New Psychoactive Substances: EUC Report — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 11th November 2013.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lords Spokesperson (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills), Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 8:15 pm, 11th November 2013

I thank the noble Baroness for her intervention and, of course, for the excellent work she does in her chairmanship of the APPG. I do not for a moment suggest—nor do the Government take this position—that everything can be controlled through such measures. She pointed to the internet: internet purchasing of NPS is quite low. I understand it is at the rate of about 2%. That said, there has to be an acceptance that, of course, banning something does not mean that a substance or a derivative of one will not get through. After all, these are derivatives of what already exists in the market and, as all noble Lords acknowledge, this is unfortunately a dynamic market and you can never control what new substances are coming. It is only possible when something is identified. However, currently we take account of the different representations made by different agencies and we work with EU partners in sharing information and good practice. That is something that the Government subscribe to. However, as the noble Baroness herself acknowledged in her contributions, the UK is far ahead of others in identifying and dealing with some of these matters. Of course, we ultimately need to ensure that we try to stop as quickly as possible these drugs that are coming on to our markets and streets and appearing in people’s homes. There is no doubt that challenges remain and we need to address them as they arise.

Finally, as I already said in acknowledging some of the noble Baroness’s remarks, the Government retain our position that the European Union has a role to play in tackling new psychoactive substances, but we are not convinced that the current measures will add value to the work that the UK is already doing and leading in this area.