HC Deb 28 March 1960 vol 620 cc945-6
38. Dr. A. Thompson

asked the Minister of Health if he will consult the Minister of Transport with a view to securing nation-wide acceptance of the principle that access to the lower decks of public service vehicles shall be restricted to non-smokers in order to protect passengers, particularly older ones, suffering from chest complaints from the distress that may be caused by excessively smoky atmospheres.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I understand that the principle to which the hon. Member refers is widely applied in practice. Bus operators naturally wish to satisfy their passengers, and my right hon. Friend and I think it best to leave it to them and to the Traffic Commissioners to decide according to local circumstances.

Dr. Thompson

While admitting the undoubted talent of the Minister of Transport, may I ask the Minister what special medical knowledge he has applied to the case wherein he more or less stated that the inhabitants of Durham who suffer from chest complaints are peculiarly immune to the effects of polluted atmosphere? Will he bear in mind the fact that what is required, and what has been asked for by the County Councils Association in a memorandum to the two Ministers concerned, is the introduction throughout the country of the prohibition of smoking on the lower decks of double-deck vehicles, thereby dispensing with the necessity to prove the need for such a requirement on the occasion of every application for a licence?

Mr. Walker-Smith

In answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I understand that my right hon. Friend allowed an appeal in the Durham case solely in view of the individual circumstances of that particular case. He accepted that, in principle, a ban on smoking could, quite probably, be made a condition of the granting of a road service licence by the Traffic Commissioners. On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I am aware of the county councils' recommendation to my right hon. Friend, and I will certainly give it due consideration.

Mr. Marquand

Is the Minister aware that the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) and myself have made representations to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport about this matter and have requested an interview? Will he in the meantime consult his right hon. Friend and explain to him the importance of preventing women, children and other people being subjected to smoking on the lower decks of buses?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I am sure that my right hon. Friend is generally aware of all the broad considerations which arise in this matter.

Forward to