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The noble Baroness said: I have already spoken to the amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 7:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [X-rays and ultrasound scans: Northern Ireland]:
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[Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Initial assessment following testing for presence of Class A drugs]:

Lord Mancroft moved Amendment No. 10:

The noble Lord said: My concern here is simple—if noble Lords read the top line of page 11:

Clearly, if noble Lords read the rest of the clause and the subsections following, that is an important point. This clause allows police officers to require a person to attend an initial assessment and remain for its duration. On a purely practical point, that seems a little pointless if that person has not tested positive for class A drugs but merely might have done.

I ask noble Lords to think about it in context for a moment. A person is arrested and not charged—which means he may not have done something wrong and he may not even have drugs in his body, because we still have "may" at the top—but he is still required to go for an initial assessment on the whim of the police officer. The criteria are fulfilled, and then he may even have a follow-up assessment. Assume that later he is found innocent of the original charge, or even that it is dropped, and it turns out that he has no class A drugs in him. He could still be guilty under this Bill and be imprisoned for 51 weeks or fined up to level 4 for failure to attend an assessment that he did not need, for drugs that he had not taken, after a crime that he did not commit.

I accept that that will probably not happen, but it could all be avoided if one ensures in the wording of the clause that the drug test must be positive. I really do not see that in these difficult areas you can play with people's lives by leaving grey areas. There is a world of difference between a test that is positive and one that might be. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I hear what the noble Lord is saying, but I assure him that he is being unduly pessimistic about how the provisions will work. The groups of amendments from Amendment No. 10 to Amendment No. 30 seek to reduce the impact of the provisions contained in Part 3 of the Bill, which require those who have tested positive—that is the most important thing, that they have tested positive for class A drugs—to attend an initial assessment and, where required, a follow-up assessment. That is the condition precedent. We are not talking about someone who has not taken the drug or has nothing to do with it; they must have tested positive if the process is to apply to them.

8 p.m.

If the amendments were accepted, the provisions would apply to fewer individuals and fail to target
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those who may only be starting on the road of drug misuse and crime. The noble Lord has an interest in making sure that those who have become or may become addicted to drugs have as early a point of reference to help and support as possible. The provisions very much help that to take place.

Amendment No. 10 would mean that the analysis would have to reveal that a specified class A drug was actually present before a police officer could require a person to attend an initial assessment and stay for its duration. Let me explain what happens with a testing on charge under Section 63B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984; we envisage that it will continue if Clause 7—it is on testing for the presence of class A drugs on arrest—is enacted.

The technology used in the police custody suites is a screening tool and will reveal the presence of all opiates rather than the specified class A drug of diamorphine—heroin. That is because, currently, no test is available that can be economically and reliably used to test for heroin alone. It is therefore possible that, under the current testing regime, legitimate drugs within the opiate range such as codeine may be detected when using the on-site police custody test. However, should that be the case or if a person challenges the result, the test sample can be sent to the Forensic Science Service for a forensic analysis to provide a conclusive result using the "gold standard" test provided by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry—GC/MS.

To accept the amendment would mean that all test samples would have to be sent for the further analysis before the requirement was imposed. That would be costly and delay the police imposing the requirement to attend an assessment for no obvious benefit. Currently, under the testing on charge, only 3 per cent of tests are challenged and sent for the further analysis. Of those challenges, only 4.4 per cent are upheld. We will issue guidance which provides that, where a person challenges the result of a drug test at the time of the test, the assessment will not be scheduled until after the results of the further analysis are received. Where the further analysis is negative, the obligation to attend the assessment will cease. That will prevent innocent people being assessed in the way in which the noble Lord fears.

On the basis of that explanation, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Mancroft: That was a helpful answer. There are sound reasons for encouraging people into early diagnosis; that is something that we have been trying to do across the board for a long time. The Minister is right that there are significant testing difficulties, and I am delighted to hear about the guidance. The guidance on the matter will be important. The Bill—admittedly, most people do not see it and will not see it when it becomes an Act—is not clear, but the answer that she gave us is extremely helpful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mancroft moved Amendment No. 11:
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The noble Lord said: I remind the Committee that the amendment is grouped with Amendment No. 15. The amendment's purpose is simple—to ask the Government what a suitably qualified person is. I confess to having a certain history on the matter, having spent about 10 years in the Department of Health trying to persuade it to get involved with the certification and qualification of drug counsellors. I regret to tell the Committee that they were not remotely interested and it had to be done by the voluntary sector, which I never thought entirely satisfactory.

It is extremely difficult to know who is properly qualified. Too many people in this country who are not qualified in the way that we would desire are still practising. There is a history of poor diagnosis of addiction in this country. Virtually anybody can still set up as a counsellor by sticking a brass plaque on the wall and advertising. Who is suitably qualified to act in these processes is extremely important. We still have too much amateurish treatment, although the quality is rising rapidly. One would not want those not qualified to be involved. I would be grateful if the Minister could tell us the sort of criteria at which the Government will look to identify who is qualified to carry out these important matters. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I understand now why the noble Lord tabled the amendments as he did. The substitution of "properly" does not add anything material to the meaning and is unnecessary in view of Clause 19(6), which defines what is meant by a suitably qualified person for the purposes of the assessment.

"Suitably qualified person" and its definition is consistent with the term used in Section 3 of the Bail Act 1976 in relation to the provisions for the assessment of drug users as a condition of bail under the provisions relating to drug users—the restriction on bail. Clause 19 provides for the Secretary of State to specify from time to time the qualifications or experience which a suitably qualified person must have. That will be set out in guidance, which we propose should be drawn up in consultation with the Department of Health and other key stakeholders.

Perhaps the Government, working together, have been a little more successful than the noble Lord hitherto. I am very pleased that that is the case.

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