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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 5:00 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Health 5:00 pm, 14th February 2006

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue about, for example, communities with one members' club and one pub. To the extent that a set of people will vote with their feet, a pub that is prevented from allowing anyone to smoke could lose business and thereby possibly be undermined. Again, it would be unfair to introduce such a distortion using legislation.

The Secretary of State spoke about space around the bar. If we do not pass the ban on smoking in private members' clubs, I am not sure whether people must chalk lines on the floor or use white tape to show that people can smoke on one side of the line but not the other. A distance criterion has been suggested, as though the smoke will come to a screeching halt at the line. That is a strange basis on which to protect people's health. Will we say that people can smoke if they face away from the bar but not if they face towards it? It seems incredible that ministerial comments so far have suggested a distance criterion. People can smoke if they stand away from the bar, but not if they are close to it. The Secretary of State shakes her head, but that is exactly what was said on Second Reading, as the record will show. In a sense, the proposal is a fudge that accepts that passive smoke is bad for the people who work in such clubs.