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Queen’s Speech: Government fails to take action on health

The failure of the Government to announce legislation to introduce standard packs for cigarettes, a ban on smoking in cars with children present and a fixed unit price for alcohol shows they have given in again to the powerful tobacco and alcohol lobbies.

Stockton North Labour MP, Alex Cunningham, said he was disappointed that despite plenty of platitudes from the Government about protecting the Nation’s health, they’re not prepared to do anything about it.

Alex was speaking after listening to the Queen’s speech outlining the Government’s legislative programme for the next year – a programme which is short on ideas and action to tackle the dire economic state we are in, stop rising unemployment and protect our communities.

But it was the lack of any health agenda that disappointed Alex most:

“I cannot understand why Government Ministers have a blockage when it comes to taking opportunities to improve our society by making it healthier.   Despite laudable statements around the need to tackle smoking in communities like my own in Stockton North, there is no sign of legislation to combat it,” he said

“The decision to drop a proposed Bill on introducing plain packing for cigarettes and tobacco, seemingly taken over the heads of the officials and Ministers who wanted it, robs us of an effective new tool in combating smoking.

“Sadly it means the tobacco and drinks industries with their massive lobbying resources have again seen the Tory government bow down and give in by ditching the legislation.

“Worse still it means that the opportunity to improve the health of the Nation has been lost yet again and the much needed brakes on the two industries has been let off yet again.”

Alex was also concerned about the thin legislative programme:

“People elect Government to take action to improve their lives – but there is little if any indication that the people of the North East will see much positive change in their lives over the coming year – and with the severe austerity programme only just starting to bite, things look more likely to get much worse,” he said.