It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Christopher. I thank my hon. Friend Mark Garnier for securing this important debate. I put on record my thanks to his local radio station, BBC Hereford & Worcester, for its tireless and energetic campaigning and investigative journalism in this area. As my hon. Friend said, work by local radio stations, such as BBC Hereford & Worcester, is extremely important in raising those issues and drawing them to the attention of local Members of Parliament, and, through them, the Government.
The Government share the concerns that hon. Members have raised about the use of nitrous oxide. We are very conscious about its growing levels of use recreationally, particularly by younger people aged between 16 and 24. We are concerned about the effect it has on people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Often, drug consumption can have effects that take quite a long time to manifest For example, we know long-term cannabis consumption can lead to psychosis and psychotic episodes, but it takes quite a long time for that to manifest. With any sort of psychoactive substance there can be effects that are not immediately obvious, and only after the passage of time do they become clear.