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Lord Janner of Braunstone: —whose expressive body language has not changed as a result of her giving up the habit.

Lord Warner: My Lords, as I would expect, my noble friend's figures are quite right. I was wondering when the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, would enter the debate. I am not sure whether she participated in one of the many NHS quitters programmes that the Government have stimulated. I can tell the House that nearly 700,000 people have been through those quitters programmes and that after four weeks approaching one-quarter of a million say that they have still quit.

I remind my noble friend that in my Answer I mentioned the "Big Conversation" launched last week by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. Like all good conversationalists we want to listen also to the other side of the argument.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, despite the Minister's reply and the consultation document, the public health Minister has made the Government's current views quite clear; namely, no ban on smoking in public places. Why do the Government not listen to their own Chief Medical Officer? If the Government will not listen to the CMO and to the presidents of the medical royal colleges who wrote in The Times the other day, to whom will they listen?

Lord Warner: My Lords, we always listen to the Chief Medical Officer on all matters because he usually has a great many worthwhile things to say and

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prudent advice to give. The noble Lord will remember that I have just said that the Prime Minister launched the "Big Conversation" with people on a large number of issues. One issue—if he looks at the document—is whether powers should be given to local authorities to introduce a ban in the workplace and public places. Having started that conversation, we wish to hear what people have to say.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I remind the Minister that I have tabled a Bill concerning smoking in public places in Wales. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether, in the light of his comments, the Government intend to support the devolved administrations in dealing with smoking in public places as they see fit for the populations they serve.

Lord Warner: My Lords, as the noble Baroness knows, and from the repeated discussions that we had on the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, the Government regard health as a devolved matter. This is a matter for the Welsh Assembly.

Lord Turnberg: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that a major problem at the moment is the rise in young women taking up smoking? There is a concomitant rise in young women of the nasty diseases that affect smokers. Does he agree that this specific group of individuals in particular should be targeted with anti-smoking activities?

Lord Warner: My Lords, my noble friend is of course right: there are concerns about young women taking up smoking. The other side of the issue is the fact that since the Government came to office, the work on persuading pregnant women to reduce smoking has been very successful, along with the reduction in the prevalence rates of smoking among 10 to 15 year-olds.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the estimate of 1,000 deaths per year due to passive smoking is only an estimate; it is not an actual figure? Does he also agree that other studies show that there is no correlation between passive smoking and disease? Finally, does he agree that it is quite absurd to suggest banning smoking in all public places, which presumably includes roads, when deaths from vehicular emissions are estimated to be 30,000 per year?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am not sure that I agree with the drift of the noble Lord's questions. There is good evidence to suggest that second-hand smoking is deleterious to public health.

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes: My Lords, having listened to the conversation, do the Government intend to act on the outcome?

Lord Warner: My Lords, the Government are famed for listening to points made to them in conversation. I

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see no reason why the conversation that the Government have on these issues should be different from any other.

Lord Morris of Aberavon: My Lords—

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords—

Noble Lords: Cross Bench!

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, does the Minister agree that we might set an example and that the conversation could begin here about voluntarily giving up smoking in this House?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am grateful for that question, but it is not my responsibility to act in respect of what goes on in this place.

Lord Morris of Aberavon: My Lords, is my noble friend right when he says that health is a devolved matter for Wales in this respect? Does it not require primary legislation?

Lord Warner: My Lords, as I understand it, under the Bill proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, action would fall to the Welsh Assembly.

Lord Monson: My Lords, does the Minister agree that despite unproved assertions that passive smoking seriously harms children, most of us over the age of 60—and possibly most of us over the age of 50—were brought up in households in which one or both parents smoked, in some cases heavily, in spite of which we are, by and large, fit, healthy and very much alive to tell the tale?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am not sure that there is a question there.

Offshore Registration of Shipping

2.52 p.m.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are in favour of any change in the current international regime for offshore registration of shipping.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the straightforward answer to the noble Lord is no. Shipping is a global business subject to international regulation in relation to its safety, security and environmental performance. The place of registration of shipping is secondary to ensuring that, whatever the state of registry, it accepts its responsibility for ensuring that all ships on its register comply with internationally agreed safety, security and environmental standards.

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I express my acute disappointment with that Answer. Does the Minister agree that, with the Financial Action Task Force, the Government have worked actively to tighten regulation on offshore financial centres, which leaves the offshore registration of shipping as one of the great unregulated areas of international commerce? Is he aware that funds for shipping in Liberia were for two years going straight into the pocket of Charles Taylor during a civil war? Is he aware that, under current rules, beneficial ownership of ships on the high seas may be virtually impossible to discover? Does his reply suggest that the Government are not strongly supporting the current OECD initiative?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Government are taking the OECD initiative seriously—and, indeed, pre-dated that by participating strongly in initiatives that guarantee increased security of shipping in relation to these shores. The noble Lord will be aware of European requirements with regard to port of entry. The problem with place of registration—or flag of convenience—is straightforward. First, some such states have a better record on security than more traditional maritime nations. Secondly, the question of ownership can easily be covered by charters and forms of registration but, in a global economy, trying to control flag of convenience is not the route forward.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, are the Government satisfied with registration under what are known as flags of convenience, which have involved Liberia and Panama, for example, and have enabled ship owners to avoid inspections for seaworthiness and fair treatment of crews?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I said, we are concerned with tackling the issue of sub-standard ships wherever they are registered. Not all sub-standard ships are registered in the less traditional maritime countries. So the whole effort of the international community through the International Maritime Organisation is less concerned with trying to control registration, which is difficult to achieve in a global economy, than with insisting on standards that ships must reach in order to enter ports. We are playing a leading part with the International Maritime Organisation to tighten those controls, not least in the post-September 11th context, to address the question of the security of such ships entering ports.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that rather than international regulation of ships, it appears to many people on the outside that the law of the jungle is working? He talks of enforcement, but what enforcement has been imposed and by whom about the oil tanker that sank last winter off Portugal, or the car-carrying ship that sank in the Dover Straits and was run into by three other ships because people were not looking where they were going? What real enforcement is there? Will not action be taken only when there is another major accident in European waters?

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