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Mr. George Howarth: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister is well aware that our approach to the Police Bill, which has no bearing on today's debate, was covered in an earlier speech to which I responded. The Minister is simply repeating the same arguments.

Mr. Sackville: The Bill is part of a series of tough measures that is required to address a problem that has become so serious that previous legislation is not sufficient to bring to book those who are putting our children in danger.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West on introducing a tough measure that addresses the specific problem of drugs in licensed

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premises. It will have a great effect and is probably the single measure that will attack drug dealers most directly. It will symbolise the tough attitude that we need to address the problem of drugs. Once again, I congratulate my hon. Friend and I hope that his measure will become law.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray) rose in her place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put, butMr. Deputy Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.

12.54 pm

Mr. Peter Viggers (Gosport): It is reassuring that the Minister who replied to the debate--

Mrs. Ewing: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Bill has been debated for almost three and a half hours. It has been made clear that there is no opposition to it and we are waiting to debate other private Members' Bills. Surely this is an abuse of the rights of Back Benchers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. Lady is entitled to her view, but I have made the Chair's view clear. All Bills are important.

Sir Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The House would very much like to discuss the next Bill. When will you feel able to accept a closure motion?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I do not pre-empt judgments. I listen attentively and take the feeling of the House.

Mr. Viggers: I am reassured about the Minister who replied to the debate because he was secretary of the group that he formed with my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone) to deal with drug abuse on an all-party basis. It is reassuring that the issue which many of us as parents feel powerless to deal with was responded to by a Minister who has taken such a long-term interest in it.

Those of us who approach the issue of drugs need to learn a new vocabulary and adopt a new attitude to life. We need to read, talk and listen and we must try not to preach. We should try to do all that while still maintaining our standards and trying to guide the young. There are no 20-year-old hon. Members, but if there had been, I suspect that we should have heard some very different contributions to the debate. Statistically, about21 per cent. of the 20 to 24 age group have tried LSD;28 per cent. have tried speed; 45 per cent. have tried cannabis; 12 per cent. have tried Ecstasy; and some 15 per cent. have tried magic mushrooms.

Those people do not see themselves as junkies on a slow decline to the gutter. They see themselves as discerning consumers who will decide for themselves what to take and when. If Brian Harvey of the pop group East 17 has made a contribution of any kind this week, it was to tell the world that occasionally he has taken 10 or 12 Ecstasy tablets a day. Perhaps that will persuade those who take an occasional Ecstasy tablet and who think that they can use it as a recreational drug that will not be habit forming to realise that that will lead to an increase in use.

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After a while, one tablet is not enough and two, three, five or 10 or, in the case of Mr. Harvey, 10 or 12 will be needed. Mr. Harvey has recanted and I hope that people who think that they will not become addicted to Ecstasy or other drugs will learn from that.

I am told that the characteristic of the 20 to 24-year-old age group is to enjoy staying up all night. Those people listen to loud repetitive music and many of them enjoy the novelty of taking drugs. All that wanes with age. Some 55 per cent. of people in the 25 to 34-year-old bracket drink regularly; only 1 per cent. take LSD and 2 per cent. have taken Ecstasy. Some people in the 45 to 54-year-old bracket will have tried drugs in the 1960s and kept away since. The statistics show that some 13 per cent. of that group have tried cannabis in the past; 2 per cent. have tried LSD; and 1 per cent. have tried magic mushrooms. I am told that, statistically, 0 per cent. have tried Ecstasy and 0 per cent. have tried cocaine. For people in that age group, Ecstasy was not available when they were young and cocaine does not impinge on the statistics.

People in that group were part of the hippy culture. It was all right to take drugs such as cannabis and LSD that were thought to expand consciousness, but stimulants such as cocaine were thought to be anti-social. Now, a rave culture has eradicated those rules; nothing is regarded as out of bounds or unhip. Thirty years ago, all drugs were regarded as powerful substances that controlled the taker and dominated his or her life style; now, the opposite seems true to the young. Older teachers or social workers lecturing to the young on drugs find that those in the audience know more about the subject than the lecturer--or at least they think that they do. In the even younger age group, 3 per cent. of 12 to 13-year-olds, and 14 per cent. of 14 to 15-year-olds, say that they have taken drugs at some time.

Drugs are a massive problem. In any one year, 6 per cent. of the population, some 3 million people, take an illegal drug, and 1 million Ecstasy tablets a week are consumed, almost all in the dancing and entertainment context. Many people think that little harm is involved, but there is a major medical problem. There have been about 50 known deaths from Ecstasy in five years and 1,400 deaths from heroin. The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has concluded that drug taking has become a teenage rite of passage.

Dr. John Henry, a psychiatrist at Guy's hospital and a drugs specialist, made comments that were echoed by my hon. Friends the Members for Lewes and for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) when he said:

That is daunting.

David Bryce, who runs drug rehabilitation courses in Glasgow, said:

I visited a drug rehabilitation unit in my part of Hampshire; it was unnerving. I was told that some of the young people there would come off their habit--I am talking about serious habits, mainly heroin--but that statistically, some of them would go back to their habit. I was told that the latter group would almost certainly be dead in 18 months.

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There is a massive criminal problem associated with drug distribution and taking. My hon. Friend the Minister mentioned the criminals involved in the distribution of drugs, which is one of the biggest businesses in the world. There is also the problem of the addict who steals and takes to crime in other ways to pay for his habit. It is estimated that a heroin habit costs about £10,000 a year. Few addicts can earn such money; they need to steal.

A third criminal problem relates to motoring, an issue that has concerned me and on which I have done some research. In the United States, one in three young people--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is motoring covered by the Bill?

Mr. Viggers: Indeed not, but I am putting my remarks in the context of the fact that most hon. Members are middle-aged, or even older. We find it difficult to understand the young rave culture that takes people to the clubs that are so much involved in drug taking. I will not make a significant point about this, but--

Ms Liz Lynne (Rochdale): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for hon. Members to filibuster to prevent another Bill from being debated?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Lady should know that if I sensed a filibuster, I would stop it immediately. A few seconds ago, she will have heard me asking the hon. Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) whether his remarks were relevant.

Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is it a new point of order?

Mr. Rowlands: Yes. A few minutes ago, you said that you would take the feeling of the House. May I register the feeling of thousands of old-age pensioners in my constituency who want the next Bill to be discussed?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That seems like a point of argument to me, not a point of order. Of course, I was referring to the whole House.

Mr. Viggers: I have spoken for eight minutes and I put my name in to speak some time ago. I have discussed drugs and clubs with my local police force and magistrates. I find it monstrous that I have been interrupted several times by hon. Members accusing me of filibustering. I resent that. It is simply not true.

To conclude the point on motoring offences, which involves young people, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I welcome the three-year research programme by the Department of Transport, the Home Office, the Coroners Society and the Association of Chief Police Officers, to establish the incidence of drug use among fatal road casualties.

The fourth problem relating to drugs and criminality is that of drugs in gaols. It is a significant problem. I am told that some people who have been found guilty of possessing or dealing in cannabis may be sent to prison, where they have to give blood samples to be screened for drugs. Cannabis stays in the bloodstream for three weeks,

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whereas heroin stays for two days. So some people who seek to avoid being caught out by blood tests switch from cannabis to heroin.

I submit, following the points made by the two Labour Members who have been present for the whole debate--the hon. Members for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) and for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn)--that it would be wrong to consider decriminalisation of drugs. I quote John Lawn, a former director of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, who told a Senate committee investigating legalisation:

So how should we face up to all those problems? First, we need as wide as possible a dialogue between parents and children, old and young, police and those who might take drugs. I pay tribute to the police force in Hampshire, with which I have had some discussions. I am greatly impressed by the maturity of its approach and of its judgment, and by its determined attempts to do all that it can to reduce and eliminate drugs in Hampshire.

Secondly, we need to take some practical steps to ensure safety in clubs. Some of my honourable colleagues have more experience of that than me. I listened with interest to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes, who talked about the promotion of safety measures in clubs in London. That is an important issue, to be expanded and developed further.

I have already mentioned the possibility of the acceptance of soft drugs, but the reverse is the answer. We should adopt an attitude of minimum tolerance. I am sure that expectation is the most important thing in education of the young and that if we expect a lot of them, we shall get a lot. If we expect little of them, we shall get little. Therefore, minimum tolerance is the better line.

There has also been some mention of cautions for first offences, particularly that given to Liam Gallagher. When I spoke to my local police force some time ago, I was surprised to find out that there was no standard procedure for giving cautions to those guilty of a first offence involving drugs. I was told by a policeman whose task it was to administer cautions that he had been given no guidance or training on how he should administer such cautions. It would be appropriate to set some general guidelines on exactly what constituted a caution.

I welcome the Bill. In my researches, I learnt a great deal about the ownership of the clubs that the Bill will control. I discovered to my surprise that there were seven major operators, but that between them they accounted for only 16.5 per cent. of admissions to clubs and 13 per cent. of revenues. That proves that most clubs are independently owned. We can control not only the major companies, which are often subsidiaries of listed companies, but the individual operators and proprietors. I believe that they will be amenable to the pressure that will be available to the police under the Bill.

The Bill will undoubtedly strengthen the hand of the police in dealing with clubs. That I welcome. It is an excellent Bill. The hon. Member for Knowsley, North and my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Evans) referred to another aspect of club control--the control of doorkeepers. I am concerned about that, and it should be the subject of further legislation.

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The hon. Member for Knowsley, North has already referred to the 1994-95 report of the Home Affairs Select Committee into the private security industry. It revealed that of the 476 door supervisors questioned in Merseyside, 279 had criminal records, of whom 28 had criminal records for drug offences. It strikes me as extraordinary that someone who is responsible for policing the door of a club to ensure that access is given only to the appropriate people and who controls conduct within that club should, in some cases, have a criminal record for drug offences. We must deal with that problem.

Before the publication of Home Affairs Select Committee report, a report along the same lines was produced by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. It revealed that 60 per cent. of police forces encountered difficulties in obtaining full co-operation from doorkeepers at clubs. It was thought that 20 per cent. of them were involved in dealing.

I welcome the Bill, as well as the many other measures that have been taken to inform young people at schools and colleges about the damage caused by drugs. I am sure that the Bill will achieve its purpose and that it will have a successful passage through the House. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Mr. Legg) on introducing it.

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