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Disabled Children's Assessment and Services

Ed Balls accordingly presented a Bill to make provision about the assessment of disabled children's needs; to amend the law relating to children; to place duties on local authorities and the National Health Service in respect of disabled children and their carers; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 12 May, and to be printed [Bill 128].

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance, because I hope that the House will be able to divide on
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amendment No. 8 to the Health Bill. I say that for two reasons. First, I believe that the House should be given an opportunity to vote for the status quo, and my amendment would provide the only chance to do so. Secondly, if the House cannot vote on my amendment, some of us might be obliged to vote against the Bill on Third Reading, which would be most unfortunate, because it would mean a confusion between the smoking elements in part 1 and the rest of the Bill, which is—I have no doubt—admirable. I hope that you will give consideration to allowing a division on amendment No.   8, so that the House may take a distinct and separate view on that part of the Bill.

Mr. Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I endorse the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth). You will note, Mr. Speaker, that my amendment No. 36 accepts that some places may be deemed smoke-free but that licensed premises would not be smoke-free and thus not caught by the legislation. Is it your intention to allow a vote on that amendment too, if we get to that point?

Mr. Speaker: I can tell the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr.   Forth) that the key is new clause 5. I am not encouraging either Member to do this, but they would be advised to vote against the new clause, because if it is carried their amendments fall. Procedurally, that is the position—[Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst may be displeased but I can only tell him that that is the procedure. If new clause 5 is carried, the amendment mentioned in his point of order will fall.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Does the same apply to amendment No. 6, in my name, which deals with the important issue of whether people should be allowed to smoke in their private motor vehicles?

Mr. Speaker: The Chair will take a view, after listening to the debate.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I ask for your help in ensuring that Members do not have the procedure of the House of Commons explained to them too clearly, because it will completely confuse them and they might actually use their own opinion to decide how to vote.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Lady should worry about whether she is confused.

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Health Bill (Programme) (No. 2)

3.47 pm

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): I beg to move,

1.   Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Order shall be omitted.

2.   Proceedings on consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.

3.   The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.


                  ProceedingsTime for conclusion of proceedings
New Clauses and new Schedules relating to Part 1 and to the age for sale of tobacco, and amendments relating to Clauses 1 to 12 and Schedules 1 and 2.Three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this Order.
Remaining proceedings on consideration.One hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which proceedings on consideration are commenced.

4.   Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on the day on which proceedings on consideration are commenced.

I am delighted that we have reached the Health Bill's final stages in this place. The Bill had 12 constructive sessions in Committee, just over six of which were devoted to the smoke-free provisions, with the remaining time spent discussing other important parts of the Bill. With no programming at all, I was delighted that the Committee managed to discuss all the Bill's main provisions. I was even more pleased that there were only two Divisions during Committee, a reflection of the fact that this is a very good Bill indeed.

As time is more precious on Report, we decided to programme the proceedings, but only lightly. Although the smoke-free provisions are clearly an important part of the Bill, and have generated much interest, the measure contains many other significant provisions. Few amendments have been tabled in relation to other parts of the Bill, but there are amendments on the important provisions on infection control in part 2, and it is right that they should receive a hearing. We have thus proposed a generous three hours in which to conclude our discussions on the first two groups of amendments, which relate to smoking, after which we shall move through the remaining amendments. That is a sensible allocation of time and I hope that Opposition parties will not delay the start of what promises to be a lively debate.

3.48 pm

Steve Webb (Northavon) (LD): As time discussing the programme motion is time taken from the substantive issue, I shall not detain the House. However, I want to make one point.

In the three hours available, we are discussing two groups of amendments—those relating to the smoking ban and the completely separate provisions about the
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position of 16 to 18-year olds. As the first group is obviously contentious, with a wide range of related issues, it seems extremely likely that the whole three hours will be taken up by discussion of the smoking ban, which means that the provisions on 16 to 18-year-olds will not be debated at all, although I am aware that there was a short debate in Committee. Furthermore, as there is a Government new clause it will be voted on, even though it will not have been debated.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that even if we do not debate the new clause she will force a vote on it? She is nodding, so she must be happy for us to change the position for 16 to 18-year olds without debate in the House. It will thus seem that not enough time was available, but in fact the Government could have given us more than one day on Report. The Pensions Bill had three days on Report. If these important issues cannot be properly debated because there is not enough time this afternoon, the Government should allocate extra time and not make a quite major change without any debate. For that reason, I regard the programme motion as unsatisfactory.

Question put and agreed to.
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Orders of the Day

Health Bill

[Relevant documents: Sixth Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Session 2005–06, on Legislative Scrutiny: Third Progress Report, HC 787; Eleventh Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Session 2005–06, on Legislative Scrutiny: Fifth Progress Report, HC 899; First Report from the Health Committee, Session 2005–06, on Smoking in Public Places, HC 485-I.]

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 5

Smoke-free premises: exemptions

'(1)   The appropriate national authority may make regulations providing for specified descriptions of premises, or specified areas within specified descriptions of premises, not to be smoke-free despite section 2.

(2)   Descriptions of premises which may be specified under subsection (1) include, in particular—

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