Damian Green (Ashford, Conservative)
The ultimate driver, frankly, is safety; that is what underlies the system. On the issue of cost, the Home Office has received a detailed report from ACPO proposing new firearms fees to allow forces to recover the cost of firearms licensing. In considering the proposal, the Government will look both at the quality of service licence holders receive, which is relevant, and will discuss with ACPO the scope for making some of the current processes more efficient and effective. That will take into account the need to manage risk and ensure public protection.
As we indicated in our response to the Select Committee, we do not consider that separate licensing for shotguns and firearms is causing difficulties. Applying a good reason test in the same way for both categories could be problematic. For example, unlike target shooters, shotgun owners do not always belong to clubs that could vouch that they had shot regularly. However, I assure the House that we will keep this issue under review. As I indicated earlier, the local police must satisfy themselves that an applicant for a certificate is fit to be entrusted with a firearm, and will not present a danger to public safety. This is a particularly heavy responsibility and sits right at the heart of the licensing process. Such is the basis of my discussions with ACPO.
One of the most important points raised by the hon. Gentleman was about the need for medical checks on those who have access to firearms. I completely agree that it is important that the police are made aware of medical conditions that affect a person’s suitability to possess firearms. Both the hon. Gentleman and I will therefore—
House adjourned without Question put (