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Sunday, August 15, 1999 Published at 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK

UK Politics

Welsh leader supports cannabis call

Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy at the leadership elections

The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats in the National Assembly, Mike German, has supported UK leader Charles Kennedy's call for a Royal Commission to examine legalising cannabis.

The BBC's Guto Harri: "Mr Kennedy is not convinced in the case for more liberal laws"
Mr Kennedy is not convinced of the case for legalising drugs, but is said to favour an open debate on an important subject which should not be "taboo", said a party spokesman.

The call for a Commission has been Lib Dem policy for many years and had been passed at annual conference.

Former leader Paddy Ashdown played down the conference decision, but the spokesman said Mr Kennedy was determined to speak out on issues that other parties were too timid to tackle.

Call for openness

Mr German said it was important that the issue was brought out into the open and wanted an investigation of subject which ahd been taboo for many years.

Mike German: "It's about time politicians put things into the public eye."
"I'm not saying I want to see a change in the laws, but I certainly want to see this matter debated in the open for people to have a look at what our policy is about in the matter of drugs.

"I think it's about time politicians put things into the public eye," he said.


But shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe attacked Mr Kennedy's proposals.

"Charles Kennedy clearly has yet to learn how a responsible party leader should behave," she said.

"This is an unbelievable first commitment which will alienate many of the people who put a cross by his name in the recent leadership election, and who voted Liberal Democrat two years ago."

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