asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that firearms and shotguns are given identical licensing qualifications.
My right hon. Friend has under consideration the question whether the present law is adequate, but he has no immediate plans for legislation.
I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. Have the police made strong representations about the growth in firearm offences, with particular reference to the use of shotguns?
The views of the police were expressed in connection with the previous Government's White Paper. The disturbing fact remains that shotguns are now used in crime more frequently than any other weapon subject to certificate control. I consider the present controls unsatisfactory in terms of shotguns.
As the present controls may not be entirely satisfactory, will my hon. Friend ensure that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary does not perpetrate some of the errors which were contained in the previous Government's Green Paper? If urgent attention must be given to any aspects of firearms legislation, the need seems to be most acute in connection with the possession and handling of air weapons.
There are differences of view on this subject, and different representations have been made. It would be unrealistic to suggest that time could be found for any legislation in the present Session.
Is the Minister aware that some countries with the best firearms public safety records have the minimum of legislation controlling their ownership?
I am aware of that—and of the particular views of the hon. Gentleman on this subject.