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Palace of Westminster: Smoking

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission whether legislation covering smoking in public places will be applied to the Palace of Westminster and all its outbuildings within the Parliamentary estate. (141621)

As I said in my reply to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Doran) on 20 March 2007, Official Report, column 757W:

“The Health Act 2006 introduces a ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed or substantially enclosed public places from 1 July 2007. While the Act does not formally apply on the parliamentary estate, the Commission, on the advice of the Administration Committee, has decided that the House should comply with the principles of the legislation, as it is not desirable that those who work on or visit the parliamentary estate should be treated differently in this respect than in other workplaces and public places. The Commission recognises, however, that many who work on the estate are unavoidably present for long periods, particularly when the House is sitting. It is therefore desirable to make reasonable provision for those who wish to smoke to do so, provided that the health and safety of other users of the estate is not adversely affected.

With these principles in mind, the Commission has decided that smoking should cease to be permitted from 1 July 2007 in all internal areas of the House of Commons estate, including in bars and private offices. From that date smoking will, however, be permitted in four designated external areas: the Terrace, Commons Court (North West corner), North Terrace (between Portcullis House and Norman Shaw South), and in a designated area on the west side of Canon Row courtyard. Cigarette receptacles will be provided in these areas. “No Smoking” signs will be displayed at entrances to the buildings. I understand that the House of Lords Administration and Works Committee will report its recommendations shortly on the smoking policy for the Lords part of the Parliamentary Estate.”

I understand that the House of Lords agreed to the recommended policy on Wednesday 9 May.