HC Deb 16 July 1973 vol 860 cc23-4
38. Mr. Hardy

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many copies of the consultative document on the control of firearms were published before 1st June and have been published or will be published after that date.

Mr. Kenneth Baker

About 6,700 copies of the consultative document on the control of firearms were distributed before 1st June 1973 and 1,600 copies have been distributed since then. There are 4,200 copies in stock. If there is a substantial rundown further copies will be printed.

Mr. Hardy

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Government erred in not producing enough copies of the document, and also in appearing to maintain their insistence that comments on it should be received before the end of June? Does he not agree that the announcement of an extension, on a Friday in answer to a Parliamentary Question when HANSARD was not published, is hardly a gracious way of reassuring those concerned about the comments and policies proposed in the document?

Mr. Baker

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman's last point. The time span in which comments may be received is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I cannot imagine where the rumour began about a shortage in the number of documents available. There have been sufficient documents from the start. Over 12,000 copies were printed and there are still 4,000 in stock.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that there is a general welcome for the democratic decision of his right hon. Friend to take full account of the many representations received within the extended period that he has allowed for this purpose?

Mr. Baker

I am aware that this document has drawn a considerable number of comments from all types of constituencies and not just from country constituencies.

Mr. Paget

Considering how researched the document turns out to be, would it not be easier to have another one and start again?

Mr. Baker

The hon. and learned Gentleman has got the wrong Minister in his sights. If he wishes to complain about the content of the White Paper he can make his own representations—but not to me, to the Home Secretary, please.