Page 2, 28th November 2003

28th November 2003
Page 2
Page 2, 28th November 2003 — Howard criticised over drugs inertia

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Howard criticised over drugs inertia


A LEADING CHRISTIAN thinktank has accused the Tory frontbench of reneging on a commitment to fight drugs.

Conservative peers in the House of Lords were advised by Tory leader Michael Howard that they should not vote against government proposals to reclassify cannabis from a Class B to a Class C drug.

The Christian Institute said a Conservative vote against would have been sufficient, with cross-bench peers and Labour abstentions, to scupper the Government's proposals.

Colin Hart, institute director, said the reclassification of drugs was a "backward step" and would cause people to suffer. He said: "The Conservative Party had a real opportunity to block the Government's plans in the House of Lords. Michael Howard's decision that peers should not vote against reclas

sification is appalling. He deliberately sank any chance of stopping these damaging proposals."

He added: "Down the ages Christians have been at the forefront of battling against the epidemic of public drunkenness and the personal tragedy of alcoholism. Now Christians must take a stand as it becomes ever more fashionable to argue for the legalisation of drugs."

But a Conservative Party spokesman said Tory peers were simply following parliamentary procedure. He said: "They weren't asked to vote on a law. It was a parliamentary order amending a Bill that had been approved by the elected chamber and they never vote against an order for that reason.

In the Commons we voted against the reclassification. The peers also made their concerns known that reclassification of cannabis will increase drug use among young people."

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