§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN (Kilkenny, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that† See (4) Debates, cxxxv., 802.289 at the Belfast Petty Sessions, held on Monday, 30th May, Daniel Ferris was prosecuted and fined, at the instance of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, under the Gun Licence Act of 1870, for having carried an air-gun in Belfast on 1st April without a licence; whether he is aware that the defendant in the case was a member of an air-gun club, and was taking part in an air-gun competition on the occasion in question; and, if so, whether, seeing that under the section in the Act under which Mr. Ferris was prosecuted a gun is held to be a weapon which discharges a missile, that a toy pop-gun would come within its scope, and that air-gun clubs are numerous in England and in the North of Ireland, where they are encouraged by the local authorities, he will advise the Inland Revenue Department that the fine in this case should be remitted, and that in future such prosecutions should not take place unless some grave offence is committed against the law.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY (MR. VICTOR CAVENDISH, Derbyshire, W.)
The weapon used by Mr. Ferris was not a toy, but an air-gun, which is expressly mentioned in Section 2 of the Gun Licence Act, 1870, as being included under the term "gun." The magistrates imposed a fine of £2 10s., but recommended its mitigation to 10s. on the ground of ignorance of the law; and their recommendation has been adopted. I am unable to give an undertaking that the law will not be enforced in future.