Applications under the Firearms Acts: fees

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 12 April 2016.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 11:00, 12 April 2016

We are as one on the fact that the taxpayer should not subsidise licensing. The Bill, which is about Home Office licences, will not have an effect on police fees. However, given that the shadow Minister referred to police licence fees, I will respond to that as well. I completely agree that this should have been done years and years ago, under several Administrations. I will therefore look at police licence fees, which the Bill does not do, but which the hon. Lady was referring to.

The legislation has been changed. As from April 2015, police licence fees increased by between 23% and 76%, depending on the certificate type. That is the first increase since 2001. Once the new police online system, eCommerce, is introduced, fees will recover the full costs of licensing. That is specific: it is in the legislation. I had problems myself with the coalition Government, along with several of my colleagues.

Let us look briefly at the Home Office licence fees. I completely agree that it is wrong that the taxpayer is subsidising other organisations. Currently, combined, the authorisation and licensing of prohibited weapons, shooting clubs and museums costs the taxpayer an estimated £700,000 a year. I do not feel that the amendment is necessary: I will explain why. Clause 80 will create a consistent set of charging powers across all Home Office firearms licences and authorities. The Government’s intention is that licence holders, and not the taxpayer, should pay the full cost. The Government will set fees at the appropriate level, based on clause 80, but with agreement from the Treasury. Fees will be set out in a public consultation later this year, which will give affected organisations the chance to raise any issues. Final fee amounts will be introduced via regulations subject to the negative procedure.