§ (1) The Secretary of State shall by regulations provide—
- (a) for the issue by Executive Councils of separate forms for the purpose of prescribing controlled drugs; and
- (b) for the printing of such forms on paper of a colour easily distinguishable from that on which other prescriptions are written,
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
The purpose of this new Clause is to try to take precautions against the theft of pads of prescription forms which can then be used by persons who seek to acquire drugs illegally. The suggestion contained in the new Clause is that for the purpose of prescribing controlled drugs listed in the Bill special forms should be used, printed in different colours from ordinary prescription forms to make them easily distinguishable.
If doctors had forms in brilliant pink, green or blue for such a purpose they 568 would, I hope, guard them very carefully and not allow them to go out of their possession. At the moment many doctors are careless with their prescription forms. I am sure that the Minister will have read the annual report of the Magistrates' Association for 1968–69 in which there is a list of the kind of crimes committed by persons anxious to obtain supplies of drugs. Apart from the obvious ones of theft from chemists' shops, hospitals and doctors' surgeries, the second most common crime was the theft of prescriptions and blank prescription forms, the object being to get hold of them and forge prescriptions which are then taken to the chemists for dispensing.
I understand that the medical profession and the pharmaceutical profession are in agreement with an amendment on these lines in the hope that such forms would be locked up in a doctor's surgery and produced only when actually needed.
§ Mr. Sharples
I understand the purpose of the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) in proposing this new Clause, and I have considerable sympathy with it. In Committee, we discussed the whole question of the regulation of prescriptions, and several Amendments were made to the Bill largely in line with the purpose which the hon. Lady has in mind.
There is as yet no great knowledge of the various controls which one might introduce at later stages. We made a number of studies of the systems in use in Canada and in other countries. As a result, Amendments were made to Clause 10, under which there is power to make precisely the requirement now proposed in the new Clause. It is Clause 10(2)(g), under which there would be power to lay down the form of prescription which might be used for any controlled drug.
I hope that the hon. Lady will accept my assurance and, in the circumstances, be willing to withdraw the Clause.
§ Mrs. Short
I accept the hon. Gentleman's assurance. I have now read the report of the proceedings in Committee, which I was unable to attend as I was out of the country. In view of the hon. Gentleman's assurance that the matter is 569 still under discussion, and he is considering ways and means of providing this sort of safeguard, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the new Clause.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.