I am delighted that the Home Office has made a last-minute concession that will enable responsible knife manufacturers and retailers to continue to deliver their products to homes around the country, following months of campaigning the Government to step back from their plans in the Offensive Weapons Bill to prohibit the delivery of ‘bladed products’ to residential properties.
This campaign began last June when the Sheffield knife supplier company, Egginton Group, approached me with their concerns about the impact the prohibition would have on them and similar small and medium sized businesses, which increasingly rely on online sales. I originally tried to persuade the Home Office to introduce a trusted traders scheme for the many businesses that already have stringent age verification checks in place to ensure their products do not get into the wrong hands.
As well as tabling an amendment to the Bill, I secured and facilitated meetings between Home Office Ministers, Victoria Atkins MP and Baroness Williams, and local Sheffield businesses. On the eve of the remaining stages of the Bill coming back to the House of Commons, the Government conceded and agreed to put down its own amendment to the Bill that will allow businesses to deliver to residential properties if they can demonstrate they undertook all reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to ensure the knife would not be delivered into the hands of young people under 18.
This is a big win for local businesses. I am delighted to have worked with local knife manufacturers and Parliamentary colleagues to have secured these changes to the Bill and protect a great Sheffield industry. Clive Betts MP, Louise Haigh MP, Lord David Blunkett and Lord Roy Kennedy have all given me great backing as we fought the issue in the Commons and the Lords. I’m grateful to the Ministers who’ve engaged with the issue too.
We need strong laws to combat growing knife crime, but we need the right laws. The Government’s original proposals would have damaged local businesses without reducing knife attacks. I’m grateful too to James Goodwin of Egginton Group who raised the issue with me, and to Alistair Fisher of Taylor Eye Witness who joined us at meetings with Ministers, for speaking up. It shows the positive impact that MPs can have when we work with our constituents to seek change.
Speaking after hearing the news, James Goodwin, of Egginton Group said:
“This is great news and wouldn’t have been possible without Paul taking up this issue for Sheffield knife manufacturers and retailers. We fully support the Bill’s objective of reducing knife crime, but were extremely concerned that the ban on delivering knives to homes would damage our businesses without making any difference to people’s safety. After months of parliamentary debates and meetings with Home Office Ministers, it is great that we have secured a sensible compromise that will enable responsible businesses to continue trading online.”