Children of Alcoholics

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:18 am on 24th November 2015.

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Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich 11:18 am, 24th November 2015

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I want to put on the record my congratulations to Liam Byrne on securing the debate and sharing some difficult personal experiences with the Chamber. That was not an easy thing to do—it is not an easy thing for anyone in public life. However, I hope that the conversation that he talked about opening will bring huge benefit to the lives of many children and improve the public health of our nation as a result.

In the brief time available to me, I want to outline and expand on a couple of the points that the right hon. Gentleman made. He is absolutely right that substance misuse—in this case, alcohol misuse—is an illness. Often there are links with anxiety, depression and people struggling with mental health problems. Yet our framework for tackling alcoholism in this country seems somewhat fragmented. I am sure that the Minister will want to pick up on that issue in his response. Local health services commission mental health services, and yet it is local authorities that have primary responsibility for tackling issues to do with substance misuse.

The two issues are so inherently intertwined that the support for both the people suffering from mental ill health and their families has to be co-ordinated and holistic, but it is difficult to understand how that can be achieved with a fragmented commissioning landscape. For me, that is at the heart of this dilemma—this challenge—and the right hon. Gentleman made the point very well. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response, particularly on how we can better unify the services available for people who are alcoholics and their families.