HC Deb 18 November 1982 vol 32 cc408-9
12. Mr. Hicks

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement concerning any proposals to increase the level of fees for firearms certificates.

Mr. Whitelaw

For the reasons given in my reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) on 10 November, the Government have decided not to increase fee levels for the time being. We shall consider the matter again in the light of a report from a forthcoming joint working party of the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers on the basis of the principle that fees should recover the full costs of operating the licensing system.

Mr. Hicks

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread support for the decision to suspend any proposed increase in fees? When is the report of the working party likely to be received by his Department? Will he assure the House that income from those fees will not be used as an additional source of revenue?

Mr. Whitelaw

I cannot say when the report will be published. There never has been any idea that the fees should be used as an increased source of revenue.

Mr. Freud

Will the Home Secretary accept that many people in rural areas will welcome his statement? Why is he so much against people who have guns and so much for people who have dogs? Should not the criterion for a licence fee be the cost of administration?

Mr. Whitelaw

I am for people who have guns, provided that they use them legally for proper purposes. I am for people who have dogs.

Mr. Farr

Will my right hon. Friend look into the cause of the unreliability of present police costing methods for the issuing of licences? Is he aware that it has resulted in one police authority producing a cost level several times higher than an adjacent one?

Mr. Whitelaw

That is the purpose of the working party. If the shooting organisations wish to put forward their views, such views will be welcome.