Drug Treatment Services

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:07 pm on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 5:07 pm, 16th July 2019

When the hon. Gentleman talks about methadone, the result is that he stigmatises it. That may not be his intention, but that is the result. He may have heard Kirsten Horsburgh from the Scottish Drugs Forum talking on “Good Morning Scotland” this morning about that being stigmatising for people. We need to get away from that stigma. We need to look towards treatment and harm reduction.

To that end, I and my SNP colleagues have argued for three years for a drug consumption room for Glasgow. That could go ahead as a pilot if the UK Government got out of the way and let us do it. It is three years since NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde produced its “Taking away the chaos” report, the business case for that drug consumption room, which Saket Priyadarshi and his colleagues worked away on. That has been sitting there for three years. The UK Government are standing in the way of the life-saving intervention a drug consumption room would bring.

That drug consumption room would not save everybody—at the moment, it would be just for Glasgow—but it would make a huge difference to the people I know who inject in dirty bin sheds and back lanes and on waste ground yards from my office, time and again. It is the job of the rest of society to try to pick up the pieces of that—to pick up the discarded needles that are left behind. Those people would have the dignity of a drug consumption room within a few paces, where they could go to inject drugs, receive medical help and get support now, if the UK Government approved it. It is an absolute tragedy that that is not happening, and a huge source of frustration.

Mr Sweeney mentioned the Lord Advocate. The Lord Advocate is the Lord Advocate; we cannot intervene in the decisions that the chief legal officer takes on this. If he says that that is not within the law, that is his legal opinion. He is the chief legal officer, and that is his decision. It rests with the UK Government to make that change under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.