Jeff Smith: What assessment he has made of the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on the level of funding for drug treatment services.
Jeff Smith: The ACMD says: “England had built a world class drug treatment system… This system is now being dismantled due to reductions in resources.” More than 100 local authorities have had to reduce spending on addiction services this year as a result of Government cuts. Will that reduction in addiction treatment budgets not just cost the NHS more in the long term?
Jeff Smith: Last week, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs published a report noting that addiction services are facing disproportionate and severe cuts in funding, hitting the amount and quality of treatment across England. May we have a statement or a debate on how the Government are going to respond to the report and address the problem?
Jeff Smith: The Minister says that we should look at the evidence. The evidence is that Greater Manchester police has lost 2,000 staff—officers—since 2010 as a result of Government cuts, and the strain is showing right across south Manchester. How can she claim that these unfunded rises are affordable for police forces such as Greater Manchester police when they are already desperately short of funds?
Jeff Smith: To ask the Secretary of State what progress he has made on assessing the recommendations of the Taylor review of modern working practices.
Jeff Smith: Taylor agreed that we needed to ensure that the self-employed were genuinely self-employed and to strengthen their rights. A Labour Government would shift the burden of proof, so that the law would assume that a worker was an employee unless the employer could prove otherwise. We would set up a dedicated commission to modernise the law on employment status. Why cannot this Government commit...
Jeff Smith: What recent estimate she has made of the level of teacher shortages.
Jeff Smith: That is a very complacent answer. The Secretary of State’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), said that the public sector pay cap is having a clear impact on recruitment and retention. Does the Minister agree with his right hon. Friend that the policy makes it harder to recruit the teachers we need?
Jeff Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what evidence in favour of decriminalisation she considered in drafting the Drug Strategy 2017.
Jeff Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs's recommendation that the treatment services that are most effective will be those that combine harm reduction services with support to recovery.
Jeff Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what funding her Department has provided to (a) support the implementation of the Drug Strategy 2017 and (b) evaluate the effect of that strategy.
Jeff Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will allocate additional funding to evaluate the effect of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 on harm reduction.
Jeff Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether the Government's air quality strategy will include charging clean air zones.
Jeff Smith: May I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) on a really excellent speech? It was a privilege to be here for the first maiden speech by a brightly coloured turbaned Sikh. I am looking forward to a number of maiden speeches today. In my own maiden speech two years ago, I said among other things that I looked forward to arguing for reform of our drug laws. There has been...
Jeff Smith: No, I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman, because I do not think that is the evidence and I do not think that is the message. There is a host of evidence through the years that cannabis is far less dangerous than alcohol.
Jeff Smith: That is absolutely right. We talked earlier about the use of skunk, which has very high THC content. If one were to regulate the cannabis market, one could balance the THC and CBD elements of the product and make it safer for people.
Jeff Smith: I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. He knows it, and I suspect that very many Members in this House know it—far more than are represented here today. I think plenty on the Government side know it, too, and perhaps even the Home Secretary knows it but, because of the toxic climate of the debate around drug policy, we are not able to say so. If we legalised and regulated cannabis, we...
Jeff Smith: There is a black market in tobacco and there is a black market in alcohol, but most people do not obtain their tobacco and their alcohol from the black market. Is it not the case that there would be less temptation, and that over time there would be a reduction in the number of people using dealers?
Jeff Smith: Greater Manchester police would argue that since the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 supply has shifted to the streets, and the product was more consistent in the head shops, whereas now it is constantly changing. Does the Minister agree that that shift is part of the reason for the epidemic of Spice use in Manchester, which is causing huge problems?
Jeff Smith: The Manchester Royal Infirmary has had to stop congenital heart surgery because staff have been leaving following the uncertainty caused by the review which the right hon. Lady referred to earlier. Patients now have to travel up to 150 miles for treatment. May we have a statement on how we can continue to deliver local congenital heart services to those patients in advance of the review?