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New Clause 5 — Smoke-free premises: exemptions

Part of Orders of the Day — Health Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Patricia Hewitt Patricia Hewitt Secretary of State, Department of Health 4:00 pm, 14th February 2006

My hon. Friend makes an important point and I will come to it in a moment.

There are about 18,500 registered membership clubs in England, representing a wide range of interests. There are working men's clubs, political clubs, military and sporting clubs and so on. I believe that the arguments on membership clubs are very finely balanced. On the one hand, there is a case for making even more places smoke-free and establishing a level playing field for pubs, licensed premises and membership clubs. On the other, there is the case, strongly put to me by many of my own constituents, that a genuinely private membership club that is not for profit and is effectively owned and run by the members themselves should be treated in the same way as people's own homes, where people decide for themselves. I believe that that is a very strong argument, but I will listen to the debate extremely carefully, and on this point in particular.