My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Its purpose is to protect employees and members of the public in Liverpool from the effects of second-hand smoke by prohibiting smoking in places of work throughout the city. The Liverpool Bill is identical in its purpose and content to the Bill that will be introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth of Breckland, shortly after I have spoken. We are grateful to all noble Lords who have put down their names to speak and particularly look forward to hearing the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Stratford, who is temporarily out of the Chamber but who I am sure will be back in a moment.
Liverpool City Council has consulted widely and has twice voted by massive majorities to proceed with this Bill. It did so most recently on
As we expected, these Bills have attracted some opposition, and the petitions reflect that. The promoters are willing to listen to suggestions to improve them that may be made in Committee and meet some of the concerns expressed by petitioners. Your Lordships would not expect the promoters to agree to amendments which would create loopholes and negate the Bill's purpose of significantly improving the health and welfare of the people of Liverpool and London.
The Bills are modelled on the very successful legislation introduced in Ireland in 2004 and adopted by numerous authorities and countries across the world, including Norway, many states in the USA and, most recently, Italy, Sweden and Scotland.
It may be suggested that, with government legislation imminent, there is no need for these private Bills. I can answer this in two ways. First, there is no certainty yet that the Government's Bill will provide the same comprehensive protection for all workers in the hospitality industry, particularly in the pubs which do not serve food and in members' clubs, as the Liverpool and London Bills will achieve. Indeed, were the White Paper proposals to be enacted, they would widen health inequalities and deny to some of the most lowly paid workers the protection from second-hand smoke which the great majority of employees will enjoy from the Government's Bill.
The Government would also create commercial inequalities in the pub and licensing trade. It is striking that virtually every participant in the Government's consultation so far seems to be demanding that everyone should be treated similarly. If there are to be restrictions on smoking, they should apply to all.
The Government's claim that up to 90 per cent of pubs would be smoke-free because they prepare and serve food certainly would not apply in Liverpool. Indeed, if we relied on the White Paper proposals, 59 per cent of the pubs in the city would be exempted because they do not serve food. In the poorest parts of the city, the figure rises to 80 per cent. Of the 20 per cent of pubs that serve food, nearly a third say that they would stop serving it if that meant that their customers could continue to smoke. Such widening of health inequalities cannot make sense.
There is a second, perhaps even more compelling reason why these two Bills should proceed. Committee proceedings on private Bills are different from those on government Bills in both this House and in the other place. I understand that the Lord Chairman will briefly intervene after I have spoken to explain a little bit more about this rather unusual procedure for private Bills which we are following tonight and in Committee.
Where there are petitions against the Bill, the promoters call evidence from expert witnesses, on oath, before a committee of five of your Lordships who are lucky enough to be selected. The case for these Bills will be introduced by a Queen's Counsel. The promoters are likely to seek evidence on, among other matters, the effects of second-hand smoke, the effect of ventilation and the experience in Ireland. The committee will be given the chance to consider the issues in an unprecedented level of detail with highly experienced witnesses. I am sure that the Minister will acknowledge that, by subjecting these Bills to such intensive examination in Committee, we shall be assisting the Government's deliberations on their own Bill enormously. It will be an unusual, but extremely helpful, form of pre-legislative scrutiny.
I should make clear that the promoters of the Bill are not flying a kite. They intend to see it through. Liverpool City Council's proposals have been long in gestation, and it is worth noting that the Bill was deposited last November, long before the Government made their manifesto commitment.
Ten of the 19 petitions against this Bill come from licensees and their representative bodies. There are no petitions from bar workers or their representatives. They strongly support such legislation, not least because they are an occupational group at particular risk, as the latest report of the Government's Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health makes clear. The latest epidemiology, published in March in the British Medical Journal, suggests that premature deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke in the hospitality industry number more than one a week.
Why Liverpool? Liverpool has a reputation as a pioneering public health city. The Liverpool Sanitary Act 1846 was the first piece of public health legislation in Britain, and the city created the first medical officer of health post. That private legislation was subsequently incorporated into the national Public Health Act 1848. There are numerous examples and precedents of local authorities introducing their own health-related legislation. More recently, in the 1940s and 1950s, many cities, including Liverpool, introduced their own clean air legislation. This was all consolidated in the first national Clean Air Act in 1956.
The scale of death and disease in Liverpool caused directly by smoking is among the worst in the country. The proportion of the population in England which smokes is now 27 per cent; in Liverpool, it is 36 per cent. In some of the poorest wards of the city, the figure rises to 48 per cent. The result is that across Liverpool at least 1,000 people every year die from smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and all the other dreadful conditions that smoking can cause.
In Liverpool, mortality from lung cancer is 109 per cent higher for women and 73 per cent higher for men than it is across England and Wales as a whole. Mortality in Liverpool from coronary heart disease is 23 per cent higher for women and 29 per cent higher for men than across England and Wales as a whole. There is a huge pride in Liverpool that the city has been chosen as the 2008 European Capital of Culture. It is not surprising that it now wishes to be rid of its current title as the lung cancer capital of England.
Smoking is the greatest single contributor to health inequalities and to differences in life expectancies between social classes. To quote just one stark statistic, on average across the UK a man in social class 5—that is the poorest—has one chance in two of living to the age of 70. A man in social class 1 has two chances in three, and by far the largest factor in that difference is smoking.
It is well established that the most powerful policy lever now available to cut smoking rates is to end smoking in workplaces and in all enclosed public spaces. That is a fact that the tobacco industry has long recognised. On the Internet, there is an internal document produced by the Philip Morris company in 1992, released as a consequence of litigation being carried out against the tobacco industry in the United States. The document said that,
"total prohibition of smoking in the workplace strongly affects industry volume. Smokers facing these restrictions consume 11 to 15 per cent less than average and quit at a rate that is 84 per cent higher than average . . . these restrictions are rapidly becoming more common . . . Milder workplace restrictions, such as smoking only in designated areas, have much less impact on quitting rates and very little effect on consumption".
Those are the words from Philip Morris. So when your Lordships read the latest lobbying material from the Tobacco Advisory Council, I ask you to remember that that argument is not about liberty or freedom but about selling cigarettes.
In his report to the Government on public health health issues, Sir Derek Wanless estimated that a complete end to smoking in all workplaces could cut smoking prevalence rates by up to 4 per cent. That would reduce the rate from more than one in four—the national average today—to close to one in five. The Liverpool Bill will be good news for the 70 per cent of smokers who repeatedly say that they want to quit, and good news for their families and friends. If the Bill is passed, many hundreds of lives will be saved—and that in itself is a powerful argument for this legislation.
Of course, I accept that we cannot tell people what to do for their own good; much as we might want to encourage people not to smoke, we cannot force them to quit. That is why it is so important that we see an increase in the number of smoking cessation clinics and other aids to persuade people to give up smoking. Liverpool has pioneered those projects in the poorest part of the city and will do more after the Bill is passed. Meanwhile, we can properly require people not to smoke when and where their habit will damage the health of others—and that is what smoking does.
On the basis of the figures contained in the report of the Government's own scientific committee on smoking and health, it is possible to estimate that around 100 premature deaths a year across Liverpool are caused by second-hand smoke. For every premature death, there will be many cases of serious illness. For example, a recent Department of Health survey for England shows that people who are exposed to other people's tobacco smoke for six or more hours a week were 50 per cent more likely than those who were not to develop asthma symptoms and breathlessness, coughing and wheezing.
Asthma UK states that one in five people with asthma are prevented from using parts of their workplace where people smoke because of cigarette fumes. I am very pleased to see my noble friend Lord Simon in his place today—and I wish him a very happy birthday. As an asthma sufferer himself, he has impressed your Lordships on many occasions by telling us what hell it is to work in a building where smoking is permitted. He knows better than any of us that cigarette smoke is the second most common asthma trigger in the workplace.
British researchers Peto and Doll have expressed the risk of developing lung cancer from passive smoking as being about 90 times higher than the risk of developing an asbestos-related cancer due to asbestos in buildings. It is astonishing that we have not up to now taken the risk of smoking more seriously.
Smoking restrictions do not require intensive or costly enforcement. That has been the experience in Ireland, New York, on the London Underground, on other UK metro systems and on buses and trains. Such restrictions are generally observed by popular consensus, and the Liverpool Bill will be no different. It is alleged by some business and tobacco lobbyists that smoking bans will do serious economic damage, particularly in hospitality venues. Frankly, there is little objective evidence for that assertion. Indeed, in New York, employment and tax revenue from the hospitality sector have both risen sharply since the city's smoke-free ordinance came into effect. The picture is much the same in Ireland, where the dire prediction of the drinks trade that the hospitality industry would collapse have proved completely unfounded.
As recently as
The economic costs to employers of smoking among the Liverpool workforce is approximately £28.5 million per annum, as a result of increased illness and reduced productivity. The Royal College of Physicians said only this week that an outright ban on smoking in public places would save the UK economy £4 billion. So cutting smoking rates would bring great economic benefits, and this Bill will make a real difference to the health of the people of Liverpool. I am proud to be its sponsor, and I commend the Bill to the House.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Faulkner of Worcester.)
My Lords, I hope that it might be helpful to the House if I intervene briefly at this stage of these two Bills, because opposed private Bills do not come before your Lordships as frequently as they used to some time ago.
As the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, said, although we are at the moment debating the Liverpool City Council (Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work) Bill, the debate should take place on both Bills, including the London Local Authorities (Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work) Bill. At the end of the debate, the Question will be put on the Liverpool Bill, and the Question on the London Bill will be taken, I hope, purely formally.
As the noble Lord also said, there are a number of petitions—19 against the Liverpool Bill and 20 against the London Bill—a good many of which are in common. Most of those petitions are against the very principle of the Bill, and therefore there is not the slightest doubt that they will be not be withdrawn before the Bill goes to an opposed Bill committee. Therefore there will be every opportunity for those petitioners and the promoters of the Bill to argue their cases before an Opposed Private Bill Committee, which will take place after this.
I hope that the House will give this Bill a Second Reading. The difference here is that giving a Second Reading to a private Bill does not give approval entirely to the principle of that Bill, unlike with a public Bill. It is perfectly possible for the Opposed Private Bill Committee to throw the Bill out in its entirety or to amend the Bill, or whatever. Then the Bill must come back to the House for a Third Reading, at which time it is also possible for the House to reject the Bill on a Division.
I am hoping that your Lordships will not reject the Bill at Second Reading. I should point out that the last time that that happened was nearly 70 years ago, in 1937, and it is not our practice to do that now. If there are any further questions on procedure, I shall be happy to try to answer them. I shall be here for most of the debate, although not all, but I shall return for the end.
My Lords, I rise to support the Second Reading of the London Local Authorities (Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work) Bill. It is very similar in form to the Bill that has just been proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester. That is why they are being debated together. This Bill would give powers to each London borough to institute a ban on smoking in the workplace within the area of the individual borough.
The London Bill is being promoted by the Association of London Government on behalf of the majority of London boroughs. The association, the umbrella body that acts as a unified voice for the London boroughs and the Corporation of London, has a long history of promoting private Bills on a consensual basis on behalf of all the boroughs. Your Lordships will know that that is sometimes a difficult feat, but one that the boroughs see as being in the interests of Londoners. The Bill represents a compromise between differing approaches.
Some boroughs may be more enthusiastic about the early introduction of such a ban in their local area than others. Indeed, since the introduction of the Bill, three boroughs have decided to discontinue their participation; namely, Bromley, Havering and Kensington and Chelsea. That also explains why the Bill is adoptive. That means that it will come into effect, if the Bill as a whole is enacted, only when each borough passes a motion in full council to bring the Act into local effect. That will give each borough the time to reflect and consider the views of local residents. That is why the boroughs are joining together in a desire to see the issues debated and to see the case for a complete ban examined by your Lordships in detail, on the evidence, at the Select Committee stage. I hope that your Lordships will allow the examination of that case to happen by agreeing to a Second Reading today.
The issue deserves the full attention of your Lordships in Select Committee and at later stages for the following reasons. A recent investigation by SmokeFree London found that in the capital in 2001 an estimated 10,500 Londoners aged 35 or over died as a result of smoking. That amounts to one death an hour. In 2001, in London, it was also estimated that diseases caused by smoking accounted for 46,000 hospital admissions, and 1.7 million GP consultations were associated with smoking. Around 3,400 people died in 2001 in London from respiratory diseases due to smoking. A further 2,200 died due to chronic obstructive lung diseases. Smoking is one of the biggest health issues that we face, and that is why London and Liverpool are seeking the new powers. I believe that in the future—I hope sooner rather than later—we shall wonder to ourselves why we ever allowed smoking in places of work.
London and Liverpool have also been working together to collaborate on the drafting of the Bills. They are both based largely on the Irish legislative precedent. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, has already highlighted the main points of the proposed statutory approach, and I shall not therefore trouble your Lordships with undue repetition. However, the most important point that he raised, which I shall reiterate here, is that there is no satisfactory way to eliminate the risks of second-hand smoke in enclosed public places short of ending smoking in those places. The medical evidence of the dangers of secondary smoke, whatever others might say, is incontrovertible and comprehensive.
I shall refer briefly to the latest report of the Government's own Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, which consists of 15 of the most eminent medical experts in the country. Its report was published with the White Paper on public health. The committee reported that exposure to second-hand smoke increased the risk of contracting lung cancer and heart disease, in both cases by about a quarter. It described second-hand smoke as,
"a substantial public health hazard".
Of course, not everyone accepts the evidence. Take British American Tobacco, for example. Its last annual report stated that,
"there is no convincing evidence that environmental tobacco smoke exposure genuinely increases the risk of non-smokers developing lung cancer or heart disease".
Your Lordships will remember that the company spent years and many millions of pounds denying first that smoking killed, and then, when it had lost that argument, that nicotine was addictive. FOREST has challenged the Chief Medical Officer to prove claims regarding passive smoking. Needless to say, the promoters of both the London and Liverpool Bills intend to adduce that evidence in the Select Committee, if your Lordships agree to the Second Reading today. I suggest to the supporters of FOREST that if they believe in evidence-based decisions, the Select Committee would be an excellent place for that to happen.
I turn briefly to one of the myths associated with the issue: the merits or otherwise of ventilation. Despite the best endeavours of the tobacco industry to promote ventilation as a solution to the problem, there is as yet no ventilation system that would be fully effective that would not also be entirely disproportionate. For example, the atmospheric physicist, James Repace, has stated that truly effective ventilation systems would require air-recycling rates of tornado-like force. It might be worth the absurd expense of installing such a system—assuming that one could ever be created or found—just to watch some of the opponents of action against second-hand smoke trying to light up a cigarette while it was in operation, but I shall not recommend that, as I believe in an evidence-based approach and we might not achieve that.
Some opponents of the Bill have also suggested that new legislation is not required because responsible employers will act on their own initiative. Many employers in London have already done so and deserve public credit and support. However, many have not, and the London councils need to be equipped to take action where action is necessary in relation to the health of local residents and people who work in the boroughs.
There is an odd fact associated with the debate, and that is that when opinion polls are carried out a large majority favours the banning of smoking in the workplace, but a rather smaller majority is in favour of banning smoking in pubs, restaurants and clubs. We are quite prepared to affect the health of others in our leisure, but of course, those are places of work too, and there is no reason why the health of the office worker should be given a higher premium than the health of a bar or restaurant worker.
I shall also give no ground to the argument that people can choose to work in smoke-ridden atmospheres and that if they do not they should find another job. That is like arguing that we do not need a minimum wage because people can always get a higher-paid job. That ignores the realities of working people's situations.
Studies in California before the state passed its legislation on the issue showed that the level of second-hand smoke in restaurants that permitted smoking was commonly around 200 per cent higher than in offices that permitted smoking, and that the level in bars was up to 600 per cent higher. Research in seven European countries, published earlier this year, showed that in some nightclubs, for example, customers would routinely inhale more second-hand smoke in four hours than they would in a month living with a smoking partner.
I touch briefly on the claim by opponents of smoking restrictions that ending smoking at work will simply increase smoking in the home and possibly around children. Your Lordships will know of my commitment to children's issues. A series of Parliamentary Questions recently tabled in the other place revealed that the Government knew of no research to justify that assertion. It seems to be the political equivalent of an urban myth.
Ending smoking in all workplaces, accompanied by publicity about the damage done by second-hand smoke, will not in fact increase smoking at home. On the contrary, it encourages many smokers to quit. In Ireland, for example, cigarette sales fell by 16 per cent after smoke-free legislation came into effect. Moreover, such a law increases public understanding of the risks of second-hand smoke and therefore discourages irresponsible smoking around children. Finally, it helps to prevent smoking from being seen as a normal, or even desirable, adult activity, and therefore removes a major incentive for young people to begin smoking—another huge problem in our society.
There are some further points that I should address. The promoters of the Bill can see arguments for some very limited exemptions in public places that also have a residential purpose—for example, for long-stay patients in hospitals and care homes, which is a subject I have an interest in. However, the Royal College of Physicians in its document Going Smoke-free suggests that that should be on a case-by-case basis. No doubt that point could be addressed in detail in the Select Committee.
There is also a novel form of objection from London theatres, who fear that not being able to smoke real cigarettes on stage will damage their ability to represent smoking in plays. Of course, one might argue that not being able to use real guns in the theatre does not mean that such things cannot be portrayed—it is called "acting"—but nevertheless the promoters have listened to those concerns. That matter could also be addressed in Committee and, indeed, if people wished, an exemption could be proposed.
The Bill would protect non-smokers from the serious risks of inhaling other people's smoke at work and in enclosed public places. It is supported by all the major health charities, including the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation and the Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwifery and many others. It would particularly protect employees in the hospitality industry and others at most risk, including children. It would sharply cut the number of smokers throughout London and save hundreds of lives every year as a result. It would be a great step forward for public health in London.
I also have a personal agenda. Both my parents were smokers. My father died from cancer, and my mother suffocated from emphysema. My sister and I both have respiratory problems caused by our childhood environment. Our parents were loving people; had they known then what we know now they would have given up. Despite my personal experience, I believe that the evidence should be considered in the committee as evidence. I am proud to sponsor the London Bill, and I commend it to the House.
My Lords, noble Lords will have noted that it has taken 27 minutes to propose two private Bills, which we are told are almost identical. That in itself is a sad reflection on the way in which these two Bills are being presented to your Lordships' House.
The main content of my speech will be as much on procedure as matters to do with smoking, although I will use one or two facts as opposed to allegations. Your Lordships should know that I tried to persuade the promoter of the Liverpool Bill—who I think is the senior promoter of the two Bills, if I may put it that way—that it would be more appropriate to deal with the two Bills after Her Majesty's Government's consultation, which ends on
The Chairman of Committees has encouraged us to give the two Bills a Second Reading. Indeed, the noble Lord is quite right that 1937 was the last time that we had a vote on such private Bills—on the North Devon Water Bill and the North Devon Electric Power Bill. I, for one, would not wish to interfere with the precedents of your Lordships' House, so if that is the normal procedure, that is acceptable to me—except I shall deploy some arguments that may persuade the promoters to withdraw their Bills.
First, as far as I can see, and as far as those noble Lords who have studied the Bill can see, the Bills are virtually identical to the Government's proposed Bill in their consultation paper. Furthermore, we know from the Queen's Speech that the Government are bringing forward a Bill. They have affirmed numerous times that they are confident and strong on that. This is not one of those wishy-washy Bills that may or may not happen—we know that it is coming. In my judgment, the two Bills are superfluous.
We also know that the consultation that the Government are undertaking contains an element about the risks, likely benefits and costs of enabling local authorities to make their own legislation on smoking. It is not as though the Government have ignored the evidence produced by local authorities. The Government are proposing that in their consultation, which is taking place at this very moment. Somewhere people may be discussing this in a pub—with or without smoking—or in some of the local authorities that meet of an evening.
The promoters of the two Bills are stated to have undertaken extensive public consultation, but upon investigation it is pretty thin. It is nowhere near as extensive as Her Majesty's Government are doing, and doing correctly. They should be praised for the depth at which they are undertaking it. So the proposition that the two Bills—the Liverpool Bill and the greater London area Bill—have had extensive consultation does not stand up to examination.
What would happen if the Bills were agreed by your Lordships' House? It would result in a confused system up and down the country because some local authorities might make their own legislation and that may not be the same as the next-door local authority. The promoters are correct in saying that it would affect the hospitality industry more than any other industry other than pubs and clubs. That is an important industry and we cannot ignore its views—we would be wrong to do so. Clearly, the hospitality industry feels that if there is to be change it should be universal change, which is basically what Her Majesty's Government are proposing in their consultation.
We do not know the costs. It is all very well in life to promote this, that and the other as wonderful ideas, but costs are involved in any of these things. I shiver when I hear some eminent QCs, some of whom are in this House. They know better than I do how many thousands of pounds they earn in a day. All I know is that the local authority bills will come back on council tax payers. Have they been consulted? I do not hear either of the promoters confirming that all council tax payers have been consulted. I am a council tax payer in Westminster; we have not been consulted. I can tell noble Lords that that is the position.
Frankly, we know that there are 19 or 20 petitioners. Those petitioners are not the British major tobacco manufacturing companies; they are representatives of restaurateurs, individual restaurateurs, pubs and licensees—those sorts of people. They are not equipped with huge sums of money with which to compete with these eminent QCs funded by council tax payers to promote two Bills alongside an existing government Bill.
Then I hear from the noble Baroness this evening that three of the London boroughs have pulled out already. Before your Lordships' House has even had a chance to debate the issue, three have pulled out. It is not three, is it? It is four actually. I am not accusing the noble Baroness of misleading the House, but she must know that Westminster City Council has stated:
"This Council notes the desire of the Association of London Government to promote private legislation that would allow London councils to implement a local ban on smoking in public places; and that the City of Westminster has been asked to act as parliamentary agent for this Bill as it has done for all previous London Local Authority Bills.
The Council recognises the potential for public confusion as to its stance on this issue given that its name is on the face of the Bill.
To avoid any potential confusion, the Council agrees that, notwithstanding its support for the local health priority around smoking cessation, in the event of the Bill achieving Royal Assent in the next Parliament, there is no intention to apply a public smoking ban in Westminster".
So that is four which have pulled out. One begins to wonder, especially with these eminent QCs at a vast cost to council tax payers, whether other local authorities will also pull out. Far from a common front, we have four major boroughs—Bromley, Kensington, Havering and Westminster—all pulling out. They will not take part. Frankly, they have put a hole in the Bill.
As I understand it, regardless of political persuasion, a government are pretty neutral on private Bills until such time as they decide whether to legislate. It seems to me incredible that we could have a government Bill starting its life—presumably in the other place—while alongside it we are sitting in a Select Committee listening to identical evidence and debating the same issues. That does not mean that the issues are not important; of course they are. But the right place for that debate is, initially, in the other place on a government Bill before it comes here.
For those councils that proceed, the cost should be referred to the district auditor, because it is an abuse of council tax payers' money that those resources are funding two Bills running at the same time as a government Bill. That is not the least bit acceptable to any council tax payer.
Great play was made by the noble Baroness about workplace smoking. She knows as well as I do that smoking is now allowed in only about 8 per cent of workplaces. That does not represent a huge proportion of people at work. The balance has been reducing and, I expect, will continue to reduce. So I question whether the priority should lie in the workplace. Only 8 per cent is left. Even the Health and Safety Commission, which has not changed its view, stated in 1999:
"We believe there is already sufficient health, safety and welfare law that can be applied to passive smoking".
So those are not my words.
The argument should now concentrate on pubs and bars. Some chains—Wetherspoons, for example—have already stated that they will ban all smoking. That is their judgment; that is fine. Others may make a different judgment. I suspect that what people want is a recognition that pubs are a little different from ordinary workplaces. What do the public want? I have a few figures as well. I will not produce too many, but the two most relevant ones are those from the Government—we believe government statistics, do we not? These were supplied on
Great play is made about those who work in pubs and bars; it was made in our more recent debate. A recent survey at the end of June by AIR stated that 89 per cent of those surveyed among bar staff and licensees, the majority of whom were bar staff, said that smoking should be allowed in pubs; 70 per cent were happy to work there; 91 per cent thought that ventilation could be improved; and 71 per cent thought that it should be left to the owners to decide. Those figures seem conclusive evidence that this is a difficult area that should be dealt with with sensitivity.
I say in conclusion that I shall not comment on the medical side, because I am not qualified to speak on it, but I know that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will contribute. I finish by saying that the new alcohol licensing laws in Westminster are in chaos because that legislation was rushed. Rightly, the Government are consulting in depth. That is good. These two Bills mirror government legislation. There has not been adequate consultation. They are causing considerable worry to those who have petitioned, most of whom run smallish businesses. The public does not want such draconian laws as proposed in these two Bills. They interfere with the Government's consultation. Above all, I submit that they are a waste of your Lordships' time when we can expect a Bill from the other place pretty soon after we are back.
My Lords, as the House will recall, I suggested at the conclusion of Starred Questions today that if we were to finish in time for 11 o'clock, which is an hour past our advisory time—we need to finish at 11 o'clock because of the rules of the House relating to the staff tomorrow—the House would need to agree to a six-minute time for Back-Bench speeches. The last contribution took 14 minutes. I need hardly tell the House that, should the other speeches follow at that length, it would take us until about midnight, in my rough paper calculations.
Of course, we are a self-regulating House. I can only say that when I advised a limit of six minutes, which is all that it is in my power to do, it seemed to be responded to nearly unanimously. At least, no one leapt up then and objected. So I urge the House in its fine tradition of self-regulation to try to stick to six minutes, otherwise we will really be causing difficulties.
My Lords, I will endeavour to meet the challenge laid down by the Captain of the Gentlemen at Arms by being extremely brief.
My first point concerns procedure. Many of us know that the original intention was that these Bills would be debated in March. It was not the fault of either London or Liverpool that they are now being debated in July. The reason flowed from the general election and the delays in legislation that necessarily followed from that.
Secondly, I listened closely to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, and fundamentally disagree with him. That fundamental disagreement is precisely because I want to encourage local authority initiative and local authority pilot schemes. I want many more than we currently have. There is a great deal to be said for encouraging local authorities to experiment, especially in controversial areas, to see how it works out. It is the most effective form of consultation to try something in practice and then legislate when one knows the result of those experiments. So I do not for one moment criticise Liverpool or London for floating these Bills now, even though a government Bill is proposed later.
Thirdly, it is appropriate that the future European City of Culture, Liverpool, with which I am proudly associated, having been at one time Member of Parliament for Crosby, should be pursuing its renaissance by trying to bring in a far-reaching public health measure. London is now, delightfully, about to become the city of the Olympics in 2012. Again, what could be more appropriate for the world's sporting community than to see a city that has decided to get rid of smoking in public places? That is a very appropriate concomitant to a sporting occasion.
Finally, I turn briefly to the content of the Bill. There is a sharp distinction between the White Paper and, as far we know, what the Government are currently proposing and the London and Liverpool Bills, which is two substantial exemptions. The first is private member's clubs; the second is pubs that do not serve food.
Many others will be more knowledgeable than I am about private members' clubs; I have never been a great club member, so I will leave that discussion to other Members far better placed than I to contribute to it. However, I want to say something briefly about pubs that do not serve food, given that there is already an indication in the Government's consultation papers that they might allow certain sorts of food in pubs otherwise excluded from smoking. I leave that on one side, although it is a slippery slope. It could quickly move towards certain kinds of food being served, and there is a much bigger consideration.
We know that, as a country, we are faced with an extremely serious problem of binge-drinking among young people. Pubs that do not serve food are likely to be much more popular with the binge-drinking community than pubs that do. For one thing, the whole clientele is different; for another, the emphasis is on drinking—drinking fast and a great deal—and not on an evening out with a nice glass of wine with a supper or dinner. There are great dangers in subjecting that section of our community, almost all of them young people—teenagers and young 20s—to a smoke-filled room. They are the most vulnerable, the least able to realise the risks, and the most likely to suffer throughout the rest of their lives from running those risks. The argument for the exemption falls to the ground at that first stage.
I wish the Liverpool and London authorities well. I am not in the least surprised that there is some opposition; there is bound to be on a controversial matter such as this. A pilot scheme in both cities is appropriate, and I hope very much that the House will give not only a Second Reading but a fair wind to the Bills as they go through. If at the same time they are a blow for the autonomy and independence of local government, that gives them a double argument in their favour.
My Lords, may I say what a great pleasure it is to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Williams? As she was speaking, I remembered that I never really thanked her properly for coming to speak in my parliamentary campaign in Watford in 1979. Regrettably, that did not do me any good, but at least I perished in good company.
During my 22 years in the other place, I made around 1,400 speeches and interventions, but none of them presented me with the sort of problems that I face today making my first speech in your Lordships' House. The first reason is that I simply never anticipated being here—neither, I suspect, did a fair number of your Lordships expect to see me here. Secondly, I am finding the inherent politeness of this place quite destabilising. Having come from a House where politeness is about as rare as an orderly queue at a London bus stop, the culture shock on entering your Lordships' House has been profound. Indeed, such relentless politeness is not merely destabilising, but positively exhausting.
The reality of all this came home to me during the debate on the Speakership last week, when I finally realised that I had raised my last point of order, spurious or otherwise, and that my days of political hooliganism were destined to become just fond memories. Of course I might not survive the transition from political pugilist to polite Peer, but I will give it my best shot and see who cracks first.
Before turning to the Bills to ban smoking in places of work, I record my grateful thanks to my two noble friends who supported me when I was introduced to your Lordships' House on
I turn now to the Second Reading of the London Bill. I give it my strongest possible support. I do so not because I am overly bothered about what people do to themselves, whether it is smoking, drinking or taking drugs, but because those habits impinge on others. If people wish to smoke in the face of all the overwhelming evidence, it is their problem. Unfortunately, it soon becomes my problem and a problem for others who find themselves affected by that vile, unhealthy and anti-social habit.
However, I readily confess to not always having thought that way. In my younger days, smoking was naively synonymous with pleasure. I well remember those Christmas and Boxing Day matches at Chelsea, where it seemed to me that the entire crowd was wearing brand new yellow knitted gloves and smoking Wills's Whiffs in a fuggy atmosphere of shared good will and Christmas cheer. Of course, it never occurred to any of us at the time that we were probably slowly killing each other. Indeed, my dear old dad, who introduced me to Chelsea all those years ago, died of cancer undoubtedly caused by smoking.
I must also tell your Lordships that I could have been a serious athlete, only to have my promise cut short when I discovered Woodbines and women. Thankfully I have long since given up the former, and the latter have long since given up on me—except, of course, for the lovely Lady Stratford, who for reasons beyond my comprehension still tolerates my presence. But neither Lady Stratford nor myself is ready to show a similar tolerance for smoking in public places. As I said earlier, that is nothing to do with stopping people pursuing their own habits, however damaging they might be to their own health. However, it is virtually impossible to prevent that habit affecting the health and well-being of those who either do not smoke or do not wish to smoke in public places.
I read the submission from the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association carefully, but I remain unmoved. The TMA made much of allowing smoking in designated areas and in separate rooms, but unless those areas are effectively hermetically sealed and smokers defumigated before they re-emerge, others will be affected. Personally, I do not want my space violated by smokers' fumes or their smell, both of which are most unpleasant.
Equally, it is wrong to expect those who work in clubs, bars, pubs and restaurants to endure other people's smoking habits. Again, the TMA made much of the alleged willingness of staff to work in such smoky atmospheres, but how realistic is that? Many jobs in those places are casual, relatively low paid, and undertaken by workers who often have no great choice they can exercise. "Take it or leave it" is not much of an option.
I well remember—my noble friend Lord Faulkner reminded the House of it—the fuss made by the cigarette industry when the bans on smoking on public transport were introduced in this country. Now those bans are well observed and unexceptional. Even in the Irish Republic, the smoking ban in public houses went ahead successfully, despite the reservations and warnings of the police, the tobacco industry and the breweries. Speaking as an Irishman—not many people know that—I say that if a smoking ban can work in Dublin pubs, to be sure, it can work effectively in London. I support both Bills.
My Lords, it is, indeed, a pleasure and a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, and to congratulate him on behalf of the whole House on an extremely witty, but, dare I say, not totally uncontroversial maiden speech.
In another life, the public perception of the noble Lord was, perhaps, as the leader of the Greater London Council for two years and/or as an eminent Minister for Sport. When I looked at the list of speakers and I saw that I was following the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, I thought, "Lord Stratford . . . Lord Stratford? . . . Ah, Lord Stratford! I wonder why he took that title?". Then I thought about sports Ministers and I wondered—dare I say it—whether he had an inside track to the 2012 Olympics.
Perhaps a lesser known but longer-lasting perception of the noble Lord—at least to date—is that of a man who is highly knowledgeable in and a great admirer of the arts. He was a long-time chairman of the Works of Art Committee in another place. I am advised on good authority that the noble Lord instigated the website on the considerable quantity and quality of that art in another place, thereby greatly increasing public access to it. If only for that—of course, it is not only for that reason—the noble Lord is to be congratulated most warmly. Although I do not believe that I shall agree with him that often, I genuinely hope that we will hear from him often in this House.
I declare an interest as a loyal member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club, whose tie I am proud to wear this evening. My noble friend Lord Naseby has done the House a great service, because I have now crossed out the first four items to which I intended refer. However, I should mention a further effect of the Private Bills that I do not think he mentioned: they could have serious effects on competition, as a result of different provisions applying to businesses in adjacent or nearby local authority areas. In all other respects, I support what he said. The Government are bringing forward their Bill, and we should wait for that Bill, following the consultation.
I wish to ask the Minister about one point of detail, which is illustrative of the Bill. I do not intend to be facetious. Clause 4(2) states that a "place of work" is described, among other things, as a "vehicle". That seems fine. Then, Clause 5 states that,
"Subject to subsection (2) below"— to which I shall refer—
"smoking is prohibited in places of work"— namely, vehicles—assuming that you work in a vehicle, in a borough. The clause continues:
"This section shall not apply to a place"— namely, a vehicle—
"or a part of a place"— still, namely, a part of a vehicle—
"that is wholly uncovered by any roof, ceiling or canopy, whether fixed or movable".
I hope that the Minister will not accuse me of being facetious, but if a Bill is to mean what it states, and your place of work is in a car, presumably you cannot smoke in a convertible car if the hood is up, but you can if the hood is down. That is my reading of the clause. The two Bills are riddled with such inconsistencies.
I have spoken on the subject previously and noble Lords will know perfectly well where I stand. I object most strongly to what I describe as the nanny state. I object most strongly to the reduction in personal freedom. I shall conclude by repeating the view of the Health and Safety Commission. It stated that, in its view it was not currently reasonably practical under health, safety and welfare law to ban smoking in all such workplaces—restaurants, pubs and so on—in some cases, because it would not be commercially viable and in others because it would interfere with personal freedoms.
I object most strongly to both Bills.
My Lords, it falls to me to be the first person from these Benches to welcome the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, to our proceedings. He said that he was not sure about how we are so polite to each other. The best way to describe that is to say that he has now entered a fight with stilettos rather than clubs; feel for the rib and dig in. I am sure that he will quickly get the hang of it.
This is one of those interesting debates in which already virtually everything that I thought about saying has been said in support of the Bills. It is a fact that ingesting second-hand or unused smoke from a cigarette still damages you, still smells bad, still irritates your eyes—and ultimately could kill. So what is the big difference? The difference is that you have not lit the cigarette and that you have not chosen to smoke.
The case for the Bill is almost unanswerable. I can go on for a long time about how unacceptable it is for people to pass their habit, their drug addiction, on to somebody else. Remember, we are talking about an addiction.
At the same time, I have a little sympathy for the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Geddes. I am just of the age group that was affected by smoking. It was still the case that a cigarette was a social tool; it was something that you were expected to do. Indeed, when it came to chatting up girls, it was said that you must smoke because you could offer a cigarette or a light. Smoking was integrated into our social background. I have a little sympathy for those who have been told to do something, and then the norm they have been trained to accept—the drug habit they have acquired—is removed. They are now told that smoking is bad, and they should not do it because they are affecting other people.
But that is the only ground that I can see for not giving full support to the Bills. Indeed, there are really no grounds; it is just an excuse for people to oppose the Bill. We are going through a process that allows detailed scrutiny of the Bill and these things can be argued out for ever. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Naseby—who is no longer in his seat—spoke about the vast cost of QCs. The vast cost to the NHS is a pretty handy come back to that. QCs will have to be paid only once or twice—I do not think we will get away with once—but if smoking continues we will pay for it through the tax bill for a long time.
We must make sure these Bills go forward. They will really stop the ingestion of an addictive, damaging drug through smoking. I hope that this House will get the Bill through and will make sure it is a real kick to the Government to make sure that they follow it to its conclusion.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, on his interesting maiden speech. I look forward to hearing from him on other occasions. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and my noble friend Lady Howarth on putting forward these Private Bills, which I support.
I intend to focus on recent surveys of residents in Liverpool and the north-west, especially Wirral, to support a smoke-free Liverpool. Liverpool has one of the worst death rates from smoking-related diseases in the United Kingdom. More than 1,000 people die every year. As mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, Liverpool is the lung cancer capital of the United Kingdom according to public health observatories. It is not surprising that the city wants to get rid of that title.
In a survey of 860 Liverpool residents that was published six months ago, in December 2004, 84 per cent, including 68 per cent of smokers, agreed or strongly agreed that all employees have the right to work in a smoke-free environment.
This legislation will not have serious effects on the hospitality industry. In the Liverpool residents survey last December, three-quarters of smokers stated that if pubs and restaurants were smoke-free it would make no difference to their use of them, or that they would use them even more.
This legislation will encourage tourism. In an October 2004 survey, more than half of the 300 national and international tourists interviewed said that their trip to Liverpool would have been more enjoyable if public places, including pubs and restaurants, had been smoke-free. Only 8 per cent of tourists said that they would have enjoyed their time less if Liverpool was smoke-free.
Working among smokers can increase a person's risk of contracting lung cancer or heart disease by up to 30 per cent. In Liverpool, the dangers of passive smoking are taken seriously because of the work of the Roy Castle International Centre for Lung Cancer Research. Lost productivity and ill-health connected with smoking among the Liverpool workforce is estimated to cost employers approximately £28.5 million a year, according to a survey published in November 2003. That report found that smoking-related diseases cost the NHS in Liverpool nearly £13 million a year.
Smoke-free Liverpool had the overwhelming support of the city council—both in October last year and in January this year. The campaign has the overwhelming support of Liverpool residents for total restrictions on smoking in workplaces, including shops, offices, factories, pubs, restaurants and clubs. Eight months after the city council recommended it, more workplaces are embracing total restrictions on smoking.
Her Majesty's Government have made some plans to restrict smoking in workplaces by 2008, but Liverpool and other boroughs of Merseyside believe that their plans do not go far enough and are not moving quickly enough to protect our residents. In fact, the north-west of England wants the Government to go further than they plan.
In the north-west a Big Smoke Debate survey was carried out between March and May 2004. A total of 14,222 responses to the questionnaire were received, of which one-fifth were from Merseyside. Results showed that eight out of 10 north-west residents supported legislation to ban smoking in public places; nine out of 10 said that they would prefer public places to be smoke-free; four out of five were bothered by tobacco smoke; and eight out of 10 wanted cafes, bars, restaurants and offices to become completely smoke-free.
Of all lifestyle influences on cancer, smoking has by far the greatest impact on overall cancer incidence, according to the number of new cases, deaths and survival rates. Smoking impacts on many conditions other than cancers. One out of every seven deaths from heart disease is caused by smoking as are 83 per cent of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease, including bronchitis. That includes more than 40,000 deaths from circulatory diseases each year. Smoking is also linked to asthma and osteoporosis, which is common among older women.
Breathing in other people's smoke also kills because of the 40 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke. Immediate exposure could make your eyes sore and lead to a headache, dizziness, cough, sore throat and nausea. If you are asthmatic you may experience a decline in lung function. Just 30 minutes' exposure to other people's tobacco smoke can be enough to reduce blood flow through the heart. Those were the findings of a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association published in 2001.
A smoke-free workplace, particularly a pub, will help people to give up smoking. Most smokers on Merseyside want to give up and they find it hard to give up when they go into a pub, have a few drinks and everybody else is smoking.
Introducing the smoking ban will help people give up, as was seen in the Cherry Tree Shopping Centre in Wallasey, when it became smoke-free in December 2003. That has increased the number of shoppers. I trust that with all this evidence we will all support the Second Reading of these two Bills.
My Lords, I also wish to offer my congratulations to Liverpool City Council and the London local authorities who are promoting the Bills. I wish to concentrate my remarks on Liverpool. I do so because a great deal of my working life involved going back and forth from Liverpool on an almost daily basis, but also—perhaps more important—because my late mother-in-law was born on a Liverpool tram and was granted the freedom of the city of Liverpool.
Until the 1970s, it was thought that only active smokers were at risk from developing cancers of the lung, heart disease and other smoke-related illnesses, but over the past two decades extensive research has proved the contrary and has shown beyond any doubt, it seems to me, that passive smoking can cause the same diseases. When someone smokes, a spiral goes up in the air; 85 per cent of smoke from a cigarette goes up in the air. In that smoke there is a lethal cocktail of over 4,000 chemical compounds, more than 50 of which are known to cause cancer.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, said, ventilation is not the answer. A study by the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland in 2002 determined that ventilation did not reduce levels of second-hand smoke compounds. A view that has been reinforced by the BMA is that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. It cannot be stated too often: non-smokers are at risk, whether they work alongside smokers or whether they go into social environments such as pubs and restaurants.
Women and children face the greatest risk. An estimated 17,000 under-fives are hospitalised each year as a result of passive smoking. Although a European directive entitles expectant and new mothers to be protected against known health risks in the workplace, three in 10 pregnant women in the United Kingdom are exposed to second-hand smoke at work. Babies born to women so exposed, whether at home or in the workplace, are lighter than those born to women not exposed. Second-hand smoke also increases the risk of giving birth prematurely. One study found that mothers exposed daily to second-hand smoke had a 23 per cent increased risk of having a premature birth.
The White Paper Choosing Health, which has been discussed, proposes a ban on smoking in public places other than pubs that do not sell food—so-called wet pubs. That argument is illogical and completely undermines the White Paper's core aim of reducing inequality. That is not the case as it stands. I hope that the consultation taking place will result in a Bill that provides for a comprehensive smoke-free environment in the workplace. In the mean time, it is essential that we continue to pursue these Bills and provide the evidence behind the reasons for them.
I wish to say why I think that the White Paper's position is illogical and to look at a real situation. Let us look at two women friends, living in Liverpool, who do not have any option about where to work because they must fit their jobs around childcare arrangements and other family responsibilities. They both take jobs in pubs for a few hours each day—one in a pub that serves food and the other in a wet pub, of which there are many, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner said. They both become pregnant. The health of the woman working in the pub that serves food will not be at risk, as she is protected, but her friend working in the wet pub is not protected. I see no fairness or logic in that argument. It is not acceptable for any worker in a non-food pub or private club to suffer the damaging effects of second-hand smoke.
It cannot be stressed too often that it is not an anti-smoking campaign but a health and safety issue. It is about saving lives. Ending smoking in the workplace could save an estimated 5,000 lives each year. The prime concern must be the health consequences. We have also been told that there would be serious economic consequences for restaurateurs, pubs or whatever, but we must look at the other side of that equation. Smoking costs the NHS in Liverpool about £12.5 million each year. The economic cost to employers, as my noble friend said, works out at £28.5 million each year.
Workers who smoke are more likely to be absent from work. Time is lost when workers take a smoke break in working hours. Moreover, employers who continue to allow smoking in the workplace risk claims of damages from employees exposed to second-hand smoke. I cite one case: a woman with asthma was awarded £17,000 in compensation against her former employer, who failed to stop smoking in her presence.
In Ireland, publicans have recently reported no difficulty in implementation. Similarly, in Norway, the ban has had no negative impact. The same applies in other countries—including Malta, New Zealand and Italy, seven states in the USA, most of Canada and parts of Australia—that have introduced a complete ban.
I support the observation of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, who is not in her place, about the importance of initiatives taken by local authorities. In my area of Brighton and Hove, we are looking at coming up with a similar Bill. Although that is good news, it would be even more welcome if the Government came up with a very similar Bill.
I know that we have all received briefings opposing the ban from organisations that have a vested interest. I am more interested in the briefings that I have received from the British Lung Foundation, all the major cancer organisations, the British Heart Foundation, the Stroke Association and the RCN. It is for them that I wish the Bill success.
My Lords, will the noble Baroness kindly clarify one of her points? She argued that any exposure, however small, to other people's smoke was harmful. If that is the case, is not the logic of her argument to ban smoking in the street, the gardens of pubs and all other public spaces where large numbers of people congregate?
My Lords, banning smoking everywhere is an impractical suggestion. As I said, this is not an anti-smoking campaign: it is a campaign about health and safety at work. That is what we are talking about.
My Lords, the heat with which the noble Baroness delivered that response shows that, for some people anyway, there is an element of an anti-smoking campaign in this debate. Although I am a smoker, in preparing this speech I have tried to approach these Bills without the prejudice both ways that has been shown so far in this debate and to look at them in exactly the same way as I would any other Bill.
I noted, first, that the 2004 Office for National Statistics report on smoking behaviour and attitudes stated that only 31 per cent of those surveyed thought that smoking should be banned in all pubs and bars, which are of course places of work. We were told earlier that that statistic is not viable in Liverpool and most London boroughs. Be that as it may, places of work are described in both Bills very widely. Clause 4 states that,
"any place to which any person has access while at work", is considered such. But it does not include domestic premises. These days more and more people work from home. Some homes even have a room set aside for an office into which members of the public go from time to time. Is it logical that they are not covered? That is one of the lesser matters that the Select Committee, on which I am afraid we will have to waste valuable parliamentary time and resources, should examine.
More seriously, the Bills state that a place of work includes any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft. As far as the last three are concerned, I assume that that means when they are attached to land, tied up in the ports of Liverpool or London, for example. I would be grateful if the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, or perhaps the Minister, could enlighten me with their interpretation when they wind up.
"Any vehicle" includes cars and lorries. How are drivers or other smoking occupants to know whether they are acting illegally? Very few will know whether they are in a smoking at work area. Will Liverpool city or London borough boundaries be marked in some way, as are the entrances to the London congestion charge area? The problem of whether you are in or out of the smoking at work area is especially acute in London because the purport of the London Bill is only to authorise borough councils to opt in to the proposed regime.
It is particularly noteworthy that the City of Westminster, which historically promotes Greater London private Bills through Parliament and is promoting this one, has said that it has no intention to apply a public smoking ban in Westminster. I now hear that there are other boroughs of the same mind. But I would challenge any working driver to know the exact boundaries of Westminster or any other London borough. I wonder, too, how many would know the exact boundaries of Liverpool. Confusion would reign supreme.
That is why, with the hospitality industry, I believe that the only solution to the problem of smoking at work is to have an Act of Parliament covering the whole country, which, of course, the Government have said that they would enact. They said it in the White Paper, Choosing Health, they said it during the general election campaign, and they said it again in the Queen's Speech. They are currently consulting on their proposals. I have no doubt that by this time next year a Bill will be well into its parliamentary passage.
I have a couple of questions for the noble Baroness, Lady Royall. First, if these Bills become law, which I hope they will not, will they override the Government's Act? In other words, what action will the Government take? Will they override these private Acts or be overridden in the particular areas covered by them? Secondly, does she believe that level 5 on the standard scale is a proportionate fine? Does this crime really compare with, for example, the unlawful movement of special waste, which attracts the same level of fine?
There are so many technical problems with these intemperate Bills that I am not in the least surprised that there are 19 petitions against the Liverpool Bill and 20 against the London Bill. Many make the same points and have been drafted by the same parliamentary agents. I was particularly struck by one of them from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and others on the Liverpool Bill. This states that:
"The consultation for the Government White Papers enabled industry to participate fully in the process. In contrast, no such consultation has been undertaken by Liverpool City Council . . . nor was an opportunity afforded to discuss the success of the provisions voluntarily put in place following the consultations that preceded the two White Papers".
This is no way to legislate, especially on a subject as sensitive as this which, as other noble Lords have said, is highly likely to damage the hospitality industry. The proper way to legislate in this area is to amend the government Bill when we get it, if indeed it needs amendment. I find these Bills a recipe for damaging trade and general confusion.
I congratulate the promoters of the Bill. I am president of ASH in Wales and a practising clinician there. I have not reintroduced my Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill as I have had assurances from the Secretary of State for Wales and Dr Brian Gibbons, the Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales, that the Health Improvement and Protection Bill, already referred to so often, will give Wales the powers and freedoms to implement a ban on smoking in public places as it sees fit.
Wales has already held a very comprehensive consultation process chaired by Val Lloyd AM, and the committee has reported to the Assembly. It was a very thorough consultation process and I hope that England can learn from it. The Committee on Smoking in Public Places in Wales drew on much evidence and concluded that,
"there is overwhelming evidence that environmental tobacco smoke is damaging to health. Ventilation equipment is not capable of removing the majority of health damaging particles from the atmosphere; there is no evidence that the introduction of a ban would have an overall negative impact on the economy; [and] while acknowledging the right of people to smoke a product that is obtainable legally, this right should be exercised responsibly. The majority of the public who do not smoke should be able to go to their place of work and other enclosed public places without risk to their health".
A recent survey of the population of Wales shows what is now enormous support for an overall ban.
Back in 1998, a report commissioned by the four UK health departments concluded that environmental tobacco smoke exposure is hazardous. The committee's update in 2004 reviewed all new evidence and concluded that knowledge of the hazardous nature of second-hand smoke has consolidated. It constitutes a serious public health risk. Many major studies have shown the adverse effects of the exposure of non-smokers to workplace environmental tobacco smoke. Time does not allow me to go through them, and the noble Baroness, Lady Gould of Potternewton, has already referred to the effect on pregnant women.
There is also an increase in the risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 per cent, and an increased risk of coronary heart disease by 25 to 35 per cent. There is a significant reduction in the lung function of non-smokers exposed at work, and a higher prevalence of respiratory irritational symptoms. Concentrations of salivary cotinine found in exposed workers are associated with substantial involuntary risks for cancer and heart disease.
The problem of environmental tobacco smoke is so widespread that the studies are of whole populations. By their very nature, such epidemiological studies need large populations. Taken together, their evidence is very strong. No one in the mainstream medical and scientific community doubts that there is a risk from environmental tobacco smoke.
Children, pregnant women, people with existing cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease or asthma and other respiratory disorders are particularly vulnerable. Relatively small exposures of non-smokers to toxins in tobacco smoke seem to cause unexpectedly large increases in the risk of acute cardiovascular disease. The mechanism is probably through platelet aggregation and vasospasm, as is seen with nano-particle atmospheric pollution.
Professor David Cohen modelled the economic and health impact of a ban on smoking in public places for Wales, which has a population of near 3 million. If that is extrapolated for London, with a population of 7 million, and Liverpool with almost half a million, the annual number of lives saved might be 1,012, with a further 150 to 450 resulting from a reduction in active smoking. The Irish model, of course, gives interesting data which completely support the proposals of both Bills.
Why are these Bills quite so important? They are particularly important because the major benefit of stopping exposure to tobacco smoke at work is an overall reduction in smoking. I declare that I would like to see that as a secondary result.
The Department of Health previously proposed that smoking would be allowed in bars that do not serve food. Like the noble Baronesses, Lady Williams of Crosby and Lady Gould of Potternewton, I have major concerns. Such bars will become havens for tobacco promotion. They will be decked out to attract the young—not the elderly, such as the likes of us. Youngsters, especially those who carry the genetic variant on a single gene, called CYP2A6, are particularly sensitive to the addictive potential of tobacco. These pubs will have loud music and alcohol and tobacco aplenty. It will be a great way to hook in the young—especially young girls, who already seem to smoke more than boys—and get them addicted to tobacco. That will create a long-term market.
Wales will have an effective ban. The rest of the UK must also be able to have bans which are effective. That is why I support the Bills for these two important cities in England.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the city of Liverpool and the London local authorities on their initiative. It is excellent that Liverpool plans to be smoke-free by 2008, when it will be the European City of Culture. What a splendid initiative. It gives a totally new dimension to the meaning of culture.
I congratulate my noble friend Lord Faulkner on introducing the Bill, and I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Williams: what could be more appropriate in preparing for the Olympic Games than this move to prohibit smoking in places of work? I hope that my noble friend the Minister will recognise the Bills as examples of civic pride and urban ambition to make these cities better places. Who would want to stand in the way of that?
I would have thought that the Government would have welcomed the initiatives from London and Liverpool. Letting them make their own decisions should be seen as smart localism, not as causing confusion up and down the country, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby.
Other noble Lords have spoken of priorities. Should the priority be public health or individual freedom or avoiding economic damage? Let me briefly comment on each of the priorities.
Starting with individual freedom, libertarians rightly make much of the freedom of individuals to choose for themselves. Indeed, the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association has helped the libertarians. It has published polling data which show that the majority of people do not want a complete ban on smoking in public places. Of course, we have to pay due regard to the will of people, but there are other considerations, many of which we have heard this evening. Governments and councils cannot live by polling alone. Public health and the economy are other considerations.
On public health, the noble Lord, Lord Chan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, have explained how passive smoking is damaging to health. That is why I agree with my noble friend Lady Gould. The idea of smoking being permitted where food is not served because smoke is unpleasant to diners is illogical. If in other places of work one relaxes safety procedures according to the perceived pleasantness or unpleasantness and not according to the actual danger to health, there would be uproar and endless argument. Quite rightly, no workplace would put up with that.
I turn to the question of economic damage. Fortunately the Government do not have to rely on the inevitably conflicting opinions of economists. They have the benefit of actual experience elsewhere. Other cities and countries have banned smoking in public places and, in some of those countries, sufficient time has elapsed for us to judge the economic effect. Other noble Lords have given details of what has happened in America, Ireland and elsewhere, and I do not intend to repeat that. However, it is interesting that, generally, in all those places the law is respected, as it is on trains and buses here. I do not believe that there need be much concern about economics.
On balance, where should the decision lie? Like other noble Lords, I think it should be in public health. We have to make public health our priority. If the Minister has any doubts about putting health first, perhaps I may pray in aid the moving article in last Sunday's Observer by her colleague in government, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. He writes about his friend Deborah Hutton and her book on cancer. The passage about Deborah Hutton's campaign to stop young people smoking, particularly girls, would convince anyone to support the Bill. That is why I support the Bills and hope that they will go forward to an opposed committee stage.
My Lords, the House will be relieved to hear that I can be relatively brief, as my noble friends Lord Naseby and Lord Skelmersdale have already said much of what I wished to say. On
That Bill suffered from the same problem as these Bills. It has been overtaken by subsequent government legislation, which is even more positive than what is happening to these Bills. At the moment, they are subject only to future government legislation. The London Local Authorities Bill was introduced to the House in 2004, it was overtaken by government legislation earlier this year and parts of it will have to be completely excised from the Bill.
These Bills are brought before us for discussion and we know we have a government White Paper. We have a Queen's Speech pledge to introduce legislation and that legislation is coming. I am looking forward to the reply of the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, and to hearing how we should handle this dilemma.
I would not go so far as to believe that it would be appropriate to oppose these Bills at this stage, but it would be perfectly reasonable to suggest that the business managers of the House will need to consider whether we should give time to these Bills when we know that government legislation is on its way. Private Bill Committees are very thorough and very time-consuming. They employ a lot of expertise and it means that the petitioners incur a great deal of cost as well. If that were made unnecessary, I am sure that there would be general rejoicing in the world outside.
There is one other point that we should realise about the Bills. They will do nothing to reduce inequality, as has been pointed out already. Of course, there will be an element of equality in the areas where they are applied, but they will not cover the country. We know that a number of boroughs will not apply the London Bill, and that figure will probably rise. Frankly, my mind quails at the prospect of an endless series of local authority Bills, seriatim, going through the House, all petitioned against, as they almost certainly would be. Using the local authority route, it would be years before there was any solution to the problem.
That is a powerful argument for at least not expediting the procedure on these Bills. I look forward to hearing what the noble Baroness has to say so that we may know rather more about what the Government have in mind.
My Lords, in what has turned out to be rather a grim end-of-term scrap, I cheerfully declare my interest as a contented pipe smoker of many years' standing and a former chairman—now honorary president—of the smokers' defence group FOREST.
Listening to these debates, it is tempting to resort to unparliamentary language about this gratuitous and time-wasting debate after Her Majesty's Government have announced a smoking ban. The obsessive, highly organised witch hunt against smokers—deaf to reasoned argument—reminds me of my early days as a campaigning economist. Then it was equally difficult to win a hearing for plain common sense on economic freedom.
Other free spirits this evening have rebuffed the spiteful attack on the everyday civil rights of millions of smokers and tens of thousands of pubs, hotels and restaurants. My single purpose is to assert the commonsense implausibility that so-called passive smoking can actually kill non-smokers. After much diligent study, I have concluded that all this agitation is mere puffed-up propaganda to punish smokers for exercising a traditional freedom—at their own risk. My smoke may irritate the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, but it cannot kill him or anybody else.
My Lords, the proof of my case lies in the total failure of ceaseless well-funded research by multiplying anti-smoking lobbies, over 25 years and 80 reports, to find persuasive evidence of harm to others that is consistent or statistically significant. My exposé is set out in a recent monograph called Smoking out the Truth, which included a direct personal challenge to the CMO. His response, though courteous, was frankly pretty feeble.
Consider the unconvincing methodology of all the research. It relies on questionnaires which seek to detect what they call the elevation of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The method is to compare two matched samples. One is a control group of healthy non-smokers, such as the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and the other is made up of the cases of non-smoking wives with lung cancer who live with smokers. The test is almost as hilarious as the classic cartoon of a bobby who arrests someone in a pub because, in the words of the caption, "I thought, m'Lud, I could smell alcohol on his breath".
With so-called passive smoking, there is no pretence of scientific measurement. The least whiff of tobacco smoke is sufficient proof of guilt. The aim of all this research is to establish a single statistic called relative risk which purports to measure the comparative long-term exposure to ETS of the two groups, the controls and the cases. In brief, a relative risk of 1.0 implies equal exposure to ETS of the two groups, whereas, let us say, 2.0 would imply a doubling of the hypothetical risk of cancer. One hundred per cent more of very little is still not very much.
There are at least three ways in which this pseudo-research fails. First, reputable epidemiologists require a relative risk of at least two before they take any risk seriously, and some of them look for one of three or four. Secondly, answers to questions on lifetime exposure to ETS must always be wildly unreliable—a dubious mix of guesswork, vague recall, subjective impressions, exaggeration and plain untruths. Let us imagine trying to estimate, tabulate and calibrate such esoteric data in order to calculate a relative risk, with spurious precision to two decimal places, that ignores the wide range of "confidence intervals" which indicate statistical significance.
Can any noble Lord present honestly say, even on a rough scale of one to 10, how much tobacco smoke was around his family home in his youth and ever since? Professor Robert Nilsson, a Swedish academic toxicologist, reckoned that typical domestic exposure might be equal to the effect of an individual smoking one or two cigarettes a year. Yet one of those earnest questionnaires on exposure actually asked the next of kin of a spouse who was dying of lung cancer how many months a year she left her windows open. How is that for cod science?
If that were not enough to discredit the whole hocus-pocus, let us consider a third gaping flaw in this ramshackle methodology. Cancer is known to be a multi-factorial disease, which may be traced to diet, heredity, lifestyle, alcohol, urban location, car exhausts and so on. All such "confounders" are conveniently ignored in those crude health warnings on television and cigarette packets. Instead, all cancers are blamed on smoking. We heard some of that this evening in totally ridiculous, individual, personal, family examples.
How scrupulously is all the research conducted and reported? Publication bias leads zealous researchers to seek big, eye-catching results. In today's political climate, researchers who claim a high relative risk of exposure to lung cancer will more easily attract headlines, publication and further research grants, as well as frequent mentions in your Lordships' House. From this arises the practice of "data dredging" or torturing the statistics until they confess the answer that you want.
I turn finally to the report of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health. After admitting ignorance of the numbers exposed to ETS, it puts relative risk at a piffling 1.2 or 1.3 and estimates that exposure could account for "several hundred" extra lung cancer deaths a year. Several hundred in population of 40 million is completely laughable. It is not to be taken at all seriously.
I shall not dwell on the BMA press release last March which claimed that "second-hand smoke" kills more than 600 people every day. That is 200,000 people a year. This was later withdrawn as a clerical error, but it nicely indicates the feverish world in which the BMA's staff live their smoke-free lives.
My emphatic judgment on passive smoking is: "Relax. There is absolutely nothing in it". The whole invention is nothing more than a stupendous confidence trick. I hereby nominate the victims of the spoof as ASBOs; that is, anti-smoking belief obsessives.
My Lords, following the introduction of my noble friend Lord Faulkner to this Bill, your Lordships will be expecting me to declare an interest as somebody who is severely asthmatic and who is allergic to numerous volatile chemicals and to tobacco smoke. This, I do.
It has been proposed in the Public Health White Paper that most—I repeat, most—workplaces should be free of second-hand tobacco smoke. Not only does this not go far enough in protecting people from second-hand smoke, but it does not address the stated intention of reducing the rate of smoking, thereby contradicting the Government's public commitments to cut the number of smokers.
While one can understand that guarded approach, does this mean that, when somebody succumbs to the effects of inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke and can no longer work, the Government will pay compensation or will have a leg to stand on when taken to court? That is what may, and probably will, happen at some time in the future, because it is widely acknowledged by the Government and others that the inhalation of second-hand tobacco smoke causes illness and death. Because of that acknowledgement, the door is left wide open for potential court actions to be pursued. That door has already been opened in the private sector—and I strongly suspect that there will be more such cases.
It has been proven that second-hand tobacco smoke is a carcinogen, yet millions of workers are exposed with no protection whatever. But while people continue to smoke, they are burying their heads in the sand: every new scientific report on both smoking and inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke provides more and more evidence of the dangers present. There are those who, in their advancing years, say that they have smoked all their lives. That may well be, but they are the exception, as many others will have died prematurely from smoking tobacco products which, as established last year, contain numerous poisons. It would not surprise me if most if not all noble Lords here today knew somebody who had died prematurely from a tobacco-related disease.
The benefits of prohibiting smoking in the workplace would be to reduce the number of smoking-related cases and, thereby, the financial pressure on the health service. Finland, which has included smoking restrictions in the workplace, has seen a 40 per cent reduction in the costs of benefits and a fall in the rates of hospital admissions and deaths. But we hear the tobacco industry claim that that will reduce takings in pubs and restaurants. Evidence taken from around the world, where bans are in force, proves the opposite, with many areas showing increased trade and numerous job creations.
We hear that ventilation could be the answer to second-hand tobacco smoke inhalation, but even the tobacco industry hospitality programme admits that ventilation does not address the adverse health effects; no authoritative institution claims that it does. Other noble Lords have mentioned that matter. Indeed, data from California show that there is a growing awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke even among smokers.
Stratford Sanders, the spokesman for SmokeFree Australia, has commented on the Australian Capital Territory Government's decision to ban smoking in bars, clubs and restaurants with less than 25 per cent open air present. He said:
"When you've got asbestos, do you say to the workers, 'Look, we know that every inhalation of asbestos is harmful to you, but we're going to allow it in any area where you've got 25 per cent open air'? You don't—you say the stuff is dangerous".
The ACT Government have conceded that their partial ban is completely arbitrary and is not supported by scientific study.
Contrary to the claims that a complete ban would lead to more smoking in the home, the current evidence is that smoke-free workplaces result in people giving up and thereby reducing the risk of second-hand smoke in the home. That of course would help the growing number of children with asthma who become ill when inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke. Of the 5.2 million people with asthma in the UK, 82 per cent—that is 4.3 million—have said that second-hand smoke makes their asthma worse. Often, it is the case that a small amount of second-hand tobacco smoke can trigger an instant attack and could prove fatal.
My noble friend—and I call him friend—Lord Harris of High Cross will I am sure be very interested to learn that when I am on a motorway travelling at 70 miles per hour with my windows closed, I will have a minor asthma attack if somebody is smoking in another car; if my windows are open, I will have a major attack. That has been witnessed by other people.
I am not alone in not being willing to take the risk of going anywhere that second-hand smoke may be present. One in five people with asthma feel excluded from parts of the workplace where people smoke. And, for those who think that smoking areas work, let me say that a smoking area could be defined as one where smokers are not present but their tobacco smoke is.
All people at their place of work should be treated equally so why should workers be less protected because they happen to work in the hospitality sector when, in fact, these are the very people who are most vulnerable? These workers breathe in higher levels of smoke for longer duration than anyone else, resulting in greater risk of illness. Workers cannot necessarily choose where they work. Should they have to choose between their livelihood and their health? I think not.
On a previous occasion my noble friend Lord Faulkner quoted King James I of England. I shall give another quotation by the same monarch:
"Herein is not only a great vanity but a great contempt of God's good gifts, that the sweetness of mans' breath, being a gift of God, should be wilfully corrupted by this stinky smoke".
I support these Bills in the hope that when they become enacted, they will prompt other towns, cities and the Government to acknowledge the dangers associated with the tobacco habit and the potential for court actions.
My Lords, I should like to preface my remarks by offering my sincere congratulations to the City of Liverpool on being selected European Capital of Culture for 2008. I believe that its 800th birthday charter year will come up in 2007. So Liverpool has busy and exciting times ahead and I wish the city council and other bodies well.
It is therefore with some sadness that I find myself unable to support the Bills before us today. I shall come to my reasons why in a moment but, before I do, I should like to declare an interest which was previously declared by my noble friend Lord Geddes, in that I am a member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club.
I recognise that the promoters and supporters of the Bills are principally concerned about passive smoking, but I believe that some of the figures bandied about in this context are, to put it bluntly, wildly alarmist and difficult, if not impossible, to prove. I am not saying that the problem does not exist, just that it is very difficult to quantify. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, has made this subject his speciality and I would not dream of adding anything to his contribution. However, on balance, I find myself in the camp of believing that our laws in this country must continue to protect the right of the individual to freedom of choice, which I consider to be a cornerstone of a free, democratic society.
There is no doubt that these private Bills are controversial, as has already been said by other noble Lords. Nineteen petitions have been lodged against the Liverpool Bill and 20 against the London local authorities Bill. It is unusual for private Bills to be of such a controversial nature, and, whatever else, they will result in considerable financial costs being incurred, as my noble friend Lord Naseby pointed out, to say nothing of the heavy demand on that most precious of resources—parliamentary time.
I believe the reality is that restaurateurs and licensees of other premises are entrepreneurs in their own right who should have the freedom to decide which market they wish to cater for and, provided they put in efficient ventilation and air purifying equipment and have designated smoking areas, they should be able to choose the smoking policy in their establishment. In some cases, they will have invested millions of pounds and it seems reasonable to me that they should be allowed to establish a smoking policy which best serves their business and their customers.
Although I accept that in some cases it is not altogether easy for people to move from job to job, staff have a choice about where they work and do not have to work in smoking restaurants or bars if they do not want to. In any case, I believe that these Bills are too draconian in their approach. Clause 10 in Part 3 of the Bill allows for fixed penalty notices to be issued by an authorised officer or accredited person. That to me conjures up the vision of armies of smoke wardens patrolling premises—they are given wide powers of entry under the Bill—and dishing out fixed penalty tickets in a similar manner to parking wardens. I find it hard to think of anything more likely to cause civil unrest, particularly on a Saturday night.
It would be far better in my view to have a voluntary code of practice, but if that is no longer possible I would prefer to see a Bill along the lines promulgated by the Government, possibly with some amendments, which I believe they propose to introduce to Parliament this autumn. As has already been said by other noble Lords, I wait with interest to hear what the Minister has to say on that later in the debate.
Perhaps I should address my next question to the promoter of the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester. Can he explain the situation under Clause 4 of long-distance lorry drivers who wish to smoke in their cabs moving in and out of the areas that would become smoke-free under the legislation?
Finally, I shall touch on the confusion that would be caused if the Bills were to receive Royal Assent. We would end up with one law for London and Liverpool and no change to the present law for the rest of the country. We live in an increasingly mobile society, and it seems to me that to have a law on smoking in Liverpool that would not apply to Warrington, Bootle, St Helens, Manchester or anywhere else in the country except London is almost absurd. The really extraordinary revelation came when the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth of Breckland, introduced the London Bill. She stated that Kensington and Chelsea, Bromley, Kent and Havering had opted out of the legislation. We have already been told in this debate that we should now add Westminster City Council to that list. Confused, my Lords? I certainly am.
My Lords, the Bills are both necessary and timely, and I am pleased to support my noble friend Lord Faulkner and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth.
The case for legislation seems to me absolutely clear-cut. The impressive publication of the Royal College of Physicians that came out last week, Going Smoke-free—I have it in my hand—sets out all the reasons clearly. The arguments are cogently made. I commend the publication to your Lordships if you have not already read it, and especially perhaps to the noble Lord, Lord Harris. I suspect that it is just possible that even he would get his confidence dented a little. I express my interest as a past president of the Royal College of Physicians, although unfortunately I had nothing to do with the writing of the report.
The Government have gone a long way down the route of banning advertisements and promoting smoking cessation, but there is rather more to be done. The measures proposed in the Bills would go a long way to improving the health of the population. The fact that smoking is harmful to those who indulge is now so well established that the surprise is that so many people still smoke. Smoking is not merely harmful; it is the most dangerous health hazard, way ahead of alcohol, obesity, overeating, driving dangerously, and acts of terrorism. They shrink into insignificance.
The primary aim of the Bills is to reduce the danger of passive smoking by innocent bystanders who do not smoke. The evidence outlined so clearly in the Royal College of Physicians report is compelling. Those exposed to the smoke of others at home or at work have all the same damaging chemicals in their bloodstream as smokers. Even in so-called smoke-free areas in restaurants there is evidence that chemicals get into the blood. I quote from the report:
"Smoke-free areas in pubs and restaurants reduced exposure only to levels that are still very high in relation to other workplaces".
That is non-smoking workplaces. Of course they are present in smaller amounts, but they are there and they are damaging. Those passively exposed to smoke have a higher incidence of lung cancer and heart attacks. Tellingly, for example, if you are married to a smoker your risk increases the longer you live with them and the more that they smoke. There is a straight line relationship.
It is estimated that about 500 deaths a year are attributable to smoke at work. The risk of lung cancer is 24 per cent higher in those exposed passively to smoke compared to the general population. The risk of ischaemic heart disease in those exposed is similar to that of those who smoke up to nine cigarettes. Those are all frightening but believable statistics.
The bottom line is that the more that you are exposed to the smoke of others, the greater the harm. Regular exposure at home or at work is sufficient to cause significant ill health and shortening of life. All that should be enough to see the Bills enacted, but there are even more secondary reasons why they are worthwhile. There is good evidence that a ban on smoking in public places reduces the overall smoking rate in the population, which must be good.
I am particularly concerned about the number of teenagers who smoke, apparently oblivious to the fact that they may be shortening their life by five or even 10 years and that they will suffer unpleasant ill health on the way. Of course, they like to live dangerously and show their contempt for elderly do-gooders like me, but the evidence points to the example of parents who smoke as a prime reason why they start. That must lend support to the value of any reduction in overall smoking rates.
On top of all those reasons for the ban is the purely social one of having to put up with other people's smoke, which irritates the eyes and nose and makes you cough. That puts smoking in public places no higher than an anti-social act that interferes with the comfort of others—perhaps not by itself sufficient for new legislation, but certainly an added benefit gained by an Act designed to reduce the harm to health and life that we have heard about today. The evidence from Ireland is very encouraging, and I hope that we will soon follow.
My Lords, I start by congratulating my old and unexpectedly noble friend Lord Stratford on his typically rebarbative maiden speech, wishing him a happy time in your Lordships' House, and hoping that he finds the burdens of politeness not too irksome as time goes on and he gets more used to us.
I do not need to be convinced that legislation to ban smoking in public places is both desirable and necessary. Furthermore, I agree with nearly everything that has been said in support of the two Bills before us today. Unfortunately, despite my convictions, I must acquaint your Lordships with some consequences, which I hope are unintended, of the Bills that, if not addressed, would make it difficult for me to support them.
I declare an interest as a former member of the board of the Society of London Theatre and a current member of the board of the Almeida Theatre, which is a member of both the Society of London Theatre and the Theatrical Management Association which, unfortunately for the purposes of this debate, shares an acronym with the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association—but there you go.
The TMA and SOLT are both petitioners against the Bills, as was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth of Breckland, for whom I have enormous admiration. However, I suspect that she does not get out a lot, because if she did, she might have attended the theatre, where she would have discovered that when gunfire is required on stage, actors do not point two fingers at one another and shout, "Bang!", they use real firearms—under strict health and safety regulation. That is relevant to what I want to say.
I invite your Lordships to consider the plays of Noel Coward and seeing them presented without the benefit of smoking jacket or cigarette holder, or to call to mind the variety of fine actors who, at different times, have brought the great Winston Churchill to life. Could they have done so successfully in the boiler suit without the cigar?
Those of your Lordships who attend the theatre will have seen many remarkable stage settings. Can we imagine, say the streets of 19th century Paris in "Les Miserables", the wide savannah of "The Lion King" or Mrs Hedda Tesman's oppressive drawing room illuminated by prominently displayed signs declaring that smoking is prohibited? I think not. But there is a real danger that such undesirable things will come about if the Bills go forward unamended. Insufficient attention has yet been given, in my respectful view, by the promoters to understanding what conditions are necessary for the creation and presentation of authentic performance.
For instance, Clause 4 of both Bills defines "place of work" in such a way as to include rehearsal rooms, stages, theatres and other indoor performance spaces. Clause 5 would have the effect of prohibiting smoking on stage during performances, and in rehearsals, whether in theatres or dedicated rehearsal spaces. Furthermore, the interpretation of "smoking product" in Clause 2 is drawn so broadly as to preclude the use of non-tobacco alternatives such as herbal cigarettes, which many performers already prefer to use where smoking is required by a text or a production style. As it happens, no one has yet come up with a satisfactory form of fake cigar but, even if some enterprising character were now to do so, his ingenuity would be of no use since the Bills as currently drafted prohibit even artificial smoking materials being used on stage or in rehearsal.
Clause 6 of both Bills provides that, where smoking is prohibited under Clause 5, a sign has to be displayed indicating clearly to the public that smoking is prohibited, and also giving the name of a person to whom a complaint may be made by a member of the public who observes another person smoking. That would mean, presumably, that not only would a set depicting the consulting room at No. 221b Baker Street require a "no smoking" sign to be sited in full view of the audience, but an actor giving his all as Sherlock Holmes would be liable to have a complaint laid against him if he lit up his famous pipe.
It is easy to score cheap points—I am afraid that I have tried to do so—by providing what may seem to be a reductio ad absurdum. It would also be misleading if I were not to acknowledge that the Bills' promoters looked at those issues earlier in the year, at least so far as the London Bill was concerned. However, the amendment offered at that time did not fully address the matters giving concern to SOLT and the TMA, and as I understand it no progress has been made since March in any event.
The Bills as drafted give powers to the promoters both to inhibit the process of creating work for the stage and to compromise the integrity of performance. I cannot believe that that is any part of their intention. I submit that an exemption can and should be provided in the Bills to allow smoking in rehearsals and on stage where it is part of the action of a performance, subject as at present to sensible safety precautions being observed. Such an exemption would automatically banish the possibility of "no smoking" signs at Elsinore.
I ask the Minister to tell the House what the Government's view is of the difficulties to which I have drawn attention. I also respectfully ask my noble friend and the noble Baroness, whose indefatigable efforts to get smoking banned in public places I support and greatly admire, to recognise that they may need to give further thought to the detail of the Bills. However dangerous and undesirable we now know smoking to be, it has been part of our culture and of other cultures for more than 400 years, and is embedded in much of our art. It is surely possible to preserve the excellent intentions of this proposed legislation without applying too heavy a hand to our history.
My Lords, I strongly support the Bills, but I shall try to be extremely brief in explaining why they are important.
The first reason is that the scientific knowledge of the damage to health caused by passive smoking or environmental tobacco smoke—ETS—is becoming increasingly clear. In fact, it is becoming crystal clear, as new peer-reviewed papers are published almost monthly. Many of them are cited in the report of the Royal College of Physicians mentioned by my noble friend Lord Turnberg. The studies that it describes are both epidemiological, measuring the effect on large populations, and laboratory-based, describing the pathological effects on individuals and their tissues.
The list of unpleasant components of tobacco smoke includes, in the particulate phase, tar, which contains a number of carcinogens, as well as benzene, benzpyrene and nicotine. Perhaps that is why recent ex-smokers, when trying to give up their addiction, like to sit near smokers—in their slipstream. In the gas phase are found carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, acrolein and many others. As the noble Lord, Lord Chan, said, 40 of those components are suspected carcinogens, and many have irritant properties. It is small wonder that the immediate effects of contact with environmental tobacco smoke include eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. As we heard in the eloquent speech by my noble friend Lord Simon, asthmatic attacks are often precipitated in people who are prone to asthma.
So, I must disappoint the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and tell him that the overwhelming majority of the scientific community now accept the validity of the studies that I have outlined. While the scientific evidence against smoking in enclosed public spaces is thus increasingly clear, certain members of the Government still hold the view that the public are not ready for a total ban. It is true that, although the great majority of the population are now non-smokers, many people have a lenient view towards smokers—many having been smokers themselves—and feel that the Government's present approach of allowing smoking in pubs with no food should be the next step.
Some would go further and allow smoking rooms in all pubs and restaurants, or they believe, erroneously, that extractor fans are effective. What people with those beliefs forget is that staff working where smoking is allowed are condemned to inhale tobacco smoke while they serve customers. The Bills are expressly designed to protect those staff, who may be unaware of the dangers to which they are exposed, quite apart from being unable to find another job in a smoke-free workplace, as the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, described.
Since the Bills were first due to come before us in March, I have had the privilege of visiting Ireland in early April. The total ban introduced in May last year had been in force for nearly a year. It has been even more successful than its architects envisaged, and polls show that it is now more popular than when it was first introduced. A key reason for its success was that the Ministry of Health and the Irish Government, as a whole, had a consistent tobacco policy and introduced a series of control measures over the past decade. At all stages, there was a national debate with good scientific information forming the basis of the dialogue, making full use of the media. There is no evidence that the measures had any effect on the profitability of the hospitality trade, which was on a slight downswing before the measures were introduced. If anything, there has subsequently been a change for the better, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner pointed out. Certainly, the pubs that I visited in Dublin were doing a roaring trade, and there was no sign of the civil unrest feared by the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool.
Outside one of those establishments were two men and a woman who were smoking cigarettes. I suggested to them that perhaps they might be a little fed up with a law that banished them to the outdoors if they wished to smoke. They strongly denied that and said that it was a good law and that having to smoke outside the pub meant that they smoked less and saved money. The woman said that the only problem was that reducing smoking had led her to put on weight.
I hope that the Bills will receive strong support from the Government. They will allow Liverpool and London to act as pilot projects, in effect, for the similar national measures that should follow in their footsteps—I hope sooner rather than later.
My Lords, I wish to express my support for the two Bills from Liverpool City Council and the London Local Authorities. Those contributions from noble Lords that have been dismissive of the impact of passive smoking seem to me to equate to the George Bush approach to the impact and causes of climate change. As has been said by a number of noble Lords, the evidence of the damaging effect of smoking on the health both of smokers and non-smokers is overwhelming.
Last March the presidents of the Royal Colleges, in supporting the Liverpool City Council Bill, stated that passive smoking caused an estimated 1,000 deaths in adults each year. The Government's White Paper Choosing Health, published in November 2004, said that lung cancer, heart disease, asthma attacks and sudden infant death syndrome were conditions linked to second-hand smoke.
The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, whose report was published with the White Paper, indicated that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke faced a 24 per cent increase risk of lung cancer and a 25 per cent increased risk of heart disease. It also found that bar workers were the occupational group who were most at risk from other people's smoke.
I hope that the Minister will speak positively about these Bills when she replies. They go in the same direction that the Government are travelling and the fact that their destination may be another stop down the line towards better health and saving lives, and they may want to get there more quickly, is no justification for my noble friend being anything other than positive in her response. These Bills do not go in a direction that is significantly different from that of the Government, and they certainly do not go in the opposite direction.
These Bills reflect what elected, accountable representatives of the people of Liverpool and the overwhelming majority of London boroughs are saying is wanted. If they have it wrong, and that is not the case, they will be the ones in the firing line, accountable to their electorates. The impact of the Bills over and above the Government's proposals will not extend beyond the London boroughs concerned and the city of Liverpool.
While there are very good reasons for having policies over a great range of issues applied nationally, including the Government's policy on the issue of shifting the balance significantly in favour of smoke-free environments, there can be no reason for denying the additional powers to make variations in different localities that want them, where they do not challenge or thwart the basic direction of government policy and do not have an impact outside the locality or area concerned.
Local authorities have powers that give some flexibility in their approach to reflect the needs of their area and the wishes of their constituents; for example, in planning, parking, the allocation of resources for education, the provision of leisure facilities, support for public transport, and, shortly, licensing applications. There seems no reason at all why the city of Liverpool and the London boroughs should not now be given the powers in the Bills.
The case for the Bills is overwhelming. This is, as my noble friend Lady Gould said, a straight health and safety issue. No one should have to work in an environment that jeopardises their health and most certainly not as a result of an entirely non-essential activity carried out by others purely for their own personal satisfaction or enjoyment or to meet the needs of their own addiction. The number of people who die each year as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke in their place of work is well in excess of the number of people who are killed by workplace accidents. The argument that people do not have to work in smoke-filled environments is an argument that could be used against all existing health and safety measures on the basis that if there is any danger in a workplace, you do not have to work there.
In Liverpool alone, around 100 people die each year from cancer or heart disease, not because they smoke, but because of exposure to second-hand smoke from other people. There is a cost to the National Health Service for treatment, there is an economic cost to employers from absence at work and there is a social cost to families that arises from the completely avoidable loss of a loved one, who may also be a breadwinner, a parent or both.
It is a heartless argument that states that others should be free to smoke in what is someone else's workplace when the evidence clearly shows that the exercise of that freedom by the former could potentially be akin to signing a delayed illness or even death warrant for the latter. It is not personal freedom of choice that is being protected, but personal irresponsibility, callousness and indifference to others that is being promoted.
The trade union movement supports these Bills precisely because they address an important health and safety issue and seek to protect people at work. Individual unions and the Trades Union Congress are calling on the Government to close the loophole in their smoking ban proposals that would permit certain pubs and bars to allow smoking. I hope that my noble friend will say some helpful words on this point when she responds.
Reference has already been made to the pending ban on smoking in Scotland, the decision of the National Assembly for Wales to end smoking in public places and the introduction of a smoke-free law in Ireland in March last year. That law has proved to be a major health success, has overwhelming public support and is widely observed. Independent research conducted in March this year on behalf of the Irish trade union, Mandate, showed that 94 per cent of bar workers in Ireland had experienced little or no difficulty in implementing the smoke-free workplace law in the first year of operation. The research also showed that 87 per cent of bar workers supported the law, a similar percentage felt that the law had already had a positive impact on their health and 90 per cent felt that in the long-term it would have a positive impact on their health.
I hope that both these Bills have a smooth passage. We have a responsibility to provide people at work with as safe a working environment as we can. That is what these Bills do and they deserve the support of your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I commence by referring briefly to the very good and distinguished maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stratford. I do not understand the suggestion, in his own words, that he is a somewhat robust and possibly ill-mannered person. I do not recognise that at all, but I do recognise that he has the privilege of being, like myself, born in the great city of Belfast. I look forward to his contributions to this House. No doubt they will bring much honour and credit to his native city.
It gives me great pleasure to support these Bills and to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, on bringing them forward. My colleagues in the Ulster Unionist Party and I support a ban on smoking in all public places in Northern Ireland. I welcome the Bills for Liverpool and London in the hope that similar legislation will be introduced across the United Kingdom in the very near future.
Ours is certainly not an isolated view. When the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety recently carried out consultation on a smoking ban, an overwhelming 91 per cent—yes, 91 per cent—of over 70,000 respondents supported Option C: a total ban on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces. That is up considerably from the already impressive two-thirds of people who responded to a MORI poll last year in favour of an outright ban. Public opinion is swinging dramatically in favour of such a ban. The Government must pay attention.
Despite such a mandate, however, the Northern Ireland Office Health Minister, Mr Shaun Woodward, announced last month that, instead of grabbing the bull by the horns in the knowledge that he had the backing of the public to carry it off, he would actually delay making a decision on whether to introduce a blanket ban in Northern Ireland until the autumn. Apparently, he needs another couple of months to make up his mind. I do not understand why he cannot press ahead with the ban when such a large majority of people in Northern Ireland already support it.
The British Medical Association in Northern Ireland published a report earlier this year called Behind the Smokescreen: the myths and the facts. It exposed the myths surrounding the arguments in the smoking ban debate.
The Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade in Northern Ireland argues that a ban on smoking in pubs would lead to an increase in uncontrolled smoking and drinking at home. No such evidence has been found following the ban in the Republic of Ireland. Indeed, the smoking ban in the republic has actually encouraged more people to give up smoking altogether.
The tobacco industry has said that there is no risk to health from exposure to second-hand smoke. Again, the BMA has exploded that myth. The report points to an independent review of all available evidence on second-hand smoke and cancer, published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in May of last year, which concluded that exposure to other people's smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by 20–30 per cent.
I support these Bills and pay tribute to the work of ASH and other charities and the agencies behind the drive to ban smoking in public places. I hope that Liverpool and London will be an example to us all. I urge the Government to pay careful attention to this debate and to the wishes of the public. I particularly call on the Northern Ireland Health Minister, Mr Woodward, to introduce immediately what 91 per cent of the population want—a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces in Northern Ireland.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the promoters of these two Bills, and the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, who, I am sure, will quickly learn how, with great subtlety, it is possible to be extremely impolite in this Chamber—the infrequency makes it all the more telling. I declare an interest as joint president of the Association of London Government; that is, the association of the London boroughs.
Noble Lords who are veterans of these debates will know better than I do whether any new points have been made today, apart from the geographical ones. As a novice to the debate, I confess that I arrived with my mind made up: to support, personally and on behalf of these Benches, the two Bills. It is Liberal Democrat policy to support such measures. Our manifesto in the recent election dealt with a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places.
I am, and have always been, a non-smoker, although there have been many times of tension when I wished I did smoke. There have been many more times when I have realised that non-smokers have one great disadvantage: they miss out on a whole sub-culture of office life. I watch the gaggles of smokers clustered outside City Hall and realise that I am probably missing out on quite a lot of plotting and certainly a lot of good gossip.
I knew that we would hear about the rights and liberties of the individual, but I do not find any great dilemma in this regard. Years ago there were similar debates on seat belts, but in this issue one does not even get to the level of asking whether one can be permitted to harm oneself, given the cost to the public purse of treatment. This is about harming other people. Society is justified in applying a restriction to the individual—the restriction is limited to other people's workplaces, which may also happen to be one's own—given that the individual's actions harm other people. Having listened to noble Lords' contributions and read about the subject, I know that those actions cause significant harm to others. The need to safeguard the health of workers trumps "the right" to smoke.
I was struck by the relatively new term—new to me, at any rate—"second-hand smoke". It is much more vivid than "passive smoking", which suggests an air of neutrality and calmness. "Second-hand smoke" is a more helpful term.
We have heard medical evidence today, although I appreciate that not everyone accepts that it is evidence. I am no expert but I have noted that none of those in this House with medical expertise has opposed the Bills.
Although I have no medical or technical expertise, I have a little personal experience. When the firm in which I was then a partner moved premises, some years ago, into a brand-new building, we created a smoking room. The bright white walls swiftly changed to the most extraordinarily nasty colour. Things have moved on since, and employers do not provide smoking rooms because of the inherent dangers. We are now told that a smoking area in a restaurant is not effective; it means only about a 50 per cent reduction in the risk. Most people would expect a much greater reduction in risk as a result of being able to eat in a separate part of the same enclosed space. Perhaps that false expectation is a danger in itself. I had not realised until I read the briefing that ventilation would have to be almost at gale force to be effective.
Some in the hospitality industry seem to miss the point that, in any event, the Bills are about protecting employees. It is no answer to say, "Go and get a job elsewhere". Why should they? Secondly, can they? Bar jobs may be all that is available to, say, a student paying his way through study or training. Jobs in the hospitality industry are often low paid and may be difficult to find. There is not a lot of choice. Those in the lowest socio-economic groups are at the highest risk of exposure.
I mentioned the geographical issues. I am concerned about the disparities. There are, I suspect, very many more pubs in Kensington and Chelsea which sell food than there are in Barking and Dagenham. The Government's White Paper proposals, on which they are now consulting, go less far than the Bills—and I congratulate Liverpool and the London boroughs. They have not gone further because it would be easier to enforce their proposals, although I suspect that that might be a by-product of their logic.
My noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby made a point about local authority autonomy. One point with which I profoundly disagree in these Bills is the Secretary of State having reserved powers to intervene on the level of fixed penalty and ring-fencing. But that is the world in which we live. It may have been that the advice given was: "This is what the Government want, so do it so as not to make a fuss".
I was interested in and take the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, but perhaps we have several stages to Bills so that that sort of issue can be hammered out. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, who seems not to have rejoined us, talked about the consultation with council tax payers. We have heard about consultation in Liverpool. In London, as the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, has explained, these are adoptive Bills. Any local authority which intended to go ahead with them without consulting would be rather daft. The noble Lord also painted a picture of the humble smoker up against the big guns of QCs. I have to say that that is not a picture I recognise at all against a background of the very substantial tobacco companies.
These issues are often best expressed by members of the public rather than, perhaps necessarily, in rather dry reports. A couple of days ago, I received an e-mail from a member of the public—someone whom I do not know—who wrote:
"I am writing to register my support for legislation to ban smoking in public places. I am sick of going out and being forced to breathe in someone else's smoke. Plus it could kill me. Smokers are free to do whatever they want to themselves. They are not free to do whatever they want to me".
Normally at this stage on Bills that these Benches support, I would say that I wish them an easy passage. I doubt that the passage of these Bills will be very smooth or very quick. Most of all, I hope that they will be unnecessary because government legislation, as extensive as I would like to see it, will overtake them.
My Lords, it has been an interesting and unusual debate, bearing in mind that, as a number of noble Lords have pointed out, it is not often that the Second Reading of a private Bill excites the attention of so many speakers or, indeed, generates a maiden speech of the wit and quality of the contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Stratford.
When a private Bill is presented to the House, it is customary, although not by any means automatic, to allow it to proceed quietly to a Select Committee, where it is considered in depth and objections to it can be aired. It is not for me as spokesman for the Official Opposition to suggest any other course of action for these two Bills. In that context, we would do well to heed the words of the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. However, I hope that I may be allowed to adopt something of a questioning approach. I would hope that the questions that I have will be ones that a Select Committee will wish in due course to take up.
It seems to me that we are dealing with two debates. The first debate is about the merits or otherwise of introducing a ban on smoking in public places. The second debate, once we have decided that there should be a restriction in some form, as the sponsors have, is about what is the best and most appropriate way of achieving the desired aim.
Luckily—I say this with some deference and a measure of apology—notwithstanding the views of my noble friends Lord Geddes and Lord Naseby, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, and others, the first of those issues carries with it broad consensus across the parties. I listened with close attention to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, whom we all respect greatly as someone who has championed this cause for many years now, and my respect and regard for the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, is exactly the same.
The case that they have put about the health hazards of passive smoking seems very powerful. The evidence that has emerged, especially over the past five to six years, about morbidity and mortality stemming directly from passive smoking has been endorsed in many countries at the highest level of the medical profession. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, referred to some of the evidence, as did the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and most notably, the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg. Speaking for myself, I find it compelling. Those who find it compelling must necessarily believe that action of some sort needs to be taken.
I speak for a party that believes that we should find workable ways of delivering smoke-free environments for all adults who want them and that we should make it our business to end smoking in areas to which children have access. The operative word there is "workable" because the current government proposals seem to be an unsatisfactory sort of fudge, fraught with problems. No doubt, that is a matter that the evidence-taking process will tease out.
It is right to mention that the scientific case is not without its critics. We heard some of those criticisms this evening. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, and my noble friend Lord Liverpool, for example, argued forcefully that the presentation of the statistics on the risks associated with environmental tobacco smoke was flawed. They pointed to what they saw as—I paraphrase—tendentiousness, unfounded assumptions and mathematical sleight of hand that together served to sully the science. I mention that only because I think that it has to be mentioned.
I am extremely doubtful about the validity of those criticisms because of the extent and nature of the advocacy weighed against them, but they need to be faced squarely and dealt with. I hope that the Select Committee will do that. I agree with the critics to this extent: surely we cannot force businesses to change their practices or even urge on them the merits of doing so voluntarily, without completely sound epidemiology supporting the underlying policy.
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, will not doubt my sympathy for the motivation underlying the Bills or in broad terms their tenor. The more troubling questions that I have about them are to do not with the science or the content but with the legislative approach. As a number of noble Lords have pointed out, we are in the middle of a public consultation about the regulation of smoking at work and in other public places. The Government initiated that consultation following their White Paper of last November and the undertaking given in the gracious Speech following the election. It is a major issue of public health. It affects all of us and, rightly, the Government have taken the lead in promulgating a series of questions to which industry, the medical profession and the public will be able to submit their answers.
We may not agree with the formula proposed by the Government for achieving the objectives that they have set, but that is not the central issue this evening. In the context of these Bills, the central issue is whether we think it appropriate that, on a major issue of public health, two areas of the country should be able to declare UDI by ignoring the national consultation and bypassing whatever proposals emerge from it.
Against those considerations, I confess to being uneasy about whether the two measures are an appropriate use of the private Bill mechanism. The logical consequence of that approach is that we may eventually have a patchwork quilt of private legislation throughout the country, each statute subtly different from the next, to which businesses, the public and the police will somehow have to adapt. Of course, in some areas we may well find ourselves with no legislation on the matter at all.
For many sorts of policy issue, that kind of regional variation does not matter in the slightest. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, expressed her support for local pilots and initiatives. In many areas of policy making I would agree with her 100 per cent, but in public health, where policy should be driven by the underlying science and not just by what people want, I suggest that it does matter.
There is an additional dimension to this, which is that, taking the London Bill as an example, it would be open to individual London boroughs to opt out of the legislation altogether. Westminster City Council, despite having taken the lead in promoting the Bill, has announced that it does not intend to implement it if it becomes law. So, as we heard today, have three other local authorities.
That is a strange situation in itself. My purpose in drawing attention to it is not to embarrass anyone but rather to make the point that it is an inherently unsatisfactory state of affairs when we are dealing with people's health. Either there is a public health case for doing the kind of thing proposed in the Bill or there is not. If Parliament agrees that there is, it seems inappropriate for Parliament in the same breath to say that individual areas are free to opt out of applying the law.
It is difficult to think of a precisely comparable issue where the exercise of private rights affects the wider interests of innocent members of the public. One could perhaps cite the drink-driving laws. Having agreed that there was an empirical public interest case for legislating on a maximum blood-alcohol level in drivers, Parliament did not then say that certain London boroughs should be able to opt out of the provisions if they did not like them; nor did it say that different areas of the country could set their own maximum blood-alcohol levels by legislating privately. The public interest case was made and, rightly, then applied across the board.
Like my noble friend Lord Naseby, I am not clear that the consultation undertaken by Liverpool City Council and by the London boroughs has been as thorough as it surely needs to be if substantial costs are to be imposed on businesses in the manner proposed. For example, what basis is there in local opinion gathering, either in London or in Liverpool, for the decision to disallow smoking in the workplace in specially designated rooms? What was the basis for the decision to proscribe the possibility of segregated smoking areas in pubs and bars?
The Bills appear to prohibit smoking on covered station platforms and covered street cafes. My noble friend Lord Skelmersdale mentioned company cars, and the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, spoke powerfully about theatres and rehearsal rooms, which would be caught by both Bills. Is that really what most people want? I know that the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, recognise that there is a balance to be struck between private rights and the public interest, but are they really satisfied—hand on heart—that the Bills achieve that balance?
As I said at the start, it is not, I believe, appropriate for the House to impede the passage of the Bills at Second Reading, but I am impressed by the point made by several noble Lords that, with a government Bill coming down the tracks, a considerable number of petitioners against these Bills will be put to a great deal of expense to little ultimate purpose—whatever the outcome of their petitions—if the Bills are in due course to be overridden by nationwide legislation.
Perhaps the sponsors of the Bills are prepared to live with that, if it means being able to activate legislation more quickly than the Government intend to do. But I would suggest that that in itself opens up all kinds of questions about what is a reasonable lead-up time for businesses that have to comply with the law when it comes into force. I should particularly welcome the comments of the noble Lord and the noble Baroness on that point when they come to reply.
My Lords, time is short. There will be many opportunities in the future for the Government to answer questions when we bring forward new legislation. I shall therefore confine my contribution mainly to setting out the Government's policy. It would of course not be appropriate for me to answer questions relating to the Bills themselves.
I start by thanking my noble friend Lord Faulkner and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, for bringing forward these Bills. They both have a fine record in working and campaigning for a smoke-free environment, both inside and outside Parliament. I must also congratulate my noble friend Lord Stratford on his polite and excellent speech. I hope that he is not too exhausted.
I have listened carefully to the views expressed from all sides of the Chamber. We have heard some extremely interesting and constructive contributions, with compelling and alarming facts and figures. Naturally, we will take on board what has been said today in drawing up the detailed legislation to implement the Government's own proposals as set out in the White Paper Choosing Health. I particularly note the points made about inequality.
It is clear that while there are differences in approach and in scope, there is much common ground between the objectives of these Bills and the Government's proposals. The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked whether the Bills, if they become law, will override the Government's Act. It is too early in the process to say anything about that. As we are in the middle of consultation on the detail of the Government's Bill, it is difficult to be confident about how the two pieces of legislation might fit together.
The Government's objective is clear. We have set out proposals for legislation to shift the balance significantly in favour of smoke-free environments. The health improvement and protection Bill, announced in the Queen's Speech, will be introduced in the autumn and will include specific provisions for smoke-free, enclosed public places and workplaces. That Bill will cover all of England and Wales. Separate legislation, the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, has already made its way through the Scottish Parliament and is due to be implemented in spring 2006.
Northern Ireland Ministers are currently considering measures following their own consultation exercise, but as the noble Lord, Lord Laird, clearly stated, public opinion in Northern Ireland has swung swiftly in favour of an Ireland-style ban.
For England, in broad terms, the proposals on which we are consulting further are that all enclosed public places and workplaces, other than licensed premises, will be smoke free. All pubs, bars and other licensed premises preparing and serving food will be entirely smoke free and in membership clubs the members will be free to choose whether to allow smoking or to be smoke free. Smoking in the bar area will be prohibited. In England, the intention is that smoke-free places will be introduced through a staged process over the next four years.
As a Welsh person, I was working in Cardiff when people celebrated the Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill, brought forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and which was supported by this House. I am delighted that she shares my delight that, under the terms of this new Bill, the National Assembly for Wales will be able to make its own provisions. The Welsh Assembly Government have recently announced their intention to accept the proposals of the ad hoc committee on smoking in public places. On
Moving back to the situation in England, naturally, we are aware that the proposals in the White Paper do not go as far as some noble Lords would wish. However, we are also aware that, in the words of Deborah Arnott, the director of ASH, the White Paper is a big step forward for public health. If passed into law, it will save thousands of lives every year, as vulnerable people are no longer exposed to dangerous, second-hand smoke at work and as thousands of smokers are encouraged to cut down or quit altogether.
The Department of Health, jointly with the Wales Office, is currently consulting on the detailed proposals for legislation on the smoke-free elements of the health improvement and protection Bill. That consultation runs until
The consultation includes particular consideration of the special arrangements that will be needed for places such as hospices, prisons, and long-stay residential homes. We recognise that where a place is someone's home, but also on occasions someone else's workplace, careful thought will need to be given to the practical implications of any measures to protect people from the smoke of others. This is an area where the Liverpool and London Bills appear to be inconsistent with White Paper proposals. The Government will continue to listen to the views put forward in the current consultation on these key areas of implementation.
While people are often sceptical about consultative exercises, I must assure noble Lords that this consultation is a real opportunity to influence government policy. We shall also take account of the experiences of other countries that have introduced smoke-free enclosed public places and workplaces, sometimes over many more years than the timetable that we envisage.
An important point to keep in mind is that whatever the Government's view of the Bills that we are discussing this evening, a number of petitions against the private Bills have been deposited by individuals and by organisations that are opposed and, therefore, as has been outlined, the petitions will need to be considered in accordance with the usual procedures of the House.
Of course, the principal difference between the proposals in the private Bills and those in the White Paper is the simple fact that the Government are working on proposals for the whole country and not just for some cities or local authorities. The Government's proposals have grown out of a long and extensive series of public consultations on a national level. We have taken full account of the views of the public across the country and will continue to do so with the further consultation process. After that, we will come forward with detailed legislation to tackle smoking in public places.
While there is much in common between our proposals and those contained in the Bills, there are also clear differences. The Government will, of course, not oppose the Liverpool and London Bills, but we point to the proposals for the whole country, which we believe will achieve the objective of significantly shifting the norm to achieve smoke-free enclosed public places and workplaces within the next four years.
In considering future legislation, it should not be forgotten that much has already been achieved. Progress has been made on creating smoke-free environments, and we want this to continue. More than half the population already work in entirely smoke-free workplaces, and there has been a significant shift in recent years in the response to rising public awareness of the damage to health from second-hand smoke.
Finally, I want to make it clear—I agree with the comments of many noble Lords on this matter—that the Government regard second-hand smoke as a serious public health issue. We recognised this in the country's first ever White Paper on tobacco, Smoking Kills, which we published in 1998. As we said in the very first chapter of that document:
"Passive smoking—breathing in other people's tobacco smoke—also kills".
We continue to recognise this.
Alongside the White Paper Choosing Health, we published the latest report on the harmful effects of second-hand smoke by our independent scientific committee on tobacco and health which was referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth. That spelt out the increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
What has changed since Smoking Kills is the public's significantly increased demand for smoke-free public places and workplaces, and our increased determination to tackle second-hand smoke. The smoke-free elements of the health improvement and protection Bill on which we are consulting will be a major step forward in the level of protection offered to the population in public places and workplaces. Once in place, the vast majority of enclosed public places and workplaces across the country will be completely smoke-free.
This policy represents a major step forward in the protection of the public from second-hand smoke. It will mean that more than 99 per cent of people will work in entirely smoke-free environments.
In conclusion, the private Bills before us relate only to parts of England rather than the whole country. In some measures, they are not consistent with the proposals set out in the Choosing Health White Paper. The Government have put forward a more extensive package of measures with a published timetable progressively to make almost all public places and workplaces across the country smoke-free.
With this approach, we will save thousands of lives, reducing deaths from cancer, heart disease and all the other diseases that smoking causes, as well as all the pain and suffering caused by these illnesses to the individuals concerned and their loved ones.
This evening's debate will certainly inform the Government as we draw up the detailed legislation of the health improvement and protection Bill. I, too, read the moving article by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and, like many noble Lords I am sure, I have nursed relatives as they have died from lung cancer, having given up smoking too late in life because doing so was so difficult in a smoke-filled atmosphere.
I celebrate the fact that with the new legislation, we will not only reduce the harmful effects of second-hand smoke across the country but also provide smokers who are trying to quit with an environment in which it is easier to do so.
My Lords, I congratulate your Lordships on once again managing to reflect British public opinion so well in this Chamber. Support among the British people for completely smoke-free enclosed public places and workplaces is running at between two and three to one. That is almost exactly the proportion of Peers who have spoken in favour of the two Bills tonight, and I am sure that if all Members of the House voted on the issue, that proportion would be maintained.
I am most grateful to everyone who has spoken in the debate, especially to those of your Lordships who have brought such a deeply impressive understanding of the medical and social issues involved in smoking and health. It would be invidious of me to single out any particular speaker. I do not think I have come across such a powerful array of speakers from a medical background as we have heard tonight. But I must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Stratford, on his brilliant maiden speech. We look forward to hearing him on this and many other issues many times in the future.
I express my appreciation also to the Minister for her thoughtful and helpful speech. The change in the Government's approach during recent months is remarkable, and that was reflected in what she had to say today. I know how strongly she supports a comprehensive approach to smoke-free workplaces. I hope that she will take very seriously the points that have been made by speakers who have backed these two Bills tonight on the extra number of lives that will be saved if a comprehensive approach, rather than the piecemeal approach which was contained in the White Paper published before the general election, is adopted.
I thank also the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, for her contribution from the Liberal Democrat Benches. Her support for the two Bills is much appreciated. I know that the heart of the noble Earl, Lord Howe, is very much in the right place. He has a job to do with some of his noble friends. Virtually every opponent of these measures tonight came from the Benches behind him. He has some persuading to do on the dangers of passive smoking and why a radical policy needs to be adopted.
I should deal briefly with some of the points that were made by opponents of the Bills. On the issue whether passive smoking kills, I think only one speaker denied the facts on that: the noble Lord, Lord Harris of High Cross, who sadly has had to leave us. I am sure that he will want to read very carefully the contributions from the noble Lord, Lord Chan, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and my noble friends Lord Turnberg and Lord Rea on that subject, and indeed others. He might also like to read the latest report of the Chief Medical Officer that was published yesterday.
Attempts by the tobacco lobby to deny that passive smoking kills are similar to their earlier attempts to deny that smoking itself is dangerous or that nicotine is addictive. They tell untruths on these matters, and they are not telling the truth on passive smoking.
As many speakers in this debate have demonstrated, the claims that smoking bans are bad for business are also untrue, based on experience elsewhere. My noble friend Lord Haskel dealt very effectively with that point, and my noble friend Lord Rosser reminded us how strongly trade union support for comprehensive smoke-free policies is running.
Questions were asked about the scale of the consultation in Liverpool. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, raised that matter early in the debate. He will find that my noble supporter, the noble Lord, Lord Chan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, answered the points on consultation. The promoters of the Bills will write to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, if he wishes, to give him more details of how extensive the consultation was.
My Lords, that is good to know. The question whether this is an appropriate subject for local government legislation was raised by one or two speakers, and it was answered to great effect by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, by my noble friend Lord Rosser and indeed by other speakers. I ask noble Lords to look at the history of local authority legislation, particularly in the health field. So much of what was passed in the 19th century which made a difference to the health of our people in our cities originated in local government Bills. The approach of Liverpool and London with these Bills is totally in accord with that spirit.
Noble Lords opposite made some fun of the attitude of Westminster City Council towards the London Bill. It is not true to say that it has withdrawn its support. It remains the lead local authority in promoting it. It has twice voted to promote the legislation. But it is an adoptive Bill in London, and Westminster City Council is perfectly free not to bring it into effect if it chooses to do so. But the voters in the City of Westminster are similarly free to change that council if they feel that it is not representing them. That is called representative democracy and there really is nothing more to it than that.
The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, had some fun about border crossings, and how people would know where the ban applied when they entered London boroughs or the city of Liverpool. We heard from the Minister that we shall shortly be crossing the Border into Scotland, where the ban applies. We shall be crossing the border into Wales—and, at present, although perhaps not for much longer, when you cross the border from Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic you are moving from a smoking zone to a no-smoking zone.
There were also questions about places of work. In the case of vessels on the Mersey, if they are within the territorial waters of the city of Liverpool, which go half way out across the Mersey, they are covered by the Bill. Indeed, if lorries are operating in Liverpool, they are covered too.
To talk about "smoke police", as the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, did, is just nonsense. If you look at the Irish experience you can see that there is almost universal compliance. The measures there are implemented by people themselves, who make sure that they are implemented—because the provision is popular and is what people want.
This has been an excellent debate and I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in it. On the liberal principle and the issue of freedom, I quote John Stuart Mill. In his Essay on Liberty he said:
"Acts of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled by the unfavourable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people".
On Question, Bill read a second time and committed to a Select Committee.