A TORY Minister has claimed the decriminalisation of the possession and consumption of drugs in Scotland would create fresh problems by making the country a target for county lines gangs.

And he also accused the Scottish Government of failing to invest enough money in treatment and recovery.

Delegates at this month’s SNP conference unanimously passed a motion backing decriminalisation.

But Home Office minister Kit Malthouse told MPs yesterday that having a different drugs policy would “cause significant problems for Scotland”.

During Home Office questions, Tory MP David Duguid asked what impact the SNP’s stated policy would have.

The National: Kit MalthouseKit Malthouse

Responding for the UK Government, Malthouse said: “My view is that having a different regime in Scotland than that in England and Wales could cause significant problems for Scotland, not least because it will become a target for those who wish to promote this trade more easily and running county lines from England into Scotland.”

READ MORE: SNP conference votes for drugs law to be devolved

Malthouse added: “There are times when we are four nations and times when we are one country and on drugs we should be one.”

The SNP have repeatedly called for powers over drugs to be devolved to Holyrood. A record 1187 drug-related deaths were recorded in Scotland last year. Plans for a safe drugs consumption room in Glasgow were halted due to Home Office policy.

SNP MP Angela Crawley said the Commons health and social care select committee had recently published a report recommending a “radical change” in the UK’s drugs policy.

She added: “Given the high rate of drug-related deaths in Scotland, does [Malthouse] accept that UK policy is simply not working and a new approach is desperately needed?”

Malthouse replied: “Our mind is open what more we can do. Having said that there are lots of things that should be and that aren’t being done.

“One of the common phenomena in countries that had success in dealing with drug-related problems is investment in health treatment and in recovery. And sadly in Scotland that has not been the case over the last few years.”

Meanwhile, an addiction charity has claimed Scotland should create a government position to focus on the drug deaths crisis as well as increasing funding for treatment by more than one-third.

A report by Favor UK, to be released on Friday, called for the Scottish Government to appoint a “Minister of Recovery”. It also wants a 35% increase in funding for recovery services and to declare the situation is a public health emergency requiring a joint response from the government, charities, councils, the police and health boards.

Favor UK CEO Annemarie Ward said: “We are sick and tired of the drug deaths crisis being used as political football and want action now.”