» Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Smoking Bill

Asked for an indication of the Prime Minister’s intentions during tonight’s vote on smoking, the PMOS said that he would vote, but he would not announce in advance which way he would vote. Asked if it was possible that the Prime Minister might vote against the commitments on smoking in Labour’s Election Manifesto, the PMOS said that, as he had said this morning, we had to recognise that the debate had moved on. The manifesto commitment had been for a ban in most public places. That would certainly be achieved by whatever the outcome of today was. The debate, however, had moved on with the decisions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and public opinion had continued to move in a certain direction, as the Prime Minister had said at PMQs. The position on the issue had not been static and the introduction of the free vote was a recognition of that, as we had said at the time we had announced the free vote. A free vote was a free vote and quite rightly you would see ministers going into different lobbies according to what position they took on this finely balanced issue. That was perfectly proper.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Search for related news

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