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 ‘theyworkforyou.com‘ 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.