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Firearms Bill

Volume 832: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

Third Reading


Moved by

My Lords, if your Lordships should pass the Bill today, it will not go back to the Commons but will go straight to His Majesty the King for Royal Assent.

I will be most brief in summarising its contents. It is in two parts. The first will require any person who operates a miniature rifle range to have been granted a firearms certificate by the police—that is not the situation hitherto. It will also restrict the gauge of rifle used to .22 rimfire. The second relates to the composition of ammunition. A round of ammunition comprises four constituent parts, only two of which are governed by current legislation, so the Bill will regulate for the two which are currently omitted. That means that the police will be better able to prosecute cases where criminals are manufacturing ammunition where intent is shown.

I am very grateful to the Government, my noble friend the Minister and all noble Lords from all parties who have, to date, provided cross-party support for the Bill. I especially thank Shaun Bailey MP, who introduced the Bill in the other place, and all those who have been involved in bringing the Bill through the parliamentary process to this point.

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Colgrain, on piloting the Bill through this House.

In the House of Commons, the Labour Party moved three amendments, and at the time the Minister said that, given the narrow scope of the Bill, it was not the right place to move them. Nevertheless, I will repeat the three points raised. The first amendment was that social media should be taken into account when considering whether to issue a firearms licence. The second was that family members of a certificate holder who is an operator of a firearms range or shooting gallery should be issued certificates only after they are interviewed as part of a household application process. The third was that any regulations relating to fees or licensing under Section 11 of the Act relating to miniature rifle ranges must require payment equal to the expected cost of issuing the licence. I understand the answer given in the other place to those three amendments, but I ask that the department keeps these issues in mind as the Bill turns to an Act and when any subsequent amendments are considered in the future.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Colgrain for taking his Private Member’s Bill through the House. I welcome the support the Bill has received in this House and the other place; it has received cross-party support from the outset and the Government have wholeheartedly supported it.

The Bill is about addressing two vulnerabilities identified in the existing firearms licensing controls, as my noble friend explained. We are committed to taking action on both issues, following a public consultation conducted on a number of firearms safety issues in late 2020 and early 2021. Both measures received support in that consultation. It was widely acknowledged—by those representing shooting interests, as well as by those who wish to see tightener firearms controls more generally—that these changes will help to strengthen our firearms controls. The Bill will make a valuable contribution to firearms legislation, while making sure that those who wish to continue to engage legitimately in firearms activities can continue to do so, whether that involves target shooting at clubs or activity centres, the legitimate home loading of ammunition or other lawful activities.

I reiterate my thanks to my noble friend Lord Colgrain for bringing his Private Member’s Bill before the House. I join him in also thanking Shaun Bailey MP for initiating the Bill in the other place. I hope to see the Bill receive Royal Assent, as I believe that it will have a significant impact in strengthening our firearms controls still further. I of course commit to the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, that I will take his remarks back to the department and ensure that his views are kept under review. For now, the Government are in full support of the Bill and the important changes that it will bring.

Bill passed.