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Andrew George (St Ives) (LD): This is a question of principle and reflects remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman in respect of the tabling of money resolutions. One has to study the annals of history to find occasions when a Government have refused to table a money resolution, thereby frustrating the clear will of the House. Although it may not be entirely unprecedented, it is extremely rare and exceptional for a Government to decline to respect the clearly expressed will of the House by refusing to table a money resolution, so will the Government be prepared to make a statement on the occasions when this situation occurs so that the House can then express its will again? This is an important issue.

Mr Hague: The hon. Gentleman is understandably promoting his Bill and would like to have seen a money resolution for it. He is right that it is unusual but not unprecedented for the Government not to move a money resolution. There have been previous instances of that under Governments of different parties. He also understands that his Bill is a very unusual one, because it is unusual for the expenditure entailed by a private Member’s Bill—the precise figure may be disputed—to run into hundreds of millions of pounds. On such issues, the Government must, of course, ask whether they can responsibly provide a money resolution. This is an unusual situation. There is no particular provision in our rules for statements about that, but I think I have made clear the Government’s position.

Mrs Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab): During Health questions last week, the Secretary of State referred to the importance of peer review, yet the national peer review programme, which monitors the quality and safety of cancer services across England, is under serious threat of being cut. May we have an urgent debate on the future of that vital programme?

Mr Hague: As is often discussed in the House, the Government have a strong record on cancer. We have introduced the cancer drugs fund and put a great deal of emphasis on early diagnosis, and we will continue with that work. I will draw the point the hon. Lady makes to the attention of Health Ministers, but I encourage her also to pursue it with them at Question Time and through Adjournment or Back-Bench business debates.

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): Last Friday I had a very enjoyable lunch with two constituents at the William Withering, a Wetherspoon’s pub in Wellington in my constituency. The menu listed the calories and grams of fat for each food item, which is very helpful for someone who, like me, is trying to lose weight. Given the obesity challenge that the whole country faces, may we have a debate on how the Government can work more closely with the food and drink industry to see more of that good practice in other restaurants and leisure facilities up and down the land?

Mr Hague: I am glad that my hon. Friend is touring the pubs of his constituency while simultaneously fighting obesity—always a challenge, but he appears to be succeeding in both objectives. It is something I have often done, and I strongly recommend it to all Members, particularly as elections draw close. We have just had questions on food matters to the Secretary of State for Environment,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 418

Food and Rural Affairs, but it is wholly legitimate for my hon. Friend to seek to raise the matter in other ways on the Floor of the House.

Mr Speaker: I was hoping that we were going to hear about the Leader of the House’s judo and other exercise regimes, but there might be more of that anon—who knows?

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): May we have a debate on wildlife crime? The Leader of the House will know that two days ago Natural England published a report showing that of the 47 hen harriers that it has tagged with transmitters over the past seven years, only four are thought still to be alive. That shows that there are serious problems and I think that the House should debate them.

Mr Hague: That is a very important concern. Indeed, as chair of the Government’s committee on animal health issues, including wildlife, I feel very strongly about it. We fund the wildlife crime unit, which of course is intended to tackle these problems, so Ministers are very conscious of the issue, and they will have been further reminded by the hon. Gentleman raising it.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): On 22 January, the European Scrutiny Committee referred EU Document No. 16930/13, entitled “Free movement of EU citizens”, for debate on the Floor of the House. After nine months, can the Leader of the House indicate how close we are to having that debate?

Mr Hague: Well, we are closer than we were nine months ago, but not so close that I can announce it in the business for the week ahead. I know that it was an important report by the Committee, and that this is an issue on which hon. Members have strong feelings and opinions, so I will undertake to examine the point my hon. Friend has made.

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): On the economy, which I raised during Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, and which I am happy to discuss with the Leader of the House anytime, may we have an urgent debate on living standards? In particular, why is it that, despite decreasing levels of unemployment, the deficit has increased by 10% over the past year?

Mr Hague: I wish the hon. Gentleman well in raising the economy from the Opposition Benches because he is a bit of a lone voice. I welcome his doing so at Prime Minister’s questions and business questions, and indeed the fact that he asks about the deficit, which his leader regularly forgets. The deficit is down by more than a third from what the coalition Government inherited in 2010. His party has so far opposed some £83 billion of savings in welfare budgets, so we can only imagine what the deficit would be if it was still in office.


Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): May we have a debate on the guidance issued in February 2012 by the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government? It stated that local authorities should take steps to stop the use of contracts that allow consultants to avoid paying income tax and national insurance contributions at the rate paid by those on PAYE.

30 Oct 2014 : Column 419

Last week, Somerset county council changed its pay policy, but, in spite of several amendments that would have regulated matters, the leader refused an invitation to align the policy with Government guidance, saying that Parliament should legislate if it really wants Somerset county council to follow what it says is “only guidance”. May we have a debate to sort the matter out once and for all?

Mr Hague: It is guidance, and it has been adopted across Government Departments and many parts of local government. It is good practice to adopt it. We are not at a stage of the Parliament in which it is easy to call for new legislation on any matter; my hon. Friend is free to call for that in the coming months, but we do not have the opportunity to introduce it. I am sure that she can pursue the point with my colleagues at the Department for Communities and Local Government, who will be interested to hear of her concerns.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): When can we debate early-day motions 409 to 435, which record and honour, and express our sorrow at the deaths of, the 453 of our brave soldiers killed in Afghanistan?

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Captain Thomas Clarke, aged 30, from Cardiff, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, aged 29, from Birmingham, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, aged 38, Corporal James Walters, aged 36, from Cornwall, Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, aged 26, from Brecon, Sapper Adam Moralee, aged 23, from Newcastle, Captain Richard Holloway, aged 29, from Durham, Warrant Officer Class 2 Ian Fisher, aged 42, from Essex, Lance Corporal James Brynin, The Intelligence Corps, aged 22, from Shoreham-by-Sea, Flight Lieutenant Steven Johnson, aged 38, from Collingham, Nottinghamshire, Flight Lieutenant Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, aged 28, from Bournemouth, Flight Lieutenant Gareth Rodney Nicholas, aged 40, from Newquay, Cornwall, Flight Lieutenant Allan James Squires, aged 39, from Clatterbridge, Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick, aged 28, from Liverpool, Flight Sergeant Gary Wayne Andrews, aged 48, from Tankerton, Kent, Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie, aged 42, from Dundee, Flight Sergeant Gerard Martin Bell, aged 48, from Ely, Cambridgeshire, Flight Sergeant Adrian Davies, aged 49, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, Sergeant Benjamin James Knight, aged 25, from Bridgwater, Sergeant John Joseph Langton, aged 29, from Liverpool, Sergeant Gary Paul Quilliam, aged 42, from Manchester, Corporal Oliver Simon Dicketts, The Parachute Regiment, aged 27, Marine Joseph David Windall, Royal Marines, aged 22, Corporal William Thomas Savage, aged 30, from Irvine, Fusilier Samuel Flint, aged 21, from Blackpool and Private Robert Murray Hetherington, from the United States of America.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Jamie Webb, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 24, from Wythenshawe, Kingsman David Robert Shaw, 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 23, from Barrow-in-Furness, Sapper Richard Reginald Walker, 28 Engineer Regiment, aged 23, from Leeds and Captain Walter Barrie, 1 Scots, aged 41, from Glasgow, Lieutenant Edward Drummond-Baxter, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 29,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 420 from County Durham, Lance Corporal Siddhanta Kunwar, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 28, from Pokhara, Nepal, Corporal David O'Connor, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 27, from Havant, Hampshire, Corporal Channing Day, 3 Medical Regiment, aged 25, from Newtownards, County Down, Captain Carl Manley, Royal Marines, aged 41, Captain James Anthony Townley, Corps of Royal Engineers, aged 29, from Tunbridge Wells, Sergeant Jonathan Eric Kups, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 38, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 3 Yorks, aged 29, from Skipton, Private Thomas Wroe, 3 Yorks, aged 18, from Huddersfield, Lance Corporal Duane Groom, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 32, from Suva City, Fiji, Sergeant Lee Paul Davidson, The Light Dragoons, aged 32, from Doncaster, and Guardsman Karl Whittle, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 22, from Bristol.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Corporal Jack Leslie Stanley, The Queen's Royal Hussars, aged 26, from Bolton, Sergeant Luke Taylor, The Royal Marines, aged 33, from Bournemouth, Lance Corporal Michael Foley, Adjutant General's Corps (Staff and Personnel Support), aged 25, from Burnley, Lancashire, Captain Rupert William Michael Bowers, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 24, from Wolverhampton, Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 33, from Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, Corporal Jake Hartley, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 20, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, Private Anthony Frampton, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 20, from Huddersfield, Private Christopher Kershaw, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 19, from Bradford, Private Daniel Wade, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 20, from Warrington, Private Daniel Wilford, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 21, from Huddersfield, Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, 2 Squadron RAF Regiment, aged 21, from Hemel Hempstead, Lance Corporal Gajbahadur Gurung, Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 26, from Majthana, Nepal, Signaller Ian Gerard Sartorius-Jones, 20th Armoured Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadran (200), aged 21, from Runcorn, Cheshire, Rifleman Sachin Limbu, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 23, from Rajghat, Morang, Nepal, Private John King, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 19, from Darlington, Squadron Leader Anthony Downing, Royal Air Force, aged 34, from Kent and Captain Tom Jennings, Royal Marines, aged 29.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Guardsman Jamie Shadrake, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 20, from Wrexham, Wales, Lance Corporal Matthew David Smith, Corps of Royal Engineers, aged 26, from Aldershot, Lieutenant Andrew Robert Chesterman, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 26, from Guildford, Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Perran Thomas, Royal Corps of Signals, aged 44, from Ross-on-Wye, Guardsman Craig Andrew Roderick, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 22, from Cardiff, Guardsman Apete Saunikalou Ratumaiyale Tuisovurua, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 28, from Fiji, Corporal Alex Guy, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 37, from St Neots, Cambridgeshire, Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 23, from Kettering, Private Gregg Thomas Stone, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 20, from Yorkshire, Corporal Michael

30 Oct 2014 : Column 421 John Thacker, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, aged 27, from Swindon, Wiltshire, Captain Stephen James Healey, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, aged 29, from Cardiff, Corporal Brent John McCarthy, Royal Air Force, aged 25, from Priorslee, Telford, Lance Corporal Lee Thomas Davies, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 27, from Carmarthen, Corporal Andrew Steven Roberts, 23 Pioneer Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, aged 32, from Middlesbrough, Private Ratu Manasa Silibaravi, 23 Pioneer Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, aged 32, from Fiji, Guardsman Michael Roland, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 22, from Worthing and Sapper Connor Ray, 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), aged 21, from Newport.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Sapper Elijah Bond, 35 Engineer Regiment Royal Engineers, aged 24, from St Austell, Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel, 5th Battalion The Rifles, aged 20, from Leeds, Private Thomas Christopher Lake, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, aged 29, from Watford, Lieutenant David Boyce, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, aged 25, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, Lance Corporal Richard Scanlon, 1st The Queen's Dragoons Guards, aged 31, from Rhymney, Gwent, Lance Corporal Peter Eustace, 2nd Battalion The Riffle, aged 25, from Liverpool, Private Matthew Thornton, 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 28, from Barnsley, Private Matthew James Sean Haseldin, 2nd Battalion The Mercia Regiment, aged 21, from Settle, Yorkshire, Rifleman Vijay Rai, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 21, from the Bhojpur District, Deaurali East of Nepal, Marine David Fairbrother, Kilo Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 24, from Blackburn, Lance Corporal Jonathan James McKinley, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 33, from Darlington, County Durham, Sergeant Barry John Weston, Kilo Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 40, from Reading, Lieutenant Daniel John Clack, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 24, from North London, Marine James Robert Wright, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 22, from Weymouth and Corporal Mark Anthony Palin, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 32, from Plymouth.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Paul Watkins, 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales's), aged 24, from Port Elizabeth, Republic of South Africa, Highlander Scott McLaren, The Highlanders 4th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 20, from Edinburgh, Private Gareth Leslie William Bellingham, 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Stafford), aged 22, from Stoke-on-Trent, Corporal Lloyd Newell, The Parachute Regiment, Craftsman Andrew Found, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 27, from Whitby, Rifleman Martin Jon Lamb, 1st Battalion the Rifles, aged 27, from Gloucester, Lance Corporal Martin Joseph Gill, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 22, from Nottingham, Corporal Michael John Pike, The Highlanders 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 26, from Huntly, Scotland, Lieutenant Oliver Richard Augustin, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Kent, Marine Samuel Giles William Alexander MC, Juliet Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 28, from London, Colour Sergeant Kevin Charles Fortuna, A Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 36,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 422 from Cheltenham, Marine Nigel Dean Mead, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 19, from Carmarthen, Captain Lisa Jade Head, 11 EOD Regiment RLC, aged 29, from Huddersfield, Colour Sergeant Alan Cameron, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, aged 42, from Livingston, Scotland, Major Matthew James Collins, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, aged 38, from Backwell, Somerset and Lance Sergeant Mark Terence Burgan, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, aged 28, from Liverpool.

]

[That this House That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Private Daniel Steven Prior, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 27, from Peacehaven, East Sussex, Lance Corporal McKee, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, aged 27, from Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, Lance Corporal Liam Richard Tasker, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, aged 26, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, Private Robert Wood, 17 Port and Maritime Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, aged 28, from Hampshire, Private Dean Hutchinson, 9 Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps, aged 23, from Wiltshire, Lance Corporal Kyle Cleet Marshall, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 23, from Newcastle, Private Lewis Hendry, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 20, from Norwich, Private Conrad Lewis, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 22, from Bournemouth, Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) Colin Beckett, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 36, from Peterborough, Ranger David Dalzell, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, aged 20, from Bangor County Down, Private Martin Simon George Bell, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 24, from Bradford, Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 24, from Suva, Fiji, Warrant Officer Class 2 Charles Henry Wood, 23 Pioneer Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, serving with the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Taks Force, aged 34, from Middlesbrough, and Corporal Steven Thomas Dunn, 216 (Parachute) Signal Squadron, attached to 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battlegroup, aged 27, from Gateshead.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Private John Howard, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 23, from Wellington, New Zealand, Guardsman Christopher Davies, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, aged 22, from St Helens, Merseyside, Ranger Aaron McCormick, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, aged 22, from Coleraine in County Londonderry, Senior Aircraftsman Scott ‘Scotty' Hughes, 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, aged 20, from North Wales, Sapper William Bernard Blanchard, 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), aged 39, from Gosport, Hampshire, Corporal David Barnsdale, 33 Engineer Regiment, aged 24, from Tring, Sergeant Peter Anthony Rayner, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 34, from Bradford, Rifleman Suraj Gurung, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 22, from Gorkha in Nepal, Corporal Matthew Thomas, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Sergeant Andrew James Jones, Royal Engineers, aged 35, from Newport, South Wales, Trooper Andrew Martin Howarth, The Queen's Royal Lancers, aged 20, from Bournemouth, Kingsman Darren Deady, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 22, from Bolton, Captain Andrew Griffiths, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 25, from Richmond, North Yorkshire, Lance Corporal Joseph McFarlane Pool, The Royal Scots Borderers 1st Battalion The Royal

30 Oct 2014 : Column 423 Regiment of Scotland, aged 26, from Greenock, and Lance Corporal Jordan Dean Bancroft, 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 25, from Burnley.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Sapper Ishwor Gurung, 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, 21 Engineer Regiment, aged 21, from Pokhara, Nepal, Sapper Darren Foster, 21 Engineer Regiment, aged 20, from Carlisle, Rifleman Remand Kulung, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), aged 27, from Nepal, Lietuenant John Charles Sanderson, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), aged 29, from Oklahoma, USA, Marine Adam Brown, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 26, from Burtle, near Glastonbury, Lance Sergeant Dale Alanzo McCallum, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, aged 31, from Hanover, Jamaica, Sapper Mark Antony Smith, 36 Engineer Regiment, aged 26, from Swanley, Kent, Corporal Matthew James Stenton, The Royal Dragoon Guards, aged 23, from Wakefield, Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, aged 28, from Greenock, Staff Sergeant Brett George Linley, The Royal Logistic Corps, aged 29, from Birmingham, Sergeant David Thomas Monkhouse, The Royal Dragoon Guards, aged 35, from Aspatria, Cumbria, Senior Aircraftman Kinikki ‘Griff' Griffiths, aged 20, Marine Jonathan David Thomas Crookes, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 26, from Birmingham, Marine Matthew Harrison, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Hemel Hempstead, Major James Joshua Bowman, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 34, from Salisbury, Lieutenant Neal Turkington, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 26, from Craigavon, and Corporal Arjun Purja Pun, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 33, from Khibang village Magdi District, Nepal.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Marine David Charles Hart, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Upper Poppleton, North Yorkshire, Bombardier Samuel Joseph Robinson, 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 31, from Carmarthen, Private Thomas Sephton, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 20, from Warrington, Trooper James Anthony Leverett, Royal Dragoon Guards, aged 20, from Sheffield, Corporal Seth Stephens, Royal Marines, Corporal Jamie Kirkpatrick, 101 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), aged 32, from Llanelli, Bombardier Stephen Raymond Gilbert, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 36, from Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 34, from Runcorn, Lance Corporal David Ramsden, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 26, from Leeds, Private Douglas Halliday, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 20, from Wallasey, Merseyside, Private Alex Isaac, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 20, from the Wirral, Sergeant Steven William Darbyshire, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 35, from Wigan, Lance Corporal Michael Taylor, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 30, from Rhyl, Marine Paul Warren, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Leyland, Lancashire, Marine Richard Hollington, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Petersfield, Trooper Ashley Smith, Royal Dragoon Guards, aged 21, from York, Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai, aged 32, from Nausori, Fiji, Kingsman Pomipate Tagitaginimoce, aged 29, from Nausori, Fiji, and Marine Steven James Birdsall, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 20, from Warrington.]

30 Oct 2014 : Column 424

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze, B (Malta) Company, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), aged 31, from Manchester, Private Jonathan Monk, 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, aged 25, from London, Lance Bombardier Mark Chandler, 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, aged 32, from Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, Corporal Terry Webster, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), aged 24, from Chester, Lance Corporal Alan Cochran, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire), aged 23, from St Asaph, North Wales, Marine Anthony Dean Hotine, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 21, from Warminster, Marine Scott Gregory Taylor, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 20, from Buxton, Corporal Stephen Curley, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 26, from Exeter, Gunner Zak Cusack, 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 20, from Stoke-on-Trent, Corporal Stephen Walker, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 42, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, Corporal Christopher Lewis Harrison, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 26, from Watford, Sapper Daryn Roy, 21 Engineer Regiment, aged 28, from Consett, County Durham, Lance Corporal Barry Buxton, 21 Engineer Regiment, aged 27, from Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, Corporal Harvey Holmes, 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 22, from Hyde, Greater Manchester, Fusilier Jonathan Burgess, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, aged 20, from Townhill, Swansea, Rifleman Mark Turner, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 21, from Gateshead and Guardsman Michael Sweeney, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, aged 19, from Blyth in Northumberland.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Rifleman Daniel Holkham, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, from Chatham, Kent, Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan Woodgate, Household Cavalry Regiment, aged 26, from Lavenham, Suffolk, Sergeant Steven Campbell, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 30, from Durham, Lance Corporal Scott Hardy, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 26, from Chelmsford, Private James Grigg, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 20, from Hartismere, Suffolk, Captain Martin Driver, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 31, from Barnsley, Corporal Stephen Thompson, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 31, from Bovey Tracey, Devon, Lance Corporal Tom Keogh, 4th Battalion The Rifles, aged 24, from Paddington, London, Rifleman Liam Maughan, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 18, from Doncaster, Rifleman Jonathan Allott, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, from North Shields, Corporal Richard Green, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 23, from Reading, Rifleman Carlo Apolis, 4th Battalion The Rifles, aged 28, from South Africa, Sergeant Paul Fox, 28 Engineer Regiment, aged 34, from St Ives, Rifleman Martin Kinggett, 4th Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, from Dagenham, Senior Aircraftman, Luke Southgate, II Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, aged 20, from Bury St Edmunds, Lance Sergeant David ‘Davey' Walker, 1st Battalion Scots Guards, aged 36, from Glasgow, Lieutenant Douglas Dalzell, 1st Battalion Goldstream Guards from Berkshire and Sapper Guy Mellors, 36 Engineer Regiment, aged 20, from Coventry.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Kingsman Sean Dawson, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 19, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, Rifleman Mark Marshall,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 425 6th Battalion The Rifles, aged 29, from Exeter, Lance Sergeant Dave Greenhalgh, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 25, from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, Lance Corporal Darren Hicks, from Mousehole, Cornwall, Warrant Officer Class 2 David Markland, 36 Engineer Regiment, aged 36, from Euxton, Lancashire, Corporal John Moore, The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 22, from Lanarkshire, Private Sean McDonald, The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 26, from Edinburgh, Corporal Liam Riley, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 21, from Sheffield, Lance Corporal Graham Shaw, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 27, from Huddersfield, Lance Corporal Daniel Cooper, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 22, from Hereford, Rifleman Peter Aldridge, 4th Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, Corporal Lee Brownson, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 30, from Bishop Auckland, Rifleman Luke Farmer, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, from Pontefract, Captain Daniel Reed, 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, aged 32, from Rainham, Kent, Private Robert Hayes, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 19, from Cambridge, Sapper David Watson, 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), aged 23, and Rifleman Aidan Howell, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, from Sidcup, Kent.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Tommy Brown, The Parachute Regiment, Lance Corporal Christopher Roney, A Company, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 23, from Sunderland, Lance Corporal Michael David Pritchard, 4th Regiment, Royal Military Police, aged 22, from Maidstone, Corporal Simon Hornby, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 29, from Liverpool, Lance Corporal David Leslie Kirkness, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 24, from West Yorkshire, Rifleman James Stephen Brown, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 18, from Kent, Lance Corporal Adame Drane, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 23, from Bury St Edmunds, Acting Sergeant John Paxton Amer, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, from Sunderland, Sergeant Robert David Loughran-Dickson, 4th Regiment Royal Military Police, aged 33, from Deal, Kent, Corporal Loren Owen Christopher Marlton-Thomas, 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD), aged 28, Rifleman Andrew Ian Fentiman, 7th Battalion The Rifles, aged 23, from Cambridge, Rifleman Samuel John Bassett, 4th Battalion The Rifles, aged 20, from Plymouth, Rifleman Philip Allen, 2 Rifles, aged 20, from Dorset, Sergeant Phillip Scott, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, aged 30, from Malton, Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, aged 40, from Walthamstow, Sergeant Matthew Telford, 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, aged 37, from Grimsby, Guardsman James Major, 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, aged 18, from Grimsby, and Corporal Steven Boote, Royal Military Police, aged 22, from Birkenhead, Liverpool.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, Royal Military Police, aged 24, from Glangwili, Staff Sergeant Olaf Sean George Schmid, Royal Logistic Corps, aged 30, from Truro, Corporal Thomas ‘Tam' Mason, the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 27, from Rosyth, Corporal James Oakland, Royal

30 Oct 2014 : Column 426 Military Police, aged 26, from Manchester, Lance Corporal James Hill, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, aged 23, from Redhill, Surrey, Guardsman James Janes, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 20, from Brighton, Acting Corporal Marcin Wojtak, 34 Squadron RAF regiment, aged 24, from Leicester, Private James Prosser, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, aged 21, from Cwmbran, Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett MC, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, from Monifieth in Angus, Acting Sergeant Stuart McGrath, 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, aged 28, from Buckinghamshire, Trooper Brett Hall, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, aged 21, from Dartmouth, Kingsman Jason Dunn-Bridgeman, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, aged 20, from Liverpool, Corporal John Harrison, The Parachute Regiment, Private Gavin Elliott, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 19, from Woodsetts, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Lance Corporal Richard Brandon, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 24, from Kidderminster, Sergeant Stuart ‘Gus' Millar, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 40, from Inverness, Private Kevin Elliott, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 24, from Dundee, and Sergeant Lee Andrew Houltram, Royal Marines.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Fusilier Shaun Bush, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, aged 24, from Warwickshire, Sergeant Paul McAleese, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 29, from Hereford, Private Jonathon Young, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's), aged 18, from Hull, Lance Corporal James Fullarton, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, aged 24, from Coventry, Fusilier Simon Annis, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, from Salford, Fusilier Louis Carter, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, from Nuneaton, Sergeant Simon Valentine, aged 29, from Bedworth, Private Richard Hunt, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, aged 21, from Abergavenny, Captain Mark Hale, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 42, from Bournemouth, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton, 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners), aged 23, from Easingwold, North Yorkshire, Rifleman Daniel Wild, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 19, from Hartlepool, Private Jason George Williams, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 23, from Worcester, Corporal Kevin Mulligan, The Parachute Regiment, aged 26, Lance Corporal Dale Thomas Hopkins, The Parachute Regiment, aged 23, Private Kyle Adams, The Parachute Regiment, aged 21, Craftsman Anthony Lombardi, aged 21, from Scunthorpe, Trooper Phillip Lawrence, Light Dragoons, aged 22, from Birkenhead, Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Upton, 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 35, from Nottinghamshire and Bombardier Craig Hopson, 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners), aged 24, from Castleford.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Guardsman Christopher King, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, aged 20, from Birkenhead, Liverpool, Captain Daniel Shepherd, 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, aged 28, from Lincoln, Corporal Joseph Etchells, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, aged 22, from Mossley, Rifleman Aminiasi Toge, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 26, from Suva, Fiji, Corporal Jonathan Horne, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 28, from Walsall, Rifleman William Aldridge, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 18, from Bromyard,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 427 Herefordshire, Rifleman James Backhouse, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 18, from Castleford, Yorkshire, Rifleman Joe Murphy, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 18, from Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, Rifleman Daniel Simpson, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 20, from Croydon, Corporal Lee Scott, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, aged 26, from King's Lynn, Private John Brackpool, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 27, from Crawley, West Sussex, Rifleman Daniel Hume, 4th Battalion The Rifles, Trooper Christopher Whiteside, The Light Dragoons, aged 20, from Blackpool, Captain Ben Babington-Browne, 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, aged 27, from Maidstone, Lance Corporal Dane Elson, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 22, from Bridgend, Lance Corporal David Dennis, The Light Dragoons, aged 29, from Llanelli, Wales, Private Robert Laws, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 18, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe MBE, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and Trooper Joshua Hammond, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, aged 18.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Major Sean Birchall, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 33, Lieutenant Paul Mervis, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 27 from London, Private Robert McLaren, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 20 from the Isle of Mull, Rifleman Cyrus Thatcher, 2nd Battalion The Rifles, aged 19 from Reading, Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett, The Light Dragoons, aged 28 from Belfast, Corporal Stephen Bolger, The Parachute Regiment, Lance Corporal Kieron Hill, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), aged 20, from Nottingham, Lance Corporal Robert Martin Richards, Armoured Support Group Royal Marines, aged 24, from Betws-y-Coed, North Wales, Sapper Jordan Rossi, 25 Field Squadron, 38 Engineer Regiment, aged 22 from West Yorkshire, Fusilier Petero ‘Pat' Suesue, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, aged 28 from Fiji, Marine Jason Mackie, Armoured Support Group Royal Marines, aged 21 from Bampton, Oxfordshire, Lieutenant Mark Evison, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, Aged 26, Sergeant Ben Ross, 173 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment Royal Military Police, Corporal Kumar Pun, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, Rifleman Adrian Sheldon, 2 Rifles, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Corporal Sean Binnie, 3 Scots, aged 22, Lance Sergeant Tobie Fasfous, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, aged 29, Corporal Dean Thomas John, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 25 from Neath, and Corporal Graeme Stiff, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 24 from Munster, Germany.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Christopher Harkett, 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, aged 22, from Swansea, Marine Michael ‘Mick' Laski, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 21, from Liverpool, Corporal Tom Gaden, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 24, from Taunton, Lance Corporal Paul Upton, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 31, Rifleman Jamie Gunn, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 21, from Leamington Spa, Lance Corporal Stephen ‘Schnoz' Kingscott, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 22, from Plymouth, Marine Darren ‘Daz' Smith, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 27, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, Corporal Daniel ‘Danny' Nield, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 31, from Cheltenham, Acting Corporal Richard ‘Robbo' Robinson, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 21, from Cornwall, Captain

30 Oct 2014 : Column 428 Tom Sawyer, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 26, from Hertfordshire, Corporal Danny Winter, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 28, from Stockport, Marine Travis Mackin, Communications Squadron United Kingdom Landing Force Command Support Group, aged 22, from Plymouth, Sergeant Chris Reed, 6th Battalion The Rifles, aged 25, from Plymouth, Corporal Liam Elms, RM, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 26, from Wigan, Lance Corporal Benjamin Whatley, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 20, from King's Lynn, Corporal Robert Deering, Commando Logistic Regiment Royal Marines, aged 33, from Solihull, Rifleman Stuart Nash, 1st Battalion The Rifles, aged 21, from Sydney, Australia, and Lieutenant Aaron Lewis, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 26, from Essex.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Steven ‘Jamie' Fellows, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 28, from Sheffield, Marine Damian Davies, aged 27, Sergeant John Manuel, aged 38, from North East England, Corporal Mark Birch, aged 26, from Northampton, Marine Tony Evans, aged 20, from Sunderland, Marine Georgie Sparks, aged 19, from Epping, Marine Alexander Lucas, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 24, from Edinburgh, Colour Sergeant Krishnabahadur Dura, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 36, from the Lamjung District of Western Nepal, Marine Neil David Dunstan, aged 32, from Bournemouth, Marine Robert Jospeh McKibben, aged 32, from County Mayo, Rifleman Yubraj Rai, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 28, from Khotang District, Eastern Nepal, Trooper James Munday, aged 21, from the Birmingham area, Lance Corporal Nicky Matson, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 26, from Aveley in Essex, Private Jason Lee Rawstron, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 23, from Lancashire, Warrant officer Class 2 Gary ‘Gaz' O' Donnell GM, 1 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, aged 40, from Edinburgh, Ranger Justin James Cupples, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, aged 29, from County Cavan, Ireland, Corporal Barry Dempsey, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 29, from Ayrshire, Signaller Wayne Bland, 16 Signal Regiment, aged 21, from Leeds and Private Peter Joe Cowton, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 25, from Basingstoke.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Sergeant Jonathan Mathews, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 35, from Edinburgh, Lance Corporal Kenneth Michael Rowe, Royal Army Veterinary Corps, aged 24, from Newcastle, Corporal Jason Stuart Barnes, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 25, from Exeter, Lance Corporal James Johnson, B Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 31, from Scotland, Warrant Officer 2nd Class Dan Shirley, Air Assault Support Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, aged 32, from Leicester, Warrant Officer 2nd Class Michael Norman Williams, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 40, from Cardiff, Private Joe John Whittaker, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 20 from Stratford-upon-Avon, Corporal Sarah Bryant, Intelligence Corps, aged 26, from Liverpool, Corporal Sean Robert Reeve, Royal Signals, aged 28, Lance Corporal Richard Larkin, aged 39, Paul Stout, aged 31, Lance Corporal James Bateman, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 29, from

30 Oct 2014 : Column 429 Staines, Middlesex, Private Jeff Doherty, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 20, from Southam, Warwickshire, Private Nathan Cuthbertson, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 19, from Sunderland, Private Daniel Gamble, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 22, from Uckfield, East Sussex, Private Charles David Murray, 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 19, from Carlisle, and Marine Dale Gostick, 3 Troop Armoured Support Company, Royal Marines, aged 22, from Oxford.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Drummer Thomas Wright, 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Forresters, aged 21, from Ripley, Derbyshire, Guardsman Neil ‘Tony' Downes, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 20, from Manchester, Lance Corporal Paul 'Sandy' Sandford, 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, aged 23, from Nottingham, Corporal Mike Gilyeat, Royal Military Police, aged 28, Corporal Darren Bonner, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 31, from Norfolk, Guardsman Daniel Probyn, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 22, from Tipton, Lance Corporal George Russell Davey, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 23, from Suffolk, Guardsman Simon Davison, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 22, from Newcastle upon Tyne, Private Chris Gray, A Company 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 19, from Leicestershire, Warrant Officer Class 2 Michael ‘Mick' Smith, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 39, from Liverpool, Marine Benjamin Reddy, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 22, from Ascot, Berkshire, Lance Bombardier Ross Clark, aged 25, from South Africa, Lance Bombardier Liam McLaughlin, aged 21, from Lancashire, Marine Scott Summers, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Crawley, East Sussex, Marine Jonathan Holland, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Chorley, Lancashire, Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 30, from Immingham, Lincolnshire, Marine Thomas Curry 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 21, from East London and Lance Bombardier James Dwyer, 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 22.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of James Thompson, Trooper Ratu Sakeasi Babakobau, Household Cavalry Regiment, aged 29, from Fiji, Trooper Robert Pearson, The Queen's Royal Lancers Regiment, aged 22, from Grimsby, Senior Aircraftman Graham Livingstone, Royal Air Force Regiment, aged 23, from Glasgow, Senior Aircraftman Gary Thompson, Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment, aged 51, from Nottingham, Lieutenant John Thornton, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 22, from Ferndown, Marine David Marsh, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Sheffield, Corporal Damian Mulvihill, 40 Commando Royal Marines, aged 32, from Plymouth, Corporal Damian Stephen Lawrence, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards), aged 25, from Whitby, Corporal Darryl Gardiner, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, aged 25, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, Sergeant Lee Johnson, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, aged 33, from Stockton-on-Tees, Trooper Jack Sadler, The Honourable Artillery Company, aged 21, from Exeter, Captain John McDermid, The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 43, from Glasgow,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 430 Lance Corporal Jake Alderton, 36 Engineer Regiment, aged 22, from Bexley, Major Alexis Roberts, 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, aged 32, from Kent, Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman, 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 36, Private Brian Tunnicliffe, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), aged 33, from Ilkeston, Corporal Ivano Violino, 36 Engineer Regiment, aged 29, from Salford and Sergeant Craig Brelsford, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 25, from Nottingham.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Private Johan Botha, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, from South Africa, Private Damian Wright, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 23, from Mansfield, Private Ben Ford, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, aged 18, from Chesterfield, Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge, C flight, 51 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, aged 20, from Sheffield, Private Aaron James McClure, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 19, from Ipswich, Private Robert Graham Foster, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 19, from Harlow, Private John Thrumble, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 21, from Chelmsford, Captain David Hicks, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 26, from Surrey, Private Tony Rawson, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 27, from Dagenham, Essex, Lance Corporal Michael Jones, Royal Marines, aged 26, from Newbald, Yorkshire, Sergeant Barry Keen, 14 Signal Regiment, aged 34, from Gateshead, Guardsman David Atherton, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 25, from Manchester, Lance Corporal Alex Hawkins, 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, aged 22, from East Dereham, Norfolk, Guardsman Daryl Hickey, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 27, from Birmingham, Sergeant Dave Wilkinson, 19 Regiment Royal Artillery, aged 33, from Ashford, Kent and Captain Sean Dolan, 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, aged 40, from the West Midlands.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Marine Richard J Watson, 42 Commando Royal Marines, aged 23, from Caterham, Surrey, Marine Jonathan Wigley, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 21, from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, Marine Gary Wright, 45 Commando Royal Marines, aged 22, from Glasgow, Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead, 1 Royal Irish Regiment, aged 29, from Bearley, Warwickshire, Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch, 1 Royal Irish Regiment, aged 21, Corporal Mark William Wright, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 27, from Edinburgh, Private Craig O'Donnell, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, aged 24, from Clydebank, Flight Lieutenant Steven Johnson, aged 38, from Collingham, Nottinghamshire, Flight Lieutenant Leigh Anthony Mitchelmore, aged 28, from Bournemouth, Flight Lieutenant Gareth Rodney Nicholas, aged 40, from Newquay, Cornwall, Flight Lieutenant Allan James Squires, aged 39, from Clatterbridge, Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick, aged 28, from Liverpool, Flight Sergeant Gary Wayne Andrews, aged 48, from Tankerton, Kent, Flight Sergeant Stephen Beattie, aged 42, from Dundee, Flight Sergeant Gerard Martin Bell, aged 48, from Ely, Cambridgeshire, Flight Sergeant Adrian Davies, aged 49, from Amersham, Buckinghamshire, Sergeant Benjamin James Knight, aged 25, from Bridgwater, Sergeant John Joseph Langton, aged 29, from Liverpool, Sergeant Gary Paul Quilliam, aged 42,

30 Oct 2014 : Column 431 from Manchester, Corporal Oliver Simon Dicketts, The Parachute Regiment, aged 27, Marine Joseph David Windall, Royal Marines, aged 22, and Ranger Anare Draiva, 1 Royal Irish Regiment, aged 27, from Fiji.

]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Lance Corporal Jonathan Peter Hetherington, 14 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare), aged 22, from South Wales, Corporal Bryan James Budd, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, aged 29, from Ripon, Lance Corporal Sean Tansey, The Life Guards, aged 26, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, Private Leigh Reeves, Royal Logistics Corps, aged 25, from Leicester, Private Andrew Barrie Cutts, Air Assault Support Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps, aged 19, from Mansfield, Captain Alex Eida, Royal Horse Artillery, aged 29, from Surrey, Second Lieutenant Ralph Johnson, Household Cavalry Regiment, aged 24, from Windsor, Lance Corporal Ross Nicholls, Blues and Royals, aged 27, from Edinburgh, Private Damien Jackson, 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, aged 19, from South Shields, Tyne and Wear, Corporal Peter Thorpe, Royal Signals, aged 27, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, Intelligence Corps, aged 24, from Birmingham, and Captain David Patton, The Parachute Regiment, aged 38.]

[That this House salutes the bravery of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan and records with sorrow the deaths of Sergeant Paul Bartlett, Royal Marines, aged 35, Captain Jim Phillipson, 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, aged 29, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, Lance Corporal Peter Edward Craddock, 1st Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, aged 31, Corporal Mark Cridge, 7 Signal Regiment, aged 25, Lance Corporal Steven Sherwood, 1st Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, aged 23, from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, Private Jonathan Kitulagoda, The Rifle Volunteers, aged 23, from Clifton, Bedfordshire, Sergeant Robert Busuttil, the Royal Logistic Corps, Corporal John Gregory, the Royal Logistic Corps, and Private Darren John George, the Royal Anglian Regiment.]

Is it not time to initiate an inquiry into the Helmand incursion? In 2006, we were told that we were going in for three years in the hope that not a shot would be fired; at that time, only two British soldiers had been killed in combat. Should we not inquire into the matter, which was possibly the worst military blunder in our history since the charge of the Light Brigade?

Mr Hague: If we were to make a list of military blunders throughout history, it would be long and substantial before we came to anything in the last few years.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s first point. The next step is for the House to have a debate or a statement from the Defence Secretary in the coming weeks, given our withdrawal from Afghanistan, about the sacrifices made and what has been achieved. Sometimes more has been achieved on some issues in Afghanistan than we sometimes get the credit for. There will be either a debate or a statement, and I will be following the matter up.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): When it comes to the vote on the European arrest warrant, among other matters, may we have the fullest possible debate so that we can understand the safeguards that have been negotiated and whether they are indeed adequate?

30 Oct 2014 : Column 432

Mr Hague: We will be able to have a debate about those things—[Hon. Members: “When?] Understandably, the Opposition ask when, but understandably I will announce it when I am ready to. It will take place within the parameters that the Prime Minister set out.

As my hon. Friend says, it will be important to be able to look at these things in detail. Good work in Government in recent years has changed how the European arrest warrant works. Our domestic changes mean that we can refuse arrest warrants in minor cases and ensure that a British judge considers whether extradition is proportionate. We can block an arrest warrant where the incident does not amount to a crime under UK law. We can prevent lengthy pre-trial detention. Many of the concerns that were correctly expressed when the European arrest warrant was brought in have successfully been addressed over recent years.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I will try to help the Leader of the House out with talking about the economy. May we have a debate recognising the contributions that universities in this country have made to the British economy and international economy? I am thinking particularly of the university of Warwick, which celebrates its 50th birthday in the coming months.

Mr Hague: I join the hon. Gentleman in congratulating the university of Warwick on its anniversary and many other universities on their work. I cannot offer a debate, although I hope we would not disagree about the importance of this. We are fortunate in this country to have many of the leading universities of the world. That is part of the major contribution that Britain makes to science, to health, and to so many issues right across the globe, and it is very important that we always continue to do so.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): There is no better example of welfare reform in action than giving children the economic security of growing up in a household in which people earn a regular pay packet. The Leader of the House is right to draw the House’s attention to the fact that the proportion of workless households is now the lowest since records began. Coming on the back of the largest ever annual fall in unemployment, does not that strengthen the case for a full day’s economic debate, with a vote, on the day of the autumn statement?

Mr Hague: There is a very good case for economic debates. The Chancellor will present the autumn statement in the usual way, but I hope there will be a great deal of scope to discuss economic matters after that. I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of the issue of workless households. The number of workless households has gone down by 670,000 since the last general election, and the number of households where no one has ever worked has gone down by 50,000. That is an enormous change in this country that would never have happened under the policies of the Labour party.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend arrange for the Foreign Secretary to find out whether the UK could benefit from an emergency cap on all migrants from within—and, indeed, without—the European Community, so that in future no more than 100,000 bodies are allowed?

30 Oct 2014 : Column 433

Mr Hague: As my hon. Friend knows, the Prime Minister has been speaking about this subject, and he will speak about it further in the coming weeks, because it will be important in what the party to which he and I belong believes should be a renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union after the next general election. It is an important issue in that context. We have already taken many measures, such as reducing entitlement to benefits, including jobseeker’s allowance, on arrival in this country. However, I am not aware of any workable proposal for a cap under existing laws and treaties.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement by the Secretary of State for Justice on fixed-term recalls? I think that most people around the country will believe, and would expect, that when a criminal is released from prison early, if they commit another offence before the end of their original sentence they will be sent back to prison for the full duration of that sentence. However, 42% of recalls are now 28-day fixed-term recalls. In the first nine months of last year, 1,260 burglars were given 28-day fixed-term recalls instead of serving the full length of their original sentence. May we have a statement about this, because it causes a lot of alarm to many of our constituents and puts people at unnecessary risk of being a victim of crime?

Mr Hague: My hon. Friend raises an important issue, and he will not be the only one with questions about it. As he may be aware, the next session of Justice questions is on 11 November—a week on Tuesday—so I encourage him to raise these subjects directly with the Justice Secretary then.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): May we have a debate on the importance of ancient woodland in the west midlands? In my constituency, proposals for HS2, despite some recent mitigations, will do significant damage to ancient woodland near to Hints, and now Lafarge Tarmac has announced that it wants to demolish vast tracts of ancient woodland in Hopwas wood in order to quarry for gravel, outraging my constituents. A debate would allow us to discuss the importance of ancient woodland and how we can protect it.

Mr Hague: I have no doubt that my hon. Friend speaks for the concerns of many of his constituents on this. As he knows, the hybrid Bill on the first phase of HS2 is in Committee, where petitions are being heard. Ancient woodlands are a very important part of our national heritage. Where it has not been possible to avoid such sites in relation to HS2, we have been seeking refinements to the proposed line. I am sure he knows that we are committed to ensuring that appropriate mitigation measures are in place, including the transplantation of ancient woodland soils, where practicable, and the planting of 2 million trees during phase 1 of HS2.

30 Oct 2014 : Column 434

Backbench Business

UK Drugs Policy

Mr Speaker: In calling Caroline Lucas to move the motion, I congratulate her on the award she received last night at the Pink News awards in Speaker’s House, which I hope will enjoy the acclamation of her colleagues across the Chamber.

11.59 am

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): I beg to move,

That this House notes that drug-related harms and the costs to society remain high; further notes that the independent UK Drugs Policy Commission highlighted the fact that Government is spending around £3 billion a year on policies that are often counter-productive; believes that an evidence-based approach is required in order for Parliament and the Government to pursue the most effective drugs policy in the future; welcomes the recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee in its Ninth Report of 2012-13, HC 184, that the Government consider all the alternatives to the UK’s failing drug laws and learn from countries that have adopted a more evidence-based approach; notes that the Government has responded positively to this recommendation and is in the process of conducting an international comparators study to consider the effectiveness of national drug policies adopted by a range of countries; and calls on the Government to conduct an authoritative and independent cost-benefit analysis and impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and to publish the results of those studies within the next 12 months.

Thank you so much, Mr Speaker. I am delighted to open this debate and would like to start by thanking both the Backbench Business Committee for its support and the nearly 135,000 people who signed the petition I set up on the No. 10 website, which has enabled us to have this debate.

The motion notes that drug-related harms and the costs to society remain high. It makes the case that there is a wealth of evidence to that effect and calls on the Government to conduct an authoritative and independent cost-benefit analysis and impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and to publish the results of those studies within the next 12 months.

The motion has been very carefully written so as not to promote one policy model over and above another. It simply advances the principle that our drugs policy should be based on evidence of what works to reduce harm to individuals, communities and families affected by drugs misuse. In order to get that evidence, we need a thorough analysis and assessment of the current legislation, including comparing it with alternative models. For that reason, I hope that hon. Members who are in favour of a prohibition-based drugs policy, as well as those who advocate alternative approaches, will support this motion, because, in essence, what it seeks to do is get the evidence.

Since the 1971 Act was passed, there has been no process of reviewing whether it is achieving its dual objectives of reducing drugs misuse and the associated social harms.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): I agree with the hon. Lady. It is about 30-odd years since the Act was introduced and there should be a reassessment to see how we can bring it up to date with a proper policy.

30 Oct 2014 : Column 435

Caroline Lucas: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention and absolutely agree with him. Reviews take place in many other policy areas to check whether objectives are being met, and it is high time we had such a review of the 1971 Act.

The Government’s drugs strategy is itself subject to review, but that is a self-limiting process. In other words, it intends to look only at value for money and in terms only of whether the amount spent is more or less than the value of the positive outcomes. That review will be carried out in 2015 and it will not consider whether other approaches would be better value for money. Neither will it include the negative outcomes—the presumably unintended consequences—of the policy in its calculations.

I warmly welcome today’s publication of the Government’s international comparator study. I pay tribute to the Minister for Crime Prevention, who is in his place, for the leadership he has shown in the process. The study is very long awaited. It was commissioned on the recommendation of the Home Affairs Committee and is a considered review of the different approaches to drug policy pursued around the world.

The review indicates that introducing an alternative to prohibition would not, contrary to some claims, boost drug use, and it could save millions of pounds if users were treated for addiction rather than jailed. It seems that the evidence for the issue of drug use to be moved to the Department of Health, in order for the focus to be on treating rather than punishing addiction, is overwhelming as well. This is just the first step towards a drugs policy that puts harm reduction first, and I welcome it warmly, but we urgently need to follow up on this comparison of international approaches and learn the lessons from it for our own UK-based legislation. That is why this debate is so important.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): May I also congratulate the hon. Lady, not only on her award, which is well deserved, but on her work on this issue? In respect of following up, I also welcome the report led by the Minister. The Home Affairs Committee, prompted by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), will hold a separate session specifically on our last set of recommendations. It will be held in Cambridge, in honour of the hon. Gentleman, and I hope we can persuade the hon. Lady to come along and speak.

Caroline Lucas: I pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for all his leadership on this issue as Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, and to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert). I am very happy to take up that kind invitation. To be serious, I am very glad that the Home Affairs Committee is doing that extra piece of very important work.

Such work is important because drug misuse destroys individuals, families and communities, and an ineffective drugs policy only compounds that damage. All too often, success in the war on drugs is measured in numbers of arrests or seizures of drugs, but many of us believe that we should assess whether the harms associated with drug misuse are rising or declining.

The Home Secretary acknowledged in the foreword to her Government’s drug strategy:

“Individuals do not take drugs in isolation from what is happening in the rest of their lives.”

30 Oct 2014 : Column 436

I agree. Poverty, social exclusion and inequality all have an impact on drug use and drug markets. Research by the Equality Trust has shown a clear and demonstrable correlation between drug misuse and inequality. There is a strong tendency for drug abuse to more common in countries, such as the UK, that are more unequal. Ending social exclusion must therefore be at the heart of any effective strategy to reduce drug-related harms. To do that, we need to marshal the evidence.

Mr Robert Syms (Poole) (Con): Contrary to press reports, many of us on the Conservative Benches believe that evidence-based policy would be more effective in dealing with the scourge of drugs.

Caroline Lucas: What the hon. Gentleman says is absolutely true. In a sense, this is not a party political matter: people from across this House and the other place believe that we should have an evidence-based approach, rather than an approach that for too long has been dictated by fear, particularly fear of the tabloids. It is important to have this debate.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): I congratulate the hon. Lady on her award, even though, as I was nominated for it, I feel some frustration. It has been a great pleasure to work with her on this issue. Her voice is, and I hope will continue to be, very valuable in this place. Will she confirm that many newspapers are now coming out in favour of change, and that the public want change? Today, The Sun shows that roughly two thirds of people want a reform of drugs policy.

Caroline Lucas: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on being nominated, and I am sure he will win next time. His point is incredibly important. Until now, politicians often thought that they were reflecting public opinion, but they are now massively behind it, as the poll in The Sun absolutely demonstrates.

It strikes me as interesting that a time of austerity, with the Government seemingly looking under every last stone to find money to save, is an odd time not to consider drugs policy, given that so much money is invested in the current drugs regime. Yet drugs policy seems to be completely divorced from the usual considerations about public spending and the good use of taxpayers’ money, and we simply have no proper public mechanism for knowing whether the money spent on the so-called war on drugs has been put to good effect.

No one now buys alcohol in unmarked bottles from the back of a pub—that would be dangerous and unnecessary—but for 40 years we have left our children to do exactly that with drugs. There is no denying that drug misuse has the potential to wreck lives, but surely it is time to be honest about the damage caused by the drug laws, which can cause a proliferation of criminality and public harm. The entire drugs trade has been handed over to the worlds’ racketeers and gangsters. The drugs market has soared, and that has brought untold misery. Essentially, the current market is almost wholly uncontrolled.

From speaking to young people in my constituency, it is clear that many of them can get hold of drugs far more easily than alcohol, which is surely wrong. When someone tries to get hold of alcohol, they at least have to show an ID card if they are thought to be under age. Drug dealers do not care about someone’s ID or anything

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else; they care only about their profits. I believe that the current policy is based on a deliberate ignorance about the effect of drugs.

Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing the debate, and on her extraordinary petition, which has 130,000 signatures. I understand that 20% of people who have taken heroin said that they got it for the first time in jail. If we cannot control drugs in jail, how on earth are we supposed to control them on our streets?

Caroline Lucas: That is an extremely good point. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his very helpful intervention, which speaks for itself.

If we are to design a better drugs policy that is based on evidence, we need to agree on the objectives of drugs policy. For me, it is about protecting people, particularly the young and vulnerable, as well as reducing crime, improving health, promoting security and development, providing good value for money and protecting human rights. In setting out why that is important, I will say a little more about the impact of the current drugs policy and why I believe it adds to the case for a review; I will talk a little about the growing consensus on rethinking the current approach to drugs policy; and I will say a little about Brighton and Hove, where my constituency is situated, where the approach of following the evidence as far as possible has delivered benefits.

Before doing any of that, I would like to talk about Martha. Martha’s mother, Anne-Marie Cockburn, is in Parliament with us today. Like so many parents, she had always wanted to protect her child. However, on 20 July 2013, she learned that that was not always possible. On that day, Martha swallowed half a gram of MDMA powder—ecstasy—and died. She was 15 years old. Today, 30 October, would have been Martha’s 17th birthday. She is not celebrating that birthday because the Misuse of Drugs Act did not protect her. Making MDMA illegal did not protect Martha. We owe it to her and to Anne-Marie, and to the many other people who have died drug-related deaths and their families and loved ones, to ensure that in future each and every one of us is offered the best possible protection by our drugs laws.

In her incredibly moving blog, “What Martha Did Next”, Anne-Marie writes:

“Had Martha known that what she was about to take was 91% pure, she would probably have taken a lot less, in fact I’d go as far as to say that she might still be alive.”

Anne-Marie argues that, under prohibition, it is impossible fully to educate people such as Martha, because there is no way to tell what drugs contain. Prohibition has not stopped risk-taking, but it has made those risks much more dangerous. Anne-Marie suggests that we are failing to protect children such as Martha—that we are letting them down—and that, alongside deterring young people from taking drugs, we need a regulatory model that reduces the risk if drugs do get into the hands of young people such as Martha.

I agree with Anne-Marie. Perhaps many people in the Chamber will not. However, the fact that Martha is not celebrating her 17th birthday today is surely the first of many good reasons to carry out an impact assessment of our drugs laws. We urgently need to know whether

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prohibition is an obstacle to education about drugs, and whether our children would be better protected by alternatives, such as strict regulation. Despite all the accusations that are thrown at those who are in favour of drug policy reform, the bottom line is that it is not about being pro-drugs, but about saving lives. The only credible way to do that is to know whether our policies are up to the job.

That is especially important because there is powerful evidence that the so-called war on drugs is making things worse. Far from being neutral, in many instances, the current model pushes users towards more harmful products, behaviours and environments. Let me give two examples of what I mean. In doing so, it is crucial to distinguish between the suffering that is caused by drugs and that which is caused by drugs policy.

First, the vast majority of drug-related offending happens not because people take drugs, but because of drugs policy. Users are driven to burglary and theft to buy drugs at vastly inflated prices in an unregulated market. There is enormous potential to reduce significantly such crime and its impact on our communities under a different system.

Secondly, on legal highs, according to research into synthetic drugs by Demos and the UK Drug Policy Commission, 40 new substances emerged on to the market in 2010, compared with 24 in the previous year. By 2014, the figure had grown to 80 different synthetic drugs. Professor Les Iversen, the chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, recently admitted that drug control legislation is being forced to play “cat and mouse”. Such substances are routinely banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but that simply spawns more substances that, in turn, are banned. The legal process cannot keep up.

The Government have published a report today that recommends that all novel synthetic psychoactive substances, or legal highs as they are more widely known, be banned. I appreciate what they are trying to do with that policy, but I think that it is misguided. It fails to appreciate that many legal highs are the products of prohibition. Synthetic cannabis, for example, would not exist if there were a legally regulated supply of real cannabis. Nor does the policy recognise our knowledge that prohibition—in other words, banning things—does not stop people taking drugs, but simply increases the risks.

Mike Thornton (Eastleigh) (LD): Does the hon. Lady agree that the only people the current policy really benefits are the drug lords and crime lords who sell this disgusting stuff to our children? If her policies were realised, it would put those people out of business for good.

Caroline Lucas: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that the current—

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. The hon. Lady has been speaking for 15 minutes, so I am sure that we are nearing the end of the opening speech. [Interruption.] I assure her that we are nearing the end of the speech.

Caroline Lucas: Of course I am getting near the end, Mr Deputy Speaker. With that in mind, I shall simply agree with the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mike Thornton).

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The current policy is essentially putting users at greater risk by driving the creation of yet more ways to stay one step ahead of the law and by making research into the harms associated with new substances much more difficult.

Mr Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South) (Ind): Many of the new synthetic drugs are sold in shops up and down the country. If we do nothing to control the way in which the shops operate, such drugs will continue to be available. Most of them are sold over the counter and very few are sold illicitly in clubs. Where will the hon. Lady’s reforms lead us in terms of banning such shops from operating?

Caroline Lucas: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. There are two ways to respond. The motion simply says that we should look at the evidence. I am not saying where that will lead us. On the shops that sell so-called legal highs, we are not talking about an absence of control. On the contrary, we are talking about regulation and control. My argument with the Government’s statement on legal highs is that it assumes that if we ban them and drive them underground, they will go away. They will not. It is likely that they will be even more dangerous and that people will not know what they are taking.

One proposal in Transform’s blueprint for a drugs policy, which I warmly recommend, is a step-by-step process by which we look at how we regulate and control drugs. For example, it might be possible to get hold of them in a licensed pharmacy if people show a certain level of ID. There are all sorts of ways in which we could regulate and control the drugs market. I repeat that this is not about legalising drugs or having a free-for-all, but about bringing regulation and control back into a market that is in the hands of gangs and other people who do not care what is in the substances. They do not care about the purity of a substance; they care only about their profit. I stress again that this is about regulation and control.

Although, sadly, we do not systematically collect and assess data for the purposes of ensuring that the Misuse of Drugs Act is the best way to meet our drugs policy objects, there is a wealth of informative data out there. The evidence that I have seen is enough to persuade me of the need for drugs policy reform. However, I repeat that the motion simply asks for an independent review of the evidence. I therefore hope that those who do not agree with my interpretation of the evidence will still support the motion.

I thank the Minister for Crime Prevention again for his work on the Government’s comparators report. It shows that there is a wealth of evidence from many other countries that we could have a very different drugs policy in this country. In order to protect people in this country in the most effective way possible, it is incumbent on us as a Parliament to look at the comparators report, learn from it and see how we can make our drugs policy more effective.

12.17 pm

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the thoughtful contribution of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). I welcome her bringing this debate to the House.

I will speak about a harm-reduction approach to drugs policy. I do not hold a moralistic view on the taking of drugs, other than my objection to people

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supporting one of the most evil worldwide businesses or cartels. It always surprises me that people who object to buying coffee in Starbucks and who refuse to support Amazon are quite happy to support cartels that cause untold misery to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Until such time as we have a change in drugs policy, I hope that people who support the drugs industry will reflect on the wider harms that they, personally, are causing.

Talking of harm reduction, I welcome an approach that says, “Let’s look at the evidence and be driven by the evidence in what we do.” However, there is one piece of evidence on which we should reflect, which is that drug use is falling in this country. According to surveys from the Office for National Statistics, the level of class A drug use among young people—16 to 24-year-olds—has fallen from 9.2% in 1996 to 4.8% in 2012-13. That is a significant drop.

Caroline Lucas: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for the approach that she is taking. However, we need to be really clear about the evidence that drug use is going down. The only real model that we can see over time is that there was a 32% increase in respect of some of the most serious drugs, heroin and morphine, last year. Cannabis use has been coming down, but that has happened irrespective of the policy context and of whether it has been class B, class C or anything else.

Dr Wollaston: I thank the hon. Lady for that point. Cannabis use among 16 to 24-year-olds is now at its lowest level since records began, at around 13.5%. I think the view we sometimes hear that we are losing the war on drugs is factually incorrect, and there are many markers.

Ian Swales (Redcar) (LD): I have great respect for the hon. Lady’s experience in this matter. Does she see a connection between the falling use of illegal drugs that she is highlighting, and the rising use of legal highs?

Dr Wollaston: Legal highs are a rather separate issue. I agree we must consider that they may have unintended consequences, but I would not follow that as a direct cause or link. I do not agree with that.

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Dr Wollaston: May I make a little progress and then I will come back to the hon. Gentleman?

I would like to focus on cannabis for a moment—that is the issue I have most correspondence about—and on its harms. Cannabis is often presented as somehow a harmless product, and if we compare it with alcohol and consider the numbers of deaths and injuries, alcohol undoubtedly currently causes far greater harm in our society. However, before we assume that it must therefore be acceptable to legalise cannabis, I want to focus a little on its harms. In the short term, there is double the risk of a car crash for people driving under the influence of cannabis, and in the longer term, one in six young users will become dependent. It simply not true to say that cannabis is not a drug of dependence—it is.

For me, this is about the impact of cannabis on young users and teenagers, because they will double their risk of a psychotic illness. In my career I have met many families and young people whose lives have been completely

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devastated as a result of psychosis—I come to this debate from that viewpoint and my real concern about what psychosis does to people, because many of them did not recover. That is particularly important for those who have a family history of psychotic illness. For example, if someone has a first degree relative with a history of schizophrenia and they start using cannabis as a teenager, they will double their risk of a psychotic illness from 10% to 20%—a significant increase.

Dr Huppert: It is always interesting to listen to the hon. Lady, and I do not think anybody is trying to make the case that drugs, legal or illegal, are harmless. Does she accept, however, that because we make it an illegal system, we cannot do what has been done in California, for example, where medicinal marijuana has allowed the breeding of strains of marijuana that are less psycho-harmful?

Dr Wollaston: That is why I want to see the longer term results from Colorado and Washington state, and whether as a result of that system the harm to young people from cannabis is reduced. Personally, I think it is too early to say what the effects will be, but I will be following the results closely. If I see clear evidence of harm reduction, I will completely change my approach to this issue.

People often write to me and say, “Well look at Portugal where there has been a reduction in drug use”, but the Czech Republic, which has the same approach in not prosecuting people for personal use, has one of the highest levels of cannabis use across Europe. We must be careful about how selectively we quote from the evidence.

Mike Thornton: I have great respect for the hon. Lady’s skill and knowledge, which is probably greater than mine. In Portugal they take a great deal of care to look after the people brought to their attention who have problems with drugs, and they treat them properly, which works. Perhaps in the Czech Republic they do not use the same approach. It could be that that is the case.

Dr Wollaston: There is certainly a strong case for a much better medical approach to drug use—certainly for hard drug use. My point is about relative uses. People often write to me and say that we would cut cannabis use if we took a different approach to decriminalisation. As I say, I am not dogmatic about the issue, and I would like to see the longer term outcomes from legalisation in Washington state and Colorado.

Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Dr Wollaston: May I finish a few points about the medical aspects of this issue? There is also the issue of educational achievement for long-term, regular cannabis users in adolescence, because we know there is a reduction in their school performance, and it is more likely that they will end up with cognitive impairment later on. Whatever we do, we must be mindful of the effect of our policies on young people. The harms are greatest for young people who start using cannabis heavily at an early age. I hope the Minister will assure the House that when we review drugs policy he will particularly focus

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on its effects on young people, so that we do not head down a route that could lead to greater harm to young people as a result of policy changes.

12.25 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): I was not planning to speak in this debate, because I felt that most of what I have to say would be covered by the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) and for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), and my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn). However, I want to emphasise a couple of important points, which I hope will help the House to understand the issue.

The Home Affairs Committee has looked carefully at this issue and took a year producing a report, including a visit to Portugal. I was not able to go, but other colleagues, including the hon. Members for Hertsmere (Mr Clappison) and for Cambridge, as well as the then hon. Member for Rochester and Strood, went to Portugal and provided a good outline of what is happening there. The hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), Chair of the Health Committee, is right: we need to make comparisons and see what works elsewhere. That was reflected in the excellent speech by the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion, who has campaigned long and hard on this issue.

The main conclusion of the Committee’s report in 2012 was to urge the Government to initiate a royal commission, which we said could be done in a short period of time. We were not in favour of a royal commission that would last an age, and we felt that it could be completed to a timetable. Had that been accepted in 2012, we would have had the results by now; sadly, the idea was not taken up by the Government. I do not think a royal commission will be set up in the next six months, but I hope that future Governments will see it as a way of ensuring that all voices on drugs policy are heard. There are many voices out there, as we see from the number of right hon. and hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate, many of whom have great expertise on this matter. Let us hear all those voices, take the evidence, and come to a conclusion. A Select Committee can only do so much—all Select Committees try their best to cover a full agenda—and a royal commission would enable us to do much more.

Mr Mike Hancock: Will the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of his Committee very rapidly to the issue raised by the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith)—I also raised it in the Chamber 30 years ago—about people going into prison and coming out as heroin addicts? There needs to be a review of the way that prisons combat drugs, and I hope the Home Affairs Committee will take up the issue rapidly.

Keith Vaz: The first point I was going to make about drugs policy after calling for a royal commission was about prisons. The issue was raised by the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Zac Goldsmith), and brilliantly and eloquently exposed in the book by the hon. Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), who is sitting behind the Minister. He has great knowledge and expertise from his years at the criminal Bar, and he mentioned many different aspects of the criminal justice system. There is a whole chapter on drugs in prison, and I commend the book to Members of the House. He may even have copies of it to sell to Members after the debate.

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The Committee called for mandatory testing of prisoners on entry and exit, and we wanted to ensure that on exit, ex-prisoners are met at the gates and given the treatment they deserve, so that they do not reoffend and go back to prison. We found, as the hon. Member for Richmond Park said, that a quarter of prisoners first discover the taste of drugs while in prison. That is a shocking statistic and the number may even have gone up. Drugs are being used in prison and it is not acceptable. The prison authorities need to do much more, but we need to rehabilitate people, so that they do not reoffend as soon as they come out. A former Minister with responsibility for prisons is in the Chamber. He will have more knowledge of that, but I hope we get commitments from the Government and the Minister that more will be done.

Ian Swales: Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that, in any work his Committee does on drugs in prison, we do not narrowly define drugs? Legal and illegal drugs have been mentioned in the debate. I know from a visit to my local prison that the main drug misuse is of prescription drugs.

Keith Vaz: That was going to be my second point. I have a feeling that Liberal Democrat Members have a copy of my speech.

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): That is impossible. You were not going to speak.

Keith Vaz: Exactly. The Liberal Democrats have an incredible mind. They are able to predict exactly what hon. Members are going to say.

Correctly, the hon. Gentleman referred to prescription drugs, which had not been mentioned. The Committee was extremely concerned by the increase in the use of prescription drugs. Indeed, when the Committee was in Miami, as hon. Members would expect it to be, en route to Colombia to look at where 70% of the cocaine in our country comes from—we have done our homework—we heard of the first case of an American doctor being prosecuted for prescribing drugs. As we know, drugs become currency in prisons and outside. That is why there is a responsibility on the medical profession to ensure that doctors prescribe effectively and understand what is happening to prescription drugs if certain patients keep coming in and asking for them. It is important to ensure that we consider the availability of those drugs, which are perfectly legal.

I have not seen the Government statement on psychoactive substances so I cannot comment on it—I believe it was a written statement, and they never send the Committee advance copies. I just remind the House that the Committee was clear that the onus ought to be on the retailers who sell psychoactive substances. I did not realise that the Government were calling for a complete ban, but where psychoactive substances are sold, we should prosecute retailers for selling them. There is no point waiting for someone to die. It is essential we do something at the beginning by getting those who sell the drugs in the first place.

My final point is on money laundering and the weakness of successive Governments’ regimes to deal with criminality. As we have heard, the drugs trade is the second most profitable illegal activity in the world. It is worth some $380 billion a year, most of which

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enters the financial system, some through offshore areas such as Gibraltar and other areas of that kind. We need to ensure that authorities co-operate. I am not singling Gibraltar out because you are in the Chair, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. Just for correctness, I am not the chair of the Gibraltar group, but I was in the past. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman needs to take this up with the new chair.

Keith Vaz: There is no criticism of you, Mr Deputy Speaker, of the new chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Gibraltar or of anyone in Gibraltar, but we have discovered that some areas of the world are being used to launder money from drugs. Our financial authorities are not strong enough to deal with the way in which money goes through the system. That is why the Committee believes that bankers at the very senior level should be held criminally responsible if they know or are aware of laundering, or if they did not take action to prevent it.

Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): The right hon. Gentleman is right to consider asset recovery to deal with money laundering and criminal actions. He will be aware that we have an opportunity to consider that under the Serious Crime Bill. Does he share my concern about the drafting of the asset recovery clauses? Will his Committee consider that before we debate the Bill? Does he agree that the Bill needs much more to take on board lessons from places such as Italy?

Keith Vaz: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I am not sure that the Committee has time to consider that before Christmas, but I will do so with him. Let us sit down and see whether we can get an amendment together. I am happy to support him to make the Bill tougher, because it needs to be.

I commend the proposers of the motion.. This is a very important debate, and we do not debate UK drugs policy often enough. We need to ensure that we have more time to debate this serious and important subject.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker: Order. Can I suggest everybody works on keeping their speeches to around the 10-minute mark?

12.35 pm

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con): It is a great privilege to take part in the debate. I congratulate the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). I am not sure whether it will cause her or me more embarrassment among our supporters that we find ourselves sharing company and the same side of the argument.

Some years ago, when the debate about drugs erupted, as it does from time to time, the media went round more or less every Front Bencher and asked whether they had ever smoked pot. I was one of the very few who never had, and I have no intention ever of doing so. That gave me a clear enough head to look at this issue on the basis of evidence, which is what the hon. Lady’s motion urges us to do.

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I focused on the important distinction between soft and hard drugs, and on whether cannabis should be treated differently from hard drugs. I concluded that it should be, and that we should move to the legalisation of cannabis. We could have a small number of legal outlets while banning the active marketing and promotion of cannabis, its sale to minors and its consumption in public places.

I concluded that a move to legalisation would have a number of advantages. First, about 80% of the effort in the so-called war on drugs goes on trying to prohibit cannabis. Much less effort and resources go into the prohibition of hard drugs, which cause the greatest harm and the greatest danger. Therefore, if we could provide some legal outlets for cannabis, we would be able to focus more of the effort on the drugs that do the greatest harm.

Secondly, I concluded that the effort of trying to prohibit cannabis was ineffective. Until recently, we had a higher prevalence and usage of cannabis in this country than in Holland, where there are legal outlets. Prohibition was therefore ineffective.

Thirdly, I concluded that we were undermining respect for the law by having a law that was widely disregarded, and one that was harder to justify in a country which, after all, legalises the sale of alcohol, which can do at least as much damage as cannabis, and legalises the sale of nicotine and cigarettes, which can have more lethal consequences in the long term.

One key argument often used by those who advocate keeping cannabis on a par with hard drugs, and criminalising and prohibiting its sale in this country, is that it is supposedly a gateway drug, meaning that it leads people ineluctably to sample cocaine, and then tempts them to go on to heroin. They say that, therefore, its sale should be prohibited. I believe that the reverse is true: because the sale of cannabis is illegal, we drive soft drugs users into the arms of hard drugs pushers. They can obtain cannabis only from criminal gangs, who will want them to upgrade to drugs that are more addictive and more profitable.

Dr Wollaston: Does my right hon. Friend agree that the real gateway is tobacco use? Most people smoke cannabis with tobacco, and that poses the greatest risk of long-term harm.

Mr Lilley: I will, for the sake of argument, agree with my hon. Friend, but I think that is a rather different argument from the one I am addressing.

The most important single reason for legalising the sale of cannabis is to break the link between the sale of hard drugs and the sale of soft drugs. There are only two coherent and rational policies as far as soft drugs are concerned. The Swedish approach is one of toughly enforced prohibition. I looked briefly at the report and thought it was a bit weak on analysis of the Swedish situation, but I will look at it more deeply. The other is a version of the Dutch approach, which is now the approach of a number of countries, where legal outlets are available. The worst option is falling between two stools and decriminalising use while leaving the supply in the hands of drug gangs. That leaves us open to driving soft drugs users into the arms of hard drugs pushers.

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I say these things not as someone who is soft on drugs and believes there is nothing is wrong with taking drugs. I believe that even if there were no health disadvantages from using drugs, there is a moral case against using them. However, just as I want to decriminalise and legalise, I do not want to de-moralise drugs. Ultimately, wherever possible moral choices should be left to individuals. In so far as we are going to be no worse off—the Dutch experience shows not a higher number of users, but fewer people pushed into harder and worse drugs—let us look at the evidence closely, and be willing to accept that although drug use may be wrong it does not automatically have to be criminal.

Lots of things are wrong. Adultery is wrong, but we do not make it a criminal offence. Lots of other things are against the moral law in which I believe, but we do not make them a criminal offence. Let us look at drugs without going to the opposite extreme of saying that any use of drugs is desirable and entirely value-free. Let us look at the evidence and see whether the policies we have been pursuing in this country have been ineffectual, have focused the effort where it is least needed and not where it is most needed, have undermined respect for the law, and have driven soft drugs users into the arms of hard drugs pushers. I hope the House will support the motion.


12. 42 pm

Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley). We are both old lags in this debate and were both mentioned in the drugs report of 2002.

I am more optimistic than I have been during the past 27 years in which I have made 28 speeches on this matter in this House. At one time we had an annual debate, which was an amazing ritual. The Government, whoever they were, said how wonderfully and successfully things were going, and the Opposition would say, “Yes, we agree.” One moment I prize was when, about half way through, both Front-Bench speakers had to leave the Chamber for a fix—they were both chain smokers. They saw nothing wrong in denouncing young people and then going off to any of the 16 bars in this place and having a whisky and a cigarette. They would have a couple of paracetamol in their pockets for the headaches they were going to have the next morning. They could not see any contradiction between that and laying down laws for young people.

The hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) talked about the myth that the use of drugs has gone down because of Government action. There is absolutely no correlation. Let us look at the past 43 years. When the Drugs Misuse Act 1971 was passed with the support of all parties—always a worrying thing—there were fewer than 1,000 heroin and cocaine addicts in the whole country. The last figure I saw was 320,000. There has been a steady increase over the years. The reason there has now been a decline in cannabis use and other activities by young people is that they have a new addiction. They have an almost universal addiction to their Tablets and iPhones—that is where their attention is going. It is all to do with fashion. Drug taking might be cool one year and naff the following year. It all depends on that.

The hon. Lady made a point about Portugal, which is a great success story. It changed its policy in 2001. Within a very short time the number of deaths went

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down by 50%,and it does not have the cost of prosecutions and so on. It has been a continuing success. The change in the Czech Republic is relatively recent and we have yet to see the results, but there are encouraging signs.

I have to apologise to the Minister. I was so ungracious as to believe that he was going to follow the path of all the other Ministers with responsibility for drugs, including some very distinguished ones. I remember when the beloved Mo Mowlam was in charge of drugs. Her letters would comprise the civil service reply and a little note on the top, written by her, saying, “See you in the Strangers Bar to tell you what I really think.” [Laughter.] When the current Minister came before the Home Affairs Committee, I asked him whether he had had the compulsory lobotomy to become a Minister with responsibility for drugs in exchange for his red box. It was not true! The Minister stuck to his views, and here we have the first ever intelligent document on drugs from Government in 43 years—the only one that is evidence-based. We have had evidence-free, prejudice-rich policies for years from politicians who were cowardly. They would not take on the tabloids. Some years ago, the Liberal Democrats decided that they were going to pursue the policy that we are encouraging today and they were denounced by The Sun as going to pot.

There is cowardice because of prejudice, but we know that public opinion is way ahead of us. The public know the stupidity and impotence of our drugs policy. I regularly ask how many prisons in Britain are drug free. I always get the answer that there are none. If we cannot keep hard drugs out of prisons, how on earth can we keep them out of schools, clubs or anywhere else? It is a pretence.

Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington) (Lab): Women go into prisons like Holloway drug-free and come out with a drug habit, such are the difficulties of keeping drugs out of prison.

Paul Flynn: There is a splendid book called “Invisible Women” about Holloway prison, which I commend to everyone. It tells the terrible story of what is going on there.

Another point about prison is that one medicine that was given to young women who had been badly treated and were mutilating themselves was largactil. There was a name for them in prison: they called them muppets. This was a drug for those who had serious mental health problems. The whole sorry story of drugs in prison is one of abuse by many medicinal drugs. A blind eye was turned to cannabis use because it kept a lid on things. If prisoners were on alcohol they were aggressive, but if they were on cannabis they would give everyone a hug. That is how the prisons liked it. The prison policies pursued by all parties are completely hypocritical and they illustrate the futility of prohibition.

I received a call before I came to the House from someone talking about the use of medicinal cannabis, which I have supported for a very long time. It is not that I want to use it. I have never used any illegal drug and I have no plans to use cannabis. The point is the irrationality of the Government’s stand. Cannabis in its natural form is one of the oldest drugs in the world. It has been used on all continents for 5,000 years. Now, because we are nervous and it is an illegal drug, we allow people to have only little bits of cannabis. Dronabinol,

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nabilone or TAC are available, but they contain only a small number of ingredients from the hundreds in any natural substance.

Mike Thornton: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is very strange that a doctor can prescribe heroin in the form of diamorphine, a controlled and very dangerous drug, but not cannabis?

Paul Flynn: Indeed, and I would like to get on to that. We have just been involved in a war, which I mentioned at business questions. We went into Helmand province five years after we went into Afghanistan. We had lost only two soldiers by that time, but our main purpose in going in—hon. Members should read the speeches from 2006; I have just put them on the website—was all about stopping heroin being grown and ending the drug crop. In 2006, 90% of our heroin came from Afghanistan; yet here we are, years later, and 90% of our heroin still comes from Afghanistan. There is a difference, however,: now it is cheaper because there is more of it. The efforts to control it were utterly futile, yet there is a shortage of morphine throughout the world—another issue that we have not addressed.

I come back to the point that we should look at the chemistry. Nobody knows what the effect of the various ingredients of natural cannabis is. It might well be that ingredient No. 36 neutralises ingredient No. 428. We do not know, and by stopping people having a natural drug that has proved to be beneficial, we are imposing torment on many who have serious problems, such as multiple sclerosis and other diseases that we know can be cured. It is prejudice that has driven our policies for all these years. I am heartened today by the Minister, by his courage and by the report, which is the only report—I repeat: we have waited 43 years for this—that is based on the truth and the evidence. Marvellous things are happening in other countries throughout the world, and there is a recognition that prohibition has been a curse.

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): In the litany of good signs that the hon. Gentleman is seeing, I am quite certain that he will have read the article by Sir William Patey, who was our ambassador in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2012. He says:

“For the sake of both Afghans and British citizens, senior politicians must take responsibility for the failings of global prohibition, and take control of the drug trade through legal regulation.”

When someone like him says that, it is another reason to sit up and take notice.

Paul Flynn: That is absolutely right. We are following what happened with the prohibition of alcohol in America, where the deaths came from the use of distilled spirit. The content could not be controlled, and it was poisonous. We now have people taking drugs—often in the most concentrated form and in the most dangerous way—that are produced by people who are irresponsible. I believe that if we did not have prohibition, people would be using heroin beer and other things by now. In Amsterdam, they take their cannabis without smoking, because the danger—as with tobacco, where it is not the nicotine—is in smoking the substance. The best way would be if we relaxed about this and if people could have their drugs of choice—all dangerous and to be avoided if at all possible, but we cannot stop people seeking relaxation

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and comfort from drugs; that will go on. The way to do it is to end prohibition and for a courageous Government to reform our laws.

12.53 pm

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), who was an advocate for this cause well before it was fashionable. It is good to see him in his place still arguing for it. I also echo his praise for the fantastic work that my right hon. Friend the Minister has done, which means that we have now heard praise for his work from all parties present in the Chamber, even though some representative parties that are not here have been rather more critical of the stance he has taken. It is also good to hear a degree of unanimity in the comments expressed today. There are some differences, but they are in the nuances. There is not a principled difference; all the speeches have broadly called for change to our policies.

My belief is that the so-called war on drugs has simply not worked. What it has done is cause more harms than it has alleviated. That has been clear for quite a long time, and I and my party have long called for reform. It is not about being hard on drugs or soft on drugs; it is about being smart on drugs and doing the right thing. Of course drugs are harmful. Whether they are legal or illegal, and whether they are prescribed or not prescribed, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and heroin are all harmful things. They all cause harms—to people who take them, to other people and to society. The model we have had for so long in this country and in many parts of the world has been based on the idea that when it comes to some substances—not tobacco and alcohol, but the other ones, for historical reasons—our aim should be to stop people taking them. The idea is to reduce the number of users, rather than looking at the harms the substances cause. That is the wrong goal and it has not worked.

Drug use is still high, with millions of people regularly breaking the law, which is not an effective disincentive. Hon. Members can talk to many police officers about this, but frankly it makes the law look silly when 4 million people a year are committing a criminal offence, of whom 100,000—randomly selected, but with somewhat more from poorer communities and black and minority ethnic groups—get arrested, with a few unlucky people, again disproportionately poorer people and those from black and minority ethnic groups, being thrown in jail. It does not work.

Stephen Phillips: I may come to this if I am lucky enough to catch your eye in due course, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I do not think anyone else has made this point, but does it not also cause a lack of respect for the criminal law when every year 4 million people regularly break what is regarded as the criminal law for something that they do not think is a criminal offence?

Dr Huppert: Absolutely. If we asked people what sort of sentence it should be possible to get for having a spliff, they would not think that many years in jail was proportionate. I know that that does not always happen, but the maximum sentence in this instance brings the law into disrepute.

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Ms Abbott: Does the hon. Gentleman think that politicians might just be behind public opinion on this question? A major tabloid paper reports today that it has polled its readers, who believe there should be a review of the legislation.

Dr Huppert: The hon. Lady is absolutely right, as I said in an intervention. Politicians are behind, at least in what they are prepared to say. Another survey two years ago—I cannot remember which paper ran it—showed that 77% of MPs thought we should have reform, as long as they knew they would not be named in the survey and asked to introduce it. Politicians should have the courage of their convictions, and the public’s convictions, and take action.

I shall pick up the point made by the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), who chairs the Health Committee. We have indeed seen a reduction in the raw numbers—she is absolutely right—but I think that is largely because people are taking new psychoactive substances. We are seeing a huge increase in people taking legal alternatives, rather than illegal substances. The perversity of that is that we have pushed people to take substances whose safety we know less about. We know less about the harms and we are probably increasing the risk to those people very substantially. We should also look at the system. Smoking tobacco is more harmful than chewing khat, but why would we make the dangerous one legal and the not-so-dangerous one illegal? It seems like a very strange thing to do.

As a member of the Home Affairs Committee, I was delighted that the Chair, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), who is sadly not in his place, agreed when I kept insisting that we should have a look at this issue. We undertook a detailed study and we heard from experts around the world. We concluded, on a cross-party basis, a key objective:

“The principal aim of Government drugs policy should be first and foremost to minimise the damage caused to the victims of drug-related crime, drug users and others.”

That is a call to completely rethink how we do drugs policy: to focus on reducing the harm, not on how many people do things that we badge as illegal.

The Home Secretary of course rejected the report’s findings and just carried on with business as usual, but we had one key victory. We secured agreement for an international comparator study, which has been worked on by my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne) and, now, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Crime Prevention. That is what has come out today, and although there is a serious gap where some of the conclusions ought to be—one feels that one is being led towards something, only to find a missing paragraph saying what one should do—it is very clear. The fundamental point is that sounding tough does not matter. The rhetoric does not make any difference; it is about outcomes. The study says:

“Looking across different countries, there is no apparent correlation between the ‘toughness’ of a country's approach and the prevalence of…drug use.”

That is key. If being tough actually reduced drug use around the world, we would have to look again, but it simply does not work. It creates extra harms, so the argument falls down.

What does work? There have been lots of academic studies. The thing that most reduces drug use is having a more equal society. Solving that may be beyond the

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scope of this debate, and certainly beyond my scope in the time I have left, but that is what will work—not tough laws, but a more equal society. Yet we continue with the tough approach. Every year we spend millions of pounds jailing something like 1,000 people for no offence other than possession. We are not talking about people who have burgled; we are talking about simple possession offences. They are not dealers; they are not doing worse things. Jailing them does not help them to deal with their addiction; if anything, it makes things worse for them and takes money that we could spend helping them instead of punishing them.

It is therefore really good progress that we now see acceptance from the Government that a tough drugs policy does not reduce usage. Contrary to what the Home Secretary said to the Home Affairs Committee, the Government have finally accepted that in Portugal decriminalisation and a focus on treatment have not led to more drug use.

We have the Minister on board, but we need to get the Home Secretary to agree to go ahead. We spend vast amounts of money on a drugs policy. Estimates vary between £3 billion and £10 billion a year, depending on which costs are included. Times are tight, so we should spend that money effectively. We should use police resources effectively, too. If police are kept busy dealing with simple possession offences, that is time and effort that they cannot use to settle violent or acquisitive crime, or indeed the gang crime that our war on drugs is fuelling. That is why so many police officers have spoken out.

The chief constable of Durham, Mike Barton, has argued for the decriminalisation of class A drugs, highlighting the fact that prohibition has put billions of pounds into the hands of the criminals he is supposed to be fighting. Many others say the same, including Chief Constable Tom Lloyd, my own former chief constable:

“Drug dealers all over the world are laughing at law enforcement…I want the end of prohibition and the start of control and regulation so we don’t have dealers on the street.”

He has also highlighted the harm done to young people, because for a huge proportion of them, their first contact with the law comes from being stopped and searched for drugs offences. When someone is convicted, according to Tom Lloyd:

“It seems hypocritical to saddle a young person with a criminal conviction that could blight their lives”.

Such people often have problems getting jobs and travelling in the future. This causes huge problems. Because of our criminalised system, we have no control over what drugs are cut with—and these cutting agents are often worse than the drugs themselves.

We also have huge problems with discrimination. For black and minority ethnic groups, the use of harder drugs is lower, but arrests are higher and they are twice as likely to proceed to court than white people. That is not right; we should not be doing that. With more than half of stop and searches being for possession, even the Home Secretary has acknowledged the problems that can result from that.

We need a new system, focusing on treatment, education and rehabilitation and dealing with the harms caused by drugs. How we pay for that is a challenge. The answer is to take money from the criminal justice system. We need to divert the money from spending on policing and prison towards spending on helping people to

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break their addiction. My party has called for exactly that, continuing to spearhead those calls. At our party conference in October this year, we had a new crime policy paper, which picked up on this issue. It called for a transfer of powers from the Home Office to the Department of Health, saying that drug addiction is a health problem and should be seen as such. We should make sure that people are not sent to prison for personal possession; we should move towards decriminalisation. We propose having a royal commission to take an overall view of what we do and to keep an eye on what is happening with cannabis in the US and Uruguay. I agree with the hon. Member for Totnes that it is too early to be certain about the outcomes; we need to keep an eye open.

Stephen Phillips: The hon. Gentleman mentions the US, and earlier in his very powerful speech he mentioned the difficulty some young people have with being criminalised over the possession of drugs. Does he regard it as an oddity, as I do, that a person could be denied a visa to go to the United States, in some parts of which marijuana can be bought and smoked quite legally, just because they have a criminal conviction in this country for having used cannabis?

Dr Huppert: The hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right; I agree completely with his point. We are blighting people’s lives for no good reason, and many do not think it is proportionate.

It is not just my party that has pushed for this change for a long time. Many other Members have called for reform, like the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas). We have heard the clear view of The Sun in a very strong editorial just this morning, stressing that we cannot continue with the status quo. The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) said when he was Secretary of State:

“We have been engaged in a war against drugs for 30 years. We’re plainly losing it. We have not achieved very much progress.”

The former head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller called for us to acknowledge the truth that

“much…of the vast expenditure on the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has been fruitless.”

The noble Lord Lawson, with whom I disagree on many things, said:

“I have no doubt that the present policy is a disaster.”

Then there is the Prime Minister. When he was a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2002, along with the hon. Member for Newport West, he voted to recommend

“that the Government initiates a discussion within the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of alternative ways—including the possibility of legalisation and regulation—to tackle the global drugs dilemma”.

The Prime Minister used to be a reformer. When he ran for the Tory leadership, he said:

“Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades.”

All those voices are on side; we need to bring the Prime Minister back. Portugal has been a huge success. When we visited, we found that the new drugs policy was supported across the parties, and by the police as it helped them to deal with crime.

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Let me make two last points before concluding. In 2016, the UN General Assembly will hold a special session on drugs in 2016, providing a key chance to change the global system in respect of drugs policy. This is key, and there are calls from around the world. Britain is leading the way in the calls for reform, but unfortunately not in an official capacity—it is the all-party parliamentary group on drugs policy reform that is seeking to co-ordinate Ministers around the world. The Government should support this change.

I echo the calls of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Crime Prevention to look again at marijuana as a medicine. The evidence is that it can be a very effective medical remedy, dealing with many diseases, including MS and glaucoma, and easing the side-effects of chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS treatment. This can help improve people’s lives, so clearly we should look at it as a medical intervention. This country has followed the wrong approach for 40 years. It has not worked, and it is time to change.

1.5 pm

Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Con): I shall take a somewhat different tack from other Members, but first I congratulate the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and others on their contributions to the debate. I want to pick up on what was said by the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee about legalised prescription drugs and how they relate to drug-related harms and their costs to society. I would argue that the cost of prescription drugs is massive, as are the related harms.

I would like to pay tribute to the late Jim Dobbin, with whom I worked closely on the all-party group on involuntary tranquilliser addiction. Jim set it up and worked on it year in, year out, because of his concerns, perhaps arising from his background, and because of the people he came into contact with. I pay particular tribute to Mick Behan, who worked out of his office. He had gone through involuntary tranquilliser addiction and worked hard with Jim to bring this to the notice of Government after Government.

Ironically, I was the Conservative candidate in Heywood and Middleton in 1990 when the Conservative Government were in power. Like all good candidates, I could not attack the Government, but I could attack the local Rochdale council, and who was a senior member of Rochdale council in 1990? Jim Dobbin. I then came to this place. My constituent John Perrott, who is the secretary of the all-party group, contacted Jim and got involved in work with him over the last four years, trying to bring to the notice not just of this House but of the system, the situation with tranquillisers and prescriptions.

The motion talks about costs. It is estimated that 1.5 million people have a long-term addiction to tranquillisers in this country. In 2012, 67.3 million prescriptions for tranquillisers were issued; in 2013, it went up to 70.2 million. Those are legal drugs that are being issued. There is a lot of evidence, particularly relating to the benzodiazepines—benzos—and the Z drugs, to demonstrate people’s addiction. As early as 1988, apparently, GPs were instructed that people should not be on these drugs for longer than four weeks. Yet 1.5 million people are addicted to them.

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As a member of the all-party group, I used to visit with Jim various parts of the NHS to talk to doctors. We also spoke to the British Medical Association. There was a worry about their professionalism, as I remember one doctor saying, “If I refuse to give another prescription, I know full well that patient will go to another doctor and get the same prescription.” There is a great hole in the system. What the real cost is, I do not know. It must run to millions, if not billions, just for prescribing those drugs. Clearly, the profits for various companies are quite high.

The human cost is different again, when we think about the problems people face through no fault of their own. Who better to quote than the Prime Minister himself on this? Jim put a question to him in October last year, in response to which the Prime Minister said that

“these people are not drug addicts but they have become hooked on repeat prescriptions of tranquillisers.”—[Official Report, 23 October 2013; Vol. 569, c. 296.]

They went to their doctors in all good faith. They did not read the small print about possible side-effects and nobody spelt them out. Now we are left with the figure of 1.5 million people who cannot get off these drugs, and there seems to be no place in the system for them to go. The only place they are sent is to a drug rehabilitation centre, but the majority of the people sent there have usually been on illegal drugs. I am not talking about a class difference, but there is a psychological difference between one and the other. What generally happens is that people who have suddenly realised that they are addicted to a substance that they took as a medicine stop going such centres. One clinic that Jim and the all-party group supported, and which we hope will continue, is a voluntary clinic in Oldham, which followed the recommendations in a manual produced by Professor Heather Ashton about ways of getting people off benzo drugs and curing the addiction that they cause, but that is just one clinic. There was another in Liverpool, but its grant has gone.

My constituent John Perrott has—I hope—got himself off prescription drugs by means of that system. He sent a number of freedom of information requests around the country asking how many people had been taken off such drugs. As I said earlier, it has been estimated that 1.5 million people are addicted to them. A total of 180 people all over the country responded by saying that they had undergone some kind of rehabilitation to get them off prescription drugs.

As I have said, I do not know the total financial cost involved, but the mental and physical costs are clear to anyone who meets people who have ended up taking prescription drugs. Members can imagine the mental stress that they experience. They took those drugs because a doctor had told them that they would be fine. Therein may lie one of the problems that have been identified by Jim and others. The Earl of Sandwich has tried to take up the issue with the British Medical Association. Some doctors have said that, anecdotally, there is indeed an issue. However, they tend to feel that their professional judgment is being challenged, even if what is involved is an historical judgment. They worry about, for instance, possible litigation—and we are, of course, familiar with the American scene. But all that these people are crying out for is some recognition within the national health service.

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We have had meetings with health Minister after health Minister, and they have all said “It is fine—it is in the system.” However, drug companies are making millions from prescription drugs. Doctors say, “What can I do? If I tell people that there is a different system which does not involve my giving them tablets, they will not believe me”—and, as I said earlier, those people can easily go to another doctor and get the drugs from him. I understand that some of them can be obtained through the internet in any case. That is a very different scenario from the one that has featured in the debate so far, although it is clearly relevant to the overall issue of drug misuse.

Members have mentioned drugs in prisons. I have tried to obtain factual information from prisons, but have been given only anecdotal evidence. Prison doctors have told me that many prisoners know that the way in which to get hold of drugs is to say, “I am depressed”—and why would someone who has been sentenced to imprisonment not be depressed? The prisoner need only act out the symptoms, and the drugs will then be prescribed, entirely legally. The anecdotal evidence that I have received from the prisons themselves is “It keeps them quiet.” Other Members have mentioned that already.

Stephen Phillips: I wonder whether my hon. Friend has spoken to prison governors, as I have. They have told me, as I am sure they have told him, that if prescription drugs, particularly tranquillisers, are taken out of prisons and no longer prescribed for prisoners—although they are not needed for the majority of prisoners—every custodial facility in the country will be on fire the following day.

Eric Ollerenshaw: My hon. and learned Friend has made the point far better than I could. We are told that when we talk to people in the system, but there is no recognition of it. I find it amazing that even Members of Parliament cannot acquire information about the scale of prescriptions inside prisons, but, for some reason, that is not possible.

There is a whole series of questions to be asked. I congratulate the Members who initiated the debate, and I appreciate the points they have raised about illegal drugs. As an ex-teacher, I have seen the damage that drugs cause, on the streets and elsewhere. However, the issue of illegal drugs is part of a much wider issue relating to drugs in 21st-century society.

Let me end by paying another tribute to Jim Dobbin. He stood firm on this issue, and he worked so hard on it. I last met Jim on, I think, the Thursday before the weekend when he died. He had had a meeting with the Chairmen of the Health and Home Affairs Committees, during which he had been trying once again to find out more about an issue that affects all our constituents.

1.14 pm

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Eric Ollerenshaw. He made a compelling speech, in which he rightly identified an immense problem that goes to the heart of the issue with which our drugs policy must deal.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) on securing the debate. I recall having a conversation with one of her co-signatories, the right

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hon. Member for Coventry North East (Mr Ainsworth), when I was the criminal justice Minister responsible for the prison and probation services. The right hon. Gentleman, having at one time been the Minister responsible for drugs policy in the Home Office, is yet another convert to the more enlightened and intelligent policy that is proposed in the motion and implicitly recommended in the study report that the Government have just published.

On that occasion, the right hon. Gentleman and I, as Minister, cooked up a plan for him to ask me a question so that we could begin to arrive at some estimate of the actual cost of our drugs policy to the criminal justice system. However, even as the Minister answering the question, I found it impossible to beat out of the Department information that would have enabled me to give a proper answer to the right hon. Gentleman, and eventually, having tried to do so several times, I gave up.

This is the central point that I want to make. Given the number of global leaders who have had responsibility for policy in this area—Kofi Annan, the former Presidents of Brazil, Switzerland, Colombia, Portugal, Mexico and Chile, George Papandreou; the list goes on and on, and includes, of course, the right hon. Member for Coventry North East—we ought to start drawing some conclusions. Members who know that they will not get the political kicking that our current Administration plainly feel they will get if they begin to open up an intelligent policy discussion of this issue should now collectively begin to push harder and harder. I share the optimism of the hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), who for many decades has occasionally been a lone and vilified voice. His courage is an object lesson to us all.

Ms Abbott: The hon. Gentleman referred to the international context. Does he agree that it is significant that at least one American state—Colorado—has decriminalised marijuana? Is that not a sign that the tide is turning in regard to the efficacy of the war on drugs?

Crispin Blunt: I agree with the hon. Lady. There are examples all over the world of much more enlightened policies on drugs. Portugal and the Czech Republic have already been cited, and a number of American states have changed their policies on cannabis.

This is what I find modestly depressing. A bright young new Member of Parliament is elected in 2001, and is appointed to the Home Affairs Committee. He is then party to a report which invites another really good report from the Home Affairs Committee, whose members, as Members of Parliament, sit down and consider the issues properly. He is then party to a recommendation in 2002. He is holding to that position even in 2005, when he is competing for the Conservative party leadership. And here we are now. I found myself becoming one of his Ministers in 2010.

I shall now do what I should not do, and reveal a collective internal political discussion between Ministers who had some responsibility for justice and those from the Home Office. Of course, we did not dare to raise this issue. I pushed as hard as I could for us at least to get to where we are today, and I congratulate the Minister and his predecessor on having pushed so hard to secure the report that has just been published. It is a

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big step forward for us to persuade the Government even to specify the international comparators. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) was right to point out that the conclusions appear to be missing from the report. Joking apart, however, we all need to understand the political difficulty of carrying this debate with us. We have been frightened of the tabloid press, and we have seen what they did to the Liberal Democrat party as a result of some of its policies in this area.

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s recommendation in 2012 for a royal commission was absolutely right. That will get the matter out of the political space, so that the work on international comparators that has been put into the report can be considered. The royal commission will then be able to put forward the kind of difficult and far-reaching conclusions that I believe would be appropriate to take us in the direction of regulation and away from the utterly disastrous policy of prohibition.

Stephen Phillips: My hon. Friend talks about political courage. In the debate earlier this week on the Recall of MPs Bill, he made a brave speech on restoring the reputation of Parliament. One way of doing that would be for us to take the lead on this matter and tell the truth about the fact that the existing drugs policy has not worked. Should we not simply take on the tabloids—and damn the consequences—by putting in place a policy that works and that is best for the people of this country?

Crispin Blunt: I wholly agree with my hon. and learned Friend. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), he has seen at first hand the horrifying consequences of the failure of our policy in the prison system. I visited 70-odd prisons during my time as prisons Minister, and the most depressing part of those visits was seeing the methadone queue. The prisoners queuing up to be prescribed their methadone were sallow, emaciated and plainly ill, and they had almost no prospect of getting better, given the treatment that they were getting.

We worked hard to start to join up the different parts of the criminal justice system in relation to addiction. We wanted to divert addicts away from the criminal justice system and into the health system right at the beginning of the process, so that they could get proper treatment. One of the aims of the probation service reforms is to incentivise the service in regard to the successful rehabilitation of offenders. About 46% of acquisitive crime is drug related, as a result of people trying to feed their habit. If we are to rehabilitate such people successfully, we need to address their addiction. We ran eight pilots in the health service to try to identify the best ways of incentivising the health system to address addiction. All those measures are just baby steps, however, given the way in which the drugs industry has been criminalised. According to a Library note, Home Office figures show that the cost of the problem to the criminal justice system is about £13.9 billion.

Legalisation would create a risk of adverse health consequences. We might see an explosion in drug use, just as we have in the use of another drug, called alcohol, which is omnipresent in our society. Linked to

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that could be the kind of consequences that my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood described, relating to tranquillisers. There could be a significant increase in health problems if we legalised and regulated the supply of drugs that are currently illegal. However, the lessons from Portugal suggest that that would not happen.

Getting the supply of drugs out of the hands of criminals would create the benefits that other hon. Members have mentioned. We would know what was in the drugs, that they were clean and that they had been obtained on the basis of sensible advice about their use. We would then have a society in which people took responsibility for their actions. If someone drove under the influence of drugs, for example, they would have to take the consequences, just as they would today if they drove under the influence of alcohol.

Given the scale of this issue, it is a pity that this debate has had to take place on a Back-Bench motion. The tide of opinion expressed by those who have taken part has so far gone entirely in one direction. I know from my experience as a Minister that, when we first looked at this matter, the Government spent about £900 million on trying to address addiction. The general assessment from Ministers at the time was that that was achieving absolutely nothing. It was felt that the rate at which people were getting better would probably have been exactly the same if that money had not been spent. We were making serious efforts, and the Government are to be commended for their efforts, particularly in the criminal justice system, to join up the management of addicted offenders, but this could all happen much faster and be much more effective if we grasped the root of the problem—namely, the consequences of prohibition.

In the end, drugs are drugs. Alcohol is a drug. We have heard about the example of prohibition in the United States, and of its war on drugs. Both those policies have been utter calamities, and they should present a lesson to the world. I sincerely hope that we in this House will be able to force Her Majesty’s Government to have the courage to address this serious issue in a way that could be of immense benefit to many of our citizens.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Before I call the next speaker, I should like to suggest that speeches should last for no more than eight minutes. We are struggling with time, and quite a few people wish to speak in the next debate. There is more than one debate today, and we must think of the others who want to speak.

1.27 pm