HC Deb 20 April 1995 vol 258 cc326-7
6. Mr. Mudie

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the new drugs strategy will be operational. [18360]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Nicholas Baker)

A new drugs strategy for England for the period 1995–98 will be set out in a White Paper to be published shortly. It is the outcome of a review co-ordinated by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, and will start to come into effect immediately.

Mr. Mudie

The three-year strategy begins this year but we are yet to see the White Paper, which may need legislative back-up. Does the Minister agree that any delay in introducing a timetable would be totally unacceptable, particularly where the lives of children are at risk? If he does agree, will he say whether any steps have been taken to put into effect one key element of the strategy, the drug action teams, which do not require legislation? If those steps have not been taken, why have they not been taken?

Mr. Baker

I accept that implementation of the strategy is important and urgent and work is proceeding on it. Vigorous law enforcement will continue, but, in reply to the hon. Gentleman's second point, there will be a new emphasis on drug education and prevention. At local level, the Government propose to establish about 100 multi-agency drug action teams to pursue common aims while tailoring action plans to local problems and needs. The intention is to apply £8.5 million to those teams over the next three years, and to get on with that immediately.

Mr. Peter Griffiths

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in the establishment of any new strategy for combating the illegal use of drugs, an example and information can be obtained by studying the programme in Buckland in my constituency, which my right hon. Friend visited last week? It shows just what can be achieved when local people and the police join together to drive out those who produce drug problems.

Mr. Baker

My hon. Friend is quite right. My right hon. and learned Friend saw for himself the excellent work in my hon. Friend's constituency, both in that scheme and as a example of partnership to defeat crime, which is an essential part of my right hon. Friend's crime-defeating programme.