Children Requiring Compulsory Measures of Supervision

Part of Orders of the Day — Children (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 1st May 1995.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West 9:45 pm, 1st May 1995

I have listened carefully to hon. Members' comments, including those of the hon. Member for Monklands, East (Mrs. Liddell) on byelaws as a possible limited way forward. I listened to the concerns of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) about drinking by young people.

Two problems exist in relation to the amendments. The first is that they embody a definition of alcoholic drink that does not accord with the definition in any other Scottish legislation. The alcohol strength is set so low that, perversely, some young people might view it as a ban to beat. Secondly, in attempting to cover public places, the proposed definition would venture into such a wide range of situations that it would be difficult to enforce. For those reasons, the amendments are unworkable.

I recognise, however, the great strength of feeling of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr. I should mention that a considerable array of statutory and common law offences can already be brought to bear, whatever the age of the drinker.

The long-term answer is a positive attitude to health and healthy life styles. The Health Education Board for Scotland works closely with education authorities, health boards and the Scottish Council on Alcohol in getting that message across to young people. We all have a part to play in ensuring that young people are aware of the consequences of alcohol misuse, that they appreciate the legal position and that they are taught the importance of a sensible approach to alcohol use.

I understand my hon. Friend's motives and the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker). My concerns about the problems of under-age drinking and its effect both on drinkers and others are no less than theirs. Having said that, I understand the strength of the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr on the issue. Without commitment, because the problems that I have mentioned are real and genuine ones, I am willing to consider the matter further and to reflect on the debate. On that basis, having made his case, I hope that he will agree to withdraw his amendment.