HC Deb 30 June 1998 vol 315 cc145-6
11. Helen Jones (Warrington, North)

What assessment has been made by his Department of the extent of the link between money invested in drug misuse treatment and money saved from the cost of crime. [46611]

The Minister for Public Health (Ms Tessa Jowell)

The benefits of treatment, and the reduction of crime as a result, have been clearly established by the national treatment outcome research study. It concluded that for every £1 spent on drug treatment, £3 of the costs of crime was saved. Prevention is a key part of the Government's strategy to tackle drug abuse and protect communities from its awful consequences.

Helen Jones

I thank my hon. Friend for her reply. Is she aware of the very different views on the link between crime and drug misuse held by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan), who, in his book "Saturn's Children", called for the legalisation of the distribution and consumption of hard drugs? What would be her Department's response should the shadow Health Minister call for the legalisation of crack, smack and Ecstasy?

Ms Jowell

My hon. Friend raises an important question. We know that the views of the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) were set out very fully in the first edition of his book, but the House is entitled to know also whether, since he has changed the chapter concerned and given an undertaking to the leader of his party, he has also changed his mind about these matters.

Mrs. Ann Winterton (Congleton)

If the Minister has any questions about the Opposition's policy on the drugs strategy, she ought to ask me. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) follows my policy.

Is the Minister aware of research undertaken in America, which shows that money spent on drug detoxification and rehabilitation programmes provides excellent value? What new money is the Department providing for such programmes in order to bring down the waiting lists and waiting times that are growing day by day?

Ms Jowell

The hon. Lady has come to the rescue of the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton, who stayed in his seat rather than answer questions from the Front Bench.

The hon. Lady is right: detoxification can be a highly effective part of getting people off drugs. We are determined to invest in treatments that are effective, and announcements about spending on treatments for drugs will be made in the course of the comprehensive spending review that is due shortly.