§ Mr. Gorrie
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his Department's policy on the use of starter pistols; and what representations he has received from(a) the police and (b) representatives of athletic associations on this subject. 
§ Mr. McLeish
The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 contains an exemption which allows the possession of starting pistols by certain officials for use in the starting of athletics races. These pistols must be held on a firearm certificate which will be issued only where the police are satisfied that the individual requires the pistol because of the status of the athletics meetings at which he officiates. Most starting pistols can fire only blank rounds.
No representations have been received from the police on this issue. The British Athletic Federation sought the retention of the exemption when the Government announced their intention to ban small-calibre pistols. The Federation is currently funding research into an effective alternative to the starting pistol.