HC Deb 05 March 1964 vol 690 cc1493-4
4. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what supervision he exercises over the issue of prescriptions to persons claiming to be drug addicts.

Mr. Woodhouse

The provision of supplies of dangerous drugs to a patient who is addicted depends solely on the decision of the medical practitioner professionally responsible for the case. This is in accordance with the advice given by the Rolleston Committee on Morphine and Heroin Addiction in 1926, and by the Brain Committee on Drug Addiction in 1961.

Mr. Shepherd

Is my hon. Friend fully satisfied that this is working properly, since many chemists in the West End of London are concerned that the large number of Canadian and American customers who come to them for drugs say they come here solely for the purpose of getting drugs easily and cheaply?

Mr. Woodhouse

I think it right that responsibility in this matter should rest with the medical profession. I hope it may help to reassure my hon. Friend when I add that there is a Home Office handbook on the duties of doctors and dentists under the Dangerous Drugs Act and Regulations, which contains advice on prescribing for addicts. If it is found from chemists' registers that a medical practitioner has been prescribing dangerous drugs regularly for a patient over a long period, arrangements can be made for a regional medical officer to visit the doctor to give him such advice as may be necessary.

Sir B. Stross

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that, up to date at least, the number of registered drug addicts in this country is fortunately very low?

Mr. Woodhouse

It is very low, but it has been rising in recent years.