Our review of air weapons regulations received about 50,000 representations. We are just finalising our consideration of those and my intention is to publish our conclusions as soon as possible after the summer recess.
The hallmark of this Question Time is delay. The review was announced in response to my Adjournment debate last October, following the shooting of 18-month-old Harry Studley in my constituency. The family submitted a response on 5 February, which was acknowledged on 22 February. Already, almost five months have passed and they have had nothing in return. Such a delay is insensitive and unacceptable to victims of such crimes. What assurance can the Minister give the Studley family that, over the next few months, they will be treated with more respect by the review?
I assure the hon. Lady that it is not a question of respect. I know how strongly she feels about the matter, not least on behalf of the Studley family. She knows that the review was in response to a recommendation by the coroner in another case. She also knows that the issue divides opinion and that many people have strong views about it. I hope that she agrees that the most important thing is to get this raised. Once we have finalised what we are going to do, I will be happy to sit down with her and discuss it.
The targets for those who use air weapons are not only people. Last year, the RSPCA had 900 calls about attacks on animals. Is the Minister considering increasing the penalties for people who are caught and convicted of that heinous crime?
I assure my right hon. Friend that we are looking at all our options on a spectrum. We have a set of regulations on the use of airguns, but we are considering how we can strengthen them in a proportionate way that gives greater protection particularly to children and, to answer my right hon. Friend’s point, animals, which are often the victims of those guns.