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Mr. Straw: The word "moral" has not passed my lips. Where to draw the line is a practical, not a moral issue. For me, the only moral issue is securing the right balance between people's right to engage in a sport and the need for public safety.

Mr. Beith: Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that under the arrangements that he proposes there will be no legal bar to British competitors taking part in the Manchester Commonwealth games? If so, will he make some allowance for those competitors to arrive at the competition in a reasonable state of preparedness--even if only gained over the few weeks before the games?

Mr. Straw: I have listened carefully to the right hon. Gentleman's points. I hope that he will accept my arguments. I have thought about this a great deal, especially since it was raised in the House last week. In my judgment it will not be possible to allow an exemption which starts now and runs until 2002. As I said, because the exemption would have to run to 2002, I or any holder of my office would be under pressure to increase the number of people who might funnel their way through to become members of a national squad. If the games were to be held tomorrow, it would be a different matter, but we are speaking about an event five years away.

If there is a British team that wishes to participate in the Commonwealth games in 2002, despite the fact that there will be no possibility of practice between now and then, it will be a matter for the holder of my office to ensure that the same arrangements for training apply to them as apply to any other team participating in the Commonwealth games. I noted what the right hon. Gentleman said. Should I still hold this fine office in 2002--I will almost have beaten the record for any holder over the past 200 years--I shall bear his comments in mind.

I know that time is pressing, but important points have been raised and I want to answer them. With regard to the Paralympics, before the hon. Member for Romsey raised the matter, I was briefed to the effect that of a total of 15 events, British teams will be ruled out of just two events. The hon. Gentleman gave more up-to-date information. I understand that the Paralympic committee has removed two air weapon events and replaced them with live firing events.

That makes my point as much as the hon. Gentleman's, and shows that within the ambit of shooting competitions it is possible for the kind of events to be changed,

18 Jun 1997 : Column 403

sometimes in response to public fashion and public pressure. I suggest that if participation by British residents in .22 live-firing competition were banned it might be possible to persuade the Paralympics to move into other events.

On the Commonwealth games, the news is even better than that in respect of the Olympics and the Paralympics. There are 28 separate shooting competitions in the Commonwealth games. Of those, British residents will be able to train and compete in 21 disciplines for rifles, air rifles, pistols and shotguns. It is five years before the Commonwealth games take place. I expect that several of the people who have represented this country so finely in pistol competitions will shift their discipline to one of the other four disciplines--rifles, air rifles, pistols and shotguns.

The passage of the Bill will mean that British participants are unable to compete in six pistol competitions. As the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) is aware, the 1997 Act for which he was responsible had the effect of rendering British participation in one Commonwealth games event impossible--that was for .32 centrefire pistols.

I have dealt with one of the claims made about the Bill, which is that it would lead to British residents being unable to train and compete in shooting disciplines. I think that I have shown that, notwithstanding the Bill, British residents will still be able to train and compete in the vast majority of events in the Olympic and Commonwealth games.

The second charge that has been made is that we would be unable to host the Commonwealth games in 2002, or the Olympics or Paralympics at some time in the future. I dealt with the matter of the Commonwealth games when I spoke in the House on Second Reading last Wednesday. I or my successor will be able to make an authorisation, subject to detailed practical conditions, under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968.

The hon. Member for Christchurch asked why my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office has not been able to put in the Library of the House the detailed conditions. That is because we have not got them, but I am happy to write to the hon. Gentleman to set out as far as possible the criteria that we would take into account.

With regard to the Olympics and the Paralympics, I am assured that the passage of the Bill would not prevent our hosting either of those games at some time in the future, if we were able to win that competition.

Either of the new clauses is capable of producing loopholes in the control of firearms. I have listened carefully to the arguments that have been advanced. Hon. Members who argued in favour of the new clauses will accept that I have taken their case seriously and have tried to deal with it. I am sorry to tell them, however, that, having weighed the arguments in the balance, I must ask the House to reject both new clauses.

Mr. Maclean: We have listened carefully to the Home Secretary tonight, and the difference between him and the Minister of State is obvious. When the Minister does not have a logical argument, he reverts to attacking the Opposition and to much bluff and bluster. When the Home Secretary does not have a logical argument, he reverts to ladling out the charm. The Home Secretary

18 Jun 1997 : Column 404

dispensed charm by the bucketful in his reply tonight, which leads me to conclude that he does not have a very strong argument.

9 pm

The Home Secretary is correct to say that there is a delicate balance to be struck between public safety and individual liberty. We all accept that fact. The Committee may be under the impression--perhaps Labour Back Benchers believe it--that the Home Secretary has decided that, in the interests of public safety, pistol shooting will never occur again in this country.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): Hear, hear.

Mr. Maclean: The hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) is wrong. The Home Secretary has exercised his judgment and decided that pistol shooting will be allowed, under strictly controlled conditions, in this country at the Commonwealth games and that competitors from 60 foreign countries will participate. British shooters will not be able to train and shall not participate. It is not a matter of public safety. The Home Secretary cannot base his opposition to the new clause on concern about public safety. He cannot claim that public safety is paramount and absolute and say--in the nicest possible way--that he therefore cannot accept the new clause.

The Home Secretary has decided to exercise his judgment--which I think is correct--to permit shooting events to be held at the Commonwealth games. The Opposition are asking the Home Secretary not to make another exception and depart from his judgment, but to follow the same principles that he has applied in deciding to permit shooting at the Commonwealth games and allow it to take place at a designated site, such as Bisley. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) put the argument beautifully and succinctly. He said that if public safety can be secured for the shooters from 60 countries at Manchester, why can it not be allowed at a designated, secure, national site, such as Bisley, where the Home Secretary could apply the same strict section 5 guidelines? I expect the criteria that he will publish in due course to be quite draconian in order to ensure public safety, and the Opposition will accept it.

The Opposition have no option but to press new clause 3 to a Division today. The Home Secretary has been hoist by his own petard--no wonder he wants to shoot some pigeons, because they have dropped some nasty things on him--in the logic that he has tried to apply today. The Home Secretary has exercised his judgment and he will allow pistol shooting to take place in Britain in a few years. In this new clause, we ask him to exercise the same judgment and permit it to take place under the same secure conditions for British as for foreign shooters.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 159, Noes 328.

Division No. 35
[9.2 pm


Allan, Richard (jShef'ld Hallam)
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Body, Sir Richard
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Colvin, Michael
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin
(Grantham & Stamford)
Day, Stephen
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorrie, Donald
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Kennedy, Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Mactaggart, Fiona
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marek, Dr John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Merchant, Piers
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Opik, Lembit
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew
(Truro & St Austell)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Townend, John
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Wallace, James
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willis, Phil
Woodward, Shaun
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Simon Burns and
Mr. Tim Boswell.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham (Nottingham N)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Ros'dale)
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Ms Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne (Aberd'n S)
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Mrs Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Robert
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brand, Dr Peter
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond (Kilmarnock)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Christine
Byers, Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Canavan, Dennis
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
(Hammersmith & Fulham)
Colman, Anthony (Putney)
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Ms Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna
Curtis-Thomas, Ms Clare
Dafis, Cynog
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dean, Ms Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Eagle, Ms Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Ms Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fearn, Ronnie
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Ms Lorna
Flint, Ms Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Ms Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael John (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Graham, Thomas
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Philip
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley
(Stretford & Urmston)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Iddon, Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Adam
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd)
Jackson, Mrs Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian (Tamworth)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Ms Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Mrs Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Miss Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Tessa
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andy
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Ms Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Ms Shona
McKenna, Ms Rosemary
McMaster, Gordon
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Ms Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Ms Gillian
Michael, Alun
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Ms Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Mrs Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, Rt Hon George
(Hamilton S)
Rogers, Allan
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Ms Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salmond, Alex
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Ms Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Ms Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stuart, Mrs Gisela (Edgbaston)
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Swinney, John
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Watts, David
Webb, Steven
White, Brian
Whitehead, Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Dr Alan W
(E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wright, Tony (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. David Clelland.

Question accordingly negatived.

18 Jun 1997 : Column 408

Mr. Maclean: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. As you know, and as the Government know, we could force new clause 4 to a vote. The Opposition wish to make it absolutely clear that we support the principle and the intention behind the new clause, but, as it is clear that the Government are unwilling to listen, and as they have voted down new clause 3, we shall not take up the time of the House with an unnecessary Division--[Interruption.] Unless Government Members tempt us, and make us wish to do so, we shall not take time away from Third Reading. However, the Opposition will return to the important content of new clause 4 in another place. Schedule agreed to. Bill reported, without amendment. Order for Third Reading read.

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