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

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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 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.

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