HC Deb 27 November 1975 vol 901 cc1024-5
6. Mr. Scott

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Office Department whether he will set up an inquiry into the workings of firearms control.

Dr. Summerskill

The controls were examined in 1971 and 1972 by a working party under the chairmanship of the then Chief Inspector of Constabulary, whose findings were incorporated in the 1973 Green Paper, The Control of Firearms in Great Britain—Cmnd. 5297. We see no need for a further inquiry at this stage.

Mr. Scott

Does the hon. Lady accept that although there was some controversy about the shotgun recommendations of that Green Paper it also contained a number of sensible and universally welcomed suggestions for tightening up firearms control and making the job of the police much easier? Is there any excuse for delaying this still further?

Dr. Summerskill

We certainly see the need for some new legislation to control the situation regarding shotguns, but there are still many controversial matters to clear up and at the moment there is no parliamentary time for specific legislation.

Mr. Farr

Does the hon. Lady agree that if a standing advisory committee were set up to advise the Home Office on firearms matters it could be doing a lot of useful work now? It could be receiving suggestions from the public, the police and other authorities, and it could pave the way for a better attempt at legislation the next time.

Dr. Summerskill

An advisory committee might be indicated if new legislation were to give my right hon. Friend flexible powers to alter the way in which the controls operate. Then there could be continuing consultation with the police and other interested bodies about the exercise of such powers.