It looks as if the intervention of Scottish MP John Reid to water down the smoking ban legislation has alerted even the BBC and Labour backbenchers to England’s democratic deficit.
John Reid’s constituents are going to get comprehensive protection against secondary smoke on 26 March next year but he’s telling me that people in the Rother Valley are going to have a lesser one and I find that very difficult to accept and many other Labour backbenchers do as well," fumed Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron, who chairs the Commons health select committee.
Some Labour MPs are even threatening to rebel against the smoking bill in an attempt to prevent it becoming law. (BBC News)
Naturally, there’s plenty of good stuff on this over at the Campaign for an English Parliament blog, where Gareth links to a letter from the Guardian which sums the situation up neatly:
Let me see if I’ve got this right: the MP for St Helens South, in his role as health minister for Northern Ireland, has banned all smoking in pubs in the province, but the people in his own constituency will still be exposed to other people’s smoke in pubs because the MP for Airdrie and Shotts has in effect vetoed similar legislation for England, while his constituents north of the border will experience a total ban because the policy in Scotland has been devolved to the Scottish parliament. And we lecture the world on democracy.
Manchester (Guardian Unlimited)
Meanwhile over at Slugger O’Toole, Belfast Gonzo is also up in arms:
THE fiasco over the introduction of a smoking ban in the UK doesn’t just show how the Government is in complete disarray on the issue, it demonstrates the level of contempt it has for Northern Ireland. Announcing the ban here earlier this month, the Health Minister (a heavy smoker until recently) said “no-one has a right to subject colleagues and workmates to the dangers and hazards of second-hand smoke and passive smoking. No-one has a right to subject members of the public who do not smoke to those same dangers in enclosed public spaces.” So if that’s true, why not introduce it in England? (Slugger O’Toole)
Looks like a case of deja vu all over again, and given the Government’s reduced majority, this is an issue that won’t go away.