Written question – Home Office [26/02/2021]

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what quantity by weight of (a) cannabis, (b) heroin, (c) morphine, (d) cocaine (including crack), (e) benzodiazepines, (f) synthetic cannabinoids, (g) amphetamines, (h) MDMA, (i) LSD, (j) magic mushrooms and (k) anabolic steroids were seized by (i) the police, (ii) Border Force, (iii) prison services, (iv) armed forces and (v) other government agencies in (A) UK territory, (B) UK territorial waters, (C) international waters and (D) overseas territories in each year between 1971 and 2020. (153299)

Tabled on: 11 February 2021

Kit Malthouse:

The Home Office collects and publishes data on the quantity of class A, class B and class C drugs seized in England and Wales by the police, including the British Transport Police, and Border Force. This data is published annually. The quantities of drugs seized are summarised in terms of kilograms, doses (in thousands) or plants, depending on the drug type.

Official statistics on seizures of drugs in England and Wales between 2000 and 2020 are available here:


Statistics on seizures of drugs in England and Wales between 1978 and 2000 can be found on the National Archive Research Development and Statistics website: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

Data for earlier years is not available. Information on drugs seized by the prison services, armed forces and other government agencies, and data on seizures made outside England and Wales is not held by the Home Office.

The answer was submitted on 26 Feb 2021 at 14:25.

Greenock Telegraph 26th February 2021

Understandably councils throughout Scotland, including our own in Inverclyde, are asking for clarification on budgets for next year. Handling a council budget demands responsibility and it is perfectly reasonable to want to get ahead of the game and therefore be in a position to plan expenditure. Already Inverclyde council have decided to freeze council tax for the impending financial year, without full knowledge of their budget but with the financial support of the Scottish Government to offset any monies not raised, for this year. A declaration of intent from central government at Holyrood which has made things easier in very difficult times.

Personally, I believe more collaboration, where councils can be part of the financial planning process would be advantageous. The UK government at Westminster could learn from this. The UK budget will be presented on the 3rd of March, but the devolved parliaments have not been included in any discussions regarding the disposition of that budget. That gives the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, a week to finalise the Scottish budget and then councils should know their outcome.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Conservative and Unionist UK government does not want to take advice or even listen to the people of Scotland. They have embarked on a full-scale campaign to undermine and belittle Scotland. The department for the Union has been given a makeover and the media war is on. Scotland should once again be prepared to be told that we are too wee, too poor and too stupid to run our own affairs. The perfect example being the billboard on Brougham Street which undermines and misrepresents the Covid vaccine rollout in Scotland. I prefer to remember the Noam Chomsky quote “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

The councils of Scotland and the parliament of Scotland need the powers to make change and with that power comes responsibility. The government and local authorities are willing and able to accept that responsibility and Scotland will thrive when we do.

Gradually easing lockdown restrictions

Scotland’s phased and careful approach to easing lockdown restrictions while continuing to suppress Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been outlined by the First Minister.

The updated Strategic Framework sets out the six tools the Scottish Government will use to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality to our everyday lives.

The immediate priority will continue to be the phased return of education, building on the return of some pupils to school yesterday. On the basis that progress in suppressing the virus and vaccinating key groups remains on track restrictions would be eased in the following order:

  • the next phase of school returns with the rest of the primary school years, P4 to P7, and more senior phase secondary pupils back in the classroom for part of their learning and the limit on outdoor mixing between households increasing to four people from a maximum of two households
  • the stay at home restriction to be lifted and any final school returns to take place. Communal worship to restart in limited numbers mindful of the timing of major religious festivals. This phase would also see the re-opening of retail, starting with an extension of the definition of essential retail and the removal of restrictions on click-and collect
  • return to a levels approach with all of Scotland moving to at least level 3, with some possible adjustments. This could mean that from the last week of April that we would expect to see phased but significant re-opening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers


Back to the future

Rain often leads to flooding. That is the way in which nature has evolved and areas such as flood plains are designed by nature for this purpose. On rare occasions torrential downpours can result in rivers bursting their banks or swelling beyond recognition and causing devastation to the surrounding area.

Nature takes its course, but nature has a nice habit of monitoring and regulating itself. None of this was a problem before humans started populating the valleys and riversides. As soon as we started building, we started imposing ourselves on nature and rather than work with it we bent it to suit our requirements. In some cases, this has been done well and, in many others, badly. In Inverclyde we have five towns sandwiched between rolling hills and the River Clyde. Basic physics tells us that water runs down, not up. Instantly we can see the problem. The rainfall must go somewhere. We have established that it is going to run down towards the river but the speed with which it travels is crucial. Before there was any major construction in the area, we now classify as Inverclyde, nature had created a network of burns that carried the excess. Ladyburn, Cartsburn, Dellingburn, Westburn, Bouverie and Coves were not just locations they were active burns which formed a crucial part of our local eco system. Before we filled the hills with sheep, we had forests, peat and shrubs. They soaked up rainfall and slowed the rate at which it hit the ground. Tree canopy is an important factor. It may not look like much, but every wet leaf and branch holds rain that isn’t adding to the saturation of land. But we denuded the hills and destroyed the peatland. This increased the rate and the amount of rain pouring off the hills towards the river. And we built houses, roads and railways and in doing so we diverted and even merged burns. We tried to outsmart nature and we lost. More recently we have filled in docklands, the outcome being that the water has further to travel before making it to the river. This is most obvious when the main roads flood. Much mitigating has taken place but looking to the future, every time we Monoblock a drive, put down plastic grass, build houses, cut down trees, clear hedge ways, we are once again going to increase the volume and speed of the water. The flood prevention that we are putting in place will require upgrading, again. Or we could work with nature. Restore the peatland. Inverclyde has over five thousand hectares that could be restored. This lends itself to ecological, socio-economic and cultural regeneration. Reforestation in the right places, with the right trees, ticks all those boxes too. And it doesn’t have to be trees. Nature provides us with a vast range of plants that will retain water, encourage insect life and bird life while working in a practical and aesthetically pleasing way. We don’t need engineering marvels to resolve the problems, nature has given us all the materials and we have the skills to utilise them.

I am in discussion with Inverclyde council, NatureScot, the Yearns Stane Project, Forestry Scotland, Woodlands Trust and other stakeholders and we hope to be able to attract the funding to carry out major projects in Inverclyde. With the right commitment we can, to paraphrase ex councillor Jim Hunter, put the ‘Green back in Greenock’ and go beyond that to improve the environment, carbon footprint and even flooding in Inverclyde.     

Scottish Government – Business support

£60 million for newly self-employed, close contact businesses and driving instructors.

Two funds to support people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic are now open to applications

Grants will be available for mobile and home-based close contact service businesses – such as make-up artists and hairdressers – as well as registered driving instructors.

The Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund, which paid out more than £11 million in vital support last year, will also re-open for a second round.

Both funds will provide £4,000 grants to successful applicants. Full eligibility details are available online.


Full information on the Mobile and Home-Based Close Contact Services Fund and the Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund

Statistics published last week showed £244 million was paid to businesses through three funds in January alone.

COVID-19 advice and funding information is available via the Find Business Support website.