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Sandra Gidley: I am slightly confused by the amendment. I believe that a lot of nicotine replacement therapy is already available. There are a number smoking cessation schemes around the country that were introduced by the Government.
Mike Penning: Yes, there are a number but they are scattered—a scattergun approach is probably the best way to describe it. Certain parts of the country get a lot of help and others get very little. There needs to be national strategy. There also needs to be a self-help element. I was dismayed recently when I spoke to one of the large retailers. It wanted to put nicotine replacement items up next to cigarettes in case people went in to buy cigarettes but—on impulse—thought, “I should really give up.” The retailer was precluded from doing that, and the Minister should address such matters.
Nicotine replacement is an expensive—but a key—part of smoking cessation. We should encourage as many people as possible to give up smoking. I want the Minister to bring together the key stakeholders before 21 July 2009, as the new clause states. If that date is not suitable, will she give me an idea of when that might happen?
Gillian Merron: It has been a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Key. I appreciate that the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead has made it clear that this is a probing new clause. I can confirm that the Government already have a code of practice in place for consultation. They already provide guidance on how to conduct consultations on policies, so I am glad the hon. Gentleman has indicated that the amendment is not needed.
It is true that much progress has been made, but many respondents to our consultation indicated that they want to see nicotine replacement therapy made more easily and cheaply available. I can confirm, therefore, that we are considering our future approach to the matter and how we can support people to quit smoking, more broadly, as part of our tobacco control strategy. We are consulting with experts on smoking cessation about the range of policies needed, and that will include nicotine replacement therapy. I hope, with that reassurance, the hon. Gentleman will confirm that he will not press new clause 12.
Mike Penning: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
That certain written evidence already reported to the House be appended to the proceedings of the Committee.—(Mr. Mike O’Brien)
Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.
Mr. Mike O'Brien: I thank you, Mr. Key, and Mr. O’Hara, for your expert chairmanship of the Committee. I also thank our phantom Chair, Mr. Bercow, who disappeared off to higher and greater things. It has been a good humoured and constructive Committee and I thank the hon. Members for Eddisbury, for Hemel Hempstead, and for Romsey. May I also particularly thank my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln who has so ably taken through a number of clauses—especially on tobacco? I also thank my Parliamentary Private Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South and the officials. On a number of occasions, as we began to speed through the proceedings, I was getting to areas that I had not fully read before, shall we say, and I was able quickly to grasp the essential arguments and deal with them, I hope competently, due to the extremely competent and good briefing that I got. It was clear and concise, and I thank the officials concerned.
I thank the Clerk of the Committee, Mr. Stanton, and our Whip, who has kept everyone, at least on the Government Benches, in order, and also attempted to encourage Opposition Members to stay in order on occasion. I am sure that the Conservative Whip deserves congratulation on the speed of delivery too, on occasion. I also thank Hansard Reporters and the Attendants. We have a Bill in good state, and I am grateful to members of the Committee for delivering it.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: I will be brief in reinforcing the thanks that the Minister has given. I also thank him, because he had to pick up the Bill and master it at great speed. He sought to answer our questions with courtesy and clarity, and I think we have had a constructive discussion.
I thank all the outside bodies that have helped to inform our deliberations, and in particular I pay tribute to their energy and attempts. I wish to place on the record the tremendous support and work that I have had from my researchers, Mr. Sam Barker and Ms Jo Rossiter. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead has had tremendous support from his researcher Mr. Paul Harrison.
I think all the members of the Committee need to be thanked for their dedication to the Bill, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead, who assisted me in leading on the Bill for the official Opposition, our Whip, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Reading, East, my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington for his experience and my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight for his insights.
We thank the Clerk, Mr. Stanton, as well as the Official Reporter, who I know has had the most monumental struggle sorting out the O’Briens. I hope that she might be able to take the message back that while the House style means that once the Christian name and the surname have been put together, it should just be plain “Mr. O’Brien”, it might be helpful in future that reference is to either “Michael” or “Stephen”, depending on who is speaking.
I thank the Doorkeepers and the Badge Messengers and above all, I thank you, Mr. Key, and your predecessor last week, Mr. O’Hara. We realise now that we have had the benefit of you, that it was perhaps not unhelpful that there was a Speaker’s election during the course of our Committee.
Sandra Gidley: Very briefly, I would like to repeat all those thanks. Without going through them all again, may I just say “ditto”?
Question put and agreed to.
Bill, as amended, accordingly to be reported.
4.7 pm
Committee rose.
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