Dunblane parents meet with Major

Click to follow
John Major last night met parents of the victims of the Dunblane tragedy - just days before the Commons vote on handguns.

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, arranged to see the parents at the House of Commons yesterday morning in advance of the Prime Minister's meeting and pledged not to use the tragedy as a politcal issue if John Major allowed a free vote on a total handgun ban. The Prime Minister immediately ruled that out, telling the Commons at question time that firearms legislation was not traditionally considered a matter for a free vote.

But even before Mr Major's statement the Dunblane parents said they held out little hope of persuading him to change his mind. Les Morton, father of one of the victims of the massacre last March in which 16 children and a teacher died admitted before the meeting that "there was very little chance, if any at all" of this.

Mr Major's meeting at the Commons with the Dunblane group, including John Crozier, Martyn Dunn and the Snowdrop campaign founders Ann Pearston and Rosemary Hunter, lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Denied their calls for a free vote the Dunblane parents and Snowdrop campaigners will seek other avenues of influence. One route is direct entry into the tHouse of Commons itself. Mr Crozier has still not ruled out the possibility that he will stand in Stirling against the Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Forsyth, at the next general election. Mr Crozier said in a BBC Radio Scotland interview that: "drastic action" was now needed. Even if he did not win the seat, Mr Forsyth's thin majority would certainly be at risk from a highly emotive campaign.