HC Deb 04 December 1996 vol 286 cc1110-29

'.—(I) The 1968 Act shall be amended as follows. (2) After section 5A there shall be inserted the following section— "Prohibition of small firearms in Scotland 5B.—(l) A person commits an offence if, without the authority of the Defence Council, he has in his possession while in Scotland, or purchases or acquires in Scotland, or manufactures, sells or transfers in Scotland, any firearm which either has a barrel less than 30 centimetres in length or is less than 60 centimetres in length overall, other than an air weapon to which section I of this Act does not apply, a muzzle —loading gun or firearm designed as a signalling apparatus.

  1. (2)For the purposes of this section, any detachable, folding, retractable or other movable butt —stock shall be disregarded in measuring the length of any firearm.
  2. (3) For the purposes of this section a muzzle-loading gun is a gun which is designed to be loaded at the muzzle end of the barrel or chamber with a loose charge and a separate ball (or other missile).".
(4) In Part I of Schedule 6 (prosecution and punishment of offences), after the entry for section 5(6) there shall be inserted the following entry—
"Section 5B(1). Having, etc. a small firearm in Scotland. (a) Summary 6 months or a fine of the statutory maximum; or both
(b) On indictment 5 years or a fine; or both.".'.

[Mr. Salmond.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Salmond

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 6, in clause 1, page 2, line 8, at end insert— '(10) The provisions of subsection (1)(aba) apply only to England and Wales.'. No. 7, in clause 2, page 2, line 18, after '5', insert 'or by virtue of section 5B'. No. 8, in clause 3, page 2, line 27, after '5', insert 'or by virtue of section 5B'. No. 9, in clause 4, page 2, line 33, after '5', insert 'or by virtue of section 5B'. No. 10, in clause 5, page 2, line 42, after '5', insert 'or by virtue of section 5B'. No. 16, in clause 13, page 6, line 27, at end insert 'and (d) the premises are outside Scotland.'. No. 17, in clause 15, page 7, line 18, after 'premises', insert 'outside Scotland'.

No. 11, in clause 40, page 19, line 33, at end add— '(6) Part II of this Act extends to England and Wales only.'.

Mr. Salmond

New clause 1 is in the name of a variety of hon. Members. Amendments Nos. 6 to 10 are consequential to new clause 1 and amendments Nos. 16, 17 and 11 seek to do the same thing as new clause 1 from a slightly different—perhaps more direct—approach.

Hon. Members will see that new clause 1 is supported by what can best be described as a rainbow coalition of Members. From the list of sponsors of the amendment, it appears that there are probably three reasons why hon. Members have put their name to it.

The hon. Members for Foyle (Mr. Hume), for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) and for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) and I have all argued strongly for a handgun ban, and will seek each and every opportunity to argue that case. The support of the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) and of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), who is not in the Chamber at the moment, for the new clause is motivated by the fact that they see the opportunity for Scotland to lead the way for England and Wales if it is successful.

The hon. Members for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) and for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) do not agree with the objective of banning handguns, but none the less believe that the Scottish will is most decided on the matter, and that Scotland should decide for itself rather than having something imposed from elsewhere. I welcome the support of all those hon. Members for amendments that are important in terms of both principle and the direction that they take.

I shall examine the idea of leading by example and the idea of letting Scotland decide on this matter, above all matters, in the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre. First, however, I shall talk about practicality.

Some hon. Members have said both here and outside the House that it would not be possible to implement a total handgun ban in Scotland if one did not exist in England and Wales. I think that it was the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) who said on "Question Time" that he could foresee someone going from Scotland to buy a handgun from a registered dealer south of the border and taking it back into Scotland because, as he put it, there are no border controls.

That betrays a total lack of understanding of the nature of the legislation. As we understand it, under the Bill it would not be possible to transport handguns except under strictly supervised conditions. The only handguns allowed—the .22 calibre weapons—would be in licensed pistol clubs in secure conditions.

As a result of the new clause, there would be no licensed pistol clubs in Scotland, so I would argue strongly that not only is it totally practical to have a total ban in Scotland, but such a situation would be easier to police and more practical than the legislation that would apply to England and Wales.

When .22 calibre weapons are transported, there are bound to be circumstances in which doubt arises. That is one of the weaknesses in the legislation. There will be doubt about whether the various mechanisms and protections surrounding transportation have been properly respected.

In Scotland, the position would be black and white. No civilian handguns would be legal and there would be no transporting of handguns. That position would be more effective and easier to police. The argument that a ban in one part of the United Kingdom but not in others would not be practical without border controls or an independent Scotland is false.

After all, the Bill is not United Kingdom legislation; it does not cover Northern Ireland, which has different regulations and rules on handguns now. Few hon. Members would seriously argue that we could impose legislation willy-nilly on Northern Ireland without taking account of the issue of personal security, which is so important in the Province—and that applies equally to those of us who argue that handguns should be banned. It is therefore possible and practical to have a handgun ban in Scotland.

I shall now explain the two main arguments behind the new clause. The idea of leading by example has attracted support among hon. Members from both England and Wales. As I have said in previous debates, I believe that elements in the Bill are a messy compromise between the ambitions, aims and objectives of the Secretary of State for Scotland, who was looking for a total ban on handguns, and the resistance of the Home Secretary, who did not share that position.

The Government have been left with a messy compromise that isolates .22 calibre weapons, saying that they can somehow be rendered safe, while higher-calibre weapons must be banned. That distinction has fallen apart, faced with the arguments advanced against it.

If the Government are confident of their position, why will they not allow a total ban in Scotland, while enacting their present proposals for legislation in England and Wales, and then compare the two and see which system is more accepted and can be better enforced? I think that the ban in Scotland would quickly lead the way to introducing different legislation in England and Wales.

My second argument is that we should let the Scottish people decide on the issue. My view, which I know many other Scottish Members share, is that among the Scottish population there is a settled will in favour of a handgun ban.

It is often said during debates on the Bill, especially by those who are upset or worried about it, and who think that it is spatchcocked, rushed legislation, that it has been carried forward on a tide of emotionalism, and that those of us who argue for a handgun ban are reacting to an emotional argument.

I do not believe that that is the position that has been reached in Scotland. Certainly there is understandable emotion in the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre, but we have moved well beyond that point in arguing the case through. There is a settled opinion in Scotland that a total ban on the civilian use of handguns is the most effective response to the tragedy at Dunblane.

When we debated the matter two weeks ago, on a free vote, 56 of the 72 Scottish Members argued and voted for a handgun ban. I believe that that reflected the overwhelming majority view among the Scottish population, which has been revealed in many ways. The House should find it in its heart to allow Scotland to decide on the issue—to respect the wishes of the Scottish people and accept the new clause.

It has been said to me over the past few days that I have tabled a nationalist new clause, which could be supported only by someone who believed in an independent Scotland. I do not believe that that is true.

The incorporating unionist tendency, as represented by the Government, has recently been making an enormous play of saying that Scotland can play a distinctive part within an incorporating Union. I cannot see much concrete evidence for that idea—except perhaps the odd stone here and there. It is a difficult argument to sustain, but those who support that position should be prepared to allow a distinctive judgment and response in Scotland to art event such as the tragedy of Dunblane.

I understand that such legislation would be covered by the devolutionist proposals, too. With devolution, legislation different from that approved by the Westminster Parliament here in London could well emerge from the Scottish Assembly in Edinburgh; so it is possible to support the distinction from a devolutionist point of view.

From a pro-independence position, too, I think that it is important for the Scottish people to determine something that is vitally linked to our social life and to how we react to tragedies.

The issue has brought together people from all political parties and from none. One of the experiences that I am sure we have all shared in responding to the Snowdrop campaigners is the realisation that people from outwith politics have played such a magnificent role in arguing the case. It involved many talented people who had found themselves for one reason or another outside the political process, or who did not feel that they should engage in party political debate.

The issue has brought together opinion in Scotland within parties, too. As some hon. Members will know, I am from West Lothian. I come from Linlithgow, so I am a "Lithca lad", a "black bitch". That may confirm some hon. Members' opinions—although I must tell the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) that the description applies to both sexes. We are very forward-looking about such things in Lithca.

In West Lothian, politics is pretty rough at local level. There are endless arguments between the Labour party and the Scottish National party. Indeed, in the council group there are endless arguments within both parties, too. Yet, on the issue of banning handguns, both parties on the council united within and between themselves to say, "We do not want handguns in the West Lothian community." I venture to suggest that an issue that can unite the Labour and Scottish National party council groups in West Lothian has truly united the vast majority of Scottish opinion. The new clause asks the House of Commons to respect that opinion in Scotland. It is practical, it is possible and it is the right thing to do. I ask hon. Members to give it their support.

8 pm

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

May I speak early in what might be a short debate to make clear the position of the Opposition Front Bench? Tonight—as on 18 November—Labour Members will have a free vote, but it is important to make our position clear. I say up front that I am advising my colleagues not to support the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), and I shall try to tell the House why.

I do not know whether it is necessary for me to do so, but I will repeat that my personal position—as well as that of my party—is very firmly in favour of a complete ban on handguns. We have dealt with this on a number of occasions, and no one should mistake the strength of feeling that I hold on this issue. My difference of opinion with the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan and those who support the amendment is not with the substantive issue, but with the implementation of their proposal.

The first and most important reason for not supporting the amendment is that it will not be passed. I have stood at this Dispatch Box for 17 years and articulated cases strongly, often in the sure and certain knowledge that we were not going to win. However, that in itself is not the argument. People outside this House who do not understand what goes on here and who have a strong sense of emotion and passion on this subject are likely to have their hopes raised, only to see them dashed.

The argument may be that, if every Opposition Member were here, we could defeat the Government this evening; but, on 18 November—on a free vote, but with a huge attendance by Members from all parties—the Government's position was endorsed by a majority of 25. For us to reverse that, we must assume that all the Ulster Unionist Members who voted as they did that night would change sides.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan has attracted the support of the hon. Members for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley) and for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). I do not know whether those two Members will be here to vote at the end of this debate, but they were only two of those who voted with the Government on 18 November. There is no certainty that they would vote the opposite way were they here tonight.

In any case, their votes will not be sufficient to change the result. Four brave Conservative Members defied the three-line Whip on 18 November to vote for a complete ban. It is unlikely that they will vote for the amendment this evening, and there is no indication that they will.

In the circumstances, there is no prospect of the amendment being passed. It would be unfair and hurtful if people outside this House were led to believe that a set of circumstances existed in the House that might have led to a complete handgun ban in Scotland after we were unable to obtain one on the Floor of the House on 18 November.

As someone who is close to the people immediately involved in the campaign on the issue, I do not wish to be associated with something that might be seen as a gesture in the circumstances. I have spent some time today talking to a number of people who have campaigned with great distinction, and I have also spoken to some of the bereaved parents and explained the circumstances of this evening's vote. I was in Dunblane following the vote on 18 November, and I know the deep sense of disappointment that was felt by people who believed that the House of Commons would take a different decision.

I know how deeply and painfully people felt, and a number of senior pupils at Dunblane high school embarked upon a hunger strike, so deeply did they feel that the Parliament of this country had let them down. Therefore, whatever views I have on the issue, I have at the back of mind the feeling that these people should not be led to believe in something that cannot provide what they want.

After the vote of 18 November, this matter can only be resolved by a general election. I regret that bitterly, because we could have established on a free vote throughout the House a position that would have resolved the issue without politics. However, the people will make their choice at a general election, and somehow we will resolve the issue in a more secure way than is possible at present.

The Labour party is committed to a complete ban on handguns. If we form the Government after the election, we will provide an early legislative opportunity for the House of Commons to vote and, on a free vote, we will recommend that a complete ban on handguns be implemented. We will close the loophole that allows 40,000 .22 pistols—at least half of them semi-automatic—to remain in legitimate private ownership.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan and I have, remarkably, agreed on this issue up to now. That is not something that we do often, but when we do, it counts. I say this with great sadness, but to press the amendment to a vote tonight—I hope he will not do so—will inevitably mean that there will be a bigger majority against this partial and geographical ban than there was on 18 November.

As the Bill moves from this House to another place—where it is clear the friends of the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Sir J. Wiggin) will give it a lot of attention—that is the wrong signal to give. The feeling in the House and in the country remains strongly in favour of a complete handgun ban, and we should not give false comfort to those in the other House who might choose to take a different position. As we will support the Bill in the other House, I hope that there will be no dilution of what the Government have proposed. We will support the Bill on Third Reading, although it retains a key inadequacy, in our view.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan says, "Let the Scots make the decision." He quoted the figures—56 out of 72 Scottish Members voted for a complete ban. We do not need another vote to tell the world that the majority of Scottish Members are in favour of a handgun ban. That is only worth doing if it is going to change the situation, and, frankly, it will not. We do not need another defeat to underline the fact that a majority of Scottish Members are in favour of a complete ban, or that we will work towards achieving that in the near future. Such a defeat will take us no further, and I am only interested—especially in this area of policy—in doing things that advance the cause. I rarely wish to get involved in things that do not.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan said that this was practical and possible. I have dealt with the possible element, but now I shall refer to the practicality of his argument. He says that .22 pistols in England will be securely held in clubs under the regulations laid down in the legislation, and that they can only be transported from club to club under independent and secure conditions.

Frankly, he is using the Home Secretary's argument. If what he is saying is right, we can have no objection to the partial ban. If the Home Secretary is right to say that there will be shooting only in registered clubs and that guns cannot get out because they can only be transported under special conditions, what is the objection to the Government's partial ban?

Mr. Salmond

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Robertson

When I have finished this point.

The argument against a partial ban is that even the British Shooting Sports Council said that there would be circumstances in which people would be able to sign out their guns. The Government say that someone else would carry them on each occasion, but we are not persuaded by that. If guns can leak out of the system in England, they can leak into the system in Scotland. I regret the fact that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan appears to be accepting the Government's arguments to support his own.

Mr. Salmond

I was not accepting the Government's arguments but rebutting an argument made on "Question Time" by a Labour Front-Bencher, who said that, if there was a ban in Scotland, people could go south of the border to buy a gun and transport it back to Scotland. That is clearly not possible. Given that that argument was advanced by one of the hon. Gentleman's Front-Bench colleagues, he should not remind me of how that is not possible and tell me that it is a foolish argument.

Mr. Robertson

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to rebut arguments, but he has not rebutted them all. If he relies on the Government's rationale for a partial ban in Britain as a whole to reinforce his arguments for a total ban in Scotland, he must do better than to rebut something that was said on television in response to an audience question.

We argue against a partial ban because we are not convinced that it would be secure; we argue for a total ban because we believe that that is the only way to end the handgun culture and ensure that lethal pistols and handguns will not simply leak back into society.

The key point was the argument concerning leakages which was advanced by the British Shooting Sports Council at the Cullen inquiry. I am not the only one who is sceptical about the Home Secretary's assurances regarding transportation. The sport is extremely fragmented, there are 40,000 handguns, and a large number of shooters are involved in competitive shooting, so it is not sustainable to believe that Group 4 will be in charge of every transportation that takes place. The scepticism of the shooting lobby, in this case, is far more powerful than Government reassurances.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan says that his proposal is devolutionist. I am the champion of the cause of devolution, and the Scottish Parliament that we will create will have the power to deal with firearms legislation. That will be the time to consider such matters, not in the final stages of a Bill that we hope to make an Act of Parliament by the end of the year or shortly thereafter. At this time we cannot deal with the ramifications and side issues that are inevitably involved in having a ban in one part of the country and not another.

The issue can and should be dealt with, but all the factors must be taken into account. I say, therefore, with no anger or bitterness towards the hon. Gentleman, that he should think again. It is not right in any way to dilute or undermine the strong stance that has already been taken on a handgun ban. We should not offer any comfort or support to those in the House of Lords who in a few weeks' time will consider the Bill and who may try to do some mischief if they are given half an opportunity.

The message of hope for those who believe that they have found the way to prevent or at least minimise the risk of another Dunblane is strong, and the House should not abandon or dilute it. We should be realistic in what we offer and practical in everything that we do. A decision that will lead to an inevitable defeat will raise hopes only to dash them among the people who least deserve such treatment.

Mr. Bill Walker (North Tayside)

I oppose the new clause for several reasons. Anyone who had not taken an interest in the debate but had listened to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) would say that he had never heard such a poor reason for voting or not voting. When the hon. Gentleman gets round to reading what he said—I shall certainly use it during the general election campaign—he will realise that he has said that there are times in Parliament when one can and should do things and times when one cannot and should not, and that it has nothing to do with beliefs, principles or anything of the sort.

At least the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) has taken an honourable position from his party's point of view. The fact that I disagree with it does not mean that I do not recognise that his party wants a separate Scottish Parliament and a separate Scotland where separate decisions are made. I am totally opposed to that, but he is using this Parliament as it should be used by advancing proposals on matters about which he feels strongly. That is what Parliament is all about.

8.15 pm

I dispute the statements that have been made about the people of Scotland all being in favour of the ban. It is true that there are probably more people with gun licences in my constituency than in almost any other part of the United Kingdom, but none the less, the ratio of letters that I receive on the subject is 9:1 against a ban. It all depends on where one is in Scotland and to whom one is talking.

I believe that my constituents, like everyone else, have a right to have their opinions heard in the House.

Sir Jerry Wiggin

Perhaps my learned Friend would care to know that in my constituency which, unlike his, does not have many shooters, the letters run in even greater numbers in favour of shooting and against, this ridiculous Bill.

Mr. Walker

I am sure that the pattern varies throughout the country, and it is important that we express the views and concerns of our constituents. Of course there are times when, on matters of principle, one has to say to one's constituents, "I'm sorry, but in this case I cannot support you." That has happened to me at various times and I have not always been flavour of the month; it is interesting to note, however, that attitudes change with the passage of time.

I believe that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan was right to table the new clause and to speak in support of it, and he will be right to press it to a vote if he so wishes, because that is what Parliament is all about, but—Whips or no Whips—I shall certainly oppose it.

Mr. Galbraith

I hope that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) will not press the new clause to a vote and will reconsider his position. We should consider why the new clause is before us. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) said, when the proposal for a total ban was voted on before, it was defeated by 25 votes, and there is therefore no prospect whatever of the new clause being added to the Bill tonight. We can only dilute our current position.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan made several suggestions as to why we should consider the new clause, one of which was that he wanted Scotland to be used for a pilot study, as the laboratory for handgun legislation and control. In other words, if the legislation were shown to be effective in Scotland it would be translated to England and Wales and, if not, it would be scrapped.

I am always worried about pilot studies in Scotland, because we tend to use them when it suits us. The poll tax was criticised as a pilot study that applied only to Scotland and that was given as the very reason why we should be against it; this is a pilot study, yet that is given as the very reason why we should favour it. We should be sceptical about such arguments, which we tend to use for our convenience.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan also sought to suggest that it was the settled will of the Scots that we were somehow different, perhaps more vulnerable or more willing; I am not quite sure of the basis of his argument. However, it is not the case. Concern and vulnerability do not stop at national borders. It is therefore proper and correct that this Parliament should consider the matter UK-wide.

I hope that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan does not think me ungenerous if I suggest that there is perhaps a political motive behind his amendments: to embarrass the Labour party. That is not new; he does it from time to time in the House, as he is entitled to.

Ms Roseanna Cunningham (Perth and Kinross)

Does the hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that hon. Members from other Opposition parties never make political moves in the House?

Mr. Galbraith

I was saying that such methods are legitimate, but I think that they are inappropriate in respect of this Bill. The people of Scotland will not like us using the Bill for political purposes. The press releases are probably already winging their way to the local press in Scotland demanding that local Labour candidates or Members of Parliament explain their positions—the usual hoo-hah. I understand that that happens from time to time; but with this Bill and the concerns, emotions and lives of the people involved, it is inappropriate. I hope that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan will think twice about whether he should pursue his amendments. We have the high ground and we should retain it. We should not in any way dilute it with a new clause that is only a political act to embarrass the Labour party.

Ms Cunningham

I want to take up some of the points made by the hon. Member for North Tayside (Mr. Walker). I was interested in his assessment of the contents of his constituency mailbag. I represent the neighbouring constituency, and I must advise him that the contents of my constituency mailbag suggested precisely the opposite to his. Of course, it may be that people write because they know the views of their Member of Parliament.

Mr. Bill Walker

There are several factors involved, one of which the hon. Lady mentioned. She should also mention that more than 50 per cent. of her constituents live in the city of Perth; my constituency is largely rural.

Ms Cunningham

The hon. Gentleman is correct. I have a larger urban concentration than does he, although half my constituency is non-urban. I get the impression that my constituents overwhelmingly favour a total ban, but I have always accepted that people in my constituency who do not favour one may feel that writing to me would not necessarily result in the change of mind that they want.

Mr. George Robertson

I support the hon. Lady. The argument about mailbags is fatuous. The journals of the gun lobby suggest that it has organised a highly disciplined mailing to Members of Parliament. In contrast to those letters, many of which are hysterical, 750,000 people signed the Snowdrop petition in six months. That speaks volumes much more than an organised letter writing campaign ever will.

Ms Cunningham

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for drawing attention to that, because he must then accept that we have heard, in several different ways, the expressed will of the people of Scotland about the issue.

It cannot be contradicted that people in Scotland want the ban, which is why I find some of the comments of Labour Members astonishing. I do not think that I have heard more tortuous logic in my life than that of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson). If the likelihood of losing a vote in the House was a reason for not putting something forward—and that was his lead reason—Opposition Members need never bother to visit the building. The point about Government majorities is that the Opposition are defeated frequently; only very occasionally do we win. The point of being in opposition is to express the view of a large number of people. In the case of Scotland, the Opposition express the view of the vast majority.

Mr. Henderson

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Cunningham

I have given way enough. I rose only to make a few comments.

Mr. Henderson

It is a brief point.

Ms Cunningham

Very well.

Mr. Henderson

Will the hon. Lady confirm that her party was offered a position on the Standing Committee which it declined to take up?

Ms Cunningham

I fail to see what that has to do with the debate on this amendment. I am busy in the Committee considering the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill.

Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Ms Cunningham

No. I have given way sufficiently considering that I intended to speak for only a couple of minutes. I felt that I had to say something about the most tortuous logic that I have ever heard.

I am concerned that the careful comments of the hon. Member for Hamilton about the amendments' effect on appearances and on the petitioners verged on the patronising. The people involved in the campaign, the Snowdrop petitioners and the parents, have a good deal more savvy than what he said would lead us to suppose.

We are not talking about a pilot study for Scotland. Scotland is a separate legal jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It has a separate criminal law. The last point of appeal for the criminal law in Scotland is in Scotland; appeals do not go south of the border. Our rules of evidence are different, especially in the criminal law. There are marked differences. Our proposal, in that sense, is perfectly practical and politically acceptable, given the existence of a separate jurisdiction, which, I assume, is not being attacked by Government or Opposition Members.

To describe a change to the criminal law in Scotland as a pilot study is a deliberate attempt to equate this with previous situations. I was interested when the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) spoke about the poll tax. The reason why there was so much opposition to that in Scotland was not that it was a pilot study but that people were against the poll tax.

People very much want the amendments. There is no reason why they should not be agreed tonight. There is a different criminal law in Scotland. We are suggesting a change that would make something a crime in Scotland which was not a crime in England and Wales. It is practicable and would function no differently from the way in which many other provisions function. I see no difficulty with it, but I can see some people twisting and turning to try to explain the inexplicable. That suggests that, because they did not think of it, they will not support it.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East)

I am attracted to support the new clause, because I think that it is unfortunate that it has turned into a bit of a party political football.

On 18 November, the most important amendment to the Bill, which would have made it a proper Bill by banning all handguns, including .22s, was resisted by the Government. They did everyone a disservice by whipping in their Members on that day. I was not one of the 56 people who did manage to turn out to vote for that amendment, because the Division Bell did not ring where I was that evening, nor did the policewoman call the Division there. I was not vigilant enough—rather, I put my trust in the House so much that I did not keep an eye on my watch and come to vote.

I have since been written to by a Conservative candidate who said there was a conspiracy by the Labour party on 18 November to allow the amendment to be defeated. I think that that suggestion comes not from the Government, but obviously from people who support them. If that conspiracy theory was correct, people would point to what is happening tonight and say that the conspiracy continues, because it seems that opposition to the Government's weakness not to ban all handguns has been further weakened by people falling out over a second bite at the same cherry. The new clause offers people the chance to say that, in Scotland, where the Dunblane massacre occurred, all handguns should be banned.

8.30 pm

The Serjeant at Arms, Mr. Peter Jennings, has apologised to me for the lapses on the night of 18 November. I believe that the Conservatives should apologise to anyone whom they tried to tell that there was a conspiracy to allow them to win victory. I was with the Dunblane parents the week before the vote on 18 November when they lobbied Labour Members who were not sympathetic to their case and members of the Ulster Unionist party who did not sympathise with their case and who said that they would vote with the Government. We knew before 18 November that we would be defeated, and defeated quite substantially. Those parents knew that by the end of the week.

It is wrong to say that, just because we would be defeated again tonight, we should not support the new clause. The defeat is the same in essence: the Government are not prepared to take proper action to prevent a further Dunblane or Hungerford.

During the Labour party conference I met a father who lost a daughter at Hungerford, not to a pump-action rifle but to a handgun. That weapon should have been banned after the massacre at Hungerford, but the Government buried their head in the sand and took inadequate action. I would support any move to ban all handguns, even the new clause, which is designed to cover Scotland alone, because it would put down a marker for the people who signed the Snowdrop petition in Scotland. It would put down a marker for the people I helped to raise signatures for that petition and for the people of Dunblane to whom I and other hon. Members have spoken. Some hon. Members know that I live with the consequences of Dunblane daily because of connections in my life. Those people want to see us do something, but we failed to do that on 18 November. We should take the opportunity to do so tonight.

It seems to me that we have lost our way. I respect the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), as well as his technical knowledge of the House and about what might happen in another place. The written record of tonight will not read well because people outside who look into this place want to see if their overwhelmingly clear emotions have been reflected in the debates and votes held in the House. They are not interested in the technicalities and the wizardry of those who usually stitch up deals through the usual channels.

It has been said that, if we push the new clause to a vote, it will raise hopes that will then be dashed. What else is there if we take away the hope that we offer people that we can see clearly through the mud and the mire of the stitch-ups and the three-line Whips, the Government and party advantages in debates and votes in the House? We should see through clearly to what people want us to do—make society safer for them and their children.

Tonight's debate also shows clearly what the Opposition may be about—what we are about, I hope—when we talk about the powers of the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom. I am not talking about a separate Parliament that Members of the Scottish National party want, but one that respects the House and works with it, but would give Scotland the right to legislate for just the kind of decision incorporated in the new clause. It may be that, despite Hungerford and Dunblane, Members representing England may not want a ban on all handguns, but the people of Scotland want it because of Hungerford and Dunblane. Perhaps those people wanted that ban before Dunblane and would have had it if they had had the legislative power to do something different from the inadequate reaction of the Government after Hungerford.

I would have been much happier tonight if all the points of agreement had been stressed much more strongly. People might then have pleaded with the SNP Members not to press the new clause to a Division. In fact, those Members would also include my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), who is one of the signatories to the new clause, and who is present. I commend him for sponsoring that new clause. We share a common district council area and I believe we share a common thought on this matter.

Tonight, I hope that we shall not end up with people sending out press releases, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) referred. I hope it will not be like that. I would be much happier if we were able to support the new clause vigorously. That would show that, when we have a Scottish Parliament, we shall have separate legislation. I have absolutely no doubt that, if such a Parliament existed now, such legislation would be different from that passed by the House. But then, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton has said, after the general election, I hope that the majority will be provided by the Labour party. We shall then pass the legislation that we want for all the United Kingdom. In the meantime, I certainly intend to vote for the new clause if it is pressed to a Division.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

I should like to make a brief contribution because I am one of the six principal sponsors of the new clause, which has been described by some people as a Scottish National party one. Credit must go to the leader of the SNP for taking the initiative in tabling the new clause, but the six principal sponsors also include the leader of Plaid Cymru, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour party of Northern Ireland, a member of the Democratic Unionist party of Northern Ireland, the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie), who is a member of the Scottish Liberal Democrat party, and me. Very rarely would the six principal sponsors of a new clause come from different parties and different sides of the House.

I would prefer a complete ban on all handguns throughout the United Kingdom. That is what I voted for on a previous occasion, but unfortunately that amendment was defeated. A complete ban on handguns throughout Scotland would at least be a start towards achieving that objective throughout the United Kingdom. If such a ban were enacted in Scotland, I hope that, in the fulness of time, the rest of the United Kingdom might follow suit, although that would probably require a general election, which would change the composition of the House.

I understand that one of the arguments used against the new clause is that it would create practical difficulties. We are asked how we could have a complete ban in one part of the United Kingdom and an incomplete one in another part of it. I can understand the Tories putting forward that argument, but for the life of me I cannot understand why hon. Friends on the Opposition Benches who are committed to setting up a Scottish Parliament can swallow it.

Let us suppose a Scottish Parliament had been in existence in the aftermath of the Dunblane massacre. There is no doubt that that Scottish Parliament would have passed legislation for a complete ban on all handguns throughout Scotland, whatever the practical difficulties posed by the border between Scotland and England. As I understand it, under the proposals of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which are supported by the Labour party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Parliament would have the power to control firearms. I cannot accept the arguments about insurmountable practical difficulties.

The second argument that I have heard is that our case is unwinnable. They tell us that we will not win the vote, so we are wasting our time voting. I have been a Member of Parliament for 22 years, 17 of them in opposition. I have been travelling back and forth from Scotland down here every week. It is like walking on to the football field, knowing that we will be on the losing side before the ball has even been kicked, yet we still come down here and dutifully use our vote, because that is why our constituents sent us here. If we just sit here and abstain because we are not going to win, that is an affront to parliamentary democracy.

I see some Conservative Members nodding—perhaps they are being persuaded by my powers of argument. Perhaps even they might come into the Lobby with me tonight, or at least abstain and allow the representatives of the people of Scotland to vote and determine this important question without the votes of Members for constituencies south of the border. It is nonsense to say that we should not vote just because we have little, if any, chance of winning. The new clause gives the House the opportunity to express a view on a total ban on all handguns throughout Scotland.

Although I have carried out only informal soundings and have no absolute scientific evidence on which to come to a firm conclusion, I sense that the anti-gun feeling in the aftermath of the Dunblane tragedy is much stronger in Scotland than south of the border. The House has the opportunity tonight to respond to that feeling and to show that we recognise that, sometimes, the Scottish dimension to a problem and the solution demanded by the majority of the people of Scotland might be different from that south of the border.

Mr. Howard

The last thing I expected to find myself doing when I rose to reply to the debate on this new clause was agreeing with the hon. Members for Perth and Kinross (Ms Cunningham) and for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan)—although it is fair to say that my hon. Friend the Member for North Tayside (Mr. Walker) made exactly the same point.

This evening, we have heard the most bizarre speech from an Opposition Front Bencher that I have ever heard in my 13 years as a Member of this House. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) spent 75 per cent. of the time that he used for his speech explaining that he is not going to support the new clause because, if one votes for something knowing that one is not going to win, that is gesture politics and he is not interested in gesture politics.

What on earth has the hon. Gentleman been doing for the past 17 years? What has he been playing at? Why has he been coming to the House for the past 17 years? Why has he been voting? Why has he been speaking from that Front Bench? Can we expect a decent period of silence on his part for the rest of this Parliament, or perhaps even his absence? He displayed the most extraordinary and grotesque attitude, and I thought it absolutely astonishing. The hon. Members for Perth and Kinross and for Falkirk, West made those points with appropriate eloquence, as did my hon. Friend the Member for North Tayside.

I, at least, am prepared to deal with the merits of the new clause, and I shall explain why I believe that the House should reject it.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) argues that there is in Scotland strong support for a complete ban on handguns and that that justifies making different laws north of the border, but I am not sure what, in practice, would be achieved by the new clause. I believe that the proposals in the Bill will make it virtually impossible for someone to remove a handgun illicitly from a gun club, so I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's new clause would, in practice, add to public safety in Scotland.

Let us suppose for a moment, however, that the Bill did not impose such stringent security arrangements upon handgun shooting in England and Wales—let us suppose that it was possible for someone to remove a gun from a club in England and Wales. Would the new clause make Scotland a safer place? Of course it would not. It would still be open to a pistol shooter from Scotland to join a club south of the border and illegally import his gun into Scotland.

We have to recognise that our two countries share an island, and we must be realistic about the extent to which laws about the possession of guns can differ between the two jurisdictions.

8.45 pm
Mr. Salmond

The Home Secretary is saying that, if his Bill does not work, the new clause might not work—but this is a new clause to his Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot have it both ways: either he thinks that his Bill will work, or he thinks that it will not.

Mr. Howard

I think that the Bill will work, and, if it works, the new clause will be of no significance for the reasons that I have given—but even if the Bill did not work, the new clause would be of no significance. That is my point.

I now want to make a more fundamental point. The House does not reach its decisions on the basis of petitions, public opinion polls or letter-writing campaigns, and nor do the Government. Competitive pistol shooting has a long history both north and south of the border. Target shooting with .22 calibre pistols has been a part of the Olympic games from the very earliest days of the modern Olympics.

The Government believe that, if they are able to provide a way of preserving some limited competitive target shooting while providing the high level of safety from the misuse of handguns that the public expects and deserves, they ought to do that. It is our duty to make that solution work, and I believe that it can be made to work without compromising public safety.

I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that those arguments are shared by a number of Scottish newspapers which have commented on our proposals. On 17 October—the day after my statement—the Dundee Courier said of our proposals: They should be given the chance to work, thus permitting the continued existence—albeit rigorously controlled—of a long established Olympic sport. On the same day, The Herald said: The Government has, on this occasion, come down on the side of rationality and fairness. No Scot will despise reason and its role in our political life. I do not accept, therefore, that public opinion in Scotland is anywhere near as monolithic as the hon. Gentleman suggests.

For the substantial reasons that I have given, and not for the extraordinarily bizarre concoction that we got from the hon. Member for Hamilton, I invite the House to reject the new clause.

Mr. Salmond

I shall deal first the Home Secretary's points. The Courier and The Herald are excellent newspapers—indeed, I write for one of them—but their combined circulation does not equal the circulation of either of the leading tabloid newspapers in Scotland, The Sun and The Daily Record, both of which have argued strongly in favour of a handgun ban. We are not arguing that opinion in Scotland is monolithic—we are saying that opinion in Scotland is overwhelmingly in favour of a handgun ban.

The Home Secretary knows that. Among other comments in the Scottish newspapers in the past few months, there have been broad hints from Scottish Office sources—for example, those published in the Evening Express of 16 October—that the Secretary of State for Scotland is in favour of a handgun ban, but that this legislation was the best deal that he could get out of a Home Secretary who resisted that approach. If anything, the number of Scottish Members of Parliament who voted two weeks ago to ban handguns—56 Members of Parliament—is probably an underestimate of the balance of Scottish opinion on this issue that might be revealed in a free vote. If we are to believe the briefings from the Scottish Office, it may be that, in a free vote and were it not for his Cabinet responsibilities, the Scottish Secretary himself would follow his constituents' views and vote for a handgun ban.

At least the Home Secretary did not tell us that our new clause was in some way technically incompetent—that is usually the last refuge of Ministers. [Interruption.] I see that he is acknowledging that the new clause is technically correct. Although he probably did not mean to do so, in his speech he also acknowledged that, in terms of his interpretation of the Bill, the new clause would be practicable. He argued that it would be impracticable only if his own legislation does not work.

However, the Home Secretary has missed the major criticism of the legislation. The factor that motivated me more than any other to vote for the handgun ban was the gun lobby's argument that arsenals of guns would be created at gun clubs, which would be vulnerable to people of criminal or terrorist intent.

I concede that the new clause would not prevent a gun club in England being raided and illegal weapons being taken into Scotland—there are many illegal weapons in Scotland at present—but it would ensure that there were fewer arsenals, because there would be no pistol clubs in Scotland, and it would ensure that fewer guns were legally in circulation. We believe, therefore, that it would make our society that bit safer.

The Home Secretary should consider all the arguments that have been made against his legislation before he picks and chooses which to acknowledge.

If Labour Front-Bench spokesmen care to read my opening speech, they will find—perhaps they were anticipating a different type of speech—that I did not make a series of political points against the Labour party. Instead, I explained the positive reasons why I believed that the House should find the new clause worthy of support.

I was told by the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) that I had said that Scotland should be a testing ground. What I actually said was that English and Welsh Members had supported the new clause because they could see a virtue and a value in Scotland leading the way. They believe, reasonably, that, if Scotland can implement a total handgun ban, the lesson will be followed south of the border.

The handgun ban is not comparable to the poll tax. The overwhelming majority of the people of Scotland opposed the poll tax. The overwhelming majority of the people in Scotland support a handgun ban—and not only in Scotland. [Interruption.] I disagree; two weeks ago, I was proud to go into the Lobby to vote for a handgun ban in Scotland, England and Wales. However, that option is not available to us tonight, because our procedure does not allow us to revisit that argument.

Mr. Donohoe

We do not have long to wait.

Mr. Salmond

It is convenient for people to say, "We shall take this issue to a general election." Of course I will enter the general election campaign with a manifesto commitment to a handgun ban, but, as the hon. Gentleman should know, the result of no general election is a given, and in any case, as Labour Front-Bench spokesmen appear to have committed themselves only to allowing a free vote, the matter may not be determined by an election. We should take every opportunity to express our point of view, and tonight is the current opportunity.

The hon. Member for Hamilton(Mr. Robertson) argued that people should not propose amendments that they believe that they will lose. That comment has been dealt with by several hon. Members. Last night, the Opposition voted for VAT on fuel at 5 per cent. instead of 8 per cent. We were not confident of winning the vote. Earlier tonight, I supported new clause 3, tabled by Labour Members, which proposed a licensing system for air rifles. I was proud and happy to support that new clause; I do not believe that we expected to win.

The one argument that I resented tonight was the argument that the clause would disappoint people in Dunblane, the relatives and the Snowdrop petitioners. They are not naive. I would not have tabled the new clause without consulting the relatives and the Snowdrop petitioners. The ones that I have spoken to all strongly support the new clause. I am even willing to name names, because they have said that I can if I need to, but I will not concede to an argument from anywhere that I am discounting their opinion.

I have been more affected by this issue than by any political issue since I became a Member of Parliament. I am not unique in that. I am sure that that has been the case for the hon. Member for Hamilton, the Secretary of State for Scotland and any right hon. or hon. Member with a heart. I have tried to approach it in a way that dignifies the argument that I am advancing.

Mr. George Robertson

indicated dissent.

Mr. Salmond

The hon. Member for Hamilton shakes his head. He and I have disagreed on many subjects, as he rightly said. We have come to verbal blows on many matters. On this issue, until now, there has been no difference between us.

Perhaps the hon. Member for Hamilton should have told the House that, before I tabled the new clause, with the rainbow coalition of support that it has tonight, I asked him if he wanted to be one of its lead signatories. If he had been prepared to take that opportunity, it would have been of no possible political advantage to the Scottish National party. If he is prepared to lead Labour Members into the Lobby, in the knowledge that some Members who voted against a similar proposal two weeks ago will not vote against it tonight—

Mr. Robertson

It is important that the House realises that the hon. Gentleman made that offer last Saturday, sitting in St. Giles's cathedral in Edinburgh. If there was a seriousness about getting the measure through the House, a seriousness about winning the Division, a seriousness about organising it, the time to start consulting people like me was much earlier than last Saturday.

I do not doubt the hon. Gentleman's motives, and I hope that, because some of my colleagues may have expressed a certain view, he will not simply ascribe it to me; nor should he say that people involved in a community cannot speak one for another. I do not doubt the hon. Gentleman's motives at all. I am saying that, on a previous occasion, when much attention was paid to the matter and a great deal of lobbying was done, we did not succeed. We are in danger of raising false expectations, and dashing them, in people who would deeply resent it. If the hon. Gentleman had talked to me—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is a very long intervention. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to catch my eye again, he may do so.

Mr. Salmond

I think the hon. Gentleman made a misjudgment when he did not the accept the offer to be one of the lead signatories to the new clause. We know that some hon. Members who, for one reason or another, voted against a similar proposal two weeks ago or were unable to vote for it then, have expressed support for the new clause. If the hon. Gentleman wants a good result tonight, all he must do is to lead his troops, by encouragement, into the right Lobby; then we shall get a result that will encourage Scotland. Perhaps he will then be in a position where no one will be able to take political advantage of him. The position is in the hon. Gentleman's hands.

I would say to all hon. Members that the new clause has been tabled by all its signatories because we believe that it is the right thing to do by the Scottish people. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will find it in their hearts to give us some support.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided: Ayes 25, Noes 202.

Division No.26] [8.56 pm
Alton, David Maclennan, Robert
Benn, Tony Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Connarty, Michael Nicholson, Miss Emma (W Devon)
Cunningham, Ms R (Perth Kinross) Rendel, David
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Salmond, Alex
Skinner, Dennis
Foster, Don (Bath) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Môn) Wallace, James
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Wigley, Dafydd
Kennedy, Charles (Ross C & S) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Kirkwood, Archy
Llwyd, Elfyn Tellers for the Ayes:
Loyden, Eddie Mr. Dennis Canavan and
Lynne, Ms Liz Mr. Andrew Welsh.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Aitken, Jonathan Dover, Den
Amess, David Eggar, Tim
Arbuthnot, James Elletson, Harold
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld)
Ashby, David Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Atkins, Robert Evans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Baldry, Tony Evennett, David
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Faber, David
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fabricant, Michael
Bates, Michael Fenner, Dame Peggy
Batiste, Spencer Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Beresford, Sir Paul Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Biffen, John Freeman, Roger
Boswell, Tim French, Douglas
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fry, Sir Peter
Bowden, Sir Andrew Gale, Roger
Bowis, John Gallie, Phil
Brazier, Julian Gamier, Edward
Bright, Sir Graham Gill, Christopher
Brooke, Peter Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Browning, Mrs Angela Goodlad, Alastair
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Budgen, Nicholas Gorst, Sir John
Bums, Simon Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Butler, Peter Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Butterfill, John Grylls, Sir Michael
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n) Hague, William
Carrington, Matthew Hamilton, Sir Archibald
Carttiss, Michael Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chapman, Sir Sydney Hargreaves, Andrew
Clappison, James Harris, David
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Haselhurst, Sir Alan
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hawkins, Nick
Coe, Sebastian Hawksley, Warren
Congdon, David Heald, Oliver
Conway, Derek Hendry, Charles
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F) Heseltine, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hicks, Sir Robert
Couchman, James Higgins, Sir Terence
Cran, James Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hogg, Douglas (Grantham)
Day, Stephen Horam, John
Deva, Nirj Joseph Howard, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Howell, David (Guildf'd)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Pickles, Eric
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Porter, David
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne) Rathbone, Tim
Hunter, Andrew Richards, Rod
Jack, Michael Robathan, Andrew
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N) Roberts, Sir Wyn
Jessel, Toby Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'dn S)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Jones, Robert B (W Herts) Sackville, Tom
Jopling, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
King, Tom Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Kirkhope, Timothy Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)
Knapman, Roger Shersby, Sir Michael
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Sims, Sir Roger
Knight Greg (Derby N) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Spencer, Sir Derek
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lidington, David Stanley, Sir John
Lilley, Peter Stephen, Michael
Lloyd, Sir Peter (Fareham) Stern, Michael
Luff, Peter Streeter, Gary
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Sumberg, David
MacGregor, John Sykes, John
MacKay, Andrew Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Maclean, David Taylor, John M (Solihull)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Temple-Morris, Peter
Madel, Sir David Thomason, Roy
Maitland, Lady Olga Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Malone, Gerald Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mans, Keith Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Marland, Paul Tracey, Richard
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Tredinnick, David
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Trend, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Trotter, Neville
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Twinn, Dr Ian
Merchant, Piers Viggers, Peter
Mills, lain Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Waller, Gary
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants) Waterson, Nigel
Moate, Sir Roger Watts, John
Monro, Sir Hector Wells, Bowen
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Whittingdale, John
Moss, Malcolm Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Neubert, Sir Michael Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Newton, Tony Wilkinson, John
Nicholls, Patrick Willetts, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Wilshire, David
Norris, Steve Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Oppenheim, Phillip Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)
Cutaway, Richard Wood, Timothy
Page, Richard Yeo, Tim
Paice, James
Patnick, Sir Irvine Tellers for the Noes:
Pawsey, James Mr. Gyles Brandreth and
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Mr. Patrick McLoughlin.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendments made: No. 80, in page 1, line 15, leave out 'to which section 1 of this Act does not apply'. No. 81, in page 1, line 20, at end insert— '(3A) In paragraph (ac) (self-loading and pump-action smooth-bore guns) after the word "not" there shall be inserted the words "an air weapon or".'.—[Mr. Ottaway.]

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