BANNING adults from smoking in cars carrying children is ‘the right thing to do’, according to Conservative MP Neil Carmichael.

Stroud’s representative in Parliament has said he will back an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to outlaw the practice after the Government indicated it would give MPs a free vote on the issue.

Last Wednesday, the House of Lords voted by 222 votes to 197 in favour of the amendment tabled by Labour peers.

Although ministers had previously argued that the policy was a ‘blunt instrument’ and that public awareness campaigns were more effective, the Government has now softened its stance and will allow MPs to vote according to their consciences rather than insisting they fall in line with the party whip.

Speaking on Friday, January 31, Tory MP Neil Carmichael said he would back the amendment, which could make it a criminal offence for a driver to fail to prevent smoking in their vehicle when a child is present.

“I have already voted for it once and I will do so again. I think children are vulnerable in cars where their parents are smoking so in my opinion it is the right thing to do,” said Mr Carmichael.

“It is certainly correct that education has an important role to play – public health issues do need to be brought to people’s attention through all sorts of mediums – but in this case I think the amendment proposed is worth voting for.”

The Labour Party has said that if the plans fail to gain approval in the Commons and do not make it into law, it will include the measure in its manifesto for the general election in 2015.

Smoking was banned by the last Labour government in enclosed public spaces and at work in 2007 after similar legislation came into force in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Health campaigners say young children, whose lungs are yet to fully develop, are more susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke, which can become up to 11 times more concentrated in cars and increase the risk of a range of illnesses from asthma to cancer.