asked the Attorney-General how many prosecutions have taken place in November against people accused of drug peddling; and if he will make a statement.
The figures for November are not yet available. In the first six months of 1971, the latest period for which information is available, 238 persons were proceeded against in England, Wales and Scotland for unlawful supply of drugs.
Whereas those who are suffering from drug addiction need treatment and help, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he is satisfied that even with 238 peddlers having been brought to prosecution everything possible is being done to identify drug peddlers at the earliest possible moment?
As the hon. Gentleman recognises, there are difficulties in identifying the peddler. When it is possible to bring a prosecution, that is done. I assure the hon. Member that those who peddle drugs will indeed be subject to police inquiries and, wherever possible, prosecutions will be brought.
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that it is 21 months since this House gave a Second Reading to the Misuse of Drugs Bill, which incorporated in its provisions a new level of penalties for those who push and peddle drugs? When will these important provisions be brought into operation?
I cannot advise the House about that, but if the hon. Gentleman will table a Question on the subject I will certainly answer it.