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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, where does the Minister get the extraordinary idea that the test of probable cause that the Americans apply is much less demanding than the test of showing that there is a case to answer, which we applied until 2003, when the Government made the new order? Is it not clear that, in the present extradition arrangements, there is a substantial unbalance that needs to be remedied? Will the Government now get around to revoking their 2003 order and the 2003 treaty itself?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, no. The noble Lord and I enjoyed ourselves enormously during the 2003 debates on that Bill, as did a number of noble Lords. We went through the matter again and again. Nothing appears to have changed since we enjoyed those lengthy debates.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, is not the present unbalance a consequence of the failure of the Government to foresee, as they should have done, the possibility that the United States Senate would not ratify the treaty?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the issues were foreseen. There are difficulties, which we explored when we debated the issues on other occasions. The Senate has its processes that have to be gone through, and we have, of course, strenuously encouraged our American partners to deal with the matter as quickly and as expeditiously as possible. We continue to press that case in a very direct way.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, on the last occasion when this question was raised, were we not told that it made no difference in practice that the treaty had not yet been ratified by Congress and that extradition continues to take place and will continue to take place both ways, as one would expect?
Lord Dubs: My Lords, many people are puzzled as to why it is proper to extradite British citizens to the United States for offences committed in this country. Could my noble friend explain the rationale for that?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the issue is whether there is an offence in another country that falls within our current extradition rules. If there is such an offence, the treaty would bite and, applying those provisions, the extradition would take place. We have benefited greatly from those provisions, as do our partners. The United States are in the same position as every other country in the schedule of which they are part.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, does the noble Baroness not see the unfairness? Three bankers were extradited for something that the Americans accused them of doing in this country, which our Crown Prosecution Service took no notice of and said that no offence had been committed. The noble Baroness simply looks away and cannot understand the unfairness of
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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the noble Earl has been in the House longer than I have. Therefore, I am confident that he understands the rules of sub judice, just as every other person in the House does.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the opposition in Congress to ratification was based very much on American domestic politics and, in particular, the views of the Irish-American lobby, which resists anything that could extend British jurisdiction over cases in that country? Are the Government making representations to say that it is not an issue of British/Irish-American relations but a much broader set of judicial issues?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the noble Lord touches on issues that are, of course, sensitive to the United States. We have made it absolutely clear that the issue should be dealt with expeditiously. When I saw the Deputy Attorney General very recently, I impressed on him that very point. Those matters are being pressed with our American partners at every possible opportunity.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, those cases are currently being debated judicially. I have not taken advice, but we know well that we are not entitled to speak about cases that are currently being dealt with by the courts.
Lord Elder: My Lords, does the Minister accept, notwithstanding the extreme robustness of her response, that there is huge disquiet on all sides of the House about the situation? As there is before the House a Bill that would seek to redress what many of us see as an issue that needs to be resolved, does she also accept, again notwithstanding the robustness of her response, that that opportunity should and, I suspect, will be taken by this House to ask the Commons to think again about the matter and to seek to change the view of the Executive?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I understand the sentiment that is being expressed. The law is as it currently is; obviously, it is up to this House to debate the issue, as I dare say it will when the matter comes before it later.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Health Bill has consented to place her Interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
( ) Subject to prescribed conditions, regulations under subsection (1) shall provide that where a vehicle is being used by no more than one person at a time, even if it is a place of work, it is not smoke-free.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a slightly amended version of an amendment moved on Report by the noble Earl, Lord Howe. Partly because of the lateness of the hourit was after 9.30 pmand partly because the Minister had pointed out a small, but significant drafting defect, the noble Earl decided not to press his amendment at that stage, while reserving the right to return to it at a later stage. In the end, he decided not to do so, which is why some of us have picked up the baton after altering one small, but significant, word in the drafting.
Perhaps I can explain. The Minister had argued that the original amendment was superfluous, since powers already existed in the Bill to enable the Government to relax slightly the very severe restrictions set out in Clause 5 if they chose ultimately to do so, at the time of the regulations being framed. This amendment therefore ensures that the restrictions in question will indeed be slightly relaxed so that it will no longer be illegal for people to smoke in vehicles used for business, provided that they are only occupied by one person at a time. Of course, companies, unincorporated businesses and partnerships would still have the freedom to impose their own restrictions if they so chose. The restrictions that remain in Clause 5 would still be very severe compared with the status quo or with the laws that prevail in continental Europe.
The Government seem to be arguing that second-hand smoke is not only disagreeablefew would quarrel with thatbut also that it is one of the most deadly poisons known to man and that it remains poisonous hours after the last smoker has left the
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To say that there is a potentially lethal health risk from someone getting into the cab [of a lorry or tractor] after the previous driver has been smoking there seems ... ridiculous. If there is any residual smoke present, it will disappear rapidly ... there should be a common-sense cut-off point in these matters.[Official Report, 19/06/06; cols. 603-04.]
Despite that, the Government argue that, although employees in prisons, residential care homes and hotels will have no protection, all other employees must be protected from the slightest exposure at all costs. But, even on this basis, the law will be defective. An employed salesman, for example, who flies from London to Newcastle for a day, picking up a hire car from the airport, could well find that car reeking of the smoke from the previous occupant. The same could apply if he had to spend the night in a hotel room. Moreover, the clause does not confine its tentacles to employees. As I have pointed out at earlier stages, it will hit a partnership consisting of two people who may well be a husband and wife team, both of whom smoke and neither of whom has the slightest desire to be protected from each other. To quote the noble Earl, Lord Howe, once again, the Government are ignoring reality and common sense. I beg to move.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, I support the noble Lord, Lord Monson. The implementation of Clause 5 reflects all that is wrong with the Bill because nowhere is the Government's response proportionate to the risk. It does not matter whether you look at the global situation or the fact that 25 per cent of the adults of this nation smoke and still want to smokeno provision is made for them. The noble Lord mentioned passive smoking, but not once have the Government conceded an iota that the alleged death sentence from passive smoking is highly speculative and highly unlikely to happen.
In this case, the Minister rightly says that this is a mobile place of work and that, in this circumstance, drivers must snuff out their cigarettes. But the question that Parliament has to ask itself is: who is going to enforce this situation? Will it be the police? We know that the police are not the least bit interested in enforcing this positionunderstandably, as we read daily in the press how stretched they are. Will it be the local authorities? I have spoken to my local authority and it is not in the least bit keen to take on this new burden.
The conclusionthe Minister has not yet said this but it is the only logical conclusionis that we are going to have a whole host of mobile community protection units, presumably on motorcycles and mopeds, checking on whether those who are smoking in their cabs are sole drivers. It is totally unworkable, and that is the problem with so much of the Bill. The central thrust of the Bill is fine; it is the unworkability of certain sections that, frankly, makes a mockery of what this is all about. We all know what happens with seat belts in taxisno one fixes their seat belt in a taxi.
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Instead of slavishly following Scotlands left-wing, do-good and frankly pretty useless Government, why can we not just for once take a close look at what they do all over the continent, find out which is the best procedure for this situation, and implement that? That seems a sensible way forward. That is why I very much support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. I hope that the Minister will respond positively, and that he will not do what happened after Report. In the newspaper the next morning I read that we will have no smoking signs in every bus shelter in the United Kingdom, 98 per cent of which are open to the air. But perhaps the Minister was misreported. I very much support the noble Lord.
Lord Russell-Johnston: My Lords, I take the opportunity afforded by this amendmentwhich I support because I think it is sensibleto make one short, final intervention in this debate, which has gone on for a long time. A number of colleaguesnotably the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, across the Floor on the Labour Benches, to which we know he always shows great loyalty; the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, who has just spoken from the Conservative Benches; and myself from the Liberal Back Benches, my Front Bench having given the Government unequivocal supporthave consistently opposed the part of the Bill dealing with smoking, which I regard as draconian and repressive legislation quite unnecessarily and unjustifiably restricting freedom of choice.
None of usincluding the noble Lords, Lord Naseby and Lord Monsonhas denied that smokers, despite the pleasure that they derive from the habit, of which there has been little mention in the debate, face a risk of cancer. That is a fact that we accept. None of us has denied the right of non-smokers to enjoy smoke-free conditions in their workplace, in public places and on public transportalthough bus shelters, as the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, said, may be slightly different. But I think that all of us continue to believe that the extent of damage to health from so-called passive smoking, difficult as it is to quantify and evaluate, is, in the terms of the Scottish legal verdict, non-proven. Nevertheless, our amendments have accepted that which we doubted, in the interests of seeking a fair and balanced solution. Separation, we have argued, provided both protection and choice. This has been rejected with uncompromising zealotrythough the Minister is not really a typical zealot; its a bit out of character. But it is the same logic: the same logic that led to alcohol prohibition in the United States and that led to the burning of shops which sold alcohol in Beirut. It is an intolerant logic and it is wrong.
Lord Palmer: My Lords, I have put my name to this amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Monson. I could not agree more with him. It is the degree of inconsistency of the Governments smoking policyin that one is allowed to smoke in old peoples homes and in prisons but not elsewherethat seems so extraordinary. I hope that the Minister will accept this very small amendment.
Earl Howe: My Lords, having tabled a similar amendment at previous stages of the Bill, and having argued at some length in favour of it, I am more than happy to give this amendment my support for the reasons so eloquently expressed by other noble Lords.
The root premise of the Bill is that prolonged and substantial exposure to environmental tobacco smoke carries with it unacceptable risks to health. To say that the cab of a lorry in which a single driver has previously been smoking presents an unacceptable health risk to anyone subsequently getting into it seems absurd. No arguments have been advanced by the Government to persuade me that we should take that proposition seriously. Indeed, it seems to me that in this matter the Minister has relied much more on assertion and arbitrary demarcation lines than on sound science.
We have said before, and it is worth saying again, that this is not a Bill to protect the public from any quantity of environmental tobacco smoke, no matter how tiny. It is a Bill that attempts to address what one might call the larger picture. We are at risk of taking the Bill to unworkable extremes if we insist that a farm worker on his own in the cab of a tractor, or a company executive driving alone in a pool car, may not have a cigarette. The Government have made it clear that work vehicles that are only ever used by one person will not have to be smoke-free. How it will be possible in all cases for enforcement officers to distinguish that situation from the kind that I have just mentioned is not at all clear. I, for one, would argue that for the law to seek to make that distinction is pointless.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, I want to make just three points to make the Liberal Democrat Front-Bench position clear. I do not regard my noble friend Lord Russell-Johnston, of whom I am very fond, as politically incorrect; he is just incorrect on this matter. As we have said in previous debates, residual smoke stays for a very long time. The level of danger which that poses to an individual who goes into a confined space, of which a car is one, may vary, partly on the condition of the person, such as whether he has an asthmatic condition which triggers it. Nevertheless, the smoke is present for some considerable time.
My second point concerns the accusationI think it was an accusationthat the Scottish Executive, of whom the Liberal Democrats are part, are do-gooders.
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My final point, which is the one that sways me, is that people at work often have to put up with other people's behaviour, such as other peoples smoke. They often feel that they are not in a position to challenge it, but they do not want it because it is unpleasant, irritating or damaging to their health.
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