HC Deb 21 March 2001 vol 365 cc332-3
7. Mrs. Ann Winterton (Congleton)

What new steps are under consideration in the Government's national anti-drugs strategy. [153307]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Marjorie Mowlam)

The Government are undertaking research to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of the UK and international drugs market, which will improve our intelligence on the class A drugs threat assessment. The national treatment agency and pooled treatment budgets will come into effect on 1 April 2001. We announced in the Budget significant additional investment for targeted action at local and regional level. That will provide an opportunity to build on the experience of initiatives such as parents against drug abuse in south-west Cheshire.

Mrs. Winterton

Studies show that one in 10 drivers under the age of 40 get behind the wheel having taken drugs ranging from cannabis to cocaine. Traces of drugs are found in one in five people killed on the roads. Will the Minister therefore introduce a national anti-drug driving campaign, bearing in mind the fact that young people have, on the whole, learned the lesson about not drinking and driving?

Marjorie Mowlam

The Government are researching the issue to which the hon. Lady refers. That is the best way of tackling the question of driving under the influence of drugs, legal or illegal, and of providing ways to help the police enforce existing legislation more effectively. It is now being developed alongside other initiatives.

Jackie Ballard (Taunton)

Does the Minister for the Cabinet Office agree that the members of the Runciman commission were respected and knowledgeable people who undertook a detailed, independent, scientific study of the problems of drug use and abuse? If so, why have the Government rejected each of its recommendations out of hand?

Marjorie Mowlam

The Government implemented a large number of the Runciman recommendations. The few that we rejected included one on cannabis. Our approach is clear: the scientific evidence is insufficient to convince us that the law should be changed. However, that does not prevent discussion and debate. If the scientific evidence changes, we will reconsider the matter.