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Steve Webb: The hon. Gentleman spoke strongly in support of the importance of the views of the chief medical officer. What are his views on private clubs?

Mr. Lansley: I shall come to that in a moment. [Interruption.] Well, I will do better than the Secretary of State, because I will tell the House how I am going to vote. A few minutes ago, she appeared to extol the fact that she is giving a free vote to Labour Members—or her Whips are. We gave a free vote on Second Reading. The Liberal Democrats did not, but have been persuaded to do so by the changes that we have brought about. I recall that on Second Reading Labour Members endorsed our view that this matter should be governed by a free vote because of the contrary views and evidence that needed to be listened to.

The Secretary of State would not listen, and now she has had to learn. Curiously, however, we do not know quite how far she has gone. In new clause 5, she has abandoned the prospect of an exemption for non-food
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pubs. Whereas previously she was prepared to consult on whether there should be smoking rooms in licensed premises, she now seems to have concluded that there cannot be such a consultation and must not be such smoking rooms. I did not hear her express a view on the remaining central question relating to clubs. Presumably we can have a debate about that, and in two and a half hours we will all be very excited to see whether she is for or against it. On Second Reading, she said:

She said of members of the public:

That was the Secretary of State's advice on Second Reading, but given the handbrake turn that we have seen since then, what point is there in taking her advice? Even her own junior Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), is not going to do so—or perhaps it is vice versa; we simply do not know.

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): If the Secretary of State has a point of principle to deploy in relation to non-profit-making private clubs, does my hon. Friend understand what it is?

Mr. Lansley: I make a distinction between licensed premises and private members' clubs—

Mr. Garnier: Non-profit-making.

Mr. Lansley: I do not understand the distinction as regards non-profit-making, but the Secretary of State might like to explain it, as she brought it up on Second Reading. In my book, the distinction is that they are membership clubs run by members for members.

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Does my hon. Friend accept that the scope of amendment (a) is unprecedented and that if passed it would result in a massive shift of public policy? Does he agree that since 1863, when Sir George Grey was Home Secretary, this House has taken the view that the rules in force in private members' clubs should be matters for them, not us?

Mr. Lansley: As it happens, I did not know that it had been true since 1863, but I take advice from my right hon. Friend, who might like to expand on that point.

My point is that as shadow Secretary of State for Health, I will say that I am trying to secure as successfully as we can a reduction of smoking and the incidence of people being exposed to second-hand smoke, consistent with the principle that we should not interfere with people's private space.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr. Lansley: I want to make some progress, and then I will give way by all means.
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It is now up to Members to make up their minds. In my view, we are considering not the nuisance value but the health effects of second-hand smoke. Those health effects demand that non-smokers should not be exposed to second-hand smoke. However, we must balance that objective with the principle that we should not interfere disproportionately in people's right to choose how to behave in their homes or private space. That distinction between public and private space is vital.

4.30 pm

Mr. Devine: Let me summarise the hon. Gentleman's case: it is acceptable to kill people who work in private clubs but not those who work in public licensed premises.

Mr. Lansley: I do not accept that and I shall explain why. Freedom to choose whether to smoke in one's private space must be respected. That liberty does not extend to exposing other people to harm in a public place. On that basis, exemptions to the requirement for premises to be smoke-free should include private homes and private vehicles, as amendment No. 6 proposes—I hope that we shall have an opportunity to press that to a Division. Places that are one's home on a temporary basis and private members' clubs should be exempt.

I understand the case about employees but, as was said from the Liberal Democrat Benches, I do not believe that we could or should require people not to smoke in their homes when staff or employees are present. I therefore do not support the argument that private homes or private members' clubs should be smoke-free on the ground of the presence of employees.

Mr. Sadiq Khan (Tooting) (Lab): The intellectual basis for the hon. Gentleman's justification of a ban in a public space but not in a private club is choice in private space. Does he wear a seat belt in his car?

Mr. Lansley: Yes, I do because I obey the law. Parliament took a view, as it will this afternoon, and that is acceptable. However, Parliament must take a view on the basis of principle. I believe that we should adhere to the principle that private members' clubs constitute private space and we should respect that.

I do not dispute that clubs will have to be subject to regulations. That might require mitigation or a no-smoking-at-the-bar rule, similar to that of the British Beer and Pub Association.

Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South) (Con): It is open to private clubs to install ventilation equipment. Does my hon. Friend agree that that issue has not been aired yet? [Hon. Members: "Oh dear."] That could be tackled in regulations so that people could work in private clubs without danger to their health.

Mr. Lansley: Yes. That was a timely intervention. If we give clubs an exemption, we should not necessarily exclude them from regulations. Through their desire not to expose themselves to litigation, they will have to consider ventilation. Changes in technology may have an impact on that. I do not believe that it is currently
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sufficient to rely on ventilation because of the persistence of toxins in the air, but it may be possible in future.

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): Does the hon. Gentleman recall that the Roy Castle international centre for lung cancer research in Liverpool was founded by Roy Castle's widow, Fiona, because the renowned comedian had died from second-hand smoke through performing in clubs? He had never smoked. Does not that suggest that the ban should extend to clubs?

Mr. Lansley: I have received a letter from Fiona Castle and I fully understand that point. I would prefer clubs to be non-smoking but I hold to the principle that a private club is an extension of people's private space, and, just as I would not try to legislate to intervene directly in what people do in their home, I do not propose to vote for a measure that does that.

Several hon. Members rose—

Mr. Lansley: We have only three hours. It is a pity that we do not have longer but I must try to conclude and I hope that hon. Members will forgive me for not giving way.

The Government were not willing at any stage, including Committee, to make special provision to protect children from exposure to second-hand smoke. The evidence of the effects in asthma and respiratory conditions suggests that we should offer additional protection. Parents must take responsibility in their own homes, but in clubs we should provide that smoking should not be allowed in areas to which children have access.

Mr. Redwood: Is there a way, under the provisions before us, for someone to vote for a less restrictive position in pubs, as with clubs, while at the same time ensuring some protection for workers in pubs? The Secretary of State seems to believe that there will be protection for workers in clubs.

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