However, Proceedings have already raised two significant precedents which threaten free society in Britain.
Firstly, those in favour queued up to say that it is perfectly acceptable to interfere in private vehicles because they'd already done so with seat belts. Again we see a previous appalling law - which has had no effect whatsoever, by the way - being cited in demanding another of the same objectionable quality.
A perfect example of a precedent in action in itself and proof of the existence of a slippery slope.
Yet the Lords' analogy falls down because seat belt laws are handled by the police as part of their usual role of road safety. There is no aspect of road safety involved with smoking in cars with or without children (we know that the preferred option is a complete ban), so this would be the first ever time that British police will be enforcing public health. The definition of a police state would include provision for just that. Imagine the possibilities for insane public health nutters if they can henceforth count on the police to enforce whatever wacky idea they come out with next, and you just know they will use it as a precedent.
Secondly, no matter how much the Lords tried to distance themselves from the idea of the same legislation being proposed for private homes, the next logical step - tobacco control's favourite trick - most certainly will be that. In fact, two speakers just couldn't help betraying their inner thoughts even as they all stepped on political eggshells to pretend it won't be a consideration.
I believe that this is actual harm. It is extraordinarily difficult to police every home, as we know from what happens to social workers and social services every time something occurs in a local authority because the policing has been so difficult. That does not stop us having legislation to ensure that in private place, the child is protected from harm. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Patel, just how harmful it is. Were it left to me, I would legislate in the private space of the home.
When responding to the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, for whom I have great respect, as he knows, said that there is a difference between smoking, which is a legal activity, and other things that we have prohibited in the home in relation to children. But the things that we were talking about then, such as neglect of children and the beating of children, have not always been illegal in the home. They were made illegal because they are particularly harmful to the well-being of children. We take it for granted now that such things are illegal but they were not always. We invaded that private space because of the need to protect children. The same argument applies.So there you have it. The precedent of seat belts leading to police involvement in public health, and the spectre of the state with its foot inside your front door - with police backing via the precedent of smoking in cars.
In the past, these were precisely the more profound considerations the House of Lords was designed to mitigate from kneejerk politically-motivated MPs. If the Lords are no longer capable of recognising such fundamental threats to liberty, they're all but redundant.
UPDATE:Via TrashBunny in the comments, the slippery slope is slick on this one.