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Dangerous Drugs

Part of Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) (No. 3) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 3rd July 2019.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department 4:19 pm, 3rd July 2019

I thank the hon. Members for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) for their constructive approach to this narrow statutory instrument, which is essentially a tidying-up exercise to comply with requests from our research community. I am glad that that has been understood and welcomed. Mr Deputy Speaker, many speakers have taken advantage of your traditional generosity in straying over the boundaries of this SI into a broader conversation around drugs policy, and I acknowledge that passions on this run high. The demand for a review of policy will not go away, but I believe that this needs to be led by the evidence. Speakers today have presented one side of the debate, but those on the other side believe with equal passion that the evidence tells a different story. However, I do not think that this is the day to have a debate on drugs policy.

There is a lot of passion about attendance at the Scottish Affairs Committee, and if I was unclear in my response on that, it is because I am not technically the Minister for drugs. That invitation has gone to the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend Victoria Atkins, the Minister with responsibility for crime and safeguarding, and I am assured that she will respond in due course. She has not declined to attend, as has been suggested—[Interruption.] Well, I am assured to the contrary. Anyway, I am sure that she and her officials will have heard the passion behind this request and will respond in due course.

The fact of the matter is that today, the Government’s policy on legalising cannabis and drug consumption rooms is set. Hon. Members will also be aware that a new Prime Minister will mean a new Administration, a new Government and an opportunity to reopen these debates where necessary. I am sure that many Members on both sides of the debate will be encouraging that to happen. I should say to the Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, Norman Lamb, for whom I have great respect, that I strongly believe that policy in all areas should be driven by evidence. That is why I welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has asked Dame Carol Black to lead one of the largest reviews of drug demand and supply for many years.