Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Government cock-up on smoking ban

Right, so smoking will be banned from all public places in England from 1st July 2007. Erm, no. They forgot all about boats and ships. The Health Act 2006 only covers premises and vehicles. In what has all the appearance of a panic measure that has been drafted on the back of a, er, fag packet, the Department for Transport has today launched a consultation on its website to extend the ban to places that float by amending the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. The DfT hoping to rush this through to be in place by 1st July is somewhat optimistic.

Raedwald has already contacted the department to remind them that they have missed the Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment which the Cabinet Office has decreed is obligatory for consultations at this stage and should be available for the full 12 week consultation period. There are also some alarming errors in the assumptions made by the department about its power to legislate - I'll develop this over the next few days.

However, what may really set the hares running is the stated intention for this legislation to extend to the whole UK. The Merchant Shipping Act isn't just an English act. And the Scots already have their own law on smoking on board ships. But whilst applying the law to all UK flagged vessels, they seem a bit confused about where the proposed regulations should apply. The Consultation states

The Government intends to implement restrictions on smoking on board all vessels coming within the scope of the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 1995, including fishing and inland waterway vessels, calling at ports in England and within the 12-mile territorial limit, regardless of which flag they are registered with (that is, regardless of which country regulates them). We are also keen to see the smoke free restrictions on sea-going and inland waterway vessels extended to Wales and Northern Ireland and for a consistent set of restrictions to be established in Scotland.
Ah, so not vessels calling at ports in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, then? And what about "regardless of which flag they're registered with"? So a Russian freighter passing through the Channel on passage can be stopped and boarded by MCA smoking inspectors and spot fines imposed, hmm? They really haven't thought this through, have they?

Apart from the manifest failings in the consultation document, the consultation is taking place during an election period in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And consultations and legislative proposals are covered by this rather strict guidance from the Cabinet Office. Update: the CO website has gone into text mode (something to do with bandwidth and a petition, perhaps?) and the guidance is not currently available. Good job I saved a copy locally and will post it shortly.

I can see a whole world of pain opening up for the DfT on this issue.

Update
Ah, Dizzy got this one first. HERE. Dizzy conspiracy or Raedwald cock-up?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This government doesn't know its arse from its elbow, they are criminally incompetent fools. Probably never thought of ships as none of them ever leave the Westminster beltway or has ever done a proper job in their lives. No idea about real things at all. I survived Branscombe by the way and still have many items to sell... ebay has got a bit hot.

ChrisB said...

You mention the need for a Partial Regulatory Imact Assessment. They did one for the smoking ban that had less truth in it than one of Grimm's fairy tales. £1million was set aside for education but £12.5m was used for advertising. Enforcement was to have cost between £5m and £13m but £29.5m has just been announced. The cost of implementation (alterations to premises etc) was claimed to be £(minimal) yet we have all seen the huge sums breweries and publicans are intending to spend on smoke shelters.
The Assessment mentioned economic factors but forgot about Social and Environmental effects that are apparently essential for a good RIA. Closed community pubs, closed bingo clubs, smokers and non-smokers suffering exclusion/isolation and the massive carbon emissions from the thousands of outdoor heaters to be installed.
Apart from 'minor' failings I'm sure PRIAs provide a useful tool for legislators -NOT.

JJ said...

There are rumours that bingo is being banned in the US, is that true?
In the UK, bingo has suffered in recent months due to the ban on smoking in public places, causing smoking customers to either go outside for a cig and face the harsh cold (not a good move for the aged) or stay at home and not play, thus starving people like me wanting to Play Bingo UK Halls constantly. But banning bingo completely is ridiculous! It is a very mild form of gambling at the most! If you’re going to ban bingo then the lottery has to go too surely? Isn’t that gambling?
Bingo is a number game, based on pure luck, so really it’s not even similar to other gambling games such as poker and sports betting. It’s just like buying a lottery ticket just you have to get more numbers! So then why is it such a problem? Its just takes away the older generations entertainment while the younger generations indulge in perfectly “legal” things like DRUGS! Can they not see which the bigger problem is?

bingo news said...

The Assessment mentioned economic factors but forgot about Social and Environmental effects that are apparently essential for a good RIA. Closed community pubs, closed bingo clubs, smokers and non-smokers suffering exclusion/isolation <-------------
I think now the smoke has settled its more down to low supermarket prices that are closing social areas down.

massive carbon emissions from the thousands of outdoor heaters to be installed.<--------
this is a global warming issue and alot of scientists believe carbon emmsission is'nt causing global warming