Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Dangerous Drugs

Part of Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No. 3) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:10 pm on 3rd July 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 4:10 pm, 3rd July 2019

That is the point. It is all about this statutory instrument because it will help people like the family the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. It will supply the evidence and research so that that could happen. It is unacceptable that people, because they do not have this in place, are having to go abroad and are still being arrested when they come back to the United Kingdom. That was mentioned in the report from the Health and Social Care Committee today, so progress has been made, but we are looking forward to looking at the whole issue of cannabis when we go Portugal to see how decriminalisation has worked there. Portugal had drug deaths on a par with what Scotland is currently experiencing, but the number has been cut to a manageable level because of its approach to cannabis and decriminalisation.

As I say, yesterday’s session of the Scottish Affairs Committee was fascinating. Let me tell the Minister something that the assistant chief constable of Scotland said because it is important for this particular measure. He said:

“There are 61,500 problematic users in Scotland just now. It is growing in number. For the vast majority, the end for them is death. And the criminal justice process is actually pushing people into a place where there is more harm.”

That is from an assistant chief constable responsible for keeping people safe.

Someone on the Minister’s own advisory council said:

“We are seeing police creating ways to reduce the harm done by the Misuse of Drugs Act. If we fully implemented the law of possession, we would be creating harm.”

That is what we are hearing from everybody, but we are hearing nothing from the Government because they will not come to our Committee to tell us what they actually feel about this; they are not prepared to come to defend this, which is totally unacceptable. We now need to hear that they are prepared to come in front of us.

When the Government do talk about drugs issues, the policy is, “We don’t want to send the wrong signal.” A fat lot of good that does to people 6 feet under the ground as a result of failed drug policies, part of the ever-increasing drug deaths.

The Home Secretary is happy to dispense with all the compelling evidence—everything he hears, all the international examples about drug consumption rooms— because, as he said, of his own childhood experience in his own personal neighbourhood. The Government know the evidence about drug consumption rooms. The Government have even accepted the evidence about drug consumption rooms. The only thing the Government have not done is do anything about it. People are dying. Do something about it. This works: all international evidence shows that drug consumption rooms make a difference. They stop people dying and allow them to get the treatment and recovery services that they should be entitled to.

It is appalling that the Government have one message on this: the belief that a drugs war can be prosecuted and won. All we need is the kids from “Grange Hill” and Nancy Reagan singing “Just say no.” It is time that this Government grew up and accepted the real range of issues on this matter.

We know that a health approach to drugs issues is required. We know that problematic drug use is a result of a complex cocktail of deprivation, poor mental health, trauma, stigma and addiction disorders, but the Government’s policy does nothing about this.

We want the Government to attend our Committee to defend their current drugs policy. I say to the Minister again: for his summing up, he can get his notes from his civil servants and get them to say that somebody will be coming to our Committee who will give us evidence and is prepared to defend the Government’s policy, because right now this is unacceptable.