Clause 30 - Manufacture, import and sale of realistic imitation firearms

Part of Violent Crime Reduction Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 25th October 2005.

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Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General 12:45 pm, 25th October 2005

Enormously valuable collections, representing some individuals' pensions and sometimes even their livelihoods, could be rendered valueless by the enactment of this clause. A world war two Lewis gun would fetch around £15,000 at auction. At some point, if only on the death of the owner, such items have to be sold and the investment realised. The only hope of any financial recompense would be to export, but the practicality of that must be doubtful.

Clause 30 as it stands is limited to Great Britain. Unless the contrary intention appears, I believe that the position is that an Act of Parliament does not extend to the acts of Britons who are outside the UK, except in cases in which specific provision is made in regard to acts committed abroad. The whole body of the criminal law of England deals only with acts committed in England.

Has the Minister yet spoken to her European counterparts about the 30 million firearms that are deemed realistic, and that could now be flooding into their countries as collectors and owners attempt to   realise lifetime investments by selling those highly valuable weapons in countries such as France, where it seems that they will be allowed to sell them legally? Does she see that as being fair on our European neighbours? Is that what the Government mean when they say that they want Britain to be at the heart of Europe?

In relation to amendment No. 260, if re-enactment societies' deactivated weapons are to be exempt from the provisions, a large part of the problem goes away. However, if someone wanted to take their realistic imitation abroad—to a show, for example—I cannot see why they should be banned from bringing that imitation back into the country if it is not for the purposes of sale. That is why we proposed to add the words

''for the purposes of sale or distribution'' to the end of subsection (1)(d).

Amendment No. 55 would ensure that the comprehensive and non-exhaustive list of exceptions and exemptions was compiled as a matter of urgency. Despite the introduction of a defence for certain bodies, those defences do not go far enough. The amendment would help to give peace of mind to the millions of interested parties that stand to be affected by the clause.

We believe that amendment No. 262 is necessary to prevent further haphazard legislation of the sort that has plagued firearms law. Proper consultation with experts may go some way to limiting the damage that would be inflicted by the clause. The Government abolished the Firearms Consultative Committee and its replacement, the Firearms Advisory Committee, has yet to be seen. We believe that the Government should not continue to legislate without expert independent advice on firearms, especially where individuals' criminality, and livelihoods, will be determined by what is in the regulations.