Misuse of Nitrous Oxide

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:16 am on 23rd November 2022.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department 11:16 am, 23rd November 2022

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs principally makes recommendations about how harmful a particular drug is and therefore how it should be classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. That is the advice we have sought in this case. The consequences that then flow from classification are matters for Parliament to legislate; they are set out in law. There are obviously different criminal penalties depending on whether a drug is in class A, B or C, and there are different penalties for possession versus supply. The advice we are seeking is essentially medical advice on just how damaging the drugs are and therefore which regime they should fall within. I will convey to the ACMD how pressing Members of Parliament feel the issue is, quite rightly. The points raised have been very powerful and well articulated. I will undertake a third action to go and do that. This is an important issue, about which we are concerned.

I add a point before closing about the powers that local authorities have. One or two Members mentioned the associated antisocial behaviour and littering. There are powers available under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and other legislation to make various forms of order in this area, including orders on antisocial behaviour and dispersal. We also have public space protection orders, which are available to local councils to stop individuals or groups committing antisocial behaviour in a public space; such behaviour would clearly fall into that remit. Following consultation by councils with the police or the local PCC, councils can issue a PSPO, which would effectively prevent the activities taking place in a particular area. If there are Members who feel there is a problem in a particular location, I would suggest they get their local council to use PSPOs as an immediate measure and way of taking action. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest for the opportunity to speak on this important issue.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered the matter of the misuse of nitrous oxide.

Sitting suspended.