Courtesy of Dick Puddlecote, a politician who seems to have caught a dose of common sense somewhere along the way. It's a long quote, but justified, as the whole thing is so rare as to be worth celebrating. It's Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley. My emphasis:
The report is certainly a useful contribution to the debate on addiction-not, unfortunately, on addiction to alcohol, but on this Government's and the Health Committee's addiction to the nanny state. They have already helped to dismantle the pub and club industry with their smoking ban. Pubs are closing at the rate of 50 a week-many because of the ban on smoking in public places-and the same fate is being felt by many clubs, such as working men's clubs. It seems that the Health Committee, not satisfied with dismantling the pub and club industry, now wishes to direct its fire in other areas, such as at cinemas and commercial broadcasters, to try to close down those industries. Many sports will also be adversely affected if its recommendations are introduced.
All that would not be so bad if I thought that, in the end, if after all the Committee's recommendations were introduced, its members would say that they were satisfied. The problem, however, as with all these matters, is that the report panders to the zealots in society who are never satisfied. I guarantee that if all the recommendations were introduced, Committee members would, within a few months at most, come back with further recommendations because the previous ones had not gone far enough. This lobby is impossible to satisfy.
A great many people in the House seem to want to do nothing else but ban everyone from doing all the things that they themselves do not happen to like. I do not think that I was brought into politics for that. In fact, I am speaking today as a teetotaller: I do not even drink alcohol, but I very much defend the rights of those who do. People who want to enjoy drinking their alcohol responsibly should not have to pay extra on their supermarket shopping just because a few yobs cannot take their drink of an evening.
I know that we have other business to discuss today so I shall not detain the House any longer. I despair at the endless consensus that there seems to be in the House, which is forever seeking to restrict people's freedoms in this country, to try to stop them doing things that they do legitimately and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, without any problem. For hon. Members to lecture people constantly about what they may and may not do, and what they should and should not say, is depressing beyond belief. The report is more of the same-more of the nanny state.
I know for a fact that the moment the proposed measures are introduced, the zealots represented on the Select Committee will be back for more, and back for more again. They are never satisfied. Dr. Taylor said that he wanted the Government to go a little further and do a little more. Unfortunately, he and the people whom he represents always want the Government to go a little further and do a little more.
I fear that despite the hon. Gentleman's moderate approach to alcohol, the arguments made by others that 40,000 people a year die from drinking alcohol mean that people want to ban that, too. They do not have the courage of their convictions, however, because they do not think that people in their local working men's clubs will tolerate being told that they cannot smoke or drink any more. It is not what they believe that affects what they say; what counts is whether they think that it will be acceptable to people in their local working men's clubs.
The hon. Gentleman has indicated that whatever measures are taken on any of those issues, the zealots will always want to come back for more; they will never, ever be satisfied. I therefore urge the Government to ignore those siren voices and base their decisions on evidence and the real world-and evidence and the real world alone.
He says what I feel exactly. How good would it be if you always (or even frequently) felt that the MPs representing us and making laws on our behalf thought like we do?