HC Deb 05 March 1964 vol 690 cc1491-2
2. Mr. J. Wells

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of illegal arms handed in during the last amnesty; and over how long a period that amnesty was given.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. C. M. Woodhouse)

Chief officers of police were asked not to take proceedings for unlawful possession against anyone surrendering firearms and ammunition between 3rd August and 31st October, 1961. During that period 70,486 firearms of all types were handed in.

Mr. Wells

As it is nearly three years since the previous amnesty, would not my hon. Friend look at the possibility of having another one, with a view to reducing the number of illegal weapons in the country?

Mr. Woodhouse

This is a very important branch of the law and my right hon. Friend would have to consider carefully the effect of over-frequent amnesties of this nature. The 1961 amnesty came after an interval of 15 years, and my right hon. Friend does not think that a further amnesty after so short an interval would be justified.

Mr. Lipton

Has the hon. Gentleman taken note of what was said in the last Report of the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis in which it was suggested that the penalty for the illegal possession of firearms should be very substantially increased?

Mr. Woodhouse

Yes, I am aware of that point and it has been the subject of consideration by the Chief Constables Committee.