HC Deb 30 November 1998 vol 321 c521
1. Yvette Cooper (Pontefract and Castleford)

If he will make a statement on the pilots for drug treatment and testing orders. [61087]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. George Howarth)

Pilots of drug testing and treatment orders are taking place in Croydon, Gloucestershire and Merseyside. The first order was made in Croydon on 17 November. We shall evaluate the pilots thoroughly before national implementation.

Yvette Cooper

I know that my hon. Friend has visited Pontefract and Wakefield drug court, which is pioneering a new approach to getting offenders off drugs. Will he join me in congratulating those who set up the programme, including the sponsor Marks and Spencer, Euromed, the local health authority and the police? Is he aware that the drug court is under threat just because of a six-month shortfall in funding? Given that it would be tragic to lose such a programme when we should be expanding its work across the country, will he consider any way in which the Government can help to make sure that the drug court does not go under?

Mr. Howarth

As my hon. Friend rightly said, I have visited the drug court. I understand that it is in discussion with local agencies to try to resolve the difficulties that she described, and the matter is essentially a local one. Talks are well under way and there is no cause for panic. It is a worthwhile venture, and I hope that the talks will be brought to a successful conclusion so that the good work already started can be continued.