News

Tobacco and Vapes Bill: free vote blows smoke in Rishi Sunak's eyes - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 30

19 Apr 2024
©Adobe Stock/Kenishirotie
©Adobe Stock/Kenishirotie

Rishi Sunak offered his MPs a free vote on his flagship Tobacco and Vapes Bill and dozens concluded they could not support it. As well as exploring the politics of the Bill, Ruth and Mark discuss the concept of a free vote and how they have been deployed in previous parliamentary sessions.

They denounced them at the time, but should Labour Ministers now use the sweeping powers Conservative Ministers have given themselves in this Parliament – for example, in the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 - to push through a Labour Government’s agenda in the next? Former adviser to the last Labour Government, John McTernan, has suggested

And we talk to former Foreign Secretary, Lord David Owen who during House of Lords questions this week asked his successor, Lord Cameron, about the prospects for closer co-operation with the French Government over nuclear weapons strategy. It turns out there was a diplomatic initiative behind the question, involving a former French Foreign Secretary. We ask Lord Owen how he thinks Lord Cameron is doing in his old job, and whether he thinks it’s possible to do the job from the House of Lords not the Commons.

  • What is the purpose of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill?

  • How did Conservative MPs divide on a free vote on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill? What is a free vote?

  • What is parliamentary ping-pong?

  • What is double insistence during the legislative process?

  • Should a future Labour Government make extensive use of sweeping Ministerial powers to push policy through quickly without regard to Parliament?

  • Is Lord Cameron proving to be an effective Foreign Secretary?

  • Can a Foreign Secretary really do the job if they are based in the House of Lords not the House of Commons

  • Why has the Government rejected the Procedure Committee’s recommendations for Lord Cameron to appear at the ‘bar of the House’ of Commons to answer MPs questions?

Parliament Matters is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Parliament Matters is supported by a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, a Quaker trust which engages in philanthropy and supports work on democratic accountability.

©UK Parliament

The Rt Hon. the Lord Owen CH

Lord Owen served as Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979 under Prime Minister James Callaghan. He was a Labour MP from 1966 until 1981, when he left the Labour Party to found the Social Democratic Party alongside the three other members of the "Gang of Four". He opted not to join the Liberal Democrats when it was created in 1988 following a merger of the SDP and Liberal Party. Since 1992, Lord Owen has been a member of the House of Lords, where he sat as a crossbencher until 2014, after which he sat as an Independent Social Democrat. He acted as the EU's representative during the Bosnian peace process from 1993 until 1995.

Hansard Society

House of Commons Library

House of Commons Procedure Committee

Financial Times

Please note, this transcript is automatically generated. There are consequently minor errors and the text is not formatted according to our style guide. If you wish to reference or cite the transcript copy below, please first check against the audio version above. Timestamps are provided above each paragraph.

00:00:00:00 - 00:00:34:17 You are listening to Parliament Matters, a Hansard Society Production supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Learn more at hansardsociety.org.uk/pm. Welcome to Parliament Matters, the podcast about the institution at the heart of our democracy, Parliament itself. I'm Ruth Fox and I'm Mark D’Arcy. Coming up, smoke gets in Rishi Sunak's eyes as his personal initiative, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, splits Conservative MPs in half. 00:00:34:19 - 00:01:05:11 They denounced them at the time, but should Labour ministers now use the sweeping powers Tory ministers have given themselves in this parliament to push through a Labour government's agenda in the next. And we ask a former Foreign Secretary how Lord Cameron is doing in his old job.

But first the Tobacco and Vapes Bill caused all kinds of problems for Rishi Sunak.

Subscribe to Parliament Matters

Use the links below to subscribe to the Hansard Society's Parliament Matters podcast on your preferred app, or search for 'Parliament Matters' on whichever podcasting service you use. If you are unable to find our podcast, please email us here.

News / Democratic decision-making in health emergencies: Learning the lessons of the Covid pandemic - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 37

This week we have a compelling conversation with human-rights barrister Adam Wagner as we delve into the findings of the Independent Commission on UK Public Health Emergency Powers. Just before the general election was called, the Commission published its final recommendations, aiming to reshape law-making in the event of a future health emergency in the UK.

31 May 2024
Read more

News / General election called: What now for Parliament? - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 36

This week, we dive into the unexpected political shake-up in Westminster, where Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a general election has thrown Parliament into turmoil. The Prime Minister’s surprising move to hold the election in early July, rather than waiting until Autumn, has sent shockwaves through the political landscape.

24 May 2024
Read more

Briefings / General election rules and regulations: what has changed?

With a general election on the horizon there has been a spate of new legislation and regulations to implement changes to the way the election will be run, with consequences for voters and electoral administrators. Parliament has not always had a role in approving these changes. This briefing sets out the core changes to the electoral process that have been implemented since the last general election in 2019, the role that Parliament has played in scrutinising and approving them, and the risks arising from these changes.

26 Apr 2024
Read more

Support / 80th Anniversary Appeal: support our work to make Parliament more effective

Faith in parliamentary democracy is waning at a critical time as we confront domestic and international challenges that are as significant as any the country has faced since the Society was founded 80 years ago.

11 May 2024
Read more

News / Democracy is in danger, warns Theresa May - Parliament Matters podcast, Episode 35

In a powerful Churchill Attlee Lecture commemorating the Hansard Society's 80th anniversary, former Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a stark warning about the state of democracy. She expressed grave concerns about the waning trust in democratic institutions, particularly among young people.

17 May 2024
Read more