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Advertising And Promotion Campaigns

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will initiate a study into advertising and promotion campaigns directed at children; and if he will take steps to curb this form of advertising.

My hon. Friend will be aware that I have asked the Advertising Association to consider the social implications of advertising—including advertising directed at particularly vulnerable groups like children. In addition, the Consumers' Association is studying sales promotion techniques and practices and giving particular attention to those directed at children.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the present pre-Christmas television advertising campaign directed at children to pressurise their parents is in every way unacceptable? Does he agree that the attitude of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, which has refused to implement the Annan committee recommendation that advertisements in areas of interest to children should be broadcast after 9 p.m., is completely irresponsible?

Advertising on television is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, but I strongly share my hon. Friend's views that advertising campaigns intended to encourage children to bring pressure to bear on their families, sometimes families that are not remotely near being able to afford what has been advertised, is a squalid operation. It is for that reason that I have asked the association and other interested bodies to examine the matter very carefully.

If the right hon. Gentleman is talking about squalid operations in advertising, does he think that the phrase "Back to work with Labour" used in 1974 was honest, fair, decent and true? If he were chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority, what would he say if the advertisement were referred to him?

I have inquired as to what political advertisements have been referred to the authority. The only example was that of the Conservative Party pretending that an old lady was poor and destitute when she was neither.