MPs urged to stub out smoking privileges
THE corridors of power are set to become smoke-free zones, despite the House of Commons being exempt from the law banning smoking in England's workplaces and bars.
MPs have come under pressure to "practise what they preach" after it emerged that the royal palace status of Westminster would allow them to continue smoking in its bars.
The day after the Commons voted overwhelmingly for a total ban on smoking in the workplace, pubs and private bars, pressure was mounting for politicians to follow a voluntary ban.
This would include the plush Members' Smoking Room overlooking the River Thames, which anti-smoking MPs called to be renamed the Aneurin Bevan Room, after the architect of the National Health Service.
The Scotsman has learned that the serjeant at arms, the Commons authority, would look favourably on prohibiting smoking. A spokeswoman said that once the legislation was in place,
"then it seems likely that we will look at that. Generally, parliament does attempt to adhere to its own legislation."
Last night, 33 MPs signed motions calling for a prohibition of smoking in the Commons. Hywel Francis, a Labour MP, said the House "should practise what it preaches and apply the ban throughout the House, including the Members' Smoking Room". Peers will have to decide separately whether to ban smoking in the Lords, although they are still allowed to puff away in their offices if staff agree.
No10 Downing Street also has a smoking room, however, Tony Blair's official spokesman confirmed yesterday this would be covered by the legislation.
Stephen Pound, a Labour MP who voted against the smoking ban, revealed his belief in smokers' rights had been shaken yesterday. "Since I was ten, I've never ever not had a fag before I got out of bed," he told BBC Radio 4. But after the vote on Tuesday, he had refrained for the first time in 48 years.
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