As C-Store went to press, the Bill was about to have its Second Reading in the House of Lords. The Second Reading is a formal parliamentary stage where the government and the opposition outline the main arguments for and against the proposed bill, before it is sent to the committee stage where a select group of parliamentarians work out the fine detail of the legislation.
Somewhat unusually, the Health Bill has started off in the House of Lords and will go to the House of Commons later – probably some time around Easter – for further debate. And this means that your elected MPs will still have plenty of opportunity to argue against the proposals or even vote them down.
Indeed, the lobbying efforts of the industry, both by trade associations and by individual retailers, is having an effect, with more and more MPs asking the government questions about the proposed display ban.
Just last week, Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda asked health minister Dawn Primarolo whether the government would offer financial assistance to small businesses forced to remove tobacco gantries (answer: “we have no plans”), so we know that the message is getting through.
So now is the time to get your views across to those in power. If you happen to know a member of the House of Lords – which is not impossible, as many are former elected MPs, local authority leaders or businessmen – then now is time to use that contact. But remember, whatever the Lords decide will still have to be debated, ratified and possibly amended by the House of Commons before it can become law, so your MP can have a say on whether, or in what form, the ban will take effect.
If you haven’t already done so, we urge you to write to your MP, or better still invite them to visit you in your shop to see at first hand the practical difficulties of serving customers without a tobacco gantry. If you get them on your side now, they can make a big difference to your business later on.
May 1 is Cancellation Day!
We are encouraging the entire c-store sector to cancel their energy supply contracts on or before May 1. In this way, the industry will be able to get the best possible deal without being rolled over on to a more expensive contract.