Philip Davies (Shipley, Conservative)Beg pardon?
To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) what peer review was undertaken on (a) the calculations of the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses contained in and (b) the research on the economic burden of tobacco use on society cited in the Tobacco Control Plan for England;
Anne Milton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Public Health), Health; Guildford, Conservative)
“Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England” included an appendix providing resources for tobacco control (pages 48-53). The references to the Policy Exchange’s “Cough Up” report and the Action on Smoking and Health website provide further information on the costs of treating smoking related diseases and the economic burden on society of tobacco use
Leaving aside the laughable mention of ASH as a reliable and impartial source, does she seriously mean that car crash of a document Henry Featherstone wrote in breaks between snogging Deborah Arnott?
The report which led the IEA to take the extraordinary step of trashing a fellow right of centre think tank? The one hacked to bits by the TPA's Matthew Sinclair on Conservative Home, and pilloried at the Telegraph and the Spectator? The one that even the BBC - usually straining at the leash to publish anti-smoker junk studies - wouldn't touch due to its toxic lack of credibility? That report?
It would appear that, yes, she does indeed mean the one described on these pages as 'That Policy Exchange Nonsense'.
This, remember, is the same Anne Milton who claimed last year that she was "not aware of any evidence that removing tobacco displays will affect the number of retail outlets", despite having been sent a copy of a report - illustrating exactly that - presented to the IEA just half a mile up the road from her office.
Now, I'll be generous and not jump to the conclusion that she is either dreadfully inept at her job or crashingly stupid, which such incompetence would seem to suggest. Instead, let's assume her actions are perfectly in line with the way this government operates. From this, we can accurately map the complex processes involved in drafting rules and regulations within Westminster.
So here, exclusively, is a cut-out-and-keep guide to how modern political policy-making works.
I think, in light of the above, we've discovered why our government makes such a dog's breakfast of everything it meddles with, don't you?