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Labour turns its focus on to gun licence fees

Party manifestos hint at some policy issues that might arise under the next government — but anything can happen, warns Conor O’Gorman.

Ahead of the December 2019 general election the Conservative Party manifesto headlined with “get Brexit done”. There was a brief mention of banning the import of hunting trophies and nothing about readiness for epidemics or pandemics. Few predicted what was to come. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some of the latest political party manifestos from a shooting perspective on what might happen. 

Labour has caused a stir with its proposal to allocate £20 million from firearms licensing fees to fund initiatives to stop young people being drawn into crime. The general election halted the completion of a review of firearms licensing fees, and we may see early movement on fees whatever the colour of the next government. In 2014, BASC played a key role in ensuring a fair outcome to the last fees review and we will do our best again. 

BASC will also continue to work with newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) to improve firearms licensing processes at force level. 


Labour and the Green Party want to ban the use of snares. Despite a long hard-fought battle by BASC and the other shooting organisations, snares have been banned in Wales and Scotland. Defra’s 2021 animal welfare action plan committed to a review of snares, but whether that will be a priority for incoming ministers remains to be seen. 

Labour and the Conservatives are aligned in committing to a ban on the import of hunting trophies. Thanks to supportive MPs and peers, several attempts to enact a ban have been averted and the media has become more enlightened about the benefits of recreational hunting for people and nature, wherever it occurs. 

The Conservatives want to improve the accountability of public arms-length bodies, including Natural England, which “must be responsive to those they serve”. BASC is in regular communication with Natural England on topics such as General Licences and wildfowling consents. We will continue to engage with Defra on gamebird releasing in and around European protected sites, having settled our claim for a judicial review on alterations to licensing conditions (see p7). 

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto has a chapter on the natural environment that includes a commitment to protect “at least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030 for nature’s recovery”. This is a reiteration of the previous government’s policy and BASC has been engaged in numerous consultations and inquiries on the natural environment. We will continue to do so. 

We also have the latest information from the 2024 Value of Shooting report (19 June) to strengthen our arguments on all the good we do for the countryside. The message is getting through, as Reform UK has promised to “protect country sports” because “these increase investment in conservation of our environment” and “boost rural jobs, communities and local economies”. 

Lead ammunition 

The Green Party wants to ban lead ammunition. This autumn we expect the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to report its recommendations to the Government, following a three-year review into the outdoor recreational use of lead ammunition. BASC submitted detailed evidence to each stage of the review, and if we have concerns that any resulting legislative proposals are unevidenced and will damage shooting, we will lobby for them to be revised. 

At time of writing, some party manifestos have yet to be published. I have not been exhaustive in covering every relevant aspect of the Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Reform UK commitments. 

All things considered in the current climate, we would be wise to take all the political party manifesto commitments with a pinch of salt. Whatever the challenges ahead, BASC will be there where it matters fighting our corner in Westminster and in each of the devolved administrations. 

However, we can each help right now by contacting Parliamentary candidates in our area, asking them if they support shooting. Please pass any feedback you get to BASC at [email protected] for us to update details for each candidate. Visit for more information.