Firearms (Amendment) Bill — Disabled persons: exemption. — 3 Nov 1997
Lords amendments considered.
Lords amendment: No. 1, insert the following new clause--
Disabled persons: exemption
(".--(1) The authority of the Secretary of State is not required by virtue of section 5(1)(aba) of the 1968 Act for a person to whom subsection (2) applies to have in his possession or to purchase, acquire, sell or transfer a pistol chambered for .22 or smaller rim-fire cartridges if he is authorised under the Act to possess, purchase or acquire that weapon subject to a condition which complies with subsection (3) below.
(2) A person to whom this section applies shall be a registered disabled person who has a physical disability and is approved by the Secretary of State.
(3) A certificate granted under subsection (2) above shall be subject to the condition that--
(a) the weapon is stored and used only at premises designated by the Secretary of State; and
(b) possession of the weapon outside such designated premises shall be permitted only for transfer to and use at premises at which a shooting competition is taking place on such conditions as the Secretary of State shall specify.")
I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.
The Government are not prepared to allow exemptions to the general handgun prohibition proposed by the Bill. We considered very carefully before introducing the Bill, and reconsidered over the summer, whether there was any way in which we could allow pistol target shooting to continue for both disabled and able-bodied shooters. We concluded that there was not. Small-calibre pistols can be as lethal as those used by the killers at Dunblane and at Hungerford, and, in most cases, they would be just as easy to conceal by someone who is determined to perpetrate an outrage.
We have not avoided the Bill's consequences. We have made it clear from the start what the effect will be, and we have made no attempt to conceal that effect. The way in which the Bill affects disabled shooters is a regrettable consequence, but we thought that a total handgun ban was necessary in the interests of public safety. We accept that the exceptions to the ban that are already in the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, which are largely occupational, should remain. We do not accept, however, that any other group of shooters should be exempt from the ban.
During the Bill's passage, an equally plausible case has been made for other groups of shooters. There is no reason why any one of those groups is any more deserving than the others, and to allow exceptions for them all would make a nonsense of the handgun ban.
Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington):
I may have misheard what my hon. Friend the Minister said,
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it was unfortunate, to put it mildly, for the Home Secretary to write in those terms?
Question put , That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:--
The House divided: Ayes 291, Noes 155.
Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.
What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.
What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.
What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.
|Party||Majority (Aye)||Minority (No)||Both||Turnout|
|Con||0||126 (+2 tell)||0||79.0%|
|Lab||288 (+2 tell)||7||0||71.4%|
|Mr Harry Barnes||North East Derbyshire||Lab||no|
|Frank Cook||Stockton North||Lab||no|
|Mr Robin Corbett||Birmingham, Erdington||Lab (minister)||no|
|Mrs Llin Golding||Newcastle-under-Lyme||Lab||no|
|Martyn Jones||Clwyd South||Lab||no|
|Mr Ronnie Fearn||Southport||LDem||aye|
|Mrs Ray Michie||Argyll and Bute||LDem||aye|