|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Garnier: They might well be, and they might also be guilty of an offence if they fail to put up the requisite signs for which clause 2 provides, as my right hon. Friend pointed out in his first intervention on me.
These matters need to be thought about carefully. Although they might be considered in greater detail in Committee, I urge the hon. Lady to have in mind such problems before embarking on that stage, should the
18 Mar 2005 : Column 527
House permit her to go that far. These are not nit-picking points, but issues that will destroy the integrity of her Bill, which, although well-motivated and well-intended, will be made to look ridiculous because it will catch all sorts of people whom she does not intend to catch.
Mr. Hunter : In my constituency we have the ruined Roman town of Silchester, which is enclosed by walls and covers an area of about a mile and a half. According to the Bill, it is an enclosed public area, but more to the point, no one is physically present and in charge of it. It is unmanned.
Mr. Garnier: Before I respond to that point, I want to tell my hon. Friend that I hope that his speech today is not the last that we shall hear from him. I know that he intends not to stand at the next general election, but I hope that he will have further opportunities to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair before he retires. But in case he does not, may I thank him for his service to this House and his constituents, and wish him well in his long and healthy retirement? I trust that even if he is not a Member of this place, he will find opportunities to speak and write publicly about the issues that have concerned himbe it Northern Ireland or the wish not to see all activities banned, simply because a certain number of people do not like them.
With those few illustrations, and with the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst and my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke, I have, I think, exposed a matter of detail that needs to be considered carefully before this Bill goes any further. However, there is a further irony in what the hon. Lady intends by her Bill. She wants to see an end to smoking in public places, for the perfectly laudable reason that she believes that that will improve public health and release victims of secondary smoking from the health hazards caused by being in the presence of other people's exhaled cigarette or other tobacco smoke.
That is fine, but most of the places to which the hon. Lady wishes to extend her ban do not require compulsory attendance. I do not have to go to a restaurant that allows smoking. I do not have to go to a pub or bar that allows smoking. I do not have to go to a hotel that allows smoking in its public areas. Indeed, when I go to a hotel and find that my bedroom in the hotel has been inhabited by a smoker on a previous occasion, I ensure that my room is changed, because I do not wish to sleep in a room that stinks of other people's cigarette smoke and I do not want the curtains to smell of cigarette smoke.
Indeed, on the last occasion I went to Blackpool for the Conservative party conferencean occasion of fond memorythe very pillow on which I had to lay my head at night stank of cigarette smoke, presumably because the last 15 occupants of the room used the pillow as some of form of cigarette filter[Interruption.] I am talking about the pillow. I asked the hotel manager to allot me a room that did not have that form of contamination.
18 Mar 2005 : Column 528
If the hon. Lady wishes to protect the victim from the witting or unwitting effects of the exhalation of tobacco smoke, she must ban smoking in places where people have no choiceand that means in the home. Children cannot tell their parents to stop smoking. They can advise or tease them, but they cannot compel their parents to stop smoking in the kitchen, living room, dining room or even in the bedroom. Where are children most vulnerable to secondary smoking? At home. So, if the hon. Lady has the courage of her convictions and if her arguments are more than just politically attractive and based on principle, she must say, "Before I ban smoking in public places, I am going to ban smoking where it does most damage and where it cannot be avoidedin the home".
The Irish experience is interesting. Once smoking had been banned in public bars and restaurants, the incidence of smoking at home increased. It follows logically that the danger to children and non-smokers increases at home as a result of a ban on smoking in public places. I wonder whether the hon. Lady has considered that point. If so, I would be interested to hear her response to it now.
Julie Morgan: I wanted to intervene earlier in the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, when he said that the public do not have to go to hotels or the other places that he mentioned. He claimed that attending such places was voluntary, but what about the employees who work in them? It is hardly voluntary for them, especially if the job is the only one that they are able to get. His argument does not cover the employees.
Mr. Garnier: I shall deal with that straight away, but I am sorry that the hon. Lady did not deal with my important point about banning smoking in private homes. I hope that she will intervene later and deal with that point. I do not want her to feel that she has not been given the opportunity to respond to it.
Let me respond to the point about employees by using the example of the Conservative clubs in my constituency. I can assure the hon. Lady that there are many of them and that they are full of Conservative supporters who are itching to go and vote on 5 May. It is interesting that the club committees have reached an agreement among themselves and staff that there should be no smoking at the bar. Employees who serve at the bar will not be affected by involuntary inhalation of smoke. Some parts of the clubs are reserved for non-smoking and others for smoking, but there is a total prohibition of smoking at the bar. Staff employed at the clubs to work at the bar will not be affected by smoking. I know for a fact that a number of those employees are themselves smokers, but if they want to have a cigarette
18 Mar 2005 : Column 529
or smoke a pipe, they have to leave and go somewhere either inside or outside the club where it is permissible to smoke. Neither they nor anyone else can smoke at the bar. That example can be translated across to any other workplace. The problem does not require the House, Parliament as a whole, still less the Welsh Assembly to pass laws to invoke common sense and good manners.
Mr. Forth: To take up the hon. Lady's response to my hon. and learned Friend's question, why should her Bill not be called "Smoking in Workplaces (Wales) Bill", which is more logical and might well solve many of the problems that my hon. and learned Friend has already identified? It focuses attention on the problem at workplaces. I am not saying that I would agree with it even in that form, but if we are seriously talking about workplaces, the Bill is wrongly titled. I suspect that, sadly, we could not amend it in Committee and the title of the Bill would remain.
Mr. Garnier: I am sure that my right hon. Friend is right. In preparing for this morning's debate, I have concentrated on the title of the Bill as drafted, rather than on the amended form that my right hon. Friend suggests. I suspect that his argument will require further thought and explanation. I have not yet got my head around his particular point, but I am sure that he will endeavour to catch your eye again, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I promised to give way to my fellow 26 October birthday Member.
Mr. Barron: From where did the hon. and learned Gentleman receive the information that the prevalence of smoking in the home in Ireland increased because of the ban in restaurants and other public places? It is usually the case that the overall incidence of smoking decreases. In his report on public health, entitled "Securing good health for the whole population", Derek Wanless pointed out several international examples of where, following bans, the prevalence of smoking fell. I am not certain at this stage whether it brings people to stop smoking completely, but who measures the extent of smoking in the home?
Mr. Garnier: Speaking as a Back Bencher, I do not have a raft of Parliamentary Private Secretaries or civil servants immediately to pass me a note, but I am reasonably sure that I read about that in the House of Commons Library briefing. If any Government Members would like to carry out the PPS role for me and pass me a note, I would be grateful.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|