Debates between Lord Krebs and Lord Bethell during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 7th Mar 2022
Health and Care Bill
Lords Chamber

Lords Hansard - Part 2 & Report stage: Part 2

Health and Care Bill

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Bethell
Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 149, 151 and 153 in my name and those of the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Boycott. The amendments refer specifically to a deadline for the implementation of the junk food advertising restrictions.

I completely applaud the Minister for the approach of bringing in government amendments to try to refine the terms of the Bill; it is a collaborative approach, which I think all of us have really appreciated. However, in this matter, a government amendment has, I think, overshot, by removing the previous deadline in the first draft of the Bill. These amendments seek to rectify that.

I will not speak at length, but many have said, both in Committee and at Second Reading, how urgent it is to address the issue of obesity in this country. We cannot have any delay or rolling procrastination around these measures, so it is entirely right, proper and suitable for there to be a deadline in place in a Bill such as this.

It is also right to have certainty. I have huge consideration for Grenade and its low-sugar, high-protein bar. I will certainly look out for its excellent product when I am next in the gym, and I think the uncertainty it faces, which my noble friend Lord Moylan has described, is heartbreaking. That is why it is important to start the mechanisms now for answering its quite reasonable questions and to put a deadline on when those answers should be delivered.

I am not blind to the fact that many in the industry have voiced concerns that the deadline is too tight. I have looked at it and I do not accept those concerns. I think the bans have been around and on the books for a very long time and preparations have been in place. I worked in publishing during the tobacco ban: the turnaround for that was quite tight, but it was quite transparent and it happened without too much trouble. I think that a deadline is entirely right and suitable and that the deadline proposed is reasonable. I would like to hear reassurance from the Minister that there will be clear scheduling for these measures.

I would also like very briefly to address Amendment 151A, from my noble friend Lord Black, and the related amendments. On this, I feel utterly conflicted. The harms caused by online advertising have been mounting over several years. They are currently far too damaging and they are set to grow, both in scale and sophistication, without any clear sight of regulatory control. That is of grave concern, and the points made by my noble friend were very persuasive: I think he was right about bringing in compliance by the platforms. On the other hand, I accept that government regulation in this area is so off the pace; the online harms Bill is so far behind and the online advertising review has taken so long that the Government are just not in a position to implement the measures in this amendment.

I shall not be supporting these amendments in any votes that might happen, but my sentiments are very much along those lines. I ask the Minister to say very clearly what the Department for Health and Social Care and the Government will do around these concerns, not just on junk food advertising but on the advertising of alcohol, betting and non-surgical cosmetics, which all face similar concerns around the explosion of complex and persuasive online advertising which is underregulated.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, I shall speak in support of the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, to which I have added my name. I do not really need to say anything more than has already been said. We know that this country, according to the World Obesity Atlas published last week and supported by the World Cancer Research Fund, is now top of the European league table for projected levels of female obesity by 2030 and joint top for projected levels of male obesity. Sadly, it is probably already too late to stem this trend, but by acting now on these measures we might be able to protect the next generation. That is why I support the idea of having a firm deadline by which time the measures will be introduced.

I actually wanted to speak in slightly more detail about Amendments 148, 150 and 152 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Moylan. As he explained, they are really just one amendment.

I promise you that this was not set up, but I have in my hand the very Grenade bar to which the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, referred. I wish to explain why this Grenade bar should definitely not be excluded. I am grateful to Dr Emma Boyland, of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Population Health, for giving me a briefing on the Grenade Carb Killa bar—this particular one is high-protein, low-sugar, white chocolate and salted peanut. I bought it at the weekend from Holland & Barrett, in its health food section; it is marketed and advertised as a healthy product. Is it a healthy product? The answer is no.

First of all, no age group in this country is short of protein. We simply do not need to eat more protein. So the fact that this bar is high-protein is completely irrelevant in terms of health benefits. Secondly, remember that HFSS is high fat, salt and sugar. The bar may be low-sugar, but what about fat? It contains two-thirds of the recommended daily limit of the intake of saturated fat; it is definitely high in fat. It also contains more salt than a bag of salted crisps. Is it right to exclude something that is fatty and salty from the definition of HFSS? I am convinced it is not right, and therefore I completely reject the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Moylan. These products should not be excluded from the measures proposed in Schedule 18 to the Bill.

Food-related Crime

Debate between Lord Krebs and Lord Bethell
Monday 22nd February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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I am enormously grateful to the noble Baroness for her support in this matter. I reassure her that we are focused and working on it, and I will bring forward an update as soon as I reasonably can.

Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB) [V]
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My Lords, detecting food crime often depends on trading standards officers and public analysts. Does the Minister consider that the current number of trading standards officers and public analysts is adequate to give the public confidence that food crime is being detected in a timely and comprehensive way? Could he also tell us what progress has been made on detecting honey fraud? It is estimated that about 15% of honey on sale in Europe is adulterated, and it is now over a year since Defra held a seminar on detection methods.

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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The noble Lord undoubtedly knows that, since January 2021, the FSA has been running a 12-month pilot of the new model of working with local authorities on trading standards in order to improve the work between the FSA and trading standards to address any gaps there may be in that collaboration. On the noble Lord’s question about honey fraud, I completely endorse his shock and outrage that the honey that we buy in the supermarket may be adulterated. It is sometimes said that there is 10 times the amount of manuka honey on sale than could ever be possibly made by the bees of New Zealand. There are challenges on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy allocations, as the noble Lord undoubtedly knows. We are working extremely hard with both Defra and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist to put pressure on international authorities to align the data needed in order to investigate honey more closely.