§ Mr. Horner
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy about the sale of surplus small arms, apart from Government to Government sales.
§ Mr. Mason
In accordance with the procedures outlined in the White Paper on the Export of Surplus War Material (Command 9676, published in January, 1956), the practice has been for non-automatic rifles and other small arms declared surplus by the Services, and for which other Governments have no requirement, to be sold to private dealers registered under the Firearms Acts. Ammunition for these weapons has been disposed of in the same way.
I have now decided that, although the volume of such sales is usually relatively small, the risk that some of these weapons or ammunition may fall into unauthorised hands should be avoided, and therefore no new contracts for sale to private dealers will be let. Instead, sales will be confined to overseas Governments and, in the case of ammunition, to the National Rifle Association. Where sales cannot be 302W effected, the weapons will be demilitarised and sold for scrap, and the ammunition will be broken down or destroyed.