Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents

Letter dated 30 January 2009 from the Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office to Professor John Beddington, Government Chief Scientific Adviser


  Thank you for your letter of 20 January setting out your concerns about the Guardian article of 5 January. The article does accurately reflect the Government's position in that we currently have no intention to reclassify ecstasy and it is my view that it should remain at Class A.

You express concern that this view may pre-empt the advice of the ACMD on ecstasy which I will receive in early February. I do not consider that it is preempting the advice of the ACMD when I say that the Government believes that there is no safe dose of ecstasy, that it can and does kill unpredictably and, therefore, we have no intention of reclassifying the drug. I have not yet received the ACMD's advice nor the evidence upon which it is based so am unable to comment upon it.

I should emphasise that I value the advice of the ACMD and it helps to shape the Government drugs policy in a number of ways—classification being but one of those. With specific regard to classification, as you recognise, there are other considerations, which we need to carefully consider. The fact that I may disagree with a small number of their recommendations should not obscure the valuable work they do in a field which, I agree, is one where the decisions are often difficult.

  You kindly offer to assist me in considering alternative approaches to linking the harms caused by drugs and the criminal justice system. Whilst I am not currently considering such a review, not least as I have recently commissioned a review of how the ACMD works, if, following the review, decide to look again at the classification system I will ensure my officials work closely with you.

  I am copying this letter to Sir Gus O'Donnell, Sir David Normington, and Paul Wiles.

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