Conservative MPs last week tore into the Labour party over its proposal to quadruple firearm and shotgun licence fees during a debate in the House of Commons.
In the middle of a financial debate David Gauke MP, the Conservative Financial Secretary to the Treasury, raised Labour’s declared policy of quadrupling firearm certificate fees:
This is the key to deficit reduction and the policy that will restore public finances to health: a future Labour Government will put up fees for gun licences. How much will that raise? A whopping £17 million—except, to be fair, the shadow Home Secretary has already pledged to spend that money elsewhere.
Gauke was briefly interrupted by Labour MP Chris Leslie rising to his feet to make a point of his own, which was immediately followed by SNP MP Angus MacNeil saying “Give him both barrels” to Leslie.
Gauke shot back: “I will give way to the man who believes that the answer to our public finances is to raise fees for gun licences.
Lightly dismissing MacNeil’s joke, Leslie went on to say: “The Minister raises an important point about gun licences. It is a small amount of money but it is still worth doing. Is he saying that we should not raise gun licence fees? Is he ruling that out because he thinks it is the wrong idea?”
“It was an attempt to show how ridiculous the Labour party’s economic policy is when the only example it puts forward, apart from the 50p rate, which is likely to cost money, is increasing gun licences,” Gauke replied. “I did not really expect the shadow Chief Secretary to take it seriously that that was the big policy.”
There was a time in debating these matters when the big argument from Labour Members, their big macro-economic analysis, was that we were going too far, too fast. Now it has come down to this. What have they got a few days away from a general election? They have a policy on gun licences—that is it. What has the great Labour party come to? Gun licences!
David Rutley, Conservative MP for Macclesfield, twisted the knife when Labour did not respond on the gun licence point: “One of the reasons the Opposition are focusing on the gun licence is that they have got it wrong on just about everything else. Will my hon. Friend remind us who said it was not possible to cut spending and create jobs?”
Regular UKSN readers will know that Labour has pledged to quadruple the price of a firearm certificate despite police agreeing that such a raise would push the cost far beyond the “full cost recovery” level Labour stated it wants to meet. It should come as no surprise that the SNP support such muddle-headed thinking.