Offensive Weapons Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:43 pm on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Earl Attlee Earl Attlee Conservative 5:43 pm, 7th January 2019

My Lords, I apologise for not putting my name down to speak. The debate has been excellent and bodes well for later stages.

I have three points to make. First, I agree that high muzzle energy rifles are a real problem and that we need to do something about them. It is about not just their range and hitting power, but their accuracy. I do not think that we need to ban them; we just need to provide separate storage for the bolt. I am confident that we can achieve that with the Bill. Secondly, I am content with Clause 32, which prohibits certain types of firearms. Let us be honest, they are self-loading rifles, made legal by means of a loophole; it may be possible to modify them. Since they represent a loophole, I am not happy with the compensation provisions in Clauses 36 to 38.

Finally, I have taken a close look at the UK prison system. I share the concerns of many noble Lords regarding the custodial sentence provisions in the Bill, not because I am a fluffy bunny—I am not—but because our current prison system is not fit for purpose, as the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, told us. Until we have an effective system where we can be confident that we will improve the character and capability of youngsters both significantly and obviously, we should be very cautious about using increased prison sentences.