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Nick Clegg: 'The war on drugs is not working'

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said the "war on drugs is not working".

His comments came after a Liberal Democrat report published today found drug laws had no impact on levels of substance misuse.

Nick Clegg says drug addiction should be treated as a health rather than criminal problem. Credit: PA

Speaking on LBC radio, he said it should be a "wake up call" to the other parties that the current system was failing.

We have got to get away from this facile view that just talking tough solves this problem. It is a betrayal of the families of those 2,000 people dying every year in our country.

The evidence shows that a smarter approach where you deal with addicts as people who need treatment so they don't remain hooked on the stuff that is being pushed at them by criminals.

That actually frees up resources that allows you to go after the pushers and the criminal gangs and the 'Mister Bigs' who should be behind bars.

I cannot understand why on earth we as a society are putting a thousand people behind bars every year who have only been found to possess drugs for personal use. They have done nothing else wrong.

– Nick Clegg

Clegg: 'Compassionate Conservatism is dead or dying'

The panel on tonight's Agenda - Nikita Lalwani, Nick Clegg, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Dom Joly. Credit: The Agenda

Nick Clegg has said that the Budget is one the biggest questions facing politicians at the moment and that: "compassionate Conservativism is dead or dying."

Speaking on The Agenda with Tom Bradby, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

One of the big question for all politicians my party included to explain is as you have to carry on balancing the books of whoever is in power - how do you do that as fairly as possible?

The Conservatives have taken really quite a radical approach. ..They have said they won't ask anyone for a single extra penny in tax to start balancing the books. The only people who will pay the extra burden to fill the black hole in the public finances are the working age poor and the public services they rely on. Now I think that is socially unsustainable and it's very difficult to justify and it doesn't make much economic sense either.

– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

Other guests on tonight’s programme are comedian Dom Joly, broadcaster and columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer and novelist Nikita Lalwani.

The Agenda with Tom Bradby to be broadcast on ITV at 10.35pm tonight.

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Clegg warns the war on drugs 'is not working'

Nick Clegg has warned his party that the war on drugs "is not working".

"Treat the people with addictions in the way that they need to be dealt with, which is they need help," he told the Lib Dem conference.

"If you really want to be tough on the Mr Bigs, don't do what we're doing at the moment which is imprisoning hundreds of people for personal possession," Clegg said.

Liberal Democrat leader seen through a camera. Credit: Pool

"What happens? They end up getting hooked on harder drugs, they end up hanging out with hardened criminals and they end up coming out as either criminals who inflict further misery on other victims or become even more hapless victims of the criminal gangs."

"How idiotic is that?" the Lib Dem leader added.

Clegg: Lib Dems should aspire to deliver home rule in Wales

Nick Clegg has said the Lib Dems should "aspire to deliver home rule to Wales" when it is delivered in Scotland.

"When we will, and we will - no ifs and no buts ... when we deliver what is in effect home rule here to Scotland within the United Kingdom I think we should aspire to deliver home rule to Wales as well."

Clegg reiterates his unease over assisted dying

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has reiterated his unease over the issue of assisted dying.

"This is something of such profound personal conscience and personally I am not persuaded it is sensible for the state to seek to capture in legislation decisions," Clegg told a Question and Answer session at the party's annual conference.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg addresses delegates at the annual party conference. Credit: Pool

"I'm personally quite sceptical about the ability to capture what is a very, very difficult decision about when you endorse under the law the taking of someone's life," he told delegates.

"I'm not persuaded but I totally accept this is something which does need to be debated, calmly and sincerely," he added.

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Clegg: Lib Dems prepared to take uncomfortable decisions

Nick Clegg has told the Liberal Democrat conference his party is prepared to take some "uncomfortable decisions" to secure the long-term future.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg addresses a Q and A session at the party's annual conference. Credit: Pool

The Lib Dem leader said: "That's what all these difficult, gory, unpopular decisions around the deficit are about.

"They're all about making sure that we clear the decks, wipe the slate clean for the next generation."

Clegg: Tories and Labour give public 'a dismal choice'

Nick Clegg has said the Conservatives and Labour are presenting the British public with a "dismal choice" at the next general election.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg appears on The Andrew Marr Show as his party's conference is underway. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

"Those choices, either sticking your head in the sand or beating up on the poor are not the choices the British people want," the Deputy Prime Minister told BBC's The Andrew Marr Show.

"They want balance between a stronger economy and a fairer society and that is what we're offering," the Lib Dem leader said.

Clegg warns Islamic State 'is a challenge and threat'

Nick Clegg has said the Islamic State is "a challenge and threat" following the murder of British hostage Alan Henning.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg this morning. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

Speaking on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, the Deputy Prime Minister said it was "a very serious threat to our way of life that will last a very long period of time."

Disagreeing with comments made by former Chief of Defence Staff General Lord Richards, Clegg said, "I don't think it's a question of ramping up conventional armed forces again as if we were fighting state-to-state conflicts."

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