» Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Asked what impact the outcome of the Smoking vote had had on Patricia Hewitt’s authority, and when had the Prime Minister made up his mind on what action was necessary, the PMOS said that if you went back to Prime Minister’s Questions in December, the Prime Minister had stated very clearly that he was listening to the debate. If you also looked at his press conference in December he had stated there very clearly that he was listening to the debate and he saw that public opinion was moving in a certain direction. He also listened very carefully to the arguments put forward by the Health lobby as well. As he had said last night, he believed that this was the right decision as an individual, and that was why he voted in the way he had. Patricia Hewitt similarly had listened to the arguments and made up her mind, as an individual. A free vote was a free vote and Parliament had spoken.

Questioned further about Patricia Hewitt’s position, the PMOS said that as Patricia Hewitt had said yesterday morning, this was a finely balanced argument and it was right and proper that people seriously considered the pros and the cons. In the end it had been the right thing to give MPs a free vote on the issue.

Asked if smoking was permitted in Downing Street, the PMOS said that he wasn’t sure, he certainly didn’t recall seeing anyone smoking on Downing Street. Asked if the Government might consider delaying the implementation of the legislation, given that it had gone further than many people had anticipated, the PMOS said that it was a fair question and he would have to check.

Briefing took place at 17:00 | Search for related news

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