Drugs Policy: Scotland

Home Department – in the House of Commons at on 18 September 2023.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Scottish National Party, Glasgow North

Whether she has had discussions with Cabinet colleagues and the Scottish Government on further devolution of drugs policy to Scotland.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

I have not had discussions on the devolution of drugs policy, which is of course reserved to this Parliament, but I do have regular discussions about co-operating with colleagues in the Scottish Government. I had a discussion with the new Minister just a few weeks ago, and I think we are going to be meeting in Cardiff in just a few weeks’ time with Ministers from the three devolved Administrations to discuss how we can work constructively and collaboratively together.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Scottish National Party, Glasgow North

The Minister will know that the Lord Advocate in Scotland has issued a prosecution statement saying that she will not prosecute anyone in possession of controlled substances in any pilot safe consumption or overdose prevention facility that might be established in Scotland. Can he confirm what the Secretary of State for Scotland indicated in the House last week—that the UK Government will not seek to use any administrative or legislative means to frustrate or block the establishment of such a pilot facility?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

First, it is important to make it clear that the UK Government’s position on drug consumption rooms in England and Wales is that we do not support them. We are concerned that they condone or even encourage illegal drug use. I want to put that on the record straightaway. Of course, we respect the independence of the Lord Advocate as Scotland’s prosecutorial authority. Providing that that power is exercised lawfully, of course we are not going to stand in the way of it, as my right hon. Friend the Scottish Secretary set out last week. I understand that plans may involve a strong integration with treatment and some consideration of each case on its individual merits, but we do not plan to interfere with the lawfully exercised prosecutorial independence of the Lord Advocate.

Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am glad to hear what the drugs Minister says. The Home Affairs Committee’s report on drugs highlighted good practice in Scotland, in particular with the naloxone roll-out and the medication assisted treatment standards for same-day treatment. Academic evaluation has also found our enhanced drug treatment service, Scotland’s only heroin-assisted treatment service, to have been successfully implemented, in particular with a group with very complex backgrounds. Will the Minister visit Glasgow to hear more about what Scotland is doing to reduce harm and save lives?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

As I said to the hon. Lady at the Bar of the House last week, I am due to be in Edinburgh in early December, so I would be delighted to accept her invitation to visit the facility in Glasgow.