Gun users win more money

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The Independent Online
The gun lobby yesterday claimed a further significant cash concession had been made by ministers on the Firearms Bill after the Home Office opened the door to more extensive compensation.

A new resolution, tabled by Michael Jack, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, gave Michael Howard, Home Secretary, the power to pay compensation not only for surrendered guns and other property, but also for "any other loss which may be incurred" as a result of the legislation.

The change was pounced upon by Sir Jerry Wiggin, one of the Tory rebels who voted against the Second Reading of the Firearms Bill on Tuesday. He said ministers appeared to have bowed to pressure from the shooting lobby after 35 MPs - 29 Tories - voted against the Bill.

"This is a substantial concession on the original proposals," he said. "This has been obtained by pressure from a number of my colleagues who were not only concerned about the terms of the Bill itself, but were greatly aggrieved that there was only to be limited compensation. This will go a long way to helping those people who are going to lose a lot of money as well as their hobbies."

The British Shooting Sports Council also claimed a government climbdown, and said the concession would cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

"This is a major victory for Britain's shooters and the industry they support," Pat Johnson, its secretary, said. "The door is now open for us to discuss compensation for dealers, gunsmiths, clubs and ranges as well as for individual shooters."

The Home Office said the only thing that had been agreed so far was compensation for guns handed in under the new law, and for accessories such as sights and holsters. Compensation arrangements had yet to be finalised, and the revised motion had been tabled to enable further debate by Parliament.

The Bill returns to the Commons for its committee stage on Monday, when Mr Howard is certain to be pressed further on the compensation issue.

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