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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I agree with the thrust of what the noble Earl has said. As I tried to say earlier this afternoon, if people are to be dispossessed as a judgment of Parliament, they ought to be treated with decent consideration as all people should be who have to come into contact with public administration in any circumstance. I repeat that if I am given chapter and verse I shall do my best to take what
I do not think there is anything between the noble Earl and myself about what the proper approach should be. I entirely sympathise with the feelings shooters have that they have been dispossessed unfairly. I do not agree with them but I fully understand their views. I am familiar with people who enjoy handgun practice. I am familiar with police gun ranges. I know how involved people become within their sports. That is a judgment which Parliament has made on an earlier occasion and may make again on this occasion.
The noble Baroness asked me where the money would come from. At Second Reading in another place on 11th June (at col. 1164 of the Official Report) my right honourable friend the Home Secretary indicated that the additional sums would be met from within the Home Office budget. The additional sum is a relatively small amount compared with the total compensation that was to be provided by the present Shadow Foreign Secretary when he was Home Secretary.
The noble Viscount, Lord Slim, asked a number of questions relating to security. The police have the necessary expertise in dealing with security. They have the present task of vetting existing clubs. They have to make decisions about how clubs, dealers and individuals store their weapons. Where a chief officer of police may need extra advice he is perfectly entitled to look for it either from the Armed Forces or from the Health and Safety Executive.
The noble Viscount also asked about the destruction of weapons. There is no question that weapons handed in for compensation will be sold abroad in the generality. All weapons will be destroyed by police under local arrangements. A few guns will be retained by chief officers of police for training purposes or they may be taken by museums for public display. For destruction certificates to be handed out by the thousand to individuals would place a wholly intolerable burden on police forces and add unnecessarily to bureaucracy.
Nothing could be simpler and it is perfectly plain. It means that the declaration, if it is read and understood, applies only to claims made under Option (A) and Option (B). It does not apply to Option (C) claims. Therefore, the declaration in paragraph (b) simply makes implicit in the choice of Option (A) or (B) that the individual is prepared to accept payment either at the relevant flat rate or the listed value for the items. It is as simple as that. If there have been concerns I am glad to put them right and I hope that I have done so.
Questions were raised about the power of .22 rim-fire weapons. In particular the noble Lord, Lord Monson, mentioned that. Lord Cullen dealt with that at paragraph 9.42 of his report in referring to the evidence of Mr. David Penn. He is a member of the Firearms Consultative Committee and I believe that at the time he gave evidence he was a member of the BSSC. Lord Cullen's citation from that evidence was,
Perhaps I may deal with the powerful contribution of my noble friend--we still are!--Lord Howell. A certain amount of misunderstanding has crept in and it is very important that I make the position as plain as I can. There is no doubt that the games will take place in Manchester in the year 2002. The contract can only be breached for two reasons--that is to say, natural disaster or lack of proper organisation. I mention this because it may be useful. Manchester's original bid for the games did not include shooting events. They were included only after representations by New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the Falklands. The hosting of the Olympic Games is not dependent on the games containing specific events. The inclusion of individual events is a matter between the host nation and the Olympic committee. It is clearly important to bear in mind--
Lord Howell: My Lords, I am obliged to my noble friend for giving way. Perhaps I may assure him, having done this myself, that one has to give a clear undertaking to the International Olympic Committee that all the events outlined in the programme will be held in the host city. That obligation cannot be escaped. I shall be grateful if my noble friend can check on the source of his statement about that matter.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, of course I shall check. If I am wrong I shall write to my noble friend immediately. I repeat, that my information is that Manchester's original bid did not include shooting events.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, again I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I said that in my remarks. I made it clear that the original bid did not include shooting. I also went on to say that 53 out of 60 countries made representations that shooting should be included. It was quite clear that Manchester would have been looked on very unfavourably--there may well have been some boycotting--if it had not eventually succumbed to including shooting in the games. As the noble Lord, Lord Howell, has said, it is clear that we shall be put in serious jeopardy in future in bidding for international competitions if we exclude shooting as one of the sports.
The noble Baroness asked me specifically about the Section 5 arrangements. The Secretary of State can issue an authority in writing to any person and any such authority can be subject to any conditions specified in it. We do not believe that from our consultations with the affected police force, that there will be any difficulty provided it has the opportunity to put its organisation in hand as soon as reasonably practicable.
I agree with the thrust of what the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, and which was echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. It is a multi-faceted question. No single remedy will produce the result. There is a rather macho culture that guns are somehow acceptable in our community. As the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, pointed out, a gun crime related to drugs is extremely serious. No one on this side claims or pretends that this is a complete answer. We say that there is very significant public support for the stand that we have taken. It was a clear manifesto commitment. There was a significant majority for the present Government. As recently as 6th June--according to the poll in Daily Telegraph, for instance--83 per cent. of those polled supported the Government's announcement of a ban on all handguns. That is the fact.
Particular questions were raised by the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, about muzzle-loading pistols and air weapons. The exemptions as regards those weapons remain and they are not affected by this Bill. The prohibition on expanding ammunition, together with the exemptions for the lawful shooting of deer, vermin and other animals, are not affected by this Bill. If handguns and rifles are both held on a certificate, the handguns will be deleted and the certificate will then continue relative to the appropriate weapons.
A specific question was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harmsworth, about the effect on the training of military and police personnel. ACPO, its Scottish equivalent and the MoD, were consulted on this point, most recently in February of this year. They did not come to the conclusion that legislation would have a damaging effect on training.
I hope that I have dealt with every question that has been put to me. If I have not, I shall be happy to write. I repeat, that if there has been graceless correspondence on anyone's part I am more than happy to review it. The truth is--and we return to where the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord McNally, began--that we have to set a balance of judgment. We hope that such a balance of judgment for which we contend will be supported by your Lordships' House. It was supported by the public in the general election and in another place. That does not determine your Lordships' judgment in the slightest way and neither should it. We simply believe that it is