Health Bill Concludes

Baroness Murphy

Yesterday afternoon we concluded discussion of the Commons amendments in the Health Bill. There had been some surprising inserts by the Government in the Commons, in relation to the de-authorisation of NHS Foundation Trusts and ‘the private patients cap’, (both of these are something of a health policy minority sport so I won’t say much about these, even though I personally find them fascinating for the political attitudes they betray) but the most interesting was the amendment tabled in the Commons by Ian McCartney which will have the effect over time of outlawing tobacco vending machines completely. Those of us who want to reduce smoking naturally voted with the Government but I have to say I had a lot of sympathy with the argument that this went much further than the Government’s intention to reduce children having access to tobacco purchase and undoubtedly will create difficulties for companies which make vending machines, who have done a considerable amount of technical development to create machines which can be activated by radar to authorise an adult but not a child. There was anger in our Chamber about the procedures in the Commons whereby an amendment passed without a vote by lazy consent. It was for me an uncomfortable vote but one where I felt I could not renege on my principles even though it might hurt more adults than children in the first instance. I suspect that even more people will be driven to buying tobacco on the black market. The problem is that when we vote it is the overall thrust of the vote that is remembered, not the subtleties and quite frequently I find I am voting for an amendment which does not truly reflect my concerns but it is the best approximation to my views. I see how these votes are publicised by ‘‘ and they can be quite wrong in their analysis of the views which one espouses simply because one has voted for or against a particular amendment.

4 comments for “Health Bill Concludes

  1. Senex
    10/11/2009 at 2:48 pm

    Baroness: “I find I am voting for an amendment which does not truly reflect my concerns but it is the best approximation to my views.”

    Congratulations on becoming a politician. To be one is to mange the art of possibility and compromise.

  2. 11/11/2009 at 8:39 pm

    Difficulties for the manufacturers, absolutely. Was there any mention of the reseller businesses that you have just destroyed?

  3. Jonathan Bagley
    12/11/2009 at 6:27 pm

    If bar managers are trusted not to serve under 18’s with alcohol, they can be trusted not to allow u18’s to operate a remote controlled vending machine. Another option is credit card only machines. What you have supported here is the callous destruction of the livelihoods of many business men and women and the imposition of yet another restriction of personal freedom on everybody. You are excusing your actions on the grounds that this law will reduce smoking prevalence. Well I very much doubt it. As you fear, the black market becomes bigger each time greater prohibition, by tax or bans, is introduced. Are you aware how easily available smuggled tobacco is? Why would an under 18 go into a pub, where he would be looked at suspiciously anyway, in order to spend twice as much as is necessary on a packet of cigarettes. Vindictive bans and bullying don’t work. Smoking among young people in Ireland is now on the increase. You can dress it all up in fine words, but actually, you are operating on the same moral and intellectual level as the Government’s favourite fake-charity propagandists ASH UK. You would gain more respect from opposers of smoking bans by saying that you despise smokers and you wish to make life as uncomfortable and miserable as possible for them while taking 9 billion pounds a year in tobacco tax off them. I can’t put into words my hatred of the smoking ban and the ignorance, stupidity, nastiness and fraud behind it. Has smoking declined overall? No, it hasn’t: it is still at 22%, after falling steadily in the years before the smoking ban. It has, though, declined in some places. For example, it has declined to zero in secure mental hospitals. Did you vote for that? How do excuse that? That, for me, was a new low in British politics. To stop me going to a private club for a smoke is something that even 10 years ago, I couldn’t have envisaged in the UK. But stopping people in mental hospitals from smoking is just barbaric. It’s inexcusable and you should all hang your heads in shame. I now don’t consider myself a member of your society and I know there are many who feel the same.

  4. Jonathan Bagley
    13/11/2009 at 6:34 pm

    And here is you admitting in a condescending manner that the smoking ban in pubs and private members clubs, even those staffed by volunteers, which broke the election manifesto pledge, was not brought in to protect the health of workers, but was an attempt to reduce smoking prevalence. Why should it surprise politicians that there are held in such low regard? And to whom is smoking an unacceptable habit? What else is unacceptable? Being fat? Drinking alcohol? Dangerous sports? Being homosexual?

    “The admission by Grande/Reid was echoed by the email I received from Lady Elaine Murphy after my visit over there. She said:

    “Dear Mr McFadden,
    You and many others have completely missed the point about smoking and health. The aim is reduce the public acceptability of smoking and the culture which surrounds it. We know that legislation which discourages all public smoking will have the better impact on public understanding and perception of smoking as an unacceptable habit.
    Hence fewer people will smoke, hence health overall will improve.”

    Basically an admission that the smoking ban is based on a lie… the lie that it’s about secondary smoke and “protecting the workers’ health”.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

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