HC Deb 13 January 2003 vol 397 cc472-518
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

I must announce to the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

7.26 pm
Mr. Oliver Letwin (West Dorset)

I beg to move,That this House recognises the fundamental importance of the link between hard drugs and crime; and believes that the only means by which an effective onslaught on the hard drugs culture can be made is through mandatory intensive treatment and rehabilitation for young heroin and cocaine addicts. We have already had a rather vigorous debate, part of which the Under-Secretary was lucky enough to miss, and inevitably a rather political one, about the Government's record on crime in general. I should like to take the opportunity of this second and slightly shorter debate to do something quite different. I want to try to make a plea to the Under-Secretary which I do not expect him to accept on the spot, but which I hope may influence his thinking and perhaps lead us to some sort of agreement over the coming months on what I regard as a critical and tragic error that the Government are currently making.

I do not doubt for a second the genuine intention of the Government and indeed the Under-Secretary, who has spoken about the matter frequently and passionately, to reduce significantly the menace of hard drugs in Britain. That is common ground in all parts of the House. Nor do I doubt for a moment that the hon. Gentleman and the Government are willing to devote resources to the effort to reduce the menace of hard drugs, both in pursuit of the supply side and the drug dealers themselves—both remotely and in the United Kingdom—and through demand-side measures, if I can put it that way, or the effort to rehabilitate those who are caught in the vortex of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine. I do not doubt that, alongside the resources that the Government have already devoted and the increased resources that they are now devoting to that pursuit, they intend to construct what they conceive to be the best possible way forward.

I doubt none of that, but I genuinely believe that the method that the Government are currently employing will mean that a large proportion of the very many hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of taxpayers' money that they are spending on this matter will be tragically wasted. I believe that the sort of proposals that the Opposition have been making offer not necessarily the only alternative, but a serious and plausible alternative that could provide some serious and lasting benefit to society.

It is the Minister's regular taunt that, roughly speaking, I became interested in drugs at the last Conservative party conference. That is not so.

At the beginning of last year, I began investigating what was happening to young people who were on drugs. I freely admit that until I occupied my current position, I knew little about the subject. When I began investigating and talking to young people who were caught in the nexus, to those who had been caught in it, to those who were on the way out of it, and to those not only in this country but in the Netherlands and Sweden who had been trying to help young people out of it, I realised that there is an appalling gap between reality and rhetoric confronting this country.

The Minister tells us that 118,000 people have contact with drug treatment. He also said—honestly and correctly, I am sure—that he intends roughly to double that number through hundreds of millions of pounds of further expenditure. In practice, that means that many young people visit a form of agency or doctor's surgery and receive something that keeps them going. It may be heroin, methadone or counselling. It may help them for a while to remove themselves from the crime statistics. However, in many cases, it does little or nothing to remove them permanently and properly from the vortex into which they have descended.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

Does my right hon. Friend remember visiting my constituency and the drug abuse resistance education—DARE—project, which is run so successfully in our local primary schools by the Ministry of Defence police? Does he realise that, despite the Government's good intentions, the alcohol and drug advisory service in south Wiltshire is so understaffed that it takes six months before people can see a counsellor?

Mr. Letwin

I remember the visit. I have the highest regard for DARE and its work and I am aware of the overstretch in referrals. However, even if the alcohol and drug abstinence service in my hon. Friend's constituency receives additional funding in the next round, referrals will be almost useless in many cases. They will maintain and perhaps reduce the ability, desire and, in some cases, need of some young people to engage in criminal activity, but they will not reconstruct lives.

All my experience shows that reconstructing a life that has been severely damaged and almost destroyed by heroin, cocaine or crack cocaine addiction, almost always accompanied by a cocktail of other drug and alcohol-related problems and a range of psychological and social problems, cannot be done on the cheap. Such a life cannot be reconstructed in an amateur fashion or by maintenance. That can be achieved only through repeated, intensive psychological effort in residential or crypto-residential care. If the House were so organised, a stream of witnesses could appear to testify to that from their experience.

I do not claim that every young life that needs rescuing can be saved only if the young people live on top of the shop. However, there is a chance of genuine success only if the relevant people are, from morning till night and through the night, in conditions that allow them to focus entirely on rebuilding their lives. Even then, all my experience shows that the success rate is far from 100 per cent. Relapse will occur, and people will have to go through the system twice and sometimes thrice to escape.

The power of the drugs that we are considering for an addictive personality is so great that rescue is an arduous undertaking. I do not believe that the Under-Secretary and I would disagree; I suspect that he has seen and heard many of the same things as me. I am sure that he has talked to the same sort of people as me. Much of what I am saying probably rings bells in his mind, too. I appreciate that the Government do not have a bottomless coffer and I therefore recommend focusing and using the limited available resources, including the additional money, on the youngest who are caught in the vortex, and not trying to deal with every case.

It is evident that if we can deal with the flow, we will tackle the stock over time. When I visited the Netherlands, I was told that the average age of cocaine and heroin addicts is currently increasing by 360 days a year. Almost no one is joining the queue. That is the most striking statistic that I know, and I have mentioned it before. The Netherlands has reached the tipping point and succeeded in persuading young people that the drugs are loser drugs and worth avoiding. That has also happened in Sweden. Enough people have been cured to begin to make the cure social. At that point, funds can be released for referrals for older people who are on drugs and to place them in intensive treatment.

We will reach the tipping point in this country by focusing and spending the money on the young and subjecting them to intensive, residential rehabilitation. We must find a means of forcing those young people into treatment. Without that, nothing else will work. Offering treatment is not enough because although the offer may be taken up, in most cases it will happen four or five years later.

Ms Dari Taylor (Stockton, South)

Does the right hon. Gentleman support supervised prescriptions of heroin? That was one of the most strategic planks of the policy in the Netherlands to persuade young people not only to accept treatment but to get out of the dealer's grip.

Mr. Letwin

The techniques that have been used in the Netherlands vary. However, the genuinely impressive part of the Netherlands experience is not the maintenance programmes for those who are old, but the intensive rehabilitation through abstinence of young people who have subsequently managed to escape the vortex. I do not discount the possibility of what the Under-Secretary effectively sanctions in the United Kingdom—maintenance of older drug users. It is better for people to receive methadone—bad as it is—than to rob old people to pay for that or heroin. However, that is not a cure; it simply dockets the problem. I urge moving young people out of the drugs culture through intensive, rehabilitative abstinence programmes. It is impressive that the Netherlands and Sweden have managed to achieve that.

Ms Taylor

Like the right hon. Gentleman, I have considered the way in which the matter is tackled throughout the world as well as in Britain. All the evidence shows that if young or older people do not wish to come off the stuff, it does not matter how much we try to force them. Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept the research?

Mr. Letwin

No. That is not my experience from talking to people who are in the programmes or those who are conducting them. I have been told repeatedly that the hon. Lady's contention is false. I am prepared to subject the matter to empirical investigation. I do not propose leaping at the problem. I propose conducting pilot studies of mandatory treatment for the young and ascertaining whether that works. The hon. Lady and I would not then have to hold a discussion in the abstract, because we would know. We should conduct the world's first serious experiment to ascertain whether we can crack the problem empirically.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk)

What my right hon. Friend is saying is compelling, but does he agree that we also need dedicated, determined, committed GPs who understand drug addicts and want to work in drug rehabilitation clinics? Will he look at the case of my constituent Dr. Adrian Garfoot, who, having been struck off by the General Medical Council, is doing absolutely nothing and who wants to be out there helping to save drug addicts' lives?

Mr. Letwin

I will indeed look at that case. I have been vastly impressed by the work of people in or near my constituency. GPs involved in the Providence project have reached the same conclusion as my hon. Friend's constituent and are devoting their lives to exactly the same goal—and it is working.

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the prevalence of drugs in our prisons? It is possible to go into a prison such as Holloway drug free and come out with a drug habit. I think that, before embarking on extensive treatment programmes, Ministers could do more to make our prisons drug-free zones.

Mr. Letwin

Over the last week or two I have observed an alarming tendency on my part—which I had never suspected probable—to agree repeatedly with the hon. Lady. That may be as disturbing to her as it is to me. In my view she is undeniably right.

I find it extraordinary that there are still drugs in prisons. I do not find it extraordinary that there are drugs anywhere else; but if a prison is about keeping people in, one would have thought that it might be able to keep substances out. I do not speak for open prisons, but one would have thought that making closed prisons drug-free zones was a feasible operation. Not only are they not drug-free zones but, as the hon. Lady says, in some cases—tragically—people go in unaffected by drugs and come out affected by them.

I hope the Government will produce measures to make the Prison Service more effective in excluding drugs. I think we shall have to accept more restrictions on visiting by relatives. That will be a sorry loss—there is no doubt that physical barriers distance prisoner from visitor, and there is no doubt that that may have an effect on rehabilitation—but so bad is the drugs menace in our prisons that we may have to contemplate it.

Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on what strikes me as the most courageous and pragmatic Front-Bench speech made during my 15 years in the House. During his observations on Holland, he accurately stated that heroin and cocaine were seen as the drugs of losers. Is that not the result of 25 years in which Holland has separated the markets for hard and soft drugs? Soft drugs are seen to be undesirable, but are not associated with an underworld or with low life. As a result, those taking or selling hard drugs are isolated, which has led to a reduction in the use of all drugs and a marginalisation of suppliers and users of hard drugs.

Mr. Letwin

As I think I have said here before, two models appear to have been successful. One is, indeed, in the Netherlands, where the very strategy described by the hon. Gentleman has been adopted—separation of the markets. The other is in Sweden, where serious efforts have been made to eliminate both markets. The one strategy that shows little or no promise of success is, I regret to say, the Government's approach to soft drugs—a muddled approach that neither separates the markets nor seeks to eliminate them. I will continue to inveigh against that approach.

Mr. Michael Weir (Angus)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Letwin

I will give way one last time.

Mr. Weir

The right hon. Gentleman seems to see intensive treatment in prisons or young offenders institutions as in-patient treatment of a sort. Specialist drugs corps are about to be piloted in Scotland. They will deal not just with drug-dependent but with criminal behaviour, and try to get young people off drugs in that way. I agree with the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott): unless people are willing to stop taking drugs in the first place, no system will work.

Mr. Letwin

I repeat my view—and, as I have said, I am prepared for the Government to subject it to empirical investigation. I do not think it essential for people to want to stop at the beginning of treatment; what is essential is for the reconstruction of a life to be such that by the end of the treatment the person wants to stay off drugs. I do not envisage programmes in young offenders institutions or prisons; on the contrary, it is clear to me that they should take place in clinics. They are separate from the issue of punishment, and need to be kept separate from it. But a life can only be reconstructed in the right way if the person concerned is purposeful, and that must involve constructive rather than criminal purpose. For many of the young people who commit today's burglaries and robberies crime is virtually a necessity, because it is impossible to feed a drugs habit without being either very rich or prone to crime.

Bob Spink (Castle Point)

I think my right hon. Friend is on the right track in considering compulsion in rehabilitation, but will he also consider prevention? As he knows, the first use of any drug by a young person often occurs under the influence of alcohol. Is it not regrettable that, in the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, Labour removed police officers' right to take unopened cans and bottles of alcohol from young people in public places? Will my right hon. Friend encourage the Government to reinstate that power, so that the police can save youngsters from getting involved in drugs in the first place?

Mr. Letwin

My hon. Friend is right to mention the severe problems of binge drinking among the young. We need to think again about how we can prevent the habit from becoming widespread. There is no doubt that it is associated with being dragged into the drugs culture as a whole.

I am outstaying my welcome—[HON. MEMBERS: "More!"] No. This is a short debate, and I want both my hon. Friends and Labour Members to have a chance to speak.

I hope I have made clear the contrast between this debate and the earlier piece of splendid political knockabout on both sides of the House. In this second debate, I have argued passionately for a position I believe to be right, which need not separate the political parties. It can be adopted by the Government now. It could prevent a tragic waste of resources, and—at least as important—could save thousands of young people from being drawn into the vortex that so afflicts not just them and their families, but the many victims of the crimes that they find themselves compelled to commit.

7.48 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Bob Ainsworth)

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: recognises that focusing on Class A drugs, educating young people about the dangers of all drugs, preventing drug misuse, combating the dealers, reducing availability and treating addicts are all essential in tackling drugs; and welcomes the Government's updated Drug Strategy and the 44 per cent. increase in planned expenditure on combating drugs. from £1.026 billion in the current financial year to nearly £1.5 billion in the year starting April 2005. I thank the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) for the serious way in which he presented his case, and I will try to respond seriously. I must say that so far I have not taken his alternatives to the updated drugs strategy very seriously, for what I believe to be good and practical reasons. I see a number of holes in what he suggests, and a number of real inconsistencies in what we hear from the Conservatives about drugs strategy.

I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman some questions—let him by all means intervene if he wishes—about his proposals. He seems to be suggesting that an awful lot more should be spent on the rehabilitation of relatively few people. It would be good to know exactly what he proposes. Does he propose a substantial increase in spending, or does he propose to take money away from some parts of the strategy in order to pay for others? I understood him to say the latter—that he intended, in large part, to abandon rehabilitation treatments for many people in order to concentrate on the young.

Mr. Letwin

I am grateful to the Minister for the spirit in which he is approaching this, and I will answer his question. I do not have the precise figures in my mind, but I believe that his intention to increase by about 118,000 the number of people in contact with treatment is scheduled by the Government to cost about £325 million, or perhaps somewhat more—perhaps even £400 million. The proposal that I make to the Government today—because I understand the requirements that the Home Office faces in dealing with the Chancellor—is that that money, which would otherwise be increasing the numbers of those in contact, in some vague sense, with some set of agencies, should instead be spent on the kind of programme that I am describing. We have costed such a policy at £460 million a year. Almost the entirety of that sum could be found from the additional sum that the Minister has in mind. For our own part, I have agreed with my colleague, the shadow Secretary of State for Health, that if we were in government we would find the money from the health budget, because the savings to the national health service alone would, over time, justify that. I am not, however, asking the Minister to agree to that. He already has a budget of the same order of magnitude as ours—perhaps not to the last £10 million, but of the same order none the less—and if he could spend it on the policy that we are proposing, it would be vastly better spent.

Mr. Ainsworth

Presumably the right hon. Gentleman would spend that money by withdrawing interventions that are available for other people who would then not be covered. So, under his proposals, there would be no new money such as that outlined in our updated drugs strategy. Let us take an example of what that money needs to be spent on. One of the biggest gaps that we have identified is the need for through-care and after-care for people leaving prison. We have found that, unless there is adequate provision for picking those people up as they are released and carrying them through into community treatment services, they will go straight back to the market, and to the dealers. They will begin committing crimes again, and that is one of the main causes of the revolving door syndrome in which people go back into criminality almost as soon as they are released from prison. I suppose that that money provided in the updated drugs strategy would no longer be there under the right hon. Gentleman's proposals, because he would just have spent it on rehabilitation. That is one example of an important gap that we are seeking to plug and to provide for effectively being taken away by the Conservatives.

Mr. Letwin

I am grateful to the Minister for giving me the opportunity to engage in what I think is constructive repartee. Let us test his proposition. Why do we not try piloting the proposal that I am suggesting, and the one that he is suggesting, in relation to picking people up as they come out of prison? Both are worthy objectives, but I suspect that the empirical evidence would show that his methods would fail to have much impact on ex-prisoners and that my methods would succeed in getting those people off drugs. If I am wrong, however, the empirical evidence would show that, and we need not nationalise it.

Mr. Ainsworth

It would be worth the right hon. Gentleman's while considering his own policy and putting it up against some of the proposals in the updated drugs strategy. I do not know what opportunity he has had—with all his different responsibilities—with the research facilities that he has available to him, to go into the detail of where we are planning to spend the additional money. One of the other areas is that of making early interventions through the criminal justice system to oblige people into treatment. That is something that the right hon. Gentleman is advocating, yet he seems to think that he can lift the pot of money allocated for piloting presumptions against bail, for extending the drug testing programme, and for doubling the amount of drug testing and treatment orders. I know that there has been criticism from the Conservatives about the failure rate, or success rate, of DTTOs, but when we look at the kind of people we are dealing with in relation to the orders, we can see that, in the circumstances, we are doing very well in terms of the interventions that we are trying to make. All that additional money would be taken away by the right hon. Gentleman to provide residential rehabilitation across the piece for a particular group of people.

The right hon. Gentleman asks for empirical evidence, saying that he believes that the Government are honest in their intentions, but misguided. Well, from whom should we get our information? I would have thought that we should get it from people with a long record of working in the field, who have experience of providing drug treatment and services in our communities. In preparation for this debate, I spoke to Geoff Cobb, the chief executive of the Swanswell trust, which provides drug and alcohol services in Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire. He has had 30 years' experience of working in that area. He said of the right hon. Gentleman's proposalResidential rehabilitation is very expensive, and very often inappropriate. Increasingly, those who need it are getting help because of the growth in the quantity and quality of community services. He makes a plea: Let the NTA"— the national treatment agency—get on with the work that they are doing, because we are beginning to get to the point that we need to get to. The right hon. Member for West Dorset must have received DrugScope's response to his consultation on the proposals that he is now putting before the House. He is asking the House to consider the evidence. I do not know what he thinks of DrugScope. It does not agree with Government policy in every area, but it appears to he one of the more serious organisations and it is taken seriously by almost everyone working in drug rehabilitation, treatment and services in this country. DrugScope's response to the Conservatives' consultation states that their costings are incorrect, their policy is too rigid, there is no evidence base to support what they suggest, and the basis on which they make their analysis is flawed. Its recommendations to the Conservative party go on to say: We would urge the Conservative party to reconsider their proposed drugs policy. DrugScope suggests that the evidence on which the policy is based is "partial and inaccurate", and says that it is worried that the policy would be "unworkable" and that it would harm the young people it seeks to help". There is the first evidence in response to the right hon. Gentleman's proposals.

Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon)

I know that the Minister takes this issue very seriously and, like the rest of us, is keen to do what he can about the issue of drugs. Is he sure, however, that his existing policy is working? The police in Plymouth told me last Friday that, of 38 DTTOs issued to people in Plymouth over the last few months, 28 of those people were arrested while still subject to one of those orders for offences related to their drug habit. They were committing crimes while still subject to a DTTO. That is the picture that is emerging from the police's empirical studies of the Minister's current system. If it is not working, why does he not open his mind to alternatives?

Mr. Ainsworth

If the hon. Gentleman wants to examine whether there is a local anomaly in Plymouth, compared with the national situation, I would be happy to study that with him. Yes, there are failures relating to DTTOs, but the orders are aimed at people who would otherwise go to prison because they have a drug problem that has led them into serious crime. Yes, there are people who fail, and who are brought back in, but taken overall, when we consider the nature of those with whom we are dealing and the size of the problem, DTTOs are working in a high proportion of cases.

One of the areas of funding that the Conservatives are suggesting that we remove relates to the ability to introduce DTTO-type policies for a lower level of criminality at an earlier point of intervention, as an addition to community sentencing. We would then be able to put a requirement for drug testing and treatment on the very people whom the right hon. Member for West Dorset says he is trying to cut off before they become serious drug offenders and provide us with the levels of crime that we are experiencing. That is the funding that is in the updated drugs strategy, which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to remove to pay for expensive rehabilitation that everybody working in the field says is inappropriate in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

The Minister has preyed in aid the views of DrugScope, which is well respected and which I have visited as it is based in my part of south London. Is he willing to take its advice on other areas of drugs policy on which it suggests that the Government ought to choose a different route? In particular, does he accept that DrugScope is clear that if public policy concentrated on the class A and serious drug users and did not pursue people who possess cannabis for their own use and the like, there would be a much clearer message, much more concentrated resources and, on the basis of all its evidence, a much more successful policy on separating the casual user, referred to by the hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn), from the addict, who regularly uses criminals to supply his addiction?

Mr. Ainsworth

I always take seriously what DrugScope says and I am always prepared to listen to it, but the Government do not agree with it on every single area.

Mr. George Osborne (Tatton)

So DrugScope is right only when it attacks Conservative policies, not Labour ones.

Mr. Ainsworth

The comments on the Conservative party paper are a little more scathing than anything that has been said about the updated drugs strategy. DrugScope has not said things in such strong terms in response to our updated drugs strategy.[Interruption.] We began the debate with a serious attempt to study the issue, but if we are going to descend into heckling, we can do something else by all means.

Let me say to the right hon. Member for West Dorset that that is not the biggest dispute between the Government and DrugScope. The Government have moved on the issue and we want the police to concentrate their efforts on the dealers and traffickers. We do not want the police to let up on cannabis traffickers, because they are often the same people who deal with class A drugs, but nor do we want them disproportionately concerning themselves with simple possession cases, which is why we reclassified cannabis. I know that the Liberal Democrats would go a lot further, but we have decided not to. However, we certainly listened to the sense of what was being said.

I have tried to take the right hon. Gentleman's comment seriously and I abandoned the speech that I had prepared so as to run across all our proposals on the updated drugs strategy, but the problem is a lot more complex than he seems to think, with his single initiative, which appears to be rehabilitation, rehabilitation, rehabilitation. We must try to hit the drug problem across the piece. We must tackle supply as best we can. We must co-operate with Governments abroad, such as those of Afghanistan, Jamaica, Turkey and our European partners, to try to cut off the supply.

We must improve our policing. We must improve the input against what we call the middle market—the linkage between the traffickers nationally and the problem on the streets. We plan to apply money to that. We must have intensive policing in those areas that suffer from problems of crack cocaine with all that flows from them, such as the connections with violence and gun crime. We must protect our communities by having a comprehensive programme of inputs, using the criminal justice system wherever appropriate, to oblige people into treatment. We do not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman on that in principle. At every stage, we want to use the criminal justice system to get people into treatment.

We are going to run a pilot involving presumption against bail. We are going to have new community sentence DTTO alternatives. We are going to double the number of DTTOs. We already have mandatory testing in nine police force areas and we are going to roll that out to all high-crime areas. There are a lot of issues on which we do not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman in principle.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

Given that the Minister is arguing for a multifaceted approach and that he has criticised what I thought was the shrewd and noble focus of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset on a specific and valuable proposal, can he tell me and the House his specific proposal today to tackle the horrifying exacerbation of the drugs problem that comes about through the virtually unrestricted circulation of drugs in prison, to which reference was made earlier?

Mr. Ainsworth

If the hon. Gentleman believes that there is some easy answer on the total eradication of drugs in prisons, please let us have it, as we have put in a lot of effort on that over some time. We have mandatory testing in prisons and the positive results have fallen considerably, which probably indicates a degree of success. The comprehensive counselling, assessment, referral, advice and through-care services programme is considering how to advise people and providing them with treatment wherever possible, carrying them right through. We are looking to beef up the back end of the CARATS programme to provide effective through-care and aftercare for prisoners, but of course the Prison Service needs to do everything it can to try to keep drugs out of prisons. All of us in the House would urge it to continue to do that.

Mr. Osborne

My constituency contains Styal women's prison, which is the second largest women's prison in England. The chief inspector of prisons, who recently inspected it, estimated that some 40 per cent. of the prisoners were on heroin, although the Government think that the figure is much higher. Styal still does not have a proper drug detoxification unit, partly because it has changed from a small to a large prison in the past couple of years. Will the Minister consider the particular case of Styal prison and its desperate need, as identified by the chief inspector, for a drug detoxification unit?

Mr. Ainsworth

Yes, I will. We are happy to consider that case, but I ask the hon. Gentleman—this is as true in the community as it is here—to consider who should take the decisions as to where and whether a detox programme is needed in a particular area or in a particular establishment. I suggest that there are many other issues on which he would come to the House and argue that, in imposing a rigid system, rehab would be provided across the board, even where it was not necessarily the most appropriate input, which is exactly what I am arguing now. That is not a decision for Ministers, it would be far better taken in the locality following consideration of its needs. Detox is about 10 times more expensive than some other interventions, so we are talking about big money here. If we provided residential rehabilitation where it was not needed, we would be wasting money that badly needs to be spent in other areas.

Ms Abbott

On the question of drugs in prisons, my hon. Friend will be aware that I was a graduate trainee with the Home Office many years ago, and I worked in the prisons department. There are no easy answers, but some straightforward things could be done, including regularly searching warders for drugs, which does not happen at present. Restrictions on visitors were referred to earlier. Also, we must make absolutely sure that there are no vestiges of the attitude that I saw in the prisons department 20 years ago among those at prison governor grade—at least if the prisoners are spaced out of their heads, they are easier to manage. I do not have a magic solution, but those simple things would go some way towards clearing drugs out of prisons.

Mr. Ainsworth

One hopes that those attitudes have been eradicated from the Prison Service and that we are seriously considering how to help people as much as we can, but, as the right hon. Member for West Dorset says, the drugs strategy also needs to address the problem of young people, as the right hon. Member for West Dorset says. If we do not cut off tomorrow's problematic drug users, we shall wind up having treated one set of people as others are coming along behind them to provide the same problem. We estimate that there are about 250,000 problematic drug users in this country. If he is suggesting, as he appears to be, that many of them can effectively be abandoned so that we can spend the money that is available on a relative few, that will not help us to cut the crime that is caused by the drug problem in our country.

John Mann (Bassetlaw)

My hon. Friend says that decisions on what forms of treatment should be available need to be made at local level. Who should make those decisions, and what criteria and evidence base should they use to judge success?

Mr. Ainsworth

In the first instance, it has to be the drugs action team. We must ensure that the DAT is properly structured and can make a good analysis of all the area's needs, and that all the relevant local agencies have a proper input. It is our responsibility to ensure that there are adequate resources for DATs to commission services, and then we must hold them to account. I do not see how we can impose a rigid system from the centre on every area, insisting that there should be so many rehab places. People nearer to the problem in a particular area will understand its size, structure and complexity and will seek to commission services to deal with it. That is common sense, and it would use the money available in the most cost-effective way.

John Mann

The majority of people on my DAT, like every other, are not from the health professions. What other part of the national health service makes health decisions through people such as council officers, police and probation officers, rather than health professionals?

Mr. Ainsworth

DATs cannot consist solely of health professionals. Other people, including some from the local authority, need to have an input.

I have spoken for longer than I should. I commend the updated drugs strategy to the House. I ask the House to reject the motion and support the amendment. There are no simple solutions to this problem, but the updated drugs strategy builds on the work that has been done and the lessons that have been learned over the past four years. Only by pursuing it with vigour and ensuring that we deliver do we stand a chance of reducing the significant drug problem that we have in our country, which causes so much crime and misery. The Government are absolutely pledged to that. It is a major priority for us. I commend the amendment to the House.

8.13 pm
Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

Something rather interesting is happening. We are edging towards the point at which we have a sensible, rational debate on the problems of drugs in this country—the second debate on the subject in this Chamber in about five weeks, and that is a precedent. The issue is no longer a peripheral one and it is being approached sensibly, without sloganising or fixed attitudes. The Home Affairs Committee report was a great help in that process, as was the approach taken by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin). I do not agree with everything in the motion, and I will explain why, but I commend him for the manner in which he set out his ideas.

We are witnessing a retreat from certainty, and that is a very good thing, because none of us can be certain about what is the right approach. There is conflicting evidence, and various initiatives have been tried but have failed. We all edge our way forwards. What is the firm ground? We can all accept—it is explicit in the motion—that the drugs trade is a motor of crime. I was certainly convinced of that when I was chairman of a police authority in Avon and Somerset. I saw that the drugs trade was a significant problem not only in inner-city Bristol but throughout the force area, driving burglary, street crime and car crime in rural as well as urban areas, as people often found that the pickings were richer out in the country, where property was perhaps less well defended. On the back of that, circumstances were created in which organised crime and gun crime could prosper, and many evils resulted.

We can also all agree that we want to be effective in dealing with the supply and distribution of hard drugs. Importation is clearly a factor. I am still critical of the extent to which the Government's efforts have been focused on closing down some of the import routes, especially in central Asia. I have been concerned for some time that the diplomatic effort in that area has been insufficient. Police officers in Bristol have also complained strongly about the West Indies, suggesting that every plane arriving from Jamaica for some time has been a source of hard drugs in the Bristol area. I am not convinced that the interdiction efforts of either Customs and Excise or the intelligence services have been robust enough.

I am sorry to say that recent figures from Customs and Excise show that, far from an improvement in performance, less cocaine and heroin have been seized recently. In 2000–01, 9,463 kg was seized; the following year it was down to 9,007 kg; and in the first half of the current year the figure was only 3,639 kg, which suggests a marked decrease in seizure rates. I accept that there is an element of serendipity about whether there is a big seizure at a particular time, but the figures do not suggest that Customs and Excise is winning the war. Perhaps more effort should be made.

I hope that we can all agree that not all drugs are the same in their harmful effects. I find it hard to identify a psychotropic drug that does not have any harmful effects. However, even if we accept that all drugs have some harmful effects, it is nevertheless a nonsense to pretend that class A drugs—the hard drugs—are equally as dangerous as some of the drugs classified as class C, or which are about to be reclassified as such. The problem with not recognising that fact is that it undermines everything else that we say about the subject. It is no good asserting to young people that cannabis is as dangerous as heroin, because they do not believe it. They know that that is not true, and to do so undermines everything that we do. We must therefore look at the problem not only of insulting the intelligence of the community whom we are trying to influence but of misdirecting police effort and resources away from where they can be effective in dealing with drugs that are proven to kill, towards those that are not proven to kill and which may have a less harmful effect than fully legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.

My fourth point concerns dealing with the user, and this is where the motion of the right hon. Member for West Dorset really comes into effect. We are, I hope, reaching a consensus that dealing with the possession of drugs as if it were a criminal offence requiring a custodial sentence is nonsense. Apart from anything else, to do so puts the person in question into a context in which they will be encouraged to take drugs. Indeed, as has already been discussed, on coming out of prison they may find themselves on drugs that are harder than those that they were on when they went in. There is some evidence of an improvement in the Prison Service's performance in that regard; nevertheless, a very real risk exists.

It is clear that that point does not apply when there are aggravating circumstances. Much was said in a previous debate about driving under the influence of drugs. We do not treat that problem seriously enough, and there should be greater awareness of it. It has been suggested, not least by the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe), that a halfway stage of "substantial possession" should be recognised. That would create a threshold that both the police and the user can identify and understand by establishing a quantity that is considered likely to be used for purposes other than personal, or directly social. In my view, there is a strong argument for that.

The question, therefore, is: what do we do with the user? The motion of the right hon. Member for West Dorset advances the proposition that any new money should be put solely into the treatment of the young. Although I accept that his proposition would have merit in the context of a wider approach, my worry is that other improvements would not result. I am thinking of the older user, who needs continuing and enhanced assistance. As we know, the availability of facilities across the country is patchy, and in many parts there is an unacceptably long period of referral and an unacceptably weak support system.

Pilot schemes and initiatives are under way to couple release from prison with continuing rehabilitation. Here, I pray in aid a chief superintendent in my constituency, who has written to me commending the pilot scheme in Bristol known as the prolific offender scheme. The Minister nods, so he is obviously familiar with it. The chief superintendent says that what is desperately needed is for that scheme—which provides continuing support for prolific offenders within a regulated environment outside prison, including support with drug addiction—to be extended across the police force area. That requires money and resources. It requires resources from the Home Office, and support from the health service in providing the right mix of personnel. I do not agree entirely with the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), who said that only medical staff have a role in this regard. A more holistic approach would be of benefit. The probation service clearly has something to say on the subject of prolific offenders in particular, and something to do if we are to protect our communities effectively.

John Mann

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, although drugs action teams should not consist exclusively of health professionals, at least half of the membership of their governing boards, rather than a small minority, should consist of health professionals?

Mr. Heath

I am less worried about that issue than the hon. Gentleman clearly is; I want the right package to he developed for the individual. I want that package to contain a very strong health component, and I want general practitioners to form a part, because they have something very important to say and to do. However, that is not to decry the efforts of others who are taking a sensible position on this issue, and who are able to provide support for the individual. Nevertheless, I do think that we need to establish a package that works for the individual concerned, and for the wider community, because the two are inseparable in this instance.

There is a further point about the young drug user. Let us not lose sight of the need to prevent a person who is taking drugs from becoming addicted. If we put all our eggs in one basket and adopt the one-club approach, I am not convinced that we will have the additional support for education, youth services and the alternative opportunities afforded to young people that will prevent them from becoming involved with this pernicious trade in the first place. That would worry me; it is right to have several stages in an effective drugs strategy, and prevention is just as important as cure.

I have a problem with the motion but not with the speech of the right hon. Member for West Dorset, which I found interesting. This debate is almost like a seminar; that is a good thing for this place because it does not happen often enough. It was spoiled by some of the barracking, but let us hope that this positive tone continues.

We must not focus all our attention on the young addict, however important that is. Let me say gently that I am not convinced that the sums add up when it comes to providing the level of support that the right hon. Gentleman wants. I want to see a more diverse approach for young people to ensure that, as far as possible, we prevent them from becoming addicts in the first place.

My basic motto in all matters to do with law and order is that the two most effective preventive measures regarding crime and the distribution and supply of drugs are the certainty of being caught—which, in turn, requires resources for policing, intelligence and other services—and the certainty of effective action, whether in sentencing, support or rehabilitation, for the people who emerge at the other end. I am not convinced that the right hon. Gentleman's formula achieves that, but it was a valuable contribution to the debate. I hope that continuing the debate in a similar tone and format will enable us to alight on the strategies that work. Not only will we spend our resources in the most effective way, we will ultimately move towards the position that we have heard about in the Netherlands and Sweden, where heroin and crack cocaine, instead of being cool, are identified as the killers they are.

8.28 pm
John Mann (Bassetlaw)

I listened with interest to the speech of the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin). In the spirit of the good dialogue that is breaking out tonight, I shall be visiting the same places, and some others, that he visited in the Netherlands and Sweden. I shall be going with a couple of local general practitioners to see what evidence I can glean that could contribute towards our situation. I do not dismiss the proposals, although I believe that the Conservatives have fallen into the trap of looking for the simple solution to the drugs problem. There are no simple solutions.

Following a public inquiry into heroin, I recommended that more residential rehabilitation provision should be made available to people in my area. Some people in the drugs world immediately leapt on that and proposed having a residential rehabilitation centre in the middle of the drug-dealing area in my constituency. I have nothing against having everything in my constituency. Rationally, however, as the social services department which holds the budget confirms, my local social services would not refer local people living at home to a residential rehabilitation centre in the middle of the drug-dealing area in their own town. That is clearly nonsense, but it has been proposed and I am trying to unravel bids to the Government for up to £500,000. I and others in my inquiry have drawn the conclusion that money itself is not the biggest problem. The issue is how it is used. Simply targeting young offenders is a fundamental error.

My most important point relates to the figures. I have analysed drug and alcohol action team returns from Nottinghamshire, which contain interesting figures. I have challenged the way in which figures are quantified and the evidence base many times both in and out of the Chamber, and I shall do so again tonight.

The DAT returns from Nottinghamshire tell us that all 58 secondary schools—100 per cent.—are providing anti-drugs education. Yet I have visited the schools and met many pupils, without teachers or others being present, and most of them have told me that they have had no anti-drugs education at secondary school. Something is clearly not adding up. I have recommended that the national curriculum should be tightened, and I believe that dialogue is taking place on that at present. I hope that other hon. Members will contribute on what the national curriculum should contain. The principle is clear, however, that a key part of the curriculum for every age between 11 and 16 should be coherent anti-drugs education. My schools clearly do not include it at the moment.

Mr. Simmonds

To my mind, the critical question is who goes to schools to educate children on the dangers of drug abuse. Students at secondary schools perceive teachers, police officers and others to be part of the establishment and will not listen to the advice that they give. Systems should be in place to allow rehabilitated drug addicts and members of their families to go to schools to explain to pupils exactly what it means to be an addict or part of a family that contains an addict.

John Mann

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that. I am offering local schools something that arose fortuitously on the back of my constituency inquiry. A television company made a hard-hitting programme that began with the drug addicts themselves and their view of life. They did not provide a positive role model. It then moved on to the families, particularly the mothers, of those who have died from drug overdoses and those who have survived for a long time as heroin addicts. Their stories are powerful testimony, spoken by many local people.

We need to consider what works. On education, I would not rule any method out or any method in. One thing is clear, however: young people in my area do not believe that they are receiving anti-drugs education, and we can therefore say unequivocally that they are, by definition, not receiving it, no matter what DAT returns or anything else might say.

The DAT returns are even more interesting than that. For primary schools, the return says that 36 out of 36 schools are receiving anti-drugs education. I had to scratch my head when I read that because there are around 60 primary schools in my constituency alone. The statistics are becoming a little obscure.

More important even than schools is drug treatment. In 2001–02 in Nottinghamshire, we are told, there were 1,473 new clients and 2,297 people receiving treatment. If we add the previous year's figures, we find that the same number of people appear to be receiving treatment. Some people—but not many—will have been on the lists in previous years. The evidence shows that many people who drop out of treatment programmes subsequently re-present themselves. People who want treatment are thus likened to those who are being treated and the numbers add up. Approximately, 2,400 people have asked for treatment, but 2,297—only 110 fewer—are receiving it.

If we consider the average for waiting lists for all forms of treatment, we can discount the two most recent months, because those people will still be waiting, so again the figures add up. The statistics suggest that everyone who wants treatment is receiving it, yet in my constituency alone I have spoken to more than 150 heroin addicts and their families who tell me that they are not getting treatment. They do not say that they are not getting good or effective treatment or that they would prefer one form rather than another—although such information could be found out—but that they are not getting treatment at all.

Angela Watkinson (Upminster)

When the hon. Gentleman refers to treatment, does he mean maintaining an addict's supply of clean needles and a safe form of the drug, or a programme of withdrawal and abstinence?

John Mann

I thank the hon. Lady for that intervention. The DAT returns do not specify that point. That is one of my questions: what is the definition of treatment? In Nottinghamshire, it is clear: any relationship with the treatment services is defined as treatment. That is how we arrived at a figure of 118,000. That is not a criticism of the Government but of the professionals in the field—the drugs establishment— who create the statistics.

I shall elaborate on waiting times in Nottinghamshire. According to the current DAT annual returns, the longest time that anyone has waited for residential rehabilitation is 10 weeks. However, person A and their parents visited my surgery 14 months ago and I followed person A's progress monthly. Person A requested residential rehabilitation and I followed the dialogue. Person A's parents have visited me regularly. I encouraged that; indeed, in some ways, my office team and I have become part of the support mechanism for person A and their family. Person A went into a residential rehabilitation scheme only in late November, after I had raised their case in my inquiry. Perhaps it was a coincidence. Leaving that aside, however, person A had been asking for residential rehabilitation for 12 months.

Although person A is happy to be named, I do not think that it is appropriate or relevant to the further details that I shall give about the case. Person A is in a stable situation. During those 12 months, they were not involved in any crimes although they had been previously. Person A is living at home with their parents—previously they were not. The father has been buying drugs for person A to ensure a downward progression of intake before rehabilitation. That is known and the father has, rightly, not been arrested—an instance of appropriate policing. The father has been maintaining person A, stabilising them and preparing them for rehabilitation, precisely as the national treatment agency suggests.

I have two questions. First, why was person A not referred earlier, and secondly, why did the information given to the Government about waiting lists state that the longest waiting time was 10 weeks when person A had to wait 12 months?

Mr. Streeter

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

John Mann

May I continue my point before taking interventions?

The waiting time for community prescribing is three weeks for priority cases and 11 weeks for non-priority cases. Clearly, I have a problem in judging what is priority and non-priority, but I have asked the questions and believe that person B is likely to be deemed a priority for various reasons.

Person B has been involved in a range of semi-criminal activities. She may have been involved in prostitution, like many people of her gender. She has not volunteered that information to me, but the advice workers in the field suggest that the vast majority of women heroin addicts in my constituency are regularly involved in some form of prostitution to fund their habit. I believe that information to be accurate. Certainly, if person B has not been involved that activity, she is very rare among her cohort of young women drug users.

Is person B in the three-week or 11-week category? I have followed person B's case on a weekly, not monthly, basis because she gave evidence at my inquiry nearly five months ago. Person B said, "I was due to meet a drugs worker outside Boots the Chemist for an appointment to discuss a potential detox." Why the meeting was supposed to happen outside Boots the Chemist is a separate issue, but it was not person B's choice. The drugs worker did not turn up. Person B then had to wait while the drugs worker went on holiday.

Person B happens to have a mobile phone on which the drugs worker has left messages. I have listened to those messages. Frankly, they are extraordinary, showing the most patronising and worst aspects of any bureaucracy and any section of the health service.

Person B was asked whether or not she was ready for a detox. That is a professional decision. Who takes it? One person, not a team of people—it is not a multi-agency issue, like DATs or drugs reference groups. So person B has been waiting and waiting.

I have a letter that was sent to person B on 24 December. It saysWe have recently received a referral on your behalf to our service at the Maltings"— the name of the drugs treatment centre— Would you please telephone the referral worker…on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday afternoon…to confirm that you require contact with our service and to discuss your present situation? If we do not hear from you within the next seven days, we will assume that you do not require our service. That letter was written despite my involvement as the Member of Parliament and despite the fact that I and other people from my office and the community rang up the drugs treatment service on behalf of person B. Is person B on the waiting list or not? On what basis has that decision been made? Who is sending out a new referral letter, and how does that equate to the statistics?

I could give many more examples, but the two that I have mentioned are particularly poignant, as they happen to be ones that I followed in the first instance purely because the people involved came to my surgery.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth

We all appreciate the depth to which my hon. Friend has been prepared to go into this issue. I would not stand at the Dispatch Box and seek to suggest that every decision taken in his DAT or any other is right. Of course I do not know the identities of person A and person B, but no one seeks to pretend that we will provide residential rehabilitation on demand. My hon. Friend should talk to a number of people who work on drugs issues. The person whom I quoted, Geoff Cobbe, from my own area would say that providing such treatment on demand would be totally wrong and that many millions of pounds would be wasted on inappropriate treatment, as happened until 1993, when, in effect, such treatment was available in theory, but nothing else besides.

John Mann

I thank the Minister for his intervention. My response is straightforward: person B does not want residential rehabilitation but community-based treatment. If person A is suitable now, why were they not suitable previously? What has changed, especially as the drugs treatment budget was underspent for the last year? I suspect that the only thing that has changed is that a year end is coming, there has been an inquiry and some pressure, and people are spending up the budget. I am not an advocate of residential rehabilitation as a panacea. People come to me for quick solutions, which I do not offer or recommend. A range of possibilities exists. All I wish to see in my area is a menu of treatment provided for people when they want it, straight away, and not further down the line.

A Home Office written answer to me on 12 December stated: DAT plans are analysed by regional teams consisting of Home Office officials, National Treatment Agency representatives…They give careful scrutiny to all the information provided. Any quantitative information is rigorously checked to ensure its accuracy."—[Official Report, 12 December 2002; Vol. 396, c. 476W.] I hope that the statistics for my DAT are unique in the country, but they are meaningless, fairy tale statistics, in relation to both education and drugs treatment. That is very worrying, because what I ask for repeatedly—I would ask for it from the Opposition, too, with regard to their proposals—is an evidence base in relation to what succeeds and what does not. Let us be honest with people. Of the 150 addicts in my constituency whom I have seen—the number is increasing, as more and more come to see me—and who are officially documented in the inquiry, all of them want treatment. Some of them will be good bets, and some will be bad bets. Some of them are heroin addicts who became criminals, and some are criminals who became heroin addicts. Some will get through treatment, and some will not. The one thing that is common to them is that they want treatment, and they want honesty. They want people to be straight with them. If they are told that they must wait six months for a residential rehabilitation place, but that, if they do certain things, they will get one, many of them—although they may not be delighted—will be prepared to wait on that basis. The problem in my area is that they do not trust a word that they are told by the drugs treatment services.

To explain partly why that is, let me read from a leaflet produced by a neighbouring drug reference group within my DAT: If you choose to use remember…The effects from eating dope are hard to judge. You will save your lungs but may lose your head—pace yourself…Sometimes using cannabis may not agree with you, it can lead to feeling sick or scared. Tell a friend, find a quiet place to relax, and in an hour the worst should be over…Use and possession of cannabis is illegal—a criminal conviction is nothing but hassle…One of the biggest risks to a user is being caught. The evidence from my constituents is that one of the biggest risks is moving on to other drugs. I would include cigarettes and alcohol in the same equation as cannabis in terms of drug experimentation by young people. Some young people in my constituency move on to heroin, and commit crime as a result of addictive use.

That kind of publication is not what Government money should be spent on in my area. I want effective education. The question of DARE has already been raised in this debate. It originated in Nottingham, and it is education run mainly by the police in primary schools. There is no evidence base, although I am now constructing my own, with the consent of users: an effective database detailing when they started using, who they are, where they are from, and what interventions there have been. One thing that is interesting is that there seems to be clear evidence that DARE has had success: the 16-year-olds, 15-year-olds and 14-year-olds are not getting addicted to the extent that, three or four years ago, their older brothers and sisters were. It is early days, and we are dealing with the first group of 16-year-olds to go through the programme. However, I understand that the blueprint programme has a budget of £9 million while the budget for the DARE organisation is only £80,000, and that money is provided by local businesses in and around Bassetlaw. Let us consider what could be done if we experimented with DARE for every year in secondary schools, in sure start and, crucially, with parents. I would like pilots to do that.

DARE has recently extended successfully into parts of south Wales, and I would like the experience to be shared across the country. There is no question that it is beginning to have an impact. My view and that of many of the 16-year-olds to whom I have spoken is that, if the programme continues at ages 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, we will have informed school cohorts who, at a minimum, will not make irrational decisions. However, DARE provides more than that. It deals with issues such as bullying, pride and self-respect. That is why it works. It is not so much a drugs message but a message about an individuals' self-respect wherever they come from and whatever their parents are like. We face the problem of quite a large number of second-generation kids whose parents are heroin addicts. The sum of £80,000 is not a lot so let us imagine what might happen if the figure was doubled, tripled or quadrupled to allow DARE to expand and pilot other programmes in secondary schools. That would be a cheap, cost-effective and valid use of resources.

I hope that the Opposition will take heed. They offer a simple solution and they need to get their line right. On 7 January in the Committee considering the Criminal Justice Bill, the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) referred to their policy involving an eightfold increase, but I am sure that that was a slip of the tongue. More worryingly, however, he said that the money was for residential and non-residential treatment. I urge caution against accepting the view that there is a panacea for a particular age group. The proposal equates in my constituency, as in everyone else's, to 12 new places for young people, and we need considerably more than that in residential rehabilitation, community-based treatment and everything else. We need significantly more places and we need them now. The Opposition's policy must be reconsidered.

I want in my area drugs courts that give people a choice. The moment that young people enter the criminal fraternity, they should be given immediate treatment. Drugs testing should also be introduced in the way that it has been by the chief constable at Worksop police station.

I have a final request for the Government. Pilots have all too often been based on where the maximum amount of crime is perceived to take place—that is, the cities. One of the problems with pilots in cities is that the population in them is highly transient. The population in my area is highly immobile. Because it is not transient, we can provide better than any city an evidence base that shows what does and does not work. The same people who are in my area now will be there in 10 years. We should not work on the overall statistics that mean that my consistuency is masked by an average that relates to it and to the constituencies of the hon. Member for Newark (Patrick Mercer) and my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Paddy Tipping). The problem is in Worksop, and the drug-related crime rate there is as high as anywhere else. We want to be part of the pilots so that we can provide an evidence base and offer real hope to young people.

8.54 pm
Angela Watkinson (Upminster)

The motion recognises the irrefutable link between hard drugs and crime and the need for mandatory treatment and rehabilitation for young heroin and cocaine addicts. I hope to persuade the House that the Government's updated drugs strategy published last December, focused as it is on providing more and more treatment, is deficient and is heading for inevitable failure. As admirable and as necessary as it is, the simple provision of treatment will do nothing to deter drug use or reduce the number of drug addicts.

Such a strategy cannot succeed without robust prevention measures to stem the never-ending flow of new addicts and an equally robust enforcement of the law. Given that the majority of drug abusers come into contact with the police after committing another crime, such as burglary, shoplifting or assault, tolerance, understanding and the provision of treatment without meaningful sanction will do nothing to deter repeat offending. Indeed, it will encourage it. Nor will it bring offenders to understand the devastation that they have caused to their victims' lives. The violation of a family home and the loss of personal possessions, often of sentimental value and irreplaceable, can permanently deprive the victims of their sense of security and peace of mind.

To the law-abiding majority in this country, the recent statements by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice were an outrage. They were a licence for burglars to go about their vile activities without fear of punishment. If the appalling crime of burglary is so widespread that the police do not have the means to deal with it and if our prisons are too overcrowded to accommodate all the burglars, the answer is to increase the number of police on our streets and to build more prisons, not to make burglary a non-crime, which is what happened with cannabis possession. When I opposed the downgrading of the law on cannabis in the Home Affairs Committee report on drugs policy, I asked, tongue in cheek, how long it would be before the strategy was applied to other crimes such as burglary. Little did even I think that it would happen so quickly. I shudder to imagine what will be the next crime to be neutralised in that way out of expedience.

Let us not kid ourselves that lenient community sentences are anything other than a slap on the wrist. Many are never completed and monitoring of attendance is patchy at best because of a lack of resources. If offenders face no real consequence as a result of their actions, they will see the offence itself as being of no consequence, its effect on their victims as being of no consequence and, indeed, the victims themselves as being of no consequence. That is what the policy will teach them. Never has there been such a gulf between justice and the law.

Similarly, just as treatment cannot succeed without prevention, so attacking the supply of drugs cannot succeed without also attacking the demand that sustains the market—although it is, of course, a fundamental element of drug strategy. It is unrealistic to regard all drug addicts as victims. They must take some responsibility for their actions alongside the dealers. The market is demand led. That is why prevention is so important in enabling the provision of treatment to be sustainable in terms of cost and the numbers needing it.

The declassification of cannabis is pivotal to the success of any drugs policy. Whereas it is acknowledged that hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin do the greatest damage, there is overwhelming evidence from both medical professionals and the police that the majority of hard drug users start on cannabis. I am utterly convinced by the gateway theory. That is why the reclassification of cannabis from class B to class C was so wrong. In February 2001, the Government rejected that idea, yet eight months later they changed their mind—a decision which I suspect owes more to the difficulty of managing the scope of the problem than to a reassessment of the inherent dangers.

The message is now so confusing that many young people think that cannabis is harmless, legal or both. Its mind-altering capabilities are complex and the cannabis on sale today is several times stronger than it was in the past. It is able to induce psychosis, mood swings, confusion, delusions or even hallucinations.

Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East)

Is the hon. Lady aware that there are roughly 23 different forms of cannabis? If a person purchases cannabis in a Netherlands coffee shop, the person selling it will offer advice. It is not true to say that all cannabis available in this country today is of such high quality. There is a wide range of qualities.

Angela Watkinson

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that we should require dealers to explain the strength of the cannabis that they sell. I would much prefer it if they did not sell it at all.

Paul Flynn

The point that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon) is making is a fair one. In a market in which the consumer has a choice, most drug users, particularly alcohol users, choose the mildest form of drug, so most people use wine or beer rather than spirits. During prohibition in America all that was on offer was distilled spirit, which was highly concentrated. In a market such as that in Holland, in which there is a choice, the majority of people use a safer drug and take it in a way that avoids smoking, which is the most dangerous way of taking it.

Angela Watkinson

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution, but I would claim that all forms of cannabis are undesirable and harmful. I should like to eradicate it altogether—a rather long-term strategy, I know, but that should be our aim.

The number of marijuana-related emergency room incidents in this country reached nearly 90,000 in 1999. Worst of all, the use of marijuana so often leads to a hard drug habit and all the misery that that entails. A sentencing regime that does not use the lighter penalties for class C drugs will inevitably find itself dealing with more and more class A offences, some of which could have been avoided. Reducing the number of cannabis users would in turn reduce the number of heroin and cocaine addicts. Cannabis is by far the most widely used drug, and a policy that does not take seriously the part that it plays in the spectrum of drug use cannot possibly succeed.

The scale of drug-driving is also increasing at an alarming rate. In a snapshot survey by police over the Christmas period, more than half of those stopped for erratic driving were found to have drugs present in their bloodstream. The variety of illegal drugs commonly in use means that a roadside test would be much more difficult to devise than the test used for alcohol, but research is urgently needed to find an effective test to help the police to start combating that growing problem.

The first essential in prevention policy is proper drugs education. Some of the literature that passes for education in our schools is information of the most undesirable kind. We have heard something on that subject from the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann). Lifeline, a Manchester-based charity, in a booklet about cannabis, showed how a joint is rolled. The first piece of advice in "How to survive your parents discovering you're a Drug User" is "Don't get caught in the first place." Other Lifeline publications are full of four-letter words, shockingly graphic illustrations and instructions on how to inject.

A favourite phrase is "informed choice". Anyone advocating informed choice for other widespread illegal activities such as speeding or shoplifting would be severely censured. Why is it tolerated in the case of drugs? Even if children were properly informed about drugs—and most are not—there should be no choice because drugs are illegal. Anyway, children are not mature enough to choose: they are not miniature adults and they should never be put in the position of having to make critical life decisions.

In 2000, DrugScope, our largest drug charity, distributed a booklet on cannabis in its "What and Why" series. One illustration showed a young man in the midst of a crop of cannabis plants wearing a cap that says "Have fun, take care". What sort of message does that send to our children? Harm reduction education does not tackle drugs; it accommodates them. Ofsted inspections must start to address that problem.

Thankfully, the majority of teenagers do not use any illegal drugs and never have. Our biggest weapon in prevention is normalisation. We must help those under pressure to see that abstention from illegal drugs is normal at any age—childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Prevention can and does work, as seen in America between 1979 and 1991. Parents got fed up with trendy excuses for drug taking, and collaborated with teachers, the police, Customs and Excise, social workers and students to foster the idea that taking drugs is not normal or socially desirable, and that it is indeed harmful. It worked. The number of drug users fell from 23 million to 14 million, a 60 per cent. reduction. Use of cannabis and cocaine halved.

An American survey done at the time of the campaign is very instructive. More than 70 per cent. of high school students who were non-users of cannabis were concerned about psychological and physical damage. Parental disapproval deterred over 60 per cent. Some 40 per cent. were put off by illegality factor. More than 50 per cent. were worried about progression to stronger drugs and slightly fewer thought that they might become addicted. Real drugs education must carry robust warnings of the disastrous effects of ignoring all the available advice—damage to health, education, career prospects and financial stability, the slippery slope to criminal activity to fund a habit, the misery and worry caused to family and friends and the cost to society at large through the NHS and the police. Young people need to be told that when they are offered drugs, the dealer whom they may have thought was a friend does not want them to have fun or a good time but simply wants their money—not only today or tomorrow, but next week and next month. In other words, the dealer wants a regular income and gives no thought to the suffering that lies ahead.

Policy has to tackle two separate but very closely related issues: treating and rehabilitating existing addicts and preventing young people from becoming addicts. Without prevention measures to address the latter, the former will never be achieved. Let us have as our national aim a drug-free society. It may take a very long time to achieve, but it is a goal on which we should not compromise.

9.6 pm

Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

The policies advocated by the hon. Member for Upminster (Angela Watkinson) are precisely those that this country and all parties followed from 1971 until very recently. The result of those policies is that the number of hard drug users has moved from fewer than 1,000 in 1970, when there was virtually no drug crime and drug death was very rare, to the current position, where there are 280,000 hard drug users. Perversely, it is prohibition that has caused that increase in drug use.

I shall follow the example set by those on the two Front Benches and not speak from notes, but respond to the debate. It has been suggested, I know in good faith, that education is one of the ways in which we should invest very large sums on tackling drugs. The DART—drug abuse resistance taskforce—and DARE schemes have now been running in America for almost 30 years. A recent independent assessment suggested that they were ineffective. The people running the schemes said that they used to be ineffective, but that they now had a new approach. They made the same excuse eight years ago and also 15 years ago, but unfortunately the only genuinely independent and scientific examination that has been conducted of the effect on a control group of a drug education group has shown that there is no effect whatever.

The hon. Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr. Simmonds) proposed the new wheeze of sending ex-drug users to teach in schools. A celebrated study was conducted in America in about 1955, when drug use was endemic in cities but rare in the countryside, whereby ex-drug users were sent into the country areas. Ex-hippies in their late 20s or 30s, with long hair, handsome attractive figures and guitars, were talking to 15-year-olds and saying "We've been through all this; we've been through all the drugs and had it all, degradation and sexual orgies, and it was dreadful. You must not take drugs because your parents do not want you to have them and they are wicked and dangerous." Wickedness is just what 15-year-olds are after. Danger is what they long for, because they all know that they are immortal and will live for ever. Not unsurprisingly, drug use followed those anti-drug campaigns as surely as night followed day.

Mr. Simmonds

The hon. Gentleman has long been a known expert on this subject, which is why I am slightly surprised that he is drawing a parallel between what happened during the pre-hippy movement in the 1950s in the United States and the serious situation of many heroin addicts in semi-rural and town areas, about which we heard from the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann). Indeed, the problem is rife in my rural constituency.

Paul Flynn

In trying to follow the spirit of this debate and the way in which it was opened, I want to say that none of us has fallen back into the armchair of our own certainties or believes that we have the answer. What we want is some humility, and an admission that decisions taken by serious and conscientious people in this House have resulted in an enormous increase in drug use. We have the worst instance of drug use in Europe. We have the most deaths per head of the population and the worst problems.

I have been attending these debates for 15 years. The Government announce new plans, wheezes, money and programmes; the Opposition congratulate them and everyone makes speeches similar to that of the hon. Member for Upminster. They make hon. Members look tough and guarantee favourable headlines in the tabloids. However, that has not worked; indeed, nothing has worked.

We are often in the distressing position of receiving calls about this matter from constituents, usually mothers. A mother will tell us that her daughter, who has been prostituting herself for years, has had a baby, and asks when she will receive treatment. Sometimes a mother will ring up about a suicidal son, who has had a distressing experience and perhaps reached the point where he might change. She asks whether treatment is available. Those are real cases in which I have been unable to help.

Sometimes a mother says that she is buying heroin for her son because she has a clean source and asks what she should do. What can we say? We make the law. Can we tell people to break the laws that we make? I would break the law if I had a son, grandson or granddaughter in the position that I described. If we do not respect the laws, how dare we continue to impose them on the nation?

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary mentioned Afghanistan. We must examine our past failures and not simply say that we shall have great success in Afghanistan. When we went into that country, the Taliban had reduced the cultivation of poppies in their area by 90 per cent.; the Northern Alliance have increased theirs by 300 per cent. There is no reduction in the growth of poppies. We risk committing the same mistake as the United States did in Colombia two decades ago. The United States decided to sort out the problem in Colombia and coca growth in Bolivia. People used coca as an appetite suppressant because they were starving, and as an antidote to altitude sickness. Only western man—I am sure that it was a man—discovered that when the beans were ingested without touching the saliva in the mouth, coca was a powerful drug.

If we take the same line in Afghanistan and follow President Bush, we will not stop the flow of drugs because they are being sucked in by demand in Europe and other countries. If cultivation ended in Afghanistan, it would improve in Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Burma, the current source of many drugs. If we took the war against drugs to those areas, we would end up with the Colombianisation of central Asia. In Colombia, a war is being waged between three armies, two of which are financed by the drugs trade.

The right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) took a pragmatic approach and did not go in for the cheap party political knockabout that would give him a headline in tomorrow'sDaily Mail. He has seriously considered two interesting countries, Sweden and the Netherlands. Sweden has achieved the most remarkable reduction in the use of a drug anywhere in the world. It has reduced by more than 50 per cent. the use of the most deadly and addictive drug, which, according to its maker's instructions, kills half its users. Sweden has achieved that by accident rather than deliberate policy. It is almost embarrassed about it. I refer to the use of smokeless tobacco.

In 1980, 36 per cent. of Swedish males smoked cigarettes. That figure is now 17 per cent. The hon. Member for Upminster said that she was against drugs, no matter how they were taken or whatever their strength. Tobacco continues to be used in Sweden but by a method that avoids smoking. Nicotine is no more poisonous or harmful than caffeine, but when it is set on fire, the smoke contains carcinogens and other damaging chemicals. Drawing them into the lungs causes problems such as cancer and respiratory diseases. On average, Sweden's male population suffers half the deaths of the rest of Europe through smoking. The Swedish female population, which does not use the form of moist snuff, has exactly the average number of deaths.

I am critical of Sweden in one respect. It is the only country in the world that has adopted a line we have never adopted—that of total non-drug use. As a result, it starts from a very low base. According to an analysis of changes that have taken place in Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom between 1987 and 1999, Sweden and the United Kingdom experienced the greatest increase in drug-related deaths—50 per cent. higher than in Switzerland and the Netherlands. The story is not all good: Sweden has its problems with illegal drugs.

Again, there is no simple solution. The right hon. Member for West Dorset mentioned the Dutch experiment. Significantly, he accepted at least one thing. The average age of addicts in the Netherlands is rising: it was 28 in the early 1980s, and is now over 40. It may shock Members to learn that there is a home for geriatric heroin users in Rotterdam. They spend their lives there, and their grandchildren turn up to visit them. Perhaps it is shocking that they are still alive at that age.

We should not dismiss those who are addicted to any drug, whether it is alcohol, tobacco—many people are addicted to tobacco, and will be for life—or an illegal drug. The best we can do is what has been done in the Netherlands, in Australia to a small extent, and in Germany, where such people are treated as patients rather than criminals. One celebrated centre in Rotterdam treats some 250 addicts who are supplied with clean needles and take their drugs under supervision, in hygienic surroundings. I visited the centre. It was upsetting and shocking to watch people abuse their bodies in that way, but I was struck by the contrast between what happened there and what happens in our constituencies. After people have taken their drugs they have someone to talk to; there is a social club and training in information technology, and they even produce their own newspaper. In our country we see people taking drugs in foul back alleys, using dirty needles in unhygienic conditions and being helpless afterwards: someone is likely to kick the living daylights out of them.

We can treat this issue with the seriousness that it deserves and with the humility that we should bring to it because of our past failures. It is not the best idea to go to the practitioners in the drug industry who, like us politicians, have been associated with failure for 30 years. It is time for fresh thinking. It is time to do what the present Government and the Opposition are doing—to look at what has happened elsewhere, and pursue policies that have worked to reduce drug use and the number of drug deaths.

9.18 pm
Mr. George Osborne (Tatton)

I have enjoyed listening to the debate. I was particularly struck by the speech of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann). Like many others, I knew of the inquiry he had conducted in his constituency. He demonstrated the importance of a practical knowledge of the issues, and how that could inform a speech in the House. I also thought it courageous of him to attack the professionals and their advice rather than attacking Ministers and other politicians—we are not supposed to do that in politics. That was brave, and not just in a "Yes Minister" way.

I know that others want to speak, but let me say a brief word about Styal women's prison in my constituency. I want to refer to it partly because, apart from Holloway, it is the largest women's prison in the country—it is known as the Holloway of the north; I am not sure whether that is something of which it can be proud—and partly because I visited it just before Christmas, at about the time when a report on a full inspection of it was published by the chief inspector of prisons. I have to say that it was one of the most depressing and enlightening experiences that I have had as a Member of Parliament.

Styal women's prison has about 450 female prisoners. It has doubled in size in the last couple of years from a reasonably small local training prison to one of the major women's prisons in the country. There is a whole debate to be had, incidentally, about why the female prison population has risen so dramatically. When I spoke to the governor at Styal, what struck me was the endemic heroin abuse that takes place both in the prison and among those who come into it. The chief inspector of prisons estimated in her report that some 41 per cent. of prisoners in Styal were heroin addicts. The chief executive of the Prison Service thinks that that is a gross underestimate by the chief inspector, and the governor told me that probably more like 70 to 80 per cent. of her inmates at least came in as heroin users.

The sad thing about Styal is the total devastation of the lives of the people there. The governor has spent all her professional career in the Prison Service working in male prisons. Interestingly, she said that there were problems with law and order and with control and security in male prisons, but that in female prisons she had found that the individual prisoners were much less predictable and that they often came from much more difficult family circumstances. I was shocked to meet people who had been born in the mother and baby unit of the prison and were now back as inmates. I was physically shocked to meet people whose faces were almost skeletal through heroin use. I was also shocked to meet a lady who was about to be released the next day but did not want to be, because she knew that the following night she would be back on the streets of Manchester working as a prostitute, and that her food would be cold baked beans out of a tin in a bedsit somewhere. Indeed, she was asking the governor what she could do to stay in prison, saying, "What would happen if I attacked one of the warders?" The governor tried to discourage her from doing that.

Mr. Simmonds

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is not unusual for heroin addicts to ask for longer sentences to be passed, so that they can spend longer in prison, for the very reasons that the case in the prison in his constituency highlights?

Mr. Osborne

I am certainly aware of that now, after my visit to Styal. I have not had direct experience of heroin use, although I have had experience of other drug misuse in my family, and my visit to Styal was very striking.

My point is that I would have thought that prisons would be the place to start if we are going to have a national drugs strategy. I am not making a party political point, because I do not think that previous Conservative Governments have helped these people any more than the current Government are doing. I would have thought that we would have started with these people. They are some of the most desperate heroin users, who happen to be in the total care of the state for a period of time because they are in prison, but Styal has no drug detoxification programme—a point that I made in an intervention on the Minister. When the chief inspector came to the prison, she found that to be one of the most serious problems that the prison is facing.

The governor, Madeline Moulden, is doing a brilliant job, and the chief inspector praised the relationship between the governor and the staff, and between the staff and the prisoners. It is clear from going round the prison with the governor that she knows the names and histories of all the prisoners, but she is really fighting against the tide because she does not have the resources to provide a proper drug rehabilitation programme, despite that being the No. 1 problem in the prison. I want briefly to quote the chief inspector, who said that at the time of the inspection, Styal had no proper detoxification unit, and the Governor's bids for funding such a unit had been rejected. We describe"— in the report— women, in their early days there, fitting and vomiting in their cells, with staff unable to do more than observe and try to alleviate their distress. This is unacceptable. The lack of proper detoxification had profound and damaging effects, both in the short and medium term. Women were unsafe, in terms of their physical and mental health and the risk of self-harm and bullying. Their chances of effective education and training during their stay in prison were undermined, as initial assessments were carried out when they were virtually incapable of participating. It is clear that the absence of properly resourced and supervised detoxification was preventing Styal from effectively carrying out many of the tasks that it wants to, and needs to. I accept the Minister's comment that it is not necessarily a ministerial decision as to what resources are put into the prison, but Ministers set an overall framework. If it was expected within that overall framework that all prisons of a certain size should have a proper drug detoxification unit, that would of course have an impact on Styal. The director general of the Prison Service, Martin Narey, said in December when the inspector's report was published that it was fair and that he shared the inspectorate's anxiety about the need for proper detoxification facilities. I am determined to do all I can to find the resources, but they are not currently available. It costs about £25,000 to keep a prisoner in Styal every year. Surely, as a society and across all political parties and divides, we must start considering how we are spending the money on tackling drugs misuse in this country. If some of that £25,000 were spent on proper drug rehabilitation, a real strategy to help those women in Styal to kick the heroin habit and, in particular, helping them after their release—not just weeks, but hours after they leave prison, which is another matter to which the inspector referred—we would go a lot further in dealing with at least some effects of heroin abuse.

I listened with interest to what others said about preventing people from using in the first place, but my speech is about dealing with those in our care in our Prison Service, particularly in women's prisons, where we can deal with such problems. We have good ideas for how to get them off their drug habit and we should implement them.

9.26 pm
Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East)

This has been a good debate and I have enjoyed listening to it. It is interesting to consider how the spectrum of the drugs debate has moved. Due to my professional background, I have been interested in drugs, both illicit and licit, all my life. When I was elected to the House in 1997, there was a hard attitude to the misuse of illicit drugs by young and old alike on the streets. So hard was it that the focus seemed to lie strongly on the criminal justice aspects—lock them up and hope that the drugs problem goes away, but clearly it was not about to go away.

I praise the Government for the attention that they have given to the problem and the money that they have put into all the wide-ranging services that we need to deal with it. I have observed the debate since 1997 and it has slid towards the treatment end of the spectrum, which I very much welcome. We have not heard the statement much this evening, but £1 spent on treatment saves about £3 on the criminal justice system, so that must be money well spent. I have been a great advocate of treatment and I have argued for more of it since being elected to the House, so I was pleased when the national treatment agency was set up over 18 months ago and I am looking forward to it beginning to deliver in the next few years. Its establishment is a welcome development.

The right hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) made some interesting remarks and touched on a theme that has not been developed in the debate. He hinted as to the fact that there is a connection between the misuse of drugs and mental illness, but nobody else picked that point up. Sadly, I have to tell the Minister that it is not picked up strongly by the recently published updated drug strategy either.

The all-party drugs misuse group studied what is called dual diagnosis a few years ago, however, and that is what the right hon. Gentleman was referring to. About 40 to 50 per cent. of the people who are misusing drugs are also mentally ill, and the drug addiction cannot be treated without the mental illness being treated. One thing that we need is more and better-trained people who can recognise a dual or even a poly diagnosis when they see one and treat holistically people who are also misusing drugs, but have other serious problems. Some have benefits problems, some have housing problems and so on.

The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the differences between how the problem is being tackled in this country, the Netherlands and Sweden. We must also remind ourselves that in different countries there are different cultures. Culture and fashion, particularly the youth and dance culture—the mood in the dance clubs and the shifting from one fashionable drug to another—are incredibly important and differ from country to country.

One of my main concerns is the misuse of drugs in prisons—I am very concerned about what is going on in the Prison Service. More and more people are going to prison simply because they committed crimes to support a habit. I want to put on record a letter that I received on 6 September from one of my constituents, a father, who said: The reason I am writing this letter today is because my youngest son…who is 27 years of age has just overdosed on heroin. We buried him yesterday on 5th September. My constituent wrote to me the next day, 6 September. He continued: He died on 29th August, he came out of prison 6 weeks ago. He was given no program to help him, he was not given any money to help him by social security. Social security continually refused to pay even for the clothing grant of which he was in great need. Nothing was done to help him. My constituent continued: Nothing seems to be done when our children are released from prison. We need something in the north-east where our kids can get real help, and not just get fobbed off all the time. He went on to talk about his second son aged 31, a heroin addict for 15 years. He was bringing him down here until recently to be treated in a private clinic with naltrexone implants, which, the father believed, were helping him. One night, however, the son got stoned out of his mind on heroin and left the house in his mother's cardigan, so was obviously easily recognisable. He committed a crime and ended up in prison, where he tried to commit suicide.

That father almost lost two sons, not one, at the ages of 27 and 31, and wants me to bring to the attention of the House serious deficiencies in the criminal justice system, particularly in prisons, which has already been referred to by my hon. Friend the Minister. If there is one point that I want to get over this evening it is that we must improve treatment availability in all our prisons, or at least put prisoners with serious drug problems in the right prison, where they will be looked after and treated. Hopefully, when they are released, they will have not just the through-care to which my hon. Friend the Minister referred but, more importantly, after-care. If they have not been taking drugs while in prison, their tolerance level changes.

If they come out of prison and take the same amount of heroin as they took before, they will overdose and probably die. A lot of young people do not understand the heroin tolerance problem.

I saw "Newsnight" on 2 December in which Mr. Hamer from Compass, an organisation which carries out CARAT—counselling, assessment, referral, advice and through-care—assessments in the Prison Service, admitted that an awful lot of assessments are carried out in prison, but are not matched by treatment programmes. Mike Trace, the deputy drugs tsar under Keith Hellawell, was also on "Newsnight" and was critical of the lack of monitoring of the spending of the £50 million allocated to the Prison Service for drug treatment. I raised in Health questions the problem of money not going where it is needed and, to be fair, the Department of Health believes that what was said on "Newsnight" was unfounded. Obviously, there is a dispute.

I know that other Members wish to contribute to our debate so I shall conclude. When we allocated money for cancer networks, people in the national health service complained that the money was not getting to cancer patients, so the Government have now agreed to audit it extremely carefully, as cancer treatment is one of our top priorities. My final plea to the Minister is, therefore, please can we set up audit trails? We have invested enormous sums in drug treatment and education, but we must ensure, for the benefit especially of younger people but also of older addicts, that the money hits the right targets and is used for what it was intended to be used for.

9.35 pm
Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon)

I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon), who has extensive knowledge of the subject. I, too, want to make the point that access to treatment is a key weapon in the war against drugs.

Everyone who has contributed to this debate agrees on one thing: drugs are an enormous menace facing our society and the epidemic sweeping through many parts of the country is extremely serious, and the Government's current response, though well intentioned, has not yet delivered the success that we seek. I urge the Government to think again about the bold idea presented by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) today. They should not dismiss it because it has come from our party, as the current set of policies being pursued by the Government is not producing the fruit that we would want. I really believe that it would be right to set up a pilot to test my party's bold and radical proposal.

I am concerned about some of the statistics on which the Government are basing some of their decisions. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann)—I enjoyed his speech—was right to draw our attention to some of the statistics. The updated drugs strategy paper is a good and worthy document, and I agree with much of it, but on page 11 it makes the unlikely claim that DAT returns suggest that the waiting time for treatment is 2.8 weeks for priority cases and 8.3 weeks for non-priority cases. On which part of the country are those statistics based?

The police and the drug action team in Plymouth tell me that if a heroin addict wakes up one day determined to kick the habit and goes to the Harbourside centre—an excellent charity in Plymouth that helps many people—for help, the response will be, "That is great, and we will do all that we can to help you, but there is a two-year waiting list for the treatment that you need." That is two years, not 8.3 or 2.8 weeks. I worry that Ministers are making decisions based on false information, and I urge them to check the waiting times for treatment of all kinds in all parts of the country. It is no use whatever telling a heroin addict who decides to kick the habit to come back in six months or two years. Think of all the misery and crime that will occur in that time.

I want to ask the Minister a specific question about Plymouth. Heroin has long been a nightmare for many parts of Plymouth—I have known that for many years—but the police tell me that crack cocaine is now taking hold of the streets in some of our deprived areas. They tell me that we ain't seen nothing yet, and that worries me. They do not think that the DTTO scheme is working very well, and they have started what they call the targeted referral scheme, saying to heroin addicts or crack cocaine users upstream, before they are arrested or prosecuted for an offence, "Look, we know you are stealing or shoplifting to fund your drugs habit—we are watching you, and we will get you—but at this early stage we can offer you treatment." That is not to say that they will not prosecute them, but they give them a chance to make an upstream decision to change their lives at a better time than when they are already in the dock, at which stage we can only offer them the option of facing cold turkey or going on a DTTO.

The Plymouth police have pursued the pilot scheme, which showed early promise, but there is no funding to develop it. Judge William Taylor went to Downing street on 12 November 2002—I hope that the Minister was aware of that—and asked for a specific sum to pursue that pilot scheme in Plymouth. He is a very experienced judge—the senior judge in Plymouth—and he believes that that could make a real difference in tackling the drug problem that our city faces.

The Government have not responded to that request for extra money, and if the Minister does nothing else in her winding-up speech, can she please explain what has happened to that request, and say whether the Government are willing to make that money available to help us tackle the problem of drugs in Plymouth?

9.40 pm
Mr. Nick Hawkins (Surrey Heath)

My right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) opened the debate with a plea to the Government to look at this matter constructively, and this has indeed been an extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking debate. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) described it as a seminar, and I agree that, to some extent, we have looked at this issue in that spirit. Other Members spoke in some detail from their personal experiences. In his opening remarks, my right hon. Friend spoke of his fear that, if they do not understand the appalling gap between their rhetoric and the reality, the Government's current actions may mean that literally millions of pounds of taxpayers' money will be wasted. One had only to hear of the practical experience on the ground of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) to realise the width of that gap, to which my right hon. Friend rightly drew attention. In addition to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, other Members, including my hon. Friends the Members for Upminster (Angela Watkinson) and for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter), discussed that reality.

Ms Dari Taylor

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hawkins

No, I am sorry. The hon. Lady was able to intervene earlier a couple of times, but time is so short that, if I am to do justice to the speeches in this debate, I cannot take her intervention.

My right hon. Friend asked what the Government's contact with drug treatment means in practice for addicts on the streets. Does it mean that addicts are receiving something? It often means, as the hon. Member for Bassetlaw pointed out, that they get letters offering them jam tomorrow—sometimes many months into the future. In most cases, whatever is offered by the different treatment agencies does not take them away from drugs.

My right hon. Friend talked about the success of Ministry of Defence police DARE projects, but even in those cases referral can often involve a wait of six months before an addict sees a drug counsellor. As he said, that does not help in the reconstruction of addicts' lives. Of course, if those addicts continue to commit crime to feed their drug habit, they cause misery for the many law-abiding people whose homes are subject to the burglaries that my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster talked about. The misery that they cause through the crimes that they commit to fund their drug addiction is at the heart of what we are trying to address in this debate.

As my right hon. Friend said, what we need is intense and sometimes repeated residential or quasi-residential rehabilitation. However, we frankly admit that even that will not achieve 100 per cent. success; in many cases, addicts will need to go through such intensive rehabilitation more than once. We should target taxpayers' money on the youngest addicts in order to prevent extra people from joining the list of addicts.

I, along with my right hon. Friends the Members for West Dorset and for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), have seen the success that has been achieved in Sweden. The hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) always makes the same point about Sweden, but if I may I shall lay one canard to rest. He says that one effect of what happens in Sweden is an increase in drug deaths, but we were told firmly by all the experts whom we met in Sweden that the simple explanation is that they measure their statistics much more fully.[Interruption.] I see that the hon. Member for Bassetlaw is nodding in agreement. In Sweden, the death of anyone who has the remotest link with a drug is counted as a drug death. That is why the Swedish figures are higher—they are not evidence of a failure of Swedish policy. As my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster confirmed, Sweden is one of the success stories. I know that the Minister wants to take this matter seriously, and we need to learn the lessons of the success of the Swedish experience.

In an intervention on my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset, my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) pointed out that many dedicated GPs are trying to help with this problem. I had a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Bassetlaw said when he argued for the greater involvement of health professionals in drug action teams. It would help if there were a greater understanding of the health effects of drugs use by those who make the policy. My drug action team in Surrey involves health professionals a great deal, and I think that that could be repeated elsewhere with advantage.

In a well-advised intervention on my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset, the hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) talked about the prevalence of drugs in prison. We must ensure that our prisons become drug free. As my right hon. Friend says, we should be able to ensure that at least those who are in custody are not receiving drugs. There has to be more coercion and much tighter supervision of prison visits.

It is essential that we stop spending British taxpayers' money on providing drugs to prisoners. The Minister may or may not realise it, but the Scottish Executive, to our amazement, have introduced a policy of spending taxpayers' money on providing drugs to inmates of Scottish prisons. I think that most people would be horrified to think that their taxes were being spent on providing drugs for prisoners, but it is happening in Scotland. If the Minister was not aware of that, I hope that he will look into it, because my colleagues in the Scottish Parliament have raised it.

In an intervention on my right hon. Friend, my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) talked about the difficulties of the drinking and drugs culture, which have been made worse by the Government's relaxation of policies against alcohol. He was quite right to raise that.

When the Minister responded to my right hon. Friend, he said that he had not previously taken his alternatives terribly seriously but that he would do so now. We welcome that approach. The hon. Gentleman said that he wanted the Government to spend a great deal more. However, he has a problem in that the Government's much trumpeted drugs tsar, Keith Hellawell, was unable to support what the Government were doing; he was unable to accept their abandonment of their own drugs target and said that there was a lot of spin to disguise failure. Given that the Government's drugs tsar, so lauded when he was first appointed, talked about a culture of failure and about setting, missing and abandoning targets, the Minister has a real problem, despite his sincerity.

As my right hon. Friend said to the Minister in an intervention, we need to pilot what we are suggesting. We are not suggesting that the Government should turn round the supertanker of Home Office policy instantly and abandon everything that it is doing. Instead, let us pilot what we are suggesting against the Government's proposals and see what works. We believe that what we have suggested, along the lines of what works in Sweden, would work here.

There is undoubtedly a concern about some of the drugs charities and the way in which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster said in an excellent speech, they appear to inform vulnerable schoolchildren about drugs rather than educating them away from drugs. I hope that the Minister will take the initiative of asking the Charity Commission to look carefully at whether some of those organisations are entitled to charitable status. The kind of leaflets that my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster talked about appear to promote drugs or concentrate on the policy of "harm minimisation", which is really code for legalisation. Perhaps they should not be charities; they certainly should not receive taxpayers' money.

In an intervention on the Minister and in his speech, my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Devon pointed out that the reality is that of 38 people who were arrested and received drug treatment and testing orders in Plymouth, 28 have been arrested and have committed further drug-related crimes while under the drug treatment and testing order. That is not an example of the Government's policy working but of the failure of Government policy that my right hon. Friend described.

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes) spoke, as he has done repeatedly, about the views of DrugScope—a rather discredited charitable organization—on cannabis. The Minister said that he always took notice of DrugScope. Perhaps, in the light of the leaflets described by my hon. Friend the Member for Upminster, he should not take so much notice of it.

The problem is undoubtedly extremely complex. The Minister was right to talk about tackling the routes of supply of drugs. However, we need intensive policing, a point on which the Government—at least in their intentions—and the Opposition agree.

The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) talked about a retreat from certainty. He will forgive me for saying that the Liberal Democrats are never certain about anything, particularly not on drugs. He also said, however, that the drugs trade is a major motor for gun crime, and I certainly agree with that.

This has been a high-quality debate and I hope that the Government will take seriously the ideas proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset and my colleagues.

9.50 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Hazel Blears)

This has been a fascinating debate. Many speeches from Members on both sides have been thoughtful and full of information. I was particularly impressed by the contributions that Members based on experiences of services in their constituencies, which showed the scale of the difficulty that faces our country in trying to deal with the problems caused by drug addiction.

At the start of the debate, the right lion. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) presented his case in quiet, measured tones, full of reason—

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett)

Not like this afternoon.

Ms Blears

Perhaps that was in marked contrast to what happened in the earlier debate.

It has been fascinating to hear ideas unfold. Sometimes the most sinister ideas can be presented in the most measured, reasonable tones. The Opposition concentrated—almost exclusively—on the power of abstinence. Although abstinence, like reduction, counselling and treatment, plays a huge role in combating the problems of addiction, addiction is not a simple matter capable of simple resolution. The Opposition motion offers us a simplistic solution to a complex problem that affects the lives of thousands of people up and down the country. Those who are addicted to drugs differ in their needs and problems and in how the system needs to deal with them. Treatment programmes will succeed in the long term only when they are tailored to the individual needs and problems of those involved.

For that reason, I am concerned by the surface simplicity and reasonableness with which the motion was presented. What lies beneath is an almost exclusive focus on abstinence that does not take into account the real need for maintenance, substitute prescribing and reduction programmes, and for ensuring that people can be treated in the community as well as in residential settings. A whole range of treatment must be brought to bear if we are to succeed in meeting the challenges that face us.

I must remind the House that it was not until the Government adopted their drugs strategy that we obtained the national treatment agency. For the first time, we are beginning to have national standards in drug treatment—the same kind of national standards that we have in our national service frameworks for mental health, coronary heart disease and cancer. For the first time, we have a proper pooled budget so that we may put resources at the front line where they will make a difference. That budget will increase massively over the years to come. This year, every health authority has had an increase of at least 30 per cent. For next year, the average will be 23 per cent., with the minimum being 15 per cent. The Government are putting in resources because we know that funding is necessary to make the system work.

We have the national treatment agency, national standards and a pooled budget; we had none of that under the previous Government.

Mr. Streeter

I had not realised that things were quite as rosy as the Minister says they are. Why is there a two-year waiting list to access drug treatment in Plymouth?

Ms Blears

We acknowledge that a great deal of work remains to be done because this field was completely underfunded for years. In the hon. Gentleman's area, the drug action team will receive an increase of 17 per cent. from the pooled budget, and that sort of increase requires resources.

We want to ensure that the right treatment is available in the right place at the right time. The problem is more complex than has been portrayed by many Opposition Members. Counselling is needed as well as the 12-step abstinence programmes provided by many community resources. We need maintenance and lifetime support programmes, as well as residential places. I do not dismiss the role of intensive residential support for people for whom it is suitable. There are 138 residential services that provide about 3,000 beds, but the treatment must be suitable and meet the needs of the individual involved.

The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) agreed with the Government that a variety of policies were needed to meet the problems. He emphasised the need for education and prevention work among young people to stop them becoming the next generation of addicts.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) made an excellent contribution. I pay tribute to his work in his constituency, in calling an inquiry and getting local people to give evidence. As he knows, his primary care trust is taking the matter very seriously indeed and has made it the top priority in the health improvement programme. The local strategic partnership and the local council are also taking the problem seriously and there are increased facilities in the area. My hon. Friend acknowledged that all kinds of treatment are needed—counselling, prescribing, abstinence and personal help. Help in finding employment and housing is crucial to enable young people to rebuild their lives.

I agreed with the first point in the speech made by the hon. Member for Upminster (Angela Watkinson): we need prevention and enforcement as well as treatment. However, I cannot agree that abstinence is the only way forward. For a rounded policy, we must have harm reduction programmes and maintenance prescribing. Does she think that we should not advise people on how to reduce drug-related deaths, that we should not offer counselling against overdose, or that we should not give people first-aid training so that they can help their friends and relatives to survive?

My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) was a little too pessimistic when he said that nothing that had been done in the past 30 years had worked. He was right to point out that we need drugs education. The blueprint programme has been well evaluated and will consider what kind of education works. My hon. Friend, with his innovative view, was almost at the opposite extreme from the hon. Member for Upminster.

The hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) made some important points about his local community. I think that the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, North-East (Mr. Ainsworth), has agreed to look into the provision of both a detoxification unit in the local prison and immediate treatment for people on release from prison.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon) has constantly pressed for more treatment and for new developments in the drugs field. I am grateful to him for raising the issue of dual diagnosis. Many people with drug problems also have mental health problems. For the first time, the Labour Government have made mental health a top clinical priority in our national health service.

My hon. Friend spoke of a tragic case in his constituency. He also made the important point that we should check exactly where the money goes. We could consider strengthening the role of the national treatment agency to tackle that problem.

The hon. Member for South-West Devon (Mr. Streeter) asked for more resources. Under the Labour Government, he is receiving them; that would not have been the case under the previous Conservative Government.

The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) said that we should learn lessons from elsewhere. Yes, we should, and the Government are beginning to learn those lessons. We are putting in the investment while making sure that the treatment on offer to people is appropriate and relevant.

In the last few minutes of the debate, I want to highlight a programme that deals with street crime in Lancashire. In Blackpool, the tower project does not merely provide immediate treatment for people who have been convicted of offences, but targets the most prolific offenders in the community and gives them a choice: they can take part in structured drug treatment, or continue to have police surveillance, with checks made on them and their lives made very difficult indeed. It has got 54 of its most prolific offenders into drug treatment in Blackpool, and the effect on the area's crime statistics is absolutely stunning. Burglary in dwellings is down by 46 per cent. and other burglaries are down by 24 per cent.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 143, Noes 375.

Division No. 47] [9.59 pm
Ainsworth, Peter(E Surrey) Duncan Smith, rh lain
Amess, David Evans, Nigel
Arbuthnot, rh James Fabricant, Michael
Atkinson, Peter(Hexham) Fallon, Michael
Bacon, Richard Field, Mark(Cities of London & Westminster)
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory Flight, Howard
Baron, John(Billericay) Flook, Adrian
Beggs, Roy(E Antrim) Forth, rh Eric
Bellingham, Henry Fox, Dr. Liam
Bercow, John Francois, Mark
Beresford, Sir Paul Gale, Roger(N Thanet)
Blunt, Crispin Garnier, Edward
Boswell, Tim Gibb, Nick(Bognor Regis)
Bottomley, Peter(Worthing W) Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Bottomley, rh Virginia(SW Surrey) Gray, James(N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Brady, Graham Green, Damian(Ashford)
Brazier, Julian Greenway, John
Browning, Mrs Angela Grieve, Dominic
Burns, Simon Gummer, rh John
Burnside, David Hague, rh William
Burt, Alistair Hammond, Philip
Cameron, David Hawkins, Nick
Cash, William Hayes, John(S Holland)
Chapman, Sir Sydney(Chipping Barnet) Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Chope, Christopher Hoban, Mark(Fareham)
Clarke, rh Kenneth(Rushcliffe) Hogg, rh Douglas
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Horam, John(Orpington)
Collins, Tim Howard, rh Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick Hunter, Andrew
Curry, rh David Jenkin, Bernard
Davies, Quentin(Grantham & Stamford) Johnson, Boris(Henley)
Key, Robert(Salisbury)
Davis, rh David(Haltemprice & Howden) Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg(E Yorkshire)
Donaldson, Jeffrey M. Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Dorrell, rh Stephen Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew Sayeed, Jonathan
Leigh, Edward Selous, Andrew
Letwin, rh Oliver Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Lewis, Dr. Julian(New Forest E) Simmonds, Mark
Liddell-Grainger, Ian Simpson, Keith(M-Norfolk)
Lidington, David Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Lilley, rh Peter Spicer, Sir Michael
Loughton, Tim Spink, Bob(Castle Point)
Luff, Peter(M-Worcs) Spring, Richard
McIntosh, Miss Anne Stanley, rh Sir John
Mackay, rh Andrew Steen, Anthony
Maclean, rh David Streeter, Gary
McLoughlin, Patrick Swayne, Desmond
Malins, Humfrey Swire, Hugo(E Devon)
Maples, John Syms, Robert
Mates, Michael Tapsell, Sir Peter
Maude, rh Francis Taylor, Ian(Esher)
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian Taylor, John(Solihull)
May, Mrs Theresa Taylor, Sir Teddy
Mitchell, Andrew(Sutton Coldfield) Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew(Isle of Wight)
Moss, Malcolm Tyrie, Andrew
Murrison, Dr. Andrew Viggers, Peter
Norman, Archie Walter, Robert
O'Brien, Stephen(Eddisbury) Waterson, Nigel
Osborne, George(Tatton) Whittingdale, John
Ottaway, Richard Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Page, Richard Wilkinson, John
Paterson, Owen Willetts, David
Portillo, rh Michael Wilshire, David
Prisk, Mark(Hertford) Winterton, Sir Nicholas(Macclesfield)
Redwood, rh John
Robathan, Andrew Yeo, Tim(S Suffolk)
Robertson, Laurence(Tewk'b'ry) Young, rh Sir George
Robinson, Peter(Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion Tellers for the Ayes:
Rosindell, Andrew Hugh Robertson and
Ruffley, David Angela Watkinson
Abbott, Ms Diane Brake, Tom(Carshalton)
Adams, Irene(Paisley N) Breed, Colin
Ainsworth, Bob(Cov'try NE) Brennan, Kevin
Allen, Graham Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Anderson, rh Donald(Swansea E) Brown, rh Nicholas(Newcastle E Wallsend)
Anderson, Janet(Rossendale & Darwen)
Brown, Russell(Dumfries)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary Bruce, Malcolm
Atherton, Ms Candy Bryant, Chris
Atkins, Charlotte Buck, Ms Karen
Austin, John Burgon, Colin
Bailey, Adrian Burnett, John
Baird, Vera Burnham, Andy
Banks, Tony Burstow, Paul
Barnes, Harry Caborn, rh Richard
Barrett, John Cairns, David
Barron, rh Kevin Calton, Mrs Patsy
Battle, John Campbell, Alan(Tynemouth)
Beard, Nigel Campbell, Mrs Anne(C'bridge)
Beckett, rh Margaret Campbell, Ronnie(Blyth V)
Begg, Miss Anne Caplin, Ivor
Beith, rh A. J. Carmichael, Alistair
Bell, Stuart Casale, Roger
Benn, Hilary Cawsey, Ian(Brigg)
Bennett, Andrew Challen, Colin
Benton, Joe(Bootle) Chapman, Ben(Wirral S)
Betts, Clive Chaytor, David
Blackman, Liz Chidgey, David
Blears, Ms Hazel Clapham, Michael
Blizzard, Bob Clark, Mrs Helen(Peterborough)
Blunkett, rh David Clark, Paul(Gillingham)
Boateng, rh Paul Clarke, rh Tom(Coatbridge & Chryston)
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith(Withington) Clelland, David
Bradley, Peter(The Wrekin) Clwyd, Ann(Cynon V)
Bradshaw, Ben Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann Henderson, Doug(Newcastle N)
Cohen, Harry Henderson, Ivan(Harwich)
Coleman, lain Hendrick, Mark
Colman, Tony Hepburn, Stephen
Connarty, Michael Hermon, Lady
Cook, rh Robin(Livingston) Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Corbyn, Jeremy Heyes, David
Corston, Jean Hill, Keith(Streatham)
Cotter, Brian Hinchliffe, David
Cousins, Jim Hodge, Margaret
Cox, Tom(Tooting) Hoey, Kate(Vauxhall)
Cruddas, Jon Holmes, Paul
Cryer, John(Hornchurch) Hood, Jimmy(Clydesdale)
Cummings, John Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack(Copeland) Hope, Phil(Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Cunningham, Jim(Coventry S) Howarth, rh Alan(Newport E)
Cunningham, Tony(Workington) Howarth, George(Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, rh Alistair Howells, Dr. Kim
Davey, Edward(Kingston) Hughes, Beverley(Stretford & Urmston)
Davey, Valerie(Bristol W)
David, Wayne Hughes, Kevin(Doncaster N)
Davies, rh Denzil(Llanelli) Hughes, Simon(Southwark N)
Davies, Geraint(Croydon C) Humble, Mrs Joan
Davis, rh Terry(B'ham Hodge H) Hutton, rh John
Dawson, Hilton Iddon, Dr. Brian
Dean, Mrs Janet Illsley, Eric
Denham, rh John Irranca-Davies, Huw
Dhanda, Parmjit Jackson, Glenda(Hampstead & Highgate)
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim(Heywood) Jackson, Helen(Hillsborough)
Dobson, rh Frank Jamieson, David
Donohoe, Brian H. Jenkins, Brian
Doran, Frank Johnson, Alan(Hull W)
Dowd, Jim(Lewisham W) Jones, Helen(Warrington N)
Drew, David(Stroud) Jones, Kevan(N Durham)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Jones, Lynne(Selly Oak)
Eagle, Angela(Wallasey) Jowell, rh Tessa
Eagle, Maria(L'pool Garston) Joyce, Eric(Falkirk W)
Edwards, Huw Keeble, Ms Sally
Ellman, Mrs Louise Keen, Alan(Feltham)
Etherington, Bill Keen, Ann(Brentford)
Farrelly, Paul Keetch, Paul
Field, rh Frank(Birkenhead) Kemp, Fraser
Fisher, Mark Khabra, Piara S.
Fitzpatrick, Jim Kidney, David
Flint, Caroline Kilfoyle, Peter
Flynn, Paul(Newport W) King, Andy(Rugby)
Follett, Barbara King, Ms Oona(Bethnal Green & Bow)
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Don(Bath) Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Foster, Michael(Worcester) Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Francis, Dr. Hywel Lamb, Norman
Gapes, Mike(llfordS) Lammy, David
Gardiner, Barry Laws, David(Yeovil)
George, Andrew(St. Ives) Laxton, Bob(Derby N)
Gerrard, Neil Lazarowicz, Mark
Gibson, Dr. Ian Lepper, David
Gidley, Sandra Leslie, Christopher
Gilroy, Linda Lewis, Ivan(Bury S)
Godsiff, Roger Lewis, Terry(Worsley)
Goggins, Paul Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Griffiths, Jane(Reading E) Linton, Martin
Griffiths, Nigel(Edinburgh S) Lloyd, Tony(Manchester C)
Griffiths, Win(Bridgend) Llwyd, Elfyn
Grogan, John Love, Andrew
Hall, Mike(Weaver Vale) Lucas, Ian(Wrexham)
Hall, Patrick(Bedford) Lyons, John(Strathkelvin)
Hamilton, David(Midlothian) McAvoy, Thomas
Hanson, David McCabe, Stephen
Harvey, Nick McCafferty, Chris
Havard, Dai(Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney) McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
Healey, John MacDonald, Calum
Heath, David McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John Ruane, Chris
McFall, John Ruddock, Joan
McGuire, Mrs Anne Russell, Bob(Colchester)
Mclsaac, Shona Russell, Ms Christine(City of Chester)
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew Ryan, Joan(Enfield N)
McNamara, Kevin Salter, Martin
Mactaggart, Fiona Sanders, Adrian
McWalter, Tony Sarwar, Mohammad
McWilliam, John Savidge, Malcolm
Mahmood, Khalid Sawford, Phil
Mallaber, Judy Sedgemore, Brian
Mann, John(Bassetlaw) Shaw, Jonathan
Marris, Rob(Wolverh'ton SW) Sheerman, Barry
Marsden, Gordon(Blackpool S) Sheridan, Jim
Marshall, David(Glasgow Shettleston) Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, rh Clare
Marshall, Jim(Leicester S) Simon, Siôn(B'ham Erdington)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert Simpson, Alan(Nottingham S)
Martlew, Eric Singh, Marsha
Meacher, rh Michael Skinner, Dennis
Meale, Alan(Mansfield) Smith, rh Andrew(Oxford E)
Merron, Gillian Smith, rh Chris(Islington S & Finsbury)
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David Smith, Geraldine(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin(Gt Grimsby) Smith, Jacqui(Redditch)
Moffatt, Laura Smith, John(Glamorgan)
Mole, Chris Smith, Llew(Blaenau Gwent)
Moonie, Dr. Lewis Soley, Clive
Moran, Margaret Southworth, Helen
Mountford, Kali Spellar, rh John
Mudie, George Squire, Rachel
Mullin, Chris Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Munn, Ms Meg Steinberg, Gerry
Murphy, Denis(Wansbeck) Stevenson, George
Murphy, Jim(Eastwood) Stewart, David(Inverness E & Lochaber)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan(Wansdyke) Stewart, Ian(Eccles)
Oaten, Mark(Winchester) Stinchcombe, Paul
O'Brien, Bill(Normanton) Stoate, Dr. Howard
O'Brien, Mike(N Warks) Stringer, Graham
O'Hara, Edward Stunell, Andrew
Olner, Bill Sutcliffe, Gerry
Öpik, Lembit Tami, Mark(Alyn)
Organ, Diana Taylor, Dari(Stockton S)
Osborne, Sandra(Ayr) Taylor, David(NW Leics)
Owen, Albert Taylor, Matthew(Truro)
Palmer, Dr. Nick Thomas, Gareth(Harrow W)
Pearson, Ian Thomas, Simon(Ceredigion)
Picking, Anne Thurso, John
Pickthall, Colin Timms, Stephen
Pike, Peter(Burnley) Tipping, Paddy
Plaskitt, James Todd, Mark(S Derbyshire)
Pollard, Kerry Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Pond, Chris(Gravesham) Touhig, Don(Islwyn)
Pope, Greg(Hyndburn) Trickett, Jon
Prentice, Ms Bridget(Lewisham E) Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis(Wolverh'ton SE)
Prentice, Gordon(Pendle) Turner, Dr. Desmond(Brighton Kemptown)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn Turner, Neil(Wigan)
Purchase, Ken Twigg, Derek(Halton)
Purnell, James Twigg, Stephen(Enfield)
Quin, rh Joyce Tyler, Paul(N Cornwall)
Quinn, Lawrie Tynan, Bill(Hamilton S)
Raynsford, rh Nick Vaz, Keith(Leicester E)
Reed, Andy(Loughborough) Vis, Dr. Rudi
Rendel, David Walley, Ms Joan
Robertson, John(Glasgow Anniesland) Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Robinson, Geoffrey(Coventry NW) Watts, David
Webb, Steve(Northavon)
Roche, Mrs Barbara Weir, Michael
Rooney, Terry White, Brian
Ross, Ernie(Dundee W) Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm Woolas, Phil
Williams, rh Alan(Swansea W) Worthington, Tony
Williams, Hywel(Caernarfon) Wright, Anthony D.(Gt Yarmouth)
Williams, Roger(Brecon)
Willis Phil Wright, David(Telford)
Wills, Michael Wright, Tony(Cannock)
Winnick, David Wyatt, Derek
Winterton, Ms Rosie(Doncaster C) Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:
Wood, Mike(Batley) Mr. Nick Ainger and
Woodward, Shaun Mr. John Heppell

Question accordingly negatived.

Question put, That the proposed words be there added,put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 368, Noes 142.

Division No. 48] [10.13 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Campbell, Ronnie(Blyth V)
Adams, Irene(Paisley N) Caplin, Ivor
Ainsworth, Bob(Cov'try NE) Carmichael, Alistair
Allen, Graham Casale, Roger
Anderson, rh Donald(Swansea E) Cawsey, Ian(Brigg)
Anderson, Janet(Rossendale & Darwen) Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben(Wirral S)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary Chaytor, David
Atherton, Ms Candy Chidgey, David
Atkins, Charlotte Clapham, Michael
Austin, John Clark, Mrs Helen(Peterborough)
Bailey, Adrian Clark, Paul(Gillingham)
Baird, Vera Clarke, rh Tom(Coatbridge & Chryston)
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry Clelland, David
Barrett, John Clwyd, Ann(Cynon V)
Barron, rh Kevin Coaker, Vernon
Battle, John Coffey, Ms Ann
Beard, Nigel Cohen, Harry
Beckett, rh Margaret Coleman, lain
Begg, Miss Anne Colman, Tony
Beith, rh A. J. Connarty, Michael
Bell, Stuart Cook, rh Robin(Livingston)
Benn, Hilary Corbyn, Jeremy
Bennett, Andrew Corston, Jean
Benton, Joe(Bootle) Cotter, Brian
Betts, Clive Cousins, Jim
Blackman, Liz Cox, Tom(Tooting)
Blears, Ms Hazel Cruddas, Jon
Blizzard, Bob Cryer, John(Hornchurch)
Boateng, rh Paul Cummings, John
Borrow, David Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack(Copeland)
Bradley, rh Keith(Withington)
Bradley, Peter(The Wrekin) Cunningham, Jim(Coventry S)
Bradshaw, Ben Cunningham, Tony(Workington)
Brake, Tom(Carshalton) Dalyell, Tam
Breed, Colin Darling, rh Alistair
Brennan, Kevin Davey, Edward(Kingston)
Brooke, Mrs Annette L. Davey, Valerie(Bristol W)
Brown, rh Nicholas(Newcastle E Wallsend) David, Wayne
Davies, rh Denzil(Llanelli)
Brown, Russell(Dumfries) Davies, Geraint(Croydon C)
Bruce, Malcolm Davis, rh Terry(B'ham Hodge H)
Bryant, Chris Dawson, Hilton
Buck, Ms Karen Dean, Mrs Janet
Burgon, Colin Denham, rh John
Burnett, John Dhanda, Parmjit
Burnham, Andy Dismore, Andrew
Burstow, Paul Dobbin, Jim(Heywood)
Caborn, rh Richard Dobson, rh Frank
Cairns, David Donohoe, Brian H,
Calton, Mrs Patsy Doran, Frank
Campbell, Alan(Tynemouth) Doughty, Sue
Campbell, Mrs Anne(C'bridge) Dowd, Jim(Lewisham W)
Drew, David(Stroud) Jowell, rh Tessa
Eagle, Angela(Wallasey) Joyce, Eric(Falkirk W)
Eagle, Maria(L'pool Garston) Keeble, Ms Sally
Edwards, Huw Keen, Alan(Feltham)
Ellman, Mrs Louise Keen, Ann(Brentford)
Etherington, Bill Keetch, Paul
Farrelly, Paul Kemp, Fraser
Field, rh Frank(Birkenhead) Khabra, Piara S.
Fisher, Mark Kidney, David
Fitzpatrick, Jim Kilfoyle, Peter
Flint, Caroline King, Andy(Rugby)
Flynn, Paul(Newport W) King, Ms Oona(Bethnal Green & Bow)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Foster, Don(Bath) Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Foster, Michael(Worcester) Lamb, Norman
Francis, Dr. Hywel Lammy, David
Gapes, Mike(llford S) Laws, David(Yeovil)
Gardiner, Barry Laxton, Bob(Derby N)
George, Andrew(St. Ives) Lazarowicz, Mark
Gerrard, Neil Lepper, David
Gibson, Dr. Ian Leslie, Christopher
Gidley, Sandra Lewis, Ivan(Bury S)
Gilroy, Linda Lewis, Terry(Worsley)
Godsiff, Roger Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Goggins, Paul Linton, Martin
Griffiths, Jane(Reading E) Lloyd, Tony(Manchester C)
Griffiths, Nigel(Edinburgh S) Love, Andrew
Griffiths, Win(Bridgend) Lucas, Ian(Wrexham)
Grogan, John Lyons, John(Strathkelvin)
Hall, Mike(Weaver Vale) McAvoy, Thomas
Hall, Patrick(Bedford) McCabe, Stephen
Hamilton, David(Midlothian) McCafferty, Chris
Hanson, David McCartney, rh Ian
Harvey, Nick McDonagh, Siobhain
Havard, Dai(Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney) MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
Healey, John MacDougall, John
Heath, David McFall, John
Henderson, Doug(Newcastle N) McGuire, Mrs Anne
Henderson, Ivan(Harwich) Mclsaac, Shona
Hendrick, Mark McKechin, Ann
Hepburn, Stephen Mackinlay, Andrew
Hermon, Lady McNamara, Kevin
Heyes, David MacShane, Denis
Hill, Keith(Streatham) McWalter, Tony
Hinchliffe, David McWilliam, John
Hodge, Margaret Mahmood, Khalid
Hoey, Kate(Vauxhall) Mallaber, Judy
Holmes, Paul Mann, John(Bassetlaw)
Hood, Jimmy(Clydesdale) Marris, Rob(Wolverh'ton SW)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey Marsden, Gordon(Blackpool S)
Hope, Phil(Corby) Marshall, David(Glasgow Shettleston)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan(Newport E) Marshall, Jim(Leicester S)
Howarth, George(Knowsley N & Sefton E) Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Howells, Dr. Kim Meacher, rh Michael
Hughes, Beverley(Stretford & Urmston) Meale, Alan(Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Hughes, Kevin(Doncaster N) Michael, rh Alun
Hughes, Simon(Southwark N) Miliband, David
Humble, Mrs Joan Miller, Andrew
Hutton, rh John Mitchell, Austin(Gt Grimsby)
Iddon, Dr. Brian Moffatt, Laura
Illsley, Eric Mole, Chris
Irranca-Davies, Huw Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Jackson, Glenda(Hampstead & Highgate) Moran, Margaret
Mountford, Kali
Jackson, Helen(Hillsborough) Mudie, George
Jamieson, David Mullin, Chris
Jenkins, Brian Munn, Ms Meg
Johnson, Alan(Hull W) Murphy, Denis(Wansbeck)
Jones, Helen(Warrington N) Murphy, Jim(Eastwood)
Jones, Kevan(N Durham) Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Jones, Lynne(Selly Oak) Norris, Dan(Wansdyke)
Oaten, Mark(Winchester) Southworth, Helen
O'Brien, Bill(Normanton) Spellar, rh John
O'Brien, Mike(N Warks) Squire, Rachel
O'Hara, Edward Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Olner, Bill Steinberg, Gerry
Organ, Diana Stevenson, George
Osborne, Sandra(Ayr) Stewart, David(Inverness E & Lochaber)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick Stewart, Ian(Eccles)
Pearson, Ian Stinchcombe, Paul
Picking, Anne Stoate, Dr. Howard
Pickthall, Colin Stringer, Graham
Pike, Peter(Burnley) Stunell, Andrew
Plaskitt, James Sutcliffe, Gerry
Pollard, Kerry Tami, Mark(Alyn)
Pond, Chris(Gravesham) Taylor, Dari(Stockton S)
Pope, Greg(Hyndburn) Taylor, David(NW Leics)
Prentice, Ms Bridget(Lewisham E) Taylor, Matthew(Truro)
Thomas, Gareth(Harrow W)
Prentice, Gordon(Pendle) Thurso, John
Primarolo, rh Dawn Timms, Stephen
Prosser, Gwyn Tipping, Paddy
Pugh, Dr. John Todd, Mark(S Derbyshire)
Purchase, Ken Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Purnell, James Touhig, Don(Islwyn)
Quin, rh Joyce Trickett, Jon
Quinn, Lawrie Truswell, Paul
Raynsford, rh Nick Turner, Dennis(Wolverh'ton SE)
Reed, Andy(Loughborough) Turner, Dr. Desmond(Brighton Kemptown)
Rendel, David
Robertson, John(Glasgow Anniesland) Turner, Neil(Wigan)
Twigg, Derek(Halton)
Robinson, Geoffrey(Coventry NW) Twigg, Stephen(Enfield)
Tyler, Paul(N Cornwall)
Roche, Mrs Barbara Tynan, Bill(Hamilton S)
Rooney, Terry Vaz, Keith(Leicester E)
Ross, Ernie(Dundee W) Vis, Dr. Rudi
Ruane, Chris Walley, Ms Joan
Ruddock, Joan Ward, Claire
Russell, Bob(Colchester) Wareing, Robert N.
Russell, Ms Christine(City of Chester) Watts, David
Webb, Steve(Northavon)
Ryan, Joan(Enfield N) White, Brian
Salter, Martin Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Sanders, Adrian Wicks, Malcolm
Sarwar, Mohammad Williams, rh Alan(Swansea W)
Savidge, Malcolm Williams, Roger(Brecon)
Sawford, Phil Willis, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian Wills, Michael
Shaw, Jonathan Winnick, David
Sheerman, Barry Winterton, Ms Rosie(Doncaster C)
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra Wood, Mike(Batley)
Simon, Siôn(B'ham Erdington) Woodward, Shaun
Simpson, Alan(Nottingham S) Woolas, Phil
Singh, Marsha Worthington, Tony
Skinner, Dennis Wright, Anthony D.(Gt Yarmouth)
Smith, rh Andrew(Oxford E)
Smith, rh Chris(Islington S & Finsbury) Wright, David(Telford)
Wright, Tony(Cannock)
Smith, Geraldine(Morecambe & Lunesdale) Wyatt, Derek
Younger-Ross, Richard
Smith, Jacqui(Redditch)
Smith, John(Glamorgan) Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Llew(Blaenau Gwent) Mr. John Heppell and
Soley, Clive Mr. Nick Ainger
Ainsworth, Peter(E Surrey) Beggs, Roy(E Antrim)
Amess, David Bellingham, Henry
Arbuthnot, rh James Atkinson, Peter(Hexham) Bacon, Richard Bercow, John Beresford, Sir Paul Blunt, Crispin Boswell, Tim
Baldry, Tony Bottomley, Peter(Worthing W)
Barker, Gregory Bottomley, rh Virginia(SW Surrey)
Baron, John(Billericay)
Brady, Graham Key, Robert(Salisbury)
Brazier, Julian Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Browning, Mrs Angela Knight, rh Greg(E Yorkshire)
Burns, Simon Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Burnside, David Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Burt, Alistair Lansley, Andrew
Cameron, David Letwin, rh Oliver
Cash, William Lewis, Dr. Julian(New Forest E)
Chapman, Sir Sydney(Chipping Barnet) Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Chope, Christopher Lilley, rh Peter
Clarke, rh Kenneth(Rushcliffe) Llwyd, Elfyn
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Loughton, Tim
Collins, Tim Luff, Peter(M-Worcs)
Curry, rh David McIntosh, Miss Anne
Davies, Quentin(Grantham & Stamford) Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Davis, rh David(Haltemprice & Howden) McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Donaldson, Jeffrey M. Maples, John
Dorrell, rh Stephen Mates, Michael
Duncan Smith, rh lain Maude, rh Francis
Evans, Nigel Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Fabricant, Michael May, Mrs Theresa
Fallon, Michael Mitchell, Andrew(Sutton Coldfield)
Field, Mark(Cities of London & Westminster)
Moss, Malcolm
Flight, Howard Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Flook, Adrian Norman, Archie
Forth, rh Eric O'Brien, Stephen(Eddisbury)
Fox, Dr. Liam Osborne, George(Tatton)
Francois, Mark Ottaway, Richard
Gale, Roger(N Thanet) Page, Richard
Garnier, Edward Paterson, Owen
Gibb, Nick(Bognor Regis) Portillo, rh Michael
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Prisk, Mark(Hertford)
Gray, James(N Wilts) Redwood, rh John
Grayling, Chris Robathan, Andrew
Green, Damian(Ashford) Robertson, Laurence(Tewk'b't]
Greenway, John Robinson, Peter(Belfast E)
Grieve, Dominic Roe, Mrs Marion
Gummer, rh John Rosindell, Andrew
Hague, rh William Ruffley, David
Hammond, Philip Sayeed, Jonathan
Hawkins, Nick Selous, Andrew
Hayes, John(S Holland) Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Heald, Oliver Simmonds, Mark
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David Simpson, Keith(M-Norfolk)
Hoban, Mark(Fareham) Spicer, Sir Michael
Hogg, rh Douglas Spink, Bob(Castle Point)
Horam, John(Orpington) Spring, Richard
Howard, rh Michael Stanley, rh Sir John
Hunter, Andrew Steen, Anthony
Johnson, Boris(Henley) Streeter, Gary
Swire, Hugo(E Devon) Whittingdale, John
Syms, Robert Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Tapsell, Sir Peter Wilkinson, John
Taylor, Ian(Esher) Willetts, David
Taylor, John(Solihull) Williams, Hywel(Caernarfon)
Taylor, Sir Teddy Wilshire, David
Thomas, Simon(Ceredigion) Winterton, Sir Nicholas(Macclesfield)
Turner, Andrew(Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew Yeo, Tim(S Suffolk)
Viggers, Peter Young, rh Sir George
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel Tellers for the Noes:
Watkinson, Angela Hugh Robertson and
Weir, Michael Mr. Desmond Swayne

Question accordingly agreed to.

MR. SPEAKERforthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved,That this House recognises that focusing on Class A drugs, educating young people about the dangers of all drugs, preventing drug misuse, combating the dealers, reducing availability and treating addicts are all essential in tackling drugs; and welcomes the Government's updated Drug Strategy and the 44 per cent. increase in planned expenditure on combating drugs, from £.1.026 billion in the current financial year to nearly 1.5 billion in the year starting April 2005.

    1. c518
    2. NATIONAL LOTTERY 34 words
    1. c518
    2. TRANSPORT 28 words