HC Deb 27 January 1969 vol 776 cc920-2
14. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further plans he has for extending facilities for treatment of drug addicts.

36. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement on progress made in the setting up of treatment centres for drug addicts.

39. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further proposals he has to extend facilities for the treatment of drug addicts.

Mr. Crossman

I would refer to the replies given on 24th October last to my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) and on 2nd December to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) which still apply generally. The number of heroin addicts attending outpatient clinics at the end of November was 919 in London and 228 elsewhere, and the number receiving in-patient treatment 68 in the London area and 39 elsewhere,—[Vol. 770, c. 378–9. [Vol. 774, c. 235.]

Mr. Montgomery

Is not the Minister aware of the great concern which has been felt about the treatment of drug addicts? Has his attention been drawn to an article in the Sunday Times in which a supervisor at one of these centres said, "This is supposed to be a treatment centre but it is becoming a prescription centre"? This is a matter which is causing great concern to many people. What do the Government intend to do about it?

Mr. Crossman

I rather share those views. I was at a centre the other day at which much the same answer was given. We are still studying the problem. We have to face the fact that there is not yet a complete answer or knowledge how to tackle the problem. Much of the work at the centres must be analysis and research before they can provide a cure. It would be wrong for the public to be given the idea that there was a simple, easy answer to the problem. We are still studying it.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

But surely the Minister should not be merely studing the question. He should be remedying the scandalous situation which was revealed in the Sunday Times article. Does he need compulsory powers to make treatment effective?

Mr. Crossman

I should like to think carefully about the implications of the last part of that question. I could not answer it off the cuff. It was not put on the Order Paper. The implications of the first part of the question seem not wholly fair in view of what I and my hon. Friends have seen in the work of these centres.

Mrs. Short

While accepting what my right hon. Friend said about our not knowing all the answers, may I ask whether he does not nevertheless think, in view of the increase in the number of drug addicts, particularly among young people, that it is regrettable that such an established unit as the Cane Hill Unit, which was doing excellent treatment for some addicts, has been closed down, thus reducing the number of beds available for those who are willing to take inpatient treatment?

Mr. Crossman

I do not think that the problem is that there are not enough places in the centres for those who wish to go to them. All my evidence is that the centres are not fully used.

Dr. John Dunwoody

Has my right hon. Friend seen recent Press reports about addiction to the amphetamines? Does he not agree that this poses a very serious problem and will he consider further restricting the availability of this group of drugs?

Mr. Crossman

That is a totally different question. I suggest that my hon. Friend puts down a separate Question about it.

Back to
Forward to