§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Lord Kimball
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill passed through another place in all its stages with support from all sides of the House. It is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers. It is in line with the recommendations made in July 1991 to the Home Secretary by the Firearms' Consultative Committee, of which I am privileged to be the chairman. The Bill has the support of the shooting community in all its disciplines. There is no risk whatsoever to public safety. Within the Bill there is substantial scope for cost savings.
The Bill does one thing and one thing only. It gives to the Home Secretary power to extend the life of firearm and shotgun certificates. At the moment he has the power to reduce them by order. Under this Bill he will have the power to extend them, but he will only be able to do so by statutory instrument subject to the negative procedures. Therefore, if at the time there was some doubt about the action, it would be debatable both in your Lordships' House and in another place. It is a modest measure and one which is urgently needed. I hope that the House will endorse it. I beg to move.
Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time. —(Lord Kimball.)
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, this is a very sensible and welcome measure. I am extremely pleased to support it from this Dispatch Box. It is a Bill which is short in length but long on common sense. I am extremely glad to give the Bill support. Like the other Bills that we have dealt with today, I hope that this Bill will be given a speedy passage through the House and that it will reach the statute book before the general election.
My Lords, I welcome the sponsorship of my noble friend Lord Kimball for this Bill, which has the Government's full support.
563 The Government have been criticised by some within the shooting community who see our every move as part of a hidden agenda to eliminate shooting sports by a gradual process of erosion. That is not our intention. The Government have no quarrel with legitimate shooters, the vast majority of whom are responsible and law-abiding members of the community who are well aware of their responsibilities to a wider non-shooting public. Our overriding concern is for public safety. But, beyond that, we are committed to making life as easy as possible for the shooting community and for the police who have to operate the firearms licensing system.
564 The Bill enables the Secretary of State to consider taking a valuable step towards enhancing the efficiency of the firearms licensing system by cutting work and costs for the police without in any way risking public safety. Such a move will be warmly welcomed by the shooting community, and it has the support of experts in policing and firearms alike. I therefore commend the Bill to your Lordships.
§ On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at eleven minutes past four o'clock.