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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 6:30 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 6:30 pm, 14th February 2006

It has been quite a journey over the past eight months or so. This afternoon's debate has paralleled the discussion of the matter that has gone on in the public domain over that period. Speeches have been made by Steve Webb, my right hon. Friend Mr. Barron, the right hon. Member for New Hampshire[Interruption.] I mean Sir George Young. In addition, my hon. Friend Dr. Wright, the hon. Members for Belfast, South (Dr. McDonnell) and for Wyre Forest (Dr. Taylor), and my hon. Friends the Members for Selby (Mr. Grogan) and for City of York (Hugh Bayley) all argued that the legislation on restricting smoking in public places should go as far as tonight's votes allow.

However, my hon. Friends Stephen Pound and for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland), and the hon. Members for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) and for Birmingham, Yardley (John Hemming), all felt that there should be more compromise on the matter. If I heard them correctly, the hon. Members for Christchurch (Mr. Chope), for North Thanet (Mr. Gale) and for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) said that there should not be legislation in this area at all.

This is an historic debate. We are celebrating this week the 100th anniversary of the parliamentary Labour party. It is fair to say that many of the most challenging pieces of health legislation over the past century have been introduced in the short periods of Labour government. We hope to serve for much longer in the 21st century, but I am pleased and proud to be here this evening to endorse and put into law for the first time proposals that will restrict smoking in public places. As far as I am aware, the Opposition, despite what they say, had no intention of introducing similar measures if they had won the general election.