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Smoke-free (Penalties and Discounted Amounts) Regulations 2007

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 27 February 2007

rose to move, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Smoke-free (Penalties and Discounted Amounts) Regulations 2007. 8th Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.

The noble Baroness said: In moving that this Committee consider the draft Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order, I shall speak also to the draft Smoke-free (Penalties and Discounted Amounts) Regulations and the draft Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations. These are draft instruments proposed under powers contained in Part 1 of the Health Act 2006.

I am delighted to bring these draft instruments before the Committee and, as both the subjects covered by these draft instruments were discussed extensively during the passage of the Health Act, I hope that the Committee sees the logic in considering these instruments together. I will take each of the instruments in turn to provide an overview of their effect as well as of their background.

The Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order changes the age of sale of tobacco products from 16 to 18 years by amending the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. It also has the effect of changing the signage requirements for retail premises to reflect this change in age by amending the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991. It is our intention that these effects will take place from 1 October 2007 in both England and Wales. I am pleased to say that there was almost universal support for the increase in the age of sale of tobacco to 18 in response to the consultation that was held over the summer of 2006. It was agreed that the measure will help to reduce the availability of tobacco to young people, reinforce the dangers of smoking and make it easier for retailers to comply with the law.

I will now consider the two sets of draft regulations to be made under powers in the smoke free parts of the Health Act. The detailed provisions in the draft sets of regulations were subject to full public consultation in the second part of 2006. The drafts being considered today have been improved and strengthened based on the feedback that the Government have received from stakeholders and members of the public through the public consultation process. The Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations will apply only to England. I shall first go through the very limited exemptions to smoke free legislation, and then move on to vehicles that will have to be smoke free.

As my noble friend Lord Warner set out during the passage of the Health Bill through this place last year, I want to be clear that the Government propose very few exemptions from the protection that this legislation will give the public and employees. It is important to reiterate that smoke-free legislation will not apply to private dwellings, apart from any part of a dwelling that is used solely for work for more than one person or where the public has access. Self-contained residential accommodation for temporary or holiday use will also not be required to be smoke free under this legislation, although the manager of the accommodation might choose to make it non-smoking. The regulations deal only with premises that would otherwise be required to be smoke free under the provisions of the Health Act.

Exemptions are provided to allow managers to designate specific rooms for smoking in the following types of premises—hotels, guest houses, inns, hostels and members’ clubs, which may designate smoking bedrooms for the accommodation of guests or members. All other parts of the premises must be smoke free at all times. Dormitories and other shared accommodation that is made available under separate arrangements with the individuals who share that accommodation, such as in youth hostels, must be smoke free at all times.

Care homes, hospices and prisons may designate either bedrooms or rooms to be used only for smoking for use by persons over the age of 18. Notwithstanding the exemption for prisons within these regulations, I can confirm that the Prison Service is to introduce stricter controls on smoking in prisons, which will apply to both publicly and privately-provided prisons.

Residential mental health units may designate either bedrooms or rooms to be used only for smoking for use by persons over the age of 18 only until 1 July 2008, under provisions that were amended from the initial proposals published last year by the Government. The proposals in the regulations are made after consideration of the responses from stakeholders received from the department’s public consultation last year. Offshore installations may designate rooms to be used only for smoking. Research and testing facilities may designate rooms as not smoke free only while the rooms are being used for specified research or tests. Specialist tobacconist shops may allow people to sample cigars or pipe tobacco within the shop premises, but smoking of any other product, including cigarettes, is to be prohibited.

Under the draft regulations, any premises that have designated rooms for smoking must meet a number of conditions for smoking to be permitted. If not all the conditions are met, the room would need to be required to be smoke free at all times. The conditions are designed to best protect people from second-hand smoke and are universally applicable, while not being unduly onerous or burdensome. The regulations also include an exemption for performers. Where the artistic integrity of a performance makes it appropriate for a person who is taking part in that performance to smoke, the part of the premises in which that person performs will not be required to be smoke free. The exemption to allow smoking applies to the performer only and only during the performance.

Even though a limited number of exemptions will be made available by the regulations, there remains no obligation at all on people in charge of premises to implement exemptions to allow smoking within their premises. The regulations will also require vehicles to be smoke free at all times if they are used either to transport members of the public, whether or not for reward or hire, or in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person, as either a driver or as a passenger, even if people use the vehicle for work at different times of the day, or only intermittently. Importantly, that reproduces the same level of protection for people in enclosed or substantially enclosed workplaces and public places that are vehicles as people will have in places that are not vehicles.

Public or work vehicles that have a roof that can be stowed or removed will not be required to be smoke free when conveying people if the roof is completely removed or stowed, but the vehicle would be required to be smoke free if the roof is in place. Under the new law, a roof would include both a removable hard top as well as a canvas or fabric cover.

Like private dwellings, private vehicles will not be covered by smoke-free legislation. Under the regulations, a vehicle will not be required to be smoke-free if it is used primarily for the private purposes of a person who either owns the vehicle, or has a right to use the vehicle that is not restricted to a particular journey. That means, for example, that either a leased car provided to an employee under their employment contract or a rented car would not have to be smoke free if it is used primarily for private purposes.

The drafting of the regulations has been improved by listening to stakeholders who responded to the public consultation that the department ran last year, by clarifying that private vehicles used only occasionally for work purposes would not be required to be smoke free.

Finally, I turn to the Smoke-free (Penalties and Discounted Amounts) Regulations 2007. These regulations specify the fine levels for the three smoke-free offences set out in the Health Act, and will apply to both England and Wales. The proposals in these regulations have not changed from the draft regulations that were consulted on last summer, or indeed from what my noble friend Lord Warner, of Brockley, set out during the passage of the Health Bill through this place last year.

To recap, I shall detail the fines for offences and penalties. First, the offence relating to the display of no-smoking signs is level 3 on the standard scale—currently £1,000—or a fixed penalty of £200 discounted to £150 if the penalty is paid within 15 days from when the notice is issued. Secondly, the offence of smoking in a smoke-free place is level 1 on the standard scale—currently £200—or a fixed penalty of £50 discounted to £30. Thirdly, the offence of failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place is level 4 on the standard scale—currently £2,500—and there is no fixed penalty for this offence.

The levels set are fair and proportionate and reflect advice that was received from the Home Office and responses to earlier consultations that were held on smoke-free legislation. It is clear that fines for the offences of failing to display appropriate no smoking signs and failing to prevent smoking in smoke-free places have to be sufficient to act as a deterrent.

Enforcement authorities will be working hard with businesses to support them to understand and to implement properly smoke-free legislation in their premises in the lead-up to 1 July, and the approach to enforcement will be non-confrontational. The Government are encouraging people to comply with the new laws from the outset, and if they do, no enforcement action, penalties or fines will be necessary. Of course, for most businesses, compliance will be straightforward, consisting of displaying no-smoking signs, and making sure they take the necessary action to ensure that people do not smoke in any enclosed or substantially enclosed part of their premises. I commend these regulations to the Committee.

Moved, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Smoke-free (Penalties and Discounted Amounts) Regulations 2007. 8th Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.—(Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the regulations with her customary clarity. We all remember the extensive debates on these matters during the passage of last year's Health Bill. I do not intend to use this occasion to stage a rerun of any of the issues of principle contained in it. However, one or two matters of detail arise from her speech on which I would appreciate clarification.

I welcome one particular set of regulations, the Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order. Most of the impetus for the smoking restrictions contained in the Health Act originated from a wish to curb the incidence of second-hand tobacco smoke and the health effects of passive smoking, but Section 13 of the Act was inserted with a view to bearing down directly on smoking prevalence. I am very pleased that the results of the consultation on this issue have enabled the Government to make the order, as it is important and potentially beneficial for the nation's health in the long term.

On enforcement, research in the United States has shown that the more stringently and vigorously such regulation is enforced—I am talking now about the sale of tobacco to young people—the more likely it is that smoking rates among the young will fall. Of course, retail outlets are not the only places where children buy cigarettes. My worry is that illicit sources of tobacco will substitute for the sources that this order will close off. Are the Government’s predictions about reduced cigarette consumption a little on the optimistic side, given that the black market in smuggled cigarettes is difficult to police and given that the enforcement effort that is planned to back up these regulations does not look as though it will be all that energetic? It seems to me that effective enforcement in this area is likely to produce a greater health dividend than enforcement directed towards smoke-free premises, which to a large extent should be self-policing.

For the sake of the retail trade, can the Government do anything to encourage the uptake by young people of cards which demonstrate proof of age? Perhaps they could also encourage a consolidation of the various different card schemes so that retailers are in a much better position to know for certain that the prospective purchaser of a packet of cigarettes is not under age.

I now move to the regulations covering exemptions and vehicles. There is one feature of these in particular that I was surprised to see. Regulation 10 contains an exemption for designated rooms in adult mental health units. However, the exemption is for 12 months only. Can the Minister say why the Government have adopted a different approach towards mental health units from the one that they have taken, for example, towards prisons? Presumably they have consulted the relevant professional bodies on this issue. Is she satisfied that the special circumstances of mental health patients, many of whom find smoking to be therapeutic and a source of relaxation, have been taken fully into account? I am concerned that a complete ban in mental health establishments may prove difficult for patients and staff alike.

Regulation 3 covers private accommodation. The exclusions in paragraph (2) do not seem to me to be comprehensive. There are exclusions for carers and domestic workers, builders and maintenance men who work in private dwellings. What about people who work in other capacities, such as carpet fitters and furniture delivery men? It does not seem to me that they fit into the definitions set out in sub-paragraphs (a) to (d).

I should like to ask about performances. During our debates on the Bill, I was extremely grateful to the Government for agreeing to introduce an amendment exempting theatrical and other performances from the smoke-free regulations. There is a specific provision in Section 3(8) of the Act to cover not only performances but also rehearsals. However, the regulations before us appear to cover only performances. There is no mention of rehearsals, unless “performance” is taken to include rehearsal. Can the Minister say why that is? I should perhaps say that Equity and the Society of London Theatre, among others, have expressed their concern about this. I am sure I do not need to tell her that it is almost impossible to expect an actor to smoke during a performance on stage, especially if he or she is a non-smoker, unless they have previously been able to rehearse doing so.

Regulation 9 covers research. Could the Minister tell me whether research that is specifically market-related is covered? I am thinking here of research conducted by a tobacco company designed to test consumer reaction to different brands. If that is not allowed for, why not?

I was concerned to read recently that substantial sums of public money—£29.5 million—are to be made available to local authorities to fund the training and deployment of under-cover anti-smoking enforcement officers in pubs and clubs. We all recognise that these regulations have to be enforced, but this does look like a particularly heavy-handed and, frankly, over-zealous way of setting about it. Can the Minister comment on this?

Can she also comment on the enforcement of the regulations in so far as they apply to vehicles? I find it difficult to imagine how it will be possible to tell whether a vehicle is being used for business or private purposes in any given situation; or indeed how effective policing will be possible at all. As regards the application of the regulations, what about hire cars, which have an inherently ambiguous status? Presumably there is nothing to prevent someone smoking in a hire car if he or she is using it for private purposes: but if he does smoke, will that render the car unusable by anyone else? Presumably not. To get round this problem, can she say whether car hire firms will be able to designate some vehicles in their fleets as smoke-free vehicles and some non-smoke-free? What about company pool cars which can be allocated to employees without restriction and may be used for private purposes as well as for business? If a user of a pool car smokes while driving it for private purposes, what are the implications of his doing so for other potential users of the car, or are there none? The Minister will gather from this that I do not find the wording of Regulation 11 to be wholly clear. Did I understand correctly that the exemption for private vehicles applies at all times irrespective of the use of the vehicle, even though the primary purpose of the use is private?

I have a concern about the proposed fines. Naturally, I realise that the penalty levels quoted in the regulation are maxima and do not necessarily represent the likely average level of fine. However, why is the maximum fine for a licensee or pub owner for failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place as much as £2,500, when in Scotland the figure is only £250? What can be the justification for that? And why is there such a large difference between the maximum fine of £2,500 for a licensee in England for failing to prevent smoking and the maximum fine for a smoker, which is only £50, with a reduction to £30 if they pay soon?

Finally, I should like to ask the Minister about litter. More and more smokers will be forced to smoke outside once these regulations come into force. What steps will the Government take to bring to the attention of employers their duty of care to ensure that littering does not occur outside places of work? Is the Minister aware that to place a small bin outside any listed building for cigarette ends—they are known as butt bins—requires planning permission? The result in many areas is that there are no bins at all, and the problem of littering is very considerable. Can anything be done to make it easier for the owners of listed buildings to put butt bins outside them?

I hope the Minister will be able to shed light on these questions either today or, failing that, perhaps by letter.

I warmly support the implementation of the instruments. I have the advantage over some of my noble colleagues in that I come from a part of the United Kingdom that is already smoke free; I shall try very hard not to sound superior during the rest of my brief remarks. The department would be well advised to pay attention to the experience of Scotland, which demonstrates beyond peradventure that if the preparation, the change in culture and the education both of the public and of those who are in the various trades and professions most directly affected by the regulations are approached early, fears are dealt with directly and openly. The Scottish experience shows that one can win the argument before the law starts to bite. If preparation and forethought is given to the introduction of the regulations, many of the problems that are anticipated will fall away.

Scotland capitalised on the rather evident public support that obtained there, and the opinion poll evidence that I have seen to date suggests that that is also evident south of the border and in other parts of the United Kingdom, so that is something that can and should be done. Promoting effective co-ordination between local authorities and local government agencies is very important. The lead must be taken by local authorities and by government agencies as, I think, happened in Scotland. Benefits flowed directly from that. Informing employers, restaurants and others about the provisions of the smoke free law in advance of the legislation biting, in my experience, pays handsome dividends.

I have two questions that relate to cost. The cost has been raised already in the Grand Committee. First, £29 million is certainly a large figure; although I am conscious of the fact that local government colleagues are always complaining that burdens are being placed by Parliament on local authority apparatus without the commensurate means to discharge the responsibilities at law. Therefore, I assume that £29 million is an outside figure. Certainly, in the Scottish experience, it was much less than had been bargained for because of the culture change that had been planned in advance of the implementation of the regulations. The Committee needs a little more explanation of the £29 million figure.

The Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order 2007 is welcome. However, at paragraph 30 of the Explanatory Memorandum, the Department of Health has suggested a cost for the communications campaign of around £1 million. That does not seem like a lot of money for an advertising campaign. To be effective in reaching young people, it would have to be television image-directed. I am no expert in modern advertising budgets, but £1 million does not seem to be a lot.

If we are talking about money, the Committee would benefit from a little more information about the £29 million that is to be put in the hands of local authorities. At the same time, the Minister would make me sleep more easily in my bed if she could say something a little more extensive about the budget for advertising. Reaching young people as part of implementing the orders will be very important if we are to get the outcome that the Government seek.

I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Royall of Blaisdon, for explaining the orders, although she will not expect me, a libertarian and a sceptic about scientific claims that are unsupported by empirical evidence, to be enthusiastic about them.

I shall start off on a slightly carping note: the phrase “smoke free” is used frequently throughout the regulations, but they really mean “tobacco smoke free” and “herbal cigarette smoke free”, herbal cigarettes containing no tobacco. There is no freedom from the smoke from bonfires, which can be extremely noxious, with people burning plastics and all sorts of dangerous things. Nor is there any freedom from traffic pollution or industrial pollution. The Minister will remember that no less a person than the Deputy Prime Minister told the House of Commons not long ago that 40,000 people a year died from traffic pollution and industrial pollution, a figure vastly in excess of the most extreme number of people who were said to have died from passive smoking.

I shall go through the orders in turn. First, I will deal with the penalties. I find the fine of £1,000, albeit with the option of a fixed penalty, in relation to the display of “No Smoking” signs rather alarming. How widespread do the “No Smoking” signs have to be? I read in the paper—yesterday, I think, or perhaps today—that clergymen in Wales were being told that they had to put up “No Smoking” signs in churches. That is extraordinary, although it does not apply to England. I have never—

The noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, is probably thinking of the splendid memorial meeting for the late Lord Harris of High Cross, which took place a week ago in St John’s, Smith Square. People were allowed to smoke in the crypt, but a crypt, I believe, is not a consecrated part of a church.

Can I put the noble Lord right? St John’s, Smith Square, does not happen to be a consecrated church. On the same point, however, I have had to ask people going into a wedding in our local cathedral to snuff out their cigarettes—I promise you.

I did not realise that St John’s, Smith Square, had been deconsecrated; that explains a lot. I am horrified to hear about what happened in her cathedral. Twenty-five years ago in Venice, my wife and I were horrified to see a party of German peasants—“peasants” is the only word that one can use—wearing those short-peaked caps that one finds in Nordic countries and smoking small cigars as they went into St Mark’s. They got a long way in before they were stopped. I have never come across that in England; I am horrified that we are not as well behaved in this country as I had thought we were. It must be pretty unusual all the same. However, it would be nice to hear from the noble Baroness whether it would be necessary to pollute our parish churches and cathedrals with “No Smoking” signs all over the place. They are not venues where you would expect people to smoke.

Like the noble Earl, Lord Howe, I am alarmed at the very high maximum penalty for failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free place; that is, £2,500. As he says, that is much higher than applies in Scotland. What will happen if the landlord of a pub or the manager of a restaurant tries to evict someone who is smoking? Will he not be arrested by the police for assault? We constantly read of people trying to make citizen’s arrests in a very public-spirited fashion being arrested by the police and kept in a stinking cell for several hours because they have allegedly taken the law into their own hands. Is there not a danger that that will happen here? Why is there no lower fixed penalty for this offence as there is for the others?

On the exemptions and vehicles regulations, I am delighted that provision is made for offshore installations to have designated rooms which are well insulated so that smoke cannot drift into other parts. But why are not workers on the mainland given rooms which are well sealed so that smoke does not pollute other parts of the factory, office block or whatever? Why are only offshore installations being given this privilege? Obviously, it cannot be dangerous, because the Government would not allow that. It seems to me to be mean spirited.

I see that vehicles partly enclosed by a roof are caught by the regulations, which will presumably knock out a Citroën “Deux Chevaux”, if such an example still exists. But a vehicle where the hood folds down totally into the body is exempt. There are not many cars used for business in that category now, but I suspect that there may be once these regulations come into play. Again, on a point of detail, under Regulation 11(5)(b) of Part 3, a vehicle is exempt where someone,

“has a right to use it which is not restricted to a particular journey”.

I have been trying to puzzle that out: I am probably very dense, but I am not quite sure of the subtlety there.

Finally, on the sale of tobacco to young persons, there is not really very much that I can say except to repeat that it is paradoxical that a Government, which six-and-a-quarter years ago used the Parliament Act to force through a law to allow boys and girls of 16 and 17 to be subjected to dangerous sexual practices—which the noble Lord, McColl of Dulwich, a great medical expert, told us was twice as dangerous as smoking in moderation—are restricting tobacco for people of the same age group, even if it is not being banned totally. I do not suppose that I will get very far on that, but I would be interested in answers to my earlier queries.

Like my noble friend Lord Howe, I congratulate the Government on the age for buying cigarettes being raised to 18. That is brilliant and very well done. I have a problem with the exposure of staff in care homes, hospices and prisons to smoking. Does that conflict with the European Convention on Human Rights where the staff will be exposed if the inmates are allowed to smoke? I am concerned about that because people who have a real problem about smoke probably would not be able to be employed in those areas, which is discriminatory, is it not?

I know that the noble Lord will not be terribly keen on my point about Ireland. The fixed penalty for smoking in a non-smoking premises, to which he objected so strongly, is up to €3,000 in Ireland, which is £2,000. So the penalties we have here are well within the range. Frankly, you need something fairly drastic to stop all this, because otherwise people will try to get around it.

I want to ask the noble Baroness about vehicles. Regulation 11(1)(b), under “Vehicles”, states that,

“in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person (even if those persons use the vehicle at different times, or only intermittently)”.

Lots of people use their own vehicles to give lifts to the elderly to day care centres or to help with meals on wheels. If they smoke in their private vehicles, and continue to do so, will they be stopped from doing that? There might be a problem there. Obviously, I would not want smoking to go on in vehicles when people are being moved in them, as there will be a residual smell of smoke, which causes problems for people as well. I would like to know what the Government’s view is on that.

Are bonfires and the particulates from cars not covered by the Clean Air Act and also by the vehicle regulations which have reduced emissions? I would have thought so. A lot of parish churches and cathedrals are used for musical events, plays and so on. Many so-called secular events take place in cathedrals because their upkeep is so expensive and they are always touting for business. That is another problem.

What about posters? We are talking about a very small amount for TV, which would buy you nothing after agent’s commission and so on. What about the manufacture of posters and smoke-free signs? Will the Government give those to people? Will they be free? Or will everyone have to pay for them?

The noble Baroness suggested that the staff in prisons, care homes, and so on, might have their human rights violated if they were ultra-sensitive—like the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, who unfortunately has an extreme condition—and they were not able to take a job. Would that not apply equally to chambermaids in hotels who suffered from that condition, or to room-service staff generally?

Like the noble Earl, I intend to resist the temptation to go over the debates that we had during the passage of the Health Bill. I also congratulate my noble friend and the Government on producing what is now a coherent and what will be an immensely popular policy when the new regulations come into force on 1 July. It is one of those rare occasions when public mood and government policy are wholly in tune.

The experience that we will have in England is the experience that has already occurred in all those countries that have gone smoke free before us. The noble Baroness has referred to Ireland, and the noble Lord has referred to Scotland. Until lunchtime today, I was travelling back from New Zealand, which went entirely smoke free in 2004. The opposition to the Bill in New Zealand was probably stronger than it was in any part of the British Isles. There was a fear that businesses would suffer and that there would be considerable reluctance on the part of native New Zealanders to observe it. That has not been the case. The law is rigorously enforced in New Zealand, not by armies of inspectors, but by the pressure of the public just saying to people, “Excuse me, you cannot smoke here”. In none of the places where smoke-free legislation applied in New Zealand was there any hint that people were flouting it. In the hotel bedrooms, there are rather fierce notices saying that the room is non-smoking, and if you smoke they will clean the room and charge you a supplementary amount for doing so. A number of hotels that I was staying in had notices to that effect.

I think that these regulations are fine. I was a little unhappy about one or two of the exemptions that were included, but I understood why they were. My one question to my noble friend is whether there will be an opportunity in perhaps two or three years’ time to review these regulations to see whether it is necessary, for example, to allow West End theatre productions to continue with smoking on the stage. I do not think that we should have made that concession; it has not been made elsewhere. But, as I say, I do not want to carp or cavil.

I regret also that the legislation will not apply to areas where substantial numbers of people congregate but that are technically in the open air. I am thinking particularly of sports stadiums that are in the open and not covered. The inconvenience and unpleasantness caused by tobacco smoke from smokers around one in a stadium is very substantial. Happily, the Football League is going entirely smoke-free off its own bat from next season. I hope that the other leagues in England and Scotland will follow. The same applies to railway stations and bus stations where large numbers of people congregate. Those places are technically not enclosed but people can suffer great inconvenience and possibly have their health damaged as a result of breathing in second-hand smoke.

As I say, however, I believe that this is another chapter on what is going to be a very successful policy. I commend my noble friend on introducing it.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, has been kind enough to acknowledge the fact that, as an asthmatic, I have problems with cigarette smoke. I am sure that these regulations will help many people who suffer from asthma and other smoke-related diseases going about their everyday business, and I thoroughly approve of them.

I am very grateful for the broad welcome that most noble Lords have given the regulations. I shall attempt to answer all the points raised today.

The noble Earl, Lord Howe, raised some points on the Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order 2007. We do not think that there will be a significant knock-on effect on illicit sales. We are not aware of evidence on that point from Ireland, which recently increased the age limit from 16 to 18. We know that children get their cigarettes from a variety of sources, not only shops but friends and families. Street sellers are one source, but our information indicates that only about 5 per cent of young smokers have bought cigarettes from street sellers and that a smaller number get them from their parents—how disgusting. We therefore do not believe that this is a matter of major concern, although it is concerning. It is wise for us to monitor future surveys to identify and act on any changes that might occur.

I turn to why the exemptions for mental health units are different from those for, for example, prisons and hotels. When we embarked on our consultation our proposals for mental health units were similar to those for the other places, that they should be exempt. However, the overwhelming response to the consultation was that all residents in mental health units had a right to have long-term exemptions. The respondents gave a range of reasons; for example: people with mental illness already faced health inequalities and stigma which can be exacerbated by perpetuating smoking in mental health units; given the health inequalities faced by mental health patients, there should be concern for the physical health as well as the mental health of these patients; as the Government have made a White Paper commitment to make the NHS smoke-free, why should mental health patients not benefit from that commitment; and that a culture of smoking exists in mental health settings among residents and staff, and some smokers who go into mental health units as non-smokers leave as smokers. Some people put the contrary view as expressed by the noble Lord, but they were in the minority at, I think, 25 per cent as opposed to 69 per cent of respondents.

Therefore, as the noble Earl will know, we have decided that there will be a sunset clause, and that there will be exemptions. There will be bedrooms or rooms used only for smoking, which must meet the conditions set out in the regulations. The mental health units must designate either bedrooms or rooms to be used only for smoking for persons over the age of 18 until 1 July 2008; thereafter, there will be a total exemption. It was also felt that this was a much simpler process for the people managing the mental health units to deal with.

In response to the point about carers and domestic workers—and what about carpet fitters?—we consider that delivery men and carpet fitters would be covered by the provisions in the regulations because such people maintain the structure and the fabric of the building. They will not be exempt; we are looking after their interests as well. I see that the noble Lord does not quite agree with that, but it is the view of the Government.

With regard to artistic performances, the Government have also received communications from various people involved in the business who have asked why rehearsals cannot be included as well as artistic performances. The Government’s view is that people can practise smoking, or whatever, outside, where they are perfectly free to smoke—or, if it is for artistic purposes, they can use pretend cigarettes. We believe it is necessary for people to be allowed to smoke only during the performance for artistic effect. We have considered that carefully, and that is the view.

In response to the point about research and testing facilities, in November last year, British American Tobacco wrote to officials in the Department of Health to confirm its understanding that its research and development activities would not be affected by the exemption—if that was the point the noble Earl was making.

Is the Minister saying that those activities would not be affected by the exemption, and so would not be exempt?

Yes. They would not be exempt. BAT is able to test its products, as it does now.

Rental vehicles would not be covered by these regulations if they were used primarily for the private purposes of the person who rented the vehicle. It would be the responsibility of the person renting the vehicle to ensure that it was smoke free if required under this legislation. Of course, many rental companies encourage people not to smoke in their vehicles to decrease cleaning costs and increase resale values. I noted in the short debate on this issue that took place yesterday in the other place that the Minister suggested that some large car hire companies might want to designate part of their fleet solely for those people who wish to smoke in vehicles that they hire, and other parts of the fleet solely for people who do not. She is discussing that issue with the car hire companies.

Regarding the “armies of enforcement officers”, some commentators have estimated that there will be 10,000 full-time officers across England. We believe that that is a ridiculous estimate, and it is not based on any fact that we know. We know from other jurisdictions that have introduced smoke-free laws that compliance builds very quickly and that enforcement action is generally not needed. All the stories about “smoking spies” are pure fantasy. Local authorities will want to help businesses to comply with the new laws in the first place so that penalties should not be necessary. There will be no spies—I give your Lordships my undertaking.

We understand the concerns expressed by the noble Earl on litter problems. On planning issues such as erecting outdoor smoking bins, or “butt bins”, on listed buildings for example, we do not anticipate wholesale restrictions on these bins everywhere or that it will be a problem. However, if there is a problem, I am sure that we will be willing to discuss it further. We clearly do not want it to be an impediment to putting bins outside. We certainly do not want cigarette butts everywhere in the streets.

The noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Monson, asked about the £2,500 fine. No fixed penalty is available for this offence. Examples of other offences carrying a level 4 fine, which this is, include selling tobacco products to children under 16 years of age and careless driving. This is therefore a proportionate measure that will help to encourage those who manage or control premises to take compliance with these new laws seriously. I note the helpful comments of the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, on the situation in Ireland.

On vehicle enforcement, we should not be dissuaded from making vehicles that can be regarded as mobile workplaces or public places smoke free. The regulations set out a clear position on vehicles, and we will work with local authorities to ensure that a sensible approach to enforcement is taken. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, raised the issue of vehicles with soft tops or removable hoods. I note that that exemption came from a debate in this very Room, when the noble Earl, Lord Liverpool, raised the issue, making my colleagues in the department and our officials aware of the problem. So I put it on the record that it is thanks to the noble Earl that we have that specific exemption.

The noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood, gave us his invaluable views about Scotland, and the fact that Scotland’s experience demonstrates that education is key and that we must start communicating now with people about the changes that will take place. The Department of Heath and various others will be marking 23 March, the beginning of the 100-day countdown to 1 July, as a start. Various things, such as badges, posters and pens, have already been produced.

I will certainly provide them for noble Lords who wish to have them. They will all be provided free, and are an important way of getting our messages across.

The noble Lord suggested that £1 million for communication is very little. However, the £1 million is only for the age change. Another £9 million to £10 million will be available for communicating the wider message. I realise that that will probably not go a long way for television advertisements, but it is a start. The £1 million is a significant budget for reaching a very specific group affected by the age change. We will look to target the age change messages in media used by the under-18 age group and retailers.

Do they intend to target schools? You can get quite a lot of 16 to 18 year-olds there. I know a lot of smokers probably leave school at the age of 16, but is this part of the joined-up government syndrome?

I understand that that is currently not part of our planning. However, it would be a very good way to demonstrate our desire to be a joined-up Government, and I will certainly discuss it with colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, said that he thought that “smoke free” might not be the most appropriate way of describing what we are doing. We went for “smoke free” because we believe that this is about freedom for people to breathe and, for people such as my noble friend Lord Simon, not to have asthmatic problems. Rather than talking about a smoking ban, we wanted something much more positive, which is why we went for the words “smoke free”. However, I note what the noble Lord says about bonfires and traffic pollution.

The issue of churches may already have been adequately answered by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain. However, I should point out that churches are public places and workplaces, and are therefore covered by the Act. Clearly, they are often also used for secular purposes, as the noble Baroness suggested. Today, we are not debating signs, and I cannot say what signs will be needed and where they will be, but churches are workplaces.

On offshore installations, the Government’s view is that, when workers on terra firma wish to smoke, they can go outside to a safe designated area. However, it may be rather difficult for them if they are on an offshore installation: they could get quite wet.

Noble Lords asked about funding for enforcement by local councils, and I think that some mentioned the funding package of £29.5 million. This is to be paid over two years to fund the implementation of smoke-free legislation in local areas. Local authorities will be able to spend the funding that they receive as the need arises, including to support businesses, to understand and prepare for the new law, and to build compliance among the general public in the run-up to 1 July. The funding will also be used for enforcement activity and for other ancillary costs, such as street cleansing, once the legislation is implemented. We certainly do not want this to be an extra burden on the already stretched finances of local government.

The noble Lord, Lord Monson, mentioned the role of the police. The police are not an enforcement authority under this legislation, so we trust that it will not be necessary to use their valuable time in this way.

On the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, there is no human right to a smoke-free environment, but employers are obliged to provide a safe place of work for their employees. It is for employers to make safe arrangements for their staff or risk claims being made to the industrial tribunal.

Like my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester, I am delighted that these regulations are being introduced. It is very good to have first-hand knowledge of the experience in New Zealand, as well as that in Scotland and Ireland. I confirm that we will review the legislation and the exemptions in three years. On sports stadia, I note what my noble friend said, but the fact that the Football League is to be smoke free is certainly a good step forward.

I hope that my noble friend Lord Simon will have a much healthier and trouble-free life now that we have these excellent regulations. I trust that I have answered all the questions asked by noble Lords. If not—

The Minister has been tremendously helpful and I thank her for it, but perhaps she could enlighten me on a point that I made. With regard to a vehicle used for private purposes by a person who is not the owner, what is the difference between it being unrestricted to a particular journey and restricted to a particular journey? There must be a reason for that provision. I do not understand it, and I am not sure how it would be monitored.

As I understand it, it is for hire cars. I am not clear about that and recognise that I did not answer the earlier question from the noble Baroness about whether it is voluntary. I undertake to write to noble Lords with the answer to those two questions.

Before I close, I should like to emphasise the importance that the consultation process played in shaping the detail of these instruments, particularly in respect of mental health units. I thank all the organisations, both professional and third sector, that responded to the consultation and helped us to shape this policy, which we know is now evidence based. We think that that is tremendously important. I shall certainly check Hansard to ensure that I have no more than two letters to write. If I have, I will certainly do so. On the basis of our discussions today, I hope that the Committee will endorse these regulations.

On Question, Motion agreed to.