Moved by Baroness Wilcox of Newport
11: Clause 5, page 4, line 37, at end insert—“(2A) Conditions under subsection (2) may include that smoking is prohibited in either the entire area or part of the area covered by a pavement licence.(2B) A condition to prohibit smoking under subsection (2) may only apply if the local authority has first consulted local businesses and residents prior to the publication of such a condition.(2C) Conditions under subsection (2) may not prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in the area covered by a pavement licence.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would allow local authorities to prohibit smoking in areas covered by pavement licenses, provided they have first consulted local businesses and residents. This would not prohibit e-cigarettes.
My Lords, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Although fewer than one in five adults in the UK now smoke, the Government must do all in their power to aid this remaining population to quit. We are in a fortunate position, in that in recent months, a million people in Britain have stopped smoking. The Government would do well to consider the recommendations of Action on Smoking and Health for how this can be built on.
The health risks of smoking are, of course, not restricted to smokers. The House will clearly be aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke, including in outdoor areas of pubs, bars and other premises to which the Bill relates. The Bill, as introduced by the Government, was a missed opportunity. In creating new outdoor areas, there should have been provision from the outset for smoke-free areas. On this basis we tabled Amendment 11, which would create a power for local authorities to prohibit smoking in certain areas covered by pavement licences after due consultation.
I am pleased that the Government sought to rectify their omission by tabling Amendment 13 to allow for smoke-free areas. It has the support of these Benches, but the amendment alone is not enough. The Government must take a firmer line on public health and consider how they can reduce the dangers of second-hand smoke more widely. In future legislation, I hope they will focus on doing so from the outset, for if they do not, we will again.
The amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, would create a condition that pavement licences can be granted only if smoking is prohibited. While I fully sympathise with her reason for tabling this effort, I am afraid that we cannot support the present draft. As it stands, it might have enormous unintended consequences. It does not clarify that the prohibition of smoking should apply to the area covered by pavement licences, and without the definition of smoking it might unintentionally ban e-cigarettes. I understand that there are also concerns that other errors might lead to judicial review. If not for these errors we could consider the amendment, but in its present iteration I am afraid we cannot.
The noble Baroness is right to press for the Government to consider the implications of second-hand smoke, but when the hospitality industry is already suffering as it is, this attempt at some form of blanket ban, attached in haste to emergency legislation, would have consequences that I am sure are unintended. I hope the noble Baroness will reflect on this, support the efforts to create smoke-free zones and join us in holding the Government to account on their widespread failures to reduce smoking.
Finally, I ask the Minister to confirm that the Government’s amendment will not be their only effort to eliminate the dangers of second-hand smoke during this crisis. The initial drafting of the legislation served as a missed opportunity to tackle smoking. I am afraid that that is somewhat characteristic of their attitude over the past decade. I will press the Government on three specific issues. Will they halt the planned cuts to smoking cessation services across England? Will they properly fund the devolved Governments, including the Labour-led Welsh Government, to support their efforts in stopping people smoking? Will they engage and equip local authorities to play their significant part in what remains an enormous challenge to public health? I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 15 in my name and that of my colleagues, the noble Lords, Lord Young of Cookham and Lord Faulkner of Worcester, and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff. There has been an anti-smoking cross-party coalition in the Lords for almost two decades. That cross-party approach reflects the House at its best. Since Sir Richard Doll’s report all those years ago, we have known that smoking kills, and in an appalling fashion. Nevertheless, as we know, it has been an uphill battle to set in place anti-smoking measures. The noble Earl, Lord Howe—I am glad to see that he is in his place, even if he is not on the Front Bench—has long been part of that coalition. This issue does and should arch over mere party concerns, though that is not always the case. It is extremely disappointing when that manifests, because our opponents are funded and united.
However, I was very glad that when we raised this as the sole amendment on this issue in Committee the Government responded. I was in the Chamber, and I admit that I directed much of what I said to the noble Earl, given his track record on this issue. I hugely commend those of other parties who have had the determination to stand against the pressure on them for the sake of public health.
Let me state the case for this cross-party amendment. Smoking kills smokers and those exposed to second-hand smoke. That is why we secured—and now the vast majority of the public enjoy—smoke-free restaurants, pubs and other public places. This is not a ban on smoking outdoors. Our amendment would apply only to the new fast-track licences, which allow premises to put furniture on the pavement to alleviate the capacity restrictions caused by coronavirus.
Because of Covid-19, the outside is the new inside. We need to make sure that people are protected there as well—for their health, for staff serving them, for families and for unborn babies of pregnant women. Some 86% of people do not smoke, so bringing them back and making it appealing for them is vital. If people do not think that is relevant, look at the fact that 1 million people have given up smoking during lockdown. That shows a level of fear and concern about health and safety. We need to support them in that process, and local government and the hospitality industry say that it much easier for them if there is a clear national policy on this.
I am afraid that I find Amendment 11 surprisingly weak. I did not expect that from the Labour Party. I do not understand why it tabled it. I am afraid that, well-meaning as it might be, it will allow FOREST and the tobacco industry to drive a coach and horses through it. I am glad that it is not being put to a vote. I encourage Labour to support our cross-party Amendment 15. So many on those Benches have done so much on this issue over the years, and I pay tribute to them. The Labour Party holds in its hands the ability to secure this clear, simple public health measure—or not. I hope it will.
I am immensely encouraged that the Government are committed to England being smoke-free by 2030, which is defined as 5% of the population smoking. I was also delighted when Jo Churchill, the Health Minister, got in touch with me and made clear her own very strong personal commitment. I do not doubt the noble Earl’s. I thank the former Secretary of State—the noble Lord, Lansley—the noble Lord, Lord Young, and many on the Conservative Benches for all their help.
I also thank the Government. I am very glad that they realised when it was flagged to them that they had completely overlooked the problem of smoking outside premises, and that they have now recognised that they need to address this issue. I have sympathy with the Department of Health and Social Care, which came to this late. It had much else to think about. The noble Earl, Lord Howe, has clearly been busy, for which I thank him.
However, the Government’s so-called compromise is supported by FOREST, which is funded by the tobacco industry. That should send important signals to everyone. The problem with their amendment is: how do you stop smoke drifting over non-smokers, just as it did when different areas of pubs were designated in that way? Is it fair to expect proprietors to accommodate smokers, who are not likely to be the majority of their customers, yet whose activities will affect all of them? What is this: simply an “aim” to keep the two groups two metres apart? Who will decide the regulations, the Department of Health and Social Care, or the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which is clearly less familiar with this area and whose Bill this is? The noble Lord, Lord Bethell, was asked earlier whether the Department of Health would lead on the guidance. He implied that that would not be the case. Is that so? Will this come to us as an SI? If so, will it be negative or affirmative?
I understand the huge concerns in the hospitality industry about getting customers back; who could not? The MHCLG was unfamiliar with the effects of tackling smoking when the ban was introduced a decade and a half ago and clearly believed the lobbyists, but local government, which is responsible for public health, does know. The Local Government Association, speaking on behalf of councils of all political persuasions, all 10 authorities in the Greater Manchester region, the cities of Liverpool and Newcastle, and Oxfordshire County Council, supports our cross-party amendment, because it will be good for business and protect public health by encouraging people to come back to pubs and restaurants without fearing an unpleasant and unsafe experience.
I strongly commend Amendment 15, which I may vote on. It was drawn up not by me but by that outstanding campaigning organisation, ASH, working with local government, and it is the right thing to do. I look forward to hearing the Government’s response.
My Lords, I begin with a brief word about Labour’s Amendment 11, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox. I am disappointed that the party which—with a bit of prodding when in government—introduced the ban on smoking in pubs has in opposition retreated from that bold approach to public health issues, and cannot support Amendment 15. This disappointment is shared by many of Labour’s noble Members. Its own amendment has been trumped by the Government’s amendment, which goes further, and which I will turn to in a moment, but I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, that more action is needed to combat smoking.
The Government have adopted the “hard cop, soft cop” approach on this issue. Last week, my noble friend Lord Greenhalgh was cast as the hard cop and was obliged to read out an uncompromising speech asserting that our amendment would lead to pub closures and job losses. Why pubs that have survived all the problems that have confronted industries so far should decide to close when given the opportunity to extend their non-smoking premises to include the pavements outside was never explained. He also said that imposing a condition to prohibit outdoor smoking would not be proportionate. Yet outdoor smoking is already banned in open-air stadiums and at open-air railway stations, because they are places where people congregate and therefore there is the health risk and the annoyance of passive smoking. It would be the same with pavement smoking.
However, it would be churlish to complain too much, because in the meantime the hard cop was replaced by the soft cop, my noble friend Lord Howe, emollient and with an impeccable public health record. He has tabled an amendment which goes a long way towards what we were arguing for, and wrote a helpful letter to noble Lords today. I pay tribute to his role in listening to last week’s debate and moving government policy forward on this issue. I know that my noble friend Lord Greenhalgh, who made a personal commitment to the anti-smoking campaign in the debate last week, has also played a role.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said, the government amendment does not go as far as I would like, but before turning to that, I will make one point about the guidance referred to in the noble Earl’s amendment. Given that many pubs have already made provision for smokers on their own premises—usually canopies with patio heaters—I hope the guidance will say that where this is the case, any extension to the pavement should be smoke-free, since there is already somewhere for the smokers to go.
The Government’s amendment does not go as far as I would like, and I will not repeat the arguments in favour of Amendment 15 so ably put by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and other noble Lords, last week. While none of the arguments against it have convinced me that they would be the right way forward, I recognise that given the position of the Labour Party, the cross-party alliance so skilfully constructed by the noble Baroness has gone as far as it can, and therefore I am prepared to settle for and support the government amendment. I hope that others who share my view will feel able to do the same.
My Lords, yesterday’s press release from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stated:
“People using pubs, restaurants and cafés will soon have greater freedom to choose non-smoking outdoor areas”, a laudable objective that is consistent with the cross-party Amendment 15, which I have signed, along with the noble Baronesses, Lady Northover and Lady Finlay of Llandaff, and the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, and which is identical to the one we debated in Committee last week. Some of your Lordships may take the view that had we not raised the issue of smoking in areas covered by pavement licences, the other amendments in this group might never have seen the light of day today. Indeed, if it had not been for the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, raising the subject at Second Reading, that would probably be the case.
As I indicated in Committee last week, our amendment enjoys strong cross-party support from the Local Government Association, which represents local councils in England and has asked the Government to make pavements smoke-free. Birmingham Labour councillor Paulette Hamilton, vice-chair of the LGA’s community well-being board, is urging your Lordships to give councils the power to extend smoke-free areas to include pavements, so that
“this alfresco summer can be enjoyed by everyone.”
“Councils have worked hard to help hospitality businesses reopen, including relaxing requirements and making changes to roads and pavements to enable pubs, cafés and bars to operate outside safely with more outdoor seating. Pavement licensing should not be a catalyst to increase smoking in public places, putting people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke when they are enjoying a drink or a meal.”
This view is shared by the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Ian Hudspeth, whom I quoted in the debate last Monday, and who has set the laudable target of a smoke-free Oxfordshire by 2025.
“protect the public from second-hand smoke and de-normalise smoking in the eyes of young people.”
They are on course to bring in a smoking ban for the outdoor seating areas of restaurants and cafés, which is supported by nearly two-thirds of adults in Wales, according to a survey by ASH Wales.
My final point arises from my supplementary question to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, earlier this afternoon. Noble Lords may recall that I asked him whether today’s proposed guidance for smoke-free areas outside pubs and restaurants would be agreed with the DHSC, published before the House rises and subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Rather to my surprise, he did not answer any of these rather important questions, and later in the session, when the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked them again in the same form, she did not get a reply either. What is going on? Have the Government not yet made up their mind, or does the MHCLG refuse to acknowledge that this is a public health issue, let alone that it has anything to do with the Government’s aim to make England smoke-free by 2030? I still think that our amendment is the best of the three on offer, and I will be disappointed if the House does not agree to it this afternoon.
My Lords, Amendment 15, to which I have added my name, seems to be the best way to avoid the Government throwing away the hard-won gains in public health that smoking reduction strategies have achieved to date. There is now clear evidence of the benefits from our legislation, which has banned smoking in public places. The benefits of ending passive smoking are to the heart, the vascular system and the lungs. The strongest evidence of the health benefits of making places smoke-free is in those working in pubs. The Smoke-free Premises and Vehicles (Wales) Regulations 2020 will extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas of hospital grounds, school grounds and local authority playgrounds.
In smokers, the evidence is clear. The cancer-promoting effect of tobacco smoke is enhanced by drinking alcohol at the same time as smoking. Alcohol and smoking independently promote cancers of the mouth, throat and larynx. Smoking while drinking multiplies that risk most markedly, possibly by direct effect on the mucosal cells of the mouth, throat and larynx. These are ghastly disfiguring cancers, and the multiplicative effect on risk is also seen for oesophageal cancer.
In young people the addictive potential of nicotine is particularly high, which is why two-thirds of the 280 children who experiment with cigarettes every day go on to be long-term smokers. Of smokers aged 16 to 24, the vast majority of adult smokers start before the age of 21. Many remain tempted by their addiction for the rest of their lives, making it particularly difficult to stay “quit” when out drinking if others are smoking. Is it any surprise that the tobacco lobby does not want a mandatory smoking ban in pavement licences? The tobacco industry has recognised the importance of the under 21 year-old age group for decades. In 1986 Philip Morris said:
“Raising the legal minimum age for cigarette purchasers to 21 could gut our key young adult market (17-20).”
More than 200 adults die each day from smoking. In 2017 it was estimated that the NHS spent £2.4 billion per annum on their treatment and care and that the average amount of life lost was more than 13 years. Through absenteeism, social care costs, fires and other effects, smoking costs England alone more than £12.5 billion each year.
Covid–19 is not simply a respiratory illness. It affects the heart, scars the lungs, increases the risk of thrombosis and can cause strokes. These are the same organs that are hit by tobacco. It does not make public health sense to spend billions on treating Covid and ignore the call from the Local Government Association to impose a ban on smoking at pub seating. Noble Lords should not forget that children’s lungs are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke, so without protecting spaces the socialising benefits for families will be negated by long-term damage to the next generation. Will the guidance advise families to avoid going to pubs where there is smoking on pavements? I think not. Do people who do not smoke now look forward to going out and coming home smelling of tobacco smoke? I think not. I suggest that they are far more likely to drink alcohol bought in the supermarket at home or in the park, and this choice will do nothing to support the hospitality trade. I fear that the unintended consequence of the Government’s amendment will be that the struggling hospitality industry will not be helped as much as it wants and deserves.
The damage caused by smoking during pregnancy is clearly documented, so why are the Government not doing everything to support pregnant women who want to socialise for their mental and emotional health by at the same time supporting their efforts not to smoke by not allowing them to be temped? Can the Minister explain why the Government, in their blurred amendment, are abandoning their own policy of working towards this country being smoke free and are giving in to tobacco industry lobbyists? I hope the House will support Amendment 15.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and her three co-signatories to Amendment 15. As she rightly said, it is only by virtue of their bringing forward the amendment in Committee that we had the benefit of a very good and persuasive debate last Monday. They won the argument, as evidenced by the Government’s Amendments 13 and 14 and what they said about the guidance that will be issued alongside the no- smoking condition. I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, for that.
I might say to the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport, that the Labour Party did not put down such an amendment. I welcome what she said about maintaining positive forward pressure on this vital public health issue, but I remind her that as a result of the coalition Government’s activities—in which we were all participants, including my noble friend Lord Howe—this country was regarded as having the toughest tobacco control regime in the world, perhaps bar Australia, although I think there was a debate about that. The point is to maintain that pressure. The Government’s commitment, which I wholeheartedly support, is to secure a smoke-free England by 2030. The point of this temporary legislation is to support the hospitality and leisure industries, and our debate was about ensuring no retrograde steps away from our objective of banning smoking in public places. We do not want families who expect to go to a public house and have a smoke-free meal to find that they are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Like my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham, I would have liked the Government to have gone a bit further and the guidance to have been more specific—particularly on the points he mentioned, which for brevity’s sake I shall not repeat—but I share his view that the Government’s Amendments 13 and 14 are significant victory. He and his cosignatories to Amendment 15 can take credit for that. I welcome what the Government have done, I hope the House will support Amendments 13 and 14 and that, in consequence, the noble Baroness will not see the need to press Amendment 15.
My Lords, I shall speak briefly in support of Amendment 15, which was so cogently moved by my noble friend and spoken to so persuasively by her co-signatories. In Committee, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Greenhalgh, said:
“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.”
He also said:
“The case is now incontrovertible that there are dangers from second-hand and passive smoking.”—[Official Report, 13/7/20; col. 1482.]
I acknowledge that the Government have come part way to meet the amendment, but I hope that, even now, they will change their mind.
I want to address the Minister’s proportionality point, especially in the light of his second statement and this Government’s plans for a smoke-free England by 2030. A new survey conducted between
As fewer people are smoking after lockdown, is it not right to do everything to attract non-smokers back to the outdoor spaces of our hard-pressed pubs, bars and restaurants by providing a smoke-free environment? We are not yet seeing customers return in great numbers—that much is clear from restaurant owners quoted over the weekend. Would this assurance not be of huge benefit in luring them back?
The Government’s amendments are welcome so far as they go, but they are very much half a loaf. I remember only too well that Forest was the principal opponent obstructing my tobacco advertising and sponsorship Bill, and I am sorry that it has been given any credence by this Government.
Amendment 11, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, is also disappointing. It is very disappointing that Labour is not supporting this cross-party amendment, especially when the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, quotes the research from UCL and ASH, and the latter is supporting Amendment 15.
I am not going to rub salt in the wound by reminding her why I had to introduce the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill in the first place in 2001. I hope, therefore, that the Government will go the whole way and ensure that the adoption of Amendment 15 will be an important staging post towards a smoke-free Britain.
My Lords, despite his eloquence, I am afraid that I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, since I am opposed to Amendment 15.
The Government have repeatedly underlined the point that this is emergency and temporary legislation. It should not be used as a Trojan horse to ban smoking outdoors for the anti-smoking fanatics. Even the Labour Party’s amendment is not as extreme as that and does permit for some consultation. Initially, I did not understand the ambivalence but, as my noble friend Lord Balfe reminded us in the first group of amendments, it is just indulging in rhetoric. Labour says it cannot support the government amendment, but it seems it will not vote against it. It says that they are holding the Government to account and pressing them hard, but it is not voting against it. This is the sort of irresolute, sitting-on-the-fence opposition I would have loved as a former Whip.
At the moment, smokers use outside tables—perfectly correctly, since they are banned from being inside. There is no danger whatever from passive smoking outside. Those who confess to being worried about the public health impacts of smoke inhalation should ban toxic diesel buses, which are far more dangerous than someone having a fag at a pavement table. There are legitimate arguments for and against smoking outside but, if extremists and ASH want to bring forward a ban on smoking outdoors, there must be proper consultation, proper debate and subsequent legislation—not this sneaky back-door attempt.
My Lords, I mean what I say when I say that it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra. He always speaks in primary colours, so we know exactly what he means. But on this occasion, I am afraid that he and I are, not for the first time, going to disagree with convivial cordiality.
I, too, am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, who has made a considerable effort to come towards those of us who support Amendment 15. I am afraid that I am always suspicious of clauses in statutes—especially for temporary legislation—which are peppered with the word “reasonable”. There are so many “reasonable”s in these amendments that it gives a clue to what is in reality a key to confusion. I believe that Amendment 15, moved so clearly by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and supported by those who signed the amendment with her, does not commit any terrible act which would put any economic interest—including that of the tobacco industry—at any real disadvantage. We need to bear in mind that it applies not to existing open-air spaces outside pubs and restaurants, because they are not newly licensed premises under the Bill, but to licensed sites.
Why is it so important? We are dealing with a double problem: not merely health damage caused by the exhalation of tobacco smoke but the real danger of the exhalation of coronavirus with that tobacco smoke, if the people smoking are suffering from coronavirus or have the necessary symptoms. The draft guidance makes it clear that many of the licensed venues will effectively be largely enclosed and partly covered—[Inaudible].
Perhaps I may remind your Lordships of paragraph 1.5 of the draft guidance, which refers to
“umbrellas, barriers, heaters and other articles used in connection with the outdoor consumption of food or drink. … The furniture is required to be removable.”
[Inaudible]. Provisions in the draft guidance make it doubly clear that these are really going to be like cricket pavilions with their doors open.
Please forgive me if I read one sentence from paragraph 4.3, which states:
“Where a local authority sets a local condition that covers the same matter as set out in national published conditions, then the locally set condition would take precedence over the national condition where there is reasonable justification to do so.”
I submit that that kind of sentence pays lip service to reality. It is just discursion. I understand each of the words, but not the meaning of the lengthy sentence in which they appear.
So I suggest that the Bill as it stands is a field day for confusion, while Amendment 15 introduces clarity and simplicity without any equivocation whatever. The Bill, as it stands, would make life very difficult for many licensees, who would have to enforce something that is vague and covered with words such as “reasonable”. The only sensible and simple solution, which would do no harm to anyone, and a great deal of good to many, is to support Amendment 15.
My Lords, I strongly support Amendment 15 in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and other noble Lords. I listened intently to the debate in Committee, and it is important for this amendment to be considered, because of the impact it could have on some disabled people.
Other noble Lords have talked about the impact of smoking, and this is more of a personal plea than I would normally allow myself in your Lordships’ Chamber. I have never smoked, but secondary smoking has a significant impact on me and some other disabled people. People who hold tobacco products, whether they are walking or sitting, often hold them at my head height, so, in normal times, I spend a considerable amount of time identifying who is smoking and working out how to avoid them. Though it has not been deliberately done, I have had cigarettes waved in my face, I have been burned by lit cigarettes and I have had ash flicked in my face. The amount of smoke I inhale may be considered negligible but, in my view, if I can smell the smoke, I am inhaling it. And, although it might be considered a better option, I am not a fan of the secondary inhalation of e-cigarettes, either.
The reality is that often, non-disabled people do not look for or see disabled people, and this is where the problem arises. As I have tried to explain with other amendments, it is not always easy for disabled people to move out of the way, and that is in normal times; we are not in normal times. With different street furniture, and smokers in different places, it might be really difficult for disabled people to avoid those smokers. There may be people with a visual impairment who are not aware of the new arrangements and may come far closer to those smokers than they would wish, and not be able to move out of the way terribly quickly.
As this Bill is opening up establishments in a new way—people have not been sitting outside in this way before—it makes it really difficult for disabled people. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, very articulately explained the need to think about those who might be using these new places. This is not about stopping smoking—arrangements are already in place for smokers, which they should carry on using—but about ensuring that places are smoke-free.
I like the suggestion from the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport, that we must continue to look for ways to encourage people to stop smoking in the future, but the reality is that that will take a long time to implement further. We need to be thinking about now. I am delighted that so many people have chosen to give up smoking, but we have to make sure that we do not in any way encourage them to go back—which can be very easy when alcohol is involved. We should be thinking of non-smokers, who are in the majority.
In conclusion, it is very important that we consider how to protect people and that we think about smoke-free zones in these new spaces. I will support the amendment if the House divides on it.
My Lords, I understand the need to follow the exhortation of the Chief Whip to be as brief as possible in today’s debate, and I will try to do my bit in that regard by speaking very briefly.
I can see the need for a speedy passage of the Bill in order that businesses, and, most importantly, the hospitality and retail sector can attempt to salvage whatever they can from this health and economic catastrophe. I also see the importance and understand the aims of Amendment 15, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover. It is entirely sensible, particularly in the light of what I have just heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and others in this debate. I have absolutely no issue with their aims.
However, although I agree with all their motives, in my view the noble Baroness’s measures should be complemented by a more considerate and deliberative conversation about public health messages on addictive behaviour, given that the single biggest long-term public health crisis in this country is obesity and people who are overweight. This conversation needs to be part of a wider strategy on healthy living and education. Having now seen the Government’s amendment, which seems to be a sensible compromise, I will support that today.
My Lords, I speak in support of Amendment 15, so well moved by my noble friend Lady Northover and well spoken to by others. If in recent years you have visited one of the ever-decreasing number of countries where smoking in public places is not banned, I think you will have appreciated how awful it is. The difference from the experience in our country is dramatic, particularly if you are a non-smoker. To have second-hand tobacco smoke wafting about your food and drink is both unpleasant and nauseous, and inhaling second-hand smoke injures your health.
The distaste about stepping back more than a decade is not just because we have made the change in this country; it is because it is very much an experience to which we do not want to return. With so many of us now being non-smokers and having had the smoke-free experience for so long, we take it for granted that tobacco smoke will not be around our food and families as we eat.
I am pleased that the Government have gone some way to recognise that in their amendments, but I do not think that they have gone far enough. The arrangements for this Bill are partial and temporary, and for England only. Noble Lords will be aware that the ban on smoking in public places began earlier in Wales than in England. I am pleased that Wales was a pathfinder then, and it now looks like it will be so again. The Labour Health Minister in Wales has just announced that he will bring forward legislation to prohibit smoking in the spaces outside pubs and restaurants and that the ban will be permanent. I hope that his party colleagues in your Lordships’ House are listening to that.
Of course, that legislation is moving with the non-smoking times. As more and more people give up tobacco smoking and public health improves, so the introduction of smoke-free areas around places such as those proposed by the Labour Minister, along with children’s play areas and the precincts of schools and hospitals, is a logical step. As the smoking minority of our population has got smaller, smokers have become more and more used to moving away from others in public places, and this amendment proposes a logical next step. There is no evidence that it will diminish the number of people who go to pubs and restaurants. In fact, the opposite might occur and people might be encouraged to attend because they know that smoke will not be wafting around them.
I have one question for the Government on their proposal. Your Lordships are of course familiar with our own arrangements for separating smokers and non-smokers on the Lords Terrace: a physical barrier is in place between the two areas. Can the Minister explain whether the legislation proposed by the Government requires a physical barrier to be put in place between the two sectors? Will it be a solid barrier through which smoke cannot pass and, if so, at what height? Smoke drifts and floats about, and without clear barriers it would pass between the tables of smokers and non-smokers alike. Without making it clear that that issue will be dealt with, this problem will not be eradicated. So it is obvious to me that Amendment 15 is the way to go in order to get clarity on this issue.
My Lords, I am surprised that we are even having this debate. Pubs are closing every week. No one seems to realise that one reason for that is that they are in many ways not very pleasant places to be in. I can say without any doubt whatever that my wife and I would not go near a pub that permitted smoking. It is as simple as that. If you want to get rid of your middle-class clientele and close your restaurants, start allowing smoking. It is not just acceptable in a place where you go to dine.
The government amendments include a “smoke-free seating condition” so that any premises that provide outdoor seating for smoking will also
“make reasonable provision for seating where smoking is not permitted.”
We have been down this route before. I have flown around the world for 50 years. We used to have smoking and non-smoking sections on aeroplanes and it did not work. That is why planes are all non-smoking today. We used to have ashtrays in hotel rooms and there was an overhang of smoke if a smoker had been in there. Then hotels started to introduce smoke-free floors and found that they were so popular that they started to ban smoking, before it was banned anyway because it had started a lot of fires. Hospitals used to have seating areas where patients could go outside for a smoke. That was stopped because it was recognised that the ambient smoky atmosphere was bad for the people who did not smoke.
I hear time and again that this is a temporary provision, just like income tax, that will be brought in and disappear after a year. I do not believe that. I think that some of these provisions will be permanent. The noble Lord, Lord German, mentioned Wales. There will be a tendency to say, “This system works. We’ll carry on with it for another year and maybe another year after that”. So I really do not see it as working. I welcome where the Government have got to, but I do not think that they have gone far enough. I am pretty neutral on the thing because I will not in any case go near a pub or restaurant that has smoking, but I urge the Government to go some way further, to grasp this particular bull by the horns and say, “We’re not having smoking in places that serve drink or food”.
My Lords, I very much welcome the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover. I stress its cross-party nature and the support that it has from all around the House. Even this late stage, I ask the Minister to take this back and consider it further between Report and Third Reading. I was very proud of the actions of the Labour Government which led to the banning of smoking in public places. I worked with my noble friend Lord Faulkner and other noble Lords across the House in getting through the Lords the amendment that banned smoking in cars when children are present; we have a great history of working together in relation to measures against smoking. I do not see why, even at this late stage, we cannot do this again. With Covid-19, we know that many of the worst-affected have been those with cardiovascular or lung disease. Equally, Covid-19 has had a powerful impact on people taking up exercise programmes, fighting obesity and giving up smoking as a result; some 1 million people have done this during lockdown and there could be more.
This amendment, in whatever guise, could be helpful to many people. Far from having an adverse impact on business, smoke-free areas would be welcomed by most customers and would therefore bring in more trade; the noble Lord, Lord Balfe, surely had his finger right on the pulse in that. The measure is proportionate; the regime will apply only to licences on highways so not to pub, café or restaurant garden areas or pavement seating, where smoking is allowed. It also has support from local government. In addition, we need to think about the workers. The noble Lord, Lord Young, reminded us in Committee of the health risks to employees of passive smoking. Given the risks that those staff already carry, a duty of care is surely owed to them in respect of the risk from passive smoking.
My noble friend Lady Wilcox made a powerful speech, arguing that the decision should be left to the discretion of local authorities. I welcome the progress that my Front Bench has made on this. She also pointed to some technical deficiencies with the Bill. We have a way of clearing up technical deficiencies: either through a government amendment at Third Reading or, if the Government agree, by holding this over until a discussion can take place between all of us before we reach Third Reading. I hope that, even at this late stage, we can attempt to reach some form of consensus; I urge everybody concerned to do all they can to do so.
My Lords, possibly the most surprising thing about Amendment 15 as drafted is that the signatories are predominantly Liberal Democrats; it is not a particularly libertarian policy that they have come up with. Also, it seeks to unravel the compromise reached when the smoking ban was introduced. What I regret most about Amendment 15 is that it does not recognise the heavy investment that pubs, bars and restaurants have made in the outdoor facilities that they hope to open more of. For that reason, I regret that I shall be unable to support Amendment 15.
I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord Howe, who, through my chairmanship of PASS, I know has spent a great deal of time with the hospitality industry; obviously, I have had dealings with the hospitality industry as well. It is keen to recognise—and I welcome—the compromise offered by the government Amendment 13: there will be a smoke-free seating element. Had Amendment 15 not been tabled, perhaps we would not have got to the position we are now in. I note that a number of noble Lords have expressed the wish that the Government should go further, but the beauty of Amendment 13 is that it has regard to the heavy challenges currently facing the hospitality and leisure sectors during the ongoing Covid crisis and the way they are seeking to reopen. I very much welcome the work that has gone into Amendment 13; I will be delighted to support it if we have to later this evening.
My Lords, earlier today, the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, congratulated the million people who have given up smoking during the lockdown, permanently we hope, to protect their health. Sadly, the government amendments today fail to do enough to protect them and others, including staff and families with children, from the dangers of second-hand smoke, which does not respect social distancing rules. We do not want non-smokers to be encouraged to return to habits they have struggled to give up. The connection between the consumption of alcohol and the smell of tobacco smoke is well known as a significant problem for people trying to give up smoking. The cross-party Amendment 15 is about minimising that problem by making newly created pavement areas smoke-free.
As is to be expected, tobacco company representations on this issue are disingenuous and, sadly, their views are too close to what is set out in the government amendments this afternoon. Today’s letter from the noble Lord, Earl Howe, to Members of the House repeats a fallacy about the cross-party amendment. It wrongly suggests that, in the event of making new areas non-smoking, there would be confusion with existing outside areas which would not be subject to the new rules. There need be no such confusion. Existing outdoor areas will maintain their current designation and provision for smokers, while newly created areas should be clearly signposted as being smoke-free, with something placed on the tables instead of ashtrays. The distinction should be very clear.
The cross-party Amendment 15 is not about banning smoking outdoors. As the Minister’s letter says, existing outside areas would not be subject to the new rules and nor would other open spaces. The proposal for new areas outside pubs and restaurants to be smoke-free is in line with the present provisions banning smoking in areas such as railway station concourses, which often have many different cafés and restaurants within them. Making new outdoor seating areas smoke-free will make them more attractive to the 86% of adults who do not smoke, especially families who do not want their children exposed to greater risk of second-hand smoke. The avoidance of smoking will make these places more attractive to potential customers, which is why local authorities support Amendment 15.
Finally, this amendment does not go nearly as far as the Welsh Government are going. With Labour support today, this amendment will be carried. Perhaps the Government will agree to think again before Third Reading.
My Lords, it is good to follow the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, and to hear of the progress that has been made with so many people giving up smoking during lockdown. I rise, however, simply to lend my voice to those who applaud the care being taken in this difficult area by my noble friend the Deputy Leader. I could not support Amendment 15—or the introduction, in emergency legislation, of what amounts to a new smoking ban. This would be a real slap in the face to the hospitality sector, which is already on its knees. The measure could also displace customers into other trading areas, blocking access and achieving the near opposite of what is desired. The government amendment, which I support, requires proper provision for non-smoking seating. This will allow customers to sit outside whether they want to smoke or not and aid the observance of social distancing. We should not delay the Bill by trying to work the issue further. The government compromise should be agreed to forthwith.
My Lords, leaving aside what colleagues have said about their support or non-support for particular amendments, the right policy here is very clear. In fact, it has been supported by 15 of the 17 noble Lords who have spoken before me in the debate.
That policy is this: licensed outdoor premises, where they replace indoor premises where smoking is currently not allowed, should not be licensed for smoking. As the noble Lord, Lord Lansley—a former Health Secretary—said, anything less than this is a retrograde step. This is emphatically not a new smoking ban, as the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, just suggested. It is the replacement of indoor premises by outdoor premises, and those indoor premises do not currently allow smoking.
I applaud everyone who has helped get us to the halfway stage: my noble friends on the Front Bench who have done an excellent job in negotiations with the Government; the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, who first raised this matter at Second Reading; and the noble Earl, Lord Howe, whom we hold in very high regard, and whom I know has worked hard to get to a compromise position.
The compromise is a compromise. The House needs to address this question: on an issue as fundamental as this, to the public health of England and to people’s ability to enjoy and access licensed premises, should we settle for a compromise or should we move to the right policy which—as I have said—almost everyone who has spoken in this debate supports? This policy would simply replace the existing prohibition on smoking indoors in licensed premises with a prohibition on smoking outdoors, in respect of those licenses. Contrary to what the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, said, this would not affect existing outdoor smoking facilities.
I have listened carefully to this debate, and to representations which have been made to some of us outside of it. I cannot see a single good argument for not agreeing with this amendment. I applaud the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, on bringing it forward and pushing it so strongly. Without people like her, we never make progress on these fundamental issues of public health and civil liberties. I will simply end with the great injunction of David Lloyd George: “When traversing a chasm, it is advisable to do so in one leap”.
My Lords, we need the hospitality sector to be active and to start doing business, both for its benefit and for the good of the country and members of the public. People have been frustrated over the last few months due to the lockdown. Some of them suffer from anxiety problems, and it is important for them to go out and mingle with their friends and relatives. Therefore, we must cater for people who smoke, as well as those who do not, when they go out.
We must bear in mind that over 85% of the British population are non-smokers, and they are concerned about being subjected to passive smoking when they go to a pub, restaurant or café. We all appreciate that if any person smokes it causes harm, not only to himself but to others around him who inhale second-hand smoke.
Persons who have been confined indoors over the last few months are now able to go out, and they feel happier when they are sitting in the open, rather than inside the premises. I was recently at a private club, where nearly all the customers were sitting outside on the terrace. In fact, the group next to me were smoking, but there was adequate distance between the two tables and I was happy with the situation.
In Committee, I supported an amendment disallowing smoking outside the relevant premises. In fact, the Government are unwilling to ban smoking altogether, and I support Amendments 13 and 14 as I feel it is an adequate compromise. These amendments will allow both smokers and non-smokers to go out with some degree of safety, as there will be areas for both groups.
I follow the logic of the Government, as they do not wish to ban smoking outside generally. By banning smoking outside a restaurant, pub or café, it could be deemed that we are banning smoking altogether. I feel that the Government have listened and introduced Amendments 13 and 14. Having said this, I hope that we will achieve a smoke-free England by 2030.
With regard to the situation at present, there needs to be appropriate distance between smokers and non-smokers, which will prevent the danger of passive smoking affecting non-smokers. In addition to supporting Amendments 13 and 14, I am happy to support Amendment 25, as we ought to clearly define what smoking is all about and avoid ambiguity.
My Lords, I support Amendment 15 very strongly. I do not understand why on earth the Government are being so weak on this. They should accept that this is the way in which society is moving. Furthermore, why is Labour letting them? I have huge respect for the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport, and I could not understand the rationale for Labour accepting the government amendments. The smell from e-cigarettes does not go very well with food either, so why on earth should we not ban those when we are trying to enjoy our food?
As we heard, thousands die from the complications of smoking. My mother, a lifelong smoker, did exactly that. It was decades ago, but I still miss her; she had an early death because of smoking. The damage from smoking was not clearly understood then—we understand it now, and we really should be doing something about it.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, spoke extremely well. I thought that she expressed her concerns and it was a brilliant speech; I was delighted that I agreed with her. I often agree, surprisingly, with the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and I often support her amendments. She says that this is not very libertarian, so I ask: what about my liberty to breathe clean air? Road traffic and road safety campaigners that I meet come up against this all the time. We want the liberty to breathe clean air, and smoking does not allow that. Therefore, I wholeheartedly support Amendment 15 and I very much hope that it will go to a vote.
My Lords, we have heard, as we did in Committee, powerful arguments about taking this opportunity to exclude smoking from new pavement licensed areas. The case for ensuring that those of us who do not wish to inhale second-hand smoke are not excluded from that enjoyment is well made.
The amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Northover is a vital step in making our country smoke-free. It had strong and detailed arguments in support of it from the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Grey-Thompson, the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner and Lord Balfe, and many other noble Lords.
However, Amendment 11, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport, lacks clarity for businesses and shies away from the paramount public health concern. It is a cop-out. When an argument relies on pointing to the drafting issues of a stronger amendment, as hers did, you know that it is very weak.
We have heard that the overwhelming majority of people do not smoke: a mere 14% do. Protecting the interests of a minority does not extend to a situation where, by doing so, harm is created for the majority, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, has just explained. Smoking kills and second-hand smoking kills. Surely the Government should take every opportunity to restrict it.
The choice is clear: do we use this opportunity to keep the health needs of customers paramount or not? The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, is supported by the Local Government Association. I hope the Minister will provide a full response to the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, to have further consideration on Amendment 15 prior to Third Reading, so that progress on this issue can be made.
Other amendments on this matter fudge these vital health concerns, and we on these Benches wholeheartedly support the cross-party amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Northover.
My Lords, we would do well to remember that the pavement licensing clauses in the Bill provide vital temporary flexibility to aid the recovery of hospitality businesses over the summer months, and that we need to proceed quickly to achieve that. Noble Lords have voiced some concerns and requested clarity in relation to the position on outdoor smoking under these temporary fast-track licences. I am not going to go into the respective roles of the hard cop and the soft cop in achieving the Government’s amendments, as my noble friend Lord Young put it. However, in recognition of the mood across the House the Government have tabled Amendments 13, 14 and 25 to provide the clarity that local authorities, businesses and customers need.
It is important to recognise that we are winning the battle against smoking: Great Britain has one of the lowest rates of smoking in Europe, at 13.9% of adults. Fewer than one in six adults smoke today and, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, over 1 million people have given up during the lockdown, as was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bethell earlier today.
This Government have taken great strides in reducing the harms caused by smoking. We committed to doing so in the prevention Green Paper. We will publish the prevention guidance response in due course and set out our plans to achieve a smoke-free England by 2030 at a later date. I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, supports that mission. I emphasise to her that there has been no stop in providing smoking cessation support. The Government continue to provide those programmes of work, which address smoking harms nationally and are delivered locally through the tobacco control plan for England and the NHS long-term plan’s commitment to provide smoking cessation support in hospital settings.
In the debate noble Lords expressed their support for the temporary, urgent and necessary reforms brought forward in the Bill to support the businesses hardest hit by this pandemic—our pubs, cafés and restaurants—and to protect jobs in those sectors. We recognise that the Covid restrictions mean that customers are encouraged or required to eat and drink outside, and that clarity is critical as we support businesses to recover. That is why the Government have tabled an amendment requiring proper provision for non-smoking seating via a smoke-free seating condition. This amendment does not prevent the portion of businesses which wish to cater for smokers from doing so. It requires proper provision for non-smoking seating. This means that customers who want to choose to sit in smoking or non-smoking al fresco dining areas will be able to do so.
The Government’s position means that all businesses eligible for pavement licences can share the benefits of this new fast-track licence, while ensuring provision for non-smoking seating. Of course, businesses can already make their own non-smoking policies for outside spaces to reflect customer wishes without the need for regulations, and the Government support that. I say to my noble friend Lord Balfe that a blanket ban can be imposed by businesses themselves. Our guidance will further reinforce this point, making it clear that the licence holder has to make reasonable provision for seating free of smoking.
The guidance is available on the GOV.UK website and was circulated to noble Lords and noble Baronesses before this debate. It includes clear no-smoking signage, displayed in accordance with the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012. No ashtrays or similar receptacles are to be provided or left on furniture where smoke-free seating is identified. Licence holders should aim for a minimum two-metre distance between non-smoking and smoking areas, wherever possible. That is the framework, so I do not see the confusion raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile.
It is also worth reiterating that businesses must continue to have regard to smoke-free legislation under the Health Act 2006, and the subsequent Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006. This is restated in our guidance, as it is absolutely right to stress it, and the Government are committed to working towards a smoke-free society by 2030, as I have said.
Now is not the time to prevent businesses catering to their customers, or to use a temporary provision on pavement licences to ban smoking outdoors. Now is the time to support our hospitality industry and ensure that all businesses eligible for pavement licences can share the benefits of this new fast-track licence. This point was made by my noble friend Lord Blencathra. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, is to withdraw her Amendment 11 and I thank her for her support for our amendment, which seeks to achieve what she set out in her amendment.
However, I fear that Amendment 15 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, is not the way to proceed and would be unfair to businesses. While undoubtedly not its intention, it would create confusion. The effect is to create an unfair playing field between businesses applying for these new licences, which need to abide by the condition, and those with existing licences, which do not. This point was made by several of my colleagues. Her amendment also cuts across the ability of business owners to make their own non-smoking policies for outside space, without the need for regulations. Of course, there are cases where the regulations are already clear. The existing power, set out in the Health Act 2006 and subsequent Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006, made it illegal to smoke in public in enclosed, or substantially enclosed, areas and workplaces. The Bill changes none of this.
On the other hand, the Government’s amendment has the proportionate approach advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. He said that we needed proportionality and this is what we deliver with this amendment. It rightly requires proper, fair provision for non-smoking seating, while not undermining business owners whose customers include smokers. It supports our hospitality sector in continuing to operate, while following the Covid restrictions necessary to protect public health. I thank my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe, Lord Sheikh, Lady McIntosh, Lord Lansley and Lord Young for supporting the government amendment, as well as the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner. I therefore urge noble Lords to support government Amendments 13, 14 and 25, which will ensure that consumer choice remains. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, has already indicated that she will withdraw her Amendment 11, but I ask that the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, does not move her Amendment 15 when called.
On a couple of points of clarification, the guidance being issued is joint guidance from the MHCLG and DHSC. It will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner. In response to the noble Lord, Lord German, there will be no physical barrier between non-smokers and smoking areas but a two-metre gap. I hope that answers the questions raised in the debate.
Thank you. I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate for the many important and apposite points raised. The Government could have gone further in the development of their amendment, as I noted, and thus we tabled our own amendment. I may be one of the most recent Members of your Lordships’ House but I believe it is one of the prerequisites of our work to make those changes. For the record, the Welsh Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, made a manifesto commitment before the introduction of legislation that will follow, under normal process, regarding Wales’s public spaces and smoking in the next Senedd term. We will keep these matters under review and, no doubt, return to the issue within longer-term legislation in the future. I therefore now beg leave to withdraw the amendment standing in my name.
Amendment 11 withdrawn.
Amendment 12 not moved.