New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman [Jim Shannon] for introducing the debate, and I am very concerned by the suggestion that there may have been an ulterior motive behind the exclusion of shooting from the Commonwealth games on this occasion that is being dressed up as a logistical problem – the problem that Bisley is too far away from the location. Has the hon. Gentleman any specific indication that the people who are hosting the games this time are in some way ideologically opposed to target shooting?

Jim Shannon: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for making that point. As you know, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am always very wary about what I say, and I would ​rather put the facts of the case and let the right hon. Gentleman draw his own conclusions, but yes, some people would say that that is something that may be lingering in the background. When the Commonwealth games took place in Manchester, Bisley was used as a location. Why not use it this time, given that it is closer to Birmingham than to Manchester? That seems perfectly logical to me.

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Dr Lewis: I encourage the hon. Gentleman to come to Bisley every year with the Commons Rifle Team, where we have the privilege of shooting against the Lords Team. In passing, may I pay tribute to a now retired member of the House of Commons staff, Mr Gary Howard, who worked in the Vote Office for many years? For a long period he gave freely of his lunchtimes – week in, week out, and month in, month out – to tutor Members of both Houses of Parliament in shooting skills and was rightly rewarded with the British Empire Medal when he retired for his long service in the House, his service to shooting, and his service to young people.

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Mark Garnier:  Further to the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), the hon. Gentleman [Jim Shannon] is very welcome to come along to the match between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I am the captain of our team.

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Dr Lewis: This is positively the last intervention that I will make on the hon. Gentleman [Jim Shannon]. In support of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mark Garnier) about the sport being gender-neutral, I should have declared an interest as the president of the Colbury Rifle and Pistol Club in the New Forest, where the champion shooter is a young lady called Molly. I think she is still in her teens, and she has on more than one occasion shot 100 out of 100, something I have never managed to do and I fear I never will manage to do.