Amendment 18

Business and Planning Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 13th July 2020.

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Baroness Northover:

Moved by Baroness Northover

18: Clause 5, page 5, line 6, at end insert—“( ) Pavement licences may only be granted by a local authority subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited.”

Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Amendment 18 is in my name and those of the noble Lords, Lord Young of Cookham and Lord Faulkner of Worcester, and of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff. We all want to get the hospitality sector moving again. I remind noble Lords that over 85% of people do not smoke. There is a public health issue here, but there is also the issue of making pubs and restaurants appealing to the vast majority of people. The UK hospitality sector will not recover if we cannot make it an enjoyable experience for the majority of its clients—that includes all those non-smokers and their children—as well as safe and enjoyable for the staff who may already be worried about returning to work.

The Bill proposes that restaurants and pubs should be able to use outside spaces for their customers to spill out into. People are safer from Covid-19 in the fresh air than inside buildings and, given the restrictions on numbers inside, this enables more customers to be catered for. The Government seek to balance economic with public health needs. Thus, in effect, the footprint of the pub or restaurant is expanded outside. We have already debated how these new needs and demands must be balanced with other considerations—the vital need to be inclusive, as the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, and others so passionately put it.

Amendment 18 specifies that pavement licences may only be granted by a local authority subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited in such spaces. It is a simple and straightforward proposition. We all worked together, across all parties and none, on banning smoking in public places. That was transformative for public health, for the prevention of illness through second-hand smoke, for those working in these environments, and for the benefit of families and pregnant women. It is now widely accepted as a benefit and few people seek to turn back the clock.

However, under this Bill, the footprint of pubs and restaurants will, as I said, extend outside. If such an extension, for which there are good reasons, is to be granted, then these newly defined public places must also be smoke free for all the same public health and other reasons that the interiors of pubs and restaurants are smoke free.

The noble Earl, Lord Howe, who shared Second Reading with the Minister, has contributed significantly over many years as we have sought to combat smoking. I hope that both Ministers know that the words that they might have been given to reply to this amendment to the effect that local authorities “can” take such action is a world away from a provision saying that they “must” take such action. As the noble Earl will remember, prior to the introduction of smoke-free enclosed public places in the Health Act 2006 the hospitality trade did not support legislation that was simply local. It wanted a level playing field, provided by national legislation that covered all hospitality venues. That is why we need national action and “must” not “can”.

I first noticed this issue when I saw a petition organised to try to persuade the City of London and Westminster City Council to do this. A number of local businesses support it, but the council has not agreed, and therefore no progress is being made. As soon as I flagged this issue up at Second Reading, only one week ago, with ASH’s help and to my delight but not to my surprise, I secured support from every Bench in this House, as represented by the amendment. I am delighted to say that we also have the support of a former Secretary of State for Heath, the noble Lord, Lord Lansley.

In the space of a week, we have also secured support for this amendment from the 10 local authorities that make up Greater Manchester, including the cities of Manchester and Salford, and from Liverpool and Newcastle, Oxfordshire County Council, and the Local Government Association itself. I am extremely grateful to them all in their clear concern for the pubs, restaurants and citizens in their area. This needs to be national.

The Government have said that they want to achieve a smoke-free England by 2030. There is a danger in this Bill of things going backwards and not forwards. For those who think that the urgent measures taken in the Bill should not be impeded, such as perhaps the noble Baronesses, Lady Noakes and Lady Neville-Rolfe, I remind noble Lords of the numbers: 85% of people do not smoke. If we are to encourage them back to using pubs and restaurants, let us make it easy for proprietors to implement this measure, so that they can make their establishments as attractive as possible.

I hope therefore that the noble Lord will see the case and has already heard the strength of feeling on this issue in the House. We banned smoking in interior public places, and that ban must be sustained as we redefine in the Bill what public places are. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Conservative

My Lords, I put my name to the noble Baroness’s amendment to indicate cross-party support, and I now add a brief footnote to her excellent speech.

Winding up the Second Reading debate last Monday, my noble friend Lord Howe said, in connection with another section of the Bill:

“The Government are clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace and that the health and safety of workers should not be put at risk.”—[Official Report, 6/7/20; col. 970.]

One of the principal reasons for the Health Act 2006, which banned smoking in pubs, was to protect employees from the health risks of passive smoking, as well as from the irritation and smell of the smoke. Under the Bill, employees of pubs will have to deliver drinks and collect glasses from the pavements, and they should be entitled to continue to work in a smoke-free atmosphere, as set out in the Health Act 2006.

In response to the case made last week by the noble Baroness, my noble friend Lord Howe said that

“the local authority can impose locally-set conditions on licences … that … can include restricting smoking in areas not designated for smokers.”—[Official Report, 6/7/20; col. 971.]

I do not believe that this is good enough. When Parliament considered banning smoking in pubs, it rejected the policy of leaving it to local discretion. It was to be a clear, national public health policy, and so should this be. As the noble Baroness said, the Local Government Association does not want local discretion. Doing that would blunt the public health message and lead to uncertainty among customers. From the industry’s point of view, it is right that there should be a level playing field.

I urge my noble friend to think again and give a positive response, otherwise I fear that, for the first time since I joined your Lordships’ House, I may be obliged to vote against my party on Report.

Photo of Lord Faulkner of Worcester Lord Faulkner of Worcester Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, it is a pleasure and a privilege to follow the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham. His record in fighting for public health and achieving sensible tobacco control is probably greater than that of any other Member of your Lordships’ House. It goes right back to the early 1980s, when, as a Health Minister, he was fired from Margaret Thatcher’s Government for taking a tough line on sports sponsorship and advertisements with those whom he described as the “tobacco barons”. In a blog post, he said:

“I banned smoking at the meetings I held with them, and tried to get a health warning not just on the cigarette packs, but on the cigarettes themselves. The barons resisted this; the ink, they asserted, contained substances that could damage the smoker’s health”.

I am delighted that he has put his name to this amendment; I was very pleased to do the same. I congratulate the noble Baroness on the speech she made at Second Reading and on the very persuasive way in which she moved the amendment so ably just now.

This is the latest step on the journey to the smoke-free country which Ministers say they want to achieve by 2030. It is also consistent with the approach we have adopted in your Lordships’ House since we approved a succession of tobacco control measures, going back to the early years of this century. The most important of these, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Young, was the measure to make pubs and clubs smoke-free after the free votes in 2006. There can be hardly anyone, in this House or outside, who wishes to go back to the days when pubs were full of smoke and patrons needed to change their clothes and wash their hair to get rid of the stench when they got home. Those laws were the most significant contribution to public health since the clean air laws of the 1950s and the Victorians’ improvements to the quality of drinking water.

In 2013, I was pleased to be part of a cross-party group which moved amendments to the then Children and Families Bill that were designed to protect children and help prevent them starting to smoke. Those required cigarettes and other tobacco products to be sold in standardised packaging and made it an offence to smoke in cars where children under 18 are present. By the happiest of coincidences, the Health Minister who accepted the arguments in those amendments tabled in Committee was none other than the noble Earl, Lord Howe. He will therefore appreciate how entirely appropriate it is to improve legislation such as this in the interests of public health.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, has said, this amendment enjoys significant public support. Particularly striking is the evidence from Greater Manchester. Over 70% of its population said that they wanted the areas immediately outside public buildings to be smoke-free environments. As she said, all 10 local authorities in the area support this amendment.

I should also mention a friend of mine, Ian Hudspeth. He is a Conservative councillor and chair of the Local Government Association’s community well-being board. In a message to me he writes: “As leader of Oxfordshire County Council, which supports Oxfordshire’s ambition to be the first smoke-free county in five years’ time, by 2025, I want to express my support for this amendment. It is important to ensure that public spaces where people congregate and socialise do not present a health hazard from cigarette smoke. By giving local authorities the mandate and tools to protect their residents’ health, it ensures a level playing field for businesses and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to its ambition for England to be smoke free by 2030”.

I hope that your Lordships will accept this amendment when, presumably, it is moved on Report—unless the Minister is able to indicate tonight that he is able to accept it now. I wholeheartedly support it.

Photo of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, I am delighted to support this important amendment. We have come a long way in public health on harms from smoking and passive smoking. Our ban on smoking in public places has resulted in proven improvements in rates of heart disease among workers in such environments. As well as protecting workers in pubs, we must not put at risk the public, who have in recent years enjoyed pubs. Unfortunately, the evidence around Covid damaging the heart and lungs is rapidly mounting. We know that those with cardiovascular disease and lung disease—direct consequences of tobacco smoke exposure—have a worse prognosis and a higher post-infection morbidity.

For people’s mental health, and for the country’s economy, it is essential that venues are supported to open safely and inclusively, and to provide a pleasant experience outdoors that is as safe as possible. Commercial pressures from the tobacco industry will, of course, want to resist this. This amendment, to which I have my name, supports hospitality venues to reopen, maintains consistent messaging to decrease smoking and encourages people to enjoy going out and socialising, with mental health benefits. This amendment supports our public health gain on decreasing tobacco smoke exposure, which must not be abandoned now; it would be irresponsible to throw it away. I urge all noble Lords to think about what they will throw away if they do not support the simple measure proposed in this amendment.

Photo of Baroness Neville-Rolfe Baroness Neville-Rolfe Conservative 7:00 pm, 13th July 2020

My Lords, I rise to express my doubts about this amendment, because the Bill contains temporary measures. We should put liberalisation to the fore, as argued by my noble friend Lady Noakes on an earlier amendment, and should not be using this Bill to make major policy changes.

My grandmother was a smoker and died of lung cancer shortly before I was born—a great sadness, as she was a founder of the CPRE and a great cook. However, this has made me very aware of the right way to encourage the reduction in smoking. I do not believe in total bans, which drive smoking underground. The truth is that smokers are still able to smoke in the open outside some pubs and bars, so they come, sit outside well away from others and support the hospitality sector—as I saw on Saturday outside the coffee shops in Salisbury marketplace. A proper study and assessment of what this measure would mean cannot be done for a temporary Bill. It would certainly affect pubs and other outlets, but we do not know what the possible impact would be, given that we are talking about people gathering together in the open air.

More generally, I feel that noble Lords have not grasped the gravity and immediacy of the economic disaster enveloping this country as a result of Covid. The various measures and amendments before us could make things worse—for example, by hitting pub numbers and, indeed, driving smokers away from the open air that is better for their health. I believe that this should be a matter for local authorities and that we should not be embarking on a major change in this temporary Bill.

Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital)

My Lords, I am speaking very strongly in favour of Amendment 18, so cogently introduced by my noble friend Lady Northover. This debate takes me back almost 20 years to the passage of my Private Member’s Bill, which became the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002. It had cross-party support and the very effective backing of Action on Smoking and Health, as does today’s amendment.

My noble friend Lady Northover was extremely helpful then, as were the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and the late Lord Peston, who we all remember so fondly. The noble Lord, Lord Naseby, was a lot less constructive. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, was on patrol. The noble Earl, Lord Howe, kicked the tyres on the Bill very hard but was persuaded of its merits—as I hope he and his ministerial colleagues will be by this amendment today.

Our culture and, in particular, the balance between smokers and non-smokers, has changed dramatically since those days. I remember visiting Ireland with the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, shortly after the passage of the Bill. The scales fell from our eyes about the possibility of smoke-free pubs and restaurants—and now, as a result, our health benefits hugely.

Clause 5 already sets out that conditions can be put on pavement licences by local authorities or the Secretary of State. As the LGA says, this amendment

“sets a level playing field for hospitality venues across the country”.

It wants national action. This is crucial, as my noble friend Lady Northover explained, to ensure consistency and clarity of regulation across the country for the hospitality trade. It also has the public health benefit of protecting people from unwanted second-hand smoke.

As ASH says, Covid-19 has changed the context completely. Access to indoor smoke-free areas in hospitality venues is limited and riskier as a result. Prohibition of smoking in enclosed areas has displaced it outdoors, particularly to areas around the entrances and exits to public buildings. If smoking is not prohibited, pavement areas will not be family-friendly spaces. They will exclude non-smokers from enjoying the benefit of eating and drinking outside. Neighbouring premises, particularly in cramped, inner city areas, will also be exposed to second-hand smoke.

This is a chance to ensure that the health gains of the 2002 Act and the Health Act 2006—which has had great public support, as my noble friend said, with smoking declining significantly among young people in particular—are not squandered and that the Government can realise their stated ambition for England to be smoke-free by 2030.

Photo of Lord Ribeiro Lord Ribeiro Conservative

My Lords, I apologise for not speaking at Second Reading. Given the restrictions imposed on restaurants and pubs to maintain social distancing during this Covid-19 crisis, it is understandable and welcome that this Bill makes it possible for food and drink to be served on the pavements outside pubs and restaurants.

We have regulations that prevent smoking in pubs and restaurants because of the effects of second-hand smoke on other customers. We have all seen the graphic Covid health warning films about the effects of coughing and sneezing, and how droplets large and small can be projected over several metres and potentially infect those within range. Most smokers exhale the smoke from their lungs through pursed lips and can project smoke beyond the government guidelines of social distancing of one metre plus. So the risk of second-hand smoke, even in an open environment, can affect those seated close by. In effect, the pavement licence takes the pub or restaurant outside. Therefore, any regulation relating to smoking in public places such as pubs and restaurants should be extended to pavement areas until such time as the designated period outlined in the Bill ends in September 2021.

All the evidence points to a second wave of Covid-19. We expect something to happen as we approach winter. The sporadic outbreaks we have recently witnessed in Leicester and Herefordshire should be a warning to us all to be careful in controlling the spread of the virus. Given the horrendous effects of coronavirus, particularly on patients’ lungs—many requiring long-term ventilation—it is all the more important to ensure that the air around us is as unpolluted as possible. That includes air from second-hand smoke. As the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and others observed, the Government have expressed a desire to make England smoke-free by 2030. Let us start now, by prohibiting smoking on pavements outside restaurants and pubs, and in doing so protect those who may contract coronavirus in the coming year and thus be at risk of serious lung complications.

I strongly support this amendment and hope that it will be accepted, albeit as part of a temporary measure.

Photo of Baroness Sheehan Baroness Sheehan Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (International Development)

My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendment 18 in the name of my noble friend Lady Northover, which I am pleased to say enjoys support across the House. Before I do so, I apologise for not being able to speak at Second Reading last week. I thank my noble friend Lady Northover for the comprehensive way in which she introduced her amendment, and her co-signatories the noble Lords, Lord Young and Lord Faulkner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, for their support.

The amendment seeks to ensure that in our attempt to find new and different ways of allowing our cafés, pubs and restaurants to survive, we do so in a way that is sustainable and safe for as many members of the public as possible, including staff. It will also make family-friendly areas safer for young children, who are particularly susceptible to toxic second-hand smoke.

I heard a few people say that extending non-smoking areas to licensed pavements should be left to local authorities to decide on an ad hoc basis, but, as in 2016, most proprietors of pubs, restaurants and cafés support extending the non-smoking area to licensed pavements. They know they will be on the front line when it comes to enforcing rules and, not surprisingly, they want the clarity and the safety from disappointed and sometime aggressive members of the public. They want the clarity that comes from everybody having to adhere to the same rules. Anything other than a national regime, underpinned by legislation, would cause confusion and, I fear, sometimes conflict.

I agree what other noble Lords have said in support of the amendment and I do not want to repeat what has already been said. However, there is one last point I would like to make. To introduce pavement licensing without the attendant safeguards from exposure to second-hand smoke would fly in the face of the Government’s own rationale for reducing the two-metre safety distance to one metre-plus. The plus refers to a physical barrier such as a screen or a face covering. Allowing smoking outdoors will mean the removal of face coverings and masks, therefore more exposure for the smoker and for anyone sharing his or her airspace. If only for the sake of consistency with their own policies, the Government should accept this amendment tabled by my noble friend Lady Northover.

Photo of Lord German Lord German Liberal Democrat

My Lords, when the smoking ban was first introduced in 2007, it had followed years of campaigning and research to demonstrate the negative effects. Second-hand smoke affects everyone. The research studies then showed breathing in second-hand smoke increased an adult non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer and heart disease by a quarter, and of a stroke by 30%. I had been chair of a committee in the then National Assembly, which is now the Welsh Parliament, investigating the case for and the effects of a smoking ban in public and workplaces, and it was introduced before the ban in England. But that case is now well established and agreed across all parts of the United Kingdom, and 10 years after the 2007 Act, in 2017, the Welsh Parliament went even further, introducing restrictions on smoking in outdoor care settings for children, school grounds, hospital grounds and public playgrounds.

The current smoking ban in England is meant to be one of a series of moves to discourage smoking. The ban is part of a trend towards policies that de-normalise smoking and it has helped create a shift in culture. Around the world, Governments are considering or instituting bans on outdoor smoking. Just last summer, Sweden banned smoking in many outdoor places, including playgrounds, train platforms and restaurant patios. Following the Welsh example, smoking has been banned in the grounds of most NHS hospitals in England. The case for preventing the breathing in of other people’s smoke is proven. It is beyond doubt; it is harmful. Given there is a ban in workplaces, moving the workplace outside on to the pavement extends the boundary of the workplace, and thereby extends the need for banning smoking within that boundary if for no other reason than for those who work within those establishments.

One of the arguments used in 2007 was that a smoking ban would damage the business of pubs, but there has been no direct negative effect on pubs. People, as has already been commented, just go outside to smoke. Therefore, if the experience of 2007 is anything to go by, and the smoking ban is introduced on the pavement facility provided by the Bill, the new and temporary outside for smokers will be an outside space away from others who are eating and drinking. In reality, not having a smoking ban may well be the bigger deterrent here. Not being able to eat or drink in a non-smoking environment, to which the public have been accustomed, may well keep them away from eating out.

Breathing in other people’s smoke is harmful. The Government have indicated that they want to go further. The experience thus far is that a ban on the pavement facility will not damage business; smokers will move away from those eating and drinking. So why not use this limited opportunity to provide an environment which is not just smoke free but is healthy for diners and staff alike? The Government can demonstrate that they mean business in the challenge to tackle the harm that smoking does to the health of the nation. I am pleased to support the amendment.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench 7:15 pm, 13th July 2020

My Lords, I start by congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, on having the courage to present this important amendment, and on doing it so well—[Connection lost.]

Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Lord Carlile, are you still there? We had better move to the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, and we may try to get the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, back later.

Photo of Lord Rennard Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat

My Lords, the principle of providing pavement licences is welcome, and I believe that this amendment will help to encourage more businesses in the hospitality sector to open. It has been put forward superbly by my noble friend Lady Northover and other noble Lords.

Over the weekend, I was able to visit excellent cafés on the Eastbourne sea front which were all following sensible and necessary precautions in relation to social distancing et cetera. However, as an asthmatic who has never enjoyed having to suffer other people’s tobacco smoke, I would not have enjoyed the experience if I had been subject to smoke blowing across from nearby tables. I was also mindful that staff in these establishments could not be protected from second-hand smoking if it had been permitted in these outdoor areas. Where I went would not have seemed so family-friendly, and passers-by would have been at risk, as pavement licences will apply to areas close to where people will be walking.

There is some misunderstanding over this amendment. It is about smoking immediately outside premises, where smoke drifts in and staff and customers are heavily exposed. It is not unlike the prohibition on smoking, agreed in 2007, in relevant parts of railway stations. These regulations cover concourses, ticket halls and platforms. Smoking is at present banned in public places. That ban has wide support, and it should be banned where pavement licences are now granted. If we do what the tobacco companies want, we will be undermining the Government’s own aim of creating a smoke-free country by 2030.

Photo of The Earl of Shrewsbury The Earl of Shrewsbury Conservative

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, on tabling this excellent amendment and for articulating it so well. I happen to be a former smoker. I now have COPD and the best thing I have ever done in my life was to give up smoking. I am extremely pleased to support the amendment. I cannot add to what noble Lords have already said so powerfully, except that second-hand smoke is dangerous to the health of all, obnoxious to the majority of those who have to suffer and inhale it and, socially, totally unacceptable. The smoking litter left behind is a health hazard. I urge the Government to accept this sensible amendment.

Photo of Lord Sheikh Lord Sheikh Conservative

My Lords, I will speak in favour of this amendment, which I wholeheartedly support.

I remind noble Lords that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, strokes and other illnesses. Smoking causes harm to smokers as well as being a danger to others. When a person smokes, most of the smoke does not go in his or her lungs but is in the air, meaning that anyone can breathe it, with dire consequences. It was therefore decided not to allow people to smoke indoors, but this rule should now be followed by customers who are outside the premises.

If smoking is allowed on the pavement outside the premises, there will be a danger, not only to smokers but to other customers and pedestrians passing by. There will also be a danger to the staff who are serving the customers, as they will be affected by second-hand smoke. Over 85% of the British population are non-smokers. They do not like others to smoke near them, as they feel that they will be subjected to passive smoking. I hope that this amendment is accepted.

Photo of Baroness Noakes Baroness Noakes Conservative

My Lords, I have not smoked for nearly 40 years and I loathe cigarette smoking, so I gently say to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that he has misremembered my involvement in earlier anti-smoking legislation.

Nevertheless, like my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe, I do not think that the Bill is the right place for this amendment. The amendment would affect the granting only of new licences and would therefore discriminate against any premises granted a temporary licence under the Bill. Echoing what my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe said, I think that there is a massive danger to our economy of not getting it going again. It is not an overall concept of the economy; these are individual businesses that will go under if they cannot find a way of becoming viable. We should not lumber them with a competitive burden not borne by other businesses that already have pavement licences.

I do not know whether this is a real problem. The Health Survey for England 2017 had only around one-quarter of people self-reporting exposure to second-hand smoke, and only around 15% saying that it was smoke from outdoor areas outside pubs and restaurants. The majority appear not to be bothered. Be that as it may, we should cover that in a consultation and an evidence base that is sought on the normal basis before taking primary legislation to deal with this, if indeed it is an issue, rather than trying to squeeze it into the Bill, which is about trying to make things easier for some businesses to get going again.

Photo of Lord Lansley Lord Lansley Conservative

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, on bringing forward this amendment and I support it. If I may presume to say so, we were together as part of the health team in the coalition Government. I am very proud of the fact that we implemented the display ban on tobacco in shops and brought in the ban on vending machines, which was particularly important in restricting the access to tobacco and cigarettes for young people. I also initiated the consultation that led subsequently to standardised packaging.

Between 2011 and 2018, the proportion of adults in this country who were smoking went down, as the noble Baroness suggested. It has gone down from nearly 20% to below 15%. Most encouragingly, among 18 to 24 year-olds the reduction has been largest: from 25.8% down to 16.7%. There has been a reduction of more than one-third in the number of young people smoking—the 18 to 24 year-olds. That is one of the reasons why the impact of this issue in relation to pubs, clubs, restaurants and the like is particularly important for young people who are out and about.

I want to make three points. First, we are in the midst of a health crisis. In a health crisis, which is probably demonstrating to us that one of the underlying factors that has not helped us is the poor underlying health of many people in this country, we must do everything we can to try to improve population health in this country. We have not done enough and need to do more. We must prioritise public health and, by extension, if this amendment were taken on board this measure—modest as it may be in the overall scheme of things—would move us in the right direction.

My second point comes to the point made just now by my noble friend Lady Noakes. It is an important one. This is a temporary measure and would be specific in relation to new licences, but the essence of this Bill is that it will give an opportunity for premises which have previously been licensed for indoors to move outdoors; it gives an opportunity for licensed premises to operate on pavements and the like. In effect, what it says is, “We are extending the public space.” In my view, as we extend the public space, so we should extend the protections for the public that go with it. That means a ban on second-hand, passive smoking for those people who are enjoying that opportunity.

I shall make a third point. I am reminded of when my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham and I worked together on a little conspiracy of our own when we were in the other place: the ban on smoking in public places. I was the shadow health Secretary at the time. The nature of our conspiracy was that we secured the agreement of the whips that there would be a free vote. So I very much hope that neither my noble friend nor I will have to vote against a government whip on this matter. The Government could adopt exactly the same approach and give noble Lords in this place a free vote on the amendment. They might also do the same in the other place, and we shall see where we end up on the basis of the arguments. We implemented a ban on smoking in public places on a free vote and, in these circumstances, I think that we might well extend that ban on the same basis for this measure.

Photo of Lord Naseby Lord Naseby Conservative

My Lords, this is not a health Bill, as my noble friend Lady Noakes pointed out; it is a temporary measure. I am sorry to say this, but I think that this is an emotional amendment—and I speak as someone who is a non-smoker. I would remind your Lordships that tobacco is a legal product that is marketed with awareness packaging. Moreover, we need to take on board that we are talking about the nearly 7 million people in our population who still smoke, plus the 3.6 million who are vaping.

A great deal has been said about smoke curling around people who are eating and so on, but in an outdoor situation, tobacco smoke is highly diluted and dissipates very quickly in almost every atmospheric condition. It is absolutely right that smokers have a responsibility to behave properly towards the people around them, particularly when they are accompanied by children.

The proposal being put forward in this amendment to force pubs and cafés to ban smoking outside their premises—otherwise they will be refused permission to serve drinks—is wholly disproportionate. At a time when all our small businesses are on their knees, struggling to survive under the pressure of coping with Covid-19, I suggest that the last thing they need is further restrictions that will drive away desperately needed customers.

I am not saying that this measure would not be appropriate in a proper health Bill at some point, as soon as the authorities deem it to be relevant to take a particular action one way or another—but to hang this ban on to a temporary Bill that is designed to help every small business, not just those whose customers are not smokers, is entirely wrong in my view.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

My Lords, I apologise—just as I was speaking, there was a power cut in my home. I was saying that in 2015, some 115,000 people died of smoking-related diseases in the UK alone, at a time when knowledge of the dangers of smoking was complete. Since at least 2006, when a significant report was published by Stanford University, it has been known that exposure to tobacco smoke outdoors is less damaging but still potentially very damaging. The noble Lord, Lord Ribeiro, who is a considerable medical expert in your Lordships’ House, described clearly how the effects of tobacco can be transferred outdoors.

Let us turn to the nature of the venues that we are discussing. We are not talking about people smoking cigarettes in a field or in a park, or walking along a pavement and making steady progress. The nature of many of the venues that we are discussing here involves canopies, umbrellas and, by definition, proximity. We need only look at the courtyard of every public house.

The one compromisethat we should not make in the present circumstances is over health. In the balance between rights and duties, it is not much to ask that smoking should not be permitted in these circumstances. I have listened to two or three noble Lords describe what they suggest is the economic impact of the ban on smoking in outdoor venues that is under consideration, but I do not accept that for one moment. There is not a single piece of evidence that there would be any economic impact to the leisure trade from the ban on smoking proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover; indeed, evidence has already been provided in this debate to support that view.

So I ask the Minister to accept the inexorable logic and merits of this amendment. I thank noble Lords for allowing me a second go at this speech after my unfortunate power cut.

Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 7:30 pm, 13th July 2020

The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock.

Photo of Baroness Pinnock Baroness Pinnock Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, we have heard powerful and eloquent contributions, led by my noble friend Lady Northover, on the imperative to ensure that by extending ways in which pubs and cafés can serve customers, we do not also inadvertently extend opportunities for smoking. All the arguments have been made. I wholeheartedly support this amendment. It has cross-party support. I look forward to the Minister indicating that the Government accept that this amendment is essential for public health.

Photo of Baroness Wilcox of Newport Baroness Wilcox of Newport Opposition Whip (Lords)

My Lords, the sole amendment in this group seeks to prevent customers from smoking in areas covered by the new pavement licences. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, is right to alert the House to the dangers of second-hand smoke. This is a pertinent issue, considering that respiratory health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

The House will be aware that for some time there has been a wider campaign for smoking in beer gardens to be banned, and that any proposals for further restrictions should be considered only in consultation with the hospitality industry, especially at a time when businesses are struggling to survive. On a similar note, I would welcome the Minister clarifying the guidance to pubs on the exact regulations relating to smoking in outdoor areas. The Minister may be aware that a bar in Belfast was fined earlier this year because its beer garden, which allowed smokers, was too enclosed.

Also on the dangers of smoking, can the Minister explain why the Government are still planning to cut smoking cessation services across England by £4.9 million in 2019-20? The noble Lord, Lord Young, reminded the House of the Health Act 2006, which helped employees in the hospitality industry deal with the perils of passive smoking, since they are entitled to work in a smoke-free atmosphere. My noble friend Lord Faulkner alerted the House to the Government’s intention to make pubs and clubs smoke-free by 2030—the most significant contribution to public health since the Clean Air Act of the 1950s.

I pay tribute to local government colleagues in Manchester who, through consultation, have found that an overwhelming majority of Mancunians support the creation of permanent smoke-free zones in the city and wider region, to “make smoking history”. Perhaps the Minister should look instead to Wales, where the Labour-led Welsh Government have made enormous achievements in de-normalising smoking and protecting non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Last summer, Wales was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor school spaces, playgrounds and hospital grounds, and—as noted by the noble Lord, Lord German, who was an Assembly Minister at that time—we were ahead of the curve when we banned smoking in indoor public places in Wales in April 2007, ahead of England.

Photo of Lord Greenhalgh Lord Greenhalgh Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), The Minister of State, Home Department

My Lords, the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham and the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, seeks to ensure that pavement licences may only be granted by local authorities subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited. The Government recognise the vital importance of health and safety concerns but we do not believe that imposing a condition to prohibit outdoor smoking would be proportionate. I shall explain why.

We are helping our pubs, cafes and restaurants to safely reopen, and we are securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to operate outside. The Government’s priority is protecting public health against the transmission of the coronavirus while ensuring that venues can remain open and economically sustainable. The Government have no plan to ban outdoor smoking. Excessive regulation would lead to pub closures and job losses. Smokers should exercise social responsibility and be considerate, and premises are able to set their own rules to reflect customer wishes.

The Bill allows local authorities to set their own conditions on licences and makes it clear that those authorities will want to consider public health and public safety in doing so. Therefore, local authorities can exercise their condition-making powers to impose no-smoking conditions. Where there is a breach of the condition, the local authority can serve a notice to remedy the breach and even remove the licence, so local authorities have the power to revoke licences where they give rise to genuine health and safety concerns.

Businesses can make their own non-smoking policies for outside space, which can include restrictions on smoking near food. There is a need for social responsibility, as I have already said, and smokers should be considerate to others. The amendment would have unintended consequences, pushing drinkers on to pavements and roads away from licensed trading areas. It would also cause confusion with existing outdoor areas that would still permit smoking.

I have to say that it is great to see the reformation of the dream team of my noble friend Lord Lansley and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, given what they have achieved in public health terms—the display ban, the ban on vending machines—and to hear of the work between my noble friends Lord Lansley and Lord Young in cooking up a free vote on banning smoking in public places. However, I reiterate that this is a temporary emergency form of legislation and it should not be a backdoor route to try to ban smoking in public places, as pointed out by my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe, Lady Noakes and Lord Naseby.

As the son of a surgeon, I appreciate the contribution of my noble friend Lord Ribeiro and the points made by the noble Lords, Lord German and Lord Carlile of Berriew, and my noble friends Lord Shrewsbury and Lord Sheikh. The case is now incontrovertible that there are dangers from second-hand and passive smoking. I can say that as the son of a vascular surgeon who has published extensively on the impact of smoking on arterial disease. The Government are committed, as has already been stated, to achieving a smoke-free England by 2030. We are already taking steps to get there, as was referenced by the noble Lord, Lord Rennard. England’s smoking levels continue to fall and are currently at 13.9%, the lowest rate on record. We will publish the prevention Green Paper consultation response in due course and set out our plans at a later date to achieve a smoke-free England. So we support the implementation and evaluation of smoke-free policies in line with the evidence as it emerges.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, made the important point that any changes of this nature should be made in consultation with the hospitality industry, so amending this Bill is not the way to implement such changes. I note her points about specific places and I will write to her on those matters. For the reasons that I have set out I am not able to accept the amendment, and I hope the noble Baroness will therefore withdraw it.

Photo of Lord Robathan Lord Robathan Conservative

My Lords, I was moved to speak on this amendment because it seems to negate the purpose of this part of the emergency Bill, which is to allow people out on to the pavements to smoke and drink. I have not smoked a cigarette since I was about 11. I had a reputation at school as a prefect and in the Army of being virulently anti-smoking, which I am. I welcome the fact that I can go to pubs and come out without my jersey stinking of cigarettes.

I am delighted to say that neither of my children, who are in their early 20s, have taken up smoking. I would be very upset if they had. We all know how unwise it is. It is a foolish habit, but it is legal and lots of people smoke. Furthermore, many people only smoke with a drink because they like smoking with a drink.

We are talking about being outside. If, as the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said, it is safer to be outside because of the threat of the virus, it is also safe to be outside when it comes to passive smoking. Of course, we will also have social distancing, which makes it that much more difficult to breathe in someone else’s smoke. As it happens, I would support this amendment if it referred only to restaurants and places where people were eating, but it is illogical because if people are just having a drink it is rather like the outdoor smoking areas that were much talked about during the passage of the Bill that banned smoking in pubs.

We are trying to encourage people to visit bars, but this would deter some people from going to bars. I see it as a somewhat illiberal amendment, which is why I am not surprised to see so many Liberal Democrats supporting it. It seems to be driven by a personal dislike of smoking—a dislike which I share. I will welcome the time when everyone gives up and we have a smoke-free England but, at the moment, if people are allowed to smoke they should be allowed to smoke with a drink outside if they are not harming anyone else. I am delighted to hear that the Government are likely to resist the amendment.

Photo of Lord Greenhalgh Lord Greenhalgh Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), The Minister of State, Home Department

I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Robathan has a smoke-free family and to hear about his ill-spent youth as an 11 year-old smoker. But as I said previously, this is emergency and temporary legislation and should not be a backdoor route to ban smoking in public places.

Photo of Baroness Northover Baroness Northover Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response and especially for grouping me with the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, as part of this dream team. There is no reason why the Minister would know this, but when the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, was the Secretary of State, I was a mere Whip in the coalition, and deputising for part of that dream team—the noble Earl, Lord Howe. I understand why the noble Earl might have felt it difficult to give the speech that the Minister was given by his department this evening. It would have been immensely difficult for part of that real dream team to do that.

I am very thankful to noble Lords for their contributions. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lady Noakes, and the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for their comments about moving fast, but they did not seem to get the point that I was making which is that we need to get this sector up and running. Given that almost 90% of us do not smoke, the amendment would make establishments more rather than less attractive, more viable rather than less so, as well as tackling the public health challenge that everyone has laid out. The fact that so many cities have expressed support to me in the space of a few days shows that people can move fast on this. I trust that, in fact, while we have been speaking, the Government are sending the write rounds on the concession that I think is needed on this amendment. I know that the Department of Health and Social Care has been in touch with ASH today and we are very happy to work with the Government on this.

I am, as the Minister will see, disappointed in his response. I realise that he is constrained and that he will be perhaps less familiar with the history of this House and the cross-party involvement in this issue, although I think that he has probably gathered that from the range of people who have spoken. At this stage, I will withdraw the amendment, although we will return to it next week.

The ideal situation is that the Government come forward with their own amendment so that we do not have to have a vote on it next week. I hope very much that the discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care—I am looking at the Box at the moment—will bear fruit. I also look at that part of the dream team sitting on the Bishops’ Benches. I hope that next week we can come to a resolution that we are all happy with.

Amendment 18 withdrawn.

Amendments 19 to 21 not moved.

Clause 5 agreed.

Clause 6 agreed.

Clause 7: Effects

Amendments 22 and 23 not moved.

Clause 7 agreed.

Photo of Baroness Garden of Frognal Baroness Garden of Frognal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 7:45 pm, 13th July 2020

My Lords, we now come to the group consisting of Amendment 24. I remind noble Lords that anyone wishing to speak after the Minister should email the clerk during the debate. Anyone wishing to press this amendment to a Division should make that clear in the debate.