HC Deb 15 January 1997 vol 288 cc343-60

'.The Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 shall be amended in Schedule 1A by adding the following paragraph—

"7.(1) This paragraph applies where a court proposing to make a probation order or a combination order is satisfied—

  1. (a) that the offender is using a Class A drug;
  2. (b) that his use caused or contributed to the offence in respect of which the order is proposed to be made; and
  3. (c) that his use is such as may be susceptible to treatment.

(2) The court shall not form such an opinion as is mentioned in sub—paragraph (1) above unless it has obtained a pre-sentence report and a drugs test.

(3) The probation order or combination order shall, subject to sub—paragraph (6) below, include a requirement that the offender shall submit to drug testing and drug abuse treatment by or under the direction of a person having the necessary qualification or experience with a view to the reduction or elimination of the offender's drug use.

(4) The testing required by such an order and by sub—paragraph (2) above shall be by provision of a sample of urine for the purpose of ascertaining whether he has any drugs in his body.

(5) The treatment required by any such order shall be such one of the following kinds of treatment as may be specified in the order—

  1. (a) treatment as a resident in such institution or place as may be specified in the order;
  2. (b) treatment as a non-resident in or at such institution or place as may be so specified: or
  3. (c) treatment by or under the direction of such person having the necessary qualifications or experience as may be so specified.

(6) A court shall not by virtue of this paragraph include in a probation or combination order a requirement that the offender shall submit to testing or treatment for his drug use unless it considers that such a requirement is appropriate in all the circumstances and it is satisfied that the arrangements have been made for the testing and treatment intended to be specified in the order.

(7) The court shall review the offender's progress four weeks after making the order, and thereafter at intervals of not more than four weeks and not more than four months.

(8) While the offender is under treatment as a resident in pursuance of a requirement of the probation or combination order, the probation officer responsible for his supervision shall carry out the supervision to such an extent only as may be necessary for the purpose of the revocation or amendment of the order.

(9) Where the person by whom or under whose direction an offender is being treated for dependency is of the opinion that part of the treatment can be better or more conveniently given in or at an institution or place which—

  1. (a) is not specified in the order; and
  2. (b) is one in or at which the treatment of the offender will be given by or under the direction of a person having the necessary qualifications or experience.

he may make arrangements for him to be treated accordingly.

(10) Where any such arrangements as are mentioned in subparagraph (9) above are made for the treatment of an offender—

  1. (a) the person by whom the arrangements are made shall give notice in writing to the probation officer responsible for the supervision of the offender, specifying the institutions or place in or at which the treatment is to be carried out; and
  2. (b) the treatment provided for by the arrangements shall be deemed to be treatment to which he is required to submit in pursuance of the probation or combination order.".'.—[Mr. George Howarth.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question proposed [13 January], That the clause be read a Second time.

4.46 pm

Question again proposed.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Geoffrey Lofthouse)

I remind the House that with this we are discussing new clause 13—Court to be aware of provision in custody for certain dependent offenders'It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to make available to any court passing a custodial sentence upon any offender whom the court believes to be dependent on drugs or alcohol an assessment of the provision available in any prison or other custodial institution to which the offender is liable to be committed of facilities for providing treatment appropriate to his condition.'.

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

When this debate was adjourned on Monday, I was speaking about the need to consider the needs of people when we imprison them. I was critical of the Minister and of the Government for having no concept of the purpose of prison. I am pleased that the debate was adjourned, because today I was supported, in effect, by none other than the previous Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd), who said this morning on the Radio Four "Today" programme that we needed to think more carefully about what we were doing with prisons. He said that prison was an expensive way of making bad people worse.

I am frequently impressed—or, if you like, amazed—by the way in which the Government go in for all sorts of tough language about crime. They say that they are going to lock people up, and the Home Secretary's favourite phrase is, "If they don't want to do the time, they shouldn't do the crime." The Government seem to believe that, if they come out with such politically correct statements and throw a lot of public money at the problem by building more and more prisons, somehow or other crime will go away. It does not, and cannot, work like that.

We are wasting a vast sum of public money on building prisons that will not deter crime. When the Government discover that they will appease neither the tabloids nor members of the public who seem to think that more and more prisons are the answer, capital punishment will be reintroduced, as has happened in the United States. That also does not work.

To give the Home Secretary credit, he has made it clear that he does not support the reintroduction of capital punishment—not least because, if a person is wrongfully convicted, we cannot undo the damage once that person has been executed—but the Government are still not thinking about the purpose of prison. We lock people up without any concept of treatment.

I was addressing new clause 13, which deals with drugs and alcohol. It was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), and states that we need to be able to show courts what prisons or other penal institutions can offer people who are sentenced, so that the court will know. I gave a number of examples, citing in particular an alcoholic with whom I had worked many years ago as a probation officer, and the difficulty even then of securing appropriate treatment programmes in prison. There were some, but not enough. As I said on Monday, there were many more facilities for such people outside prison.

Sadly, a large number of those facilities have now gone. As the Minister conceded on Monday, the Government must now recognise that, if we acknowledge that the majority of those committed to prison have a history of alcohol or drug abuse—that does not necessarily mean that they are addicted to drugs or alcohol; it merely means that alcohol or drug abuse plays a part in the commission of their offences—it is surely time that we thought about the problem in a rather more sophisticated way, and took the action towards which we were moving in the 1970s.

We should try to assess every prisoner on the basis of his needs, so that we can produce a treatment programme for prisoners that at least attempts to make some use of their time in prison. At present, we are still locking people up without any real concept of what we are doing, other than keeping them off the streets for a time.

We are tending to institutionalise people, so that the only thing they learn in prison is how to live in an institution. It should be no surprise to us that, when people are fully institutionalised, they cannot survive outside for long: they commit other offences, and return to prison—or, in many cases, to hospitals of one kind or another, including psychiatric hospitals. We know that from years of research in this and other countries.

Could the Minister not see his way to asking each prison to produce for the courts that refer to them the treatment facilities that they can offer prisoners, especially those with a history of drink or drug problems? I stress that I am not just talking about the full-blown alcoholic; I am talking about the sort of person who appears all too often in prisons and in court, who, in response to fairly peremptory questioning, will say that, before he committed the offence, he had a few pints with his mates. That is a common picture—the fairly low-level offender who offends quite frequently after going out drinking late at night and then wandering the streets. His offence may be car theft, criminal damage or burglary, but he will end up in prison.

We know that that is a problem, and we know that such people are more at risk when they have been drinking. That does not necessarily mean that they will not offend when they have not been drinking, but they are much more likely to do so when they have. If we could do something to help them to cope with the problem, we might make more progress.

The Government have, after all, conceded that anger management programmes and the like are useful in prison, although there is a limit to what such programmes can achieve. Surely, if we acknowledge the usefulness of those programmes, we should acknowledge the usefulness of treating alcohol and drug abuse, which has a much longer history. If we accept—as hon. Members on both sides of the House accept—that there is a problem of drink and drug abuse preceding offences, it ought to be possible to assess the drink and drug history of a prisoner as soon as he is admitted, and to start directing treatment programmes towards him.

It is not just a matter of having a good drug unit in a prison—as we do—or, indeed, a good alcohol unit. Some prisons have outstanding records in such treatment programmes. My point is that there is a low level of alcohol and drug abuse that we are not addressing. It is, at best, addressed from time to time by small group therapy sessions in prisons, depending on the availability of skilled prison officers, probation officers or visiting psychiatrists who can lay on such programmes. We are not dealing with the problem in a serious way.

That is why, in Monday's debate, I was so critical of the Minister. I wanted him to say, "Yes, we will devise a programme in which every prisoner, when he or she enters prison, is assessed in a more sophisticated and thorough manner for such problems." The current programme is too superficial.

Each prison should examine its staff resources to determine what they can offer people with drug and alcohol problems. The same programme could not be offered in every prison, but I should hope that some prisons would develop skills in dealing with prisoners with certain types of problem.

We should be prepared to consider moving people around the prison system for that purpose, although I understand the difficulties involved in doing so—such as keeping prisoners near their homes to maintain home links. Nevertheless, we could develop a much more sophisticated policy in offering prisoners treatment, rather than continuing the absurd approach of simply locking up criminals, throwing away the key and hoping that that will solve the crime problem.

I remind the Minister that, although the Home Secretary thinks that he is riding a wave of public opinion in favour of tough sentencing, such waves do not last. In 1979, the Tory party came to power with a strong commitment to get tough on crime and to lock up people. The short, sharp shock was the idea of the day. Lord Whitelaw, who was the Home Secretary after the 1979 general election, came in talking about such a shock; however, within a year or two, the policy had been abandoned, because the Government discovered that it did not work.

After the failure of that policy, successive Conservative Home Secretaries were accused within the Conservative party of being too soft on crime. The right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd), a previous Home Secretary—who has now taken up a position with the Prison Reform Trust; I welcome the appointment—was one of the Home Secretaries criticised for being too soft on crime.

The current Home Secretary says that he will get tough on crime, lock up criminals, throw away the key and build splendid new prisons, at a cost of millions of pounds. However, it is only a matter of time before he discovers that that is the most appalling waste of public money and that it will only delay the onset of further offending, by keeping people off the streets for a short time and then releasing them with as many problems as they had before, if not more.

The Minister is not an insensitive man, and he is prepared to think about these matters. I ask him to give careful consideration to new clause 7, because it demonstrates the type of thinking that we should be doing and gets away from simplistic nonsense, which I suppose has been fuelled by the proximity of the general election. If Ministers think that the public are fooled by tough talk, they are wrong. Crime levels are still rising; therefore—no matter how tough the talk or the sentences—the public will continue to feel that the Government are failing on law and order.

We must pay far more attention to crime prevention and detection, and to the conviction of offenders. After we convict and imprison offenders, we must have sensible education and social policies to reintegrate them upon their release back into society. We are doing very little of that now.

Mr. John Hutton (Barrow and Furness)

New clauses 7 and 13 are very sensible provisions to improve the Bill, and they should be incorporated into it. In his comments on new clause 7 in Monday's debate, the Minister—perhaps unintentionally—struck a rather complacent tone. He implied that the new clauses were not necessary, because sufficient powers were available to magistrates and other courts to require convicted defendants to undergo treatment for drug or alcohol dependency.

The Minister was right to mention those powers. As I am sure he is aware, however, the new clauses, particularly new clause 7, in two respects provide significantly greater confirmation of those powers than provided for in paragraph 6 of schedule 1A of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973, which also confirms the powers.

First, under the provisions of paragraph 6 of schedule 1A, before the court imposes such a treatment order, it has to be satisfied that the person being convicted is dependent on drugs. If the Minister studies new clause 7, he will note that that test would no longer have to be satisfied.

I am aware that paragraph 6(9) of the schedule tends to broaden the concept of dependency by referring to a person simply having a propensity to misuse a serious drug, even though that in itself is a rather vague concept. The new clause cuts through such difficulties by making it clear that, if the defendant is using a class A drug, the power to compel him to undergo treatment is exercisable. That is a significant improvement.

Secondly, new clause 7 is more extensive, and therefore, I think, more effective. It provides the power to compel a person who has been convicted to undergo testing. As I understand it, paragraph 6 of schedule 1A of the 1973 Act provides that the court can compel a person to undergo treatment but has no powers to compel that person to undergo regular testing.

Of course, many people will argue that it is difficult to formulate an effective treatment programme if it is not accompanied by a power to require the person undergoing that treatment to be tested regularly in order to establish his or her level of dependency on drugs. If the test reveals that the person is using drugs continually and illicitly, the treatment programme is unlikely to be effective. The Minister might have inadvertently got the wrong end of the stick when he tried to dismiss the relevance of the new clause by saying that the necessary powers were already available to the courts—they are not.

In those two significant respects—compelling a defendant to undergo testing and broadening the court's powers to require a person to be tested—new clause 7 would significantly improve the provisions of the 1973 legislation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) spoke extensively about the problems that our prisons face in dealing with drugs. There is a huge problem, which I am sure the Minister recognises. Of course, there is a huge drug problem in society at large so perhaps we should not be surprised by signs of drug abuse in the prison population, too. If we are to tackle the problem of drugs in prisons, it is hugely important that we are not complacent and do not rest on our laurels, saying that the existing legislation cannot be improved and that the necessary arrangements are already in place.

The Addictive Diseases Trust, which now calls itself the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust and which is doing excellent work in some prisons, estimates that drug abuse in prisons is widespread. It also estimates that more than 50 per cent. of prisoners have a chronic and often severe addiction, but very little specialised intensive addiction treatment is available in prisons. It estimates that, in some prisons, as many as 80 per cent. of prisoners are using drugs. Many inmates who were not addicts when they entered prison have become addicted—often under pressure from drug pushers—by the time they are released.

The drug culture in many prisons is sinister, not only because it directly challenges the authority of the prison governor and staff but because it establishes a counter-culture, in which power is wielded by drug pushers who use their control of the supply of drugs and their consequent influence in profoundly unhelpful and damaging ways. In this context, it is important that we constantly examine how we respond to the problem of drugs in prison and whether more work cannot be done by the Home Office and the Prison Service. The drug culture is a direct challenge to the way in which we run our prisons.

Anyone who has visited a prison and talked to prisoners knows how grim the reality is in prison. That is not to say that many prisons are not trying to develop effective strategies to deal with drug abuse, because they are, and we should congratulate the Prison Service on its work in that respect. Nevertheless, the picture is pretty horrifying in many prisons.

I do not whether the Minister read The Guardian of 10 August 1994. It may not be his usual reading—it is not usually mine—but it contained a letter from a prisoner. I read it at the time, and it struck me as painting an horrific picture of drug abuse in prison. 1 shall quote from it, as it is relevant to our debate.

The prisoner in question, who was serving a long sentence, described his drug taking—he was taking them intravenously—in this way: The syringe that we used today had been used approximately 100 times before by approximately 15 different prisoners. It is a disposable insulin syringe, which I will describe briefly for you: the rubber at the end of the plunger has disintegrated completely through constant use. Instead of a rubber, we have a small piece of black polythene from a dustbin liner wrapped around the plunger and held in place by cotton thread. The plunger itself is snapped in half and so the barrel of the syringe has been cut down accordingly. Each time the syringe is used, butter is smeared on to the polythene to facilitate the plunger to be depressed. The needle, of which we have only one, has been cut in half with nail clippers to remove a blockage. We use a matchbox to sharpen it. It is not possible to clean either the syringe or the needle in between injections as this would entail removing the polythene and tying it all back on again. Thus the risk of infection is monstrously high … The highest number of prisoners I have seen using a similar syringe, one after the other, is nine. The prisoner says that he considers himself lucky to have contracted only hepatitis B and hepatitis C through the use of shared needles in prison. He has managed to avoid becoming infected with the HIV virus, but I suspect that he will not be successful for very much longer.

The prisoner also writes: Despite many efforts to bring my addiction to an end, the sheer availability and the large number of addicts in prison mean that I consistently fail. There is no means of rehabilitation for addicts in prison and every reason for the addicts—particularly long-termers and lifers—to conceal their addiction. That is a pretty grim and depressing picture, although things may have improved a little since 1994, when that letter was written.

For example, I am aware that the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust is now running a number of drug rehabilitation programmes in prisons such as Downview, Coldingley, Pentonville and Wandsworth. That is an excellent sign of progress, but there are still not enough rehabilitation programmes within the prison estate. It would be interesting if the Minister could say—perhaps not today but in the future—how many programmes there are and what their likely success rate is.

When Judge Stephen Tumim was the chief inspector of prisons, he commented favourably on the drug rehabilitation work being done at Downview. After his inspection, he recommended that the Home Office provide sufficient funding properly to evaluate the impact of that programme and the extent to which it had a more general application across the prison estate.

Taken together, new clauses 7 and 13 take us in the right direction. It would be a catastrophic mistake, in terms of the very purpose and function of prisons and certainly in terms of securing value for money for the taxpayer, if we continued to do so little about the problem of drug abuse.

As much as half of all property-related crime may well be drug-connected. There is undeniably a connection between drug abuse and property-related crime. The need of drug addicts to feed their habit, which may require £500 or £600 a day for heroin or crack cocaine, is having a huge impact on crime in many of our communities.

Drug problems are present not just in the inner cities, but in towns and cities across the country, and even in some rural areas. When offenders are sent to prison, we have a unique opportunity to try to correct their pattern of drug abuse. If we do not take that opportunity, the likelihood is that they will show up in prison again two or three years after being discharged—sometimes sooner than that—because their drug addiction was not effectively addressed while they were in prison. As the RAPT evidence has shown, there is a risk of drug abuse problems getting worse rather than better in prison, and feeding through to higher crime levels.

The two new clauses would take us forward. They would require more work from the Home Office in establishing rehabilitation programmes in prison, and would give the courts useful additional powers that they do not possess. I urge the Minister to think again about his position on the new clauses. He may feel that the wording is not perfect, although it draws heavily on the wording of schedule 1A of the 1973 Act, so it may be hard to criticise the new clauses for that. The new powers available to the court would take their testing and treatment powers in a positive direction. I therefore hope that the Minister is prepared to be more positive than he was on Monday.

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North)

I congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) and for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) on their excellent speeches. With his customary knowledge of these subjects and his huge experience, gained partly in the probation service before he came to the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith gave some useful insights and an effective critique of the lack of thought behind the Minister's speech on Monday. I shall say more in a moment about the deficiencies in the Minister's reaction to the new clause.

My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness made some very useful points. I associate myself with his congratulations to the Prison Service on the work that it already does to rehabilitate drug offenders. From my experience of visiting prisons, I know that a lot of work is done. There is an increasing realisation that prisoners must be forced to confront their behaviour, particularly their addictive behaviour, towards certain types of drug. That is successful. The problem is that there is no systematic rehabilitation programme for drug offenders in prison.

Drug abuse in prison is still too common. Everybody, from Her Majesty's chief inspector to the Prison Service, acknowledges that the problems are severe. I do not want to bandy statistics about, but every hon. Member, irrespective of their opinion of the Bill or the new clause, would be horrified by the amount of drug abuse that still goes on in prison. My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness made that point well, and I join him in congratulating the Prison Service.

My hon. Friend also made the good point that the House must consider the opportunities that exist prison by prison for people to confront their drug abuse and get into a programme that gives them a chance to get away from drug abuse and into a cleaner life style. We have had a useful debate, and my two hon. Friends have made constructive contributions.

5.15 pm

I should like to refer to what happened on Monday. On Tuesday morning, I was travelling to Staffordshire to campaign with a colleague. I picked up a paper, only to find that the Home Secretary had apparently said that the Government had chosen not to move the 10 o'clock motion, thereby terminating Monday's debate, because of the delaying tactics of the Opposition.

I read the entire Hansard report of our debates on the new clauses on Monday, and I found no evidence of any hon. Members on either side of the House wasting any time. Those comments show gross disrespect to the Chair. If any of my hon. Friends or I had practised any delaying tactics, we would have been called up by the Chair. Perhaps I should correct the impression that I have just given; the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) occasionally wasted the House's time, but the Opposition were not responsible for it. That is his responsibility and he will have to deal with his Front Bench.

It is not true that we were wasting time. If the Government had had patience, we could have reached Third Reading on Monday night, or perhaps in the early hours of Tuesday. There would have been no problem with that. Theirs was the decision to terminate the debate, and theirs is the responsibility for the Bill not yet completing its Commons stages. The Opposition bear no responsibility for that. The Home Secretary should be ashamed of trying to play cheap politics when we are making constructive suggestions.

The Government's opposition to the new clauses is based on a confused interpretation of what is happening in prisons. The Minister has some contradictory and muddled arguments about the purposes of our new clauses and their effects. On Monday, he said: The hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) is absolutely right to sing the praises of drug treatment as an alternative to prison and to say that there should be such treatment in prison". That is fair enough. He went on to say: schedule 1A to the Powers of the Criminal Courts Act 1973, supported by the Criminal Justice Act 1991, provides all the necessary legislation to give the courts the power to pass community sentences that are conditional upon following drug treatment. However, the Minister failed to provide supporting evidence for those assertions. He did not take into account the need to mandate those offenders in prison to treatment. There is no compulsion—a point that he also made. The purpose of new clauses 7 and 13 is to mandate treatment during community and prison sentences. If, as he asserts, all the necessary legislation has been on the statute book since 1991 and nothing more needs to be added", why, by the end of 1996, could the Home Office not provide even a rough estimate of the amount of drug rehabilitation in prisons? I shall happily give way if the Minister wants to provide evidence, but the evidence to support his contentions simply does not exist.

I was told in a recent parliamentary answer that the only information available on drug rehabilitation related to time spent in detox. Although we recognise the value of detox, there is clearly a desperate need for rehabilitation programmes that force offenders to address their drug use. Although detox has a valuable role, we cannot get people off drugs simply by the physical process; they have to understand why they need to come off them, what their habit is doing to their lives and the potential of their becoming clean and free of drugs.

On Monday, the Minister made a rough estimate that There are now between 50 and 60 schemes in prisons. He made no estimate of the number of prisoners undergoing treatment. Nor do any of the schemes force prisoners into treatment. He cited a scheme in Plymouth where the Devon probation service is running a drug assessment and stabilisation programme. He praised the scheme's success, and I join him in that. He continued: It appeared that all those who were on the programme were not simply avoiding prison, but wanted to get off drugs and had been offered an opportunity to do so. However, the success of one community scheme in no way supports his argument that nothing more needs to be done. He does not appear to have grasped the size of the problem or the inadequacy of the Government's current response.

Let me refresh the Minister's memory. In 1995, there were 37,164 registered addicts. Empirical evidence suggests that around half all property crime is committed by people seeking to fund a drug habit. That is not an excuse; nobody would excuse any crime committed for that reason, but many drug users commit crimes to feed their habit.

Yesterday, I spent some time in Staffordshire. The police confirmed that drugs are a major cause of crime in the county. The Merseyside police and the Metropolitan police have made the same point. Any chief constable in England, Wales and probably Scotland would confirm it. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis recently estimated that, in London, the proportion of drug-related crime is closer to 60 per cent.

We need to have an idea of the scale of the problem to evaluate the inadequacy of the Minister's response. In 1996, there were 158 establishments holding prisoners, but according to the Minister's own figures, there are only 50 to 60 drug rehabilitation schemes in prisons, so less than 40 per cent. of the prison estate has a scheme in place. There is no universal standard across the Prison Service, and although most prisons have a drug problem, only around 40 per cent. of prisons have any means of dealing with it. There is no room for complacency, as some 60 per cent. of prisons have no means of rehabilitating those involved in drug abuse. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. New clauses 7 and 13 seek to do so in a responsible and intelligent way.

There are no universal standards across the Prison Service. I have no clear idea—nor, I suspect, has anyone in the Home Office—that one scheme works better than the others. There are contentious issues involved, such as those surrounding the use of methadone, and some schemes need to be evaluated more thoroughly. Unless we conduct evaluations and set and adhere to universal standards, the problem will continue.

People still go into prison without a drug habit, pick up a drug habit there, and come out addicted. Unless we can apply universal standards across the Prison Service, the problem will continue. The complacency of the Minister's response is a matter for serious concern.

The Prison Service has no estimate of the time spent on rehabilitation or the number of prisoners who pass through existing schemes. There is a similar problem in the community outside. There are no national standards for rehabilitation, so there are significant regional variations. If an addict lives in an area where rehabilitation schemes are available but does not know where to go for treatment, he will not have the opportunity to get off drugs and into a drug-free life style. Given the scale of the problem nationally, we have to address it in a co-ordinated way by applying standards across the country and by providing opportunities for people to get out of drug abuse.

Sentencing practices lack consistency across the country, even within prison catchment areas. That highlights the need for guidance and direction from the Home Office towards diversion into treatment, or treatment in prison, as appropriate.

The provision of treatment for drug-using prisoners who wish to kick the habit will solve only part of the problem. The Minister seems to think that provision for less than 40 per cent. of the prison estate will satisfy the needs of all prisoners who wish to address their addiction. Frankly, that is inadequate. The Minister appears to have overlooked the options that force offenders into treatment. On Monday he said: Treatment has been stimulated further by mandatory drug testing in prisons. However, it is not necessarily possible to accelerate further the process … because prisoners who have drug treatment or who enter drug-free wings are essentially volunteers. That is true. The Minister implied that enforced treatment simply would not work, but the evidence, if he bothered to read it, is that enforced treatment can be just as successful as voluntary treatment. A Home Office report by Michael Hough entitled "Drugs Misuse and the Criminal Justice System" published in 1996 noted: legally coerced treatment is no less effective than treatment entered 'voluntarily'". Treatment that includes an element of compulsion can be highly cost effective. American research suggests that every ․1 spent on treatment saves ․7 in criminal justice and other social costs. Schemes that focus on early intervention and intensive supervision of drug-addicted offenders can lead to immediate savings in criminal justice costs.

In addition, the costs of mandatory drug testing—the introduction of which we supported—may have unintentionally acted as a drain on resources for rehabilitation. To date, no evidence has been put forward to support the Minister's claim that mandatory drug testing has stimulated rehabilitation; as the Opposition suggested on Monday, it may be quite the opposite. A small but definite trend in the statistics show that there is a shift in drug abuse in prisons away from the use of cannabis towards the use of opiates such as heroin and cocaine.

On Monday, the Minister stated: I do not want to sound complacent, because for years there was very little progress on drug treatment in prisons. We witnessed the ridiculous spectacle of people who may not have been drug users but who came out, typically, as heroin addicts."—[Official Report, 13 January 1997; Vol. 288, c. 110–11.] I agree with him. Unfortunately, what he described is still happening. He speaks as if, as a result of the introduction of mandatory drug testing, all the problems have gone away—they have not; they are still there. We have tabled new clauses 7 and 13 because we believe that more action must be taken.

5.30 pm

The Minister's logic seems remarkable. He accepts anecdotal evidence that, prior to the introduction of mandatory drug testing, offenders entered prison without a drug habit but left "typically, as heroin addicts"; now we have substantial evidence to demonstrate the disturbing shift to opiate use, he disputes it. The logic of that escapes me, so I hope that he will spend some time explaining it to the House.

There is evidence that, between 1 March and 30 September 1996, the percentage of random drug tests showing positive for opiates increased from 5.94 per cent. to 6.35 per cent. That represents—I think that the Minister now accepts this figure—an increase of about 7 per cent. in the proportion of prisoners testing positive for opiates. If we project that on to the prison population as a whole, the number of prisoners regularly using opiates has increased from about 3,192 to 3,595.

A report in the journal Druglink published in June last year stated: The inmate population is well aware of the mechanics of urine testing and already there is an alarming degree of anecdotal evidence of drug mis-users favouring heroin (an opiate) over cannabis in certain situations, as it does not show up in tests so long after use. The Minister suggests that he does not understand a number of our proposals, but he ought to understand that such a shift is taking place and that inmates understand what they are doing when they move from soft to hard drugs. In some respects, rightly or wrongly, they do so to evade capture.

The Minister rightly pointed out that amphetamines, when not injected, are class B drugs and would therefore be excluded from the provisions proposed by new clause 7. I accept that, but he ought to take into account two facts. First, the new clause's purpose is to target the most problematic and addictive users, who tend to have opiate-based addictions that often involve other drug types. Typically, they may prefer to use cocktails of drugs on occasions. Secondly, the Minister's observation in no way weakens the argument for either new clause 7 or new clause 13. Indeed, if anything, it is an argument for increasing the powers in them.

Not enough thought has been put into the Government's opposition to our proposals. All we got from the Minister on Monday was a knee-jerk reaction: if the Opposition propose it, it must be wrong. The general public are sick and tired of the Government's negative approach and of important problems such as drug abuse in the prison system and elsewhere being used as a political football. When the Opposition come up with a good idea, the Government simply reject it, yet the public rightly want co-operation on such matters. If we make useful suggestions, the Government should simply take them on board.

If, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith said, there are problems with the new clauses, we can put them right during subsequent stages of the Bill, "But no, it is unnecessary," says the Minister. Even when we prove that action is necessary, he still does not relent. The new clauses may be imperfect. If there are drafting problems, we are willing to co-operate in putting them right in another place—but no. The only defect of new clauses 7 and 13 is that the Opposition rather than the Government have proposed them. That is a pathetic way of dealing with such problems and certainly not one of which I want to be part.

We hope that those who sent us to the House will note that, although we have tried to play a constructive role by suggesting improvements to the Bill, particularly where it affects those who are abusing drugs, the Government have not wanted to co-operate. I hope that, in future, even in the Government's dying days, we can co-operate on such important issues and make progress. On the evidence of Monday's response—I hope that the Minister is prepared to make a constructive response today—that will not happen. It is wrong to play politics with such issues and not to listen to constructive suggestions, and the public will note that, if such an attitude prevails, the sooner the Government leave office, the better.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Tom Sackville)

I must comment briefly on what has been said today and on Monday. The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) suggested that the approach to treatment in prisons is unco-ordinated, and the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton) said that very little is being done. I take issue with that. I said that there are between 50 and 60 schemes in operation in prisons. In fact, there are 59. They are by necessity very diverse. Drug treatment is relatively new to prisons, and many of the services being provided are themselves relatively new. One cannot, overnight, install drug treatment or rehabilitation schemes throughout the prison system as though they were something physical, such as central heating.

Mr. Hutton


Mr. Sackville

I shall not give way; we have spent a long time debating these new clauses.

The services need to be brought in, and the right ones need to be found. All sorts of methods are being used, from total abstinence—the Minnesota method as it is called—in a group of prisons, including Downview, right through to detoxification units and services run by Phoenix house. Those are very different services, and we shall see in time which are the most successful. It is my impression that all of them are having a considerable effect. They are being well used, and I am optimistic. We should not be so negative about what has been achieved through the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Minister who is in charge of prisons in getting such services up and running.

It has been suggested that additional powers are needed. I remind the House that a judge can order that a sentence be served in the community by a person who has been convicted so long as he or she follows a drug treatment programme. That programme may or may not include mandatory testing. The decision is essentially not up to the judge; it is up to the provider of the treatment to decide—the decision must be acceptable to the judge as a precondition—whether it contains mandatory drug testing. I suspect that most programmes would contain it.

The programme that I have held up as a model—the one in Plymouth, which is not the only model—does contain mandatory drug testing. If any person following that treatment does not fulfil all the programme's requirements, they are in breach and they are in gaol. That is the important thing. It is really up to the provider of the treatment to be the first person to indicate when such a breach has occurred.

I have great respect for the knowledge of the hon. Member for Hammersmith in these matters, given his long professional background and the fact that he has a well-known prison in his constituency. I accept that this place occasionally obliges even the most sensible and serious hon. Members to trade insults across the Floor, but if I did not I might take considerable personal offence at being told that I am complacent about drugs. I should remind the hon. Gentleman that I was co-founder of the all-party drug misuse committee and was its secretary for three years. I founded that committee 11 years ago, and in the same year published a slim volume on the subject of heroin misuse called, "Heroin: Threat to a Generation" of which I shall be happy to send the hon. Gentleman a copy.

In the past year and a half, since taking on my present job, I have been round the country visiting every drug prevention initiative run by the Home Office. I have talked with most of the drug action team chairmen and I have been as far afield as Ankara and Bogota in pursuit of new agreements between this and other countries to address the drug problem. I seriously believe that, on this issue, I am perhaps one of the least complacent Members of Parliament.

Mr. Soley


Mr. Sackville

If the hon. Gentleman does not mind I shall not give way.

For the reasons I have outlined, I am pleased to say that there has been good progress—although we need to go further—in providing drug treatment in prisons. It cannot all be done overnight. I am also pleased to say that I believe that all the powers are available to courts to issue conditional sentences, which are an excellent means of diversion from prison for those with a drug problem. Although the new clauses may represent a good opportunity to discuss this serious problem, I do not believe that they are necessary, and I am unable to commend them to the House.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 253, Noes 296.

Division No. 39] [5.41 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Adams, Mrs Irene Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Ainger, Nick Campbell-Savours, D N
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Canavan, Dennis
Allen, Graham Chidgey, David
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Chisholm, Malcolm
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Church, Ms Judith
Ashdown, Paddy Clapham, Michael
Ashton, Joseph Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Austin-Walker, John Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Barnes, Harry Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Barron, Kevin Clelland, David
Battle, John Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Bayley, Hugh Coffey, Ms Ann
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Cohen, Harry
Beith, A J Connarty, Michael
Bell, Stuart Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Benn, Tony Corbett, Robin
Benton, Joe Corbyn, Jeremy
Bermingham, Gerald Corston, Ms Jean
Berry, Roger Cousins, Jim
Betts, Clive Cummings, John
Blair, Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Blunkett, David Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE)
Bradley, Keith Cunningham, Dr John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dafis, Cynog
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Darling, Alistair
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Davidson, Ian
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Davies, Bryan (Oldham C)
Burden, Richard Davies, Chris (Littleborough)
Byers, Stephen Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Cabom, Richard Davis, Terry (Sham Hodge H)
Callaghan, Jim Denham, John
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Dewar, Donald
Dixon, Don Llwyd, Elfyn
Dobson, Frank McAllion, John
Donohoe, Brian H McAvoy, Thomas
Dowd, Jim McFall, John
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth McKelvey, William
Eagle, Ms Angela Mackinlay, Andrew
Eastham, Ken McLeish, Henry
Ennis, Jeff Maclennan, Robert
Evans, John (St Helens N) McNamara, Kevin
Fatchett, Derek MacShane, Denis
Faulds, Andrew McWilliam, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Maddock, Mrs Diana
Fisher, Mark Mahon, Mrs Alice
Flynn, Paul Mandelson, Peter
Foster, Derek Marek, Dr John
Foster, Don (Bath) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Foulkes, George Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Fyfe, Mrs Maria Martin, Michael J (Springburn)
Galbraith, Sam Martlew, Eric
Gapes, Mike Meacher, Michael
Garrett, John Meale, Alan
George, Bruce Michael, Alun
Gerrard, Neil Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Gilbert, Dr John Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Godman, Dr Norman A Milburn, Alan
Godsiff, Roger Miller, Andrew
Golding, Mrs Llin Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Gordon, Ms Mildred Moonie, Dr Lewis
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Morgan, Rhodri
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Gunnell, John Morris, John (Aberavon)
Hall, Mike Mudie, George
Hanson, David Mullin, Chris
Hardy, Peter Murphy, Paul
Harman, Ms Harriet Nicholson, Miss Emma (W Devon)
Henderson, Doug Oakes, Gordon
Hill, Keith (Streatham) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hinchliffe, David O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoey, Kate Olner, Bill
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) O'Neill, Martin
Home Robertson, John Orme, Stanley
Hood, Jimmy Pearson, Ian
Hoon, Geoffrey Pendry, Tom
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Pickthall, Colin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Pike, Peter L
Howells, Dr Kim Pope, Greg
Hoyle, Doug Powell, Sir Raymond (Ogmore)
Hughes, Robert (Ab'd'n N) Prentice, Mrs B (Lewisham E)
Hutton, John Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Illsley, Eric Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Ingram, Adam Purchase, Ken
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd) Quin, Ms Joyce
Jackson, Mrs Helen (Hillsborough) Radice, Giles
Jamieson, David Raynsford, Nick
Janner, Greville Reid, Dr John
Jenkins, Brian D (SE Staffs) Rendel, David
Johnston, Sir Russell Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & D'side) Roche, Mrs Barbara
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Rogers, Allan
Jones, Dr L (B'ham Selly Oak) Rooker, Jeff
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd SW) Rooney, Terry
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Jowell, Ms Tessa Ruddock, Ms Joan
Kaufman, Gerald Sedgemore, Brian
Keen, Alan Sheerman, Barry
Kennedy, Charles (Ross C & S) Sheldon, Robert
Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen) Short, Clare
Khabra, Piara S Simpson, Alan
Kilfoyle, Peter Skinner, Dennis
Kirkwood, Archy Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles) Smith, Chris (Islington S)
Lewis, Terry Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Liddell, Mrs Helen Soley, Clive
Litherland, Robert Spearing, Nigel
Livingstone, Ken Spellar, John
Lloyd, Tony (Stretf'd) Squire, Ms R (Dunfermline W)
Steel, Sir David Wallace, James
Steinberg, Gerry Walley, Ms Joan
Stevenson, George Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Stott, Roger Wareing, Robert N
Strang, Dr Gavin Watson, Mike
Straw, Jack Wicks, Malcolm
Sutcliffe, Gerry Wigley, Dafydd
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury) Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Wilson Brian
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck) Winnick, David
Thurnham, Peter Wise, Mrs Audrey
Timms, Stephen Worthington, Tony
Touhig, Don Wray, Jimmy
Trickett, Jon Young, David (Bolton SE)
Turner, Dennis
Tyler, Paul Tellers for the Ayes:
Vaz, Keith Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Walker, Sir Harold Mr. Jon Owen Jones.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Colvin, Michael
Aitken, Jonathan Congdon, David
Alexander, Richard Conway, Derek
Alison, Michael (Selby) Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Amess, David Cope, Sir John
Arbuthnot, James Cormack, Sir Patrick
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Couchman, James
Ashby, David Currie, Mrs Edwina
Atkins, Robert Curry, David
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Davies, Quentin (Stamf'd)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Baker, Sir Nicholas (N Dorset) Day, Stephen
Baldry, Tony Deva, Nirj Joseph
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Devlin, Tim
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Dorrell, Stephen
Bates, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Batiste, Spencer Dover, Den
Beggs, Roy Duncan, Alan
Bellingham, Henry Duncan Smith, Iain
Bendall, Vivian Dunn, Bob
Beresford, Sir Paul Durant, Sir Anthony
Biffen, John Dykes, Hugh
Body, Sir Richard Eggar, Tim
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Elletson, Harold
Booth, Hartley Emery, Sir Peter
Boswell, Tim Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld)
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Evans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Bowden, Sir Andrew Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Bowis, John Evennett, David
Boyson, Sir Rhodes Faber, David
Brandreth, Gyles Fabricant, Michael
Brazier, Julian Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bright, Sir Graham Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Brooke, Peter Fishburn, Dudley
Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes) Forman, Nigel
Browning, Mrs Angela Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Forth, Eric
Budgen, Nicholas Fowler, Sir Norman
Burns, Simon Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Burt, Alistair Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Butler, Peter Freeman, Roger
Butterfill, John French, Douglas
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n) Fry, Sir Peter
Carrington, Matthew Gale, Roger
Carttiss, Michael Gallie, Phil
Cash, William Gardiner, Sir George
Channon, Paul Garel-Jones, Tristan
Chapman, Sir Sydney Garnier, Edward
Churchill, Mr Gill, Christopher
Clappison, James Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd) Goodlad, Alastair
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Grant, Sir Anthony (SW Cambs) Moate, Sir Roger
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Molyneaux, Sir James
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Monro, Sir Hector
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Gummer, John Moss, Malcolm
Hague, William Nelson, Anthony
Hamilton, Sir Archibald Neubert, Sir Michael
Hampson, Dr Keith Newton, Tony
Hanley, Jeremy Nicholls, Patrick
Hannam, Sir John Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hargreaves, Andrew Norris, Steve
Harris, David Onslow, Sir Cranley
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Oppenheim, Phillip
Hawkins, Nick Ottaway, Richard
Hawksley, Warren Paice, James
Heald, Oliver Patnick, Sir Irvine
Heathcoat-Amory, David Patten, John
Hendry, Charles Pattie, Sir Geoffrey
Heseltine, Michael Pawsey, James
Higgins, Sir Terence Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test) Pickles, Eric
Hogg, Douglas (Grantham) Porter, David
Horam, John Portillo, Michael
Hordern, Sir Peter Powell, William (Corby)
Howard, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Howell, David (Guilafd) Redwood, John
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk) Renton, Tim
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Richards, Rod
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Riddick, Graham
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne) Rifkind, Malcolm
Hunter, Andrew Robathan, Andrew
Hurd, Douglas Roberts, Sir Wyn
Jack, Michael Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N) Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jessel, Toby Roe, Mrs Marion
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rowe, Andrew
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rumbold, Dame Angela
Jones, Robert B (W Herts) Ryder, Richard
Jopling, Michael Sackville, Tom
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Scott, Sir Nicholas
Key, Robert Shaw, David (Dover)
Kirkhope, Timothy Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shephard, Mrs Gillian
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shepherd, Sir Colin (Herefd)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knox, Sir David Shersby, Sir Michael
Kynoch, George Sims, Sir Roger
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lamont, Norman Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lang, Ian Smith, Tim (Beaconsfld)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Legg, Barry Soames, Nicholas
Leigh, Edward Speed, Sir Keith
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Spencer, Sir Derek
Lidington, David Spicer, Sir Jim (W Dorset)
Lilley, Peter Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Lord, Michael Spink, Dr Robert
Luff, Peter Spring, Richard
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Sproat, lain
MacGregor, John Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
MacKay, Andrew Stanley, Sir John
Maclean, David Steen, Anthony
McLoughlin, Patrick Stephen, Michael
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Stern, Michael
Madel, Sir David Stewart, Allan
Maitland, Lady Olga Streeter, Gary
Malone, Gerald Sumberg, David
Mans, Keith Sweeney, Walter
Marland, Paul Sykes, John
Mariow, Tony Tapsell, Sir Peter
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Taylor, John D (Strangfd)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Merchant, Piers Taylor, Sir Tedd
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants) Thomason, Roy
Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V) Watts, John
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wells, Bowen
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Wheeler, Sir John
Townend, John (Bridlington) Whitney, Sir Raymond
Townsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th) Whittingdale, John
Tracey, Richard Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Tredinnick, David Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Trend, Michael Wilkinson, John
Trotter, Neville Willetts, David
Twinn, Dr Ian Wilshire, David
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Viggers, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Waldegrave, William Wood, Timothy
Walden, George Yeo, Tim
Walker, Bill (N Tayside) Young, Sir George
Waller, Gary
Ward, John Tellers for the Noes:
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Mr. Roger Knapman and
Waterson, Nigel Mr. Sebastian Coe.

Question accordingly negatived.

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