I am grateful to you, Mr Howarth, and other hon. Members for being present. I thank everyone for their contribution. This has been a good opportunity to continue to raise the issue of synthetic cannabinoids and to keep it on the agenda as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Department considers it. I thank the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent North (Ruth Smeeth) and for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins) for supporting my application for the debate, which was much appreciated.
I thank Jim Shannon for his long-term support and his contributions to various debates on the subject. I also thank Ronnie Cowan. As much as we disagree on some of the implications of this, we agree that it is a public health issue—I hope I made that clear in what I said—and that the system currently gets it wrong.
From what the Minister has said, it is clear that the Government are looking at their drugs policy more broadly and how they might take it forward. There is definitely a discussion to be had. This campaign has a long way to go, but I am confident that we will continue to make progress. I welcome the Minister’s remarks, and I thank him for laying out what the Government are going to do, with reviews by the Department and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the work that is happening in prisons and the potential work in the health service. All that is welcome, and I take from it that the Government are taking the issue seriously.
I welcome with open arms the letter I received from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs last week about its review of reclassification and what that should look like, but I press the Minister on the speed of that review. The council suggests that it will take nine months to deliver its decision, which seems like a long time.
I welcome the Minister’s comments about the Government dealing with the issue and taking it seriously. I will continue to prioritise it and raise it during the reviews. I will keep having this conversation with the Minister, and I thank him for his patience on that. I will also keep prioritising the safety of my constituents.
I hope that in the coming months, and through the reviews, we will come to a conclusion about positive action that the Government can take to support local services and to benefit our communities by helping users and by keeping people in our town centres safe—that is the public safety aspect of the issue. In future, there needs to be proactive action and change from the Government to make that happen.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House
has considered the reclassification of synthetic cannabinoids.