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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 is another triumph of this new Labour Government.

I turn now to the specifics of the amendments. Amendment (b) deals with specialist tobacconists, for which I said in Committee I was minded to include an exemption. However, that should be tackled in regulations. I reject amendment No. 8, which would remove clauses 1 to 12, as that would effectively kill the premise on which the Bill is based. The view of the public is increasingly that we should take legal measures to restrict smoking in public places.

The hon. Member for Christchurch mentioned prisons. We are working with the Home Office to determine how to make progress in that respect, but I remind the House that some prisons are smoke-free. Prisons are places of detainment and also residence, so we must strike a balance.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley tabled amendment No. 10, which would permit local authorities to license and designate premises. The Government believe that a piecemeal approach is inappropriate, as we want a national approach to creating smoke-free places. That is the ideal, but I give credit to those local authorities around the country who have campaigned strongly and made their views known to the Government.

Several hon. Members spoke about amendment No. 6, which deals with private vehicles. Six Standing Committee sittings were devoted to the smoking parts of the Bill, and I made it clear that there was no intention to require vehicles in exclusively private use to be smoke-free. Clause 5(2)(d) makes provision for regulations that may exempt classes of vehicles, including private or rental cars hired for private use. The Bill's regulation-making powers are more than adequate to exempt vehicles for private use.