Sentencing Policy (Weapons of Violence)

First Minister's Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:10 pm on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour 3:10 pm, 9th January 2003

To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Executive has any plans to strengthen sentencing policy in relation to weapons of violence. (S1F-2389)

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

Weapons of violence have no place in Scotland's communities and we keep under constant review the worrying situation regarding the use of knives. Firearms legislation is reserved, but we welcome any plans that will help to prevent the escalation of gun culture in Scotland. In particular we welcome the Home Secretary's plans, which were announced yesterday, to limit air guns and replica guns.

Photo of Angus MacKay Angus MacKay Labour

Does the First Minister agree that the tough proposals for minimum sentences that have been made by our Labour Home Secretary for those who are guilty of illegal possession of guns and other offensive weapons—which are closely associated with the drugs trade—are the safest form of crime prevention and protection of the public? Does he agree that that policy, together with the creation of a Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency by the Scottish Executive, the £100 million that has been put into the field to combat drug dependency, and the Executive's support of the regime of asset confiscation for drug dealers, constitutes a serious and real drugs policy as opposed to the candyfloss soundbites that come from the Opposition?

Photo of Andrew Wilson Andrew Wilson Scottish National Party

What loyal back benchers. [ Laughter. ]

Photo of Rt Hon Jack McConnell Rt Hon Jack McConnell Labour

It will be of interest to those who have the pleasure of watching First Minister's question time each week—either from the gallery or on television—to know that the Opposition finds the matter of guns and knives so frivolous and trivial as to make it a matter for jokes.

We should get the matter in perspective. The situation in Scotland in relation to guns is not as serious as the situation south of the border; it is important that we keep the matter in perspective. However, at the same time, one gun potentially wrongly used in Scotland is one gun too many. Just as Scotland led the campaign to ban handguns after the horrific massacre in Dunblane, we should also make it clear that we in Scotland will take tough action to deal with guns. We will do so not only in relation to drug culture, but anywhere on our streets, and we will deal with knives and other offensive weapons. I want to make it absolutely clear that we must ensure that the appropriate laws and resources are in place and that the community stands up and is counted. In Scotland, we want less violence, not more.