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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 6:15 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Selby 6:15 pm, 14th February 2006

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. The House has a responsibility to provide some certainty tonight. If we exempt clubs, we will be faced with years of legal action. Indeed, the Joint Committee on Human Rights suggested that if we distinguish between members' clubs and pubs, we may face legal action from bar workers in clubs, trade unions and so on. Businesses and clubs need certainty.

I have been telephoned, in my role as chairman of the all-party group on beer, by licensees from all over the country. I shall give just two examples, which happen to come from Doncaster and Leicester. The licensee of the Rockingham Arms, in Doncaster, told me that his pub is opposite the Comrades club, which is a social club near Doncaster race course, and that all he wants is a fair bat and ball—the chance to compete with it on equal terms. Of course, many of his regulars are also members of the club. We have to face the fact that the likely flow of traffic will be smokers shifting from pubs to the clubs of which they are a member. If we pass an exemption for clubs in this House tonight, it will constitute a St. Valentine's day massacre of many pubs. Pubs will close up and down the land and Members will have to face not just their licensees, but the darts team and the football team that has nowhere to go. Some pub charity Christmas raffles will no longer take place. Pubs are a vital part of our local community.