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Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Volume 697: debated on Wednesday 23 June 2021

What discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on the effectiveness of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. (901450)

May I start by saying that the dream is over, and my commiserations go to Steve Clarke and the Scottish team now that they are out of the Euros? Us Scots will now turn our attention to Wimbledon, where we have won the men’s singles twice in the last eight years. I also congratulate Wales and England on proceeding to the knockout stages of the tournament, and I wish them well in that.

In answer to the question, it is a tragedy that drug deaths in Scotland are the worst in Europe and about four times those of England and Wales. The majority of the levers to tackle drugs misuse are delivered and devolved to the Scottish Government, including health, education, housing and the criminal justice system, but as the First Minister has admitted, they have taken their eye off the ball. The United Kingdom Government are keen to work with the Scottish Government to tackle this scourge, and the Minister for Crime and Policing, my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse), held a UK-wide summit in Glasgow. He also invited the Scottish Government to be part of a new scheme, Project ADDER, which aims to protect communities from the harm caused by drugs. The Scottish Government have, sadly, so far declined.

The Scottish Government intend to open an overdose prevention centre in Glasgow to tackle drug deaths and HIV infection rates. They are prevented from doing so by this Government’s reliance on the out-of-date, ill-fitting drugs legislation, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Ahead of Saturday’s “Support. Don’t Punish” day of action, will the Minister speak with his Cabinet colleagues about the need to reform the Act and support the Scottish Government’s call for an urgent four nations summit on this issue?

As I said, all home nations have the same tools at their disposal, yet the drug death rate in Scotland is four times higher. There are no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms. The current evidence does not support their use. We do support, however, needle and syringe programmes to prevent blood-borne diseases, and the widening of the availability of naloxone to help prevent overdose deaths.