I will do my very best, Mr Speaker.
I rise to speak to my amendments 8, 9 and 10, to which a number of colleagues have referred. I fully support the objectives of the Bill. We have a serious problem with knife crime. We need serious solutions, but we need the right solutions. Knife manufacturers in my constituency are seriously concerned about the possible unintended consequences of clause 17, which prohibits the delivery of bladed products to residential properties, and believe that it will not provide the right solution. I raised this issue with the Home Secretary on Second Reading and wrote to him afterwards. I appreciate the response from the Minister, who said that the Government do not intend to stop people purchasing knives online or to stop manufacturers selling their products online.
I have tabled my amendments in that spirit. Large retailers with regional shop networks might well be able to deal with age-verified collection easily and with little impact on cost, but smaller manufacturers, which use the internet to reach niche markets, will struggle. They are acutely aware of the risks of knife crime and they already take proactive steps and have stringent controls to tackle the issue. They are responsible companies. They are traders whom we can trust. They support measures that would make such safeguards widespread across the industry.
The Bill makes an exception for bladed products used for sporting purposes. Under those provisions, a sword could be delivered to a residential property, but one of my local manufacturers’ steak knives could not, and nor could the decorating tools that my hon. Friend Anna Turley mentioned earlier.
Much more could be done to develop effective age verification for all sorts of online activities, but a trusted trader scheme could tackle the specific issue of knife sales. Online sales actually offer a better audit trail and record keeping than face-to-face sales. The Minister said earlier that the Government were interested in working with the industry on a voluntary basis to tackle problems in relation to retail sales in shops. If she is prepared to work with the retail sector, why not with the manufacturing sector? Will she agree to meet me and representatives of the industry to discuss how a trusted trader scheme might work, so that we can amend the Bill as it progresses? If she will, I will be happy to withdraw my amendments.