Hewitt fumes at Labour's smoking rebels

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Indy Politics

Patricia Hewitt will seek to see off a looming Labour rebellion this week over the Government's plans to partially outlaw smoking in pubs.

The Secretary of State for Health is expected to indicate that there will be no compromises, despite a growing number of MPs demanding a complete ban on smoking in public places.

The Department of Health has signalled that it will not ditch its proposal to allow smoking in pubs that do not serve food.

Ms Hewitt is expected to go on the offensive to help push through the partial ban, despite opposition from within the Cabinet and senior ranks of the party who want a total ban.

As the Health Bill that contains the proposal for a partial ban enters the Commons for its second reading, ministers are bracing themselves for fierce opposition - and even an amendment designed to scupper the Government's compromise.

Tony Blair is opposed to a complete ban and sensitive to accusations of operating an excessively bossy "nanny state". But he has been warned that he could face a second damaging rebellion, after his defeat on the Terrorism Bill this month. More than 50 Labour MPs have called on the Government to allow a free vote on smoking.

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