Firearms (Amendment) Bill — Competition Pistols — 3 Nov 1997
Lords amendment disagreed to.
Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 2, leave out lines 15 to 21.
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord):
I must inform the House that the amendment involves privilege.
Lords amendment agreed to [Special Entry].
Lords amendment: No. 3, to insert the following new clause--
I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.
As I have said, we do not believe that a case can be made for exempting any group of target shooters. Again, I cannot support new clause 4, which would apply to competition shooters. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth games and any future Olympic or paralympic games could be held in this country. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) has sought to cast doubt on that. It does not do anyone any favours to suggest doubt where none exists.
As has been explained, both in the House and in another place, a contract has been signed for the 2002 games at Manchester. That can be broken only because of natural disaster or a lack of proper organisation. The Home Secretary can use his powers under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968 to grant special dispensation to competitors to take part in shooting competitions in this country. Dispensation could be granted to any competitor, whether from this country or elsewhere.
We have already shown that those powers can be used successfully. In September, the Home Secretary granted his authority under section 5 to allow visiting overseas competitors to take part in the 14th European police and pistol championships at Bisley. In that instance, it was not necessary to grant authority to British competitors, as the competition took place before the 1997 Act came fully into force, and home competitors were able to shoot under their firearm certificates.
Nor do I accept that the passing of the Bill will mean that Britain will never again host an Olympic games. Provided that all the sports can be held--and, as I have just explained, they can be--there will be no difficulty in Britain bidding for future games. The British Olympic Association has said that it is not possible to predict accurately how great the impact will be on any future bid. Potential competitors might try to exploit the fact that a few of the sports were banned to our sports men and women, but that will be a small price to pay in the interests of the far greater priority of public safety.
It is not a prerequisite of the games that the host nation has to participate in all events. It is true that, in the past three Olympic games at least--Atlanta, Barcelona and Seoul--the host nation did compete in every event. However, in the last Olympic games, Britain did not compete in baseball, basketball, handball and softball. I do not know whether we would have teams ready for those events for any future games, but whether we did or not would not affect our ability to bid for future games.
3 Nov 1997 : Column 56
Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:--
The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 160.
MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party are marked in red. Also shows which MPs were ministers at the time of this vote. You can also see every eligible MP including those who did not vote in this division.