92 Tories revolt against gun curb

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The Independent Online
Ministers suffered three of the biggest revolts of this Parliament in the House of Commons last night as more than 90 Conservative MPs voted against them over plans to crack down on handgun ownership.

The Government was able to overturn concessions forced through by pro- shooting peers in the Lords only because it had the support of most Labour MPs.

Six former Cabinet ministers voted against the Government. Jonathan Aitken, John Redwood, Michael Jopling, John MacGregor, John Biffen and Tom King joined the Tory rebels, along with seven Liberal Democrats, 12 Labour MPs and three Ulster Unionists.

The Government was forced to rely on the backing of Opposition MPs in order to reverse Lords' amendments to the Firearms Amendment Bill, which were introduced after the Dunblane massacre.

It won the first vote, on a measure which would have allowed .22 weapons to keep their guns at home rather than in clubs so long as they were "disassembled" in advance, by 394 votes to 115 - with 92Conservatives voting against it. Under the Lords' amendment only certain parts of the guns would have had to be kept in the clubs.

There were further revolts in two later votes on compensation for gun shops and clubs forced out of business as a result of the new legislation.

Tomorrow, the Lords will decide whether to push for their amendments to be accepted, or submit to the will of their elected colleagues in the Commons.

Politics, page 4