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Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is certainly the case that substantial changes among the existing European Union countries will be necessary during the process of enlargement. The European Budget, and in particular the common agricultural policy, will play a major role in

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that. As the noble Lord will be aware, we, and indeed the previous Government, are anxious that substantial reform of the common agricultural policy should take place in that timescale.

With regard to the benefits of EU expansion to include Lithuania and other countries of eastern and central Europe, it is quite clear that both public opinion and their economic interest lie in eventual membership of the European Union. That will also be to the benefit of existing members of the Union.

Lord Moynihan: My Lords, in light of the recent failure of the Amsterdam conference to prepare satisfactorily for the enlargement of the EU, do the Government agree with Commission proposals under Agenda 2000 to hold another IGC? What effects would that have on the likely timetable for future European Union enlargements to enable the smooth admission of eastern European countries, including Lithuania?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Amsterdam Treaty went a considerable way towards preparing for enlargement. A number of institutional questions were left over which the Commission indicated will require another IGC. We do not interpret that as meaning a full IGC process; but institutional questions such as the weighting of votes in Council and the size of the Commission will need to be resolved before any substantial enlargement takes place.

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that such an unhappy state of affairs is more a reflection on the European Union than on countries such as Lithuania?

Lord Whitty: No, my Lords; nor do I describe it as an unhappy state of affairs. It was essential in that process that we identified those countries which could more easily join over, possibly in some cases, a long timescale. The fact that Lithuania is not identified as one of those countries at this point does not mean that Lithuania cannot catch up. Indeed, others who are not in the initial batch could catch up and the all-inclusive process of the European conference would aid that, together with pre-accession strategies in Lithuania and elsewhere.

Anti-drugs Co-ordinator: Priorities

3.12 p.m.

Viscount Waverley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the remit and first year priorities of the newly-appointed drug co-ordinator.

Lord Richard: My Lords, as the Prime Minister announced earlier this month, Peter Hellawell, the new UK anti-drugs co-ordinator, will take up his post early in the new year. He will be supported by a deputy, Mr. Michael Trace, who is at present the director of the Rehabilitation of Addictive Prisoners Trust. Immediate priorities for the co-ordinator will be to develop a visible profile; to review existing action against drug misuse

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across the board; and to submit as quickly as possible proposals to Minsters for a new strategy aimed at tackling drug problems through effective enforcement, treatment and education.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, to fight consumption rightly targets the principal criticism of drug producing countries. The Government should be commended for that. That having been said, what degree of success can be envisaged with the limited budget that is to hand? What interdiction is anticipated with foreign anti-narcotic agencies? Finally, what is the Government's position as regards Lord Chief Justice Bingham's call for a public debate on the question of legalising cannabis?

Lord Richard: My Lords, let me answer those three questions in turn. So far as concerns the budget, as a special adviser the co-ordinator will have no direct control over departmental budgets. That is true. But he is supported by a unit which currently operates on a budget of £312,000 a year.

As to the second question, the co-ordinator will liaise closely with a wide range of international agencies via the Government's special adviser from the Foreign Office--Mr. Patrick Nixon, I believe. The third question asked about the Lord Chief Justice's views on the legalisation of cannabis. The co-ordinator has no plans to consider the decriminalisation of cannabis.

Lord Henley: My Lords, does the noble Lord the Leader of the House agree that somewhat mixed messages are coming from the Government? On the one hand, they appoint the so-called drugs czar, the drugs co-ordinator, to deal with problems caused by the misuse of drugs; at the same time the Prime Minister invites to receptions at Number 10 not only those who are role models for young people but those who positively advocate the use of drugs. Does the noble Lord have any comment to make on that?

Lord Richard: My Lords, I am tempted just to say no. On an issue which is so serious, I am surprised that that is the best that the Opposition can do. Who goes to Number 10 is essentially a matter for the Prime Minister and I have no desire to comment.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, before this argument becomes one just among the Front Benchers, may I hope that the Government will use their considerable influence to ensure that the facilities for treatment that now exist are given every support rather than allowing the whole miserable problem to be shunted into the penal system?

Lord Richard: My Lords, I very much share the view expressed by the noble Lord.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, can the noble Lord the Leader of the House say whether crime statistics are broken down to show those who commit drug-orientated crime? In view of the very big increase

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in numbers of females in prison, can he say whether rehabilitation and taking some young girls out of prison will be one of the priorities?

Lord Richard: My Lords, I do not know the answer to that question. The noble Baroness makes what is, on the face of it, a powerful point. I should like to consider the matter and, if I may, write to her.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I understand that it is the Government's clear policy intention to introduce legislation this Session to make the areas of health, social work, education, the police and the two Scottish Law Officers answerable to a Scottish assembly. Is it compatible with that policy objective to appoint an English chief constable, however eminent, to co-ordinate activities in Scotland on those vital issues which go beyond simple enforcement and, as has been indicated, into matters of education and treatment?

Lord Richard: My Lords, it is important that this drugs issue is not looked upon merely as an English issue, a Welsh issue or a Scottish issue. I am glad to see that the noble Lord agrees with me. I believe that it is important that there should be a co-ordinator for the whole of the United Kingdom. Mr. Hellawell is eminently well qualified to do the job. Obviously, he will liaise very closely with the authorities in Scotland. He would not be doing the job properly if he did not do so. But to say that the post has to be filled by a Scot--the noble Lord did not say exactly that but he was tottering on the brink of doing so--is to disqualify anyone from any other part of the United Kingdom. I do not feel that that is reasonable. Mr. Hellawell is the right man for the job. There was an intensive selection process and he was chosen.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I accept entirely what the noble Lord said in his reply. But is it not one of the awkwardnesses of the arrangements that will have to be made that home affairs are devolved to the Scots parliament, as are police matters, so that there will be a difficulty in administration? Will the noble Lord accept that that cannot lightly be brushed off as necessary to co-ordinate the drugs issue?

Lord Richard: My Lords, I am sorry if the noble Baroness thought that I was lightly brushing off the matter. I am not brushing it off at all. Of course, there are devolved matters in Scotland and matters that will be reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament. I merely make the point that it seems to me that in order to have a considered national strategy in relation to drugs which is in operation, one needs a national co-ordinator. I repeat that Mr. Hellawell is eminently well qualified to do the job and indeed emerged from a considerable selection process.

The Earl of Strafford: My Lords, does the noble Lord the Leader of the House agree that a review of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act should be a top priority, as the Act has serious shortcomings and is widely disregarded?

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Lord Richard: My Lords, I am sure that that is one of the matters which the co-ordinator will be bound to consider.

Lord Calverley: My Lords, is the Minister aware that not too long ago in the press Mr. Hellawell advocated the relaxation of certain "lesser" drugs?

Lord Richard: My Lords, I am told that that is not so. I know that those rumours appeared in the press, but I am told that it is not so. In any event, as I have said today, it is not part of the Government's policy to decriminalise any drugs which are at present illegal.


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