- Published on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 00:58
High Peak MP Andrew Bingham voted against an amendment to the Children & Families Bill requiring private vehicles be smoke-free where a person under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle. His opinion was not shared by the majority of MP present, and overall MPs voted in favour of a Labour-supported amendment to the Children and Families Bill by a majority of 269. We received the following reply from Andrew Bingham setting out his reasons for not supporting the amendment, which empowers, but does not compel, the government to make it a criminal offence for drivers to fail to prevent smoking in their vehicle when children are present.
Mr Bingham said "Thanks for your email. In essence it was a question of enforcement. As a non smoker, indeed someone who has never tried a cigarette I agree that people shouldn’t really smoke in cars when there are children in the car with them. However I feel that to impose a law is the Government going a step too far in interfering with people’s lives. As someone eloquently said in the debate it is the state supplanting the parent instead of supporting them. I have grave concerns that any law will be almost impossible to implement. Also there are so many unanswered questions. If some was smoking in a convertible car with the roof down – would they be breaking the law. If a policemen saw someone on the motorway doing 70mph smoking, could he see whether there was a child in the car or not. If there was a child seat could he see whether it was occupied or not. If someone were smoking in a car in the presence of a child and they were pulled up, they would doubtlessly then throw the cigarette away – would they then be prosecutable or not.
I would prefer to rely on education of the dangers of smoking so that parents would not smoke in a car with children in rather than the blunt instrument of a law that seems unenforceable. There is another point that has been made. There is at the moment a growing disconnect between the police and the public due to some recently well publicised incidents. I can envisage people being pulled up on suspicion of this offence and being very indignant over it and see it as over zealous policing.
In essence I do support the principle of the law, but feel it is an unworkable piece of legislation"