18 Mar 2005 : Column 501

House of Commons

Friday 18 March 2005

The House met at half-past Nine o'clock


The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker, pursuant to the Standing Order.

[Sir Michael Lord in the Chair]

9.34 am

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab): I beg to move, That the House sit in private.

Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 163 (Motions to sit in private):—

The House divided: Ayes 0, Noes 26.

Division No. 147
[9.34 am


Tellers for the Ayes:Mr. Kevin Barron and Mrs. Betty Williams


Barker, Gregory
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Cooper, Yvette
Dawson, Hilton
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Forth, rh Eric
Garnier, Edward
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hunter, Andrew
Jamieson, David
Loughton, Tim
Mackay, rh Andrew
Merron, Gillian
Morgan, Julie
Robathan, Andrew
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Ward, Claire
Willis, Phil
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Win Griffiths and
Hywel Williams

It appearing on the report of the Division that fewer than 40 Members were present, Mr. Deputy Speaker declared that the Question was not decided.

18 Mar 2005 : Column 501

18 Mar 2005 : Column 502

Orders of the Day

Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

9.45 am

Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to give the National Assembly for Wales the powers that it requires to protect employees and members of the public in Wales from the effects of second-hand smoke. The Bill has the backing of hon. Members of all parties and of many organisations and individuals across Wales and England, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, the Wales TUC, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Asthma UK, the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation and Cancer Research UK.

The public health lobby has rightly made achieving smoke-free workplaces and enclosed public places one of its top priorities, and at the outset I thank them for all their support and in particular ASH for its work in preparation for today's debate.

Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West) (Con): The hon. Lady has kindly given the House information about those who support the Bill. Would she like to expose those who have expressed opposition to it?

Julie Morgan: The only people who have expressed opposition to the Bill are hon. Members, and they may make their views known later. I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention.

I particularly want to thank Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, who pioneered a similar Bill in the other place during the last Session. She did a great deal of preparation for the present Bill. I also have the support of the children's charities in Wales and of the Children's Commissioner for Wales, who are all concerned about the effect of passive smoking on children's health.

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way at such an early stage in her debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley) asked her who opposed the Bill. Am I right in thinking that the Government do not support her Bill?

Julie Morgan: We look forward to the Minister giving his views at the end of the debate, so we will hear what he has to say then.

Imperial college researchers recently published research which showed that children regularly exposed to smoking are three times more likely to contract lung cancer in later life than those who live in non-smoking homes. That is a fundamental point.

I have consulted widely in my constituency, Cardiff, North. I have held public meetings with the local community, and last week I held a public meeting for representatives of children's charities and for local
18 Mar 2005 : Column 503
children in primary schools. Over 200 posters were submitted by local children to illustrate my Bill. It was a tremendous experience talking to the children in their schools and at the meeting about their views on smoking.

Mr. Garnier: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way a second time. In her wide consultations on the Bill, has she had an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Secretary of State for Wales, the Secretary of State for Health or any of their junior Ministers to see what the Government's attitude is to being consulted, and what their attitude might be towards the content of her Bill? I should be interested to place the debate in context at this early stage.

Julie Morgan: I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that intervention. Yes, I have discussed the Bill with all those to whom he refers, and there is general sympathy with the aims.

Over 200 posters were submitted by local children to illustrate my Bill and they showed the depth of their perception of the dangers of passive smoking, and the unfairness of being unable to breathe smoke-free air because of what some of the children saw as the selfishness of some adults. They used captions such as, "Stop the ciggies, save the kiddies", "Stop smoking and we will stop choking", "Think—don't smoke around your children. Your children's lungs are not an ashtray", "Smoker, loser, loner—get the picture?", and in Welsh, "Tân y ddraig, nid mwg yr ysgyfaint"—that is, "The fire of the dragon, not the smoke from your lungs". Those children's words remind us of the terrible damage smoking does to people in Wales.

Smoking-related illness causes about 6,000 deaths in Wales each year, as the Library's excellent research paper shows. For example, in 2001 just over 15,000 new cancer cases were recorded in Wales, and we can expect about 30 per cent. to have resulted from smoking. The proportion of adults in Wales who smoke is approximately 27 per cent.—higher than the figure in England, reflecting the fact that Wales is a poorer country.

The overall figure hides wide variations between different parts of Wales, but particularly between different communities and social classes. I remind hon. Members that smoking is the greatest single contributor to health inequalities and to differences in life expectancy between social classes. We know that people who are poorer smoke more. To quote one stark statistic, on average across the UK a man in social class 5, the poorest, has a 50 per cent. chance of living to the age of 70, while a man in social class 1, the richest, has about a 70 per cent. chance of doing so, and by far the largest factor in that difference is smoking. Surely it is imperative that we do something about that huge risk. Anyone who cares about the most basic measure of social equality—how long we live—must care about smoking.

During the past 50 years, successive Governments have taken steps to cut smoking rates. We have already raised prices, put warnings on packets, banned advertising and restricted sales to minors.
18 Mar 2005 : Column 504

Mrs. Betty Williams (Conwy) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware that the British Medical Journal announced the results of its report on the "Today" programme on Radio 4 today, and is she aware of the content of that report?

Julie Morgan: I thank my hon. Friend for all her support on the issue. Yes, I am aware of the results announced on Radio 4 this morning, and I believe that the success in cutting smoking has not been as the Government would wish, which makes it even more important that this Bill should be passed.

Despite all the efforts that successive Governments have made, the pain, grief and loss caused by smoking continue. It has been the great invisible tragedy of modern industrial societies, particularly in Wales. If we want a healthy nation in which every citizen has the best chance of a long and healthy life, we must continue to look for new ways to tackle the problem, and the Bill is one way of doing so.

It is now a well-established fact that the most powerful new policy lever available to cut smoking rates is to end smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places. My Bill aims to stop smoking in all enclosed public places. Many workplaces are public places, and many workplaces do not need legislation because they are implementing such a policy themselves. On no smoking day this year, the National Assembly for Wales announced that all its buildings would be smoke free, as did Cardiff and Vale NHS trust, whose Heath hospital is the biggest in Wales. The trust also included the hospital curtilages, so there was no smoking in the hospital entrances, which gave rise to some debate. I am sure that everyone will have seen the mass of cigarette butts at hospital entrances, with people standing around smoking.

Next Section IndexHome Page