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Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord because he has come up with another very useful and new doctrine which I hope will be adopted by the Governmentthat is, that if a large number of people in opinion polls say that they are against a proposition which was in the Labour Party's manifesto, it should be dropped.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, it is not a suggestion that a commitment should be dropped. The Government very sensibly consulted on how the policy should be implemented, and when they discovered that the proposal to exempt private members' clubs and, indeed, pubs that do not serve food, had absolutely no support whatever, it was not surprising that the House of Commons was given the opportunity, on a free vote, to come to a view on whether that policy should survive. As your Lordships know, the decision to remove this exemption
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I am sure my noble friend Lord Warner will be delighted to share with the House the basis on which the department conducted the consultation when he replies to the debate, or perhaps now.
Lord Warner: My Lords, I am always keen to help the House be better informed on this subject. Those who attended the Grand Committee, which is not very many in this House who are speaking with great authority on this subject, would have learnt that we consulted a wide range of stakeholders and interests after the election, many of whom reflected the views of a much larger group of people. There were 57,000 replies. These were replies not from individuals but from major organisations. I can satisfy the noble Lord's thirst for knowledge in this area by sending him a copy of those documents so that he is better informed on this issue. As my noble friend Lord Faulkner is saying so eloquently, they demonstrate that a very large number of people and organisations in this country took a different view from that which had prevailed when the manifesto was drafted.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, that more or less brings me to the end of what I want to say. The outcome of that consultation was the vote in the other place on 14 February. There was a majority of 384 to 184, and 276 Labour Members of Parliamentall of whom had been elected at the May elections, all of whom perhaps can be regarded as the guardians of the manifestovoted for it. They outnumbered the
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"Noes" on the Labour side by five to one. I hope we will have exactly the same result in this House if this goes to a Division today.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I wish to speak very briefly on this and to take up the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit. As regards the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, about the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, and getting assistance from the TMA, he will realise that many of the briefings which have been provided to Members on all sides of the House have been from ASH and other anti-smoking organisations which have been subsidised to the extent of £2,691,848 by the Government over the past five years. That is a yearly average of £538,369 from the public purse. We all get help from time to time from various organisations and the TMA is just as entitled as the Government to subsidise briefings that are made in relation to discussions in this House.
My point about the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, concerns the manifesto commitment. I really must say something in support of the Government here because they did in fact try to honour their manifesto commitment. The original Bill they put before the House of Commons was, of course, honestly in accordance with their manifesto commitment. So the Government did their best. But, I am afraid, the House of Commonsand this was carried by Labour Members of Parliamentdecided otherwise.
The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and others at the Committee stage tried to persuade me and others that a manifesto commitment could be overturned by Back-Bench Members of the House of Commons. But I have to remind the House that Back-Bench Members are just as committed to the manifesto as Front-Bench Members. I just want to correct the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, and to say that the Government did at least try to uphold the manifesto commitment. It was unfortunate that it was spoilt by the Secretary of State for Health, who, after recommending the Bill to the House of Commons, actually voted against it. That is a great pity.
Amendment No. 5 would reinstate the possibility of exempting membership clubs from the smoke-free provisions, as a number of noble Lords have said. I have to remind noble Lords that the issue of whether or not private members' clubs should be exempt from the smoke-free provisions was the subject of a free vote at the Report stage in the other place. The clear view that was expressed there was that private members' clubsand, of course, other licensed premisesshould be treated in the same way as other public places and workplaces. On the first vote, the majority in favour of extending the ban to membership clubs was 200; on the second vote on whether the ban should extend to membership clubs and all other licensed premises the majority grew to 284. In short, the House
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of Commons took the view that the legislation should go further than the position in the Labour Party's manifesto in the interests of the public health.
I am not trying to disguise that fact. That was the decision that was taken in the other place. It is the Government's firm view that that was the right decision, both in terms of public health and in reflecting public opinion.
A number of noble Lords have referred to the issue of why the situation changed. My noble friend Lord Faulkner cited the change in public opinion reflected in the post-election consultation. We have always said as a Government that we would listen to public opinion on the smoke-free provisions in the Bill. That is why we offered a public consultation after the election. Our original proposals offered a balance between minimising the risk to workers and non-smokers whilst retaining some places for smoking. However, as I said earlier, we listened to many different views inside and outside Parliament and the growing opinion in England in support of a more comprehensive set of measures.
When the Labour Party's manifesto was drafted, public support for smoke-free pubs and bars was not as strong in England as to warrant comprehensive legislation. It was, as I think a number of noble Lords have said, both today and at the Committee stage, about 50 per cent in favour of a ban. A large majority of the population in England now support a law to make pubs and bars entirely smoke free. While only about half the population supported entirely smoke-free pubs and bars in England in April-May 2004, in under two yearsthat is, by the end of 2005that proportion of support for a complete ban had risen to two-thirds and looked as though it was continuing to rise.
It shows great credit that the Government are prepared to listen to that changing mood on something which a number of noble Lords have said is about culture. The culture of public attitude is changing on this issue. I accept that it may not be changing in one or two places in this House quite as quickly as public opinion, but it is changing in this particular area. The other place voted to create a level playing field in the hospitality sector both in economic terms and, importantlyas a number of noble Lords have saidin terms of protecting the health of workers and patrons.
As the noble Lord, Lord Walton, made clear, this amendment would create unfair competition for a large section of the hospitality industry. All pubs, bars and restaurants would have to become smoke-free, while the membership club next door could continue to permit smoking. Private clubs with bars frequently compete with pubs in their local area. It is understandable then that the pub trade is strongly opposed to this amendment. In an editorial on 26 January, the Morning Advertiserthe newspaper of the pub industryrecommended that,
The amendment would also result in disparities in protection from second-hand smoke for workers or patrons in membership clubs compared with those in other hospitality venues. Work in a membership club is similar, if not identical, to work in other hospitality venues. That is the reality of the position in most clubs, as a number of noble Lords have correctly identified. Yet this amendment would mean that a person working behind the bar in a membership club would be expected to breathe hazardous second-hand smoke while a person working behind the bar in a pub would be protected under the law. That is the situation that we would create if we passed this amendment. I know which side of the argument I and the rest of the Government want to stand on.
"strongly opposes the proposal that members' clubs are exempt from the ban. If the basis for banning smoking is to protect staff working in licensed premises, those working in members' clubs deserve the same protection. Allowing smoking in members' clubs would lead to a migration of drinkers from local pubs into the members' clubs, which could essentially become smoking clubs. This loss of custom to small licensed premises could drive them out of business".
The Bill will ensure a level playing field for the hospitality industry, equal protection from harm for all workers in the hospitality industry and consistency with smoke-free legislation in Scotland. A bit of consistency in that area is no bad thing.
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