The issue of whether local authorities should be given powers to ban smoking in public places is specifically one of the issues to be dicussed during the prime minister's 'Big Converstaion' with the British people, health minister Lord Warner told peers.
He was replying to Labour's Lord Janner, who asked whether, in the light of recent recommendations by the presidents of the 13 royal colleges of medicine, the government would introduce legislation to impose a complete ban on smoking in public places.
'The question for public debate is whether local authorities should have new powers to introduce smoking bans at work and in public places', he added.
Liberal Democrat spokesman Lord Clement-Jones asked why the government did not listen to its own chief medical officer and the presidents of the royal medical colleges.
Lord Warner said they always listened to them. He added that the 'Big Conversation' with people would cover a large number of issues.
'One issue - if he looks at the document - is whether powers should be given to local authorities to introduce a ban in the workplace and public places. Having started that conversation, we wish to hear what people have to say', said the minister.
Hansard 1 Dec 2003; Column 97 - 100