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Minister would be 'surprised' if no illegal drug use in Parliament

A minister today said he would be 'surprised' if there was not some illegal drug use in Parliament after a report that traces of cocaine had been found in parts of the Palace of Westminster.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said there are 'several thousand people' who work in Parliament and as a result he would be 'surprised if there wasn’t somebody taking drugs at some point'.  

A report in the Sunday Times said detection wipes had found traces of cocaine in 11 out of 12 locations tested. 

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he intends to raise the issue of drug misuse in Parliament with the police 'as a priority'.  

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said there are 'several thousand people' who work in Parliament and as a result he would be 'surprised if there wasn’t somebody taking drugs at some point'

Mr Malthouse was told by presenter Nick Ferrari during an interview on LBC Radio this morning that he must have been 'horrified' by the report relating to Parliament. 

He replied: 'Well I was, although there are several thousand people who work in the estate, so I’d be surprised if there wasn’t somebody taking drugs at some point, whether it’s on the estate or off. 

'I mean, where we want to get to, Nick, 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 because we want to make sure that we attack this problem in all three of its aspects.'

The report came as the Government was about to launch a new crackdown on drug use with its 10-year drugs strategy. 

Sir Lindsay described the claim that traces of cocaine had been found in areas of the Palace of Westminster accessible only to people with parliamentary passes as 'deeply concerning'.

In a statement, he said that he expected to see 'full and effective enforcement of the law' on the parliamentary estate. 

Sir Lindsay 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.'

A report in the Sunday Times said detection wipes had found traces of cocaine in 11 out of 12 locations tested

Meanwhile, a senior MP suggested sniffer dogs could be brought in to check for banned substances on the parliamentary estate. 

Tory Sir Charles Walker, who chairs the administration committee, told the newspaper: 'The House of Commons has a long history of using sniffer dogs to detect explosives.

'It may be that we now need to broaden the range of sniffer dogs… to include those which can detect drugs.'