THE Balearic Parliament is to call on Central Government to compensate those businessmen in the hostelry industry who adapted their premises to adhere to previous smoking restrictions but which have now become outdated after the introduction of the total smoking ban.

The proposal was put forward yesterday by the Partido Popular (PP) during a Parliamentary session. It was successfully supported by the Majorcan Unionists (UM), but was opposed by the ruling government team - a coalition of the Balearic Socialists (PSIB) and the “Bloc” party.

PP Member of Parliament, Gaspar Oliver, claimed during the debate that in the five years since Central Government had demanded that bars, cafeterias and restaurants build partition walls to keep the smokers away from the non-smokers, businesses had hardly recovered their outlay for the reforms. He also said that Central Government wouldn't have to part with very much cash by way of compensation because it was between just 2 and 3 percent of the hostelry industry which went ahead and fully converted their premises to meet the new legal requirements.

Oliver said that whilst he was in agreement with banning smoking in all public places, he believed that those people who had invested considerable amounts of money in order not to lose their clients should be fairly compensated as their reforms are now outdated.

Socialist MP Maria Luisa Morillas countered the PP proposal by saying that carrying out the partition works were “an option” that hostelry businesses were given but were never “an obligation”, and that vast amounts of money were not spent on the conversions.

She added that the very proposal that the PP were now making in the Balearic Parliament had already been debated in Congress in Central Government, and that the prime cause of the introduction of the ban was to protect people from smoking rather than to provide an opportunity for businessmen to claim for their losses.

She was backed up by Bloc MP Miquel Angel Llauger who said that the issue at stake was to defend the vast majority of the population who do not smoke from those who do.