HC Deb 19 December 1932 vol 273 cc740-2

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that a number of ex-service men brought firearms home with them on demobilisation after the War; and whether he will consider giving instructions that no prosecution shall be undertaken against any ex-service man for being in possession of firearms without holding the appropriate licence, provided that he applies for a licence before 31st March, 1933?


The object of Section 13 (2) of the Firearms Act was to enable ex-service men and others who possessed firearms as trophies of the War to retain them without having to obtain a firearm certificate, provided that the Chief Officer of Police was notified in each case and signified that a certificate could be dispensed with. If any ex-service men or other persons are in possession of firearms, not covered by firearms certificates and not notified to the police under the section I have mentioned, they would be well advised to approach the police in the matter without delay. While I have no authority to give instructions on the lines suggested, I have no doubt that chief officers of police would be ready to deal sympathetically with persons who have unwittingly failed to observe the law.


Does this apply to officers as well as to the rank and file?


Yes, Sir, I should imagine so.

43. Mr. LEVY

asked the Home Secretary whether any decision has yet been reached on the question of restricting the distribution of firearms; and, if so, what changes in the law are proposed?


The question of the adequacy of the present arrangements for the control of firearms was the subject of discussion at a meeting of representative chief constables which was held at the Home Office on the 14th December. I have been informed of the views then expressed, and after careful consideration of the whole question, I have reached the conclusion that no fundamental or far-reaching change is necessary in the existing law, provided that its provisions are rigorously applied. The responsibility for granting and revoking firearm certificates is placed on the chief officers of police, and I am satisfied that these officers will be at pains to administer the law with full regard for the public safety. Steps have already been taken to strengthen the procedure governing the supply of firearms to persons going abroad, and there are certain minor points, including a proposal that holders of firearm certificates should be required to notify changes of address to the police, which I am now considering with a view to the possibility of legislation at a convenient opportunity.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a short time ago a large store of firearms was discovered by the police in the hands of an unauthorised person, and is he aware that by merely paying 10s. over a Post Office counter anybody can obtain a licence for a smooth-bore pistol, and ought not this to be stopped?


If the hon. Member has any definite information on that point, I shall be happy to receive it.