Amendment 92

Offensive Weapons Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 4th March 2019.

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Moved by Baroness Barran

92: Clause 28, page 30, line 38, leave out “such”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment would remove a surplus word from Clause 28(11)(b).

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, Clauses 28 and 37 to 39 make provision for payments to be made to owners of offensive weapons, firearms, bump stocks and ancillary equipment, who will be required to surrender these items to the police by virtue of them being prohibited by the Bill. The purpose of Amendments 93, 98, 100 and 102 is to widen the regulation-making powers as drafted in these clauses so as to allow the Secretary of State, Scottish Ministers and the Northern Ireland Department of Justice, as the case may be, to set the amount of compensation that will be paid to each claimant. This will be necessary for claims to be settled, given that the amount paid out will be based on the evidence of the value of the weapon provided by the claimant.

We believe that this is the right approach, given that the value of individual surrendered items will vary greatly and it would not, therefore, be equitable to the owners or in the interests of the public purse for the regulations to specify a fixed amount of compensation for each type of item made unlawful by the Bill. I remind noble Lords that the compensation regulations, which we have published in draft, are subject to the affirmative procedure. Accordingly, they will need to be debated and approved by both Houses before they can come into force. Amendments 92, 97, 99 and 101 are minor drafting amendments. I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration)

My Lords, I am sorry to prolong this a little. As the Minister said, the amendments allow for discretion, both as to whether to make a payment and as to the amount under the provisions relating to the surrender of weapons. The Secretary of State, Scottish Ministers and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland must make regulations and may make regulations restricting eligibility and the procedure to be followed, which is understandable. So we have an overall mandatory context but a discretion both as to whether to make a payment and its amount. How can that operate justly and fairly?

The Minister said that the arrangements must be equitable, and I agree, but the draft regulations include provisions about eligibility for compensation and determining the amount of compensation,

“taking account of the valuation evidence supplied”.

They also provide for no compensation if the Secretary of State is not satisfied that, under the regulations, compensation is payable. Is what I have just quoted a discretion? It does not seem so to me. The term “discretion” in the amendments suggests there is a distinction for people who surrender weapons in an arbitrary fashion. I cannot believe that is what the Government intend but, given that we already have provision for valuing the weapons, why is discretion needed on top of secondary legislation that provides for the valuation?

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

If I have followed the noble Baroness’s question correctly, there are two elements to this. First, there is an element of discretion around the need for the individual who is surrendering weapons to show documentary evidence that they are the legal owner, and that the weapons have been lawfully acquired. Secondly, there is a range of valuations that could be provided, including from an auction house or for insurance. My understanding is that there is an element of discretion in judging the validity of those.

Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration)

My Lords, I understand why the Secretary of State or whoever has the final say in that, but I do not think that that is the same as discretion. I will not pursue the matter any further now.

Amendment 92 agreed.