Gerry Sutcliffe

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Gerry Sutcliffe was the Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Bradford South (1994 - 2015).[1]

Against Plain Packaging

Sutcliffe was one of the 50 MPs who wrote to the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in 2012 expressing serious concerns over plain packaging proposals.[2]

“There is no reliable evidence that plain packaging will have any public health benefit; no country in the world has yet to introduce it. However, such a measure could have extremely negative consequences elsewhere. The proposal will be a smuggler’s charter. … this policy threatens more than 5,500 jobs directly employed by the UK tobacco sector, and over 65,000 valued jobs in the associated supply chain. … Given the continued difficult economic climate, businesses should not be subjected to further red tape and regulation.”

Voted Against Amendments to Children and Families Bill 2014

In February 2014, Sutcliffe was one of only 24 MPs who voted against tabled amendments to the Children and Families Bill which would enable the UK government to:[3]

1. Introduce regulations requiring plain packaging for tobacco products;
2. Introduce regulations making it an offence to sell e-cigarettes to children under 18;
3. Make it an offence for an adult to buy cigarettes for anyone under the age of 18 (proxy purchasing).[4][5]

A massive 453 MPs voted in favour of the amendments.

Publication of the Chantler Review 2014

On 3 April 2014, following its commencement in November 2013, the Chantler review of the evidence for plain packaging was published.[6]

Sir Chantler concluded:

"Having reviewed the evidence it is in my view highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco. I am persuaded that branded packaging plays an important role in encouraging young people to smoke and in consolidating the habit irrespective of the intentions of the industry." (p6)[6]

Health Minister Ellison announced in the House of Commons that the Government would, as a result of the review, conduct another brief Consultation on the proposed legislation.[7] During the House of Commons debates on 3 April 2014, Ellison received questions from a large number of MPs. Sutcliffe stated:

“I am a non-smoker and I do not want to see young people smoking, but I have concerns about standardised packaging, for two reasons. One is illicit trade, and I will give evidence on that and perhaps meet the Minister and her colleagues about that illicit trade and its impact on our constituencies. Also, I represent a number of print workers. There is an issue about jobs and the effects on the packaging industry. I hope she will take that into consideration.”[8]

Ellison refers Chope to the Chantler Review and states:

“The hon. Gentleman mentions illicit trade. As I have said a number of times, it is addressed in the report, but there will be other opportunities to discuss that. I also draw the House’s attention to the fact that stopping illicit tobacco coming into the country is the job of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It has had great success in that regard over recent years. With regard to the hon. Gentleman’s point about jobs, we will publish a full impact assessment alongside draft regulations at the same time as the final consultation. Jobs will be one of the issues in that impact assessment.”

HMRC Concludes “No Evidence” of Increase in Illicit Market Resulting from Plain Packaging

In February 2015 the government published a summary report of the 2014 consultation on plain packaging in the UK alongside HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) assessment of the potential impact on the illict tobacco market. HMRC conlcuded:

“We have seen no evidence to suggest the introduction of standardised packaging will have a significant impact on the overall size of the illicit market or prompt a step-change in the activity of organised crime groups.”[9]

Tobacco Hospitality

In 2014 Sutcliffe accepted a ticket to the Chelsea Flower show worth £702 from Japan Tobacco International (JTI).[10]

For more details, see Tobacco Industry Hospitality for UK Politicians.

External Resources

Profile of Gerry Sutcliffe on TheyWorkForYou website.

Notes

  1. UK Parliment Website MPs, Lords and Offices, accessed May 2015
  2. M. Barrett, 34 Conservative MPs write to Andrew Lansley to express “serious concerns” about plain tobacco packaging, Conservative Home, 2 July 2012, accessed February 2015
  3. Hansard,Children and Families Bill (Programme No. 3), House of Commons Debates, 10 February 2014, accessed February 2015
  4. S. MacGuill. House of Enablers – Does anything now go for tobacco control in the UK? Euromonitor International, 11 February 2014
  5. Smokefree Action Coalition. SFAC welcomes Parliament’s support for a package of measures to reduce smoking and protect children. Smokefree Action Coalition News, 10 February 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sir Cyril Chantler, Standardised packaging of tobacco: Report of the independent review undertaken by Sir Cyril Chantler, Kings College London, 3 April 2014, accessed April 2014
  7. BBC, Government to move ahead with standardised cigarette packs, BBC News: Politics, 3 April 2014, accessed April 2014
  8. Hansard, House of Commons Debates 3 April 2014: Tobacco Products (standardised packaging), Volume no:578, Part No:148, 3 April 2014, accessed February 2015
  9. HM Revenue & Customs, The introduction of standardised packaging for tobacco: HMRC’s assessment of the potential impact on the illicit market, Risk and Intelligence Service Analysis & Information, nd, accessed February 2015
  10. House of Commons Publications, Register of Members’ Financial Interests – 9 February 2015 report, 9 February 2015, accessed February 2015