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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 July 2006, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Labour in addicts' children plan
Heroin and syringe
Under the plan, addicts would get benefits if they signed the contract
Drug addicts could be told not to have children under a plan being considered by the Labour Party in Scotland.

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil has proposed that addicts sign a "social contract", obliging them not to have children until they have beaten their habit.

Addicts would get benefits if they signed the agreement, but they would be withdrawn if the contract was breached.

A Labour party spokesman said all policy submissions would be considered at the party conference in November.

Non-government drugs policy agency, the Scottish Drugs Forum, described the plans as having a "vicious tenor" and a "deeply disquieting" hypocrisy.

Susan Dean from SDF said: "What is proposed dehumanises people who are in need of help and support simply because their problems are seen as too difficult and complex for society to deal with.

"These proposals unfairly single out drug users for "hardline" treatment and are completely at odds with the patient-centred approach which is a basic and accepted principle applying to other groups in need of social and health care."

It will drive addicts out of the system and create greater problems
Stewart Stevenson
Scottish National Party

She added that between 80,000 and 100,000 children in Scotland were affected by parental alcohol problems, up to double the numbers affected by parental drug use.

Scottish National Party justice spokesman Stewart Stevenson MSP said the plans were "unworkable" and "a sign of desperation".

He said: "It will drive addicts out of the system and create greater problems.

"Addicts live chaotic lives and would be likely to sign anything if they thought it would get them the help they wish for."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "The solutions on offer today are far from perfect - they run the risk of treatment being withdrawn from an addict who is otherwise recovering and that is not in the best interests of anyone, least alone any children involved."

Drug-addicted parents

Mr McNeil sparked controversy in the Scottish Parliament earlier this year by suggesting that addicts could have some form of contraception put into their methadone.

The plan is based on a similar scheme in the US which has seen female addicts being paid to take long-term contraceptives.

As many as 60,000 children in Scotland are living with parents with a drug problem.

The proposal came after a series of cases in Scotland involving children of drug-addicted parents. In December, a two-year-old from East Lothian died after taking methadone.

His parents, who were both methadone users, have since been charged with murder over the death.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch reaction to the proposal



SEE ALSO
Birth control call for methadone
11 May 06 |  Scotland
Scotland is 'losing' war on drugs
18 Jun 06 |  Edinburgh and East
McConnell call over heroin girl
18 Feb 06 |  Scotland

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