Suspension notices

Medicines and Medical Devices Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 10 Mehefin 2020.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care) 9:25, 10 Mehefin 2020

I beg to move amendment 29, in clause 17, page 10, line 12, at end insert—

“(f) advertising it.”

This amendment allows the enforcement authority to prevent an individual who has been served a suspension note from advertising their product.

It is a pleasure to be back. Monday’s discussions were of a high quality and in a good spirit, which is what we need at this time, so I am glad to be here and back at it.

This is a short amendment: again, I want to talk about the issue rather than do anything else. Clause 17 sets the context and is mirrored in clause 18, to which I have tabled amendment 18. It sets out what the Secretary of State or the enforcement authority can do in relation to a faulty product, a medical device that is presumably dangerous or certainly not known to be safe. It includes a list of five things that can be prohibited under either a suspension notice or a safety notice. This prevents an individual from

“(a) supplying the medical device;

(b) offering to supply it;

(c) agreeing to supply it;

(d) exposing it for supply;

(e) possessing it for supply.”

I would add a sixth one—advertising it for supply. I flagged this up with the Minister the other day and will obviously be interested to hear her reply. I am conscious that she has the collective might of the legal brains of the whole Government. It could be that I have spotted a gap, or that I have not. That depends on whether advertising is covered by “offering to supply it” or “exposing it for supply”.

I want to talk about a particular phenomenon—the current way in which clickbait is used. For example, over the weekend, I saw an article that normally would be up my street. It said, “Jason Statham says he no longer needs to do the ‘Fast and Furious’ films”. I am a big fan of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, and that would grieve me enormously. I did not click on the article, because it was obviously nonsense, but I later saw an article about the very same thing. It mentioned Jason Statham and other people, and when you click on that type of thing, it takes you through to bitcoin. It basically said that he does not need to do films anymore, because he has made so much money on bitcoin and so can you. There is an argument to be had about cryptocurrencies, but the issue there is people being shown one thing that actually leads them to something else.

In the medical devices space, it is very easy to see equivalent things for people to click on. They will show someone with dramatic weight loss and then say, “You won’t believe how they did it.” In this case, there will be a picture of a medical device, and the idea is that someone says, “Wow! I’ve found a magical device. I can do the same. I can do it just like this celebrity.” Then they click through and it takes them to diet pills. I would argue that at no point there—there is no price; the article may not name or price the product, but just picture the product—have those responsible exposed it for supply, because it would be possible to argue that we literally cannot buy it, it is just a picture and certainly it has not been offered for supply.

Again, I am happy to take the lawyers’ guidance on this, and I hope that the Minister will help us with that. I just want to ascertain whether that gap—the thing that would legitimise a product, the demonstrating of it for another end—is one that we have to close.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I would also like to say what a pleasure it is to resume under your chairmanship, Mr Davies.

Amendment 29 seeks to amend clause 17 with regard to the suspension notices. I understand totally why hon. Members are looking to double-check where we are. The clause provides an enforcement authority with the power to serve a suspension notice on a person, where doing so is considered necessary to restrict the availability of a medical device in order to protect health and safety. It lists a number of prohibitions that may be imposed, and seeks to add a specific prohibition on advertising a medical device.

The Government recognise that the intention behind the amendment is to equip the enforcement agency with the ability to prohibit a recipient of a suspension notice from advertising a medical device where there is a need to protect health and safety. I assure hon. Members that the enforcement authority has the ability to do what the hon. Member for Nottingham North is asking and prohibit the advertising of a product already catered for in the clause. That is already in the Bill as it is currently drafted.

Hon. Members will note that prohibitions that may be impose include, in clause 17(2)(b), “offering to supply”, which encompasses advertising or an advertisement. Although I am grateful for the probe, I respectfully ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

I am content with that. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.