Brown 'backs' further ad curbs

The appointment of MP Mary Creagh indicates the new PM backs further junk-food restrictions.

Gordon Brown has signalled his backing for even tougher rules over the advertising of junk food by appointing the Labour MP Mary Creagh, a campaigner for a ban on junk-food ads, as the chairman of a group to draw up public health proposals for the party's general election manifesto.

In 2005, Creagh introduced a Private Member's Bill to outlaw ads for foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt during children's programmes. Although it failed to become law, it led to new curbs being introduced by Ofcom.

Creagh will use her new post to revive the plans in her Bill for statutory, rather than voluntary, controls. "That is one of the reasons why I am taking on this role," she said. "The fact that I am in this position indicates that Labour wants radical ideas in this area."

However, she accepted that Ofcom's rules would have to be given a chance to work before Labour could make a decision on further action. One option she supports is a 9pm watershed, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

Creagh's brief also covers alcohol misuse, and she said she would be looking to see if the existing ad code needs to be tightened.

However, the Advertising Association did welcome as "good news" Brown's appointment of James Purnell, formerly the minister for creative industries, as the culture secretary. "He is well placed to ensure joined-up government, which will protect advertising freedoms and nurture innovation," the AA said.

As part of a shake-up of duties at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Purnell has taken personal responsibility for broadcasting and the digital switchover.

The remainder of media and the creative responsibilities have been given to Margaret Hodge, the DCMS minister of state. Her role covers tourism, the arts and the creative industries, including advertising, TV, radio, film and video.

Gerry Sutcliffe has taken on the role of the Parliamentary under-secretary of state for sport, gambling, horse racing and the National Lottery, as well as social policy for children and obesity.

- Leader, page 18.

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