§ 63. Mr. Hastings
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to recent representations from authoritative sources to his Department as to the value of the drug heroin, particularly in cases of affections of the lung; and whether he will 233W reconsider his decision to prohibit the manufacture of this drug.
§ 82. Mr. D. Price
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the protests of practising clinicians, he will reverse his decision to ban the production of heroin.
§ 83. Mr. Russell
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the fact that there is no efficient substitute for heroin in certain illnesses, he will reconsider his decision to prohibit its manufacture.
§ 84. Dr. Bennett
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the widely-expressed concern among practising doctors, he is still satisfied that there are adequate reasons for terminating the use of heroin in this country; and if he will make a statement.
§ 85 and 86. Dr. Broughton
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he is aware that there is no adequate and effective substitute for heroin, as has been borne out by recently published statements from authoritative medical sources; and whether he will withdraw the proposed ban on the drug;
(2) whether, in view of the British Medical Association's representation that there are many practising doctors who are alarmed at the prospect of heroin not being available for patients who need it, he will consider permitting the manufacture of a limited amount of heroin for medicinal use within the United Kingdom, whilst prohibiting the import and the export of the drug, after 31st December, 1955.
§ Major Lloyd-George
The possibility of dispensing with the use of heroin was considered as long ago as 1950, when the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland were advised that it would be justifiable to prohibit the use of heroin in Britain if international agreement were reached to prohibit the manufacture of heroin.
In July, 1954, the United Nations Economic and Social Council adopted a 234W resolution urging all Governments to prohibit the manufacture, import and export of heroin except for such small amounts as might be necessary for scientific purposes. In December, 1954, the Minister of Health consulted his advisory bodies and was informed that they concurred with the Government's proposal to accept the Economic and Social Council's resolution.
On 18th February, 1955, I announced in the House my decision not to grant further licences for the manufacture of heroin after 31st December, 1955, except in respect of small quantities needed for scientific purposes, or for the manufacture of nalorphine. It was not until April that a number of letters appeared in the Press disapproving of the decision, and the first indication that the British Medical Association was opposed to the decision reached the Minister of Health in May.
On 11th July, with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, I received a deputation from the British Medical Association and discussed the matter very fully. I subsequently gave the most careful consideration, in consultation with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, to the representations which the deputation had made. As my colleagues adhered to the advice they originally tendered to me after consulting the expert bodies who advise them on such matters, I decided that I must maintain my decision not to permit the general manufacture of heroin after the end of this year, and I so informed the British Medical Association on 17th October.
The Government have given most anxious and sympathetic consideration to all aspects of this very complex problem, including the position and experience of other countries. It is our view that the proposed ban should be maintained, but we will, of course, keep its working under constant review in the light of the experience gained.
§ Dr. Broughton
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the percentage of heroin addicts in the population of the United Kingdom.