Children and Families Bill — Report (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 29th January 2014.

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Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative 4:45 pm, 29th January 2014

My Lords, I begin by congratulating my noble friend Lord Howe on his amendment. I wholly support what he said about packaging and about appointing Sir Cyril Chantler. I have the good fortune of knowing Sir Cyril. Like the noble Lord, Lord Patel, who spoke a moment ago, I believe that he is a man of impeccable integrity and great knowledge and I am sure my noble friend could not have chosen anyone better. I do not want to dilate on that subject.

I have smoked two cigarettes in my life. I was 15 years old; they were Woodbines and it was behind the bike shed. They were thoroughly disgusting—I have never smoked since and I never want to smoke. I am afraid I cannot say the same for my wife, although I think she has cut down a bit; she certainly does not smoke in my presence, either in the car or at home.

It is beyond doubt that we can and should accept everything that has been said about the dangers of smoking by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and my noble friend—my friend in every way—Lord Ribeiro. We should do everything possible to deter people from smoking. I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in congratulating my noble friend Lord Ribeiro on the birth of his grandson. I would be entirely in favour of the parents of the grandson of the noble Lord, Lord Ribeiro, being sent a note about the dangers of smoking. I would be entirely in favour of the parents of every newborn child being specifically warned about the dangers to children of passive smoking. I would be entirely in favour of increasing the taxes on cigarettes. I would be in favour of extra insurance premiums for people who smoke. I would not object to there being a column about smoking on car insurance forms, and, if you tick the smoking box, there being an extra premium that goes directly to the battle against smoking. I would be entirely in favour of all those things or permutations of them. There are many that we could all think of.

However, when it comes to the question of smoking in motor vehicles, my noble friend Lord Ribeiro introduced his amendment skilfully, tactfully and undogmatically. I have no argument with that, but I believe that his essential premise is wrong. To advocate any law that is going to be exceptionally difficult to police and enforce, and moreover brings the state into the private space of individuals, is to be deplored.