HC Deb 26 October 1989 vol 158 cc1040-1
5. Mr. Baldry

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of the work of the ministerial group on drug abuse.

Mr. Hurd

The ministerial group on the misuse of drugs last met, under my chairmanship, on 16 October. It endorsed my proposals for the establishment of locally based drug prevention schemes in nine areas most at risk from drug misuse, and in particular from the threat of cocaine and crack.

Other issues discussed included plans for the next phase of the national drug misuse prevention campaign, developments in drugs education, drug-related development assistance overseas under the aid programme and plans for the world ministerial summit on drugs, to be held in London next April.

Mr. Baldry

While it must be right not to risk glamorising crack by dramatising its effects, is my right hon. Friend confident that every parent, teacher, school governor and community or youth worker—especially in vulnerable communities—is fully aware of the dangers that crack poses to all our children? Is he confident that they are aware of the collective action that is being taken, and can be taken, to fight back against crack?

Mr. Hurd

Yes. Whatever we do about enforcement, I think that education to reduce demand is the key. That is why it is so important that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science put drug liaison officers into each local education authority, and why the national curriculum will now ensure that every primary and secondary school provides proper education so that young people understand the acute dangers and miseries resulting from the misuse of drugs.

Mr. Randall

Is the Home Secretary aware of the various press reports suggesting that major drug suppliers in north America, the Caribbean and South America intend to target Europe and, in particular, the United Kingdom, with cocaine, crack and other hard drugs? Is he also aware that, according to Home Office statistics, the Government's policies have failed even to contain the growth in drug taking? How can the people of Britain be confident that the Government understand the scale of those threats to our country? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that a considerable increase in resources will be needed from the Government to crush this evil trade?

Mr. Hurd

I can certainly answer yes to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question, without accepting the earlier part. We need to strengthen our defences at all points. That includes help for Third world countries, a serious effort to stifle the production of dangerous drugs, increasing the Customs and police presence at our ports and airports and retaining the necessary checks there, and substantially more expenditure on the communities at greatest risk, on education and on the treatment of addicts. All those measures are necessary, and all are being strengthened.