Firearms

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1988.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Thompson Mr Patrick Thompson , Norwich North 12:00 am, 21st January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent meetings he has had with represenatives of gun clubs; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My right hon. Friend has met representatives of the British Shooting Sports Council, which represents a wide range of sporting and trade interests. I have met representatives of the Shooters' Rights Association, and the United Kingdom Practical Rifle Commission, and Home Office officals have met a number of other organisations.

Photo of Mr Patrick Thompson Mr Patrick Thompson , Norwich North

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Bearing in mind the excellent work carried out by many gun clubs up and down the country, including in Norwich and the surrounding area, and the genuine concern about some of the measures to be put forward in the legislation to be debated this afternoon, will my hon. Friend say more about the discussions that he may have had with the gun clubs about licensing arrangements and compensation?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I recognise that the issue of compensation causes considerable concern to right hon. and hon. Members. There are serious objections to compensation, but we are prepared to give further thought to the fresh arguments that have been put forward. However, I should emphasise that I believe that there are still great difficulties, both of principle and of practice.

Photo of Mr James Spicer Mr James Spicer , West Dorset

Does my hon. Friend agree that although there may be objections to the principle of compensation, there are greater objections to not paying compensation because of what may happen as a result of the disposal of such firearms? Will he undertake to keep an open mind on that matter as the Bill progresses?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I shall always consider extremely carefully the points that my right hon. and hon. Friends make. None the less, there are difficulties of principle that we cannot ignore. However, I repeat that we are prepared to give further thought to the arguments that have been put forward.