§ 2. Sir Roger Moate
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the maximum penalties available for trafficking in class A drugs; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Charles Wardle)
The maximum penalties available to the courts in cases of trafficking in class A drugs are life imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both.
§ Sir Roger Moate
Does my hon. Friend agree that that threat of life imprisonment and the Attorney-General's right to appeal against lenient sentences represent two of the most crucial weapons in the battle against drug smuggling? They would not exist but for a provision in the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which the Labour party opposed. Is not it disgraceful that Labour should oppose that measure, as well as many other law and order measures introduced by the Conservatives?
§ Mr. Wardle
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why the Conservative Government increased the maximum penalty from 14 years' imprisonment to life imprisonment or an unlimited fine, or both. Opposition Members have voted against every major piece of law and order legislation since 1979.
§ Mr. Trimble
The Minister will know that paramilitary organisations are deeply into drug trafficking as a means of raising funds and are doing so in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Is there any evidence that they are involved in similar activities in England and Wales and, if so, what are the Government doing about it?
§ Mr. Wardle
The Government are well aware that drug trafficking is an international business. That is why we have bilateral agreements with 28 countries, why we ratified the United Nations convention in 1988, along with 70 other countries, why we are a major donor to the United Nations drug control programme and why we provide 33 liaison officers who are working in various countries to fight drug trafficking.