Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

House Of Lords Condemns Government Drug Policy

with 40 comments

This evening, at the behest of Lord Norton of Louth, the House of Lords ripped apart our disgraceful and incompetent government drug policy.  Without exception, every speaker highlighted the human and financial cost of the disastrous course that the British government is on.  You can watch the  debate here from 19:48 onwards.

“Evidence! Evidence! Evidence!”

Again and again, highly intelligent speakers demolished the government’s strategy and contrasted it with the approach in other countries: Holland, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic and the USA.

“Why doesn’t the government recognise reality?”

Baroness Molly Meacher was particularly magnificent; stirring and powerful: “We have the evidence and lots of it”.

Cameron and his poodle, Theresa May and most of all Brokenshire must be grovelling in dismay at their humiliation.  Lord Stevenson of Balmacara said “…there is a good case for drugs policy being transferred to health and taken away from the Home Office…Judging from the evidence that we have heard tonight, something clearly has to happen soon!”.    Brokenshire’s job is on the way out!

The government response was stumbling and barely competent.  “A review is not warranted…what we want to do is give our strategy a good try”. There was a particularly embarrassing deception about the effect of banning mephodrone.  I am certain that Lady Neville-Jones herself was uncomfortable delivering it.

All in all this was a victory for truth, an inspiration and an absolute defeat for government drug policy.

40 Responses

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  1. Very interesting debate – more than please with the unanimous conclusions from the lords. Unsurprised but still disappointed with the governmental response of denial and misrepresentation.

    But I at least have faith that those in the higher levels of government understand the issue and have put it on record… government can only ignore evidence and calls for reform (or at least a REVIEW) for so long…


    March 9, 2011 at 9:08 pm

  2. Just reposted this – Oh to get this criminal tag out of the way regarding cannabis use – time for the UK to grow up and understand how sound most users are


    March 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    • Or think they are- the same as most members of the House of (Law)Lords. You know the same ones which have just trashed the Consumer Credit Act protections allowing Banks to charge what ever they want for any service including overdrafts over 100X Base rate !

      In both cases, Law or Upper House of Lords; all probably too spaced out to know what they making Judgment upon.

      The Debt Collector

      March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      • What can I say? The house of Lords was almost completely empty during this ‘discussion’ – I don’t think the one doing the talking were spaced out – very down to earth and real from what I could see – if only they were all like that. As to the money grabbing greedy bastards who only care for their own kind – what’s to say? they will be who they are forever – we have to take their control of our lives away from them – as for banks – they are not built for the poor – never were – put a few millionaires in charge of the country and what do you expect? Words that sound right but actions that fuck poorer people time and time again. 20% taken from the poor, 1.9% taken from the wealthy. Now we have care homes and old people getting the shafting. The Camerons of this world can afford proper help – and the ‘weapons’ to fight any change that could equalise the playing field. The battle goes on – Peaceful, forceful and capable of being won. We can do it


        March 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm

  3. I unfortunately missed the debate so thanks for keeping me up to date. Looking forward to reading the transcript.


    March 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  4. Is a transcription on line yet Peter?


    March 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

  5. “Lords Questions” is on BBC Parliament at 10:30. I’m uncertain if that includes this debate however.


    March 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    • Thank you Ed – much prefer watching on the TV than computer. Will tune in.


      March 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

  6. Thanks for posting this Peter, Should be interesting viewing /reading. I wonder if they’ll put this on the blog…

    Do the house of lords count as ‘key delivery partners”?

    I also wonder what coverage the press will give it…


    March 9, 2011 at 9:53 pm


    You can use watch from start and fast forward to 19:50, if you use the Smooth Streaming Player.


    March 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  8. good


    March 9, 2011 at 10:47 pm

  9. You can watch the debate here from about 19:48 onwards.

    Peter Reynolds

    March 10, 2011 at 12:04 am

  10. what’s next then?


    March 10, 2011 at 6:43 am

  11. Wow this is very encouraging news. Have not watched it yet my internet connection is slow today, will try to watch later on, but by everyone’s comments it sounds like the stone might be slowly starting to turn.


    March 10, 2011 at 7:52 am

  12. You may feel encouraged by the events from last night but I would say to you all that this Government will just brush it off and move on, business as usual.
    No one will be “grovelling in dismay” at all.


    March 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

    • Well let’s all just give up, forget it and go home shall we then Tom?

      Peter Reynolds

      March 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

  13. You know as well as I do the attitude of this and previous Government Peter.
    Talking will not get this situation anywhere.
    When so many people can march in London in protest at going to war in Iraq, and then they still go to war, what does that tell you?


    March 10, 2011 at 9:13 am

    • It tells me that we have a very difficult fight on our hands. That means every small victory must be celebrated and communicated far and wide. We must not give up. We must keep on and on and on until we start to make progress and then we must keep on and on and on again.

      “Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

      Winston Churchill

      Peter Reynolds

      March 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

    • tom, yes Baroness’s Neville-Jones response was disappointing.. did we really expect anything else? Remember that this is a global issue and whilst our country is unlikely to lead the way, it is at least heartening that there are those who walk the halls of power who understand the issue and futility of what we have. That means that when change does come (most likely starting in the USA with a state legalising recreational use of Cannabis or a consortium of Latin American countries challenging the UN single convention) we already have receptive ears.. and what we have being saying in Parliamentary record!

      I think when change finally does happen it will swing in our favour quite quickly but will be an uphill struggle until that day, so please don’t lose hope!! 🙂


      March 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

      • Was it just me or did B’ Neville-Jones seem VERY uncomfortable and extremely awkward in answering questions?. For the most part she seemed unconvinced and had seemingly little conviction behind her statements.
        Not to mention constant nervous paper shuffling and rearranging yet finding nothing to talk about within her papers.

        She seemed very uneasy.


        March 10, 2011 at 11:02 am

      • A I said above, Jimbob, I think she knew her position was indefensible.

        Peter Reynolds

        March 10, 2011 at 11:07 am

      • @Jake,

        The point about this being a global issue and where the change may come is something I being trying to tackle in my blog (apologies for self-promoting). But your idea that a consortium of Latin American countries will in any meaningful sense effect real changes is nobly motivated but I’m afraid, rather naive. It has to come from countries like ours, countries accounting for the bulk of drug consumption, but more importantly countries with real economical and political clout.

        Gart Valenc

        Gart Valenc

        March 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      • Gart, no apologies – I like your blog :-). Yes you are correct that real change will ultimately come from the ‘consumer’ countries.. and maybe sometimes I’m a bit of an optimist (some of us have to be right!). However, the Latin countries are most definitely softening up, such as Santos.. I think it may more be a matter of ‘well California legalised and we are being punished’.. then again… just imagine the fallout if Bolivia dropped out the convention based on the Coca chewing issue. I don’t doubt that you are more knowledgeable in the international issue than myself, but we shouldn’t count the Latin countries out of this fight, and I think they will be strong allies to reform when the time comes.. although yes I acknowledge that they may not be the ones to initiate the change..


        March 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm

  14. Peter, tomorrow I find out if I will lose my job, my house, everything. I have been charged with production and possession but due to the nature of the production charge being a trafficking offence, and because I work in the NHS, I will still lose my job, even though the CPS have dropped the intent to supply charge.
    Lose hope? Too late for me and many thousands of others.


    March 10, 2011 at 10:06 am

  15. Absolutely Brilliant!

    Matthew Lilley

    March 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

  16. There is one thing, and one thing only, this “debate” clearly demonstrates, and that is how appalling the whole UK drug policy is. How much more dishonest, patronising and blatantly cynical can it get? Forget about how uncomfortable or unconvinced she may have been, Baroness Neville-Jones’ response just shows where the problem in tackling drug policy in this country lies: the government will not give up!

    So, Peter, there you have it: Churchill’s battle cry have more than one adherent. But it is not just “stubbornness” what makes the whole saga so disheartening. It is the fact that people with public responsibilities are allowed to say whatever they want, irrespective of whether that is backed by facts and evidence, and still there is no way of forcing that individual to deal with the evidence and pay the consequences for being disingenuous, economical with the true or just simply being a liar. And that’s what the Baroness in question, and many others before her, both in this government as well as previous ones, have been doing day in and day out. It is not just petty officials, it goes to the top of the tree: ministers, secretaries and the Prime Minister himself. It is not a question of not giving up, of course it is not. And the fight we have on hands is difficult and long, indeed. The question is: how we can make our voice count, how can we make those officials accountable, how can we FORCE the government to listen and act accordingly?

    Gart Valenc

    Gart Valenc

    March 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm

  17. Something for your consideration. Personally I was very pleased to see this.

    Health bodies pull out of alcohol policy
    14 March 2011

    Six leading health bodies have quit the alcohol policy group that the government wanted to set up as it attempted to tackle the problems of alcohol abuse.

    The idea was to have voluntary agreements with the drinks industry but the health groups, including the Royal College of Physicians, the British Liver Trust, the British Medical Association (BMA), Alcohol Concern, the British Association for the Study of the Liver and the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said the proposals did not go far enough.

    The government is thought to have wanted the drinks industry to label 80 per cent of its products to show their strength by unit content, make people more aware of the unit content of drinks and make a greater effort to tackle under-age drinking. Advertisements for alcohol would have to be more responsible and there would be no drinks adverts near schools.

    However, Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “It’s all carrot and no stick for the drinks industry and supermarkets. By allowing the drinks industry to propose such half-hearted pledges on alcohol with no teeth, this government has clearly shown that, when it comes to public health, its first priority is to side with big business and protect private profit.”

    And the BMA’s Professor Vivienne Nathanson said: “The government has talked the talk, but when it comes to taking tough action that will achieve results, it falls short.”

    Health Secretary Andrew Lansley responded by pointing out that the government was proposing a new tax on super-strength beers and a ban on alcohol being sold for less than the duty levied on it.

    “We have made clear from the start that the responsibility deal is just one strand of the government’s public health policy,” Lansley said. “It explicitly excludes cost and price competition to avoid conflicts of interest.”


    March 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

  18. I have a feeling what is going through the Government’s mind is: “If we legalise cannabis, would that opens the flood gates to other drugs higher up the ladder such as: cocaine, LSD, Heroin, etc. ”

    Just a thought.

    The Debt Collector

    March 17, 2011 at 1:34 am

    • So it should, IMHO ALL drugs should be regulated and controlled correctly. Unfortunately the general populous as a whole and the media seem to think this will be the downfall of our country. I mean who wants a country where you can send your kid to go buy a shot of heroin with your morning daily mail eh?.

      This isn’t how it’ll happen but most people seem to sensationalise it that way. Seems the government and a lot of people, confuse legalisation with a free market and blanketed availability. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so serious.


      March 17, 2011 at 9:27 am

  19. I actually sincerely like this and I hope to come across additional subject material like this. Thanks your cyber share.

    Domingo Davis

    January 12, 2014 at 8:02 pm

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