MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: This isn't the time to yield on drug laws
The British public are entitled to be confused about the law on drugs.
They are beset on every hand by celebrities and retired politicians who argue that liberalisation will mysteriously reduce the problem.
Active politicians, by contrast, insist that a war on drugs should still be vigorously fought, even if their actions may not match their rhetoric.
Confusion: The British public are bombarded with differing views on the best ways to combat drug addiction
Meanwhile, there is growing disquiet about the effects – especially on the young – of cannabis, the most widely used illegal drug and one which for many years had a reputation for being mild and soft.
Even if that reputation was ever deserved, new strains in common use are much stronger.
And one persuasive study has strongly suggested a correlation between cannabis use in early teens and a measurable decline in intelligence.
Hard evidence in this area is difficult to come by as the frontiers of mental illness are ill-defined, and it is difficult to measure the use and effects of a drug still banned by law.
This is hardly the moment for legislators
to urge retreat.
Yet it appears from leaks that the House of Commons
Home Affairs Committee has swallowed the celebrities’ propaganda and
sympathises with moves towards relaxing the existing laws.
Harmful: Studies have suggested a strong correlation between cannabis use in early teens and a measurable decline in intelligence
Its main specific proposal is expected to be a call for a Royal Commission into the subject.
This is not in itself a bad idea, provided such a Commission is not packed – as so many such bodies have been – with liberalisers whose minds are already made up.
A genuinely impartial inquiry, which examines the case against relaxation, studies the true state of law enforcement and looks seriously at the correlation between cannabis and mental illness, would be highly desirable.
Parents who now fear for their children, exposed at dangerously early ages to powerful mind-bending substances, need to know that the Government and the law are on their side, whatever current fashion may be.
Well-targeted foreign aid, like thoughtful charity, does no end of good. No decent person should oppose it. But far too much aid is wasted or – worse – misdirected into dangerous or corrupt pockets.
This is an insult to taxpayers who see their pensions raided and their modest incomes subjected to confiscatory taxes originally designed for the super-rich.
If not curbed, it also discredits aid as a whole. That is why the abuses of British cash which The Mail on Sunday exposes today are such a serious matter – even when they are funny.
Many doubt the whole case for man-made climate change. But even if those doubts are set aside, it is indefensible to spend tax money on campaigns to reduce cattle flatulence in Latin America, or on watching the behaviour of ants in unsuccessful attempts to predict the weather in East Africa.
These projects are not evidence against aid as such. But they are an argument for far greater care in allocating it.
MPs have begun taking classes in Cornish – the latest of our nation’s ancient tongues to revive itself, inspired by the campaign to use Welsh in Wales. Meanwhile, Gaelic is flexing its muscles in Scotland. What is next
It has been bitterly but truly said that a language is a dialect with an army, and it would be a tragedy if all links with ancient cultures were lost. But as we all have quite enough difficulty understanding each other’s point of view, couldn’t everyone at Westminster at least stick to English