I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to give the National Assembly for Wales the powers that it requires to protect employees and members of the public in Wales from the effects of second-hand smoke. The Bill has the backing of hon. Members of all parties and of many organisations and individuals across Wales and England, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, the Wales TUC, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Asthma UK, the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation and Cancer Research UK.
The public health lobby has rightly made achieving smoke-free workplaces and enclosed public places one of its top priorities, and at the outset I thank them for all their support and in particular ASH for its work in preparation for today's debate.
I particularly want to thank Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, who pioneered a similar Bill in the other place during the last Session. She did a great deal of preparation for the present Bill. I also have the support of the children's charities in Wales and of the Children's Commissioner for Wales, who are all concerned about the effect of passive smoking on children's health.
We look forward to the Minister giving his views at the end of the debate, so we will hear what he has to say then.
Imperial college researchers recently published research which showed that children regularly exposed to smoking are three times more likely to contract lung cancer in later life than those who live in non-smoking homes. That is a fundamental point.
I have consulted widely in my constituency, Cardiff, North. I have held public meetings with the local community, and last week I held a public meeting for representatives of children's charities and for local children in primary schools. Over 200 posters were submitted by local children to illustrate my Bill. It was a tremendous experience talking to the children in their schools and at the meeting about their views on smoking.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way a second time. In her wide consultations on the Bill, has she had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Secretary of State for Wales, the Secretary of State for Health or any of their junior Ministers to see what the Government's attitude is to being consulted, and what their attitude might be towards the content of her Bill? I should be interested to place the debate in context at this early stage.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that intervention. Yes, I have discussed the Bill with all those to whom he refers, and there is general sympathy with the aims.
Over 200 posters were submitted by local children to illustrate my Bill and they showed the depth of their perception of the dangers of passive smoking, and the unfairness of being unable to breathe smoke-free air because of what some of the children saw as the selfishness of some adults. They used captions such as, "Stop the ciggies, save the kiddies", "Stop smoking and we will stop choking", "Think—don't smoke around your children. Your children's lungs are not an ashtray", "Smoker, loser, loner—get the picture?", and in Welsh, "Tân y ddraig, nid mwg yr ysgyfaint"—that is, "The fire of the dragon, not the smoke from your lungs". Those children's words remind us of the terrible damage smoking does to people in Wales.
Smoking-related illness causes about 6,000 deaths in Wales each year, as the Library's excellent research paper shows. For example, in 2001 just over 15,000 new cancer cases were recorded in Wales, and we can expect about 30 per cent. to have resulted from smoking. The proportion of adults in Wales who smoke is approximately 27 per cent.—higher than the figure in England, reflecting the fact that Wales is a poorer country.
The overall figure hides wide variations between different parts of Wales, but particularly between different communities and social classes. I remind hon. Members that smoking is the greatest single contributor to health inequalities and to differences in life expectancy between social classes. We know that people who are poorer smoke more. To quote one stark statistic, on average across the UK a man in social class 5, the poorest, has a 50 per cent. chance of living to the age of 70, while a man in social class 1, the richest, has about a 70 per cent. chance of doing so, and by far the largest factor in that difference is smoking. Surely it is imperative that we do something about that huge risk. Anyone who cares about the most basic measure of social equality—how long we live—must care about smoking.
During the past 50 years, successive Governments have taken steps to cut smoking rates. We have already raised prices, put warnings on packets, banned advertising and restricted sales to minors.
I thank my hon. Friend for all her support on the issue. Yes, I am aware of the results announced on Radio 4 this morning, and I believe that the success in cutting smoking has not been as the Government would wish, which makes it even more important that this Bill should be passed.
Despite all the efforts that successive Governments have made, the pain, grief and loss caused by smoking continue. It has been the great invisible tragedy of modern industrial societies, particularly in Wales. If we want a healthy nation in which every citizen has the best chance of a long and healthy life, we must continue to look for new ways to tackle the problem, and the Bill is one way of doing so.
It is now a well-established fact that the most powerful new policy lever available to cut smoking rates is to end smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places. My Bill aims to stop smoking in all enclosed public places. Many workplaces are public places, and many workplaces do not need legislation because they are implementing such a policy themselves. On no smoking day this year, the National Assembly for Wales announced that all its buildings would be smoke free, as did Cardiff and Vale NHS trust, whose Heath hospital is the biggest in Wales. The trust also included the hospital curtilages, so there was no smoking in the hospital entrances, which gave rise to some debate. I am sure that everyone will have seen the mass of cigarette butts at hospital entrances, with people standing around smoking.
I appreciate the point that the hon. Lady makes about NHS trusts, and mine has implemented such a policy, but does she agree that special considerations need to be applied when dealing with mental health trusts? The incidence of smoking among people with mental illness is much higher, and to take someone with mental illness into a secure unit that has banned smoking is positively dangerous in some circumstances, and not conducive to the treatment that they need. It is not advantageous that they smoke, but to stop them could be disadvantageous to their treatment for their mental illness.
The hon. Gentleman makes an important intervention, but I do not think that there is any evidence to suggest that stopping smoking will cause damage in the way that he suggests, and among the NHS trusts that have become smoke free there is a psychiatric unit. However, I agree that we must take that into consideration in any detailed consideration of the Bill or any other proposal.
Does the hon. Lady agree that people with a mental illness suffer a double jeopardy, in that they not only suffer mental illness, but as such a large percentage of them smoke, they also suffer the physical ill effects of that? Is that not something that we should counter, possibly with this Bill?
Yes, people who have a mental illness also need protection from smoke, but I accept that we must approach the matter carefully. I take on board some of the points made by Tim Loughton, but if we are to challenge health inequalities, we cannot leave out some of the most vulnerable people in society, who suffer from mental illness.
Derek Wanless has done a lot of work on health inequalities, and in his excellent report to the Government on public health issues he estimated that a complete end to smoking in all workplaces could cut smoking prevalence rates by up to 4 per cent., and across the UK that would mean a fall from around one in four to one in five of the adult population, and thousands of lives would be saved as a result. The Bill is about saving lives, and that is why I chose it. It deals with an important public health issue; it is the one thing that we can do via legislation that can have a huge impact on the public and on the health service. It is a very important measure.
I accept that we cannot simply tell people what to do for their own good. Much as we want to encourage people not to smoke, we cannot force them to quit. They have the right to smoke should they wish to do so, and the Bill is not an attack on smokers. Let smokers smoke if they are unable to give up and if we have offered them every help that they may want and ask for, but do not let their smoking affect other people. That is the key issue. Smokers affect other people's lives, and if people are to smoke they should do so where other people are not affected. The Bill is not about forcing people not to smoke, but about giving the National Assembly the powers for which it has asked to require people not to smoke when their habit would damage the health of others. It is about allowing the Assembly the option to do what the Scottish Executive has already decided to do—an inspiring and welcome decision to all those who care about public health, which was overwhelmingly supported by the public in Scotland.
The hon. Lady says that the Welsh Assembly has asked for this legislation. Was there a formal request from a Committee, or did the entire membership, or the majority of the membership, pass a particular motion within the Assembly, or is that simply her understanding of the majority feeling within the membership of the Assembly?
It is a mixture of both, and I shall deal with that subject later in my speech.
I shall not speak at length about the scientific evidence on second-hand smoke. The case has been made, I do not think that many people challenge it, and it is almost universally accepted. I simply point out that tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals in the form of particles and gases, some 60 of which are known or suspected carcinogens, including carbon monoxide, ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide.
The scientific evidence is well summarised in the latest report of the Government's own Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, which comprises 15 of the most eminent medical experts in the country. The report was published along with the White Paper on public health in November last year. The committee reported that exposure to second-hand smoke increased the risk of contracting lung cancer and heart disease by about a quarter. That is very damning evidence. The committee described second-hand smoke as
"a controllable and preventable form of indoor air pollution" and as
"a substantial public health hazard".
The report concludes:
"It is evident that no infant, child or adult should be exposed to secondhand smoke".
Surely it behoves us to do something about that. The report was very decisive, and it is our duty as politicians to ensure that its recommendations are taken up.
Of course, not everybody accepts that evidence. The latest annual report of British American Tobacco still claims that
"there is no convincing evidence that environmental tobacco smoke exposure genuinely increases the risk of non-smokers developing lung cancer or heart disease".
That wilful refusal to accept scientific evidence is aped by tobacco industry-funded pressure groups such as Forest, which came to the public meeting that I held in my constituency. Its representative refused to accept the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion.
Using the Government committee's figures, Professor Konrad Jamrozik of the university of Queensland has estimated in the British Medical Journal that exposure to other people's smoke in the workplace causes more than 600 premature deaths across the UK every year. That can be compared with the total number of deaths in the UK from all industrial accidents, which the Health and Safety Executive reported to be 235 in 2003. We can add to the figures for premature deaths the evidence that second-hand smoke causes many thousands of episodes of illness. For example, a recent Department of Health survey shows that people who are exposed to other people's tobacco smoke for six or more hours a week are 50 per cent. more likely than those who are not exposed in that way to develop asthma symptoms and breathlessness, coughing and wheezing.
At the public meeting that I held, one woman said that she was very nervous about coming to the meeting because she was afraid that somebody might light a cigarette in defiance. She said that she would virtually collapse if cigarette smoke affected her, and she was very frightened about going out to any public place. I also feel very strongly about this matter, as three members of my close family are asthmatics, and I know the effect that going into a smoky room can have, with streaming eyes and coughing. It seems very unfair that people are unable to benefit from smoke-free air when they go out for the evening, for example.
Asthma UK states that one in five people with asthma are prevented from using parts of their workplace where people smoke because of cigarette fumes. Cigarette smoke is the second most common asthma trigger in the workplace. In the face of that, who can deny that smoking is a major workplace health and safety issue? Who can deny that employees who are regularly exposed to other people's smoke day after day and night after night are at real risk? That is why the Government committee singled out bar staff, for example, as an occupational group that is heavily exposed to this unnecessary and serious hazard. When we go into bars in city centres, which are often frequented by very young people, there is a fog of smoke. Those young people are spending many hours in that smoky atmosphere, so bars are a particular issue.
The scientific evidence also shows that there is no satisfactory way of eliminating the risks of second-hand smoke in enclosed public places short of ending smoking. The lobby saying that it is possible to use ventilation to get rid of the smoke is completely mistaken. Despite the best endeavours of the tobacco industry to promote ventilation as a solution to the problem, no ventilation system will be fully effective. Smoke spreads, and it is not possible to prevent people who are in the same room with someone who is smoking from being affected by that smoke. The atmospheric physicist James Repace has stated that such a system would require air cycling rates of "tornado-like" force. It might almost be worth the absurd expense of installing such a system to watch some of the opponents of action on second-hand smoke trying to light a cigarette when it was in operation. It is now generally accepted that we cannot get rid of tobacco smoke.
Of course, under the Bill, it would be for the National Assembly for Wales to decide what restrictions on smoking it introduced. Good employers in the pub and restaurant trade are already heading in the right direction. The pub chain Wetherspoon, for example, has announced that its 650 pubs will be smoke free by the end of 2006, which is two years earlier than the Government proposes in the White Paper. I believe that that is a commercial decision, as I think that many more people will go to pubs and restaurants if they know that there will be no smoke there.
In south Wales, Brains has announced the launch of smoke-free pubs in the Cardiff area. The Aubrey Arms in the Vale of Glamorgan is already smoke free, and the Cottage pub in the centre of Cardiff has recently become so. I welcome such moves. The move towards recognising the danger of tobacco smoke, including through passive smoking, has been very swift. If we had had this debate two years ago, there would have been much more opposition. There has been a huge change in the views of the public, and voluntary steps, such as those that I have mentioned, have been taken.
Overall, however, progress has been slow. Using data from the Government's labour force survey and the Office for National Statistics survey "Smoking-related behaviours and attitudes", Action on Smoking and Health, or ASH, has calculated that more than 130,000 employees in Wales are still routinely exposed to other people's smoke throughout their place of work—one in 10 of the work force. More than 500,000 people—four in 10 of the total work force—work in places where smoking is permitted somewhere on the premises. The case for a new law is that it will bring the worst up to the standard of the best, because good things are already happening.
When the National Assembly for Wales made a decision about this matter, it would also need to make a judgment on what impact restrictions on smoking in workplaces and public places might have on trade and jobs. I know that it is considering that issue, and that evidence has been given to the Assembly Committee that is currently engaged in consultation. I would argue that we already know more than enough to dismiss the wild assertions of the tobacco trade and some of the more unreconstructed elements of the hospitality industry.
Hon. Members will probably remember the braying and bleating from tobacco interests and the bar trade in New York when that city wisely acted to end smoking in all workplaces and public places. We were told that trade would slump dramatically; a 30 per cent. decrease was the usual forecast, but I do not know what it was based on. As always, it has taken about a year to get a real idea of the effect and for objective evidence to be collected.
In March 2004, the city's finance, health, small business and economic development departments got together to look at the facts, and here they are: business tax receipts in restaurants and bars are up by 8.7 per cent.; employment in restaurants and bars has increased by 10,600 jobs since the enactment of that law; 97 per cent. of restaurants and bars are smoke free; and New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the law. Air quality in bars and restaurants has improved dramatically: levels of cotinine, a by-product of tobacco, decreased by 85 per cent. in non-smoking workers in bars and restaurants, and 150,000 fewer New Yorkers are exposed to second-hand smoke on the job. What a success. Taking a bold initiative, and leading as politicians should lead, can achieve success in the way that I have described. If the National Assembly for Wales wants the same benefit for the people of Wales, I believe that we should give it the power to achieve that.
I also visited Ireland with the all-party group on smoking and health. In May last year, no-smoking legislation was introduced in Ireland, and it will be interesting to see an evaluation of what has happened after a year. What we saw in Ireland was very impressive, and I was most impressed that everybody whom we met totally accepts the law. In Dublin we visited some bars and restaurants where the smokers, who were not complaining, were outside. A lot of smokers support this Bill, because most smokers want to give up, and feel that the fewer opportunities they have to smoke, the better it is for them. The all-party group was very positive about the move in Ireland.
The people of Wales and the Assembly should be concerned about smoking in workplaces and public places. The Assembly has responsibility for matters relating to health, but to improve the health of the people in Wales, it must be able to tackle the problems caused by the consumption of tobacco. If it is not allowed to tackle the extensive problems caused by second-hand smoke, it is being asked to provide health care without the powers it needs to be fully effective.
The Assembly has sought such powers. On
The Assembly's view is clearly in line with the majority of Welsh people. In a MORI survey in May 2004, 54 per cent. of respondents in Wales strongly supported a law to ensure that all enclosed workplaces are smoke free, and a further 24 per cent. tended to support the proposals. The majority among the public is clear.
I certainly support the Assembly in Wales.
If this opportunity is to be seized, the Assembly must get the power that it needs, and if it chooses to go beyond the Government's partial proposals, which would exempt some membership clubs and many pubs that do not serve prepared food, the principle of devolution requires that it be permitted to do so. As I have said, many of the pubs that do not serve prepared food are used by young people, and we have a duty to try to protect the health of young people.
I will be interested to hear the Minister's reply to the debate. I hope that the Government make a firm commitment that Wales can introduce the legislation that it wants, and act on the results of the consultation and previous votes in the Assembly. If it does nothing else, today's debate about my Bill is an excellent opportunity for the Minister to give us his views. My Bill would provide the Assembly with the precise powers that it requires to act on smoking.
My Bill is very similar to one introduced in the other place by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, who is a consultant in palliative care at Velindre, a hospital that treats cancer patients in my constituency. I pay tribute to her relentless efforts in starting off the process. Velindre treats people from all around south Wales for the effects of tobacco smoke, and since Baroness Finlay took up her post in the other place, she has spent endless time promoting that cause. I also pay tribute to the former Assembly Minister for Health and Social Services, Jane Hutt, and the current Assembly Minister for Health and Social Services, Brian Gibbons, who have worked very hard.
I shall conclude by briefly describing the Bill's clauses. Clause 1 provides that the Assembly can make regulations restricting or ending smoking in enclosed public places in Wales. Clause 2 commits the Assembly to include in such regulations requirements for the display of suitable no-smoking signs—in Ireland, we were struck by the absolute uniformity of the signs displayed in pubs and restaurants. Clause 3 commits the Assembly to prescribing that smoking in an enclosed public place or managing a public place where smoking is permitted in contravention of the regulations may be designated as an offence. Clause 4 allows for the ministerial powers necessary to give effect to such regulations to be transferred to the Assembly by Order in Council, approved by Parliament. Clause 5 provides that the power to make regulations under the Bill would be exercised by statutory instrument. Clause 6 defines the terms used in the Bill. Clause 7 contains the Bill's short title and the arrangements for commencement.
In conclusion, the Bill is simple, and it is entirely fit for purpose: it will give the National Assembly for Wales the power to act on a serious health and safety issue; it will protect the health of non-smokers from the dangerous habits of others; and it offers the chance and incentive for many smokers to quit.
I have one specific query about clause 6, which includes "vehicle or vessel" in its definition of "premises" and defines "Wales" as including
"the sea adjacent to Wales".
Does the hon. Lady intend the legislation to apply to, for example, people smoking on the decks of ferries as they leave Welsh ports?
The Bill refers to "enclosed public places", which includes, for example, a stadium, and I believe that it would apply to the deck of a ship.
The Bill concerns potentially the most important public health reform in Wales for many years. We must never forget that most smokers want to quit, and they need the help and encouragement of policy makers to succeed. The Bill is good for non-smokers and smokers alike, and it offers enormous benefits to the people of Wales at little or no cost. In the years after the Assembly acts, as I believe that it will, to end smoking in public places, thousands of people across Wales will live to spend many more years with their families and friends, and surely there is no stronger case for action than that.
Powerful vested interests probably oppose the Bill, but the evidence and logic are overwhelming. The Bill is the only public health measure that we could pass that would give long years of life to people who would otherwise die prematurely, and I commend it to the House.
I congratulate Julie Morgan on her good fortune in the ballot and on choosing an important area of public health policy as the subject for her Bill. I am happy briefly to speak as a sponsor of her Bill—most of the Bill's sponsors appear to be called "Williams".
Can my right hon. Friend explain why, by my count, more than half of the Bill's sponsors have failed to turn up to support the Bill, which the hon. Lady has said is so important? If the Bill's sponsors do not turn up, what hope is there for anyone else?
I do not want to be drawn into other hon. Members' habits on a Friday. Many of them may have legitimate reasons for not being in the House at the moment, and, for all I know, they may be on their way.
I support the Bill, but, if we are realistic, we will admit it might not reach the statute book this time round—it is more likely to land on the snake of Dissolution than on the ladder of Committee.
I do not normally intervene in Welsh matters, but I would be more likely to visit the Principality if I knew that public places were smoke free. Once I got there, I would be more likely to visit licensed premises if I knew that they were unpolluted by smoke, and I hope that that reassures the publicans of Wales.
The Bill will be seen in the context of a broader debate about the Government's role in areas of public health policy, and how far it is legitimate for the state to curb individual freedoms in the public interest. To that extent, there may be surprise that the Bill has support from Conservative Members, who are traditionally the champions of individual liberty and cautious about giving Government more powers. However, I remind my right hon. and hon. Friends that it was under a Conservative Government that it became compulsory for motorcyclists to wear crash helmets and under a Conservative Government that it became compulsory for car passengers to wear seat belts; and I remember when I was a Health Minister some 25 years ago advocating the application of fluoride to water supplies in the interests of dental health. So despite my right hon. Friend's protestations, it is the case that our party has taken important steps forward in public health issues and has in certain circumstances, in the broader public interest, curtailed the liberty of the individual to harm himself. Against that background, I am more than happy to support the Bill.
Turning more specifically to smoking, I find it amazing that it has taken so long for this country to tackle the scourge of smoking-related diseases. In the 19th century, we led the world in combating water-borne diseases. In the 20th century, we led the world in dealing with poor housing, clean air policies and promoting vaccination. But in the 21st century, this country has been overtaken by many other places, including Ireland and five states in America, in the important field of public health; and in the United Kingdom, Scotland has legislation on the way through, with no exemptions for public places. Our debates on health in this place are still dominated by acute medicine and primary care, whereas the advances that we all want in life expectancy are more likely to come about through changes in lifestyle.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, North set out the case for the Bill very effectively. My view is that so far as public places are concerned, a person's freedom to smoke ends where my nose begins. I find it slightly odd that the Assembly does not already have the powers in her Bill. Under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the National Assembly should have control over
"All aspects of public health in Wales, including food safety but excluding international issues where the Department of Health or other agencies lead for the UK."
Banning smoking in public places does not strike me as an international issue, and it is clearly an aspect of public health. Perhaps the Minister can explain, in light of that quote, which came from the Department for Constitutional Affairs, why the Assembly does not already have these powers. It has powers on health promotion in Wales and can therefore promote smoke-free public places, but it cannot deliver the policy if promotion fails.
"we recognise that some proposals in this White Paper will have implications for other parts of the UK. We will work closely with colleagues in the devolved administrations to identify these, so that joint action can be taken where appropriate and legislative opportunities provided for the devolved administrations where new powers are created for England."
If he meant what he said, the Government should be supporting this Bill, which gives to the Welsh Assembly exactly the powers to which he referred.
"We are not able to support" the Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill
"for various reasons, but in terms of the thrust of the policy that it contains" the hon. Member for Cardiff, North
"will find that we are with her in spirit. She will also be encouraged by subsequent legislation that we intend to introduce, which will give Wales the opportunity to implement policies in the way in which the National Assembly choose."—[Hansard, 3 March 2005; Vol. 431, c. 1109.]
But why wait? I am sure that the hon. Lady would have been even more encouraged had the Secretary of State for Wales indicated that the Government would give her Bill a clear run.
The hon. Lady stated the case forcefully, and I will not repeat her arguments. Many potentially toxic gases are present in higher concentrations in sidestream smoke than in mainstream smoke, and nearly 85 per cent. of the smoke in a room results from sidestream smoke. Exposure to second-hand smoke is a serious health risk to non-smokers, increasing their chances of contracting lung cancer and heart disease by about a quarter. As the hon. Lady observed, 617 people die prematurely each year through exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace.
So far as England is concerned, the Government have come up with proposals which, in my view, do not go far enough. When the Secretary of State made his statement on the public health White Paper in November, I criticised him for not including all pubs within the scope of the smoking ban—a mistake that I am pleased to say would be avoided if the Bill went through, as the Assembly would be given powers to introduce a comprehensive ban. Like the hon. Lady, I view with enormous suspicion the industry's response. Some pub groups would welcome a total ban, but others have argued that improved ventilation is the answer. I simply do not see that as a satisfactory alternative.
I was pleased to hear the hon. Lady say that when the Assembly discussed the matter two years ago, majorities in all four parties voted to be given these powers, including all four party leaders and all four spokesmen on health.
If the Bill reaches the statute book, it will not solve the problem of smoking in Wales but, alongside upward pressure on the price of tobacco and better health promotion and education, it will help to make the Principality a better place in which to live and work. I hope that a comprehensive ban, if introduced in Wales, will encourage English Ministers to revisit the current policy of a partial ban in pubs. On that basis, I am happy to give the Bill my support.
I congratulate my hon. Friend Julie Morgan on her position in the ballot. She beat me by one place, and consequently I may or may not have my own Second Reading on
I do not have a great deal of contact with the Principality of Wales, although I have a village in my constituency called Wales, which boasts Wales high school, one of the best high schools in England in terms of academic attainment. Under an earlier Administration in the 1980s, I once wrote to the Education Department about the problems in Wales high school and the letter was promptly sent off to the Welsh Office. I was a bit worried that people thought that there was only one secondary school in the Principality of Wales, but I eventually got the problem sorted out.
I want to refer particularly to the Government's White Paper, which was published last November. It states:
"The evidence of risk to health from exposure to second-hand smoke points towards an excess number of deaths, although the debate on the precise scale of the impact continues. The consultation demonstrated clear concern about both the health impact and discomfort felt by many in smoke-filled environments, with particular concerns about locations such as work places, where people may not have been able to choose to be in a smoke-free environment."
Some of that language is rather curious. It says that the evidence "points towards" excess deaths and, particularly unhelpfully, that
"debate on the precise scale of the impact continues."
Of course, that debate has continued for many years. The tobacco industry will not accept the clear medical evidence and has for decades used spurious means of trying to talk down the health issues around secondary smoking and to claim that they are not clearly seen.
That is absolutely wrong. The evidence of risks to health and of a significant number of deaths is clear and overwhelming, and it was well summarised by the Government's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health last November when it published its executive summary alongside the White Paper. Let me remind the House what the Government's own committee, which advises them on matters relating to health and smoking, said:
"There is an increased risk of lung cancer for non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke of about 24 per cent.
There is an increased risk of . . . heart disease for non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke . . . 'the increased risk associated with exposure to secondhand smoke is in the order of 25 per cent.'.
Children are at particular risk from secondhand smoke—'the evidence strongly links secondhand smoke with an increased risk of pneumonia and bronchitis, asthma attacks, middle ear disease, decreased lung function and sudden infant death syndrome. It has also been shown that babies born to mothers who come into contact with second-hand smoke have lower birth weights.'"
Sadly, the medical profession in this country sees such cases daily, yet the Government do not present the facts as they should. The committee continued:
"The evidence published since 1998 points to an association between secondhand smoke and respiratory symptoms and reduced lung functions in adults."
The Government's advisers have said, not just recently but for decades, that second-hand smoke damages the public's health.
Nowhere in the White Paper is there an estimate of the number of employees who are exposed to second-hand smoke at work. It may be my right to go into a smoky atmosphere for a drink or a meal, but what about those who work in such places? What right do the people who work in the Strangers Bar have—until after Easter—not to work in a smoke-filled atmosphere?
It is relatively easy to estimate how many people suffer second-hand smoke at work. Some of the essential statistics are given in paragraph 8 of the regulatory impact assessment with support from the Office for National Statistics and using data from the Government's labour force survey for 2003 and the national statistics ombudsman's survey. Action on Smoking and Health, of which I am a long-standing member and supporter, calculated that some 2.1 million people in the UK work in places with no restriction on smoking, which is 8 per cent. of those who work. Some 10.3 million people work in places where smoking takes place in designated areas, which is 38 per cent. of those who work. There is little or no protection in reality for many of those people.
I have evidence from the British Medical Association. Some people may argue that is anecdotal, but it relates to what doctors say about smoking. Doctors do not just see patients; they are citizens of this country and, like us, go to restaurants, pubs and so on. Dr. Peter Maguire, who practises in Northern Ireland, said:
"I recently visited the now smoke free bars and restaurants of New York and they are great, just like in Ireland. I visited a close family friend who is a bar owner and is now dying from sinus and throat cancer. He has never smoked but until recently, worked in smoky bars. The smoke free legislation in New York has come too late to save him. When I left New York I knew I would never see him alive again. He is one of many people who have been harmed by smoky environments. The New York law is working well and is accepted as it has been in Ireland."
My wife and I spent the new year before last in New York and it was a pleasure to stay in hotels and eat in restaurants where there was no smoking. There were butt tubs outside so that people can extinguish their cigarettes before going into the premises. That was in stark contrast to my many previous visits when the atmosphere in bars was very smoky.
Dr. Mary Wheater of King's Lynn said:
"The most serious effects are on the smallest children. Young babies are admitted to our paediatric ward with wheezing which improves away from cigarette smoke and worsens again as soon as they go home. Older children are affected too. A teenager of my acquaintance, who has asthma, finds that her nights out are ruined by having to retreat to her car to take her inhalers because the smoke in her favourite night club makes her chest so tight she cannot dance."
People may argue that that is anecdotal, but it is clear evidence from health professionals who work with patients almost every day of their lives about the effects of secondary smoking. The Government should not ignore that.
Other issues arise in smoke-free areas. New York city was challenged several times in the courts when its ban was introduced and its law department issued a press release about a decision that was made on
"The plaintiff alleged that the Smoke-Free Air Act violated smokers' rights to freedom of association, assembly, speech and travel, and unlawfully discriminated against smokers. The Court rejected all of the plaintiff's arguments. The Court noted that 'smokers remain free to associate and assemble as they please, to smoke or not, whether it be in a bar, a restaurant, a city street or any other place where it is otherwise permissible to do so.' As to the plaintiff's free speech claim, the Court stated that is 'is not persuaded by the general proposition that a smoker's prevailing motivation for smoking a cigarette, whether it is done in a bar, restaurant or on a city street, is to convey a message with some profound expressive content to those around him."
I know that some hon. Members would argue that they have a right to smoke.
The law in America is different from ours. The plaintiff's equal protection challenge was rejected and
"the Court noted . . . 'mounting evidence against ETS'"— environmental tobacco smoke or, as we would call it, second-hand smoke—
"'as a basis' for the law."
The press release quoted the testimony of several people and it was clear that the challenge failed because of the consequences of environmental tobacco smoke on public health and people who use such areas.
I turn to the Government's proposals. The White Paper states that they
"propose to regulate, with legislation where necessary, in order to ensure that:
All enclosed public places and workplaces (other than licensed premises . . . ) will be smoke free;
Licensed premises will be treated as follows: all restaurants will be smoke-free; all pubs and bars preparing and serving food will be smoke-free; other pubs and bars will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke-free; in membership clubs the members will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke-free; smoking in the bar area will be prohibited everywhere."
I appreciate that that is not yet drafted in a Bill to be presented to the House, but I believe that the White Paper is poorly expressed, confused, probably unworkable and certainly undesirable for public health.
The White Paper is poorly drafted because the words
"regulate with legislation where necessary" leave open the possibility of a return to the failed voluntary approach to public health and tobacco. I shall not go into the debates that we held many years ago on tobacco advertising and the weak voluntary approach that Governments accepted for many years. That did not stop our young children being exposed to tobacco companies' advertising; indeed, it was probably impossible to do that.
A voluntary approach will simply encourage the most backward elements in the pub trade to try to push the Government from the White Paper proposals to something closer to the failed public places charter, which was introduced the last time a Labour Government backed away from effective action on the issue. It was before my time in the House, but I have read about it often.
The proposals are confused because there is no useful link between pubs that prepare and serve food, those that do not and smoking. I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales will not reply to the debate in detail, but consider giving powers to the Welsh Assembly. However, I emphasise that trying to draw such a link sends the most negative signals to the general public about smoking and their health. Smoking and people's health have nothing to do with whether people are eating, but with whether one is in a confined space, and the amount of second-hand smoke that goes into one's body and causes harm. It is about time that the Government decided to move positively if we are to meet their smoking cessation targets, which I support.
The Government have done wonderfully well by putting money into public health and smoking cessation clinics, but all the professionals say that we will undershoot the targets in 2010. We will continually undershoot them if we keep sending out mixed messages about what secondary smoking does to us.
I want to consider businesses. It is well documented that, in New York, Dublin and doubtless many other smoke-free places, the ban on smoking has had a positive effect on business. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North mentioned the national pub chain, J. D. Wetherspoon. For many years, it has been trying to create smoke-free and ventilated areas in its pubs. I have visited them and seen what the chain is trying to do but it knows that ventilation in public houses and restaurants is not the answer. The solution is to introduce a ban. It has decided to move far quicker than the Government, not because the White Paper is perceived to be a threat to its business but because it understands that its premises will probably be the pubs of choice for people who can go to them and be in a smoke-free atmosphere.
The Forum of Private Business conducts the referendums that are regularly sent to us. I have the latest referendum result from
I hope that the Bill, which gives the National Assembly for Wales the power to ban smoking in public places in Wales, will be supported. I also hope that people in England will have the opportunity to make the same decisions to protect the health of the nation by protecting us from second-hand smoke and the effects of smoking.
I make it clear at the outset that I have no financial interest to declare in the subject of the debate but, as an enthusiastic member of the Lords and Commons pipe and cigar smokers club, I take a keen personal interest in the matter.
The Bill is intriguing. Ostensibly, it is about its title—smoking in public places in Wales. Julie Morgan, who came third or fourth in the ballot for a private Member's Bill, has made an interesting decision in choosing to run with the Bill, because there was no need for her to do it. We can say that with some confidence because, in November last year, the Secretary of State for Health announced Government policy and legislative intentions on smoking in the workplace in the White Paper, "Choosing Health". The Department of Health has made it known that it intends to publish draft regulations for consultation to give effect to that policy later this year. The Secretary of State for Wales has confirmed on many occasions, and as recently as
"subsequent legislation that we intend to introduce . . . will give Wales the opportunity to implement policies in the way in which the National Assembly choose".
In other words, there was no need for the hon. Lady to devote to the measure the time that she so fortuitously won in the ballot. The Government had already committed themselves to introducing before long broadly the same legislation as the Bill.
Does my hon. Friend recall that the Government promised at the previous election to introduce a more democratic and accountable House of Lords, but that does not appear to have happened? Is he therefore confident that the assurances to which he referred will be honoured?
The thrust of my argument today is not about the Bill's contents as they affect smoking or non-smoking but about its constitutional implications. If the hon. Lady bears with me, she will understand that that is the line that I am pursuing.
However, to finish my first point, the Secretary of State for Wales said, again on
"We are not able to support my hon. Friend's Bill for various reasons, but in terms of the thrust of the policy that it contains she will find that we are with her in spirit."—[Hansard, 3 March 2005; Vol. 431, co. 1109.]
The Government are therefore committed to introducing a Bill that will be broadly similar to the measure that we are considering, which they cannot support for "various reasons." I wonder what those "various reasons" might be.
I do not for a moment doubt the sincerity of the views on smoking held by the hon. Member for Cardiff, North or by the right hon. and hon. Members who have given her Bill their support. However, I speculate that, while the Bill is ostensibly about restricting smoking, there is actually another dimension to it. It is also about extending the perimeters of devolved government in Wales beyond those prescribed in the Government of Wales Act 1998.
I now represent a party that takes a close interest in devolved government, and the proposition that so weighty an item of legislation as the Government of Wales Act 1998—or the Northern Ireland Act 1998 or the Scotland Act 1998—could be amended effectively by private Members' Bills gives me cause for concern.
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important, for precisely that reason, that we establish the degree of support that exists for a Bill of this kind? Were there to be any suggestion that a private Member's Bill of this kind should enter the constitutional arena, it would be important to demonstrate that the maximum number of colleagues supported it, and that it should not somehow slip through unnoticed, given its constitutional implications.
My right hon. Friend emphasises the point that I was trying to make. The extension of the perimeters of devolved government is such a weighty matter that it should be subject to the consideration of the whole House and, I would suggest, in Government time.
As hon. Members will know, the Government of Wales Act 1998 created the Welsh Assembly, to which substantial areas of executive competence were transferred, including certain powers of secondary law-making in those same areas of competence. However, the important point to bear in mind in this context is that the 1998 Act did not provide powers to make primary legislation. Under the Act, the National Assembly for Wales can introduce only secondary legislation, and it can do so only in areas in which the Secretary of State for Wales has competence to make such legislation for Wales. We should also remember that the Secretary of State has not yet devolved all the powers listed in schedule 2 of the Act. As there is no primary legislation in place prohibiting or regulating smoking in public places in Wales, the Secretary of State cannot, under the 1998 Act, devolve to the Assembly the power to introduce legislation on smoking.
I would be very surprised indeed if the hon. Member for Cardiff, North was not fully aware of this issue. It formed an integral part of the debate on the Health (Wales) Bill in 2003 as it went through the House. Hon. Members will recall that the draft Bill was examined by the Welsh Affairs Committee, whose recommendations were considered by the Assembly's Health and Social Services Committee and then by the Assembly in plenary. There was considerable support for inserting three additional provisions into the Bill. Two are irrelevant to our proceedings today; one is not.
The relevant suggested inclusion was
"that the Assembly be empowered to take measures to prevent smoking in buildings used by the public".
It would have required the agreement of the Government to incorporate that provision in the Bill. However, the Government did not agree to it, because the provision was incompatible with the Government of Wales Act 1998. Because there was no primary legislation about smoking in public places in Wales, the Secretary of State could not devolve secondary powers to the Assembly. When the Bill was enacted in April 2003, it contained no provisions on smoking in public places. My right hon. Friend Sir George Young and the hon. Member for Cardiff, North have both mentioned the Assembly's 39 to 10 vote in favour of a cross-party motion to press Westminster to devolve the powers necessary to enable smoking in public places to be banned in Wales.
No progress was made on that before Baroness Finlay introduced her Bill in the Lords in December 2003. Prior to the Second Reading of her Bill, in January 2004, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee reported on the Bill. Its third report, published on
"The substance of the Bill raises sensitive issues involving consideration of the conflicting claims of personal freedoms and public health."
The second was:
"Many of the details of the ban are so significant that it is inappropriate to leave them all to subordinate legislation."
The third was:
"It is for the House as a whole to decide whether to agree to delegate powers, for Wales to the National Assembly (which the Committee would advise were not appropriate to be delegated), for England, to a Minister."
Precisely the same criticism can be made of the present Bill, and I suspect that that criticism will be reflected in the Government's comments on it. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee made the point even more strongly in its fifth report, published on
"The Committee remains of the view that the delegation of powers that the Bill proposes is not appropriate . . . None the less it is possible for the House to decide that in this case it is appropriate . . . That is a constitutional matter which remains for decision by the House."
The central thrust of my argument against this Bill is that the perimeters of the powers of devolved government are matters for Government policy and should be decided in Government time by the House as a whole. They should not be revised through the back door by private Members' Bills.
The new clause 4 in the current Bill appears to be a misguided means of trying to force the delegation of power, which the Welsh Secretary does not have in primary legislation, to regulate smoking in public places in Wales. It relies on transferring ministerial functions by way of an Order in Council, subject to the Order being approved by both Houses of Parliament. Even if that were a correct interpretation of the appropriate provisions, it does not appear to be consistent with the Government's intentions with regard to the devolution of powers to the National Assembly for Wales, hence the Secretary of State's various reasons for the Government not supporting the Bill.
It would be entirely possible to argue against this Bill on a number of grounds. It can be argued that there is no need for intolerant anti-smoking legislation, and that a voluntary code restricting smoking to properly ventilated, segregated areas is perfectly feasible. It can also be argued that one of the more odious features of modern society is the increasing tendency for people to demand that activities that they do not like should be criminalised or otherwise banned. In the case of this Bill, none of those arguments need be deployed. The Bill stands self-condemned. The perimeters of devolved government should be debated as Government business, and it is inappropriate to try to extend them through a private Member's Bill.
I thank you for calling me to speak so early in the debate, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is a very great pleasure to be able to speak in support of the Bill being brought forward by my hon. Friend Julie Morgan, and I congratulate her on the stand that she has taken on this issue. She has worked hard for many years on it.
Given the proposals in the health White Paper published earlier this year for a partial ban on smoking in public places, some might wonder about the need for the legislation that is being proposed today. However, I believe that the Government's proposals strengthen the case for this Bill. Every argument that is made in favour of the proposals in the White Paper raises the question: why not go further now? Why do we lack the will or the courage to tackle the health time bomb that is second-hand smoke? Do we really believe that we will not be revisiting these proposals four or five years down the line in order to strengthen them?
As in so many fields previously, Wales has shown itself to have the will to push forward further and faster. The all-party vote of the Assembly in January 2003 called for powers over smoking in public places to be devolved to Cardiff. That has been backed by opinion polls showing that more than three out of four people in Wales support legislation along the lines of that recently introduced in the Republic of Ireland.
My hon. Friend's Bill is in response to an overwhelming demand from the people for decisive action. Throughout this Parliament, we have heard encouraging noises from the Leader of the House about the possibility of the Government acting to devolve this responsibility. Sadly, as yet, no action has been forthcoming. Nevertheless, I believe that there is some understanding in the upper reaches of Government as to the illogical situation in which we currently find ourselves. Responsibility for the health of the people of Wales is devolved to the National Assembly for Wales, yet it is handicapped by having no power over one of the areas of public policy in which its intervention could have greatest effect.
In Wales, 30 people die per year as a result of passive smoking, and countless more contract serious medical conditions. The policy that permits smoking-related illnesses to develop is made here in Westminster, yet the Assembly Government in Cardiff must pick up the bill to provide support to those who develop such illnesses. The bill to the NHS in Wales for treating smoking-related diseases amounts to between £75 million and £85 million per year. When responsibility for health was devolved to Scotland, the power to regulate the use of tobacco in public places went with it, and the Scottish Executive is in the process of using those powers as an integral part of its public health policy. If it is right that protection against second-hand smoke should be given to the people of Lanarkshire, why should it not also be given to the people of Llandudno and, indeed, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwll-llantysiliogogogoch on the Isle of Anglesey?
Wales, of course, is not alone in its desire to push for stronger measures than those proposed in the White Paper. The concerted campaign by Liverpool to become a smoke-free city, ably supported by my hon. Friends representing the city, and particularly my hon. Friend Mrs. Ellman, has been an inspiration. In October last year, the leaders of all 33 London boroughs agreed to ask for powers similar to those that we are requesting for Wales today.
The international wave of interest in limiting smoking in public places is not coincidental. It results not just from an ever-increasing body of evidence that passive smoking kills but from the discrediting of myths perpetrated by the tobacco industry that jobs and profits in the leisure and entertainment sectors are dependent on the so-called right to smoke. With an ever-increasing list of nations and cities becoming smoke free, the tobacco corporations are unable to point to any reputable evidence that the hospitality industry has been harmed in any significant way by the introduction of such restrictions.
In New York, as we have heard, receipts in bars and restaurants increased by nearly 9 per cent. in the first year after the city banned smoking in public places. The tobacco lobby also raised the unlikely spectre of a collapse in visitor and tourist revenue in areas that implement a smoking ban. Liverpool is flying in the face of that claim by prominently linking its campaign to its 2008 European capital of culture celebrations. Surveys conducted in Liverpool found that more than three quarters of visitors were bothered by smoke in enclosed public places. Twenty-one per cent. of respondents said that they would be more likely to visit Liverpool in the future if a ban were introduced, with 72 per cent. saying that it would make no difference.
The experience of the Republic of Ireland, with a ban now in effect, supports those figures. During the first year of the ban in 2004, tourism rose by 3.2 per cent. over the previous year. It would be foolish to attempt to present a causal link between those two events, but the evidence is clear that this type of legislation does not put off potential visitors.
Surely, if a nation's or city's tourist appeal rests solely on the right of visitors to smoke in its pubs and restaurants, it needs to take a long, hard look at its publicity campaigns. We sell Wales largely in terms of its dramatic scenery, fascinating heritage and fresh air. This last attraction will be all the more credible if it extends beyond the mountainside into all enclosed public spaces.
While it is easy enough to establish that a ban is possible and workable, we also need to make the positive case for such a measure. A ban's opponents will speak a lot about rights—they will say little about responsibilities or the need to balance rights. No one proposes to remove the supposed right to smoke, merely to find a way of balancing it with others' rights not to be subjected to second-hand smoke.
We will be told that a voluntary scheme will suffice by giving consumers the choice of smoking or smoke-free environments. A voluntary scheme already exists in Britain—it has led to just 1 per cent. of pubs becoming smoke free. That hardly equals consumer choice. Nor will a voluntary scheme do anything to help staff in pubs, clubs and restaurants, the people who suffer the worst effects of passive smoking. Customers might be able to choose their environment; employees are not so lucky. It is estimated that in Britain, one bar worker a week dies from second-hand smoke. The only choice that they are given currently is the classic one of working people the world over—between their job and their health. That applies in relation to slate quarrying, coal mining, asbestos and many other industries in which generations went to early deaths because of their working conditions.
We will be told that proper ventilation and no-smoking areas will solve the problem. But those are partial solutions at best. In most public settings, it will prove impossible to provide effective separation of smoking and non-smoking areas, nor will they help staff who must continue to work in smoky environments. The British Medical Association tells us that no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke has ever been established. Such measures cannot therefore be seen as a long-term solution. Ventilation systems in premises are, of course welcome, but they fail to provide anything approaching full protection. Atmospheric physicists have warned that to be fully effective in removing second-hand smoke from the air, any ventilation system would have to produce something approaching a tornado-like gale. That seems no surprise given that pollution levels in a smoke-filled room can reach 50 times those in a busy road tunnel.
The words of Dr. Hans Kristian Bakke, President of the Norwegian Medical Association, are worth noting. Explaining why Norway has been smoke free since June 2004, he said:
"Passive smoking kills 500 Norwegians each year. We now know that half measures such as designated smoking areas and ventilation cannot protect health . . . These measures were simply not good enough. There is no reason for others to repeat this experiment."
Given the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, it is impossible to contend that segregated areas or improved ventilation can come anywhere near fulfilling our World Health Organisation commitment. Since
"adopt and implement measures, providing for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places."
An increasing number of the 193 WHO member states that voted unanimously for the agreement are reaching the conclusion that a total ban on smoking in public places is the only way of providing the protection required by the protocol. Given the often remarkable successes of the bans that are already in effect, that is not surprising.
Smoke-free environments do not just benefit those suffering the effects of second-hand tobacco. There is also evidence that banning smoking in public places helps those who do smoke to quit. The social aspect of smoking which has become so deeply ingrained in many cultures can be challenged effectively only by the removal of smoke from the vast majority of social settings.
Society can send no stronger message about the dangers and antisocial aspects of smoking than the message that it is unacceptable in social, commercial or cultural interaction. Such a step could be worth more than all Government health warnings in conveying the seriousness of the anti-smoking message. It could, at a stroke, reduce the peer-group pressure that is instrumental in encouraging many young people to take up smoking. If smoking immediately becomes less visible, its attraction will inevitably fade. According to evidence from the Republic of Ireland, in the six months leading up to enforcement of the ban 7,000 smokers quit, with sales of cigarettes falling by almost 16 per cent. over the same period. Tobacco sales have continued to fall following the ban's introduction.
The combined effects of a reduction in passive smoking and a decreasing number of tobacco users can have impressive effects on public health. In California, which in 1998 was the first American state to become smoke free, lung cancer rates have fallen six times faster than in states that have not introduced such laws. That statistic alone makes a convincing social, medical and economic case for the introduction of legislation banning smoking. I believe that if this Parliament is not prepared to do that on a national basis, it is only right for Wales—which has some of the highest levels of smoking and smoking-relates diseases in the United Kingdom—to be able to follow Scotland and makes its own decisions.
Public support is already there, and can only strengthen as more and more of the leading overseas tourist destinations become smoke free. Ireland, Italy, New York, California, Sweden, Norway and even Cuba, the home of the Havana, have introduced bans. Now clean air in enclosed public places begins to seem less like an exotic novelty and more like an aspiration within our grasp.
Of course a ban on smoking in public places must also include political environments, and Wales has already taken that step. To mark no smoking day last week, it was announced that from July all Welsh Assembly Government buildings would be smoke-free zones. I regret the fact that the Palace of Westminster may again end up following the devolved Assemblies in banning smoking, rather than leading them.
They are certainly a step in the right direction, which is why we are saying what we are this morning. I shall certainly rejoice if my hon. Friend's Bill gives the National Assembly an opportunity to ban smoking in public places in Wales, and I invite Members to support that move.
I congratulate Julie Morgan on coming so high in the ballot and on introducing this Bill. I think she would be the first to admit, or at least would confirm, that it is largely a descendant of two similar Bills introduced in the House of Lords by, respectively, Lady Finlay and Lord Faulkner of Worcester. As my hon. Friend Mr. Hunter pointed out, both Bills received close attention in the early part of 2004 from the Committee to which he referred, and both Committee reports commented that, irrespective of their content, the Bills were not appropriate vehicles for the adjustment of public policy that they proposed.
Before dealing specifically with this Bill, may I briefly—and I hope not improperly—use the opportunity of a Bill containing the word "Wales" to congratulate, I hope on behalf of all Members, the soldier in the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Private Johnson Beharry, who has been awarded the Victoria cross? That is a great achievement, and I hope we can all put aside our differences on the Bill and extend our congratulations to him.
Given that I represent a seat in England, Members may wonder what on earth I am doing speaking on a Bill relating to Wales. I suppose my only connection with Wales, apart the fact that I have been there a number of times on private visits, is that I went to university in Wales—but a bit of Wales that happened to be in Oxford. Jesus college Oxford is a bit of flying Wales, like flying Flint: it is peopled mostly by Welsh undergraduates. I felt very honoured to be able to go to that part of Wales to study modern history.
The college bar at Jesus is, I understand, a "voluntary" smoke-free area. That is fine: if the undergraduates and other members of the college want it to be smoke free, that is entirely a matter for them. I am not sure, however, that it needs to be a matter of public legislation. The Bill may be well meaning and well motivated, but I feel that it approaches the subject from the wrong angle, uses the wrong legislative machinery, and ironically—despite the hon. Lady's motives—will not achieve what she intends. She intends to reduce the incidence of harm to people in Wales caused by smoking. She and I have similar views about the detrimental effect of smoking on health, and no doubt we would both prefer not to sit in tobacco smoke-filled environments; but she intends to achieve her purpose by banning smoking in public places as defined in the Bill.
Let us suppose that I have a house in Wales, and open my garden for a church fete. To get into the garden, people must pay 50p or £1 at the garden gate. According to the definition in the Bill, the garden would then become an enclosed premise, and smoking in my garden—to which I had invited people so that, on payment of a small sum, they could look at my flowers or shrubs—would become an offence.
It seems to me wholly disproportionate that people living in my imaginary village in Wales and wanting to visit my imaginary garden—although they may be smokers, who may or may not know of the law that the hon. Lady wishes to pass—should be subject to a fairly severe summary penalty that would make the raising of church funds that much more difficult.
I am fascinated by my hon. and learned Friend's example. Does he think that clause 2 would also apply to his imaginary premises in Wales? My reading of that clause—I hope to return to this issue in some detail if I catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker—suggests that my hon. and learned Friend's premises would have to carry signs prohibiting smoking and that, as the person in charge, he would be subject to all sorts of penalties. That is to say nothing of the other detailed provisions in clause 3. Is that my hon. and learned Friend's reading of the Bill?
I fear that it is, and I shall deal with the points raised by my right hon. Friend by way of an example relating to clause 6, which deals with the interpretation of, for example, the phrase "enclosed public space". If the hon. Lady thinks that the example of opening my garden for a church fête is far-fetched, what about an amateur football game?
I was interested to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman's example of opening a house and garden to raise money for church fêtes or other such activities. In fact, the noble Baroness Finlay used such a situation as an example of the circumstances in which her legislation would apply. However, such legislation would apply to enclosed public spaces such as the hon. and learned Gentleman's house were he to serve tea in it, for example—so, such situations have been considered in drafting this Bill.
I am not sure what the conclusion of the consideration is, having heard the hon. Lady's intervention. Lady Finlay is a woman of huge intellect and I cannot believe that she has failed to think about the criminal penalty niggles that could be an unintended consequence of her legislation. I just hope that the hon. Lady has applied her intellect to the likely and unintended—but foreseeable—consequences of this Bill.
I return to the intervention of my right hon. Friend Mr. Forth, which opens up an area of inquiry that we should not avoid before giving this Bill a Second Reading. As I have said before, I take the firm view that smoking is bad for people. I do not wish to encourage it, and it would be foolish of anybody nowadays to think that smoking is not deleterious to health. However, let us consider the example of a football game not at the stadium of a premiership or championship club—the hon. Lady did say at the beginning of the debate that a stadium would constitute an enclosed public space for the purposes of her Bill—but at a village football club. Such a space is not enclosed, save that it is within a field. It may well be that there is a gate to let cars in, so that parents of children who might be playing, or the footballers themselves, can park their cars in the field. In such a situation, they would have to come through that gate in order to enter the field and to park.
During the course of a tournament game between village A and village B, it may well be that, in order to raise funds for the amateur league, for example, a charge is made at the gate for access. Such a space is not—unlike the example I gave earlier of my garden and the fête—a private open space to which the public are given access; rather, it is a more obviously public area to which the public have access at all times. However, on this occasion, access is restricted by the payment of a car parking fee, or a fee for entering the recreation ground or football field area.
As I understand the Bill, such a situation would clearly fall within clause 6, because the hon. Lady defines an enclosed public space as
"any premises to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access on payment or otherwise"— so access could be free—
"as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission".
So, such a recreation ground could be a public open space to which the ordinary citizen has right of access, or it could be owned by a village football club or the parish and not open to general public access, except with the club's or parish's permission. In either case, it would be impermissible under the Bill, were it to be passed and were the field in question in Wales, for a spectator to smoke—I leave aside the question of whether it is a good idea for the referee or the players to indulge in smoking—while the match was taking place.
I do not image that that is what the hon. Lady intends the Bill to do. She wants to prevent people from smoking in hospitals, pubs, restaurants and other such places to which the public have access. But unless a great deal of careful thought is given, her Bill, if enacted, will lead to these foreseeable—to me, at least—but unintended consequences.
Following that logic, what catches my eye is clause 3(3)(d), as a result of which the innocent person for the time being in charge of the enclosed public space that my hon. and learned Friend has just defined would become a guilty party. If my understanding of that provision is correct, were someone to light a cigarette in that enclosed public space, be it inadvertently or deliberately, the person for the time being in charge—they could be running a charity event or could simply be the organiser of a young people's football match—would also be guilty of an offence.
They might well be, and they might also be guilty of an offence if they fail to put up the requisite signs for which clause 2 provides, as my right hon. Friend pointed out in his first intervention on me.
These matters need to be thought about carefully. Although they might be considered in greater detail in Committee, I urge the hon. Lady to have in mind such problems before embarking on that stage, should the House permit her to go that far. These are not nit-picking points, but issues that will destroy the integrity of her Bill, which, although well-motivated and well-intended, will be made to look ridiculous because it will catch all sorts of people whom she does not intend to catch.
In my constituency we have the ruined Roman town of Silchester, which is enclosed by walls and covers an area of about a mile and a half. According to the Bill, it is an enclosed public area, but more to the point, no one is physically present and in charge of it. It is unmanned.
Before I respond to that point, I want to tell my hon. Friend that I hope that his speech today is not the last that we shall hear from him. I know that he intends not to stand at the next general election, but I hope that he will have further opportunities to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair before he retires. But in case he does not, may I thank him for his service to this House and his constituents, and wish him well in his long and healthy retirement? I trust that even if he is not a Member of this place, he will find opportunities to speak and write publicly about the issues that have concerned him—be it Northern Ireland or the wish not to see all activities banned, simply because a certain number of people do not like them.
With those few illustrations, and with the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst and my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke, I have, I think, exposed a matter of detail that needs to be considered carefully before this Bill goes any further. However, there is a further irony in what the hon. Lady intends by her Bill. She wants to see an end to smoking in public places, for the perfectly laudable reason that she believes that that will improve public health and release victims of secondary smoking from the health hazards caused by being in the presence of other people's exhaled cigarette or other tobacco smoke.
That is fine, but most of the places to which the hon. Lady wishes to extend her ban do not require compulsory attendance. I do not have to go to a restaurant that allows smoking. I do not have to go to a pub or bar that allows smoking. I do not have to go to a hotel that allows smoking in its public areas. Indeed, when I go to a hotel and find that my bedroom in the hotel has been inhabited by a smoker on a previous occasion, I ensure that my room is changed, because I do not wish to sleep in a room that stinks of other people's cigarette smoke and I do not want the curtains to smell of cigarette smoke.
Indeed, on the last occasion I went to Blackpool for the Conservative party conference—an occasion of fond memory—the very pillow on which I had to lay my head at night stank of cigarette smoke, presumably because the last 15 occupants of the room used the pillow as some of form of cigarette filter—[Interruption.] I am talking about the pillow. I asked the hotel manager to allot me a room that did not have that form of contamination.
I want to finish the point, and then I would like the hon. Lady to intervene to comment on it.
If the hon. Lady wishes to protect the victim from the witting or unwitting effects of the exhalation of tobacco smoke, she must ban smoking in places where people have no choice—and that means in the home. Children cannot tell their parents to stop smoking. They can advise or tease them, but they cannot compel their parents to stop smoking in the kitchen, living room, dining room or even in the bedroom. Where are children most vulnerable to secondary smoking? At home. So, if the hon. Lady has the courage of her convictions and if her arguments are more than just politically attractive and based on principle, she must say, "Before I ban smoking in public places, I am going to ban smoking where it does most damage and where it cannot be avoided—in the home".
The Irish experience is interesting. Once smoking had been banned in public bars and restaurants, the incidence of smoking at home increased. It follows logically that the danger to children and non-smokers increases at home as a result of a ban on smoking in public places. I wonder whether the hon. Lady has considered that point. If so, I would be interested to hear her response to it now.
I wanted to intervene earlier in the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, when he said that the public do not have to go to hotels or the other places that he mentioned. He claimed that attending such places was voluntary, but what about the employees who work in them? It is hardly voluntary for them, especially if the job is the only one that they are able to get. His argument does not cover the employees.
I shall deal with that straight away, but I am sorry that the hon. Lady did not deal with my important point about banning smoking in private homes. I hope that she will intervene later and deal with that point. I do not want her to feel that she has not been given the opportunity to respond to it.
I want to respond to the hon. Lady's question first, but I always give way to any hon. Gentleman who shares my birthday.
Let me respond to the point about employees by using the example of the Conservative clubs in my constituency. I can assure the hon. Lady that there are many of them and that they are full of Conservative supporters who are itching to go and vote on
To take up the hon. Lady's response to my hon. and learned Friend's question, why should her Bill not be called "Smoking in Workplaces (Wales) Bill", which is more logical and might well solve many of the problems that my hon. and learned Friend has already identified? It focuses attention on the problem at workplaces. I am not saying that I would agree with it even in that form, but if we are seriously talking about workplaces, the Bill is wrongly titled. I suspect that, sadly, we could not amend it in Committee and the title of the Bill would remain.
I am sure that my right hon. Friend is right. In preparing for this morning's debate, I have concentrated on the title of the Bill as drafted, rather than on the amended form that my right hon. Friend suggests. I suspect that his argument will require further thought and explanation. I have not yet got my head around his particular point, but I am sure that he will endeavour to catch your eye again, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I promised to give way to my fellow
From where did the hon. and learned Gentleman receive the information that the prevalence of smoking in the home in Ireland increased because of the ban in restaurants and other public places? It is usually the case that the overall incidence of smoking decreases. In his report on public health, entitled "Securing good health for the whole population", Derek Wanless pointed out several international examples of where, following bans, the prevalence of smoking fell. I am not certain at this stage whether it brings people to stop smoking completely, but who measures the extent of smoking in the home?
Speaking as a Back Bencher, I do not have a raft of Parliamentary Private Secretaries or civil servants immediately to pass me a note, but I am reasonably sure that I read about that in the House of Commons Library briefing. If any Government Members would like to carry out the PPS role for me and pass me a note, I would be grateful.
It is estimated that approximately 15 per cent. of social smoking has been displaced to the home in Ireland. Overall, however, there is insufficient evidence to say categorically that social smokers transferred their habits to the home when the ban was imposed. That appears on page 10 of the briefing, so there is some, but insufficient, evidence to decide the matter.
I make no claims as to any evidence about Ireland, as I have not personally studied it, but I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me of what appears in the disinterested and dispassionate Library briefing. It was not prepared by me, by the hon. Member for Cardiff, North, by the tobacco industry, or still less by the Government of the Republic of Ireland.
Having spoken about passive smoking and my concerns about aspects and unintended, if foreseeable, consequences of the Bill, I now wish to talk about another aspect of passivity—passive devolution, which is what the Bill is about. The hon. Lady presented her Bill cogently and with sincerity and a great deal of Welsh political knowledge. She is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst implied, the husband of the First Minister—
I was just testing to see whether the hon. Lady was listening; the Minister obviously was. The hon. Lady is the wife of the First Minister, and I have no doubt that there is active and passive political discussion in the Morgan household not only on Welsh political issues, but on the Bill. I do not doubt it when she tells me that most Welsh AMs support the thrust of the Bill, but while that is interesting, it is not conclusive of the validity of the process.
It is for us in this House, for the Government and for this Parliament to reach the conclusions as to the framework within which devolution works within the UK. If we look at the Government of Wales Act 1998, it is clear what Parliament intended then. The Government drafted the Act and the hon. Lady, who was a Member of this House at the time, no doubt voted for it with great enthusiasm. But she cannot get away from the fact that the enthusiasm in Wales for devolution was muted. There was a turnout of 50.1 per cent. for the referendum, of whom just over 50 per cent. voted for devolution, as suggested by the Government in the draft Bill, while about 49.5 per cent. voted against. We had a smallish turnout, which led effectively to 25 per cent. of the voting population of Wales supporting devolution.
With that as a necessary background to the passage of the Government of Wales Act, it is important that this House does not allow the Bill to go behind that low turnout and the content of the Act in order to achieve what I have neither flippantly nor rudely described as passive devolution.
It is probably a coincidence, but the 25 per cent. of the people in Wales who expressed support for devolution may or may not be the same 25 per cent. who still smoke. We may never know. Was my hon. and learned Friend as unimpressed as I was by the claim that a majority of Members of the Assembly want more powers? Does he agree that most respectable political bodies at all levels want more powers for their members? That is not unusual; indeed, it is rather normal, but it does not make the case.
On the contrary, it merely amounts to an assertion that politicians are greedy for power. My job is to hold the Government to account. One way I can do so is by preventing them from allowing the Bill to devolve more power from the people of the United Kingdom, as represented in this Chamber, to other bodies. It does not matter whether that is the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly or the European Parliament. I am here as the guardian of the interests and rights of my constituents who live within the United Kingdom.
If the Government wish to propose further legislation to amend the 1998 Act and delegate more powers to the Welsh Assembly, that is a matter for them. They must make their case here. I have a suspicion that even this Government—even with a Wales Office Minister sitting on the Front Bench, who, no doubt, used all the powers of persuasion available to him to persuade people to vote in favour of the referendum in 1997 so that his Welsh constituents should give him less to do here and the Assembly Members more to do in Wales—would not want this House to devolve powers via the office of the Secretary of State for Wales to the Welsh Assembly without the UK Government having some say in the matter and having considered its overall consequences.
I am obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way a second time, and I hope not to try your patience too much, Mr Deputy Speaker. Should the good people of Harborough return the hon. and learned Gentleman by a majority of one in the forthcoming election, would he be as delighted to return here as we would all be to see him?
Yes, I would. Of course, in the general election there is no statutory requirement for a specific turnout. I hope that there will be a huge turnout in my constituency, which, by and large, provides a far higher average turnout than the country as a whole. I do not know what the turnout was in the hon. Gentleman's constituency at the last election—
"High" is a very wide word. In my constituency, the percentage turnout was in the high 70s at the last election, whereas the national average was in the low 60s, or perhaps the high 50s. It is a side point, and much as I would like to discuss the figures with the hon. Gentleman, I want to concentrate on the Bill.
I want to ask the House whether, before it is enthusiastic in its desire to suppress unhealthy smoking, it will allow itself to damage the constitution of the United Kingdom. I wish to highlight the powers in the Government of Wales Act that the Bill wishes to amend. Clause 4(4) states that certain paragraphs of schedule 3 to the 1998 Act should
"apply to the power to make an Order in Council under this section as they apply to the power to make an Order in Council under section 22 of that Act."
I do not want to anticipate what the Minister will say, but I want to let him know my views on passive devolution. I voted against the referendum and against devolution, but I accept that it is the law of the land and that the Welsh Assembly as currently constituted is a legitimate creature of statute and a child of this Parliament. However, I have a suspicion that it would be wrong to alter the 1998 Act by means of the Bill. I say that as a matter of constitutional theory, but also as a matter of political opinion reflected by the people of Wales.
In 2003, the Economic and Research Council research programme on devolution and constitutional change asked voters what their reaction would be to a hypothetical event, the abolition of devolution in Wales. Some 39.5 per cent. said that they would be sorry while 60.5 per cent. would be either pleased or indifferent. I immediately enter the caveat that I do not know what the base figures were on which these percentages are based, but in so far as opinion polls are useful at all, they tell us that devolution is not the hot issue, or even the lukewarm issue, that it was prior to the Act.
"The Assembly shall have the functions which are . . . transferred to, or made exercisable by, the Assembly by virtue of this Act"— the words "by this Act" are important, as no other legislation is involved—or
"conferred or imposed on the Assembly by or under this Act or any other Act."
The hon. Member for Cardiff, North might say, "I am not outside the thrust of the provisions of the Government of Wales Act, because my Bill comes within the definition 'any other Act'." However, I am reasonably confident that that was not in the contemplation of the Government, still less of the House of Commons or the other place, when that legislation was going through its legislative process in 1997 and 1998.
Only certain ministerial functions are transferred to the Assembly under the 1998 Act, and those are referred to in section 22:
"Her Majesty may by Order in Council . . . provide for the transfer to the Assembly of any function so far as exercisable by a Minister of the Crown in relation to Wales . . . direct that any function so far as so exercisable shall be exercisable by the Assembly concurrently with the Minister of the Crown, or . . . direct that any function so far as exercisable by a Minister of the Crown in relation to Wales shall be exercisable by the Minister only with the agreement of, or after consultation with, the Assembly."
What is the Secretary of State allowed to do under the Act? He is allowed to enter into discussions to listen to the representations of the Assembly about which secondary legislation it wants to have discussed and introduced through the Assembly, but he is not allowed, off his own bat, to provide for the Assembly the power to make primary legislation. That is essentially what the Bill is trying to do. It would provide to the Assembly primary legislative powers subsequently to make regulations as to where people may smoke and who would be subject to the criminal penalties that come with the new offences in the Bill.
If the hon. Member for Cardiff, North wishes to persuade me and, I hope, the Minister, who represents the Crown in these matters, that what she intends is a good idea, that must be done, it seems to me, through the machinery of the amendment of the Government of Wales Act, discussed as a Government amendment in Government time on the Floor of the House in a proper and considered way, not just by a few of us on a Friday.
We know that 20 Members voted at 9.35 this morning. Even all those who are present in the Chamber and listening to the debate do not come anywhere near making a sufficient number to change the constitution of our country in the way that the hon. Lady would like.
I do not know whether this will reassure my hon. and learned Friend—I think it may not—but he knows as well as I do that the rules of the House fortunately provide that if we have a Division on the Bill, which I hope we will, even if only 35 Members out of 659 are present in the Lobby, that would be sufficient to allow the Bill to proceed to its next stage. I am not sure that that is a sufficient basis on which to legislate, but it is the rule of the House. If the number who voted this morning balloons to 35 when we have a vote, probably in an hour or two, the Bill will make progress. Is it his view that that is sufficient for constitutional change?
Clearly not, but I cannot command the House. I can address it and seek to persuade it, but I can seek to persuade only those who are here. There may be others busy in the Library who are itching to come to vote for the Bill. There may be still others in their offices—heaven forfend, watching their monitor as we discuss the Bill—who are itching to vote for the Bill. However, I have yet to be persuaded by argument, deployed in the House, that the Bill would do anything other than, by the back door, passively provide for unintended devolution—unintended in the sense understood in respect of the Government of Wales Act.
I was discussing the functions of the Assembly that have been transferred from Ministers of the United Kingdom Government. The procedure by which those functions are transferred is tightly prescribed. Section 22(2) says:
"The Secretary of State shall, before the first ordinary election, lay before each House of Parliament the draft of an Order in Council under this section making provision for the transfer of such functions in each of the fields specified in Schedule 2 as the Secretary of State considers appropriate."
Schedule 2 is not a schedule that the Bill would amend, although I suspect that it is one that the Bill should have contemplated, because it deals with the fields in which functions are to be transferred by the first Order in Council.
Under the Act or the schedule, the first Order in Council transferred 18 separate items of public policy or public administration. Item 7 deals with health and health services. To some extent, I accept that a Bill dealing with smoking touches on health and health services. We know that if there were no smoking anywhere in this country, that would benefit the national health service budget. We also know that it would have a damaging tax effect on the Treasury. In so far as we are talking about health and health services, however, there is room, had Parliament intended it, for action on smoking to be dealt with as a devolved issue in the Assembly, although it was not.
I shall not, because it would be an improper use of our time, simply list items 1 to 6 and 8 to 18 of the other matters, but I shall come on to schedule 3, which is referred to in the Bill, and consider how the hon. Member for Cardiff, North wishes to amend the Government of Wales Act, as well as whether her Bill would do what she intends and what the Government intended when they persuaded us to pass that Act in 1998.
Clause 4(4) states:
"Paragraphs 1, 5, 9, 10 and 12 of Schedule 3 to the Government of Wales Act 1998 . . . apply to the power to make an Order in Council under this section as they apply to the power to make an Order in Council under section 22 of that Act."
I am sure that we all want to thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for giving us an erudite tour of the Government of Wales Act 1998. However, he is doing that in the context of discussing a Bill designed to ban smoking in public places. I did not hear him declare an interest at the beginning of his speech—I know that that can often happen. Does he have any interest, or has he had any in the past, in the activities of such bodies as the Tobacco Manufacturers Association?
I have made a specific point of examining the Register of Members' Interests, so perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to pop down to the Table and have a look at it. If he looks at the entry titled, "GARNIER, Edward", he will see that I have no interest to declare. I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with the Tobacco Manufacturers Association. However, I have two close friends who work for the association: Mr. John Carlisle, the former Member for Luton North, and its chief executive, Mr. Timothy Lord. I make no secret of the fact that I have met them on any number of occasions over the past few years. I have met them for lunch and dinner. I have met them socially and to discuss and be briefed about matters of interest to the association. However, I am not in their pocket—would that I were—and I receive no financial benefit from that.
I want the legislation that we pass in the House to be properly understood in its wider constitutional context. The hon. Gentleman will remember that I intervened on him during our consideration of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill—it was probably when he was making a speech at about 8 am last Friday. He was well-motivated and wanted the anti-terrorism legislation to go through, and was comforted by the fact that the Home Secretary had told hon. Members, "Don't worry; the Bill will provide for judicial oversight over the making of control orders." My worry was that the hon. Gentleman had not read the Home Secretary's amendment, so he did not appreciate how limited and restricted the judicial oversight would be.
To coin a phrase, I have no doubt that a cigarette paper could not be put between the antipathy to smoking and its consequences felt by the hon. Gentleman and me. However, irrespective of our views about smoking and its health effects, I have a duty as a Member of Parliament to ensure that we pass good legislation that does not unwittingly offend what constitution we have or produce unintended consequences. Like the hon. Gentleman, I want the incidence of smoking reduced. Like him, I want the population of Wales—and that of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland—to benefit from greater and wider public health. I want more education in schools about the damaging effects of smoking, and I do not care whether that takes places in Welsh or English schools.
When the hon. and learned Gentleman has held his discussions over dinner or lunch with representatives of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, has he discussed passive smoking, or just passive devolution?
Funnily enough, I have discussed many subjects with the two gentlemen whom I mentioned, but passive devolution has not been one of them. Those discussions took place before the Bill was drafted, and obviously I took no part in deliberations on the Bills introduced by Lord Faulkner of Worcester and Baroness Finlay. I accept that birthday present with the good intentions that it was positive, but I fear that the right hon. Gentleman was slightly offbeat.
Does my hon. and learned Friend think that there is anything especially strange about hon. Members seeking advice from groups, making friends with them, or even agreeing with them? He will know that many right hon. and hon. Members become close to single-interest groups of varying kinds. Although some such groups are sinister and rather undesirable, Members feel perfectly free to do so, as they should. Does my hon. and learned Friend think that there is any difference between having friendships with, and seeking advice from, businesses and doing that with rather peculiar single-interest groups?
I have no problem with any hon. Member seeking advice from people who know about subjects that we discuss. All too often the Whips provide briefings for their loyal Members so that they can speak on matters about which they have no other knowledge. Okay, that is the game we play, but I am not sure that it impresses me hugely. I am more impressed by hon. Members who speak from personal knowledge or knowledge derived from others.
I hope that the House will think that I have made good use of the Library research paper on the Bill dated
Given that that resource is available to me, I would be foolish not to apply my mind to it. Equally, if I have contacts with the Tobacco Manufacturers Association through my friendships with those two named individuals, it would be rude and negligent not to listen to what they have to say. I do not have to agree with them. As it happens, neither of those two people is a smoker. I do not have to be a shareholder in a tobacco company, and I am not. But I have to apply my mind to the Bill, what it will do, how it will do it, and what consequences it could have for the people in respect of whom we are making new laws.
Having, I hope, exposed the constitutional difficulties to some extent, I come back to a point that was made by a number of speakers this morning and draw attention to the November 2004 public health White Paper, "Choosing Health". According to the Library brief, the full recommendations in the White Paper are as follows:
"Subject to parliamentary timetables, we"— that is, the Government—
"propose to regulate, with legislation where necessary, in order to ensure that:
all enclosed public spaces and workplaces (other than licensed premises which are dealt with below) will be smoke-free; licensed premises will be treated as follows:
all restaurants will be smoke-free; all pubs and bars preparing and serving food will be smoke-free; other pubs and bars will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke-free; in membership clubs the members will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke-free; and smoking in the bar area will be prohibited everywhere."
Some of those measures are already in force through voluntary agreements—workplace agreements—but the Government went on to say in their White Paper that they
"intend to introduce smoke-free places through a staged approach".
They specify that as follows:
"by the end of 2006, all government departments and the NHS will be smoke-free".
The hon. Member for Cardiff, North mentioned that her local hospitals were now all smoke free, and that is the case in my constituency and in Leicester city, where the three main hospitals covering my constituency are to be found. No smoking is allowed in any of the three main hospitals in Leicester, or in the Coventry road hospital or the St. Luke's hospital in Market Harborough.
That is a matter not of legislation but of common sense, applied by the management of the hospitals with the agreement of national health service employees who work in those institutions and with the obvious agreement of visitors to the hospitals, be they employees of other businesses delivering supplies and so forth, or visitors to patients. Nobody nowadays would think it sensible for someone visiting a patient in a hospital to come into the ward or the room where they are lying and to light up a cigarette or a pipe. It is just not done any more. We do not need legislation to enforce that.
I shall complete the quotation from the recommendations of the White Paper, which state that
"by the end of 2007, all enclosed public places and workplaces, other than licensed premises (and those specifically exempted) will, subject to legislation, be smoke-free; by the end of 2008 arrangements for licensed premises will be in place."
The hon. Lady may argue about the timetable, but the Government seem to have it in mind to go further, in terms of both effect and geography, than her Bill.
What I am concerned about—it is not a trivial point—is that already, if one walks up Victoria street, past various buildings where Government Departments are located, one sees crowds of civil servants standing out on the pavement in huddles, smoking cigarettes on the street. They finish their cigarettes, stub them out on the pavement and go back inside to their offices, which are, by workplace agreement, smoke free. The pavement is not. There are those hideous congregations of smokers littering the street. That is another unintended consequence of perfectly laudable workplace agreements. If people employed in a company or by a Government Department need to smoke, there should be a specific place on the premises where they can do so without affecting the well-being and environment of those who, like me, do not wish to smoke, and without dirtying public pavements by dropping their cigarettes on the streets. I have even seen so many people having a cigarette break that they almost form an obstruction of the Queen's highway. The Bill does not deal with that. The hon. Lady may say that it is not something that the Bill can deal with, but it is a matter that the Minister needs to bear in mind when he listens to her persuasive arguments. I do not want to see one problem, which is unwanted smoking, substituted for another, which is increased and unwanted litter, no matter what the motives are for getting rid of the first problem. Both are in their own ways a problem.
Others will wish to speak on behalf of the Bill, but, as I said at the outset, I congratulate the hon. Lady on her achievement in getting her Bill to its Second Reading stage. I hope that we will hear from the Minister what he agrees with and disagrees with in the Bill. Does he still agree with the Secretaries of State for Wales and for Health that the Government have in hand a programme to deal with the question, and that the Bill, while worthy, is too hasty, or the wrong vehicle; or has he been wholly persuaded by the hon. Lady's arguments, because he, like me, knows how persuasive she can be? Will he respond in detail to some of the infelicitudes that I have adverted to during the course of my brief discussion of the Bill?
I am afraid that if the matter goes to a Division, I cannot, for the reasons that I have set out—namely, the unintended consequences that could flow from it and its passive devolution aspect—give it my support, albeit that I share with the hon. Lady, Mrs. Williams and Mr. Barron their collective concern about the health effects of smoking.
I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend Julie Morgan on her success in the ballot and her decision to introduce a Bill to ban smoking in public places in Wales. We all know that in the time immediately before we sign the book for the ballot for private Members' Bills, we are inundated with requests from all sorts of organisations to take up their particular cause, and I am pleased that my hon. Friend decided to take up this issue.
I also pay tribute to Baroness Finlay for the work that she has done both through the Bill that she introduced in the other place and in publicising the extremely damaging effects of smoking on people's health, particularly in connection with cancer, on which she is an expert.
In the Welsh Assembly, the former and current Ministers for Health and Social Services, Jane Hutt and Dr. Brian Gibbons, have tried to raise the profile of this issue, because it is so important in health terms. A number of hon. Members have mentioned that in January 2003, Welsh Assembly Members voted 39 to 10 for such a Bill to be introduced to enable it to do this work. There was a majority in all parties, and the leaders and health spokespeople were all of one mind. That is important for us when we consider the Bill.
I do not want to reiterate all the arguments that have been so ably advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North, my right hon. Friend Mr. Barron and my hon. Friend Mrs. Williams, as well as by Sir George Young, all of whom have clearly explained the damaging effects of cigarette smoking on health, and the impact of passive smoking on people who are not smokers but are caught in public places where smoking is allowed. They have also clearly set out all the economic arguments to show that, in the hospitality industry, restaurants, bars and other public places, banning smoking brings about an improvement in trade and business rather than a reduction.
I have no financial interest to declare, but I do have an acute personal interest, because I am an asthmatic. Asthma did not come to me as a youngster, although I am looking back to my early 30s. I have been a pretty fit person; I have been active in the sports field and I was a regular player in the Cardiff squash league. I became an asthmatic at that time, and the doctors are still not absolutely sure what caused it, although my own trial and experiment suggests that there is some ingredient in alcohol that has an adverse effect, so I do not take alcohol at all, other than in its cooked form in sauces and so on.
It is clear from the research, including in particular the work done by Ulrik and Lange and published in 2003 in the Monaldi archives for chest disease, that the condition of asthma sufferers is made far worse when they come into contact with smoke. Some 26,000 people in Wales have this problem, as I do, and when asked, 80 per cent. of them said that they were acutely aware of the fact that smoking makes their condition even worse.
I want to add my personal experience. As a Member of Parliament going to public places and an individual who might want to enjoy a day or night out, I have frequently had my enjoyment damaged and spoiled by cigarette smoke. It does not even have to be immediately next to me; in restaurants, I have had problems with smoking and non-smoking areas. Even though I might be as far away from a smoker as I currently am from the Front Bench, the smoke always seems to drift in my direction. Within a very short time, my eyes will be watering and my chest tightening, and I will have to leave. Asthmatics in particular have that experience, but people who do not smoke often have a similar one. I therefore believe that we are right to discuss the issue.
The hon. and learned Member for Harborough raised some questions about the sort of places that might qualify as enclosed public spaces for the purposes of the Bill. He raised the examples of a public event for charitable purposes held in a private house and garden, and of a football ground at which an amateur club charges for entry. Such matters should be discussed in detail in Committee, so I will not debate them at length, but the detailed issues about how the legislation might work require examination.
That could be the case.
The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst and the hon. Member for Basingstoke have both said that we do not need the legislation because this is a common-sense matter that can be sorted out with voluntary codes. Time and time again, however, voluntary codes have not worked. Although a common-sense approach might appear to be the solution, that is hardly ever the case, which is why much of our legislation exists. There are common-sense issues about how people might drive, but rules and regulations relating to driving are nevertheless set out in legislation. Health is so important that we need legislation. If I were assured that the history of efforts to control and reduce smoking by voluntary means had worked, I would be at one with the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst, but in the past, voluntary efforts have not significantly reduced smoking.
I hope that the House will give the Bill promoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North a fair wind and allow it to go into Committee, where we can vigorously scrutinise the issues that those who feel uncomfortable about the Bill have rightly raised. In that case, we would return to this House on Report before perhaps facing a general election, and then the assembled ranks of hon. Members would no doubt be much greater than they are today.
Does my hon. Friend think that the scope of the Bill is likely to cover areas such as attending Wimbledon finals as the guest of Imperial Tobacco or going pheasant shooting in Bedfordshire and other places as a guest of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association? Mr. Garnier has registered those activities in the recent past.
The Bill would not apply to those particular examples, because they occur outside Wales, but we might need to examine how the Bill would apply to similar events in Wales.
Just in case my birthday friend, Mr. Barron, is trying give a false impression about my candour, may I make it clear that I answered his question entirely properly? [Interruption.] Instead of muttering and making implications about my conduct under his breath, perhaps he would have the decency to make an allegation straight out, in which case I will deal with it. The answer that I gave to him a moment ago was entirely factual and clear, and all those records are available for public scrutiny. The events to which he has referred are of some historical date.
I apologise to the House for muttering. For the sake of clarity, I said that the hon. and learned Gentleman was perfectly correct in what he said earlier, as of
Order. We have dealt with this matter at some length, and Mr. Griffiths should now confine his remarks to the matter before the House.
I am pleased to support the Bill as a sponsor—and, as Mr. Forth commented earlier, yet another Williams.
My party's long-standing policy has been to oppose smoking in enclosed public places, and in that I believe that we reflect the views of the majority of people in Wales. I therefore congratulate Julie Morgan on introducing a Bill that is so in tune with the views of the people of Wales, as did Baroness Finlay of Llandaff in the other place. As I said some time ago in my response to the Government's White Paper on public health, it is also the view of the National Assembly for Wales, but the Assembly has no primary legislative powers in this field, whatever the Richard commission's report eventually engenders. I am glad to be able to point to that particular weakness in the Government of Wales Act 1998. I will listen with great interest to the Minister's response to the points raised by Mr. Garnier.
We in Wales called for this ban some time ago, but we have to lag behind Ireland and Scotland, which have already enacted changes, and will get our ban, if we do, on England's coat-tails. The vote in the National Assembly for Wales was overwhelmingly in favour of the ban, by 39 to 10, with representatives of all four parties supporting it. It should also be noted that the Bill has received the support of BMA Cymru Wales, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, Action on Smoking and Health and many others. Yet although we are pressing for this piece of legislation, we will be left waiting. I am sure that the people of Wales will be supportive if the Government eventually do something in respect of the Richard commission's proposals.
The health arguments have already been extensively rehearsed, but I should like to point to a few matters that may not have received the attention that they deserve. Smoking rates in Wales are marginally higher than in England. For men they are 29 per cent. in Wales and 27 per cent. in England; for women they are 26 per cent. in Wales and 24 per cent. in England; overall, they are 27 per cent. in Wales and 25 per cent. in England. That means that there is a more pressing need for action, particularly when one considers the wide class variations. In Wales, 20 per cent. of people in class 1, and 33 per cent. of people in class 5, are smokers.
Moreover, as Mrs. Williams said, we have in Wales a history of industrial diseases—arising out of the slate industry in my area, and the coal extraction industry elsewhere. When we put together the high level of smoking among those in class 5—and in class 4, for that matter—and the prevalence of those industrial diseases, the argument in favour of the Bill is overwhelming.
Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death that we know of, and is implicated in 80 per cent. of lung cancer deaths, 80 per cent. of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema and 17 per cent. of deaths from heart disease. In Wales the death rate from smoking from 1998 to 2002 was marginally higher, at 18 per cent. against 17 per cent. in England, which is an argument for taking action in Wales.
It has been estimated that 600 deaths a year are caused by passive smoking, but no official figures are available for Wales. Bar staff are particularly vulnerable, but staff in other public places such a hospitals are also affected. I recently visited a private home for the elderly which had a smoking room next to the front door and the staircase. Smokers had their own place in which to smoke, but smoke seeped throughout the building.
Reference was made to the effect on children, and I note that the Children's Commissioner for Wales supports the thrust of the Bill.
The hon. and learned Member for Harborough referred to the displacement effect of banning smoking in public places, and I gave him the information from the Library briefing that there has apparently been an increase elsewhere in Ireland. However, the figures are provisional and there is no definite evidence. It is, to say the least, a partial argument that because banning smoking in one place might increase it elsewhere, the first course of action should not be taken.
There has been discussion in Wales about the effect that a ban would have on trade, which is particularly important for the tourist industry. Tourism is probably the second most important industry in my constituency. The Library briefing states that there is no international evidence to support a prediction of a drop in sales, but I shall not go into the details because they are available to all hon. Members. I shall give the House the benefit of my experience in Dublin when I enjoyed—perhaps over-enjoyed—the Irish experience without having to put up with smoke. I assure that House that there was no effect on the craic in Ireland. Perhaps that was down to me, but smoke certainly did not intrude.
A ban might have an effect on smaller establishments. It has been argued that larger establishments would be better able to cope with a ban and to absorb a drop in profits. My constituency and much of Wales have mainly small pubs, restaurants and hotels which compete against each other. There are no large premises to soak up any spare trade.
I am slightly surprised that more attention has not been paid to the economic effects of smoking—including not only the health of staff but the need for them to take time off to recover from illness. I had the experience of standing outside Gwynedd county council offices recently and saw a crocodile of people smoking outside in the cold, as in Victoria. It crossed my mind at the time that if those people smoked for 10 minutes a time, three times a day—that would be half an hour a day—for five days, they would have about an afternoon a week away from work to smoke. I am sure that that has a negative effect on public services and possibly on private enterprise. That aspect has not been given as much attention this morning as I would like, but perhaps we will have the opportunity to discuss it in Committee if the Bill gets that far.
We must be especially concerned about today's BMA report on England. It notes that the Government are likely to miss their targets for bringing down the rate of smoking by 2010. It cannot have escaped hon. Members' notice that the Wanless report stated that if we banned smoking in public places, the reduction would be 4 per cent. That is the Government's specific aim.
A good deal of survey information from Wales shows that the majority of people there are in favour of the thrust of the Bill. Seventy-six per cent. support restrictions at work, 78 per cent. support restrictions in restaurants and the lowest percentage—50 per cent.—support restrictions in pubs. However, only 28 per cent. disagree with such restrictions, so we have a majority in favour even among the lowest count of supporters.
I shall conclude now, because I know that other hon. Members are anxious to speak. When I have discussed the matter with constituents, I have found general support for the thrust of the Bill. I have received one letter against it, and that was couched in such a muscular fashion that I think the writer had a particular axe to grind. The Bill should be passed. It will be a great step forward for the health of the people of Wales and the Welsh economy. It should be enacted with dispatch, and I am glad to support the hon. Member for Cardiff, North.
I congratulate Julie Morgan on her position in the ballot and on her choice of Bill. I support the measure not as a Welsh Member but as someone who represents a constituency in the borough of Stockport, which had the misfortune a few years ago to be the first local authority that had to pay out on a passive smoking compensation claim by an employee. It has been, perhaps understandably, sensitive to the issue ever since. I am a non-smoker and I declare that I have done no pheasant shooting in Bedfordshire.
My party also strongly supports the principle of devolution and was in favour of the Welsh devolution measure. We are fervent supporters of the Assembly and its power, so when we have a proposal before us to allow the Welsh Assembly to mitigate the damage caused by passive smoking, it gets a tick in two boxes. I want to express the particular support for the measure of my hon. Friends the Members for Brecon and Radnorshire (Mr. Williams) and for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik). [Hon. Members: "Where are they?"] Unfortunately, neither of my hon. Friends can be here today. A huge majority of Conservative Members also support the Bill.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Cardiff, North on her presentation of the measure. She had a well argued case and she produced plenty of graphic evidence. I do not want to waste the House's time by repeating those arguments; I simply note that the number of deaths from passive smoking is three times as high as that from industrial accidents. Yet I suspect that we spend more legislative time and public money on dealing with the industrial accidents issue than with that of passive smoking. Several hon. Members mentioned the impact of passive smoking on children, and I believe that that is its most pernicious effect.
The Bill allows Wales to legislate. If it did not, we might have an interesting position whereby we had legislation for England that did not apply in Wales. It is therefore right for the House to pass the Bill. It has the advantage of being popular: it has 78 per cent. support according to the MORI poll; the sort of ratings that we all wish that we had. It would work: the Library briefing's evidence about New York and Ireland shows that a ban is an effective instrument when applied. When we have legislation that is popular, that is life saving, and that works, it seems to me that the House should not spend too much time in debate, and should simply get on with it.
I must confess at the outset that I am instinctively and politically against bans and prohibitions. I have spent quite a large part of my modest political career trying to fight them, and I hope to continue to do so, if that is the wish of the electorate. I feel very uneasy when well intentioned groups of people decide to use the power of the law to prevent other people from doing what they want to do. We are rightly proud of being a mature, civilised society whose people are given an education and certain information. I would like those people to be allowed to make up their own minds as to what they do or do not do.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way so early in his speech. Would he be prepared to legislate to prevent a nuisance, rather than to constrain people's free will?
I try to resist legislation of all kinds, at all times, wherever possible. Had I been in the House at the time, I would probably have voted against compulsory seat belts in cars and against compulsory crash helmets for motor cyclists, for example. I continue to cling to the belief that we should respect the right of educated individuals to make a judgment about the risks that they take in regard to their own activities. I always feel uneasy when people here reach so readily for the law to try to impose our wishes on society at large.
That is my starting position, and I try to stick to it whenever I possibly can. The arguments here go much wider than that, however. Of course it is right that we should inform people that smoking will damage their health. Similarly, many other things damage health. A reference was made to the risks attached to smoking in the home, but it must be well known to right hon. and hon. Members that the risks in the home are very considerable indeed. A large number of sad and regrettable deaths occur in the home every year from a variety of causes. Sporting activities also cause many deaths and injuries of different kinds.
Life is full of risks; it can be hazardous. The judgment that we have to make here, on this Bill and on other matters, is how far we seek to use the law so to shape or constrain people's behaviour as somehow to immunise them from the risks that occur naturally in life. My inclination is always to give people the maximum freedom to take risks and, if necessary, even to damage themselves, providing that we inform them properly of those risks. Indeed, much is now done, quite properly, to give people the maximum amount of information about the risks of smoking.
I defer to you, of course, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I would be more than happy to respond privately to the right hon. Gentleman later. Funnily enough, the seat that I am now happy to represent is broadly politically the same as the one that I left behind, so there was no political gain for me in moving. I will tell him afterwards what happened, possibly in graphic detail, if he can spare the time.
I was trying to explain the philosophical position, to put it rather grandly, that I adopt when faced with a Bill of this kind. Here, however, we are also faced with certain other interesting decisions. Julie Morgan, for perfectly understandable reasons—political if not domestic—started from the position that the National Assembly for Wales should be the key decision-making body in this case. That is not an uncontestable statement. In my view, when we are considering whether to place restrictions or bans on smoking, in the workplace or elsewhere, we should really ask ourselves, "What is the best mechanism for doing that? Where should that decision properly be made?"
Obviously, there are a number of different levels at which such a decision can be made. It can be done at a national level, and much has been made of decisions by national Governments to do that; the Irish and the Norwegians have been quoted. In the United States, the decision has been made at state level, which would be broadly the equivalent of the Welsh Assembly. The alternative, obviously, would be local authority level, which would be closer to the community and would allow decisions to be made on a more local basis. To take it further down, we could consider allowing decisions to be made by individual buildings, institutions or workplaces. There is a range of possibilities as to the level at which such decisions can be made. When judging the efficacy of this Bill, we must ask ourselves at which level the decision should properly be made.
Given what I said in my introductory remarks, it should be obvious that I would be uneasy about such a decision being made nationwide by central Government. We might have that debate in the foreseeable future, depending on the outcome of the upcoming election, as I hope that my party would not want to move in that direction, although I sometimes wonder. I hope that my hon. Friend Tim Loughton will reassure me when he catches your eye shortly, Madam Deputy Speaker. There is a debate to be had about how far the British Government of the day, of whatever party, might be tempted to follow the example of the Irish or Norwegians. I doubt whether I would be persuaded in that regard, but we might have that proper debate when the Government consider whether to seek to ban smoking in workplaces or elsewhere.
Whether devolution is the answer is a different question altogether. In the context of today's debate, we can already see some of the problems that ill-thought-out devolution has started to cause. We have been told that the legislative Scottish Parliament will be able to make its decision on the matter on behalf of the people of Scotland. The non-legislative Welsh Assembly cannot do that, and the hon. Lady's Bill seeks to find a way of allowing it to do so. I am not certain whether the Northern Ireland Assembly, were it to be operative, would be able to do that—I suspect that it probably would not. That leaves the poor old people of England, as ever, completely unrepresented. As an English Member of Parliament, and a naturalised Englishman, I resent very much that, through devolution, we are giving all these magnificent political powers to the Celtic fringes, whereas the people of England, the vast majority of the country, who pick up all the bills, are given no say. That flaw must somehow be addressed.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has the documentation to show that his formal naturalisation is complete.
Sadly, until we have English nationality properly identified in law, that is unnecessary. My main claim to nationality is by length of residence, since I deserted the land of my birth as soon as I reasonably could, as a sentient being, and headed south. I have been happily ensconced ever since, not in two constituencies, let me remind Mr. Barron, but three, as I had the honour of representing Birmingham, North in the European Parliament before I came to the House in 1983. I have therefore managed to represent three distinct groups of people so far, and counting.
The real question is whether the decision on banning or restricting smoking, as posed by the Bill, is properly taken at regional level. Our debate today has illustrated very well that there are real problems, not simply in the small print of the various Acts that bear on the matter, as my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier identified eloquently, but on a political level, as to whether the Scots should be able to do it while the Welsh cannot, the Northern Irish cannot and the English have not even got into the starting blocks in terms of being represented on the matter. I would therefore resist such a measure on that basis alone.
If the hon. Member for Cardiff, North is as keen on devolution, in the general sense, as she said in her speech, why should she stop at regional level? Why should the Welsh Assembly be identified as the appropriate body to make such a decision? Why not take it to the next level down—local authority level—where, arguably, we are closer to our representatives, and decisions could be made on a district-by-district basis, whereby one district might take a different view from another? If we want to talk realistically about community and local representation, there is a real case for saying that the kind of powers that she seeks to give the Assembly in her Bill would be better directed at local authorities, so that decisions could be made on a truly local level.
Does that mean that the right hon. Gentleman will be supporting the Liverpool City Council (Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work) Bill, which would introduce exactly such a ban?
I would certainly view it with rather more sympathy than I am prepared to give this Bill. Given my starting point, I am not sure that I am happy about giving anyone authority to introduce a ban—other than, perhaps, this United Kingdom Parliament—but if there is to be one, I would feel marginally more comfortable about its imposition at city or district level rather than at regional level.
The logic of my argument leads us finally to a workplace decision. The hon. Member for Cardiff, North told us that one chain of public houses had made its own decision, on a commercial basis, to declare all its premises smoke free. I respect that decision and wish the chain well. As I told Mr. Griffiths, it has always puzzled me that the 75 per cent. of people in this country who are consumers and voters do not exercise their market power and direct their custom towards premises that have declared themselves to be smoke free. I am a great believer in the power of the market and the consumer, and I think that that is the direction in which people should be looking.
If people are non-smokers or find smoke objectionable, why do they not always take their custom to restaurants, pubs or other outlets that have made the brave commercial decision to become smoke free? I have never understood that. The hon. Gentleman told us the tragic tale of how he went into smoke-filled rooms and, because he is asthmatic, ended up wheezing and with streaming eyes. The thought occurred to me—why did he walk into them in the first place? If most of his friends do not smoke, as they probably do not, why do they not organise themselves to go to a place where there is no smoke? Why do they not bring to bear the really effective influence on businesses: the power of the market and of expenditure? I would feel much more comfortable with that approach than with a heavy-handed law being brought down willy-nilly across the country or across regions regardless of individual circumstances.
Mr. Stunell mentioned Liverpool city council's Bill. My right hon. Friend may be interested to learn that the SmokeFree Liverpool campaign, in its literature—probably paid for by the local taxpayer—gives free advertising space to all the places in Liverpool that are "socially smoke-free". Those businesses have made a commercial decision to become smoke free, they are being advertised for the merits of being smoke free and they will get their custom accordingly.
That is very sensible, and a move in the direction that I am suggesting. It is another example of the exercise of choice by the businesses themselves and, more important, by us as individuals and consumers. We can deploy our custom and our expenditure in a way that may well influence the overall structure of the market—in this case, restaurants, bars and the like. Ultimately, the decision can and should be made on an individual workplace or outlet basis. That would allow an element of choice rather than this rather heavy-handed approach.
Next, we should consider the method by which such decisions should be taken. Much has been made of opinion poll evidence today, which, as we anoraks who attend these debates regularly have observed, is generally the case. I am always intrigued by that. Inevitably, Members cite the polls that favour the issue they want to promote. There is nothing wrong with that: it is a perfectly proper process. Today we have heard all sorts of quotations referring to 80 per cent. of this and 70 per cent. of that, and the proportion of people supporting a ban. In this context, I always say that if we are to make decisions on the basis of opinion polls or referendums, we should do it properly. Let us have a referendum on the restoration of capital punishment, for example. For decades, opinion polls have shown a substantial majority in favour of it.
The deal that I always offer to colleagues is this: if we are going to quote opinion polls and make our decisions on the basis of them, let us do so across the board. If we did, we would get some very interesting results which, I suspect, would not be congenial to many Members of this House. Someone's pointing out selectively that a particular opinion poll happens to support the thing that they are advocating does not impress me in the slightest, and for two reasons. First, we are told that politicians should lead, not follow, which is slightly at odds with the opinion poll evidence argument anyway. Secondly, what about the opinion polls whose outcomes Members do not like? I have quoted just one such example and I could doubtless find several others. So let us not get too carried away with what a particular opinion poll says, because as we all know, the question asked very often determines its outcome, rather than the substantive point at issue.
If the right hon. Gentleman was in the Tea Room this morning, he will have seen that notices have been placed on each of the tables saying that as of
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, because he has led me into my next point, which concerns the method of decision. He has given a very good example of the way in which this matter could, and probably should, proceed. Having alluded briefly to national, regional and local government levels of decision making, I shall now concentrate on the workplace. Since the Tea Room is almost as much my workplace as this Chamber is, I know exactly what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. I replied to that questionnaire by voting no to banning smoking because I believe that it should be allowed in large areas of this building. I await the day when the health fascists start saying that we should ban smoking in the Smoking Room. That will be the ultimate example of their desire to inhibit everybody's behaviour, but I do not think that we have quite got there yet.
Funnily enough, I go along with the right hon. Member for Rother Valley on this occasion. Yes, Members were consulted and asked to fill in a questionnaire. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a majority voted for banning smoking in the Tea Room. That ban will take effect, but I wonder whether it will have as much effect as the ban on the use of mobile phones in the Tea Room. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are natty little signs on each table, consisting of a little telephone with a line through it. I must admit that I am one of those who, when one of these revolting devices intrudes on the enjoyment of one's food, thrust that sign under the nose of the Member in question and insist that they leave the Tea Room.
My point is that that ban seems yet to have had much effect on such Members' behaviour, and I am waiting to see what happens when the first brave Member lights a cigarette in the Tea Room. Will the Serjeant at Arms come rushing in with his sword in his hand? Will other Members manhandle that Member out of the Tea Room? But the point is that Members were given a say and following that, the ban is going to be imposed.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his comments, but surely one major issue is that although we were given a say in whether smoking should be banned in the Tea Room, the staff who work there all day long—unlike us, they do not come and go—have no choice. That said, the staff associations of this House have sought a ban on smoking in their workplaces for many years.
I agree that the staff issue is important, but if the Government's rhetoric about full employment is to be believed, people have a choice as to where they work. It is surely perfectly open to any individual applying for a job to inquire whether smoking is allowed in the premises in which they would work, and to make their decision accordingly. Such freedom, I think, still exists, and if there is indeed full employment in this country—as the Government like to tell us—it is up to each individual to decide in which premises they will work. So I am not as impressed with the right hon. Gentleman's staff argument as he would like. It is a factor, but only a factor.
I do not accept that analogy. In most parts of the country, there is probably a wide range of choice about how people work. I digress slightly, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I am watching your body language very carefully. I want to say just one or two sentences on this matter. Many people can come to this country from eastern Europe and elsewhere and it strikes me as odd that they can immediately find a job and somewhere to live, when we hear so many sob stories about people being unable to find work or somewhere to live. I accept that that is a debate for another day, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I shall go no further.
The right hon. Member for Rother Valley helped me to concentrate on, or perhaps prolong, the matter, but we must take seriously the method of taking decisions at the workplace. Our questionnaire, funnily enough, is a good example. I see nothing wrong—indeed, I see much virtue—in asking people, workplace by workplace, what they think about a total ban on smoking throughout the premises or the allocation of part of the premises, properly ventilated, for smoking. Incidentally, I do not agree with Labour Members and, in particular, with Mrs. Williams, that the extraction of air is as inadequate a mechanism as they allege. It is perfectly possible to make proper provision in some parts of premises to allow smoking and to have in place proper extraction of the smoke.
We could debate that matter more extensively, but I see no reason in principle why people in a particular workplace cannot be offered a range of options—total ban, partial ban, allocation of areas in which to smoke, and so forth. Hywel Williams confirmed that something like one in four of our people still choose to smoke. We may disapprove, but it is their choice. Despite information, penal taxation, exhortation and condemnation, they choose to smoke—and we should pay some attention to that fact.
Much is spoken in this Chamber and elsewhere about minority groups in society, and smokers must be one of the largest and most identifiable of such groups, yet we feel free to condemn them, ostracise them and legislate against them. I suspect that if we did so to any other minority group in the same way, we would probably be hauled up for infringing the Human Rights Act 1998. I shall resist digressing into debating whether there is a human right to smoke, but it is a slight temptation.
There are proper ways of dealing with these problems, but they do not include using legislation and applying it at national or regional level. Mr. Stunell mentioned tackling the problem at local authority level, which is worth proper consideration. My favoured approach, however, would allow people to take a decision in their workplace in the light of the huge variety of different circumstances that apply in workplaces throughout the country. That would be the best way to proceed.
Those are my preliminary remarks, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I shall now say a few words about the Bill. The hon. Member for Cardiff, North need not look so anxious at this stage, because I am not in an expansive mood today, partly because I am keen to divide on the Bill. When we are confronted with a Bill about which such extravagant claims have been made in support, I sincerely believe that we should demonstrate through a Division how much real support there is for it from Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. There are 659 of us and we all have a duty to be here when legislation is proposed. I have no intention of prolonging my remarks unduly and I hope that the Front Benchers will wind up just in time for us to have a Division on the Bill. We shall then know exactly how much support there is for it. Unusually for me, I will restrict my remarks and exercise self-discipline.
For the record, I wanted to give a flavour of what a Bill like this implies and involves. The hon. Lady did what she quite properly should do and went through, in general terms, the provisions of the Bill, but that does not identify the true horrors of legislation of this kind. They start in clause 1, which states:
"The Assembly may by regulations make provision for the prohibition" of smoking; I have said enough on that.
Clause 2 gives an indication of what that approach means. Under the heading, "Display of signs", it says
"If smoking in an enclosed public place is prohibited or restricted by regulations . . . the Assembly may by regulations— more regulations—
"make provision requiring the display in an enclosed public place in Wales of a sign indicating to the public that smoking is prohibited."
The Bill goes on to say that the sign should give
"the name of the occupier, manager or other person for the time being in charge of the place".
Presumably, if a number of different people are in charge—shift managers or supervisors, for example—the sign would have to be changed every time a person is for the time being in charge. Already we have started to get into the nonsense that can arise from such legislation.
I have never been impressed by what happens in other places, frankly, and Ireland does not impress me on that or on many other matters. I am well acquainted with Florida where, happily, the compulsory motorcycle helmet law was rescinded recently. I might be tempted to say that I am impressed by what happens in Florida, but I will not burden the House with that. I am interested in what happens here and in our role as elected Members of Parliament in protecting our citizens from politicians—and by golly, they need protecting and this Bill is a good example of that.
The sign will have to change every time a new person is in charge, which strikes me as being potentially rather odd. The sign must also give
"the name of the person (being the occupier, manager or other person for the time being in charge of the place) to whom a complaint may be made by a member of the public for the time being present in the place who observes another person smoking in that place in contravention of a prohibition or a restriction."
That is classic gobbledegook of a kind that we are inevitably led to when we attempt to legislate in this area. This innocent little sign will have to say not only that one may not smoke, but will also have to give the name not of one person but potentially of several. As well as that, the sign may have to change fairly rapidly in terms of what it says.
Clause 3 says that
"the Assembly may by regulations prescribe . . . circumstances in which a person is, or is not, guilty of such offences and . . . in respect of such offences, penalties".
We cannot have such things without penalties. The clause goes on to say that the
"following persons may be guilty of an offence prescribed by regulations under subsection (1) . . . the person who is smoking or has smoked".
We now have an interesting retrospective element entering the Bill. It is not only the person who is currently doing it but those who may have done it at some unspecified time previously. Among those who may be guilty are the occupier or manager of an enclosed public place, and
"any person (not being an occupier or a manager) for the time being in charge of an enclosed public place."
The Bill is now spreading its tentacles alarmingly wide. Let us not imagine that it is just the person who lights up a cigarette, deliberately or inadvertently, or who may have smoked in the past that we are talking about; all sorts of other people are drawn into it. Such provisions—the Irish experience notwithstanding—worry me. There is the possibility that a potentially large number of people would be criminalised and made responsible for something for which any reasonable person would say they should not be made responsible.
Then we come on to the provisions that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough analysed with his usual forensic skill. Therefore I need not spend much time on them, except to refer to clause 4(1). Labour Members must sometimes wonder what they are doing when they are forced by the drafters of such Bills to include such things. It is worth quoting the clause fairly fully:
"Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide for the transfer to the Assembly of any function which is exercisable by a Minister of the Crown in relation to Wales where the Secretary of State is satisfied that the transfer is necessary in order for the Assembly to give effect to regulations".
So now we are getting involved in Orders in Council, functions exercisable by Ministers, the discretion of the Secretary of State and so on, all in the context of this apparently innocent and well-meaning measure.
These are deep waters indeed, as my hon. and learned Friend pointed out. When such implications are buried none too deep in such a Bill, we are entitled to pause at some length to wonder whether this is the appropriate vehicle for the matter that the hon. Member for Cardiff, North has brought before the House.
Then we come to interpretation in clause 6. The Bill attempts to grapple with the difficult problems of defining an enclosed public place. Again, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough referred to this. It is worth reading the clause into the record so that we can appreciate its full horror. An enclosed public place means
"any premises to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access on payment or otherwise as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission".
That is the convoluted attempt to define an enclosed public place.
My hon. and learned Friend, whose legal mind is legendary, was rather kind to that provision, because I do not think that we could begin to implement it in any meaningful sense, given the almost infinite variety of circumstances that might arise, locality by locality, site by site, building by building or even in the open spaces to which he referred. I can see all sorts of difficulties arising from this attempt to define an enclosed public place.
The clause goes on to attempt to define "premises", which are
"any permanent or temporary building or any part of such a building, or any structure, and for this purpose 'structure' includes— wait for it—
"a tent, caravan, vehicle or vessel or other temporary or movable structure".
There is not much left out of that list. The question was asked earlier of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North, which she properly answered: does this mean that people would no longer be able to smoke on the open deck of ship? She said that that is what passing her Bill would mean. We have gone so far with the attempt to interfere in people's behaviour that I would no longer be able, if I wanted to, to light up a cigarette on the open deck of a ship, on the open sea or wherever. I am not sure that that would be well understood by many people in considering the Bill.
Touchingly, the Bill tells us what smoking is. For the avoidance of doubt, I should point out that it tells us that
"'smoking' means holding a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe or any other lighted tobacco product and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly".
So smoking would no longer require the inhalation or ingestion of tobacco; it would simply involve holding a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe. That could get us into all sorts of fascinating territory, and if I wanted to detain the House I probably could for quite a while just on that simple definition, but suffice it to say, "There it is."
All I have tried to do is illustrate the lengths to which the drafters of such a Bill have to go to provide definitions that they think cover all the possible circumstances that they think should be covered. Whether in respect of public places, premises or smoking itself, one can foresee enormous difficulties with implementing this Bill in any way satisfactorily.
All in all I am unhappy with the philosophy of bans, as I have tried to explain. The Bill is looking at entirely the wrong level of decision making for such an important issue, touching as it does on individual liberties and freedom of choice. The Bill itself is flawed and I do not think that it could be corrected in Committee, even if it were to get there. If there were not a general election to intervene in the Bill's passage, I would hope that it would get a great deal of repair in Committee. We will find out hon. Members' support for the Bill shortly when we have a Division and see whether it lives up to the extravagant claims of its promoter.
We have had a full and thorough debate, in which hon. Members on both sides of the House have made interesting and well-informed contributions. We heard first from Julie Morgan. She has the best intentions, which I applaud, and I congratulate her on securing fourth place in the ballot. Whatever the merits of the Bill—we can argue over its wording—I certainly congratulate her on successfully continuing to focus on the curse of smoking. We would all agree that we need to do much more to address that.
My right hon. Friend Sir George Young apologises that he is not in the Chamber because he has to attend an event in Birmingham. He is a long-standing champion against the dangers of smoking. Although I do not necessarily share the conclusions that he reached during his speech, I respect his frank views. Mr. Barron is also a long-standing champion of the cause and he told us about the experiences in New York of such legislation.
Mr. Hunter, who is not in the Chamber, made interesting points about the possible inappropriate constitutional aspects of the Bill. He also raised examples of anomalies and unintended consequences that could result from the Bill, such as the possible situation at the Roman site of Silchester in his constituency. I am sure that English Heritage would have something to say if it had to put signs about smoking around parts of Silchester.
Mrs. Williams talked about problems in the workplace and focused on the experiences of employees, which is a legitimate concern. In a detailed and typically legal speech, my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier raised all the possible anomalies that the Bill and other legislation to ban smoking would bring. He gave us various examples of unintended consequences, such as what could happen if he were to invite a church fête to use his house—I am sure that he would allow that, given his generosity. He also talked about the consequences of the Bill for a village football club. Hywel Williams, who is also not in the Chamber, gave us the Welsh angle.
Unusually, my right hon. Friend Mr. Forth was not in expansive mode, but none the less he gave us an incisive critique of some of the flaws in the wording of the Bill. He also pointed out the fact that it cuts against something that he has always stood up for: the rights of individual adults to make informed adult choices.
The problem that we face is well known, so I shall not repeat all the figures that we have. Despite everything that has been done over many years, 25 per cent. of people in England still smoke. The figure in Wales is a little higher at 26 per cent. The hon. Member for Cardiff, North said that smoking has quite a large social class gradient. In social class 1—I am not sure what that stands for, but it is the terminology that we are given—15 per cent. of men smoke, but as many as 45 per cent. of men in social class 5 smoke, which is three times as many. It is especially worrying that 10 per cent. of 11 to 15-year-olds are deemed to smoke regularly.
Smoking causes 121,000 deaths a year throughout the United Kingdom and more than 7,000 a year in Wales alone. It causes one in three cancer deaths and 90 per cent. of lung cancer cases. It remains the single largest cause of death and disability in the United Kingdom and costs the NHS at least £1.7 billion a year. Smoking is also reducing the female advantage of life expectancy and widening the social class divide in mortality.
There is evidence—more needs to be provided, I agree—about the effects of passive smoking. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that there is a statistically significant and consistent association between lung cancer risk and exposure to second-hand smoke. Exposure varies, but it was found that someone dancing for four hours in a nightclub in a city such as Vienna or Barcelona was likely to be exposed to as much second-hand smoke as someone who lived with a smoker for a month. No doubt the same effect is apparent in nightclubs in Wales. We might have to ask someone such as Charlotte Church to give us an authoritative statement on that.
The agency also calculated that non-smokers who live with a smoker have a 20 to 30 per cent. greater risk of lung cancer than they would in non-smoking households. The vulnerability of children especially concerns most people. It has been calculated that some 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital each year on account of the effects of smoking. We have heard figures on the effect of smoking on workplace health as well.
All of us in the House and outside are agreed that smoking is a thoroughly nasty habit. The Conservative party is committed to doing everything it can to encourage as many people as possible to kick the habit once and for all and, more importantly perhaps, to deter impressionable teenagers from taking it up in the first place, even if the Secretary of State for Health described smoking as one of the few pleasures remaining to single mothers on council estates.
I question the success of the Government's policy so far. In January, the Public Accounts Committee produced a report that showed that more than two thirds of quitters took up smoking again within 12 months of quitting. The British Medical Journal recently reported that smoking cessation services are having only minimal impact and are way off course to reduce smoking prevalence from 26 per cent. to 17 per cent. by 2011, to meet the Government's target. In 2003–04 the smoking cessation programme reduced smoking rates by between only 0.1 and 0.3 per cent. and will deliver less than 1 per cent. of the target fall, which is extremely worrying.
Much more needs to be done to provide a much greater variety of smoking cessation services, which at present concentrate largely on nicotine replacement patches. A great deal more needs to be done to address the problem of teenage smoking, not least the pressures from peers and the images of sporting and TV celebrities that influence children. On its own, the ban on tobacco advertising introduced by the Government will not achieve the desired result. We need to do more, but I am not sure that the Bill is the answer, although I applaud the good intentions of the mover.
Let us consider the Bill on three levels. First, regardless of what the Bill is about, it is designed to give extra powers to the Welsh Assembly, and it needs to be judged on that basis. Secondly, should the Assembly be doing other things to improve health generally in Wales? Thirdly, is an outright ban the best way to promote health? With regard to the powers of the Welsh Assembly, another anomaly of devolution is thrown up. The Assembly has responsibility for health promotion in Wales. Under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the National Assembly should have control over all aspects of public health in Wales, including food safety, but excluding international issues where the Department of Health or other agencies lead for the United Kingdom. I hope that the Minister will deal with that anomaly when he explains why smoking is not covered by that public health agenda.
I recognise, as hon. Members have already mentioned, that previous attempts have been made to enact such legislation, with the noble Baroness Finlay of Llandaff introducing a Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill in the Lords in December 2003. Lady Finlay was reflecting the will of the Assembly, which had voted for a ban on smoking in public places in January 2003 by a pretty large majority. The cross-party motion carried by the Welsh Assembly on
The Secretary of State for Wales appears to have back-tracked, and, in any case, has recently called into question the whole wisdom of hurrying through outright bans on smoking in public places, as his own Government had appeared to set out in the public health White Paper "Choosing Health", published only last November. So this is a spat between the Secretary of State and his Government and the Welsh Assembly, and it is they who need to sort the whole thing out, and in Government time. A private Member's Bill is not the way to do that—it is not the medium for such a constitutional tangle.
"We are not able to support my hon. Friend's Bill"— the Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill— for various reasons"— which I hope again the Minister will allude to and provide details of—
"but in terms of the thrust of the policy that it contains she will find that we are with her in spirit."—[Hansard, 3 March 2005; Vol. 431, c. 1109]
We would like to know what that means in practice, and I hope that the Minister will be able to enlighten us.
The Opposition are opposed to the Bill on the basis that it will give further powers to the Welsh Assembly without first consulting the people of Wales in a referendum. It is clearly set out that we can debate whether the Welsh Assembly is to have further powers, but the decision should be made by the people of Wales through a further referendum and after a proper consultation process. On that basis, the Bill fails to meet our criteria.
The Scottish Parliament has the power to ban smoking in public places, and on
Furthermore, as has been pointed out by several. Members, we are likely to face other such anomalies and other similar pieces of legislation for parts of England. The Liverpool City Council (Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work) Bill had its First Reading in the upper House on
Surely, the hon. Gentleman is wrong. He should look at the experience in the United States, where more than 300 cities and seven states already have smoking bans. It does not appear that there is any problem, but perhaps he has researched the matter and can tell us about it.
I do not need to research the matter too closely to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that the United States has a population five times the size of this country's population, and it is a much larger country that is less densely populated. It is easier for states to introduce bans or other legislation relating to local tax and so on than it is for this country to do so. In places such as London, where there are 30 or 40 different boroughs, restaurants and pubs on different sides of the same street may be in ban and no-ban areas. The situation is very different from that in the United States, and it is a recipe for chaos.
I am all for a localism agenda. My party is all for giving back many more powers to local authorities that are accountable to local people to make decisions for local circumstances. That is absolutely right, but smoking in public places is a national public health issue. It is this House that should be legislating or not legislating on a national issue as part of a Government's national public health agenda; otherwise, there will be an open season, and an awful lot of the time of the House will be taken up in considering the requests of whichever town or local authority has decided to apply for a ban. We will be faced with a legislative timetable nightmare.
Should the Welsh Assembly be doing other things? I applaud the fact that it has produced a number of initiatives to deal with smoking cessation. It has produced the Smoke Bugs club for eight to 11-year-old children who pledge not to smoke. Club members receive positive messages about staying smoke free via quarterly newsletters to their home. A "smoke-free class" competition offered to pupils in years seven and eight is part of a European initiative that currently involves 16 countries. Pupils enter as a class and pledge not to smoke for the five-month competition period. There is also a "smoke signals" resource for smoking education in the primary school, for pupils aged from three to 11, and a "burning issues" resource that looks at smoking as a social issue and is designed to be used in a variety of subjects.
The Welsh Assembly has produced programmes through the inequalities in health fund that was established in 2001 by the Minister for Health and Social Services in order to stimulate and support local action to address inequalities in health and the factors that contribute to it, including inequities in access to health services. The fund supports a total of 62 active projects, covering a wide variety of activities that target coronary heart disease. Many good initiatives are under way in Wales and I applaud that, but I hope that it is a matter of quality outcomes, rather than simply quantity of initiatives.
In other respects, however, Wales is lagging well behind England in health care and the quality of the health of the population and of the service provided. I believe that the Welsh Assembly should be concentrating on improving that parlous situation rather than on the high-profile headlines that a smoking ban brings, which are no substitute for doing something to improve the health system of the country as a whole and health outcomes for the people of Wales, who are being let down badly by the Labour party in the Welsh Assembly.
I do not want unduly to embarrass my hon. Friend, but may I ask whether he has any figures about the relative expenditure per head on health in Wales as compared with that in England? If, as I assume, the Welsh are blessed with a higher expenditure per head, it strikes me as rather odd that health outcomes are so poor in Wales. Can he explain that?
My right hon. Friend is certainly not embarrassing me, and I can give him a few figures. Expenditure per head on health in Wales is somewhat larger than in England. We have been told for many years that if we in England were to achieve European averages of health spending as a percentage of our economy, health outcomes could be expected to improve magically to the levels that our fellow European citizens enjoy on the continent. Those levels were achieved in Scotland and Wales some time ago, but those two parts of the United Kingdom have worse health outcomes than England. If one examines how much money was spent on health in Wales, between 1999 and 2003—
I am grateful for your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The Welsh Assembly Government's record on health is atrocious, but this Bill would give them more powers over health. They must get their act together on looking after the health of their citizens before they take on more responsibilities, because they are not doing a good job. That is the second reason why Conservative Members cannot support the Bill.
When the hon. Gentleman discusses health expenditure in Wales, he is discussing the treatment of illness in Wales. If not for this generation, then for the next generation and for many more to come, this Bill promotes the improvement of public health, because people do not need hospitals and clinics if they avoid smoking and passive smoking, which currently put so much pressure on our acute services.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's intentions, but such a national public health issue should be dealt with as a national public health priority. People who live in Wales are no less entitled to good public health and good public health advice from the Government than citizens in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Despite the 31.5 per cent. increase in expenditure in Wales, hospital activity fell between 2000 and 2003, and waiting lists and waiting times have deteriorated gravely.
I will take your blandishments, Madam Deputy Speaker.
We are considering giving further powers to the Welsh Assembly Government, who are currently not handling such powers in the best health interests of their citizens, which concerns me.
That brings me to my third point: is an outright ban is the best way forward? Conservative Members do not think so. A lot of progress has already been made under the voluntary code with, for example, the hospitality industry. In the recent past, 26 companies representing 40 per cent. of the UK's pubs and bars have committed to a new no-smoking strategy, agreeing that by the end of December 2005 they will have in place no smoking at the bar, which has already been mentioned, no smoking in back-of-house areas, an increase in no-smoking trading floor space from a minimum of 35 per cent. to a maximum of 80 per cent. by December 2009, and a minimum of 50 per cent.—in future, that percentage is intended rapidly to increase—of restaurant dining area floor space being designated as no smoking. Companies will also continue to develop exclusively smoke-free pubs and bars, where it is appropriate and practical.
Office for National Statistics figures from July 2003 indicate that via a voluntary approach, 86 per cent. of workplaces have a smoking policy—either an outright ban or separate smoking areas. Of the remaining 14 per cent. of workplaces, 5 per cent. consist of single-worker businesses, where an individual is well placed to make up their own mind whether they will smoke. Some 50 per cent. of those workplaces are completely smoke free, and by 2003 the number of pubs with non-smoking areas was in the region of 46 per cent.
A number of hon. Members have also mentioned that the home is one of the most common places in which passive smoking occurs, and that children are among the most vulnerable. One side effect that has been experienced following smoking bans in other countries, without setting too great a store by such evidence, is that off-licence and supermarket sales of drink have increased because people are drinking socially at home so that they can smoke, which means that they can smoke in front of children. The amount of alcohol sold by supermarkets now represents more than 50 per cent. of total alcohol sales, up from some 13 per cent. 20 years ago. The whole dynamics of how people buy their alcohol and where they enjoy it have changed. We must be mindful of the fact that such legislation will have detrimental consequences if we drive smoke into another confined place where the most vulnerable citizens may be the victims.
I just told the hon. Lady that, as various hon. Members have said, it comes from the Library briefing. If she is taking issue with that briefing, she should take it up with the Library.
Conservative Members want to improve on the voluntary code. We especially look for much tougher action in all those places that are open to children and want firms to come up with much clearer and stronger priorities about how they protect their staff. Overall, the Government need to have a much more effective smoking cessation policy. An arbitrary ban on pubs and clubs serving food is unworkable, and many will simply go out of business. We should treat people as adults and allow them to make their own informed choices. The Licensed Victuallers Association in Wales today estimated that up to 1,000 pubs in Wales could close if such a ban were to be imposed on them. It is a commercial decision for pubs, clubs or restaurants to make as to whether they want to be smoke free and thereby appeal to the many people, some of whom are in this Chamber, who will not go to smoking environments, or whether they want to appeal to the minority of the public who still smoke.
Restaurants are private businesses and should be left to choose their own policy on smoking. If they think that they can get more customers by banning it, that is their commercial decision: it should not be for the Government to play nanny state again. This is not even an issue in many restaurants that already have smoking and non-smoking areas. Of course non-smokers should be given that consideration, but there should be designated smoking areas so that people can choose. It is right that we should have policies for Government buildings, NHS trust buildings and hospitals, with the caveats that I mentioned, perhaps particularly in relation to mental health patients. We should allow local councils to decide whether they want to have bans in their own offices and town halls. My local council in Worthing recently voted to ban smoking in the town hall. That is entirely a matter for those councils or institutions. We should be able to make informed choices as adults.
Right hon. and hon. Members have mentioned several specific points, and I will not go into great detail again at this stage. The hon. Member for Cardiff, North took my point about boats. Would the Bill ban smoking on stage in theatres, if required for effect? Some smoking cessation classes use smoking as a deterrent; would they be unable to do so if they were held in a public place?
There are many flaws in the Bill, and I am afraid that we cannot support it for the three reasons that I mentioned. First, this is a constitutional matter; it should not be left to a private Member's Bill to decide the relationship between this House and the Assembly in Wales. Secondly, should we really be giving more powers over health to a Government and an Assembly who already have an atrocious record in looking after their citizens in health care terms? Thirdly, and most importantly, will it have the desired effect in Wales, England or anywhere else?
The jury is still out, but some of us believe that we could be moving more effectively to a wider ban on smoking based on individual merit and commercial decisions if we worked for a voluntary agreement. I am afraid that I cannot support the Bill.
I congratulate my hon. Friend Julie Morgan on bringing her private Member's Bill to the House. She has worked hard to raise awareness of, and generate public debate on, smoking in public places, in both Wales and the wider community. Such a debate continues the process of helping people to understand the serious effects of smoking on themselves and others, and to make informed decisions.
No one doubts the effects of smoking on the population. It can cause misery and pain for individuals and their families through serious disease or, worse, death. Every year in Wales, around 6,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses, which represents almost one in five of all deaths in Wales. The Government are addressing the problem of smoking through widespread education support programmes for those who want to quit, and we have achieved an enormous amount since we came to office in 1997.
Tackling second-hand smoking is an equally high priority for the Government, and the White Paper, "Choosing Health", which was published last year, sets out a package of measures that will progressively make almost all enclosed public places and workplaces in England smoke free by 2008. That will save thousands of lives and I join my hon. Friend in seeking, as a matter of urgency, the best way for Wales to reduce the number of deaths from cancer, heart disease and all other diseases caused by smoking.
The Government are working in partnership with the Welsh Assembly and do not intend Wales to be left behind in this crucial matter of health protection. The Assembly is implementing a comprehensive package of smoking prevention and smoking cessation measures in support of what the Government are doing. They include initiatives to discourage young people from starting to smoke, and to encourage and support smoking cessation and smoke-free public places. The Assembly's corporate health standard—the quality mark for workplace health development in Wales—encourages organisations to develop and implement non-smoking policies and to protect workers from passive smoking. All those initiatives are having an impact on the population.
In recent years, several countries have introduced measures against smoking in enclosed places, including the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Norway, and the Scottish Parliament is considering legislation to end smoking in all public places and workplaces. A number of right hon. and hon. Members have referred to those matters.
Sir George Young, who had the courtesy to advise me that he was unable to stay for the end of the debate, asked why the National Assembly for Wales does not have the power to ban smoking. The Government of Wales Act 1998 provides for only existing ministerial powers to be transferred to the Assembly. There are no such powers in existence, so primary legislation is the only way in which to give the Assembly that power.
My right hon. Friend Mr. Barron referred to the health White Paper and some of its conclusions. The debate is continuing in Wales because the Assembly has a Committee examining the issue.
I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend, who is a long-standing campaigner. When I was successful some years ago in the ballot for private Member's Bills he tried to persuade me to take up this issue. Instead, I introduced a Bill to protect whistleblowers. I commend his commitment and dedication to this issue.
My right hon. Friend said that there may have been mixed messages in what the Government are trying to do and in what they say. When the White Paper, which sets out our intentions clearly, was published, the 2004 report of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health was also published. The report states that new evidence reinforces and strengthens the conclusion that exposure to second-hand smoke is the cause of lung cancer, heart disease, asthma attacks, childhood respiratory disease and sudden infant death syndrome. However, the report did not produce exact estimates of overall deaths nor of deaths due to exposure in different settings. As we said in "Smoking Kills":
"Breathing in other people's tobacco smoke also kills."
The vast majority of deaths and disease from second-hand smoke is due to breathing in second-hand smoke in the home. Several hon. Members referred to that.
Mr. Hunter asked why the Government do not support the Bill, and I shall deal with that later. However, he was worried about the Assembly's having powers that were too wide. There is no fixed parameter for the scope of secondary legislative powers; for example, Henry VIII powers can be used to amend primary legislation. The question is what is appropriate for the Assembly to be able to do. Parliament has adopted a specific approach to each Bill. The hon. Gentleman referred to the Health (Wales) Bill and the Welsh Affairs Committee's request to include a smoking ban in that measure. As the Minister who took the Bill forward, I can tell him that the Assembly did not ask for the inclusion of such a provision.
My hon. Friend Mrs. Williams made several points. Like other hon. Members, she referred to the comments that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales made on
"We are not able to support my hon. Friend's Bill for various reasons, but in terms of the thrust of the policy that it contains she will find that we are with her in spirit. She will also be encouraged by subsequent legislation that we intend to introduce, which will give Wales the opportunity to implement policies in the way in which the National Assembly choose."—[Hansard, 3 March 2005; Vol. 431, c. 1109.]
My right hon. Friend was right. We always try to work through consultation and in partnership with the Assembly in drafting legislation to try to meet the Assembly's aspirations. However, until the relevant Committee of the Assembly has reported on its deliberations and the Assembly has debated the report and decided exactly what it wants to ask of the Government, it would not be proper for me to enter into any commitments.
Will my hon. Friend go further and make a commitment that, when the Committee has finished its consultation and produced a report and the Assembly has responded to it, the Government in Westminster will enable the Assembly to implement the results?
When the report is published, the Assembly will debate it and eventually ask us for a Bill. I am sure that the report will inform the Government's response. I shall revert to that point in my concluding remarks.
My hon. Friend the Member for Conwy asked, "Why not go further now?" The proposals in the White Paper are a major step forward. They will make almost all public places and workplaces smoke free. I believe that we shall save thousands of lives by doing that, but our policy is to balance the different and conflicting views expressed by the public. Again, in the Welsh context, we await the report from the Assembly's Committee.
Mr. Garnier began by paying tribute to Private Johnson Beharry of the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales's Regiment, who was awarded the Victoria cross today. All hon. Members share in the congratulations to that brave soldier and to all the soldiers—men and women—who serve Britain throughout the world. I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his remarks. His contribution was interesting. He began by describing an imaginary home in Wales and how the Bill would affect him if he were to hold an event there to raise funds for a church or organisation. Madam Deputy Speaker, I am sure that, as a Welsh girl, you will appreciate that since Wales has done so well on the rugby field lately, many people are now discovering that they have Welsh grandparents or Welsh aunts and uncles. Everyone now wants to be Welsh. I commend the hon. and learned Member for Harborough for his comments in that regard, and I hope that he will join us in celebrating when we win the grand slam on Saturday.
The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to talk about the Bill's constitutional implications, at which point "passive devolution" was mentioned. I wondered whether anything prevents devolution from being taken forward by a private Member's Bill. There is nothing to prevent that from happening, although clearly, it would not be a suitable way of achieving a major change, certainly as far as primary legislation or tax-raising powers are concerned. I would not seek to deny my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North the opportunity to introduce a private Member's Bill in this way—indeed, as someone who has introduced a private Member's Bill in the past, I strongly defend Members' right to introduce legislation through that channel—but I would say to the hon. and learned Member for Harborough that there is not a great deal of difference between us on how we believe Parliament should determine the question of future devolution.
I pay great tribute to my hon. Friend Mr. Griffiths, who will be leaving us at the general election. He will be greatly missed. He highlighted the fact that our colleagues in the Assembly voted in January by 39 to 10 in favour of a ban, and pressed the Government to take the measure forward at that stage. I have no doubt that, at some stage, when legislation is enacted, that will be taken fully into account.
Hywel Williams thought that a ban in Wales might come as a result of a ban in England, and that it might come in on England's coat-tails. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The hon. Gentleman knows that, in constructing legislation in partnership with colleagues in the Assembly, there is always a great deal of discussion. When the Assembly wishes to pursue a particular agenda, we shall seek an appropriate legislative vehicle to take forward that agenda in this House. He mentioned the impact of a ban on trade and tourism in his constituency, which is in a most beautiful part of Wales. That important point gives us all the more reason to await the Committee's report, so that we can consider the views of all the interested parties before taking a final decision on legislation.
Mr. Stunell made an important contribution, stating that we should be conscious of the views expressed in the Assembly. We certainly want to do that, and at an appropriate time when legislation comes forward, we shall do so.
Mr. Forth started his speech as he often starts his speeches on these occasions: he underpinned his continued opposition to making legislation, which is a perfectly valid and proper view to hold. He went on, however, to say that he would exercise an unusual degree of self-discipline. I am not sure whether that might present an ideal opportunity for a private Member's Bill, and perhaps we could introduce counselling for Members involved in seeking self-discipline.
Tim Loughton made some important comments. When he started, I thought that he was going to say that the Opposition would support the Government when we introduce legislation on a ban some time in the future. However, his comments turned out to be nothing more than warm words. He made a number of points on the delivery of the health service in Wales. You rightly pulled him up at that point, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sure that you would recognise that what we are doing in Wales is putting right 18 years of underinvestment from when the hon. Gentleman's party was in power, during which time it closed 70 hospitals and cut training for nurses and midwives. Now we have more doctors and more nurses, and only yesterday, we announced new targets for the health service in Wales—
I take note of what you say, Madam Deputy Speaker.
How do we proceed from here in a sensible manner, bearing in mind the complexities of the situation and the strong feelings that have been expressed, both for and against a ban? [Interruption.] I note the comment made by the hon. Member for Hazel Grove from a sedentary position, and he might be interested in what follows this debate.
Our White Paper proposals on anti-smoking measures in England came as a result of extensive consultation with stakeholders. It is essential that any legislation on such an important matter should be informed by consultation with those most affected by its implementation—the general public as well as businesses and public organisations. The equivalent consultation is still under way in Wales. I know that my hon. Friend is aware that the Welsh Assembly set up an all-party Committee last year to consider how best to tackle the problem of second-hand smoke, and smoking, in public places in Wales. Therefore, the Government believe that it would not be wise to set out proposals for Wales before that Committee reports, which is due to happen in May. Any recommendations that the Committee makes, based on consultation with stakeholders, will, I hope, be an accurate reflection of the needs and wishes of the people of Wales. Such recommendations will help to inform the Government's view on future legislation on smoking.
In the light of what I have just said, I believe that this Bill is premature. While the Government share the concerns that have led my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North to introduce it, we are also concerned to ensure that the views of all stakeholders are taken into account. I also have a number of concerns about the Bill as drafted in relation to technical questions, particularly enforcement and cross-border matters.
For example, the Bill proposes to provide enabling powers for the Assembly to prescribe a ban by regulations. It would be possible, under the current devolution settlement, for the Assembly to be given additional public health powers for that purpose. I am not clear, however, that the role of the enforcement and policing agencies has been fully taken into account in the Bill's drafting. On the role that the police and legal system might be required to take on—we must bear in mind that police and criminal justice are not devolved and are reserved matters—I am concerned about the Bill's cross-border impact. Should local authorities become involved in enforcing a ban in Wales, it is possible that there would be practical difficulties in implementation, especially as the cost of that has not been calculated. With such issues outstanding, I am not confident that the Bill can deliver a practical and workable arrangement for effectively banning smoking in public places in Wales.
Let me emphasise that the Government are committed to ensuring that there is a major step forward in providing smoke-free environments for people to live and work in. In his preface to "Choosing Health", my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health said:
"In moving forward the public health agenda in England, we recognise that some of its proposals will have implications for other parts of the UK."
"We will work closely with colleagues in the devolved administrations to identify these, so that joint action can be taken where appropriate and legislative opportunities provided for the devolved administrations where . . . new powers are created for England".
I suggest to my hon. Friend that that presents an excellent opportunity to introduce legislation for smoke-free public places and workplaces in Wales, and we are committed to making that happen.
Notwithstanding my comments about my hon. Friend's Bill, I hope that she can take comfort from the Government's approach, which I have outlined. I am sure that she would agree that we need the case for a ban to be made, with full consultation on all the issues, and after the report of the Assembly's Committee has concluded, the Assembly's deliberations and proposals should be put directly to the Government. I hope that she will not be too disappointed, and I hope that she will join me in wanting to ensure that whatever legislation is proposed recognises both the views and the needs of the people of Wales and provides the most practical vehicle for implementation.
While I regret that I cannot support my hon. Friend and her Bill for the reasons that I have given, she can be in no doubt that the Government share many of her hopes and will seek to resolve this matter before too long. Once again, I thank her for presenting the Bill to the House and for providing the opportunity for this debate.