§ 2. Mr. Patrick Thompson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent meetings he has had with represenatives of gun clubs; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg)
My right hon. Friend has met representatives of the British Shooting Sports Council, which represents a wide range of sporting and trade interests. I have met representatives of the Shooters' Rights Association, and the United Kingdom Practical Rifle Commission, and Home Office officals have met a number of other organisations.
§ Mr. Thompson
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Bearing in mind the excellent work carried out by many gun clubs up and down the country, including in Norwich and the surrounding area, and the genuine concern about some of the measures to be put forward in the legislation to be debated this afternoon, will my hon. Friend say more about the discussions that he may have had with the gun clubs about licensing arrangements and compensation?
§ Mr. Hogg
I recognise that the issue of compensation causes considerable concern to right hon. and hon. Members. There are serious objections to compensation, but we are prepared to give further thought to the fresh arguments that have been put forward. However, I should emphasise that I believe that there are still great difficulties, both of principle and of practice.
§ Sir Jim Spicer
Does my hon. Friend agree that although there may be objections to the principle of compensation, there are greater objections to not paying compensation because of what may happen as a result of the disposal of such firearms? Will he undertake to keep an open mind on that matter as the Bill progresses?