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Drug Education

Volume 168: debated on Wednesday 28 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on drug education in schools.

Programmes of drug education are undertaken by all education authorities in Scotland. The Scottish Education Department has collaborated in the production of curricular material for schools, and makes a specific grant available for the in-service training of teachers in health education, including education about drugs.

That is welcome news, but can my hon. Friend reassure the House that particular help will be given to those schools in areas where drug misuse is greatest—for example in the Edinburgh, Leith constituency? Has he been in touch with the organisation called Life Education Centres which does a marvellous job in parts of England but which, to the best of my knowledge, has not yet done anything in Scotland?

I know of my hon. Friend's interest in these matters. Indeed, he is chairman of the all-party drug misuse group. I am aware of the good work done by the organisation to which he referred. There are several organisations in Scotland that take a close interest in these matters, and in the Scottish Office there is the Scottish health education group. We ensure that a number of initiatives are targeted at particular age groups, and packages of materials are made available to all secondary schools in Scotland.

Does the Minister accept that drug abuse and addiction are connected with high unemployment? If we look at any place in Scotland and Britain we find that that is the case. Will the Minister come with me to my constituency and visit the group that he mentioned?

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's conclusion, relating drug abuse to high unemployment, is right. It is important, however, that we target our campaigns as effectively as possible. As part of that, we are developing teacher in-service training, on which we have spent about £600,000 over the past four years.

Is my hon. Friend aware of my correspondence with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland with responsibility for health about the concern of the drugs advisory committee on Grampian health board that the area has not been selected as a priority area for new drug prevention schemes? Although fortunately the area does not face so immediate or great a problem as some other centres of population, does my hon. Friend agree that money spent on prevention before the problem manifests itself is much better than money spent afterwards on treatment?

I certainly agree with my right hon. Friend. All education authorities in Scotland have nominated a senior official to co-ordinate these matters. I hope that that is happening effectively in Grampian, as elsewhere. I shall look into the matter.