MAY 2, 2002
Conflicting views over F1 in parliament
THE recent days have seen Formula 1 back in parliament in Britain with debates over the tobacco legislation which is currently pending.
Dr. Liam Fox, the Shadow Health Secretary launched a violent attack on the government over the recent revelations, saying that he has written to the government asking for clarification.
"We all know now that events were very different from the account given by that very straightforward kind of guy the Prime Minister," he said.
Referring to FIA Max Mosley as "Sir Max Mosley" he asked the government to explain why Formula 1 had been given an exclusive exemption from the tobacco advertising ban when it did not want one.
"Did the Government, without any negotiations, offer an exemption for Formula 1 that was never even sought? If so, why, who did it, who knew about it, and when did it happen? As a result of the Government's appalling handling of the whole affair, Mr. Ecclestone has been unfairly maligned following his donation to the Labour party."
Fox went on to talk about the "scandal" of British taxpayers contributing to the EU's policy on tobacco growing.
"It is scandalous that the European Union spends £600 million supporting tobacco growing," Fox said. "Of the tobacco grown, under the EU's policy, a third is burned, a third goes into the European tobacco market, and appealingly and shamefully, the remainder is exported to third-world countries. That is EU cash-for-cancer money, and we are paying it. How can any EU country successfully fight against tobacco consumption with the hypocrisy of those massive subsidies continuing? We continue to subsidize the promotion of cheap tobacco to people in developing countries. We fail to tackle smuggling effectively, so the real price of tobacco falls and consumption rises."
In the same debate David Hinchliffe, the Labour Chairman of the Health Select Committee commented that "I am not particularly interested in Formula 1 - frankly, I would prefer to watch paint dry - although I understand that some people find it attractive. I saw (Michael) Schumacher being interviewed on television, his jacket plastered in Marlboro signs. The Formula 1 issue typifies the way in which the tobacco companies have conned politicians for the past 50 years."
Hinchliffe said that he saw no reason why the sport could not move away from its dependence on tobacco.
"There is no justification for not moving in that direction," he said. "I felt at the time that the arguments for exempting Formula 1 were questionable; other sports could have made similar arguments. Interestingly, the Health Committee had Mr.. Bernie Ecclestone and Mr.. Max Mosley as witnesses, and I did not find them particularly convincing."
Oh well, to each his own...
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