HL Deb 17 July 1986 vol 478 cc1010-1

3.5 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order paper.

The Question was as follows: To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they propose to take to strengthen controls on shotguns.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)

My Lords, by amendment to the Firearms Rules we intend to introduce a require-ment that shotgun certificate holders should notify any change of address to the chief officer of police. We are also considering the possibility of requiring shotgun certificate holders to store their weapons safely when they are not being used.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for that Answer may I ask him whether he is aware that many of us will be very gratified by the latter part of his Answer? Is he aware that at a time when the Government rightly are devoting a lot of time to crime prevention it seems very strange that there is no absolute obligation on shotgun owners to keep their weapons in a safe and secure place? Is he aware that this is giving a great deal of anxiety to the police in the light of the increasing number of offences where shotguns are used? Can he indicate when he hopes that this change will be made?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, as well as the police, I believe that shotgun users agree that safe storage of weapons is important in keeping shotguns out of the hands of criminals. Each year about 700 shotguns are reported to the police as having been stolen. As I said, we are considering whether to amend the Firearms Rules in that respect. I cannot give the noble Lord a time on it, but I can tell him that it is under active consideration.

Lord Strabolgi

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that crossbows can be almost as lethal as shotguns, yet they can be bought freely over the counter and by mail order? Will the Government consider instituting a licensing system for these dangerous weapons?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I am well aware, as I think many of your Lordships will be, of the threat that crossbows pose, particularly to animals. We are considering whether any steps could usefully be taken to try to prevent crossbows from falling into the wrong hands. Discussions with interested parties, including the crossbow sporting organisations, the manufacturers, the police and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, have taken place and we are evaluating the results.

Lord Morris

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether, in his consideration of the question of safe storage of firearms, he will seek the co-operation of the insurance companies with regard to the cover that they will give to firearms or will not give unless the firearms are safely and securely stored?

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, I shall certainly bear my noble friend's remarks in mind.