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Our proposals for the Ministry of Defence Police enable the force to follow in the footsteps of its Home Department police force colleagues in implementing the new conduct and appeals regulations. The new procedures provide a fair, open and proportionate method for dealing with alleged misconduct, and will hold MoD Police officers to account appropriately and in the same manner as their colleagues from other police forces throughout England and Wales. This will create a conduct environment for police officers that more closely reflects civilian employment practice. The regulations are intended to encourage a culture of personal responsibility among police officers and of learning and development for both individuals and the organisation.

It remains the case that, where circumstances require, there must be appropriate sanctions for misconduct. However, we must also ensure that improvement is an integral part of any outcome. Even when the individual is dismissed, there are learning opportunities for the force. I beg to move.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining these statutory instruments in great detail. We on these Benches share his tribute to members of the Armed Forces who have been killed and to their families, and his view that the main tribute should be paid on the Floor of the House.

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These new regulations are uncontroversial, and I have just three short questions for the Minister. First, what distinct conclusions and recommendations resulted from the MoD's consultation with the Defence Police Federation and the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association? The Minister may have covered the second question in his opening speech, but I will ask it anyway in case he wants to add to his original point. What strategy have the Government devised to ensure that the new regulations are understood and are being fairly and consistently applied? Finally, how much do the Government envisage spending on retraining their officers in the light of these new regulations?

4.45 pm

Lord Lee of Trafford: My Lords, first, I enjoin these Benches and my party in the earlier tribute to our Armed Forces. Twenty-five years ago, I had ministerial responsibility for the Ministry of Defence Police and came to form a very high regard for it. I have particular sympathy with the conditions in which the officers have to work at many MoD facilities, bases and sites. I remember working very hard to try to get adequate winter clothing for the MoD police who were guarding the cruise missile site at Greenham. Despite the size of the MoD budget at that stage, I had the greatest difficulty in managing to get resources for adequate clothing, and I hope that they have it today.

In more recent years, on a golfing trip to Loch Lomond, I met one of the former officials of the MoD Police, who seemed very pleased to see me. He is in charge of the locker room at Loch Lomond and he gave my golf shoes an extra clean. I do not know whether I need to refer that to the Register of Members' Interests, but I happily declare it to the Committee.

In a rather more serious vein, we, too, have no fundamental queries with regard to the use of the regulations, but I should like to ask the Minister three specific questions. First, given that the related Home Office orders-the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008, the Police (Performance) Regulations 2008 and the Police Appeals Tribunals Rules 2008-all came into force on 1 December 2008, why has it taken the MoD effectively a whole year to bring these orders into force, in November 2009?

Secondly, the Explanatory Memorandum talks of the orders being monitored and reviewed and says that the Ministry of Defence Police Committee will provide a quarterly external review and offer advice and guidance where necessary. That is welcome, but can the Minister confirm under what mechanism reviews and guidance will be made available to parliamentarians? Will copies be placed in the House of Lords Library or will they be restricted to being online on the MoD website? Linked to that, can the Minister give me an indication of the make-up or composition of the Ministry of Defence Police Committee? Thirdly, what discussions have there been between the MoD and the Home Office in devising these regulations? Specifically, has the MoD monitored and incorporated issues that have arisen out of the Home Office orders in the past 10 months, or are these regulations simply a like-for-like duplication of the Home Office orders?

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Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, I thank both noble Lords. I turn, first, to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Astor. Consultation took place with the Defence Police Federation and the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association. No specific issues of concern were raised and they were broadly supportive of the new procedures and the new standards of professional behaviour.

I turn to the strategy for bringing the procedures into effect. I can specifically respond on the matter of training, and I think and hope that this will be a full enough answer. As part of the implementation programme, a comprehensive package of training has been developed and delivered, based on Home Office police training. All ranks of chief inspector and above have received or will receive a mandatory two-day hearing or meetings course delivered by an external approved training provider. The cost is in the region of £50,000, although clearly the full cost will be greater when the time of the staff attending the courses is taken into account. Improvements from the procedures will pay back very rapidly in terms of efficiency. Constables, sergeants and inspectors will receive mandatory awareness training via the MoD Police e-learning package, which is based on the Home Office police model developed by the National Policing Improvement Agency. In addition, the force has implemented a comprehensive awareness package of posters, leaflets, articles in magazines, presentations and monthly bulletins.

The MoD Police regulations needed to be drafted separately. They are under separate primary legislation and require a further additional consultation process with the Defence Police Federation and the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association. The devolved authorities and others in Scotland had to be consulted. Copies of the guidance and, I believe, the outcome of any review-I will write to the noble Lord if that is not accurate-will be placed in the Library of the House.

I was asked: who is on the MoD Police Committee? This committee was established under the Ministry of Defence Police Act. It is appointed to deal with the governance of the Ministry of Defence Police. It consists of one independent chair, three independent members, two police advisers and two senior MoD officials. Its role is to provide assurance to the Secretary of State for Defence on the Ministry of Defence Police and the use of constabulary powers, and confirm that they meet the standards required for a police force. The police committee formally meets quarterly.

There were continued discussions with the Home Office. The MoD has maintained a dialogue with Home Office officials in preparation of the regulations and procedures, and since the police conduct and appeals regulations were implemented. We understand that the Police Advisory Board sub-committee, which is responsible for overseeing the reforms, is pleased with the progress and there is every indication of their success. We are informed that there is still a requirement for cultural changes, as would be anticipated at this stage. There are also indications of signification savings being accrued. Like the Home

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Office, we also intend to keep the regulations under review. Any changes will be subject to further regulations being laid in Parliament.

Motion agreed.

Ministry of Defence Police Appeals Tribunals Regulations 2009

Ministry of Defence Police Appeals Tribunals Regulations 2009
22nd Report Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Considered in Grand Committee

4.52 pm

Moved By Lord Tunnicliffe

Motion agreed.

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2009

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2009
23nd Report Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

Considered in Grand Committee

4.54 pm

Moved By Lord West of Spithead

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My Lords, if this order is approved it will come into force on 23 December 2009 and will bring a number of substances, many of them known as "legal highs", under the control of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The substances concerned are GBL and 1,4-BD; 1-benzylpiperazine-BZP-and a group of other substituted piperazines; synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, which I shall refer to as synthetic cannabinoids for short-that shows what a complex issue this is-15 anabolic steroids, two non-steroidal growth-promoting agents and oripavine.

As is required by the Act, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has been consulted and agrees with the proposals. On 25 August, following the completion of a 12-week public consultation, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced that the Government had decided to control a range of "legal high" drugs to protect the health of the public, especially young people. These "legal highs" carry varied but significant health risks. Young people in particular may often equate "legal" with "safe" and do not always understand that the drugs carry risks. By banning the drugs we will send a clear public health message to users and sellers.

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New legislation is only part of the work that we are doing to tackle the emerging threat. We have also launched an information campaign to educate young people on the dangers of these substances, particularly when they are mixed with alcohol. As with all FRANK campaigns, ours is targeted to ensure that the message reaches the people most at risk of using the substances, and we have worked with leading experts in the field to develop the campaign. We are also targeting people looking to purchase the drugs online with key risk messages that will appear while they are searching the internet.

We must be prepared to adapt our drug legislation to tackle emerging threats to health. We propose to introduce generic definitions for a number of these drugs to capture closely associated chemical compounds that otherwise might be misused instead. This is not a new approach-we have used it for other synthetic drugs-and again we are taking the opportunity to future-proof our drug legislation, responding to current and foreseeable trends to ensure that we keep one step ahead of the unscrupulous manufacturers of illicit substances.

Gamma-butyrolactone-GBL-is perhaps the best known of the drugs that we propose to control with noble Lords' approval. Noble Lords may recollect that much concern has been expressed about the dangers of misusing GBL following the tragic death of Hester Stewart, a young woman with a bright future ahead of her. It is important that we impose suitable controls on the drug's availability to help to ensure that other families do not suffer a similar loss.

When ingested, GBL and a similar chemical, 1,4-BD, are rapidly converted to GHB, which is already controlled as a class C drug. The effects and risks associated with the misuse of GBL and 1,4-BD are unconsciousness, a dependence syndrome if used regularly and a risk of death by intoxication. However, unlike GHB, GBL and 1,4-BD have a wide range of legitimate industrial uses. For example, they are used in the manufacture of cleaning agents, paints and nail polish. Our recent public consultation focused on ensuring that a control option for GBL and 1,4-BD was chosen that provides the best protection to the public from the harms that these drugs can cause while taking fully into account the uses of these chemicals for legitimate business purposes.

We intend to amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 so that the prohibitions relating to GBL and 1,4-BD as class C drugs, and the consequential offences, will apply only when the substances are intended for human ingestion. The amending regulations to allow the legitimate use of GBL and 1,4-BD are subject to the negative resolution procedure. They will be laid shortly, to come into force on 23 December at the same time as the Order in Council if it is approved.

The Government accepted the advisory council's advice on the class C classification of GBL. Current evidence, especially in relation to societal harm, suggests that GBL, like the related GHB which has been a class C drug since July 2003, is less harmful than current class B drugs. The health risks, including the risk of death, are increased when the drug is combined with alcohol or other depressant or stimulant substances,

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but classification of any drug under the 1971 Act does not, and should not, depend on whether it is used with other substances.

The control of BZP is the Government's response to the European Council's decision to require all EU members to subject BZP to "control measures and criminal provisions". The decision states that,

through measures,

The advisory council advised a class C classification for the drug, but also recommended that controls be levied on the related group of substituted piperazines, not just BZP, using a generic definition, as BZP is only one of several substituted piperazines that have been found in the United Kingdom and are, or are capable of, being misused, with the same or very similar harms. For the very reasons I gave at the start of my remarks on the need for durable legislation, the Government support this recommendation.

5 pm

For similar reasons, we have proposed generic definitions to deal with synthetic cannabinoids-the man-made chemicals that mimic the psychoactive effects of the active ingredient in cannabis and can be sprayed on herbal smoking products such as Spice. After consideration of the available evidence, the advisory council concluded that the harms of synthetic cannabinoids are broadly commensurate with those of cannabis and that they should be classified accordingly under the 1971 Act. Cannabis was reclassified as a class B drug, with effect from 26 January 2009, and it is logical that synthetic cannabinoids should also be controlled as class B drugs.

Controlling the potential range of synthetic cannabinoid substances that are or could be used in these herbal smoking products presents a challenge. As with piperazines, the council calls for the wider legislative control obtained by using generic definitions. By using the scientifically elegant definitions provided by the advisory council, our controls will capture a range of synthetic cannabinoids and therefore address current and foreseeable trends.

Bringing 15 anabolic steroids and two non-steroidal substances, which are growth promoters, under the control of the 1971 Act brings UK legislation into line with the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list. As class C drugs, they will join more than 50 anabolic steroids. The original group of steroids that came under the control of the 1971 Act as class C drugs in 1996 was identified by reference to the International Olympic Committee's prohibited list. It is therefore appropriate for the Government to update the control of such drugs by reference to its successor, the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list. We must have this legislation in place to underpin the anti-doping work that is being led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, particularly in the run-up to the London Olympics in 2012.

The control of oripavine under the 1971 Act meets the United Kingdom's obligation to control the substance following its international control under the UN Single

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Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. Oripavine is an alkaloid that is found in the poppy straw of the opium poppy. It can be converted into thebaine, which is controlled under the 1971 Act as a class A drug and is used in the production of semi-synthetic opiates such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. I apologise for all these different names. They are quite mind boggling, I know, but there is no way of getting around them, I am afraid. There is currently no evidence of oripavine's misuse in the UK, nor of its illicit conversion in the UK to thebaine and other opioids. For these reasons, the advisory council concluded that its potential harm is more commensurate with class C drugs such as the opioid, buprenorphine. The Government have accepted this recommendation.

If the order is approved, the Government will publicise the law changes through a Home Office circular and through the Talk to FRANK and websites. Reference to the law change and health risks relating to the drugs will be included in future government materials for young people. The order will ensure that we have up-to-date and durable legislation for these dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs to enable us to respond to current and foreseeable trends. I commend the controls proposed in the order. I beg to move.

Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, as the Minister said, this draft order will classify various substances as controlled drugs under the framework set up by the Misuse of Drugs Act. On these Benches we support the Motion for approval but we have a couple of concerns about the approach to the classification of, in particular, GBL and 1,4-BD.

I have two points to make. The first concerns the length of time that it has taken to classify GBL. It was recognised as a pro-drug of GHB, meaning that when ingested it has similar effects and risks. The class C classification was given to GHB in 2003. In 2007, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended that GBL should be classified as a controlled drug. However, it has taken a further two years for the Government to get round to that classification and, although I take the Minister's point about the need to ensure that legitimate use is not impeded, that seems a very long time. I should be grateful to know the circumstances that caused this delay and whether in the future action can be speedier.

There is no doubt that during the time this drug has been under consideration but not classified there has been a significant increase in the use of the substance, including, in particular, in date rape cases. It now appears to have a faster onset of action than its related drug, GHB. Therefore, I should be very grateful to know the Minister's analysis of the speed at which these classifications take place and whether they can be somewhat speeded up.

My second point concerns the Government's decision to treat GBL as a class C drug. There have been cases of sudden death when this substance has been consumed with alcohol and, as I have already said, it has been linked to date rape cases, which is pretty serious from a public protection standpoint. On these Benches we do not consider that treating this substance as a class C drug will provide the required emphasis on either the potential harm or the need for robust enforcement.

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One consequence of the chaos over cannabis reclassification is the damaging impression that class C drugs are not particularly harmful. The Minister himself mentioned, and I entirely agree, that because it is legal it does not necessarily harm less. I think that there is a mistaken impression that these drugs, if only class C, are not particularly harmful.

The situation is not helped by the problems that there have been with the Government's drugs helpline, FRANK, which, in one case, as the Government admitted, gave out the wrong advice earlier this year about the strength and health effects of cannabis. In the context of this order, it would be very helpful if the Minister could say what steps the Government have taken to ensure that that kind of slip-up does not occur in future, because its consequences can obviously be serious.

Does the Minister accept that we are still learning about the potential effects of GBL and that its serious effects are becoming clearer over time? It would be helpful if he could say on what basis the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Government made the decision to classify GBL at the lowest level. Did they, for example, consider the potential harm caused by GBL if it is consumed with alcohol? When the Government announced their decision to reclassify cannabis last year, they said that with,

I absolutely agree. Therefore, my view is that we should err on the side of caution when it comes to GBL and that we should take a more precautionary approach than I believe a C classification gives us.

The Misuse of Drugs Act is supposed to put in place a flexible framework where, if evidence of greater or lesser harm of a drug emerges, the classification can be changed accordingly. It would be helpful if the Minister could tell us on what kind of basis a review would take place. Will there be continuous review or a time-to-time review? What would be the possible consequences of review? We think that GBL should be classified as a class B drug and not a class C drug. I should be grateful for the Minister's comments.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for sharing the Government's thinking on this order, which we support, and for his manfully struggling, if I might respectfully say, with the names, which are incredibly difficult. I was also very grateful for the particularly clear Explanatory Memorandum, which was very good in setting out the options and why the Government had taken them.

The Minister mentioned that the generic approach has been taken before, so obviously the Government have experience of the legal term "structurally derived". I highlight this because, with the ever-increasing amount of scientific knowledge available about what stimulates the brain and how, there is a worry that it will be quite easy for chemists to move from one chemical make-up to another with the same effect. It is the effect that we

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are worrying about, as opposed to which chemicals are causing it, although the Minister may tell me more about that.

I worry because, as fast as the Government can move and classify, people interested in selling drugs can move equally fast to another chemical make-up. Given the discussion around GBL and the fact that it has other uses, children and young people might revert to something commonly used in other countries where the marketing is probably less slick. It might not be marketed as GBL and there might be far more sniffing of glue, paint-stripper, nail varnish remover, aerosols and all sorts of things. It is not that by classifying these things the problem will disappear. The biggest effort should still be the educational campaign. What is the current spend on the educational campaign that the Government call FRANK and what is the budget for next year? It is only by adequate education that the health of young people can be safeguarded.

There has been much controversy on the classification and advice from the advisory council, and we are sad that the Government chose to disregard its view. You could consider any substance: for example, alcohol is legal but in A&E departments there are many cases of much harm and sudden death from drinking too much. Again, ultimately, that is a question of education, unless we go down the line of prohibition of alcohol.

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