Hague puts drug policy on hold

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Conservative leader William Hague has backed away from the party's zero tolerance policy on drugs and now says the proposals will now go out for consultation.

Conservative leader William Hague has backed away from the party's zero tolerance policy on drugs and now says the proposals will now go out for consultation.

Today Mr Hague said he recognised there were concerns about the plans unveiled by Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe at last week's party conference.

"The proposals we have made are on the table but they need further consultation, discussion and debate," he said. "We are not abandoning those policies, we think they have merit but we think there should be further discussion."

Mr Hague said he had advised the seven Shadow Cabinet ministers who admitted having taken drugs to give honest answers when questioned.

"I told them to give a truthful answer. They were quite right to give a truthful answer. I would have been appalled if they had done anything else," said Mr Hague.

He also insisted he still supported Miss Widdecombe saying: "I have 150 per cent confidence in Ann Widdecombe - she will be a great crime fighting Home Secretary."

Mr Hague spoke out in a series of television interviews in reaction to growing criticism today about the zero tolerance policy.

Drugs Tsar Keith Hellawell called the proposals unrealistic and impractical, while former Gwent chief constable Francis Wilkinson said it was time the country legalised cannabis use.

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