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Mr. Brake: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With this, it will be convenient to discuss new clause 11--Smoking in London taxis--

'(1) A person shall not smoke or carry lighted tobacco in a taxi where passengers are by means of a prescribed notice informed that smoking is prohibited.
(2) For the purposes of this section, "prescribed notice" means a notice or marking of such type and displayed in or on a taxi in such manner as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe.
(3) A passenger who contravenes subsection (1) may be required by the driver to leave a taxi and, where the passenger refuses to comply with that requirement, may be removed by the driver or, on the request of the driver, by a constable.
(4) A person who--
(a) contravenes subsection (1),
(b) refuses to comply with a requirement made in accordance with subsection (3), or
(c) resists lawful removal in accordance with that subsection,
is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(5) Notwithstanding the provisions of any enactment requiring certain hirings to be accepted, it shall be lawful for the driver of a taxi bearing a prescribed notice to refuse to carry a passenger who is smoking or carrying lighted tobacco.
(6) In this section "taxi" means a hackney carriage licensed under section 6 of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869.'.

Mr. Brake: Hon. Members will no doubt ask, "Why is this amendment required?"

Mr. Bercow: It is a new clause.

Mr. Brake: Hon. Members will no doubt ask, "Why is this new clause required?" The answer is that although cab drivers can choose to designate their cabs smoking or non-smoking vehicles, they have difficulty in enforcing the no smoking rule at present. Passengers are well aware that enforcement is impossible, and occasionally point that out to cab drivers who ask them not to smoke. I have met the Minister and I thank her for finding the time to discuss this important subject. I welcome the fact that she has restated her support, in principle, for a ban on smoking in cabs that are designated non-smoking vehicles by their drivers.

The timing of this debate could not be more appropriate, as I understand that the Secretary of State for Health spoke today about the importance of banning tobacco advertising. However, the right hon. Gentleman could be sending mixed messages, as he recently presented the rugby league Silk Cut trophy at Wembley.

This new clause is about health and individual rights. It is about the health of taxi drivers and that of their non-smoking passengers. Before Opposition Members leap to their feet and question whether there are health implications for the non-smoking passenger who travels in a cab recently vacated by a smoking passenger, I cite the increased stress levels of that non-smoking passenger, if nothing else.

It is also a question of individual rights. Taxi drivers operate--

Mr. Ottaway: The hon. Gentleman just said that a non-smoking passenger would suffer increased levels of

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stress as a result of travelling in a cab in which the previous incumbent had been smoking. What does he mean by that?

Mr. Brake: I will explain; it is very simple. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is a smoker and is not familiar with the anxiety or the stress that non-smokers experience when we encounter smokers from all walks of life.

It is a question of individual rights. Taxi drivers, who, in effect, operate out of their office, have the right to choose whether they want someone entering that office to smoke. The taxi driver should be able to choose and to take that decision. All hon. Members would agree that taxis should form part of the public transport system. Passengers on buses, trains and the tube are not allowed to smoke, so it seems entirely logical that the same rule should apply to cabs--which are part of the integrated transport system--if drivers choose to designate them no smoking vehicles. If the passenger needs a fix, he or she can always wait for another cab that is clearly designated a smoking cab.

This new clause is supported by several organisations, and I shall refer briefly to a couple of letters from them. One letter is from Irving Yass of London First, who says that he is very sorry that the

at that time

    "to gain endorsement from Ministers during the Committee Stage."

The British Incoming Tour Operators Association writes:

    "Thank you for your recent letter regarding the opportunity that exists to introduce an amendment that would enable taxi drivers to designate their taxis as non-smoking if they so wish."

Unfortunately, that opportunity does not seem to exist in reality, but BITOA supports that in principle.

The National Asthma Campaign is

which would allow cab drivers to designate their cabs non-smoking cabs.

Mr. Simon Hughes: My hon. Friend mentioned the National Asthma Campaign. I have had reports that some people who suffer from severe asthma open the door to get into a cab, realise that it has been filled with smoke by the passenger who has just left and decide not to take that cab. They may not subsequently get a cab for up to 25 minutes. Their use of public transport is inhibited and the cab driver loses the fare. The whole thing is to the disadvantage of many passengers and of drivers.

Mr. Brake: I agree entirely with the points that my hon. Friend has made, which are confirmed in the letter from the National Asthma Campaign, which talks about tobacco smoke being a trigger--

Mr. Bercow rose--

Mr. Clive Efford (Eltham) rose--

Mr. Brake: I give way to the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Efford).

Mr. Efford: Can you confirm to the House whether you are actually planning to ban smoking--

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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman should use the third person form of address.

Mr. Efford: I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the hon. Gentleman planning to ban smoking entirely from the back of taxis, or is he planning to allow the taxi driver the opportunity to choose whether someone smokes in the back of his taxi?

Mr. Brake: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, which enables me to clarify that, as I hoped I had made clear, we are talking about allowing cab drivers to designate their cab a non-smoking cab if that is what they want to do. Equally, if they decide that they want their cab to be a smoking cab, it is entirely down to them. That is the purpose of our new clause.

Mr. Ottaway: Will the hon. Gentleman look at the matter from the other direction? Does he consider that, if there is not a prescribed notice in the cab and the driver is smoking, the passenger should be permitted to ask the driver to stop smoking?

Mr. Brake: That is an interesting point. I think the important principle is that the cab driver, who is running a business, should be able to choose whether his cab is a non-smoking or a smoking cab.

Mr. Bercow: Would the hon. Gentleman allow me?

Mr. Brake: I must continue.

Mr. Ottaway: Before the hon. Gentleman continues, will he say what the answer is to the question that I asked him? If the driver is smoking, can the passenger ask him to stop smoking? It is a perfectly straightforward question. Yes or no will do as an answer.

Mr. Brake: I hope that the passengers would choosea non-smoking cab if they wanted a no-smoking environment, and I hope that cab drivers would respect that and would choose not to smoke.

Ms Glenda Jackson: We must help the hon. Gentleman in his quandary. I understand that, at present, a cab passenger may insist that a driver extinguishes a cigarette. The cab driver has no such power to require a passenger to extinguish a cigarette.

Mr. Brake: I thank the Minister for her intervention, which I hope has clarified the matter.

I expect the Minister--

Mr. Simon Hughes: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Brake: I shall give way a final time.

Mr. Hughes: I am not trying to deal with the question asked by the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Ottaway), but responding to the interventions by the professional over there--the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Efford)--and the Minister. The issue, as my hon. Friend says, and as the new clause shows, is that there should be freedom to make the choice backed up by a sanction. At the moment, the cab driver may ask a

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passenger not to smoke, but if the latter does not comply with that request, there is no sanction to ensure that he or she does so.

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