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.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Hannay of Chiswick Lord Hannay of Chiswick Chair, EU Sub Committee F - Home Affairs, Health and Education 8:15 pm, 11th November 2013

In winding up this debate, I should like to thank all those who participated, particularly the two members of my sub-committee, the noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, for their contributions. It is always a source of pleasure to find that the two Front Benches are in agreement with a cross-party committee such as ours. Therefore, there is clearly very broad support for tabling this reasoned opinion.

I listened with great care to my noble friend Lady Meacher, who is of course a major expert on these matters and who has made some extremely relevant observations about the difficulty of dealing with these psychoactive substances. She must be right when she says that we should not delude ourselves into thinking that because the Commission proposals are in our view not fulfilling subsidiarity and are disproportionate, we therefore have all the answers. We clearly do not have all the answers, and the Minister admitted that.

The question that comes up under subsidiarity is: will action at the European Union level add value and be more effective? That is where these proposals fall down: we do not have a perfect system, but the one that is proposed could lead to quite difficult issues arising if, for example, great harm were found in the UK from one of these substances—if people died from it—and we were not able to take action. That would be damaging both to us in Britain and to the European Union.

I hope that when this matter comes to be dealt with in Brussels—whether or not we reach the threshold for the yellow card, as it is called, which is perhaps not certain— the Commission will take a very careful look. It will need to reply to this reasoned opinion we are making, whether it achieves the yellow card threshold or not. I hope that it takes a very careful look again at the decision-making processes that it proposes. There are elements in the proposal that are excellent; clearly the EMCDDA has a bigger role to play in these substances and I hope that it will be given more resources as the new budget arrangements come into effect from the beginning of next year. It would be a good thing if that happened, because it does excellent work and could greatly help member states with the action that they have to take in this field. Europol devotes quite a lot of its resources to drugs and clearly has a major role to play in breaking up the trafficking of these products and so on. However, we take issue with the decision-making process; that is the basis for the reasoned opinion and the basis on which I beg to move.

Motion agreed.