HC Deb 24 March 2003 vol 402 cc16-7
12. Dr. Brian Iddon (Bolton, South-East)

What plans he has to review the law on prostitution. [104118]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Hilary Benn)

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is examining the scope for a review of prostitution, including the serious drug abuse, violent crime, trafficking, antisocial behaviour and damage to local communities often associated with it.

Dr. Iddon

In a nine-month period last year, in a small part of my constituency, there were three murders. One of the victims was a man and two were young women, one regrettably pregnant, who were supporting a heroin habit through prostitution. Does it not make sense to take such young women off the streets and offer them clinically pure heroin, in a clinic, for their own safety?

Hilary Benn

I am sorry to hear about the three murders. I agree that we need to do more to help those who have been drawn into prostitution because of a drug habit to end that habit. That is why all the work that the Government are doing to make drug treatment more available will be of benefit. It is also why, through the crime reduction programme, we are funding a number of projects. In particular, we are trying to help women and young people involved in prostitution to get out of the profession.

Dr. Jenny Tonge (Richmond Park)

Is the Minister aware of the huge rise in the number of cases of sexually transmitted disease, especially among young people, and of the threat of a spread of the AIDS epidemic through Europe from other continents? Would it not be far better to regulate prostitution in some way, so that prostitutes can be medically supervised and do not transmit diseases as they do now?

Hilary Benn

I agree that it is important to provide proper health advice and support for those engaged in prostitution. Many voluntary organisations throughout the country are trying to provide such support, so that the health risks can be minimised both for those engaged in prostitution and for others.