Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Monson: My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, first tabled this amendment I thought that perhaps he was being slightly paranoid but, having heard the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, this afternoon, I very much see what the noble Lord is getting at. There may be more people than we think who believe with the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, that smoking should be banned in the home.

I really wanted to speak about Amendment No. 9, which is a government amendment, which for some strange reason has been grouped with Amendment No. 8. I do not know why because they seem to bear no relation to one another but, as I take it that the Minister does not want to degroup it, I shall discuss it now. Amendment No. 9 is certainly an improvement on the present wording, so it is welcome as far as it goes. But the amendment uses the words "significant quantities of smoke" when it should really refer to "significant risk to health". There is considerable difference between the two; let me illustrate this with an example.

The noble Lord, Lord Renton, is one of the most assiduous and energetic contributors to your Lordships' deliberations, as I am sure your Lordships will acknowledge. When he is not in the Chamber or the Division Lobby—and I saw him in the Lobby this afternoon—he keeps himself hale and hearty by walking along to the Truro Room, there to inhale deep lungfuls of second-hand tobacco smoke while carrying out his preparation and research. Clearly, the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is exposed to "significant quantities of smoke" but, equally, this does not appear to pose a significant risk to his health, as the noble Lord is in his 98th year. Will the Minister take that on board with a view to accepting an amendment to improve the wording as I have suggested at Third Reading?

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I briefly ask a question about the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. I am an ardent anti-smoker, as anyone who heard me speak in previous stages of debate on this Bill, in Committee and at Second Reading, will know, but I decided that the arguments
19 Jun 2006 : Column 580
had been so thoroughly gone through there that I would not join in this debate. However, I want to ask about this because it is a new area. Should the Government accept the noble Lord's amendment, although given the Minister's mood this afternoon that seems unlikely, I would like to be assured that nothing in the amendment would mean that any worker going into a home was put in difficulty in terms of their employment.

As the Minister will know, the domiciliary care organisations are extremely concerned about what will happen to protect home care workers going into homes where they will be exposed to second-hand smoke. While I am sure that no doctor, paramedic or social care worker would wish to put any vulnerable person in their care at risk, it is essential that we understand the complexities and the difficulties that that will cause for some workers in relation to second-hand smoke. I want to make sure that this amendment, were it accepted, would not complicate that already complicated issue.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I have two points on which I should like some guidance from the Minister because I am not sure that I am reading this legislation correctly. One relates to an issue that the noble Baroness has just raised. Is a private home in which carers are employed bound to be a smoke-free zone? That is to say, are carers protected?

I must say that in the case of my own home I rather turn around from the position from which I have spoken today, in that we have more trouble with carers who smoke in our smoke-free home than there is any risk to carers to carers coming in and having to breathe smoke from cigarettes that my wife and I have smoked—because neither of us smokes. I do not know where the legislation lies there, and I should be grateful for some clarification. It might help other people as well.

Secondly, Clause 2(2) says:

and then there are some caveats or enlargements, and,

Then they fall into the smoke-free category.

As I understand it now, a flat used by two whores or two rent boys is no longer regarded as brothel that should be closed down, but is a place of work. Will it be the effect of this Bill, if it is enacted as it is, that while most things could go on in such premises, some of which some of us might regard as distinctly unhealthy, the one thing that would be prohibited would be smoking? Even more, I understand that such premises do not have to give access to medical officers of health. As I understand the Bill—and I stand to be corrected and am sure that the Minister will have enormous fun in correcting me if I am wrong, the anti-smoking inspector will have the right to go there to ensure that in the aforesaid whore's or rent boy's bedroom there is a notice that says "no smoking". Now I think that
19 Jun 2006 : Column 581
there are worse things than smoking that might be going on—but I should just like to know whether my reading of the legislation is correct.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I want to explain to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, why I think that there is a real problem with the amendment that he has tabled in relation to Wales. The National Assembly for Wales had a committee on smoking in public places which was chaired by Val Lloyd, AM, and reported in May 2005. The committee worked out the areas that it would like to make exemptions for. The places that the National Assembly for Wales designated and the wording of the amendment are in conflict. The amendment states that it would be,

The exemptions outlined in the report from the Assembly include,

So there is a real conflict with the amendment, with nothing specifying that Wales would be exempt. Wales has waited a long time to be able to have provisions to make is own regulations.

Lord Naseby: My Lords, of course it is perfectly within the powers of the Welsh Assembly to provide its own amendments to the regulations, so I do not know that England should necessarily be dictated to by the situation in Wales.

7.30 pm

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I think that the problem is that we are now dealing with the primary legislation; the secondary legislation comes later. The National Assembly for Wales, as I understand it, would be bound by this clause. Perhaps the Minister could clarify that. I understand that it will not be until after the Government of Wales Bill has passed that the Assembly will be able to put forward an Order in Council to have the powers to overturn the primary legislation aspect to the Bill. That is a long way down the road. We are still debating the Government of Wales Bill and the Order in Council procedure is not well worked out. I am greatly reassured by seeing nods from my fellow Welsh Peers.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I would like to make a comment on each of the amendments. The first one, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, is troubling—there is no doubt about that. A person's home is a person's home. In English parlance, it is his castle. I am extremely worried that some people may consider it not as his home but as their place of work. It really will cause enormous difficulties if there are people, particularly old people, who have smoked all their lives and depend on a cigarette for comfort but need the attention of the social services or doctors. Unless they stop smoking, which may kill them—and it could kill them, make no mistake about it—they will not get the attention that they need. That is a serious
19 Jun 2006 : Column 582
point, which needs clearing up. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Warner, will be able to clear it up, perhaps not at this stage, but later.

The other point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. He makes the very reasonable point that we should be talking about people in the open air being exposed to significant risk of harm from smoke. If they are not at risk of harm from smoke, we are talking about something of a different order. I am pleased that the Minister has tabled this amendment, but I think that he could go a bit further. There has been mention of second-hand smoke being harmful in open-air situations, but I do not know of any study that says that a whiff of somebody else's smoke out in the open air is dangerous. I wonder whether the noble Lord would look at this provision and put in the caveat that people have to be at risk of harm from other people's smoke.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page