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The two new clauses before the House respond to the criticism of clause 7 of the Bill as it was originally formulated and which was defeated in Committee. The two new clauses deal with deactivation and conversion. I shall deal first with deactivation. It is dealt with in new clause 2, which permits it. Deactivated weapons will be outside the scope of the firearms legislation, provided that the work of deactivation has been carried out in accordance with a specification approved by my right hon. Friend and is certifed by the proof house or houses as having been deactivated in an approved manner.
The original proposal about conversion in clause 7 was that a weapon always retained its original status. Hon. Members on the Committee suggested that that proposition went too far and they deleted clause 7 from the Bill. On reflection, we feel that there was justification in that criticism, although I suggest to the House that the original proposal should still apply to section 5 guns. Thus fully automatic guns, and if the House so decides self-loading rifles, will always retain that status. So will section 1 guns having a barrel length of less than 24 in. Subject to that, the Bill allows conversions of section 1 guns downwards to airguns and shotguns. The most obvious example is a rifle that has been smooth-bored so that it takes a shotgun cartridge. The purpose of new clause 3 is to permit that downwards conversion.