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Firearms Bill

Volume 831: debated on Friday 14 July 2023

Second Reading

Moved by

My Lords, I am very pleased to present this Bill following its recent consideration in the other place. It was initiated by my honourable friend Shaun Bailey MP, and it addresses two important aspects of our firearms controls concerning miniature rifle ranges and ammunition. We have strong gun controls in the UK, which help to prevent criminals using illegal firearms. They also ensure that those who hold guns legally do not present any danger to the public. These controls are always kept under review so that action can be taken to strengthen them further where the evidence suggests that this is necessary.

This is why the Government launched a firearms consultation on 29 June, following recommendations made in the wake of the tragic shootings in Plymouth and on Skye, to seek views on whether further changes are needed to our tough firearms controls. The clauses in the Bill will help to improve these controls by addressing two vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminals or terrorists and those with malicious intent. I will comment on these clauses in some detail. The first clause brings in new controls to miniature rifle ranges. It is fair to say that the current exemption in law for miniature rifle ranges is a lesser-known area of firearms law, but it is none the less extremely important that we improve the legislative regulation around miniature rifle ranges, which is set out in the Firearms Act 1968.

Section 11(4) of the Firearms Act at present allows a person to purchase, acquire or possess miniature rifles or ammunition without a firearms certificate when they are conducting or carrying on a miniature rifle range or shooting gallery at which only miniature rifles and ammunition not exceeding .23-inch calibre or air weapons are used. Additionally, a person can use these rifles and ammunition at such a range without a certificate. This means that they will not have been subject to the usual careful police checks on a person’s suitability, and nor will there have been any police assessment as to how they will store and use the firearms safely. The term “miniature rifle” is used in the legislation, but it is important to recognise that the firearms to which this term applies are lethal guns that are otherwise subject to the requirement for the holder to apply for a firearms certificate to possess them.

The police and others have raised concerns that the exemption is a loophole in firearms law. They say that the legislation is vulnerable to abuse by criminals or terrorists seeking to access firearms and to sidestep the usual stringent checks carried out by the police.

The miniature rifle range exemption has been in existence for many years, and it is used for a number of legitimate activities. For example, it is widely used by small-bore rifle clubs to introduce newcomers to sports shooting. It is also used by some schools and colleges, by activity centres offering target shooting, at game fairs and in a number of other legitimate environments. I can personally testify to the benefits that can accrue to schools, having been a governor of one where this facility was enjoyed. Many of these locations would be severely affected if the exemption was removed entirely, and this is not the intention of the Bill.

In recognition of this, the Bill preserves the benefits that the miniature rifle range exemption offers, enabling newcomers to sports shooting to try out the activity without having a firearms certificate, but in a safe and controlled environment. It brings in new controls by making it a requirement that the operator must be granted a firearms certificate by the police, having undergone all the necessary checks as to suitability, security and good reason.

The Bill also more tightly defines what may be considered as a miniature rifle by restricting these to .22 rim-fire guns, which are lower-powered rifles. Currently, there is concern that the definition in the legislation,

“not exceeding .23 inch calibre”,

could allow the use of more powerful firearms that would not be suitable for use on a miniature rifle range by an uncertificated person, even with the necessary supervision and safety measures in place.

I now turn to the second firearms matter addressed in the Bill, which concerns the controls on ammunition. The legislation will help the police to tackle the unlawful manufacture of ammunition by introducing a new offence of possessing component parts with the intent to assemble unauthorised quantities of complete ammunition. The police have raised concerns that the component parts of ammunition are too easy to obtain and are being used by criminals to manufacture whole rounds of ammunition.

To help explain what this part of the Bill does, I will briefly set out what those components are and how they go together to make a round of ammunition. The components are the gunpowder used to propel a projectile from a firearm, the primer, which is an explosive compound that ignites the gunpowder, the projectile or bullet and the cartridge case. Of these, the first two are covered by current legislation. Controls on the possession of gunpowder are set out in the Explosives Regulations 2014, which require that, with certain exceptions, anyone wanting to acquire or keep explosives must hold an explosives certificate issued by the police. There are already controls on primers set out in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. Section 35 of that Act makes it an offence to sell or purchase primers unless the purchaser is authorised to possess them—for example, by being a registered firearms dealer or by holding a firearms certificate authorising them to possess a firearm or ammunition. However, the latter two, the projectiles or bullets and the cartridge case, are constructed of inert material, and these are not controlled at present.

Given the nature of these two components and the quantities in which they are made, it would be difficult to control their possession and there is no wish to do so. However, the current legislative controls can make the prosecution of certain cases by the police difficult. They may believe that there is intent to produce ammunition unlawfully but they may be unable to progress certain criminal cases if the materials found are not controlled.

The assembly of ammunition requires that various component parts be used, including restricted and unrestricted components. The new offence means that the police will better be able to prosecute cases where criminals are manufacturing ammunition, including where only some of the component parts are present provided that intent is shown. This will be a significant step forward in helping the police to tackle gun crime.

In closing, I say that the changes made by the Bill are necessary ones because they address vulnerabilities that have been identified in our firearms controls. Events such as those we saw in Keyham in August 2021, on Skye in August 2022 and at Epsom College in February this year are clear reminders that we must not be complacent about the risk that firearms can present. The Bill seeks to strengthen two important aspects of this country’s firearms controls; I am grateful for the support that it has received so far and commend it to the House. I beg to move.

My Lords, before I say anything substantive on the Bill, I would like to declare my interests—or non-interests. I own no firearms under either the Firearms Act or a firearms certificate and none that is exempt, and I have no intention of acquiring any. However, I own my grandfather’s .455 Webley service revolver as it is an historical item. I had it deactivated around 1997 to avoid any possibility of it causing harm to anyone and to avoid the need for me to hold a firearms certificate.

I congratulate my noble friend Lord Colgrain on his extremely skilful and comprehensive introduction to his Bill. To use a cliché, what is there not to like about the Bill?

Deactivated firearms are not relevant to the Bill but this is a good opportunity to raise the issue. Several years ago, we were required to change the law on deactivated firearms by an EU directive that did two things. First, it required records to be kept of transfers of certain deactivated firearms, which requires the Home Office to keep records and employ an official whose sole function is to keep these completely unnecessary records. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will give some indication, either now or in writing, of whether he intends to use the powers in the REUL Bill to relax the requirement around notifying these transfers; this would avoid the need to have an official in the Home Office keeping these records, which are of no use.

Secondly, the directive required us to prohibit the sale or transfer of what were termed defectively deactivated firearms; these are what we call early deactivated firearms and would include my grandfather’s .455 Webley. Some may worry about reactivation but an old deactivated firearm can, in certain cases, be worth more than a real firearm. It is not worth messing around with an old firearm like my grandfather’s because it is simply an uneconomical proposition; it is cheaper just to buy an illegal one off the black market. I cannot sell or transfer my grandfather’s .455 Webley to anyone because it is illegal to do so but there is absolutely no problem around me owning it. Of course, I have no intention of transferring it to anyone; it will be an insignificant part of my estate when I die. However, I am aware that defectively deactivated firearms—early deacts—are being sold or transferred privately. If it is okay for me to own and keep owning a defectively deactivated firearm, why is it not okay to sell or transfer one?

We have an undesirable situation here, arising from an EU directive. We have left the EU. We do not need to comply with this useless directive. In due course, we will have to repeal both provisions—that is, the provision on keeping records of certain transfers and the provision on preventing people selling or transferring deactivated firearms. Currently, we are creating criminals out of law-abiding citizens.

There has been media comment about firearms being made by 3D printing. I know that Home Office officials are aware of this, but does my noble friend the Minister agree that the current legislation adequately deals with the problem and that there have been successful prosecutions? I understand that officials are keeping a close eye on the situation but, at the moment, the technology of 3D printing is not quite good enough to make a really effective firearm; you still need to machine steel.

I do not intend to return to any of these issues at later stages of the Bill. I hope that, if he cannot respond to me now, my noble friend the Minister will reply to me in writing. I also hope that, in due course, my noble friend Lord Colgrain will have the order of commitment for this Bill discharged so that we can just get on with it.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to rise in support of the Bill. Like the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, said, this is a piece of legislation that will pretty obviously improve our weapons controls. I commend the noble Lord, Lord Colgrain, on his customary precise and acute advocacy.

One recurrent concern that I have developed in recent years is that our legislation is reactive far too often. We scrabble to catch up with societal shifts outside this place and pass laws that are no sooner promulgated than they are eclipsed by rapid developments in technology or the attempts of those who are incentivised to find legal loopholes. It is in that state of mind that I listened carefully to the noble Earl’s contribution; I am glad that he raised the issue of 3D-printed weapons. Last year, there was a substantial amount of reporting on the growing threat of such weapons on our streets. I distinctly remember the National Crime Agency publicly stating—I think I quote it accurately—that the current generation of 3D-printed weapons are “credible and viable” compared with earlier versions and that, although they are often single-shot weapons, they are lethal. It seems possible that this issue will need to be returned to at some point in the future because, although I am pleased to hear that the relevant parts of our regulatory authorities are watching this carefully, we will soon need to do more than just watch it.

During my time as Secretary of State for Defence, I grew extremely familiar with Clemenceau’s axiom that generals always prepare to fight the last war. It strikes me that, in our attempts to deal with very serious problems, we sometimes have a tendency to do that too. However, the Bill is not one of those occasions for this reason, which is one of the reasons why I commend it to your Lordships’ House: it seeks to close a loophole in Section 11(4) of the Firearms Act but as part of an incremental process of improving our firearms laws and in response to concerns raised by law enforcement in the firearms safety consultation. I do not want to go back to 3D printing but I hope that 3D-printed weapons will be a significant part of that review.

While the loophole addressed by this Bill talks of “miniature rifles”, the fact remains that these are potentially deadly weapons. It is right that the operators of miniature rifle ranges should be subject to police suitability checks and that the definition of “miniature rifles” should be clarified to ensure that no one should be allowing others to have access to deadly weapons unless they themselves hold an appropriate licence.

Noble Lords may recall a disturbing image that emerged from a Scottish shooting event at Eskdalemuir a couple of years ago. It showed participants shooting at targets through a hatch that was daubed with misogynistic slogans. It is an unfortunate truth that misogyny and guns very often go together. I remember, when I was in America, going to an open sale of guns. There is an entirely different culture—in Florida, in this case—from the one we live in. The amount of misogyny that goes on the T-shirts of the people who are buying the guns was really disturbing. I do not wish to stray further into that territory, because it is well outside the scope of this Bill, but this fact should give us pause to reflect on wider regulation of firearms.

Noble Lords will recall the tragic events in Plymouth in 2021, where a shooter killed five women, including his own mother. The investigation found that the shotgun was legally owned and that the perpetrator had subscribed to incel content and uploaded his own material to incel forums. In an inquest earlier this year, the co-ordinator for firearms licensing on the National Police Chiefs’ Council said that if the mandatory checks had been properly conducted, they should have revealed that his firearms licence

“should never have been issued”.

While thinking about that appalling case, I note that there has been a surge in the number of temporary permits for firearms as a direct consequence of increasing backlogs in the system.

I make my next point not from a partisan perspective but as a question of safety. Can the Minister describe how the decision-making process in granting a temporary permit, as opposed to a regular permit, differs? If there is a difference in the rigour of background checks that are required, it may be that we need to operate on the presumption of refusal of them, save where there is a demonstrable need in terms of work—for instance, in the agricultural sector. In addition, I understand that the Government have committed to consulting on the question of application fees for firearms licences. Presently, very often they do not cover even half the cost of processing the applications. At a time when the public finances are, to put it lightly, rather overstretched, that would be a very welcome development. Alongside the measures contained in the first clause of this Bill, I also welcome Clause 2, which introduces a new offence of possessing component parts of ammunition with intent to manufacture and provides clear definitions and sentences.

In closing, I make the point that this Bill is not an attack on shooting as a sport. Thanks to careful drafting, Clause 2 will not criminalise those who already possess ammunition or component parts of it and Clause 1 merely requires the owners and operators of rifle ranges to possess a firearms licence and to restrict themselves either to lower-powered air weapons or to .22 rim-fire rifles. These are hardly insuperable barriers to operating such a facility. This Bill is a valuable contribution to our firearms regulatory regime, and this debate is a welcome opportunity to draw the Minister’s attention to some other issues. I shall support this Bill as it moves through your Lordships’ House.

My Lords, I agree with everything said by the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, but it is already a very serious offence to manufacture a pressure-bearing component of a firearm. We have the legislative framework and officials are looking at it very closely.

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Colgrain, on his precise introduction of this Bill and on clearly setting out the elements of it. I also congratulate his honourable friend Shaun Bailey for piloting it through the House of Commons.

The Opposition welcome this Bill. It is said that the UK has one of the toughest systems in the world for regulating the ownership of firearms. Nevertheless, our laws and regulations need to remain fit for purpose and be updated regularly. The licensing system currently in force dates back more than 50 years. It was established by the Firearms Act 1968. Despite the importance of the 1968 Act, it took the tragedies of mass shootings in Hungerford and Dunblane to prompt further action to tighten our laws in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the memories of five people—Maxine Davison, Stephen Washington, Kate Shepherd, Lee Martyn and Lee’s three year-old daughter Sophie, who were shot dead in Plymouth in August 2021—cast a shadow over today’s debate on this Bill.

As we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Colgrain, Clause 1 would make limited changes to the scope of provisions in the Firearms Act on the use of weapons at shooting ranges and galleries. The question is whether these changes go far enough. For instance, the Government’s response to a consultation published last July announced plans to introduce a new requirement for operators of miniature rifle ranges to be issued with a firearms certificate. The response noted that this would require changes to primary legislation but did not give a timescale.

Clause 2 would introduce a new offence of possessing component parts of ammunition with intent to manufacture. This reflects a recognition that the law as it stands has not kept pace with changes in technology over recent years. Again, the changes do not appear to have gone as far as they could have gone. For instance, the offence created by Clause 2 would apply to ownership of four primary components: bullets, cartridge cases, primers and propellants.

My honourable friend Stephen Kinnock asked the Minister, Chris Philp, to state

“whether he is confident that even with those changes, the law would adequately reflect the application of recent technological developments such as 3D printing and other evolving technologies”.

The Minister confirmed that

“3D printed weapons—either the weapons themselves or the components thereof—are treated the same as regular weapons”.—[Official Report, Commons, 3/3/23; cols. 1075-76.]

I would be grateful if the Minister can confirm that the provisions of this Bill will be kept under review as the technology of firearms evolves. I note that the new offence envisaged by Clause 2 would require evidence of an intent to use components to manufacture ammunition. What can the Minister tell us about the standard of proof that will apply when determining intent? How might attempts to evade detection be addressed as part of efforts to tackle such offences?

Finally, there are a number of important issues that the Bill does not address. I therefore have a number of questions for the Minister. Do the Government plan to establish a new independent regulator for firearms licensing? Can we have an update on progress towards implementing the Government’s commitment to a national accredited training scheme for firearms inquiry officers? When will the new curriculum be introduced? What changes, if any, do the Government plan to make to the licensing process at national level? Will changes be made to the application fees for firearms certifications, which are currently between £70 and £80, to reflect more accurately the cost of processing the applications, which can exceed £500?

What steps will be taken to address the apparent surge in the number of temporary permits—which, according to recent reports, is a direct consequence of backlogs in the system—to fully ensure that weapons do not get into the wrong hands? How will wider policy challenges, such as the urgent need for more effective action to tackle online radicalisation, be addressed in the weeks ahead? Will the Minister consider changes to the Online Safety Bill to strengthen the law in that area? The fear is that loopholes and weaknesses in our firearms laws will not be addressed until it is too late.

The Minister in the House of Commons stated that

“the Government are waiting for the prevention of future deaths report from the Plymouth coroner … We will also consider the recommendations made by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, as well as a report by the Scottish Affairs Committee prompted by a tragedy that took place on the Isle of Skye”.

We heard about that earlier. The Minister concluded that

“the Government will respond substantively within 60 days of receiving that prevention of future deaths report, which we believe we will receive in the very near future”.—[Official Report, Commons, 3/3/23; col. 1076.]

Can the Minister update us on that expected timetable?

My noble friend Lord Browne of Ladyton said that he supported the Bill and raised the issue of single-shot 3D weapons. I will add that, from my experience as a magistrate, in both adult and youth courts, when it comes to weapons used in incidents, what is most prevalent is the use of toy weapons, which are very often not easily distinguishable from real weapons, particularly when they are painted black and concealed in some way. I take it that this Bill does not seek to address that in any sense: nevertheless, that is what I actually see when I am sitting in court dealing with firearms-related offences. Does the Minister have any comment on that?

Otherwise, I support the Bill.

My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Colgrain for bringing forward this Private Member’s Bill to the House and for his introduction. I join him in paying tribute to Shaun Bailey MP in the other place for initiating the Bill. I also commend my noble friend for the thoughtful and very compelling case he has made for these two firearms measures. I thank all those who have contributed to the debate today. I welcome their support and constructive comments on our firearms controls.

I am very pleased to say that the Government support this Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Browne said, it improves the existing legislation and, as the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, just noted, our laws must remain fit for purpose and be kept under review. I am a shotgun certificate holder myself and a member of the BASC, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. I have an interest in this area, and I know that the BASC, as a representative of shooting interests, is broadly supportive of the measures put forward in this Bill too.

We keep this country’s strong gun controls under review and are prepared to consider taking action to strengthen them further if the evidence shows this to be necessary. That is why we fully support the measures contained in this Bill, and it is why, as my noble friend noted, we launched a firearms consultation on 29 June, following recommendations made in the wake of the terrible shootings in Keyham and Skye. The firearms licensing consultation will be open for eight weeks. We will listen most carefully, and with a balanced and proportionate approach, to the views which come forward on whether further changes are needed to this country’s robust firearms controls.

This Bill is about addressing two vulnerabilities which have been identified in the existing licensing controls. We committed to taking action on both of these issues following a public consultation conducted on a number of firearms safety issues in late 2020 and early 2021. As noble Lords have heard today, the Bill tightens the law around miniature rifle ranges, while preserving the existing benefits that they offer. It still enables those who are new to target shooting to experience the sport without having to be a certificate holder, but it ensures that this will take place in a safe and controlled environment by removing the exemption that currently allows those operating such ranges to do so without first obtaining a firearms certificate. Removing this exemption will mean that the operator will be subject to the usual police criminal record and suitability checks, as well as police checks to ensure that the rifle range is run safely and that the firearms used there are stored securely. Miniature rifles will also be more tightly defined in law so that only less powerful .22 rim-fire firearms may be used on miniature rifle ranges.

As we have discussed, the Bill also tackles the unlawful manufacture of ammunition by introducing a new offence of possessing component parts with the intent to assemble unauthorised quantities of complete ammunition. The police have raised concerns that the component parts of ammunition are too easy to obtain and are being used by criminals to manufacture whole rounds of ammunition. The new offence means that the police will be able to better prosecute cases where criminals are manufacturing ammunition, including where only some of the component parts are present, provided that intent is shown. This measure supports the police in tackling gun crime.

Both these measures received support in the public consultation that I referred to earlier. It was widely acknowledged, including by those representing shooting interests, as well as those who wish to see tighter firearms controls more generally, that these changes will help to strengthen our firearms controls. This Bill will make a valuable contribution to firearms legislation, while making sure that those who wish to continue to legitimately engage in firearms activities, whether that involves target shooting at clubs or activity centres, the legitimate home loading of ammunition or other lawful activities, are able to continue to do so.

I shall come on to some of the more detailed questions. My noble friend Lord Attlee has spoken about the position of older deactivated firearms which can be possessed but not sold or transferred without complying with the current deactivation standards, which are aligned with EU deactivation standards. I understand his concerns about this issue. We will keep all firearms matters under review and will consider our deactivation standards to see whether changes are necessary to the current position. As regards his specific question about REUL, I cannot comment, but I shall obviously make sure that his concerns are registered. I also note his comments about the possible value of his grandfather’s firearm, but I have to say, given its provenance, it might be worth rather more than he thinks.

My noble friend, as well as the noble Lords, Lord Browne and Lord Ponsonby, also raised the question of how we continue to keep people safe with the emergence of firearms produced using 3D printers. 3D-printed firearms fall within the scope of the Firearms Act 1968 and are subject to the same controls and licensing requirements as any other firearm. There have been successful prosecutions; in fact, I literally just googled this, and there was one on 23 June in West Yorkshire for possession of a 3D-printed firearm. So the law is working—but the Government are committed to tackling the threat posed by 3D-printed guns, and we are working closely with law enforcement, including the National Crime Agency, as part of the multi-agency response to the emergence of 3D-printed firearms.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, questioned me a little more closely on the intent point with regards to the new ammunition offence. We listened carefully to the calls for the clauses on ammunition to be explicit about the need for criminal intent to be proven, to ensure that those who legitimately manufacture or home-load ammunition are not inadvertently caught by the provisions of the Bill. Because of this, the drafting of the legislation is, rightly, very clear about the need for intent to be proven. I have heard what the noble Lord says. As I say, the whole issue remains under constant review.

The noble Lord, Lord Browne, asked me about the consultation and whether it will include a presumption in favour of granting a firearms licence. We did look at this issue in detail. The legislation makes it clear that the police must first be satisfied that issuing the licence will not endanger public safety or the peace. Therefore, such changes to the legislation would make no practical difference to the current application practice, which is centred on the requirement for the police to be satisfied that the applicant is suitable and safe to be granted a firearms licence.

The Government will continue to listen carefully to recommendations that we receive about how to further improve our firearms controls. We are open-minded to change, while ensuring that our response is proportionate and focused on areas of vulnerability where those are identified. Where necessary, we must strengthen the legislation on which our controls are based, and the measures in this Bill of course do that. But we will also use other tools—and I think these will answer a number of the questions of the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby. We have committed £500,000 in funding to support development and rollout of a new training package for firearms licensing staff, developed by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council. In due course, the training will become mandatory for police firearms licensing staff.

On 14 February this year, we refreshed the statutory guidance for the police on their licensing functions, to ensure that the police are making the necessary inquiries before granting or renewing firearms licences. The statutory guidance aims to raise standards and improve consistency across all police forces. In addition, the Government have worked with the medical profession to put in place robust medical arrangements as part of the licensing controls, to ensure that those who hold firearms are physically and mentally fit to do so. A new digital marker system to flag firearms owners to doctors has been introduced to GP surgeries, which will further strengthen these arrangements.

The Home Office has also launched a review of firearms licensing fees: the fees that the police charge for the issue or renewal of firearms licenses. We will be consulting on any changes that will be required later this year. The purpose of the review is to provide full cost recovery for the police, so that they have the resources they need to maintain effective and efficient licensing arrangements that meet the needs of firearms owners, while also ensuring that the public are kept safe.

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the fire and rescue services will be conducting a thematic review of police forces’ firearms licensing arrangements in 2024-25. That will provide us with an important opportunity to take stock of the changes that have been introduced and to ensure that we are doing all we can to ensure that our licensing arrangements are safe and meet the needs of the shooting community, alongside the overarching need to ensure the safety of us all.

I am glad that we will make our robust firearms controls even stronger through the measures in this Bill. The new requirement for a firearms certificate will enable the police to check the suitability and security of those running miniature rifle ranges, while preserving the benefits that they offer, including to newcomers to the sport of target shooting.

I shall address the final couple of questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, as regards a regulator, or perhaps a central licensing body, to administer firearms certificates. There are no plans at present to create such a body to administer firearms licensing. We believe that there is some value in having local police firearms licensing departments. That enables the police to be in touch with the local communities and local medical practitioners, as well as being able to visit the applicants.

As regards the noble Lord’s question about the coroner’s report and the timetable, I am afraid I do not have any information on that as yet. Of course, I shall report back as soon as I am able to. As regards the Online Safety Bill, I have heard what the noble Lord has said, and I will make sure those concerns are passed on to the relevant department. I am afraid I do not have any comments that I can usefully make as regards toys, although I note the incredible likeness between the real firearms and some of the toys that are manufactured.

The amendment to the legislation on ammunition will give the police the tools to bear down on criminals who fuel gun crime by manufacturing ammunition unlawfully. The introduction of the new offence of possession of component parts with the intention to assemble unauthorised ammunition is another important step in the fight against crime.

I reiterate my thanks to my noble friend Lord Colgrain for bringing this Private Member’s Bill before the House. I hope to see it receive Royal Assent, as I believe it will have a significant impact in strengthening our firearms controls still further. The Government are in full support of the Bill and the important changes it will bring.

Finally, I am afraid I do not know the difference between temporary licences and the more traditional ones, if you will, but I will find out and report back.

My Lords, I thank those noble Lords who have spoken in this short and important debate. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, has considerable experience in speaking on firearms matters in the House. To hear him say, “What is there not to like about this Bill?”, is very reassuring. The noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, obviously has considerable experience too in wider defence matters, but to hear him say that this would obviously help with the control of weapons and to have his endorsement is most encouraging.

The noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, will know that amendments were laid at the other end that were withdrawn. It is very comforting to feel that there is support from his side of the House on this as well. I am very grateful to him for that.

Lastly, I say to my noble friend the Minister that there has been strong reference to the nature of 3D production of weapons. We should be mindful of that going forward. To finish on that note, I hope that out of this Bill we will perhaps find that there are mechanisms that will be able to prevent 3D manufacture.

Lastly, as a one-time special constable in the police myself, I know how much the police will be grateful for the fact that your Lordships are paying very close attention to this Bill.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.