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Minister: I'd be surprised if people weren't taking drugs in Parliament
6 December 2021, 11:28 | Updated: 6 December 2021, 12:18
A government minister told LBC he'd be "surprised if people weren't taking drugs" in Parliament amid reports of drug misuse on the estate.
Crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse was asked about the reports by Nick Ferrari as he outlined the Government's new 10-year drugs strategy.
The Sunday Times said yesterday that traces of cocaine had been found in areas of the Palace of Westminster accessible only to people with parliamentary passes.
Mr Malthouse agreed that he was horrified but added: "There are several thousand people who work in the estate so I would be surprised if there wasn't somebody taking drugs at some point whether it’s on the estate or off."
He continued: "Where we want to get to is a situation that when the police are enforcing on drugs they are as likely to do an operation outside Westminster or Sloane Square Tube as they are outside Tottenham Hale or anywhere else in the capital, or indeed as likely to do it on the Wirral as they are in Liverpool city centre
"We want to make sure we attack this problem in all three of its aspects: treatment for those who need it, obviously punishment for crimes that are committed, a massive concentration on restricting supply."
The Sunday Times reported that detection wipes had found traces of cocaine in 11 out of 12 locations tested in Parliament amid claims of casual use of the class A drug by a group of MPs.
The paper said that Commons officials received reports last month that cannabis could be smelt in the open space between Portcullis House and 1 Parliament Street.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he will raise the reports with the police "as a priority".
In a statement, he said: "The accounts of drug misuse in Parliament given to the Sunday Times are deeply concerning - and I will be raising them as a priority with the Metropolitan Police this week.
"I expect to see full and effective enforcement of the law.
"While Parliament provides extensive support services for any staff or Members who may need help with drug misuse - and I would encourage anyone struggling with such issues to take up such help - for those who choose to flout the law and bring the institution into disrepute the sanctions are serious."
Senior Conservative MP Sir Charles Walker, who chairs the administration committee, suggested drugs sniffer dogs could be deployed.
"The House of Commons has a long history of using sniffer dogs to detect explosives," he told the Sunday Times.
"It may be that we now need to broaden the range of sniffer dogs ... to include those which can detect drugs."