asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the terms on which licences for shotguns are issued.
No, Sir. We are satisfied that the existing controls are generally adequate.
Does the Minister agree that the number of crimes in which firearms are used has increased and that it should be any Government's duty to make it more difficult for criminals to get hold of guns? Is it not reasonable that provisions for the issue of shotguns should be tightened? Should not law-abiding gun owners be prepared to accept that for the common good?
We are talking about the control of shotguns. We are not persuaded that a more stringent control of shotguns would reduce significantly the level of crime, or that the extra work for the police would be justified. The hon. Member will be pleased to know that the number of serious offences recorded by the police in which shotguns were reported to have been used fell from 760 in 1978 to 552 in 1980 and that that figure was the lowest since 1974.
As there was such a startling decline in the use of shotguns in crime last year, is my hon. and learned Friend looking into the possibility of extending the life of a firearm and shotgun certificate from three to five years?
My right hon. Friend is not examining that possibility at present. Welcome though the reduction is, the figure of 552 is still far too high.