New legislation being presented to Parliament today [Wednesday] will lead to a ban on daytime TV and online advertising for what the Government describes as “less healthy food or drink products”.

This is part of a series of measures being imposed on us by those who support the whole “Government knows best” approach to life.

The Government also intends to prohibit the displaying of food considered to be high in fat, salt and sugar in prominent locations in some stores - such as at checkouts or aisle ends - and stop shops offering ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ types of deals.

The “less healthy” foods they are targeting not only include items that you might think the health zealots would have their eye on but also yoghurts, sandwiches and cereals.

It is not also even food that is unhealthy in its own right - it is an individual’s overall diet and exercise regime that ultimately matter.

I believe that freedom is definitely worth fighting for wherever it is being eroded - as it clearly is here.

Surely we should be free to choose what we want to eat without any interference and parents should decide what is best for their children.

That certainly used to be Conservative philosophy and not this nanny state approach.

Not only is this whole Government strategy one that is anti-freedom, it is anti-business and also anti-consumer as people could end up paying more for their food.

The potential economic damage that these plans will cause to the food and drink sector is estimated by some to be in excess of £3 billion.

After a year of lockdown impositions, which saw many businesses forced to shut or trade at limited capacity, these plans add insult to injury for business owners.

Inevitably the group of consumers that could be hit hardest by the new measures will be those on low incomes - who spend a greater proportion of their incomes on food and drink than average - as an assessment made by the Government itself accepted.

Whilst the costs will go up in some cases, banning promotions could mean many on low incomes turn to bargain stores who will buy up the excess stock no longer shifted in supermarkets. Banning promotions will not, therefore, get rid of cheap and so-called unhealthy products altogether but will simply transport some of them to the shelves of other stores.

This might help explain why there’s not much evidence that policies like this actually work.

Even by the Government’s own admission the bans they are proposing are not even likely to make much of a difference. For example, the Government’s evidence note behind the banning of daytime advertising on the so-called “less healthy” foods says that the effect would be to reduce the calorie intake of children by 2.09 calories a day. Yes – all that for just over 2 calories a day – the equivalent of 1 tic tac!

The Government has said that they are concerned about children who are already obese having 500 calories a day more than they should so how on earth is 2 calories less going to make any difference?

As always with these things there are also unintended consequences of strategies which can sound like good ideas. [As I often say, ones that are all Motherhood and apple pie - apple pie taking on a particular relevance here.]

One example of an unintended consequence is as the Food and Drink Federation have pointed out - without the money generated from advertising revenue, it will be more difficult to invest in reformulating to create healthier products.

This would obviously be counter-productive to the Government’s intended strategy.

Also, all products which have the misfortune to be labelled “less healthy” will be subject to the same restrictions despite the fact that clearly some products labelled that way will naturally be better for you than others.

This brings me back the fact that I am fed up to the back teeth of all these bossy, interfering, anti-freedom policies and their unintended consequences and I believe that any Conservative worth their salt should oppose them.

l The views expressed in this column are those of Philip Davies MP, who was elected as the Conservative MP for the Shipley constituency in 2005.