On Monday, 10th February, 2014, a historic Bill will be debated in Parliament. It is called “The Children and Families Bill”. In itself, it is rather innocuous, but what has made it ‘historic’ has been the amendments to it. The original intentions were described thus:
- adoption and children in care.
- aspects of the family justice system.
- children and young people with special educational needs.
- the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England.
- statutory rights to leave and pay for parents and adopters.
- time off work for ante-natal care.
- the right to request flexible working.
We all know that the Holy Zealots of Tobacco Control hijacked this Bill in order to introduce Plain Packaging and a Ban on Smoking in Vehicles where Children are Present. We all know that these amendments were supported by the Labour Party because the party leaders had calculated that they could embarrass the Conservative and LibDem Coalition Government. In order to avoid accusations of playing opportunistic politics, the leader of the labour party announced that those policies would be in the next Labour manifesto, if the amendments were not passed. The ‘party politics’ aspect of the activity in the Lords was indicated by the fact that every conservative lord voted against the amendment, while every labour lord except one or two voted for it.
I shall be astonished if the Amendments are not passed.
The Plain Packaging amendment is clever, but not very significant. It enables the Health Sec to introduce PP, but does not commit him. If ever the Health Sec decides that PP is desirable, far more considerations will come into play than this amendment. For the time being, at least, we can put that amendment on one side.
It is the “No Smoking in Vehicles ……” which is the ‘here and now’ threat.
Readers might remember me talking about Parliament being ‘emotionally driven’. I am not the only one to think so. The CEO of an on-line investment bank named Saxo Bank, based in Denmark, has written a piece about the down-side of political interference – principally about banking, but also relating to other matters. The link is here:
In that post, he says this:
“First and foremost, Ayn Rand remains among the few that recognises with crystal clarity, that we will not win the battle through just proving that freedom and capitalism works. It has already been proven beyond discussion. Nevertheless, we are still facing new attacks on freedom every day.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to assume that rationality will prevail, that just through superior economic performance, freedom will capture enough peoples’ hearts in a democracy to win the day. This creates a major problem for those of us that like to argue rationally, rather than emotionally.”
He goes on to say:
“It creates a major opportunity for politicians that intuitively know that in a rational world, there would be little demand for their services. Only in an irrational, emotional universe, where opportunists can gain access to media and visibility to express “feelings” and try to take the moral high ground, no matter how unfounded in reality it is — only in such an environment can you survive without having to produce practical, productive results, and instead prosper and benefit from empty talk and third-rate acting performances.”
I think that says it all.
I have little doubt that the “Smoking in vehicles …… ” amendment will be passed – for emotional reasons.
Just for a moment, let us look at the irrational nature of the proposal.
1. The vast majority of journeys that children make are short and with their parents – school runs and shopping trips. It is unlikely that parents will be bothered to smoke in those circumstances.
2. The next most likely events will be lengthy trips, say, going on holiday occasionally or visiting grandparents who live many miles away. In those circumstances, we can envisage a scenario something like this:
Mum and Dad and their two children, aged nine and ten, are going on holiday. Their destination is some four hours drive away. In the early hours of the morning, Mum and Dad make a start. Dad packs the car up while Mum gets the kids up. There is a little squealing because the kids are still tired, but, in due course, all is prepared and off they go.
The journey breaks down thus:
a) Half an hour of minor roads to get to the motorway.
b) Three hours of motorway driving.
c) Half an hour minor road to get to the holiday resort.
d) At an approximate halfway point, a short break will be taken at a service station.
Dad is a smoker – Mum is not. After negotiating the first half hour drive to the motorway, and having successfully joined the motorway, Dad asks Mum to get a cig out for him. She does, and lights it and hands it to him. He inhales gratifyingly. One of the kids in the back is still awake, and pipes up, “Dad! Do you mind?” (Why does kid pipe up? Because he smells a minute, tiny bit of the smoke) Dad says, ” Don’t be so cheeky. The driver of this car is in command”. A window is open and the smoke is sucked out of the car pronto. That one cig is sufficient until arrival at the service station where all stretch their legs, go to the loo and have a snack and a drink. Dad has his second cig. The second half of the journey follows a similar pattern – towards the end of the motorway part, Dad has another cig but refrains after that during the ‘tricky’ part of the journey which involves making their way to the holiday resort.
To what extend have the children suffered as a result of Dad’s smoking? I would suggest, not in the least, tiniest bit.
HOWEVER, TO WHAT EXTENT HAVE THE CHILDREN SUFFERED AS A RESULT OF FOUR HOURS OF CONSTANTLY BREATHING, SECOND AFTER SECOND, TOXIC FUMES FROM TRAFFIC ON THE MOTORWAY AND OTHER ROADS?
3. Imagine now that Dad, a smoker, as we have described, really, really wants a smoke after all the agro of getting sorted out and driving to the motorway, and just really, really just wants a fag. OK. He denies himself, but is agitated, nervy, on edge, can’t wait to get to the service station – hardly the best state to be in for driving is it? Or, he insists on having his cig. Again, he is distracted, trying to hide the fact that he is smoking a fag. Again, not the best state to be in when driving.
4. A Zealot, in a car alongside our Dad, sees him smoking. The Zealot calls the police on his mobile and reports him, giving his registration number and approximate location. Would the police be obliged to chase the criminal? If not, why not?
5. On arrival at the holiday destination, the eldest child, not being very sensible, calls the police and reports her Dad for smoking in the car.
I am sure that there are all sorts of possible consequences similar to the above, but the amendment will pass. It will pass, among other things, because Cameron is a coward. By making the vote a ‘free’ vote, he absolves himself and the coalition of responsibility. “Not my Fault, Guv”.
And thus does the “New Inquisition” take another forward step – aided and abetted by the scurrilous politicians who claim to represent THE PEOPLE.