A Croydon MP’s attempt to make it illegal to smoke in a car with children present could be law in days after being approved by the House of Lords.

Steve Reed’s amendment to the Children & Families Bill was debated in the house last night after being reintroduced by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Lord Faulkner and Baroness Hughes.

It will now be returned to the Commons where Government sources have indicated MPs will be given a free vote on the issue.

This vote could take place as quickly as February 10.

Although the successful Labour amendment to the Children and Families Bill does not directly ban smoking in cars with children in them, it backs the principle of making it an offence.

It gives Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt a power to bring in regulations that would make it an offence for a driver to "fail to prevent smoking in the vehicle when a child or children are present".

Croydon North MP Mr Reed was a member of the Children & Families Bill Committee and moved a new clause to the bill co-sponsored by fellow MPs Alex Cunningham, Bill Esterton and Pat Glass at a committee meeting last April.

Speaking after the Lords’ vote Steve Reed MP said: “This measure is about protecting children’s health. 

"Children are often powerless to stop adults smoking in cars, so we need the law to step in to protect them. 

"I’ve spoken to dozens of children who tell me they have to breathe in adults’ cigarette smoke in cars. 

"They find it revolting but they don’t realise it’s harming their health. 

"We need to change the culture so it’s completely unacceptable for adults to smoke in cars when children are present, but as with wearing seat-belts that needs to be backed up by law. 

"I hope Tory and Lib Dem MPs will join Labour to vote for this measure next month.”

According to research by the British Lung Foundation in 2011, one in five children aged 11 to 15 report often being exposed to second-hand smoke in cars, and over half of all children report being exposed at some point.

A survey of MumsNet users conducted by the same organisation found that 86 per cent of parents supported a ban, including 83 per cent of smokers.