Offensive Weapons Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:21 pm on 27th June 2018.

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Photo of Louise Haigh Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Policing) 2:21 pm, 27th June 2018

My right hon. Friend is a long-standing campaigner for the rights of shop works and I echo his point about hoping that we can do this on a cross-party basis.

Concerns remain about the open sale of knives in smaller retail stores, which is an issue raised by my hon. Friend Vicky Foxcroft. Many of the larger stores have taken steps to secure knives in cabinets, but the fact that it is far too easy to steal knives from smaller stores renders much of the control of knife sales ineffective.

It was surprising to see that higher education institutions have been omitted from the extension of possession offences, given that they were considered in the consultation earlier this year. The justification that the Government gave for the proposal then was, I think, right, so I am interested to hear why higher education institutions have been omitted from the Bill.

On firearms, the laws in the UK are among the toughest in the world, but there is concern that restricted supply might be leading to the repurposing of obsolete firearms, meaning that law enforcement must be alive to the changing nature of firearms use. There has been a significant rise in the use of antique guns that have been repurposed to commit serious crime: 30% of the guns used in crime in 2015-16 were of obsolete calibre. The repurposing of handguns designed to fire gas canisters, and of imitation weapons, has grown in the past 10 years. We intend to press the Government on whether the laws surrounding decommissioned firearms, which are not subject to the Firearms Act 1968, need to be strengthened. The availability of firearms has been shown to be increasing through the legal-to-illegal route, so we very much support the Government’s proposals.