HL Deb 12 January 1971 vol 314 cc1-4

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the facts disclosed as to thefts of firearms in the Home Office Report on Firearms in Crime, they will impose more stringent conditions relating to the possession and safe keeping of every type of firearm.]


My Lords, as I informed the House on December 15, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has asked H.M. Chief Inspector of Constabulary for England and Wales to review the present arrange- ments for the control of all kinds of firearms, in consultation with chief officers of police. Safe keeping will certainly be considered as part of this review. Meanwhile, chief officers of police have power to attach to the grant of firearm certificates any condition necessary to ensure safe keeping.


My Lords, while thanking the Minister for his Answer, which is very satisfactory so far as it goes although it does not go very far, may we take it that this is an intimation that the total absence of any provisions for safe keeping in the Firearms Act is likely to be altered in the foreseeable future?

I should like to ask two other supplementary questions. The first relates only to shot-gun certificates. Is the Minister satisfied with the position in which an applicant for a shot-gun certificate, apart from giving his name, address, age and sex, is asked only whether he suffers from any mental disorder (I have yet to find someone who answers that question in the affirmative); secondly, whether he has been convicted of any offences other than trifling traffic offences; and thirdly, what is his height? Is the Minister satisfied that these are all relevant questions, and are all the relevant questions that should be asked? Thirdly, I would ask the Minister whether in this review there is any prospect that the Government will introduce a requirement that a registration book should be attached to every firearm in exactly the same way as a registration book is required in the case of that other lethal weapon, the motor car?


My Lords, do not think the first part of the question is correct. The Firearms Act 1968 lays down certain rules, and in the case of rifles and pistols it is a mandatory condition that there should be attached to the certificate provisions dealing with the keeping of the firearm in a secure place, with a view to preventing access to it by unauthorised persons. That does not apply in the case of shot-guns: and it is the certification and registration of shotguns, as well as other forms of firearms, and air weapons, that the Chief Inspector has been asked to review. We shall certainly take note of the questions that the noble Baroness asked in relation to the form for shot-gun certification.


My Lords, as the Minister mentioned just England and Wales, and possibly Northern Ireland, may I ask him (and I may say that I thought about this question some time ago) whether the Inquiry into this whole matter will affect Scotland as well?


Yes, my Lords; the arrangements affect Scotland, also.


My Lords, have Her Majesty's Government found that any felon convicted of robbery with the use of a firearm has received a certificate from the police for that firearm?


My Lords, in the case of an offence which involves the use of a firearm it is difficult to trace where the firearm comes from. It seems likely that most weapons used in the commission of crimes have not been registered at any stage. But this is a matter about which we hope to find out more information.


My Lords, on the last point, may I ask whether the Minister recalls the case of a murder in Glasgow where the weapon used was stolen from the open boot of a motor car? And would the Minister deal with my third question about the issue of a registration book.


My Lords, I should like to take note of the noble Baroness's second and third questions. A review is taking place: these are exactly the sort of detailed suggestions that should be considered.


I am obliged to the noble Lord.

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