HL Deb 23 April 2004 vol 660 cc548-52

3.27 p.m.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Finlay of Llandaff.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Viscount Simon) in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Prohibition of smoking in public places in Wales]:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 3, after "prohibition" insert "or restriction

The noble Baroness said: All the amendments tabled today are in response to comments noble Lords made on Second Reading. I hope that they will clarify areas of potential confusion. I will try to be very brief in addressing them because I am well aware of the time on a Friday afternoon, but I am grateful that the Government have given time for the Bill.

Amendment No. 1 clarifies that the Bill gives powers to the National Assembly for Wales to restrict or prohibit the smoking of tobacco products in public places in Wales, allowing flexibility to the Assembly. The consultation exercise being undertaken by the Assembly will reveal what the population want and how they wish a ban to be implemented. The Assembly must be able to respond to the wishes of the people that it serves. The amendment will allow the Assembly to limit by place and time rather than only ban or not ban.

Amendment No. 8 ensures that the long title of the Bill is accurate. The Bill does not ban smoking in public places per se; it empowers the Assembly to do whatever it feels appropriate. It gives the Assembly the powers that Scotland already has and the Assembly has requested. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 2: Page 1, line 3, after "tobacco" insert "products

The noble Baroness said: For clarification, I had asked that Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 be degrouped from Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 7. I shall address Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 now.

In all five amendments, definitions are addressed. The first two cover specific definitions. Amendment No. 2 covers all tobacco products that can be smoked and not only pure tobacco. That is compatible with the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 and keeps the same definition as is already used in legislation. Amendment No. 3 concerns contravention of regulations in Section 1. It would prevent the owner or his deputy, manager or other person in charge of a place encouraging the flouting of the law. Such encouragement could occur if the smoker is the only person committing an offence. The amendment would also ensure that the owner of a premises, or his delegated person in charge, has a duty to bring the ban to the attention of members of the public, such as tourists, who may be unaware of local regulations that pertain to Wales. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Offence]:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 3: Page 1, line 7, at end insert— () Where in relation to any place specified in section (Definitions) there is a contravention of regulations under section 1, the occupier, manager and any other person for the time being in charge of the place shall each be guilty of an offence.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 4: Page 1, line 8, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Baroness said: I shall now speak to the amendments that have been degrouped. Amendment No. 4 would remove Clause 2(2) to the proposed new definitions section. Amendment No. 5 is consequential on it. Amendment No. 7 would create the definition clause. In it, "tobacco products" would mean any product consisting wholly or partly of tobacco. That is the definition used in the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 and, again, it ensures compatibility with existing legislation.

The definition of a "public place" was of concern to your Lordships. Therefore, I have taken extensive advice on it. A public place means any premises or place to which, at the material time, the public or any section of it have access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.

A public place was so defined to allow the Welsh Assembly to decide the venues that it wishes to deem covered in its secondary legislation. This definition of public places is based on a well founded definition in the Public Order Act 1936. As its name suggests, that deals with areas where the public congregate. That Act concerns the wearing of uniform in connection with political objects. Just as such a uniform can cause offence or anxiety, smoking can cause harm or anxiety of harm to those who do not wish to be exposed to the hazard.

The definition would allow the Millennium Stadium to be covered by secondary legislation if the Assembly wishes. Also, new architectural designs may emerge which the Assembly would wish to encompass in its regulations and which cannot be accounted for by tight lists.

"At the material time" includes the times that such places are open to the public, but not otherwise. It is intended to allow regulatory flexibility to the Assembly to prescribe those times more precisely and could cover such times as an hour prior to the opening of a private house or residence to the public as occurs in some places in country houses on a Sunday.

The Assembly would have the flexibility of deciding to which type of public place the legislation should apply. That flexibility allows the Assembly to assess the most effective way of pursuing the ban and to respond to its own detailed consultation exercise across Wales. I beg to move.

Lord Elis-Thomas

I declare an interest as presiding officer of the National Assembly. I support Amendment No. 7, in particular, and thank my noble friend Lady Finlay for addressing the issues raised at Second Reading. This Bill, and these amendments in particular, provide an excellent example of what co-legislation between Westminster and Cardiff should be about. This House and, one hopes, another place, is able to address the general framework issues, enabling the National Assembly and the leadership of the Welsh Assembly government to pursue the detail. I refer particularly to Alun Pugh AM, now the Minister for Culture, who was the initial instigator of this whole project and is now actively pursuing his campaign on public health in public buildings throughout Wales. That is as it should be; it is a sign of devolutionary times and a test for Parliament and Westminster in framing legislation, as well as a test for the Assembly in Cardiff in terms of the details of legislation. I am happy to support my noble friend and to thank her for the lead she is taking in this matter in this House.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 [Orders and regulations]:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 5: Page 2, line 1, leave out "2(1)" and insert "2

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 2, leave out "imprisonment for more than three months or

The noble Baroness said: The amendment will delete imprisonment as part of the process, should any ban be contravened. I had previously had the phrase, imprisonment for more than three months",

in the Bill. The amendment will ensure proportionality to the offence, and will avoid the Bill being disproportionately punitive. I listened very carefully to the debate and took account of all the points made by noble Lords and others outside the Chamber over the issue of potential imprisonment. It is worth noting that Ireland has included the possibility of imprisonment in its legislation. However, I was persuaded by your Lordships that it might be inappropriately punitive and burdensome on our already over-stretched prison services. I beg to move.

Lord Roper

We on these Benches are grateful that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, has introduced the amendment. Given the present situation of our prisons, we are extremely cautious about doing anything that might increase overcrowding. We are very pleased that the amendment has been introduced.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 7: After Clause 3, insert the following new clause—


In this Act—

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

In the Title:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff moved Amendment No. 8: Line 1, leave out "Prohibit" and insert "Enable the prohibition or restriction of

On Question, amendment agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

House adjourned at twenty-one minutes before four o'clock.