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9.48 pm

David Taylor: I am delighted to follow my predecessor as chair of the all-party group on smoking and health. In 1998, the Government published their seminal White Paper, "Smoking Kills", and so brought to an end the lost decade of tobacco control. Smoking rates have been falling fast. From 1978 to 1988 the adult smoking rate in England fell from 40 per cent. to 30 per cent. Between 1988 and 1998, it snaked within the 25 to 30 per cent. range.

The White Paper set out a plan to help those smokers who wanted to quit and to restrict the industry's capacity to recruit new young smokers. Across the country, a network of local cessation services was established. Tobacco advertisements on billboards came down and the disgrace of tobacco industry sponsorship was put to a stop. No longer were the makers of this deadly product free to buy a link with sporting achievement in the minds of our young people. As a result, we have seen a return to year-on-year reductions in smoking rates so that now only two adults in every 10 smoke.

"Smoking Kills" did what it was supposed to do, but a new strategy is needed. The main challenges of a tobacco control strategy remain to help smokers who want to quit and to constrain the industry's capacity to ensnare young people. The Bill takes up those challenges but it is not enough on its own. The whole House awaits the publication of a new tobacco control plan, of which this Bill is only a part, that will build on the success of "Smoking Kills" and help make smoking history for our children. I strongly support the Government's proposal to do away with the power walls of tobacco promotion at the point of sale.

Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge) (LD): I am puzzled about advertising at the point of sale. People may wander into a shop, look around and say, "Does this shop sell tobacco?" Will the shop be able to display a list showing that it sells tobacco and what products its sells? Otherwise there will be some very confused people in some very confused shops, wondering whether they are in places that sell tobacco.

David Taylor: If the hon. Gentleman had been here throughout the debate he would have heard that answered adequately. I am pleased that the amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), which puts cigarette vending machines out of the reach of our children, has been accepted, and that we can uphold the World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control to protect health policy from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. I would have liked to have seen new clause 7 on plain packaging go further-I would have liked the Lib Dems to have put it to the vote-but that is for another day. I would like proxy sales to be banned, too, but I voted against the Tories' proposal, because what they suggested was not enforceable. However, I would like more action on that.

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Someone dies prematurely every four minutes from the effects of smoking-15 people an hour, or 75 in the five hours of this debate, which would empty the Public Gallery steadily. This is a valuable step forward, and I congratulate the Government on taking it.

9.51 pm

Mr. McCartney: I will take only a minute of the House's time, because the Secretary of State needs to respond to the debate.

First, I thank the British Heart Foundation, Smoke & Mirrors, and Smokefree Northwest for the past year of non-partisan support, advice and help, as well as my colleagues in the House, and people in each Department I have spoken to. A boyhood hero of mine, Denis Law, once said of his first goal for Scotland that he scored it with his bottom or backside, or words to that effect, but it did not matter because it was a goal. We won the vote tonight nem. con., and it does not matter, because it is going to change history. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will indicate clearly in his contribution that, when the Bill reaches the Lords, there will be absolute clarity and that the amendment accepted tonight will ensure that in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, vending machines will be banned once and for all.

9.52 pm

Philip Davies: Briefly, as we seem to have had a round of congratulations on the Bill, I want to say that this is a very sad day for the House, which once again shows that the Government are one of the most intolerant, authoritarian and illiberal Governments that we have ever seen. It is yet another triumph for the nanny state. It will not make any difference at all to smoking rates. Cigarettes are not an impulse purchase. As someone who worked in retail for many years before coming to the House, I can assure people that they are not an impulse purchase like cream cakes. People walk past cream cakes, think that they look nice, and decide to buy them, but they do not buy cigarettes on the same premise.

This is just another authoritarian victory for a Government who want to thrash around looking as if they have done something. It will have a devastating effect on many, many small retailers, small newsagents and pubs. I hope that we will not see crocodile tears from Ministers when many more small shops and pubs go to the wall as a result of the Government's policies.

9.53 pm

The Secretary of State for Health (Andy Burnham): It says here, "I beg to move, that the Bill be now read the Third time." However, I gather that someone moved the motion in my absence, so I shall move on and say something about the Bill.

This important Bill paves the way for the next stage of reform in our national health service while, at the same time, cementing its founding values in a new NHS constitution. I am grateful for the constructive approach from Members on both sides of the House to improving the Bill, and I believe that it leaves the House better and stronger as a result of our deliberations. It builds on the consensus established by Lord Darzi's next stage review that the next decade in the NHS must be characterised by a relentless focus on improving the quality of services.
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In the past decade, the NHS has done the heavy lifting, tackling the big challenges such as waiting and infections. Today it is in a position where it can focus more on the quality of the individual patient experience.

In that regard, the introduction of quality accounts marks a significant step forward for the NHS. Those new accounts will give patients and the public clearer information when exercising their right to choose health care services, setting out for clinicians and managers valuable information about the quality of the services that are provided. Equally, the provisions allowing for the introduction of direct payments for health care will further empower patients to take greater control of their care. These measures are evidence of how, in the next decade, we are placing the power to drive reform in the hands of patients and staff, not from the top down.

The Bill also reaffirms our commitment to the pursuit of excellence in the foundation trust regime and across the NHS. We have listened to calls from another place for mental health trusts to be given more flexibility in respect of the operation of the private patient cap, and will expect that to be used to improve NHS services.

The pressing requirement to act in the wake of the events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust led to late amendments to the Bill. I am grateful to the House for its patience and consideration of those amendments at this late stage. I was particularly pleased to hear the comments today of my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) and the hon. Members for Stone (Mr. Cash) and for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack), and to see on the Front Bench my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Kidney), all of whom had spoken to me and my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State for Health to convey to us the strength of feeling in Staffordshire about the appalling failure at their local hospital.

The House has shown today its commitment to the foundation trust ideal that freedom must be continually earned through high performance. It is important that foundation trust status continues to represent a badge of excellence and high standards in the NHS, and the amendments that we have passed today will help secure that. I noted that the Conservative Members from Staffordshire were asking us to go even further than we had proposed. We had constructed an amendment that kept Monitor as the decision maker but gave the Secretary of State a role to ask Monitor to take a view on whether a trust should be de-authorised. In opposing that approach, the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) is somewhat out of touch with his own Back Benchers and local opinion on the matter.

There was another late amendment on help with costs of spectacles for over-60s, or rather, to correct a loophole in the law whereby eligibility for help with those costs was more widely drawn than was ever intended. That had lain on the statute book for some time. I am pleased to say that that loophole has now been closed. Perhaps in time the amendment will come to be known as the "should have gone to Specsavers" amendment.

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The Bill includes new protections to ensure that future generations are less likely to suffer from tobacco-related disease. For many hon. Members, the central issue in the Bill has been deciding how best to protect our children from the dangers of smoking. We heard today passionate contributions, most recently from the Chair of the Select Committee on Health, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron), and from my right hon. Friends the Members for Holborn and St. Pancras (Frank Dobson) and for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney). There is consensus in the House that smoking has devastating consequences for our society and that more needs to be done to protect children from those harms. As my Minister of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron) pointed out, there is direct evidence that tobacco point of sale has a direct impact on young people smoking. I am pleased that the important clauses on the subject remain in the Bill.

It is clear that although Opposition Members were not able to conduct a proper whipping operation, hon. Members have made their views on tobacco vending machines clear this evening. I note in particular the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield. His passion and resolve have been rightly rewarded by the House today. We appreciate that as a result of certain amendments being withdrawn, the remaining amendments that have been voted through today go to the other place in a well drafted and legally workable form. I will watch with interest how my right hon. Friend's proposals are received in another place. The Government will not seek to overturn them but, respecting this House, will consider how best to put its will into effect.

My right hon. Friend has announced his intention of standing down from the House at the coming election. His legacy will be one of campaigning on issues that matter to people throughout the country, from the minimum wage to other matters that he has campaigned on. Tonight his campaigning force has yet again delivered another major step forward in protecting the health of the children of this country.

I pay tribute to my Ministers, including my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien), and to Lord Darzi and Baroness Thornton in another place, who have placed the Bill in its strong position today.

We want the Bill to go forward, and we will work to ensure that this evening's amendments are put into a workable form. The Bill leaves the House in a strong position. It will protect our children from the dangers of smoking, empower patients, ensure the highest possible standards of care throughout our national health service and lay the ground for the next stage of reform in the NHS. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, with amendments.

12 Oct 2009 : Column 133

Business without Debate

European Union Documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 119(11),

Intelligent Transport Systems

Question agreed to.

Access to Parliament (United Kingdom Members of the European Parliament)

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

Regional Select Committee (West Midlands)

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

REgional Select Committee (Yorkshire and the HUmber)

Motion made,

Hon. Members: Object.

REgional Select Committee (South West)

Motion made,

12 Oct 2009 : Column 134

Hon. Members: Object.


Planning and Development (Essex)

10.1 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): Residents of Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley are deeply concerned about the outline planning permission that borough councillors gave some years ago to develop areas of the green belt around The Chase in Benfleet. I formally objected to a new proposal by Barratt Homes to build 150 houses on the site, and it was expected that further inappropriate development plans for the site would be put forward. I congratulate all petitioners, who do a great public service in defending their community by signing the petition.

The petition states:


12 Oct 2009 : Column 135

Water Charges

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. -(Mark Tami.)

10.3 pm

Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge) (LD): I am grateful for the opportunity to bring again to the Floor of the House an issue that has been of concern to residents of the south-west for a long time-indeed, since 1989, when the then Conservative Government privatised the water companies and, in my view and that of my parliamentary colleagues and most residents of the south-west, created a grave injustice, which has to this day led to the south-west paying more for its water and sewerage than any other part of the country.

I note that Labour Members are present, and that several people from the Labour Benches and from among my Liberal Democrat parliamentary colleagues wish to intervene. I also note, however, that not one Member from the Conservative party is here to debate this important issue.

The Government have been very slow in recognising the difficulties that I have mentioned. However, they have at last produced-reluctantly, perhaps, and later than they should have done-a report that allows us to try to make some progress. In asking Anna Walker to present a report on water charges, the Government have created a useful vehicle for debating not only the issue on which I want to concentrate but a lot of the other issues of water poverty and water shortage.

In her foreword, Anna Walker points out the aim of the review and three of its particular points. The third is to

I highlight the word "fair"-

She goes on:

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