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The Leader of the House of Commons and the smoking ban e-petition

The story so far.

On Thursday August 4 the Government launched its new e-petition website. As most readers know, I'm not a fan of petitions in general. Nevertheless I spoke to Forest patron Antony Worrall Thompson and he agreed to submit a petition entitled 'Save Our Pubs and Clubs – Amend The Smoking Ban'.

It was submitted that afternoon and received the following response: 'Thank you for submitting your e-petition. An email will be sent to you now to confirm your email address ... We can't check your e-petition until you've clicked on the link in this email'.

An email was duly received and the link clicked. Antony's PA tells me: "The petition definitely registered - there was confirmation."

A week passed and we heard nothing more. Not even a rejection.

On Friday I sent an email to the Cabinet Office (which I understood was responsible for the e-petition website) enquiring about the fate of Antony's petition. Within an hour I received the following response:

Dear Sir

The E-Petitions website is administered by the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons. I have therefore forwarded your email there.

Kind regards,

This morning, eleven days after AWT's petition was submitted and in the absence of any further response, I rang the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons. I had a brief conversation with a member of staff who told me that someone would get back to me.

That was at ten o'clock.

Meanwhile I checked to remind myself who is the Leader of the House of Commons. It is of course our old friend the Rt Hon Sir George Young MP. Remember him?

Sir George backs anti-smoking campaign
Sir George speaks out on smoking
Sir George backs No Smoking Day
Sir George addresses fringe meeting at party conference

PS. For the record, I am NOT a conspiracy theorist!!

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Reader Comments (23)

No need to 'theorise' about conspiracies - when they're so bloody obvious, so well-documented, so ubiquitous, and so vital to the operation of the various control systems in place all over the planet.

The 'why' of the conspiracy - yes, perhaps.

The fact of the conspiracy - only if you're a Panglossian optimist.

Wish I could still believe in the rather naive Accidentalist View of History: if it had any 'traction', then we might have seen some of the cock-ups actually benefitting us for a change (as Gary Allen once pointed out) !

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 11:59 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

He also gave a 'major address' to the second ever World Conference on smoking and health in Stockholm, 1979.

"The fourth and final day began with a major address by Sir George Young, the UK's new Parliamentary Under Secretary for health matters . He identified himself as a member of a team of ministers to pursue antismoking policies . He said the big killer diseases are no longer those caused by nature, but these produced by our way of life ; they require intervention in the interest of prevention by politicians, not doctors, and there is a growing interest among parliaments everywhere to protect individuals from themselves"

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 13:04 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

No need for conspiracy theories - this is good old-fashioned policitians' personal prejudices at work! I imagine the fact that this has been submitted by AWT has presented Sir George with a problem. If it were any old Tom, Dick or Harry who had submitted the petition he would probably have just rejected it. But either way, with AWT's name associated, it's going to generate some publicity whether it appears or not - either "Celebrity Chef petitions for smoking ban changes," or "Celebrity Chef's e-petition rejected by anti-smoking activist" - with the latter raising all sorts of questions (many of which have already been voiced by members of the public) as to how much "censorship" of all of the e-petitions there is.

Good call Forest and AWT! Make the b*ggers squirm!

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 13:18 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

It seems to me that there are E petitions on the site about the smoking ban so why not adopt one of those - Daniel Connoly's has a mere 236 Votes but doing the best. Put a advert in the paper tell them AWL sponsers it and get some continuity behind teh campaign

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 14:58 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

"this is good old-fashioned policitians' personal prejudices at work................."

Perhaps, Misty - perhaps.

In which case, I just wish a few more of them were 'prejudiced' in favour of Liberty and Small Government - romantic fool that I am !

(BTW, anyone on this site still wishing to have David Cameron's baby ?)

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 16:51 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Judicial review petition

Simon –Like you I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt about this. It appears that AWT’s petition is substantially the same as others that have been rejected. If his petition was way down the pecking order then the first petition seen on this subject would have been approved if it fulfilled all the necessary criteria.
If AWT had been late in verifying his email address this could have scuppered his chances of getting in there first.

For more than one petition to succeed on the same subject there has to be significant differences in each one. For example, how many variations would there be for the smoking ban, or any issue that relates to the smoking ban.

1. Repeal the smoking ban
2. Amend the smoking ban (pubs clubs etc)
3. Judicial review

There aren’t that many variations that can be had on the same issue. There is already a petition calling for an amendment, AWT’s petition isn’t significantly different to be considered.
But there is a way to test the conspiracy theory. You must send another petition asking the government to do something different – like hold a judicial review.

The petition by David Greatrix is asking for a review, but not a judicial review.

I suggest you write out a petition again. Something like this.

Judicial Review (for the smoking ban) or A smoking ban judicial review.

Forest calls upon the government to hold a judicial review with regard to establishing the success or failure of the smoking ban. Over 80% of the general public were against the introduction of a blanket ban which the last government said it wouldn’t bring in according to its pre-election manifesto pledge of 2005.

Antony Worrall Thompson

This petition would not mention a repeal, amendment or pubs and clubs. If these words were included then the petition would fail.

You can write it out and allow AWT to give his blessing since he is a patron of Forest. If this petition were to fail – then there would be no doubt that a conspiracy against any debate about the smoking ban would be at work.
I can’t understand how amend the smoking ban (Gary Robinson) has managed to get through, when there is already a petition on this issue. In which case why did AWT’s petition fail.

My personal opinion? Yes there is a conspiracy about allowing debate of any kind on this issue especially when a famous name is attached. Politicians have sucked up too hard to Europe and the anti-tobacco lobby on this, and they are unlikely to back down.

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 17:39 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Simon, FOREST has a degree of financial support from the Tobacco companies.

Would it not make sense to ask them to fund some FOREST advertisements in the MSM alerting people to the fact that there is currently an e-petition seeking an amendment to the smoking ban, and detailing how they can sign if they so desire? It must surely be permissible to point out the existence of such a petition, and would result in a substantial number of people registering their vote. It's no good just telling people about it in the rarefied atmosphere of the blogosphere - the man on the street needs to be made aware.

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 18:04 | Unregistered Commenternisakiman

This should not be accepted. As I said in a previous comment,the Government is well aware that the AWT petition would end up receiving signatures in number of a different order of magnitude. It is inevitable that he would be interviewed by a national newspaper or TV stations. Just one interview would add tens of thousands of signatures. A new petition has been added. You have been lied to. Suggest to AWT that he puts out a press release. It will be widely reported.

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 18:09 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Forest should invest some money advertising such a petition. In full agreement with Nisakiman here the man on the street needs to be made aware it or other efforts may well prove completely pointless.

Using the blogosphere alone to promote this, is not enough.

Monday, August 15, 2011 at 19:40 | Unregistered CommenterMark


"BTW, anyone on this site still wishing to have David Cameron's baby?"

Oh yuuuk! Did anyone ever?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 1:53 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Misty -

In the words of Docklands developer Harold Shand: "Well, there was a few..............................."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 3:46 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

If it wasn't for this blog I would be unaware of the e-petition site. I have forwarded the link to 12 colleagues at work and they will forward it on to their friends.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 9:53 | Unregistered CommenterBlue Angel

"there is a growing interest among parliaments everywhere to protect individuals from themselves..."

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is Dictatorship - pure and simple.

I just wonder what advice about the conduct of his private affairs Mr George Young would accept from me ?

None, I suspect. Off-the-shelf Tories positively HATE being bossed around, after all: smacks a little too much of Socialism - don't you think ?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 13:09 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Just signed the petition - Wow! Aren't we doing well? There's 21 signatures already....Twenty bloody one!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 13:22 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

I signed it too but I'm still sceptical - especially since I have a letter from Anne Milton via my MP that says the Govt is not going to change it's mind on this issue. We apparently now kill one in every five babies that die from cot death among just about everyone else that dies from anything in the UK.

The signatures now stand at 27. There were far more people than that at SS - where are these people and how come they haven't signed yet? Do they even know about it as many of them were from the town itself and may not be involved in online activity.

Simon - that idea of a paid for ad to promote the petitions is a great idea. Is there anything in law to stop you or Big T from doing this? And if not, why not?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 16:26 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

In relation to the burning (literally) topic of the day Mr Cameron said in his latest speech on the radio last night - 'We cannot legislate against people's behaviour'.


Where has he been for the last ten years. Clearly not reading the smoking blogs.

Or perhaps he thinks smoking is a much more serious problem than rioting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 22:24 | Unregistered CommenterGrumpybutterfly

I'd echo the comments of a couple of others - any chance of Forest funding some advertising for the petition?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:45 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

Pat/Mark, everything is under consideration, including the possibility of submitting a further petition. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the existing petitions (well, two of them) but I am still of the opinion that a petition proposed by a 'name' would attract more interest and therefore more support.

This is a marathon not a sprint and it would be foolish not to explore every avenue, including methods of promotion. We are currently discussing the issue with various interested parties. Readers of this blog will be the first to know the outcome!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:32 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Nice one, Simon, there's no particular rush apart from being p****d off for 4 years already and thoroughly disgusted with these Tories, the majority of whom voted against a total ban in '06.

Any way SHS is brought back under the microscope will do. That's all it is and well the opposition know it. A 'name' is good as they should get media coverage.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:59 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

So where has Daniel Connolly's original petition gone too? I've not heard of this gary Robinso0n petition until just now so what piece of legerdemain has occurred now?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 20:25 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Johnson

"Or perhaps he thinks smoking is a much more serious problem than rioting..............."

These people care more for Numbers than Philosophy - when it suits. Greater PR value, you see. Smoking kills more people than rioting: ergo, smoking is the greater evil.

Of course, alcohol kills more people than 'terrorism', but Mr Bendy probably has an answer for that one, too (one needs to be flexible in this game).

Besides, flash mobs - provided they stay within the bounds of Acceptable Riotous Behaviour - have their uses, you know. Just ask the folk in Tripoli !

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 22:18 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

There appears to be another smoking ban petition "Sucess or failure of the smoking ban", I don't know whether to sign it or not.

Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 14:18 | Unregistered CommenterDavidR

Daniel Connolly's petition has 316 signatures hopefully once people
get to know about these E-petitions many more will sign , however
it is August and many people are away so fingers crossed.

Friday, August 19, 2011 at 14:26 | Unregistered CommenterGary Rogers

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