After a thorough review of drugs policy, the coalition Government launched their new drug strategy in December 2010. The Misuse of Drugs Act provides a strong legislative framework, but we have further strengthened it through the introduction of temporary orders to allow us quickly to ban so-called “legal highs” as soon as they are developed and become dangerous. We continually consider evidence and advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on the control of emerging drugs.
I am grateful for the Home Secretary’s personal interest in this issue. Many people outside Parliament, and from all parts of Parliament, still believe that our drugs laws are not working nearly as well as they should. Will she consider the view taken by my party’s conference last year, which was that an independent panel should be tasked with reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Act and reporting back to her, and there should be a subsequent debate in Parliament?
I thank my right hon. colleague for his interest in this issue. As he knows, we have already, as a coalition Government, put a considerable amount of work into our new drug strategy, and I suggest to him that we need to see how that strategy, once it is fully rolled out, is having an impact. Other measures that the Government are taking will also have an impact, such as the introduction of the National Crime Agency, which will strengthen our ability to deal with the organised criminal gangs that bring in the drugs that end up causing so much damage to people on our streets.
The Home Office has undertaken a study into the use of khat, and into whether to make it illegal or to retain its current status. Will the Secretary of State say what progress has been made on the consultations within the community, and if and when there are to be any proposals from her Department?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue. The question of khat has caused concern to a number of people for some considerable time. I have asked the ACMD to consider the use of khat. It will conduct a study and expects to be able to report back to me and the Home Office later this year.