HC Deb 05 March 1981 vol 1000 cc407-8
8. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to complete the review of costs relating to firearms certificates; and when the review will be published.

Mr. Mayhew

The review of the basis of calculation of firearms fees should be completed in the spring and the results will be reported to the House.

Mr. Beith

Is the Minister sure that the review has not already been completed? Will he undertake that the details of the review will be made public when it is reported to the House to an extent that will enable those interested to assess the basis on which the calculation has been done? Does he realise how much resentment exists at the prospect that this Government might introduce a further unjustified increase in firearms charges?

Mr. Mayhew

When the review is complete the results will be made public. The purpose of the review is to ensure that those who take part in this sport pay the costs of administering its proper control. It is also the purpose to ensure that no costs that are at present attributed to those who take part in the sport are wrongly attributed. We want to get at the facts to see that a fair arrangement is made.

Mr. Farr

In view of the fact that firearms fees have gone up by over 1,000 per cent. in the last seven years, will my hon. and learned Friend give the House an assurance that, should the review highlight specific wasteful practices, these will be eliminated at the first opportunity?

Mr. Mayhew

1 feel certain that this assurance can be given, so far as the elimination of any wasteful practices lie within the control of the Government. We have demonstrated our good faith by making only an interim award. In view of the representations that have been made we shall have to see what the review throws up and try to arrive at a sensible solution in the light of it.

Mr. Newens

Does not the Minister agree that many criminals, especially young criminals, who have used shotguns in recent crimes of violence would have found much more difficulty gaining access to those arms had the conditions been as stringent as those applying to other firearms? Is there not a strong case for taking this factor into account and making access to shotguns more difficult than at present?

Mr. Mayhew

My right hon. Friend is not persuaded that further controls on shotguns would have a significant effect on the level of crime. People who pay attention to legal restrictions are not in the main those who use firearms for the purposes of crime.