Written question – Health [10/10/2017]

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions his Department has had with the Ministry of Justice on making drugs policy a responsibility of his Department. (10383)

Tabled on: 13 September 2017

Answer:
Steve Brine:

As set out in the 2017 Drugs Strategy, the complexity and pervasiveness of drug misuse and the harms it causes means that no one department can tackle it alone. The Home Office remains the lead department for policy on drugs and implementation of the Strategy working closely with the Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and other interested Government Departments and agencies, and there are no plans to change this.

The answer was submitted on 10 Oct 2017 at 13:51.

 

Written question – Gambling [09/10/2017]

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a statutory levy on bookmakers to fund the work of GambleAware. (10477)

Tabled on: 13 September 2017

Answer:
Tracey Crouch:

As I made clear at Departmental Oral Questions on 18 September, I am determined that the gambling industry acknowledges its social responsibilities, including properly funding the work undertaken by GambleAware, and other organisations, on research, education and treatment for gambling-related harm.

The industry currently contributes over £8 million per year to GambleAware. GambleAware is seeking to increase this to £10 million per year in line with work that has been done by the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) to cost the short term work of delivering the National Responsible Gambling Strategy.

The industry must step up and fulfill their obligations under these new targets.

The answer was submitted on 09 Oct 2017 at 12:14.

 

Universal credit

The rollout of Universal Credit continues to be fraught with problems and my office is hearing stories from constituents, on a near daily basis, of issues in receiving welfare support in a timely manner. This is why I recently raised these concerns over Universal Credit at a meeting with the UK Government’s Minister for Employment.

MP’s from all parties are highlighting their concerns about the rollout of Universal Credit and I recently added my name in support of a letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to halt the rollout until certain elements are fixed.

The Scottish Government’s decision to allow new claims, in full service Universal Credit areas such as Inverclyde, the choice of changing the frequency of their payments from once to twice monthly, and to have the housing cost element of their Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord is welcomed.

 

Catalonia

After a week during which I attended a three day congress on Basic Income and listened to speakers from thirty three countries from across the globe promote the ethos of humanity and after spending two days engaging with the leading experts of Portugal explain their attitude and approach to drug reform, based on respect, the scenes of police brutality emanating from Catalonia on Sunday the 1st of October were both startling and a cruel reminder of how quickly society can break down when the powers that be lack those ethics. When enforcing their wishes is all that matters, then respect and humanity are early casualties.  

The Spanish government made the case that the independence referendum was illegal. They then took the stance that it would not go ahead. The Spanish government had alternatives, they could have allowed the referendum to take place and then declare it null and void or they could have respected the outcome. Instead they deployed police from around Spain to Catalonia and their role was to disrupt and dissuade by use of intimidation and violence. I had a number of friends who were attending the referendum as observers. They are not hot headed or overly emotional people. They have all lived lives, travelled, seen a bit of the world, good and bad. To hear their accounts of having to stand back and watch fully grown men dressed in full body armour and a helmet, beat an elderly lady to the ground, throw young girls down stairs and randomly baton youths in an orgy of self promoting violence was both disturbing and damning. When people break the law, they are arrested. There was no attempt to arrest these people, this was all about brute force and ignorance. This was about the heavy hand of a government that hasn’t moved as far from its authoritarian origins as we had all hoped. When their authority was threatened they lashed out.  

Hopefully those innocents injured on Sunday will heal soon. But the self inflicted damage that Spain has inflicted on its own democracy, its standing within the European Union and its own citizens, in all parts of Spain, will take much longer to mend. While the Spanish government’s intentions were clearly designed to be detrimental to Catalonia, in the end all they achieved was self harming on an international scale.

 

Drugs policy discussion

‘Should the UK be taking a health based approach to drugs policy?’ will feature a panel of speakers who will provide their thoughts and experiences on UK drugs policy.  Alongside this, there will be a live audience who will participate in a question and answer session, chaired by Mr Cowan, on the issues raised by the panel.

The event will take place at the Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock on Thursday 5th October from 7pm.  The panel will include the following speakers;

  • Neil Woods, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and author of the book ‘Good Cop, Bad War’ (My undercover life inside Britain’s biggest drug gangs),
  • Andrew Horne, Director of Operations in Scotland, Addaction,
  • Anthony Gielty, The Haven (Kilmacolm) and author of the book, ‘Out of Darkness’ (The Transformation Of One Of Scotland’s Most Violent Prisoners),
  • Rod Thomson, The Royal College of Nursing,
  • Mike McCarron, Transform Drug Policy Foundation Scotland.

The event will be live streamed by Addaction UK on their Facebook page – @addactionUK.

Drugs have been part of our society for thousands of years. Over time attitudes towards them have changed.  I am seeking to engage with people from all walks of life to hear their views and define the approach we should take now.

This event is designed to allow the audience to listen and learn from acknowledged experts who may advocate for different actions. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and become better informed in an extremely complex problem.

The Scottish government is embarking on a drugs policy review, I want inverclyde to contribute to the outcome.