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Baroness Gould of Potternewton: My Lords, I also wish to offer my congratulations to Liverpool City Council and the London local authorities who are promoting the Bills. I wish to concentrate my remarks on Liverpool. I do so because a great deal of my working life involved going back and forth from Liverpool on an almost daily basis, but also—perhaps more important—because my late mother-in-law was born on a Liverpool tram and was granted the freedom of the city of Liverpool.

Until the 1970s, it was thought that only active smokers were at risk from developing cancers of the lung, heart disease and other smoke-related illnesses, but over the past two decades extensive research has proved the contrary and has shown beyond any doubt, it seems to me, that passive smoking can cause the same diseases. When someone smokes, a spiral goes up in the air; 85 per cent of smoke from a cigarette goes up in the air. In that smoke there is a lethal cocktail of over 4,000 chemical compounds, more than 50 of which are known to cause cancer.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, said, ventilation is not the answer. A study by the Health and Safety Authority in Ireland in 2002 determined that ventilation did not reduce levels of second-hand smoke compounds. A view that has been reinforced by the BMA is that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. It cannot be stated too often: non-smokers are at risk, whether they work alongside smokers or whether they go into social environments such as pubs and restaurants.

Women and children face the greatest risk. An estimated 17,000 under-fives are hospitalised each year as a result of passive smoking. Although a European directive entitles expectant and new mothers to be protected against known health risks in the workplace, three in 10 pregnant women in the United Kingdom are exposed to second-hand smoke at work. Babies born to women so exposed, whether at home or in the workplace, are lighter than those born to women not exposed. Second-hand smoke also increases the risk of giving birth prematurely. One study found that mothers exposed daily to second-hand smoke had a 23 per cent increased risk of having a premature birth.

The White Paper Choosing Health, which has been discussed, proposes a ban on smoking in public places other than pubs that do not sell food—so-called wet pubs. That argument is illogical and completely undermines the White Paper's core aim of reducing
 
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inequality. That is not the case as it stands. I hope that the consultation taking place will result in a Bill that provides for a comprehensive smoke-free environment in the workplace. In the mean time, it is essential that we continue to pursue these Bills and provide the evidence behind the reasons for them.

I wish to say why I think that the White Paper's position is illogical and to look at a real situation. Let us look at two women friends, living in Liverpool, who do not have any option about where to work because they must fit their jobs around childcare arrangements and other family responsibilities. They both take jobs in pubs for a few hours each day—one in a pub that serves food and the other in a wet pub, of which there are many, as my noble friend Lord Faulkner said. They both become pregnant. The health of the woman working in the pub that serves food will not be at risk, as she is protected, but her friend working in the wet pub is not protected. I see no fairness or logic in that argument. It is not acceptable for any worker in a non-food pub or private club to suffer the damaging effects of second-hand smoke.

It cannot be stressed too often that it is not an anti-smoking campaign but a health and safety issue. It is about saving lives. Ending smoking in the workplace could save an estimated 5,000 lives each year. The prime concern must be the health consequences. We have also been told that there would be serious economic consequences for restaurateurs, pubs or whatever, but we must look at the other side of that equation. Smoking costs the NHS in Liverpool about £12.5 million each year. The economic cost to employers, as my noble friend said, works out at £28.5 million each year.

Workers who smoke are more likely to be absent from work. Time is lost when workers take a smoke break in working hours. Moreover, employers who continue to allow smoking in the workplace risk claims of damages from employees exposed to second-hand smoke. I cite one case: a woman with asthma was awarded £17,000 in compensation against her former employer, who failed to stop smoking in her presence.

In Ireland, publicans have recently reported no difficulty in implementation. Similarly, in Norway, the ban has had no negative impact. The same applies in other countries—including Malta, New Zealand and Italy, seven states in the USA, most of Canada and parts of Australia—that have introduced a complete ban.

I support the observation of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, who is not in her place, about the importance of initiatives taken by local authorities. In my area of Brighton and Hove, we are looking at coming up with a similar Bill. Although that is good news, it would be even more welcome if the Government came up with a very similar Bill.

I know that we have all received briefings opposing the ban from organisations that have a vested interest. I am more interested in the briefings that I have received from the British Lung Foundation, all the major cancer
 
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organisations, the British Heart Foundation, the Stroke Association and the RCN. It is for them that I wish the Bill success.

Lord Monson: My Lords, will the noble Baroness kindly clarify one of her points? She argued that any exposure, however small, to other people's smoke was harmful. If that is the case, is not the logic of her argument to ban smoking in the street, the gardens of pubs and all other public spaces where large numbers of people congregate?

Baroness Gould of Potternewton: My Lords, banning smoking everywhere is an impractical suggestion. As I said, this is not an anti-smoking campaign: it is a campaign about health and safety at work. That is what we are talking about.

8.30 pm

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, the heat with which the noble Baroness delivered that response shows that, for some people anyway, there is an element of an anti-smoking campaign in this debate. Although I am a smoker, in preparing this speech I have tried to approach these Bills without the prejudice both ways that has been shown so far in this debate and to look at them in exactly the same way as I would any other Bill.

I noted, first, that the 2004 Office for National Statistics report on smoking behaviour and attitudes stated that only 31 per cent of those surveyed thought that smoking should be banned in all pubs and bars, which are of course places of work. We were told earlier that that statistic is not viable in Liverpool and most London boroughs. Be that as it may, places of work are described in both Bills very widely. Clause 4 states that,

is considered such. But it does not include domestic premises. These days more and more people work from home. Some homes even have a room set aside for an office into which members of the public go from time to time. Is it logical that they are not covered? That is one of the lesser matters that the Select Committee, on which I am afraid we will have to waste valuable parliamentary time and resources, should examine.

More seriously, the Bills state that a place of work includes any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft. As far as the last three are concerned, I assume that that means when they are attached to land, tied up in the ports of Liverpool or London, for example. I would be grateful if the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, or perhaps the Minister, could enlighten me with their interpretation when they wind up.

"Any vehicle" includes cars and lorries. How are drivers or other smoking occupants to know whether they are acting illegally? Very few will know whether they are in a smoking at work area. Will Liverpool city or London borough boundaries be marked in some way, as are the entrances to the London congestion charge area? The problem of whether you are in or out of the smoking at work area is especially acute in
 
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London because the purport of the London Bill is only to authorise borough councils to opt in to the proposed regime.

It is particularly noteworthy that the City of Westminster, which historically promotes Greater London private Bills through Parliament and is promoting this one, has said that it has no intention to apply a public smoking ban in Westminster. I now hear that there are other boroughs of the same mind. But I would challenge any working driver to know the exact boundaries of Westminster or any other London borough. I wonder, too, how many would know the exact boundaries of Liverpool. Confusion would reign supreme.

That is why, with the hospitality industry, I believe that the only solution to the problem of smoking at work is to have an Act of Parliament covering the whole country, which, of course, the Government have said that they would enact. They said it in the White Paper, Choosing Health, they said it during the general election campaign, and they said it again in the Queen's Speech. They are currently consulting on their proposals. I have no doubt that by this time next year a Bill will be well into its parliamentary passage.

I have a couple of questions for the noble Baroness, Lady Royall. First, if these Bills become law, which I hope they will not, will they override the Government's Act? In other words, what action will the Government take? Will they override these private Acts or be overridden in the particular areas covered by them? Secondly, does she believe that level 5 on the standard scale is a proportionate fine? Does this crime really compare with, for example, the unlawful movement of special waste, which attracts the same level of fine?

There are so many technical problems with these intemperate Bills that I am not in the least surprised that there are 19 petitions against the Liverpool Bill and 20 against the London Bill. Many make the same points and have been drafted by the same parliamentary agents. I was particularly struck by one of them from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and others on the Liverpool Bill. This states that:

This is no way to legislate, especially on a subject as sensitive as this which, as other noble Lords have said, is highly likely to damage the hospitality industry. The proper way to legislate in this area is to amend the government Bill when we get it, if indeed it needs amendment. I find these Bills a recipe for damaging trade and general confusion.

8.36 pm


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