approaches can be made and who are prepared to listen to the voice of an independent sovereign Government and to take note of any statutory regulations which will be enforced in this country.
It is a pity that the Minister was not Minister for Health at the time of the thalidomide disaster, when they were not prepared to listen.
I am not too familiar with that.
The Minister was a Minister in the Government then. They would not listen.
That was a great tragedy, but I do not think there is any point in advertising to it in this context. We have studied the situation. We know the circulation figures and the impact they have. I am satisfied that we will be able to deal with the situation in the way I have outlined, namely we will ensure that, in so far as our jurisdiction is concerned, our wishes in regard to content and so on will prevail and at the same time there will be no real disadvantage to any of the three tobacco companies manufacturing in this country. It is possible to exaggerate the impact of overspill in advertising. A lot of the magazines coming in here which to some people have a certain prominence in advertising terms do not count. They are either weeklies or monthlies and their significance in advertising impact is negligible. Undoubtedly it is possible for some people to be overawed and get a false impression of the influence and effect of advertising in these magazines and journals. We are dealing here basically with a mass market, and complaints in this area to have any effect must be in the mass media. I am reasonably satisfied that we can deal with the situation in so far as the mass media are concerned.
In so far as the mass media are concerned there are three different things. There is the possible prohibition of advertising and the control and regulation of the content of the advertising. Is the Minister suggesting that he might try to control the content or copy of advertisements of tobacco products of the same name as are being marketed here in the British mass media circulating here?
If he does that that will be still putting the Irish firms at a disadvantage. The only Irish firm of the three engaged predominantly in the outdoor advertising market is going to lose the additional bonus of the spillover because outdoor advertising is to be scrapped in the next year. The Minister has not explained why, even if he controls the content of advertising in the British mass media circulating here, there will still be a larger volume of advertising of brands of cigarettes marketed by the two other main groups to the detriment of the Irish group. If that is the effect of what the Minister does it will be seen that he was making one firm operate at an unfair advantage over their competitors. I do not believe that that is the Minister's intention or the intention of the House, but if that were to happen it might upset the implementation or the continuance of regulations made under this Bill in every way. The Minister has endeavoured to indicate his belief in the way in which the people advertising in Britain might change their advertisements or that the effect of the overspill advertising is miniscule or that advertising in publications with a limited circulation here is of no consequence. Surely we are talking about the cumulative effect of advertising such as that. Surely all advertising has a consequence and some advertisements have more effect than others. To suggest that advertising in certain journals with limited publication has no consequence appears to be striking at the root of the cause for introducing the Bill in the first place. For a variety of reasons I do not accept the Minister's explanation in this matter. I am not going to withdraw the amendment.
Is it unreal for us to concern ourselves unduly about the possible survival of an industry on which we have served notice that we are going to deprive them of the right of advertising altogether and that therefore whether they suffer from overspill is not really very important? Eventually the Minister gives us to understand that he is going to curb all the advertising. Can he give us the figure that he said he would give us of the money involved in advertising? What is involved in tobacco companies advertising?
Has the Deputy finished his contribution?
The total extent of the expenditure by the tobacco companies in this jurisdiction is in the region of £5 million per annum, give or take a couple of hundred pounds. I gave a figure this morning of £1.25 million for outdoor advertising. That was a bit high; it is about £1.1 million. These are round figures. They are given to me in confidence and I do not want to disclose information here in the House which might be capable of being used by one competitor against another.
That is the point that Deputy Browne raised. We will be right to stop the advertising altogether. As things are at the moment the companies could pack up, leave the country, set up in Britain and export to Ireland. With their advertising in the English magazines they could do that. I would hope that the Minister's persuasive powers could be used on his counterparts in Britain. That is where the answer lies; to try to get them to do the same kind of thing, to be as progressive in legislative control and eventually phase out the entire advertising of tobacco products. If we could establish closer liaison with them so that they could help in this matter, this is the only way to do it. We could set a target of four years within which advertising would stop, and Britain could do the same. They should equally be concerned about the health of the public and the detrimental effect of cigarettes and other tobacco products. All tobacco products are detrimental to health.
He did say in the course of the debate that, no matter what anyone says, advertising, skilful promotion and sponsorship directly contribute to cigarette smoking and that it was idle, silly, useless and nonsensical to suggest otherwise. He eliminated the cinema and the poster. He has now eliminated the English papers and magazines that are circulated here. Does that not leave the mass circulation of papers here as the most important influence, which he is not touching? Is that a reasonable conclusion?
I accept that newspapers are the principal vehicle for advertising. With television and radio out of the way, the most effective form of advertising is the national daily and Sunday newspapers. I am not leaving them alone. I have been at great pains to explain that there is no question of leaving this form of advertising alone. I propose to control, first of all, its extent and volume and, secondly, its content. I propose to impose severe restrictions on the content, form and shape of newspaper advertising and eliminate the seductiveness, attractiveness and dramatic impact of it.
The Minister interpolated on Second Stage that he would freeze the £5 million budget. Does that still stand?
My intention is to stabilise it. The only loss is that some small increase might be permitted to compensate for inflation.
Does the Minister intend to stabilise it at the present level?
Amendments Nos. 19 and 19a are related and may be taken together.
I move amendment No. 19:
In page 3, between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following subsection:
"() Nothing contained within regulations to be made under this section shall be constructed or operated in such a manner as go give an unfair trading, or advertising, advantage to any person engaged in the importation, manufacture, sale, promotion or distribution of tobacco products bearing a name similar to the name of tobacco products advertised in publications circulating, but not published, within the State."
It is the same point really. Does Deputy Boland agree that we have more or less dealt with the substance of these two amendments?
I will amaze the Minister by agreeing. I presume the Minister is indicating that he is not accepting them.
The point remains the same. The Minister is not accepting a simple amendment that provides that nothing in the regulations is to be operated in such a way as to give anyone an unfair trading advantage.
I am not accepting it if it is not necessary. I accept the principle.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 3, lines 39 to 45, to delete subsection (3) and substitute the following:
"() Where it is proposed to make regulations under this section a draft of such regulations shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House."
This Bill revolves around section 2 (3) which provides for regulations to be laid before the House. I have always felt that draft regulations should be laid before the House, especially in cases where the Bill provides for the power to be given to the Minister to make regulations. Recently some of my colleagues endeavoured to have a discussion on regulations. The Government refused to make time available for a discussion or to give the House an opportunity to decide whether to annual those regulations. A draft of the proposed regulations should be laid before the House and the House would have to pass that draft.
The Bill does not spell out what the Minister intends to do. We all know that he intends to ban outdoor advertising by the end of 1979 but that is not contained in the Bill. The first regulations to be made in this case are going to be wide-ranging and will have an effect not only on the tobacco industry but on organisations receiving sponsorship. The regulations should be put in draft form and the House should be given an opportunity to adopt them.
I support the amendment and I do not see any reason why the Minister should not accept it. When a Bill gives power to make regulations I suggest they should come before the House in draft form. Otherwise we will be losing more and more control because any Minister could keep inserting "by regulation" in legislation. The suggestion here would not take away from the Minister's powers.
I support this reasonable amendment. The Minister made it clear that in giving him the Bill we will be giving him a blank cheque in regard to what he may do, and he said he can do anything. Therefore, he should give the undertaking he has been asked for in this amendment and allow us to come back to discuss the regulations. In the course of the debate he said he would use his good offices in this regard. He said he will consult with numerous people, the manufacturers, the trade unions, the medical profession. We are the people who have the right to consultation. If he is to consult people outside the House he should consult us. All our discussions on the Bill have been non-controversial, non-political. They were made to help the Minister and we should have a right to comment on the regulations, to say either they have gone too far or not far enough. He could accept our advice or ignore it. The Minister has brought in a Bill which he admits will give him considerable power and I do not see any reason why we should not be allowed to comment on the regulations.
The principle of enabling legislation followed by regulations is time honoured. It is the way in which certain situations are dealt with by the House. There are situations that cannot be dealt with in the legislation itself, situations which are complex and which are changing, and therefore Parliament gives the Minister the statutory power to make regulations to deal with details, and with changing circumstances in particular.
This is the situation where this particularly arises. I could have drafted a comprehensive piece of legislation which would have purported to give me specific power to ban or to control or to eliminate certain things, but we are dealing with a fluid and changing situation. We are dealing with clever people, as has been pointed out. They are people who can summon up the best advertising brains in the country. Surely Deputies realise that if we close some avenues to them they will discover others.
Deputies referred to certain codes and practices for advertising and how sponsorship was availed of. We could have provided in the legislation for all the things that should be prevented, prohibited or controlled, but there is no guarantee that that would meet the situation and we would have to amend the legislation later to provide for some other eventually. This is a situation which has presented itself to Ministers over the years and it has been dealt with satisfactorily by introducing enabling legislation during whose passage we have discussed the whole situation. We have laid down in the legislation the constraints on the Minister and having done that the Minister has made regulations only in the context of the powers delineated in the legislation. Even that is not the end of the matter. It is provided further that when the regulations are made they must be brought to the House and any Deputy who does not like them can put down a motion to resind them.
I could not undertake in the context of this one piece of legislation this major departure from what has been the practice. I have undertaken to bring in the regulations here and I want to ask the Labour Deputies in particular—this does not apply to Deputy Boland—who have criticised me all the time and who have described this legislation as being a charade, window dressing, ineffective—Deputy O'Connell called it a farce—if they want to put a further restriction on me?
What happens if the regulations are not strong enough?
There is no doubt that if the House were to ask me to bring draft regulations here and have them debated before they become effective, we might as well not have the legislation at all. The purpose of bringing the legislation here is to have the debate, but if I had to bring in draft regulations and have them passed by the House it involves a whole new process of debate. The regulations can be debated, but in the meantime they will be in force. The Deputies want quick action in this. They will have to make up their minds, because if they want quick action they need not support Deputy Boland's amendment. I have got time from my party and from the Whips to get this legislation through the Dáil but I do not know when I would get time to bring in regulations to the House. I might have to wait until the next session.
I am sure the Minister has more influence than that.
I can understand Deputy Boland's point of view—he is concerned with parliamentary niceties—but the other Deputies want quick, effective action, they want implementation. If they want implementation they cannot support this amendment. There is another slight technical factor involved. In the situation envisaged by Deputy Boland, if the House were not sitting I could not make regulations. I could not make regulations during the summer months. I would have to take my place in the queue and make my regulations. It is an impossible request from the Opposition. I should not be asked in this context to adopt something that is completely new and to depart from the well-recognised, well-established and reasonably satisfactory procedure of enabling legislation followed by regulations, which can be upset by the House if the House so wishes.
I do not understand why the Minister should refer to the idea that regulations should appear in draft form before the House as a major parliamentary reform. It is a device used in legislation, perhaps more so in years gone by than in recent years——
What I was suggesting as a matter of parliamentary reform was the Opposition getting Government time to debate the regulations.
That is the aspect that upsets me. If the Minister made regulations and if somebody in the House was upset because of their excessive strength I would feel happy if they had an opportunity of discussing them. I have given the Minister the example that in the previous session one of his colleagues refused to have time made available for the discussion of regulations made by him and the House did not have the opportunity of carrying out the obligation that the statute appeared to have placed on it. The statute appeared to presume that the House would get an opportunity to discuss the regulations and to vote on them. However, if the Government of the day decide to use their majority and not to make time available the effect of subsection (3) and similar subsections is lost.
In my amendment the draft for the regulations would be put before the House and one would assume that the Minister of the day, despite whatever exhaustion might be imposed on him because of the burden of carrying his reforming cross on his shoulders, would still have enough influence to see that they were taken at an early date.
The Minister made a slight technical point about making regulations during the summer when the House was not in session and he said that this might present difficulty for him. This would mean that a Minister would have to ensure that the draft regulations were made in good time in order to have them passed.
Circumstances might arise that would warrant special regulations when the Dáil is not in session.
I cannot envisage such circumstances.
It is very likely.
If the Minister made a regulation that turned out to be unfair, excessive or not effective, even if the regulation was annulled by the House subsequently the effect would be ratified by the wording of the last part of the sentence in subsection (3) in the Bill as presented by the Minister.
That is normal.
The drafting of the regulations is normal also. Surely that is equally as unacceptable as the other situation presented by the Minister? I am not surprised that the Minister has not accepted the suggestion. I think it is important and I do not see why he should resent it so much. Incidentally, it was used liberally in the 1970 Health Act, and I take it that we will have an opportunity in the near future to debate draft regulations as a result of its use in one particular section.
I move amendment No. 21:
In page 3, between lines 45 and 46, to insert the following subsection:
"(4) Tobacco companies shall be required to display the tar content of cigarettes prominently on each package in 16 point bold type.".
In the past few years I considered that the Department of Health have been rather negligent in not insisting on tobacco companies publicising the tar content of cigarettes. The same companies in Britain are obliged by law to do this on the packets and in advertisements. I wonder why we are so far behind?
According to the "best medical authorities", the tar content of cigarettes is believed to be identified with the carcinogenic or cancer-forming properties of cigarettes. If cigarettes are of low tar content the possibility of a smoker developing bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma and cancer can be reduced. Woodbine cigarettes have a very high tar content and they account for a very high proportion of cancer of the lung in this country. I have come across many cases of this disease and a high percentage have been associated with the so-called "coffin nails". That was a case of an enlightened public being ahead of the doctors when they christened the cigarettes with that name. They were aware of the fact that they were dangerous when doctors were not. There is a link between the tar content of cigarettes and the health hazard posed by these cigarettes.
I should like the Minister to accept this amendment. I did not include it when I was talking of advertisements because I hoped that we might get the advertisements banned. I was concerned only with having the tar content displayed on the packets, but as the Minister has not seen the light with regard to advertising perhaps he would consider on Report Stage amending this to ensure that the tar content of cigarettes is displayed prominently in all advertisements.
I referred to the 16 point bold type. I am sure the Minister will accept my amendment because he is a reasonable man and is concerned about the health of the population and the enormous burden on the Department of Health because of cigarette smoking. I am sure he will discourage people, particularly heavy smokers, from using cigarettes with a high tar content. If we agree to a bland statement that the tar content be displayed, the tobacco manufacturers will use 6 point type that cannot be read.
When we demanded that a statement be put on cigarette packets that smoking can be detrimental to one's health, the tobacco manufacturers had a special team to decide on the type that produces maximum blurring. A special type was chosen for the purpose. There is nice bold type on the advertisements highlighting the great properties of the cigarettes, but when it comes to the health hazard it is done in a special type that produces a certain blurring. If the Minister studies this he will see what I mean. It was a very subtle move. I do not think it unreasonable to ask for 16 point bold type and it would help to have this displayed on the cigarette packet. We are not saying we will turn everyone against cigarettes, but we can tell them that the tar content is the irritant in the cigarettes which causes both bronchitis and cancer. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask the Minister to give favourable consideration to this amendment.
I did not have Deputy O'Connell's reluctance in putting down this amendment because what one appears to be doing is condoning the Minister's allowing advertisements of any kind to appear. However, it is our responsibility to try to improve what appears to be a bad Bill if we can.
Over the years Ministers have consulted tobacco companies. I have no objection to this but I do not know why they should be given such consideration when one looks at their record over the years. They have invariably refused to accept the wishes of the various Ministers. I recall the first time we succeeded in getting something written on the packages and advertisements generally. That became the Government health warning. That was the last thing it was meant to be.
I agree with that.
It was a Government ill-health warning. We felt that we had made a marvellous advance but then realised that the tobacco companies had outwitted us again.
In England they are even better; they have Her Majesty's Department of Health warning.
They also have printed on them "By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen".
She smokes them too. It seems to me that the consideration we have been giving to these companies was wasted because they are very obviously able to look after themselves. Even with all the distinguished assistance available in the Department I do not think the Minister can call on the limitless resources of these very wealthy corporations. To that extent he is going to find it very hard to outwit them on this occasion, as happened on other occasions.
There is a case for saying that different amounts of tar affect people differently. There is no doubt that Deputy O'Connell is correct when he says that the high tar content is most dangerous, but even a cigarette with a low tar content could give lung cancer to a particular person. To say that a cigarette with a low tar content is less likely to give people these dreadful diseases can create a false impression. We must try to health educate people that this lethal tar is contained in cigarettes and when inhaled works on the lung tissue over a period and eventually one ends up with these horrible diseases. Bearing this in mind I can see no reason why the Minister should not concede to this amendment.
If we look at the size of the print of the warning on the packets we realise that this was another way the tobacco corporations circumvented the demands of different Ministers. The other day I looked at a cigarette packet and could not find the health warning because it was not on the front or the back. It was on the side in the most beautiful gold script which was buried in red and gold so that it was quite difficult to read. It was obviously designed by a very clever psychologist or lay-out artist. The tobacco companies had carried out the Minister's requirements to the letter but not to the spirit of the law. A detailed lay-out must be designed by the Minister's advisers and made mandatory on the tobacco companies.
The Minister must be very wary of the kind of difficulties that are ahead of him in consulting with these people. It must be remembered that he will be consulting with them to bring about their demise, in industrial terms. It is very unrealistic of us to think that they will sit down with the Minister and suggest the best way to bring about a reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked and the reduction in profits. It is so unrealistic that it is remarkable we should continue to indulge in it.
We put down this amendment for two reasons: first, it may help the person the Minister through his educational process will inform that the higher the tar content the more dangerous it is, and second, that he will make sure the tobacco companies do not evade their responsibilities and are compelled to carry on every cigarette packet this adverse comment. If these companies are to be allowed to continue to operate here they must do it on our terms. The Minister spoke about being a sovereign State, but we cannot accept this situation because these people have outwitted us in the past and will continue to do it. The power rests finally with the Minister. He knows he has the goodwill and support of the House in attempting to curb the continuing waste of lives, human happiness and money which arises because of cigarette smoking. He should feel he can deal with these corporations. If he takes measures of this kind, naming the tar content and seeing that the Department of Health message on the literature is unequivocal, clear-cut, dogmatic and full of the real menace of cigarette smoking, then it does at least add something to the Minister's campaign to deal with this very serious problem.
In portion of his reply Deputy Browne anticipated my objection to this amendment. I agree with the argument which he partially made. I do not like this approach. I say this quite frankly to Deputy O'Connell. I know this is the option the British have taken but it is the easy way out. The implication is that if a cigarette is low tar it is not too bad. We should set our face sternly against that and give the message out loudly and clearly that all cigarettes are bad. They damage health and can ultimately kill. That is the way we intend to proceed.
I intend to rephrase the warning. There will be no argument about the prominence of it. I was struck by the ludicrousness of the existing message on the pack and in advertisements. Deputy O'Connell is right in the case of one particular product I have seen. It is so cleverly done that one is not aware of the warning at all. The message must be prominently displayed; it must be simple, straightforward and direct. It must be to the effect that smoking damages health and can bring about an early demise or give rise to diseases which can be fatal.
I cannot imagine a notice saying that cigarette smoking will bring about an early demise.
There is another element of cleverness in advertisements in the British press. By putting in so many words one loses all sense of the warning. There is a statement to the effect that the cigarettes are of low or middle tar content as ascertained by some laboratory, followed by a rigmarole about the warning by Her Majesty's Department of Health and, finally, there is the actual wording. In the middle of all this the warning itself is lost. For that reason I would leave out altogether all references to tar. There is the dangerous implication that if a cigarette has a low tar content it may not be all that bad, and people may change over to low tar content cigarettes. Our attempts should be to persuade people to stop smoking altogether. With all due respects to Deputy Dr. O'Connell and his commitment in this area and his medical knowledge, I stick to my own view that the introduction of any suggestion that low or middle tar is better or safer is a mistake. Perhaps Deputies O'Connell and Browne will accept that what is needed is one specific and direct statement of the dangers.
I do not agree with the Minister's thinking on this. We cannot take away the liberty of people. We are saying that cigarettes are a hazard to health and that if a person must smoke he or she should smoke a low tar content cigarette. We are trying to educate people and telling them that cigarettes are a hazard to health. What is wrong with advising people who must smoke to stick to low tar cigarettes? In Britain almost 70 per cent of smokers switched to low tar content cigarettes.
They think they are safer.
These people switched from high tar to low tar cigarettes. In Britain people are told that all cigarettes are dangerous but the low tar content is less dangerous than the high tar content. They achieved something.
Is the Deputy not suspicious of the fact that in Britain companies proudly display the fact that cigarettes have a low tar content?
They are obliged to do so. Has the Minister investigated the legislation providing for the publication of the tar content? Has he read the debates on it?
There is no legislation. In Britain there is a voluntary code.
No. This was done by legislation and I am asking for the same here.
I suggest that the reason British tobacco manufacturers in their advertising do not try to disguise the tar content in the way they do the warning is that they imply that a cigarette because of its low tar content has some Government approval.
I accept that. They are exploiting every conceivable thing. Since the Government say they must state the tar content, manufacturers are exploiting the situation and implying that there is a Government seal of approval on low tar content cigarettes. We are saying that the health warning should be emphasised more than the tar content. I was hoping we might not even reach this stage and that there would not be any advertising.
Even with a total ban on advertising, it would still be applicable to the packet.
I want to extend it in view of the fact that advertising is not being banned. Would the Minister look at it again?
Yes. If the Deputy can at a later date persuade me that this tar proposal is right, I could probably do it under existing regulations.
I move amendment No. 22:
In page 3, before section 3, to insert a new section as follows:
"A National Sports Sponsorship Council shall be established to take over the sponsorship of sports events and activities.".
Last year the Government received revenue to the tune of £88.3 million from the sale of tobacco products. That is a great deal of money and I think, therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask that the Government should make some of that £88.3 million available for sport sponsorship through the medium of a National Sports Sponsorship Council. If this amendment were accepted this council could take over from the tobacco companies. That would be acting positively, and it would stop the reliance of sporting organisations on the tobacco companies. Sponsorship could cover athletics, sports and cultural activities.
One finds oneself in a somewhat invidious position in advocating that sports organisations, like the GAA, should give up the money which has helped to make it possible for them to develop in the way they have developed over the years in providing so much valuable outdoor activity for young people. Where golf is concerned those in golfing circles should be able to sponsor their own activities. The Minister in the course of his Second Reading speech said that sponsorship does not help sport. It only helps the tobacco companies.
They respond only to the big spectacular. They sponsor entertainment, not sport.
The GAA is an organisation concerned with young people in rural areas and I suppose its activities do give young people in these areas an aspiration to appear in Croke Park. But I see the Minister's point. It is rather extraordinary that we have never had any conscience, any national ethos, to accept responsibility for cultural activities. There has been a curious indifference on the part of successive Government in regard to their responsibility in this important aspect of life. Take, for example, the Hospitals Sweep, from which I benefited in my day. It always struck me as odd that the State did not seem to feel it had any responsibility for building hospitals and clinics. However, the Sweeps organisation did create enormous funds to do a worthwhile job. These are the kinds of things for which the State should accept responsibility. Certainly it should accept responsibility for hospitals. It should also have responsibility for recreational community activities, for art and music and culture generally. Why should these be left for sponsorship by tobacco companies or industrial firms? When that is done we are in the hands of these people and these people influence attitudes in, as I said this morning, quite a dangerous way.
Quite a number of people would consider Deputy O'Connell and myself as cranky misfits who do not see things the way a very high percentage of people see them, but we have no superior wisdom, and what we are discussing here is the influence of very subtle and clever advertising by the tobacco companies. It should be our responsibility, and not that of the tobacco companies, to make provision from central funds for sporting and cultural activities for the young. We should find the money for these things. The Minister talks about proceeding slowly and wisely. My only quarrel is that he will not give us some kind of prediction as to the time he will phase this kind of thing out. It is too indefinite. If he is serious in getting rid of sponsorship he will create hardship amongst young people, football clubs and people who carry out this very important function, particularly in these days when everybody is talking about vandalism and young criminals—I hate the word— and the kind of thing that can only be met obviously by providing mass activity, community games, access not just to spectator but to participant sport. Unless we provide some alternative source of money, we might be making a useful contribution to the life of the community in one way but we could do quite a lot of damage in another way by leaving these people without access directly or indirectly to the funds, the incentives which they get from sponsorship at present.
For that reason it seemed desirable to us that we turn our backs on acceptance of the dangerous kind of sponsorship of a tobacco company. Accepting that it is difficult for a Government where money of this nature, £88 million or £90 million is involved—it is obviously an enormous source of wealth, an enormous industry—is it not possible that we could get the money by sponsorship, if you like, in another way by seeing that the money goes to some committee established by the Minister or the Government, a sponsorship council, which would be responsible for paying out the money in exactly the same way but without any advertising at all? The money could be taken in some way by a levy or percentage on sales or taxation so as to get the value of the idea of sponsorship without validating the Minister's comment that sponsorship does not help sport but only the tobacco companies. If mention of them is excluded from the sponsorship of a council set up specially to deal with the interim period when money are going to dry up from tobacco sources and if we continued to collect money from these people but redirect it to a sponsorship council this might obviate some of the real risks that I think will be involved in taking large sums of money out of circulation from the whole idea of sponsorship and its function in society—an undesirable function in my view but it is a reality that we must deal with.
Did I understand Deputy O'Connell to suggest that the funding of this sports council would be derived from the £88 million collected from the tobacco firms by way of excise duty?
Until such time as we provide an alternative. We are receiving some £88 million from them by way of excise duty. That is money that is going into some other areas in Government.
I understood Deputy O'Connell to say that ten or 15 minutes ago. It appears to be a very legitimate argument, one which I would have liked to make, but I felt certain I should be ruled out of order by the Chair if I did so. I am interested in hearing the amendment being discussed in this way and glad to be able to participate in the debate for that reason because I have an amendment—the following one—with which a great deal of trouble was taken to ensure that it would be in order and could be discussed but it has been ruled out of order because it made an attempt to ensure that there would not be a charge on State funds. Here is an amendment, the mover of which clearly points out that it is his intention to fund this council——
——from State revenue.
I did not say that.
It was only an argument with the Chair.
I have an amendment which specifically contains a subsection to ensure that it would not be a charge on the revenue of the State and that has been ruled out of order.
The Chair must point out that it must be guided by what is in the wording of the amendment, not by what may be discussed in the House later and of which the Chair could have no knowledge.
It is quite extraordinary. However, I am glad that Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Browne agree with the point I made on Second Stage that in the short term the losers in the move to control or prohibit sponsorship are the sports organisations. I do not accept the Minister's contention that the benefit derived from sponsorship was all one-sided. There is no doubt that there were sports organisations that derived a great deal of benefit and still derive benefit from the participation of sponsoring firms in their activities. As I said on the Second Stage and before we discussed it on Second Stage, all the more shame to the State that those firms saw that there was a need for an input of money to enable sporting events to take place at a proper level. Those firms provided the money that should have been provided over the years by the State——
They saw an opportunity to exploit the situation.
——and more especially should be provided now by the State at a time when there is so much interest among young people in sport and sporting activities and when pressures to a large extent in relation to urban living mean that any healthy outlet in which young people can be interested and involved is all the more important.
On Second Stage I suggested that if the Government were really as much committed to the principle of this Bill as the Minister in his rather unusual lauding of the Minister for Finance today gave us to understand, the Government themselves would have said that they agreed this sort of thing should be done; that they would prohibit sponsorship by tobacco firms immediately and that the State would step in and take up the difference. But the Minister made it quite clear that the State has no intention of providing the funds that will be lost to sports organisations by the prohibition on sponsorship by tobacco firms.
I never said that.
Is the Minister now saying that the State intends to do that?
I shall say what I have to say very shortly.
I am prepared to listen, but in the meantime I thought it would be better to make my contribution.
Sorry, but I was just taking the Deputy up on a point of fact.
I understand. The Minister has been endeavouring to help everyone today——
The Deputy attributed something to me that I did not say.
——through these helpful interruptions. It is now six o'clock, so he can see how helpful the interruptions have been.
The discussion was useful.
It was indeed.
No matter how distasteful this may sound to the Minister—I know it is distasteful—there is the real possibility that in the short-term the losers will be the sports and cultural organisations. The latter seem to have been forgotten as most of us are inclined to associate sponsorship by tobacco firms only with sports events. A wide variety of cultural and artistic events are at present sponsored by these firms. These events are also likely to suffer. As an example of how even the media can be led astray as to what the intention of this Bill is, I should like to draw the attention of the House to the editorial in The Irish Press of Tuesday, 24 October, the day after Carrolls had announced that they were withdrawing from the sponsorship of the GAA All Stars Award Scheme and that that function had been taken over by the Bank of Ireland. The Irish Press published an editorial, which the Minister may have read, about Carrolls' withdrawal, congratulating them on their involvement in it and on their pragmatism in deciding to withdraw at this time. I presume it was this withdrawal which the Minister referred to earlier today. The penultimate paragraph of the editorial says:
But while acknowledging the contribution which the company has made to sport over the years, one must also congratulate it on the good sense of getting out now rather than waiting until either legislation or the attitude of the members within the GAA forced such a decision.
Here is the interesting piece:
One hopes, however, that the money which was devoted to this sponsorship will not now be lost altogether—one can think of several projects which, without having any possible health conflict, would be well worthy of support. A foundation plan to help with the education or resettlement of itinerants, for instance, or a scholarship plan for youngsters from some of our capital city's underprivileged areas are just two such ideas, and no doubt many others could be suggested.
That sort of sponsorship is probably just as invidious to the Minister. Certainly he is taking unto himself in this legislation powers to prohibit in just as definite a way the sponsorship of the resettlement of itinerants or the education of underprivileged children as he is to prohibit the sponsorship of sporting and cultural events. The editorial team of one of the national newspapers seem to believe that all that will happen is that sponsorship of sport may be controlled, but sponsorship of other activities would be quite acceptable because it did not have any connection with sport which has a connection with health, in which there is a peripheral, vestigial sort of connection with the Minister through his publicity campaign about sport, health and so on over the last year. This is the sort of difficulty that confuses the mind of the public and of the media, who have had specialist people following this debate. Obviously it is his intention to make that sort of sponsorship just as unavailable as the sponsorship of golf or a GAA event.
If the Government are really intent on trying to improve the health of the people, this sort of amendment setting up a sports council, which would continue to take over the sponsorship and to fund the organisations which lose their sponsorship through the withdrawal by the tobacco firms, would be the greatest indication that the Government mean what they say and are prepared to put money on foot of their good intention. I am surprised but pleased that this amendment was allowed to be discussed and I am happy to give my support to it.
A number of Deputies have asked for the establishment of a National Sports Council as suggested in the amendment, but there is already a National Sports Council.
A Sports Sponsorship Council. There is a difference. Is there or is there not?
I am not prepared to be cross-examined.
The Minister said we were asking for a sports council.
I said a number of Deputies asked for the establishment of a sports council. Maybe I should say Deputy Boland asked for this.
He did not. He asked for a Sports Sponsorship Council.
It is not my amendment.
The very last words Deputy Boland said were "National Sports Council".
He said "such a council".
There is a National Sports Council under the auspices of the Department of Education. They have a specific function of providing funds for sporting bodies. It is the responsibility of the Minister of State at the Department of Education, Deputy Tunney, to forward the activities of that body in every possible way. They have a budget every year. They select what they regard as the most desirable and necessary forms of sporting activities and subsidise them. There is a Government apparatus there already to do this thing. It is merely a matter of what funds can be made available to them in the annual budget. I hope that increasing funds will be made available to that body to promote sport and athletics in the right way. Nobody in this House will persuade me that the sponsorship of sport by tobacco companies is in any way advantageous or beneficial to sporting activities or bodies. As I pointed out to Deputy Browne, they do not support sport in the way it should be supported. They spend money on a spectacular event, usually a big annual event to which the public have access and which is advertised on radio and television. They are not interested in the sport, and let nobody in this House fool himself for one moment that they are. If they were, Deputy Browne and I would come across them out in Coolock, for instance, providing jerseys, togs and football boots for the football clubs out there.
The Minister and the Deputy are in the same constituency.
I do not see them out there. I see them in Portmarnock certainly spending vast amounts of money importing star professional performers from abroad. What good is that to Irish sport?
This Bill, if it does nothing else, will make the governing bodies of a number of our sporting organisations face up to their responsibilities. It will make them look this question of sponsorship in the face to see whether they are doing the right thing by their members and by the young people of this country in accepting these sponsorships and permitting their popular sporting activities to be used as a vehicle for the promotion of the sale of tobacco products. That is what it is; it is advertising in another form. I agree with Deputy Boland in that we are not interested in curbing the sponsorship of sport as such or of any cultural activity as such. We are interested in the tobacco companies using sponsorship or whatever it is as a means of promoting the sale of their products. The National Sports Council, Cuspoir, is there as a vehicle to put money into the sporting activities at the right level.
What was the last budget for it?
It was £100,000 and it has been going up. I cannot say what its budget is this year, but I would hope it is well over £200,000. It is not the responsibility of the Department of Health. That is one way in which sport can be promoted and developed at the right level—the participator level, not the spectacle. Spectator sports are not much good to anybody. We want sports in which everybody throughout the community in the local areas participates and that is what the money should be put into and what should be sponsored. The Health Education Bureau is there and has £1 million allocated to it in the budget this year. That was a considerable increase. I think they had £200,000 per year before that.
They had £400,000.
They had £500,000.
At least it is doubled. Furthermore, more important than the budget, they have staff now. The previous Minister for Finance refused to sanction any staff for that body. He left them there as a skeleton for years. This Minister for Finance has trebled their budget and given them all the staff they need to do their job.
The Health Education Bureau are already in sponsorship. I have told them that it is not their business to be spending money on sponsorship. I have also told them that they should take up worth-while sponsorships to help them get their message across. Having taken up a sponsorship, their mission must be to try to get somebody else to substitute for them. I also want them to be brokers in so far as sponsorship is concerned. I want them to use their influence and good offices with commerce and industry to get companies who would be prepared to sponsor sport. If the tobacco and drink companies withdraw their sponsorship of sport, I am convinced that there are other solid commercial companies who will take up sponsorships.
There is no need for a national sports sponsorship council. We have a National Sports Council and their job is broadly to do what is proposed in the amendment. The Health Education Bureau are ready and willing to play a role in ensuring that a certain amount of sponsorship is provided where it is needed. If the sporting bodies concerned look realistically at the situation and look at their real mission in life as sporting organisations, they will find other acceptable businesses to take up the bill for them.
There is no need for the Minister to be so testy about the matter. He got annoyed because he read the amendment wrongly. There is no need for him to get annoyed because he made a mistake.
I will chastise myself.
The point is that sponsorship takes place at lower levels. It is a damning indictment that we have allowed small sporting organisations to go unfunded for so long. It is an appalling situation when some football club cannot even get changing facilities. It is an appalling situation that only £200,000 is given to the National Sports Council when £88.4 million is coming into the Exchequer from the sale of tobacco products. Is it not all the more damning that we have allowed this situation to continue or that the Health Education Bureau got only £1 million? The Health Education Bureau were badly treated. They only had a £400,000 budget. It was I who suggested that they should be given a budget of £1 million, but we should be talking in terms of £2 million or £3 million. He said that the tobacco companies are exploiting the public and these organisations.
The Minister's party did that during the last election.
We do not intend to disrupt them for the moment.
That is the first indication that the Minister will replace them.
I thought I made it clear that the existing sponsorships will be allowed continue for the time being.
Will there be a replacement then?
If they are allowed to continue there is no need to replace them.
So we are not stopping sponsorships by tobacco companies.
I have explained on a number of occasions that my approach to this matter is to freeze sponsorship at its existing level and only to allow additional sponsorships in exceptional circumstances.
It is a charade. The Minister is contradicting himself. He said that these companies were exploiting the public and the organisations and now he says they are being allowed to continue at their present level. At their present level they are at the height of exploitation and are advertising their sponsorships in the media. When the Minister looked into his crystal ball did he see a massive expansion of sponsorship? He says he wants to stop cigarette smoking but when we talk about the star content he says "No, we will not do that". There are no teeth in the Bill. Those people are exploiting and manipulating the organisations being sponsored. This is nothing but window dressing.
I am amused at the theatrical goings on of Deputy O'Connell. He is putting on a good act.
I expect more from the Deputy than that kind of conduct. I have a feeling that Deputy O'Connell has not read the Bill because it is clearly indicated in it that the intention is to allow sponsoring at the present level. The Minister is being given power to stop advertising; he is to have control of advertising by the tobacco companies. The Bill is a major step forward in bringing an awareness to the people of the dangers of smoking and it will win people out of the habit by encouragement and by alerting them to the dangers.
I would point out that there are many other people coming into sponsoring of sporting events, for example community games. There is the Valley Ice Cream Company, and others are coming into take up sponsorship of bigger events. Certain events, for instance golf, have been sponsored by tobacco companies. There has been criticism that these prizes have gone to England and elsewhere, but we must consider the spin-off in the form of Ireland's prestige abroad. There may be a day when some big companies which do not manufacture tobacco products, such as ice cream companies, will decide to take over sponsorship of sporting events, for instance, show jumping. This is a trend which may become widespread. It has been said we have been led up the garden path.
We have been.
It has not been provided for in the Bill that advertising by tobacco companies will be brought to a standstill. The Minister will have control of advertising, and the obvious intent is to encourage tobacco companies to get out of sponsoring sporting and other events. We must consider that there are many people employed by tobacco companies and this thing has to be phased out in an orderly manner in the next few years.
How many years?
In the next few years. I have no doubt that the level of smoking will fall as a result of this Bill. I disagreed with the previous amendment, which was concerned with tar content. It has been acknowledged positively that smoking is a danger to health and the Minister has taken positive action——
Where is the positive action?
It is in the Bill, which gives power to the Minister to control advertising. There is not anybody who can point a finger at the Minister and say he is not deeply concerned.
So are we all, but the Minister is the man with power to do something about it.
I am satisfied that the decrease in the degree of smoking at the end of next year will show the effectiveness of this Bill. The control of tobacco product advertising will bring about a decrease. Deputy O'Connell got testy and shirty when the Minister attempted to correct some of his statements. I would point out that this amendment in Deputy O'Connell's name has the direct opposite effect to the amendment of Deputy Boland earlier which sought to allocate money to replace cigarette advertising revenue.
As I have said, many other companies are becoming interested in sponsorship of sporting and other community events. Many companies are ready to take up the slack left by the tobacco companies. The Minister is handling this capably and I am satisfied that the majority of Deputies and of people outside the House support him in his efforts. The process of cutting down on cigarette smoking must be voluntary. We are not lowering the boom on sporting organisations or suddenly pulling the rug from under them as Deputy O'Connell's amendment would do. Some sporting organisations depend very much on sponsoring and it is time they looked elsewhere for sponsors. I should like to see sponsorship at a much more local level. Deputy O'Connell knows that there has been successful sponsorship at local level by various firms, such as the buying of jerseys, football boots and so on. Deputy O'Connell has been getting into a theatrical state.
Deputy Briscoe's contribution was enlightening from the point of view that he gave the impression that what he was saying was factual. What was enlightening about it was that it was presumably the point of view he derived from listening to the Minister, particularly at the party meetings at which the Minister explained the implications of the Bill.
The rather disturbing feature of Deputy Briscoe's understanding of the Bill is much the same as the conclusions that Deputy O'Connell and I have arrived at about the Bill, that it is a cosmetic, public relations operation which the Minister has decided to take because of the growing pressure during the years of various bodies, in order to appear to be doing something significant about the very serious question of cigarette smoking and its consequences in our society.
When Deputy Briscoe used the words "over the next few years" I thought he was going to say that advertising and sponsorship would be completely phased out and that we would come to the situation that Deputy O'Connell and I were advocating. Instead, he went on to say that "over the next few years the levels of smoking will have fallen"—a lovely anodyne phrase—but he does not explain why they should fall because little or nothing will have been done. The Minister in his statement, which was supported by Deputy Briscoe's understanding of what the Minister is going to do, said that the money allowed for advertising will be frozen at the present level. Deputy O'Connell made the very important point that with the withdrawal of cinema and poster advertising if the money was frozen at its present level of £5 million—the figure given by the Minister—it would be in excess of the existing money spent in newspapers if advertising were restricted to the newspapers alone. Therefore, it will not be a freezing operation unless the Minister wishes to clarify the position and tell us that he will freeze the expenditure level to what it is at the present time when restricted to newspaper advertising.
The Minister made another ominous comment when I asked if the money would be frozen at the present level. He said that it would not be frozen because it would have to be related to the effects of inflation. In fact, he is going to permit an increase——
The Deputy is misquoting me.
The Chair understood we were on amendment No. 22 which deals with a national sports sponsorship council. I do not know what went on before but I cannot see how we can relate this to it.
The Minister came in on the debate and told us that there was a national sports council. He appears to believe that the council is comparable to the sponsorship council that we recommended. We are now attempting to persuade the Minister that the National Sports Sponsorship Council is not the equivalent, at present at any rate, of the National Sports Council to which he referred, which is a council operating under the Department of Education. In his contribution the Minister appeared positively cavalier about the action that he must and should take and which we believe is imperative, that something be done to replace the loss of income to sports organisations as a result of the withdrawal of sponsorship. Is sponsorship to continue at the present level? This is difficult to believe. Deputy Briscoe may not have been present when the Minister told us, "I have the power to do anything I want in this Bill". Now it appears he is not going to alter the advertising budget or sponsorship relationships. Is he admitting tacitly that the National Sports Council of which he knew very little—I do not think he even knew the contribution they made; £200,000 was mentioned by somebody——
I can read out the terms of reference, the members; I can tell the House when the council came into existence and anything else that Deputies may want to know.
The Minister did not know about the last budget.
The attitude of the Minister was that this was a matter for another Department and was not his responsibility. The figure he mentioned was £200,000. He also spoke about his own information and education council which has £1 million. That makes a total of £1,200,000. Perhaps the Minister would tell us what is the real position? Is sponsorship going to continue? In that case it does not really matter if there is a sponsorship council, whether he accepts our amendment, because the whole ugly process of sponsorship will be carried on by the tobacco companies at the same level. That is what this Bill was intended to abolish. That is what we have been talking about, apparently quite fruitlessly, for the past few days. When the Minister shows little or no interest in the National Sports Council under the Department of Education, whether they have enough funds, and when he shows no enthusiasm for our proposals, perhaps unconsciously he is supporting Deputy Briscoe's reading of the situation, that there is no need for any of these things because the tobacco companies will continue on their merry way with sponsoring and advertising changed relatively little. Deputy Briscoe's belief that this Bill is simply an enabling Bill that will not be used——
I did not say that.
I did not say most of the things the Deputy has attributed to me either.
I understood the Minister did say these things.
I usually go to the trouble of recording verbatim what Deputies say in a debate of this kind.
The Deputy said I had no interest in the National Sports Council.
I said the Minister was relatively disinterested in it in that it was under the Department of Education. The Minister was relatively vague about the amount of money they had.
The Deputy said I had no interest in it which was an untruth.
Anyone who did not know the budget of the council obviously had no interest in it.
Deputy Browne on the amendment which concerns the establishment of a sports sponsorship council.
As I explained, my understanding of the sports sponsorship council was very carefully elaborated to make it quite clear that it would not operate as existing sponsorships operate. They would supply funds on the lines the Minister referred to, small community organisations so that the young people would not be deprived of the funds they would need in urban and rural areas and that the money would not be cut away from them.
The Deputy is suggesting that it should be funded by the tobacco companies and Deputy O'Connell suggests it should be funded by the Exchequer. They do not even agree on that.
I do not care how they are funded as long as the money is not spent in the way the Minister correctly described as "sponsorship which does not help sport at all; it only helps the tobacco companies". There can be no doubt in anybody's mind that we have put down an amendment saying that advertising should be banned. Our position is clear-cut and unequivocal. What we are trying to establish is the Minister's position on this.
Will the Deputy let me state my position?
In a moment.
Of course he will not.
What we cannot get from the Minister is any kind of time scale as to what he is likely to pursue. Is he sharing Deputy Briscoe's view? The Minister said that no matter what anybody says advertising, skillful promotion and sponsorship directly contribute to cigarette smoking. He went on to say that it was idle, silly, useless and nonsensical to suggest otherwise. We are at one on this question except that the Minister having made these indictments of tobacco companies' sponsorship then went on to tell us that he is not going to do anything to stop or restrict any of these things.
A few moments ago the Deputy said I was doing positive things and now he is making statements——
The Minister has brought in a Bill. That is a positive move and he is better than the Minister who did not bring in a Bill. As Deputy Briscoe pointed out the Minister has no power under this legislation to stop either sponsorship or advertising. This is corroboration of our suspicions that this is simply a clever device brought in by the Minister to confuse, mislead and deceive the ordinary people into believing that he is taking his courage in his hands——
The Deputy does not believe that.
——that he is going to take aggressive, radical action in regard to this very serious question of tobacco smoking and that he is going to take positive action.
Maybe we are wasting our time in putting forward a motion of this kind, that an alternative sports sponsorship council should be established and that it should be funded any way the Minister likes. He told us this morning that the Minister for Finance is a most agreeable, generous, enlightened person and that he has given him carte blanche in this matter of cutting down on the intake of funds from the consumption of tobacco. If he has such a complaint Minister for Finance it should be possible for the Minister for Health to completely redesign the question of sponsorship in an enlightened way and to do the things he seems to know need to be done.
We do not see the Carroll's All Stars in Coolock because they are in Portmarnock. Carroll's are sponsoring these elaborate advertising jamborees which are designed primarily and exclusively to sell cigarettes and they have little or no interest in the down-the-line activity of ordinary youngsters. That being so, if the Minister is sincere, genuine and intent in dealing with this question, why can he not say: "Yes, it is obvious that what I am going to do is very serious and radical. I am going to deprive sports organisations, cultural organisations and artistic functions of one kind or another of a great deal of money. Because of that there must be some transitional arrangement in relation to financing these activities which are an alternative to the way they are being financed at the present time. I have been in touch with the Minister for Education who is in charge of the National Sports Council and this is our programme. First, we are going to have sponsorship which helps sport and not, as the commercial activities are doing, using it as an advertising device."
The Minister and Deputy Briscoe said that we need have no great worry about this. The Minister mentioned his educational council and the fact that it will provide funds for a number of worthy enterprises. The Minister should examine this idea more carefully. When referring to the educational council he said he did not favour their going into sponsorship. That is consistent. Now he moves away from this consistent level and says they should find somebody else to do this job and let the council get on with their own job which deals with education, information and so on. Why should some other body such as the Bank of Ireland or Guinnesses——
——be different from the tobacco companies? Does the Minister believe that one of these days he will see the Allied Irish Banks or the Bank of Ireland or some other organisation sponsoring the down-the-line community functions the Minister referred to in Coolock or Donnycarney? I do not believe there is the slightest chance of that happening. The weakness of sponsorship by commercial companies is that it is directed to do only one thing, sell a product and—we have this on the authority of the Minister—not to concern themselves with the welfare of the community they are allegedly anxious to help.
Even at this late stage the Minister should make some attempt to tell us what he intends to do under this Bill and how long he will take in doing it. He has received sympathy from everybody. We have all agreed that he has a very difficult job and that it will not be easy to tell people they cannot depend on income, real or imaginary, from these organisations because for reasons of health he has decided it is not in the best interests to do so. It is not a popular thing to do because of the wonderful success of the advertising of tobacco companies which most people think is a fairly harmless activity. The Minister must undo the damage of years with nothing like the resources which the tobacco companies have.
Why the Minister should accept sponsorship by other companies instead of tobacco companies is not clear because he has said it does not help sport. It only helps the companies such as Guinness or the banks. Why is he continuing a practice which he correctly dismisses with contempt and at the same time making little or no contingency arrangements? Is it that he really sees things as Deputy Briscoe sees them and that this is an elaborate and time-wasting device to throw sand in the eyes of the people and give them the impression he is acting in a responsible way as Minister for Health? Is it that he has been told by the Minister for Finance that he cannot afford to lose the £90 million which comes into the Exchequer from tobacco revenue and that he should come into the House and produce a Bill to keep them quiet, depending on the wonderfully insidious widespread way in which public opinion has been caught into an intricate network of deception, believing that this is harmless and we are causing a lot of trouble about little or nothing?
If the Minister is genuine about getting rid of sponsorship and advertising he should be more clear-cut on the question of the National Sports Council. The sum of £200,000 is a pittance and quite useless for dealing with the job. I do not think he intended the £1 million given to the information body to be used to pay for sponsorship. He does not believe in sponsorship because it simply attracts people to the big jamborees and funds are not made available down the line. If he is serious about doing something he should be prepared to tell us the time he will take in getting rid of sponsorship and advertising. He told us this morning about the compliance of the very generous Minister for Finance who said that this matter is too important to allow money to interfere and that he can have what he wants. Is the Minister for Health the impediment to enlightened legislation? Is it a fact that he finds the whole subject tedious and boring and, far from Deputy O'Connell putting on an act, it is the Minister for Health who is putting on a most elaborate masquerade?
The Deputy said that several times.
I must emphasise it.
We are dealing with one subject and one subject only, a sport sponsorship council. That is what the amendment is about. We cannot go through the whole Bill.
The Minister stood up and decided to throw it out without arguing the merits or demerits.
Deputy Browne refuses to let me in to speak.
A sudden rise in blood pressure is bad for the health.
A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you were not in the House when the Minister made his contribution. He introduced other items.
I do not care who was in the House. We can deal only with what is in the amendment. It was not in order for anyone to go outside the amendment because it was not relevant.