§ Mr. Homewood
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether there has been any change in the figures he gave on 7 February 1980. Official Report, c. 300, of deaths from deliberate inhalation of solvent vapours; and what action is contemplated by the Government on this matter.
§ Sir George Young
I have been asked to reply, in accordance with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar) on 27 February—[Vol. 999, c. 460]—about the transfer of responsibility for co-ordinating the Government's response to the problem of solvent abuse to my right hon. Friend.
Exact figures are still not available. We are aware of 22 deaths in Great Britain in 1980.
As I explained during the Adjournment debate on this subject on 21 July—[Vol. 989, c. 203-16]—the scope for direct Government intervention in this matter is limited; this is because the problem is abuse of commonly available, and in normal usage harmless, products. We have to find the best ways of educating parents and children to prevent harm. The most practicable way forward is by local initiatives; involving parents, children, teachers, social workers, doctors, health workers and police, and by responsible contributions from broadcasters and journalists. I welcome growing evidence of action on these lines, and we are actively exploring a way of collecting statistics and what more can be done to educate parents and children and improve local co-operation.