§ Mr. Bellingham
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the implications of the European directive on explosives for civil uses for individuals who make their own ammunition for sporting or recreational purposes.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
The Health and Safety Commission is considering how to implement this directive with a view to putting proposals to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in the summer.
This directive is primarily concerned with the safety of explosives for civil uses. It also covers controls on the movement of explosives which require the recipient to obtain prior approval from a competent authority. This provision was originally intended to address the loss of systematic checks of imports, previously undertaken by Customs and Excise, following the abolition of border controls on 31 December 1992.
As finally agreed, the directive also applies to movements of explosives within member states, and it does not exempt individuals acquiring components of small arms ammunition for sporting and recreational purposes. However, the Government do not believe that transfer of components of small arms ammunition to and by individuals for their own sporting or recreational purposes was intended to be covered by this directive.
As soon as the United Kingdom identified this problem it was brought to the attention of the European Commission, which has since agreed, in a minutes statement made when the directive was finally adopted at the Internal Market Council on 5 April 1993, that it will urgently consider what measures can be adopted to resolve the problem. In the meantime the United Kingdom will be seeking the support of other member states.
Taking the minutes statement made by the Commission into account, and subject to HSC's advice, the Government are not at present proposing to apply the approval to transfer requirements to such individuals in Great Britain.