Legislative Programme

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:35 am on 16th June 1999.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar Labour 9:35 am, 16th June 1999

Mr Gallie is inviting me to make another speech if he wants me to comment on drug abuse in Scotland. I say this not in a pernickety or personal way, but it is important to distinguish between what we can do administratively and what would require statutory provision. We are talking today about matters that need to be dealt with by statutory provision.

One of the features of Labour's election campaign was the promise of a drugs enforcement agency, which would be taken out of the present structure of the Scottish crime squad and which would mean a doubling in the number of policemen who work in that field. In addition, we will double the strength of successful drug squads in every force. That does not need legislation, but I will not allow that important commitment to slip. We will want to tackle problems in consultation with the relevant committee. The Justice and Home Affairs Committee will be set up shortly and will have its say on the issue of drug misuse. We may also want to introduce legislation, particularly on confiscation laws.

The list that I have announced is not exhaustive; it is a starting line-up-if I may use a sporting analogy-from which we will move on. A variety of Government departments will have to tackle the problem of drug misuse and we will discuss the structure that will allow us to do that. The Government is determined to mount a cross-cutting exercise, as it is called in the jargon of the trade, with considerably more energy and efficiency than has previously been possible. I can safely predict that drugs will be one area of attack.