Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she will consider reclassifying nitrous oxide as a controlled substance.
Sarah Newton (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department):
We have no plans to reclassify nitrous oxide as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Under the Psychoative Substances Act 2016, it is illegal to supply nitrous oxide if the drug is likely to be consumed for psychoactive effect.
Mike Wood: The hon. Lady is making some important points. She referred to the taskforce’s “Future in mind” report. According to one of its startling statistics, only between 25% and 35% of young people with diagnosable mental health conditions access support. Does that not underline the need for much better training and much more awareness among both teachers and GPs, in respect of early identification as well as early intervention?
Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing)
Mike Wood: Has my right hon. Friend made any assessment of how the prices of the drugs quoted in the article in The Times compare with those paid in other health services and by healthcare providers in other western European countries?
Mike Wood: Does my right hon. Friend share my disappointment that the BMA leader who co-authored the new contract and said that it was beneficial for our patients and for our junior doctors is now trying to whip up support for a series of strikes that every credible medical leader has said would be disproportionate and harmful to patients?
Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health
I am extremely disappointed and I hope that she reconsiders.
We as Members should question the credibility of alcohol advice, but our primary role is surely to consider the wisdom and effectiveness of such guidance from a public policy viewpoint. The guidelines fail to acknowledge the decades of research demonstrating that moderate alcohol consumption is compatible with a healthy lifestyle. Multiple studies since the 1970s show that light to moderate alcohol drinkers have a lower mortality rate than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.
Mike Wood: The hon. Gentleman is speaking movingly about the challenges that dementia sufferers and their carers face. This week the Carers Trust raised with me concerns about patchy levels of support in dementia care around the country. Does he agree that local authorities need to go out and learn from best practice around the country, such as the church groups in his constituency and the successful dementia gateways in Dudley, to make sure that more carers and more dementia sufferers can receive the support they so desperately need?
On the Monday of last year’s Queen’s Speech debates, at almost exactly this time, I made my maiden speech. Twelve months on, I am delighted to see legislation being brought forward to implement so many parts of the manifesto on which my colleagues and I were elected. This Queen’s Speech is about improving life chances for all. It is about securing our economy so that we can provide the excellent public services on which our constituents, and we ourselves, depend.
I was opposed to the 2000 Act, and I had concerns about the 2014 Act. If our starting point is whether changes would make things easier or harder for some hypothetical despotic regime, both Acts clearly shifted the powers of the state and gave the security services significant new powers without providing corresponding safeguards to protect the rights and freedoms of the individual.
Mike Wood: I welcome the Government’s positive response to the taskforce report. Although effective acute care is vital, prevention is better than cure. Will the Government look at ongoing training for all GPs in mental health so that all patients can have access to early diagnosis, care and treatment to prevent problems from escalating?
Alistair Burt The Minister of State, Department of Health