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House of Lords

Wednesday, 12th March 2003.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Derby.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

Rowan Douglas, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury—Was (in the usual manner) introduced between the Lord Bishop of London and the Lord Bishop of Durham.

The Duke of Norfolk— Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.

Clerk of the Parliaments: Retirement of Sir Michael Davies, KCB

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, it is my duty to notify your Lordships that I have received the following letter from the Clerk of the Parliaments, Sir Michael Davies:

    "Dear Leader of the House, I should be grateful if you would inform the House that I have asked the Prime Minister to submit to Her Majesty the Queen my resignation from the office of Clerk of the Parliaments with effect from Monday, 14 July. The Prime Minister has indicated to me that Her Majesty will be informed.

    I shall have held the office for some 6½ years, during a period of very great change in the House of Lords. The composition of the House, its working practices and its administration have all been more fundamentally altered during my clerkship than during that of any of my predecessors. The issue of further House of Lords reform remains unsettled, but I believe that it is now right to make way for someone who will take forward the many management and procedural reforms which have recently been introduced.

    It has been an immense privilege to have held my historic office at such a challenging time. I have enjoyed my 39 years in the House of Lords more than I can say. I cannot imagine a friendlier place in which to work and I shall take my leave with nothing but happy memories. I shall follow with great interest any progress towards further changes in the House of Lords, trusting that its current role in our parliamentary system is enhanced rather than diminished.

    Please would you convey to all Members of the House my thanks for their friendship, co-operation and many kindnesses throughout my career.

    Yours sincerely, Michael Davies".

Following receipt of Sir Michael's letter, I consulted the Lord Chancellor, the Leaders of the other two political Parties in the House and the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers, and it has been agreed by us all that a successor to Sir Michael should be appointed following a trawl among the staff of this House, the staff of the House of Commons and the staff of the devolved Assemblies. That decision should in no way be seen as a criticism of the manner in which Sir Michael's colleagues at the Table have been seen to perform their duties, but rather as a recognition that modern appointment procedures should apply to this very senior and crucial post. The timetable set out for the trawl should mean that the recommendation of a successor to Sir Michael can be made to Her Majesty early in May.

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I am sure that it will be your Lordships' wish, in due course, to pay tribute to the service of Sir Michael in this House. I am advised that the proper manner of doing that is for the Leader of the House to table a Motion recording the House's appreciation of Sir Michael's services.


2.44 p.m.

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have successfully given up smoking due to the smoking cessation services; and how many people they would expect to give up smoking if smoking were to be banned in all workplaces.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, between April 1999 and September 2002, over 481,000 people set a date to quit smoking with the help of NHS smoking cessation services. When followed up four weeks later, nearly 245,000 had successfully quit. There is good evidence that smoke-free workplaces encourage smokers to quit or to reduce consumption. Precise figures are not available for the United Kingdom.

Baroness Gale: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Today is No Smoking Day so I ask the Minister what strategies are in place to assist people to give up smoking, bearing in mind that in the interests of promoting a healthy workforce, more effort should be made to protect people from passive smoking? Is she aware that sensitive groups, such as the 2 million people in this country who suffer from asthma, are affected by passive smoking in the workplace and that it could be a barrier to employment? Does she agree that more measures should be put in place to protect such people?

Baroness Andrews: Yes, my Lords. I can think of no better way to mark No Smoking Day than for the no smoking champion of the House of Lords to ask such a Question. We are committed to informing people about the dangers of passive smoking and to encouraging them in their workplace to persuade their employers to withdraw smoking facilities. We are funding new research projects to find out what employers can and will do in different workplaces, including small and medium enterprises where there is a real problem. The Department of Health is co-ordinating and funding tobacco control alliances in local areas to persuade people of the dangers of passive smoking. More recently we have been putting together new packages of public education and information resources in the media to raise awareness.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, does the Minister welcome, as I do, the World Health Organisation's draft convention on tobacco control? Does she recognise that as the first such global public health

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measure it is a significant breakthrough? Even though it has its limitations, will the Government sign up to it in May?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, we certainly support the convention and have supported it all along. Some of our provisions are ahead of the convention. There are 192 countries involved which is excellent and we shall give it our full support.

Lord Peston: My Lords, is your Lordships' House defined as a workplace? If so, is it not about time—particularly today—that we gave a lead on this matter and banned smoking throughout these premises?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the definition of the House of Lords as a workplace is fraught with difficulty. I cannot give a definitive answer on that. Recently we have had before us some revolutionary proposals. However, there may still be a whiff of cordite in the air, so we shall have to wait to see what the House authorities think about it.

Lord Geddes: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the 2001 official survey, Smoking related behaviour and attitudes, which among other findings, found that only 9 per cent of people worked in places, including the open air, where there were no restrictions on smoking? I declare an interest as a paid-up member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club. Can the Minister give an assurance that such minority interests will not continue to be victimised?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I believe that 3 million people still work in environments where smoking is permitted and are affected by smoking. While we respect the rights of the individual, we are concerned that passive smoking is dangerous and we are doing all that we can to encourage employers and employees to create smoke-free environments.

Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the Motion passed in the National Assembly for Wales, promoted by Mr Alun Pugh Assembly Member, that indicated that the Assembly demanded or requested primary legislation in Westminster to enable the Assembly to regulate smoking in public places in Wales. Will the Minister indicate whether there has been discussion within government at Westminster on this matter and whether it is likely that time will be made available in both Houses of Parliament for such important legislation to be enacted?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, today is an auspicious day on which to say that Wales has often been a source of inspiration, as has Ireland where there is to be a public ban on smoking. Wales has made a decision in principle that it would like to have such a measure and the matter is before the Secretary of State for Wales.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that while the measures on workplace smoking

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that she has announced are welcome, there is still considerable concern about the delay in government implementation of the approved code of practice on smoking in the workplace? Is she aware that that is of concern not only to those trying to quit smoking, but also to those who cannot, but want to, exercise the freedom not to work in a smoke-filled environment and to those who are at risk of death and disease from passive smoking?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I respect the noble Baroness's role in promoting the effects of passive smoking particularly in relation to cancer. We are still consulting on the advisory code of practice. We want to get it right, particularly for the small and medium enterprises that are often located in areas of poverty and disadvantage. We will carry on as speedily as possible with the prospect of introducing it.

Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, can my noble friend indicate how many people in the United Kingdom she expects will die during the next 12 months as a result of active and passive smoking respectively?

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