Jamie Oliver urges David Cameron to 'be brave' and implement sugar tax

Posted On: 
19th October 2015

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has urged the Government to “be brave” and introduce a 7p sugar tax on fizzy drinks and snacks in order to tackle childhood obesity. 

Mr Oliver suggested that the Health Secretary was "dithering when faced with a major crisis" rather than taking bold action.

Facing questions at a session of the Commons Health Select Committee, Mr Oliver implied he still believed the Government would back the tax, despite indications in the past that ministers were against the plans.

The chef said previous governments had done an “incredible disservice” to children by not implementing a levy on sugary drinks.                                                                                                

"The discussions that I've had haven't implied that that is written off. I think the discussions that have I've had have been robust," he said. "Mr Cameron is reviewing everything and seems to be interrogating it really well."

"Parents in Britain and people involved in public health need to hold Mr Cameron to be brave and strong and support him...We’ve normalised the consumption of fizzy drinks at home… it’s completely inappropriate.”

Mr Oliver added it was time to remind businesses who was in charge.

He said: “We need to ask who is running the country. Is it the businesses who are profiting in ill health in our children or is it us? Industry must be kept in line and it mustn’t run this country."

 “We’ve normalised the consumption of fizzy drinks at home – it’s completely inappropriate," he added.

Previously Mr Oliver began a petition which gathered nearly 150,000 signatures which demanded a Commons debate on the issue.

EVIDENCE PUBLICATION

Earlier in the session, Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie was attacked by chair Sarah Wollaston for not releasing the child obesity strategy.

The Committee has not been provided with the PHE’s independent review of ways to reduce sugar intake which was supposed to be published last July.

Mr Selbie defended his decision, saying he had given the report to Jeremy Hunt.

"There is no conspiracy of silence…what we really want is to get an outcome that works."

He added he did not think a sugar tax was the most urgent priority for the Government.

"Our evidence suggests it could contribute but it is not where we would start," Mr Selbie said.

But Dr Wollaston heavily criticised the decision, implying Mr Selbie’s agency was bowing to pressure from ministers.

She said the delay with cause “immense damage” and will set a “dangerous precedent”.