Following receipt of Sir Michael's letter, I consulted the Lord Chancellor, the Leaders of the other two political Parties in the House and the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers, and it has been agreed by us all that a successor to Sir Michael should be appointed following a trawl among the staff of this House, the staff of the House of Commons and the staff of the devolved Assemblies. That decision should in no way be seen as a criticism of the manner in which Sir Michael's colleagues at the Table have been seen to perform their duties, but rather as a recognition that modern appointment procedures should apply to this very senior and crucial post. The timetable set out for the trawl should mean that the recommendation of a successor to Sir Michael can be made to Her Majesty early in May.
I am sure that it will be your Lordships' wish, in due course, to pay tribute to the service of Sir Michael in this House. I am advised that the proper manner of doing that is for the Leader of the House to table a Motion recording the House's appreciation of Sir Michael's services.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, between April 1999 and September 2002, over 481,000 people set a date to quit smoking with the help of NHS smoking cessation services. When followed up four weeks later, nearly 245,000 had successfully quit. There is good evidence that smoke-free workplaces encourage smokers to quit or to reduce consumption. Precise figures are not available for the United Kingdom.
Baroness Gale: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Today is No Smoking Day so I ask the Minister what strategies are in place to assist people to give up smoking, bearing in mind that in the interests of promoting a healthy workforce, more effort should be made to protect people from passive smoking? Is she aware that sensitive groups, such as the 2 million people in this country who suffer from asthma, are affected by passive smoking in the workplace and that it could be a barrier to employment? Does she agree that more measures should be put in place to protect such people?
Baroness Andrews: Yes, my Lords. I can think of no better way to mark No Smoking Day than for the no smoking champion of the House of Lords to ask such a Question. We are committed to informing people about the dangers of passive smoking and to encouraging them in their workplace to persuade their employers to withdraw smoking facilities. We are funding new research projects to find out what employers can and will do in different workplaces, including small and medium enterprises where there is a real problem. The Department of Health is co-ordinating and funding tobacco control alliances in local areas to persuade people of the dangers of passive smoking. More recently we have been putting together new packages of public education and information resources in the media to raise awareness.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, we certainly support the convention and have supported it all along. Some of our provisions are ahead of the convention. There are 192 countries involved which is excellent and we shall give it our full support.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the definition of the House of Lords as a workplace is fraught with difficulty. I cannot give a definitive answer on that. Recently we have had before us some revolutionary proposals. However, there may still be a whiff of cordite in the air, so we shall have to wait to see what the House authorities think about it.
Lord Geddes: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the 2001 official survey, Smoking related behaviour and attitudes, which among other findings, found that only 9 per cent of people worked in places, including the open air, where there were no restrictions on smoking? I declare an interest as a paid-up member of the Lords and Commons Pipe and Cigar Smokers' Club. Can the Minister give an assurance that such minority interests will not continue to be victimised?
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I believe that 3 million people still work in environments where smoking is permitted and are affected by smoking. While we respect the rights of the individual, we are concerned that passive smoking is dangerous and we are doing all that we can to encourage employers and employees to create smoke-free environments.
Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the Motion passed in the National Assembly for Wales, promoted by Mr Alun Pugh Assembly Member, that indicated that the Assembly demanded or requested primary legislation in Westminster to enable the Assembly to regulate smoking in public places in Wales. Will the Minister indicate whether there has been discussion within government at Westminster on this matter and whether it is likely that time will be made available in both Houses of Parliament for such important legislation to be enacted?
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, today is an auspicious day on which to say that Wales has often been a source of inspiration, as has Ireland where there is to be a public ban on smoking. Wales has made a decision in principle that it would like to have such a measure and the matter is before the Secretary of State for Wales.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I respect the noble Baroness's role in promoting the effects of passive smoking particularly in relation to cancer. We are still consulting on the advisory code of practice. We want to get it right, particularly for the small and medium enterprises that are often located in areas of poverty and disadvantage. We will carry on as speedily as possible with the prospect of introducing it.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, can my noble friend indicate how many people in the United Kingdom she expects will die during the next 12 months as a result of active and passive smoking respectively?
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