That's very coy of you, @Jack_Prior . Here's the relevant depiction:
...complete with empty jug of 'poppers'. No wonder he looks so used.
Incidentally, here's Vaz'z speech in the debate on 'Psychoactive Substances' on 20 Jan 16:
I thank my hon. Friend for that information. I wonder whether they are still in use around the Cabinet table.
The Minister has moved some way since the Home Affairs Committee report’s recommendation 45:
“We accept the evidence given by Professor Iversen, the National Aids Trust, and the Gay Men’s Health Collective on alkyl nitrites”.
Professor Iversen said that they were
“not seen to be capable of having harmful effects sufficient to constitute a societal problem”,
and therefore we recommended, unanimously, that they should not be banned. We said that if the Government were to present evidence that changed that position and our view, they should, of course, be added to the list of banned substances. Indeed, the report states:
“If in the future there is any evidence produced to the contrary, then ‘poppers’ should be removed from the exempted list or controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.”
As a result of the immensely able work of the hon. Member for Finchley and Golders Green (Mike Freer), the Minister wrote to me last night proposing that a review should begin. He felt that there should still be a case for putting poppers on the banned list, but that if the evidence changed he would come back to the House, or by some other order, and put them on the exempted list. I think that that approach is the wrong way around.
The shadow Minister has asked me for my view and I have listened to the hon. Member for Winchester (Steve Brine), who I know also has constituents who are very concerned about drugs issues. The Committee, which also addressed the banning of laughing gas, does not believe that this particular case has been made. This is my personal view and other Committee members can, of course, say what they want, but when we considered the issue and voted unanimously on it, we did not consider poppers to be harmful.
The Minister wrote back to us and told us that poppers are beneficial, as if in some cases they may well be mandatory. He wrote that
“the Government recognises that representations have been made to the effect that ‘poppers’ have a beneficial health and relationship effect in enabling **** sex for some men who have sex with men, amid concern about the impact of the ban on these men. In consultation with the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Home Office will now consider whether there is evidence to support these claims and, if so, whether it is sufficient to justify exempting the alkyl nitrites group (or individual substances in the group).”
Although I welcome that approach—it is a really positive step forward—it is actually the wrong way around. A better course of action would be to put alkyl nitrites on the exempted list, conduct the review and then come back to the House or by order and change the position. It is what we like to call evidence-based decision making. That is what we have said consistently over the eight years I have chaired the Home Affairs Committee.
There is a lot of emotion out there about drugs, and a lot of people have great concerns. Some, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), are passionately in favour of liberalisation, while others have a different position, but why take a position of banning and then unbanning? That affects the huge authority that the Government have in respect of this very important Bill. The Minister has the whole House with him on it. I doubt we are going to divide on many issues, which is pretty rare for Home Office Bills. I am trying to think of another Bill where that has happened. There is always a division of some kind, but why divide the House on this issue when there is no reason to do so?
I call on the Minister to accept amendment 5, or to not oppose it, and to let us move forward constructively. He could have his review, come back and then everyone in this House will accept what the experts say. Without equivocation, I give him a guarantee that if the review decides that poppers are harmful, I will be the first in the Division Lobby with him, supporting that view. But to ban and then unban sends a powerful message to a section of our community that they are not being listened to, and to experts who have given evidence to us that they are wrong.
I urge the Minister, even at this late stage—as I have said, he is a Minister who listens to the House, the Home Affairs Committee and individual views—to look at the issue again and ensure that alkyl nitrites are put on the exempted list until his review is concluded.
However much i would laugh my socks off to see Vaz brought to book, I wonder if MP's really want to draw attention to themselves? I wonder how many could survive a criminal investigation? I imagine few would stand up to DV standard clearance Proceedures.
Maybe I am being uncharitable, but I hold them in low estimation in general.
Absolutely agree. Just to add that this has been commented here and alluded to elsewhere many times.
However, maybe there is a glimmer of hope:
Vaz is under renewed pressure over his finances after the National Crime Agency was asked to launch an Unexplained Wealth Orderinvestigation by Tory MP Andrew Bridgen. According to newspaper reports published before his election in 1987:
Having told lies about a police officer, he was still on the Home Affairs select committee.
Mr Vaz recklessly made a damaging allegation against Miss Eggington to the Commissioner, which was not true, and which could have intimidated Miss Eggington or undermined her credibility.
"Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty were interviewed by the police as a direct result of his intervention.
"Having set the Commissioner on a false line of inquiry Mr Vaz then accused her of interfering in a criminal investigation and threatened to report her to the Speaker."
Not quite. They should conform to certain basic mores and customs. No civilised guest tells the host what he must serve for supper, and the presence of one vegetarian at a barbecue should not keep the others from their sirloins. (Apparently the use of the word 'civilised' or 'civilisation' is colonialist or racist or something now; Mary Beard is suffering an infestation of this sort at the moment. I do hope those words are used more hereafter)