I VOTED against a complete ban on smolking in public places and opted instead for what was actually in Labour’s manifesto in 2005 – a ban in those places which serve food. I think that was a reasonable compromise, although I accept it would have been difficult to enforce in practice.

Before I say what I’m going to say (and it’s not something I could easily have said while a minister), let me lay out my credentials: I’m a non-smoker and always have been (apart from a few ill-judged attempts to look cool while on holiday in Prague years ago – long story involving lots of nausea). I was brought up in a house where both parents chain-smoked and my mother died of lung cancer at the relatively young age of 70. So I have no love for the weed, I hope that’s clear.

But the Department of Health recently held a consultation on whether the smoking ban should be extended into people’s private vehicles and homes. Now, I know this caused a great deal of perfectly understandable outrage among a lot of people. So let me make this clear: the government will not, under any circumstances, legislate to stop people smoking in private. It would be a crazy move and, believe it or not, ministers are not crazy people – they’re politicians and they recognise political realities.

And if they did attempt to legislate in this direction, I would risk the wrath of those who don’t believe Scottish MPs should vote on English matters by voting against it.

But as I say, I won’t need to, because it’s not going to happen.

Which leads me to ask the question: why on earth consult on such a move in the first place? We end up getting all the grief for absolutely no political gain.

Anyway, hat-tip to Iain Dale for raising this matter today.