5 May 2016 – Members of Labour’s shadow cabinet are supporting a Labour tax on all shooters, as tabled in the Policing and Crime Bill 2016.
The proposal from Labour MPs Lyn Brown, Jack Dromey, Andy Burnham, Keir Starmer, Sarah Champion and Carolyn Harris is to force up the price of a firearm or shotgun certificate by setting “the sum payable at the full cost to the taxpayer of issuing a licence”.
This would mean that certificates could increase in price regardless of the actual cost involved, as the proposed clause does not specify anything about how those costs are to be calculated – meaning if Labour gets its way, the final cost to shooters could include unrelated overheads relating to the operation of firearms licensing teams.
Lyn Brown is a shadow Home Office minister; Jack Dromey is the husband of Harriet Harman, a big hitter in the Labour Party; Andy Burnham is the shadow Home Secretary; Sir Keir Starmer, KCB, QC, was the Director of Public Prosecutions under Gordon Brown and the early part of the 2010-2015 Tory-Lib Dem coalition government, before being selected as Labour MP for Holborn, London, in 2015; Sarah Champion and Carolyn Harris are minor Labour MPs for Bristol and Swansea, respectively.
It can thus be seen that official Labour policy is to oppose shooting at every step and ensure only the rich can afford to take part in the sport.
Interestingly, some of these individuals seem unlikely to be eligible for a firearm certificate themselves. Harris last appeared in the news in March this year after she allegedly assaulted her office manager in a homophobic outburst, though police declined to investigate and she denied the allegations. Brown reportedly shoved a blind journalist in the House of Commons in 2011, shouting “for fuck’s sake, move out of my fucking way” at the man and his guide dog.
Full cost recovery was imposed on the licensed firearms community by the Home Office in early 2015 following a police campaign to turn it into a profit-making business for forces across the country. The Home Office reluctantly agreed a much smaller increase than the one demanded by policemen, though with the important proviso that police must speed up their adoption of e-commerce digital licensing instead of continuing with the 50-year-old paper application system. The principle has been accepted by all parties involved in firearms licensing.
Shooting organisations accepted full-cost licensing on the basis of a move to e-commerce, though it is clearly inappropriate for taxpayers to pay again for a service funded from general taxation. The price of postage stamps did not 100% fund Royal Mail, in its public ownership days, and neither does vehicle excise duty cover 100% of the DVLA’s operating expenses. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to bite the bullet in order to head off future punitive rises – particularly as FAC and SGC fees had not changed since the early 2000s and in early 2015 polls indicated that Labour had a chance of winning that year’s general election.
It is not known to UKSN whether Labour plans a whipped vote to force through this silly amendment, or whether the Conservative Party plans to oppose it.