HC Deb 11 March 1981 vol 1000 cc881-2
33. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will issue a circular to procurators fiscal outlining the nature of the offences with which persons involved with solvent sniffing may be charged under current Scots law.

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

No, Sir.

Mr. Walker

I am disappointed. Will my hon. and learned Friend note that there is much concern in Scotland over this matter, and that strong feelings have been expressed at meetings that have been held, particularly in Perth. People are hoping that an easy form of words will be found to describe this type of offence, as was suggested during the Committee stage of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. What progress has been made in that respect?

The Solicitor-General for Scotland

I am, as ever, sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend. Unfortunately, there are matters that defy human solution. This is an easy question to answer, but a difficult one to resolve. However, I can give my hon. Friend this assurance. We recently prosecuted for a breach of the peace at common law a person who was sniffing glue. It was only because of a technical failure that that conviction was overturned on appeal. We are more likely to find a solution to this, devilish problem by the application of the common law than by trying to find statutory definitions to prosecute either the supplier or the user.

Mr. Maxton

Does the Solicitor-General for Scotland agree that most youngsters turn to glue sniffing because they feel a sense of hoplessness in the present economic climate? Surely, the real answer is to solve the social problems, created by unemployment, that make youngsters feel so hopeless that they have to turn to glue sniffing as a last resort?

The Solicitor-General For Scotland

Since glue sniffing is almost completely confined to persons of school age and at school, I do not see the relevance of unemployment among those who have left. If the premise of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) that a sense of being useless is the cause of glue sniffing, I cannot understand why he has not taken it up himself.