Orders of the Day — Drugs (Sentencing and Commission of Inquiry) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:51 am on 25th February 2005.

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Photo of Mr Paul Marsden Mr Paul Marsden Shadow Minister, Transport 10:51 am, 25th February 2005

Yes, that is our policy, but we would need to gain international consensus and agreement; indeed, the United Nations convention on narcotics use requires other countries to agree to such a change. It is our policy to work towards that ultimate aim, but we will have to wait and see exactly what is in our general election manifesto, which may be pending, on the policies of any future Liberal Democrat Government. The media get excited and distracted by the mere mention of the word "drug", but in effect I take drugs, as most Members probably do, if we count tobacco and alcohol. So let us have a sensible debate, because sometimes discussion about cannabis use is akin to talking about the colour of the napkins on the dining room table of the Titanic. Instead, let us focus on something a little more important.

On the Bill's specifics, we Liberal Democrats do not agree with mandatory sentencing. We understand the sentiment behind such a proposal and the frustration and amazement that people feel when they read in the newspapers that one judge has passed one sentence and another has passed a completely different one. However, I am not an expert on the law and I believe that such decisions should be left to the experts—the judges.