§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Mr. LEVY
I beg to move:That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Firearms Act, 1920; and for purposes relating thereto.The Bill which I ask leave to introduce is for the purpose of tightening up the 1920 Firearms Act and remedying certain weaknesses in that Measure. It seeks to deal with the possession and distribution of firearms and imitation firearms. Only a few days ago Scotland Yard instructed detectives to search the spectators in the public gallery at the London Sessions before the Judge took his seat on the Bench in order to find whether any of those spectators were in possession of firearms. The House will agree that when we have to take action of that kind in a court in this country, a Measure such as I am now advocating is long overdue. This morning I read that the chief constable of Lincoln has asked the Press to publish notices urging parents to refrain from buying toy pistols as Christmas presents for their children. We know that these toy pistols can be converted into lethal weapons and sometimes are, in fact., lethal weapons, as they are sold.
A Measure passed through this House a few days ago imposing penalties in connection with the use of firearms, but that Measure did nothing to deal with the distribution or possession of firearms. The Bill which I now seek to introduce is supported by Members of all parties; it is non-controversial, and I hope that it will receive the blessing of the Home Office, in order that the Government may find facilities for its passage into law. Recently I asked the Home Secretary whether he could give me details of the number of permits issued for carrying firearms. My right hon. Friend said that without enormous expense it would be impossible to prepare such statistics. May I say, without any disrespect to my right hon. Friend, that his answer only goes to show the laxity that has existed in connection with the distribution of these firearms. The Bill will do nothing to 701 interfere with the possession of guns for sporting purposes or with the possession of war trophies under certain conditions. It seeks to make a licence available for one year only, instead of three years and it gives power to the Home Secretary to issue regulations for tightening up the procedure in connection with the issue of permits. It might shortly be called a. Civilian's Disarmament Bill, and I hope that the House will allow it to have a First Reading.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Levy, Mr. Groom-Johnson, Sir Shirley Benn, Sir John Withers, Mr. Lyons, Mr. Rhys Davies, Mr. T. Williams. and Mr. Isaac Foot.