HAMPSHIRE MPs were split last night as the Commons voted to ban smoking in cars when children are passengers.

Most county MPs joined with the majority – and with hundreds of medical experts – who argued that the measure is badly-needed to protect children’s health.

But others insisted that a ban was unenforceable and an attack on personal freedom, arguing that parents should be trusted to do the right thing.

Nevertheless, the amendment introducing the ban – first passed in the Lords, in the teeth of Government opposition – was passed by 376 votes to 107, a majority of 269.

Southampton Labour MPs John Denham (Itchen) and Alan Whitehead (Test) were among the vast majority of Labour MPs in favour of a ban.

Mr Whitehead said: “Smoking in cars with kids is the equivalent of strapping your kid into a high chair and blowing smoke in its face for 20 minutes.”

That view was supported by Mike Thornton (Lib Dem; Eastleigh), Julian Lewis (Con; New Forest East), Desmond Swayne (Con; New Forest West), Steve Brine (Con; Winchester and Chandler’s Ford), Caroline Nokes (Con; Romsey and Southampton North) and Caroline Dinenage (Con; Gosport).

However Mark Hoban (Con; Fareham) and George Hollingbery (Con; Meon Valley) voted against.

Mr Hoban said: “I’m against the ban, because it will be very difficult to police.

“People are also well aware of the risks around smoking and we should trust parents, and other adults, to do the right thing rather than resorting to bans and prosecutions.”

About 700 health experts had pleaded with MPs to enforce a ban.