HC Deb 11 February 1964 vol 689 cc213-4
Q4. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the public concern over the direct and indirect effects of the personal use of narcotics, sedatives and stimulants and the employment of chemical fertilisers, insecticides and fumicides, he will advise the appointment of a Royal Commission to ascertain their medical, social and economic incidence, in particular the social injury caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol compared with excessive smoking and drug addiction, the extent to which commercial considerations encourage the excessive or irresponsible usage of substances that can be socially and personally deleterious, and the measures that should be taken to minimise the effects.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I have been asked to reply.

I agree that these are serious matters, but I do not think a Royal Commission would be the best way to make progress.

Mr. Sorensen

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman devise some other means by which the public can be more clearly informed as to the respective dangers of the various matters I have embodied in my Question? In particular, is he aware of the disproportionate emphasis placed on the dangers of excessive smoking in the absence of an equal emphasis on the dangers of excessive drinking? In these circumstances, can the right hon. and learned Gentleman indicate whether the whole matter will be reviewed?

Mr. Lloyd

What I doubt is the practical possibility or desirability of having all these matters reviewed by the same body, particularly a Royal Commission, which might take quite a long time over them. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has certain responsibilities with regard to what are called sedatives and stimulants. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has already stated that he proposes to take action on a law relating to medicines. As the hon. Member will recollect, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture has said that he is asking for the views of his Advisory Committee to be given without delay on the recent incident. I think that it is better to deal with it in that way.

Mrs. Slater

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman also include the Ministry of Education as a body which might deal with some of these suggestions? Some of the preventative work could then be done at the source.

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that I would dispute that proposition.

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