Jti Gallaher

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:32 pm on 27th October 2014.

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Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 10:32 pm, 27th October 2014

I think that is a little unfair. Perhaps as I go through my remarks, my hon. Friend will be somewhat assured that the Government are doing what they can to promote the private sector, in particular, in Northern Ireland. I think he should know that from his experience of Northern Ireland overall, where the private sector is doing relatively well and the economy is, without a doubt, rebalancing, albeit at a rate that is perhaps not as fast as we would have liked.

There have also been job losses from the mechanisation and streamlining of tobacco production, and that has had a greater impact on jobs than tobacco control measures implemented by this Government. My hon. Friend the Member for North Antrim would probably accept that, given the changing nature of this industry, which he will have seen over many years.

On the tobacco products directive, my hon. Friend should know that I am generally loth to accept anything that comes out of the European Union, particularly when it results in regulation. However, it is fair to say that the tobacco products directive aims to protect health—that of his constituents, my constituents, and all constituents. Tobacco use is responsible for an estimated 700,000 avoidable deaths in the EU every year, and smoking accounts for over one third of respiratory deaths, over one quarter of cancer deaths, and about one seventh of cardiovascular disease deaths. I have seen these cases; I saw them day in, day out when I was practising regularly. I am sure he would agree that if we are to make any progress in improving public health, we have to cut the consumption of cigarettes. I do not think there is any difference between us on that.