IT is not difficult to understand why Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe is concerned about the cost to taxpayers of processing gun licences.

West Yorkshire Police apparently ran up a bill of almost £400,000 processing the applications last year, but only received £85,000 in fees – leaving a shortfall of more than £300,000 to be paid from public funds.

It does seem strange, at a time when the police are being criticised for failure to attend all crimes, that those who apply for gun licences are being so heavily subsidised.

With no increase in the gun licence cost for 13 years, it is surely time that those who legitimately use firearms paid a fee for their licence that better reflects their actual cost.

At £50 for a new licence, and £40 every five years for a renewal, the cost of a licence for a firearm is much cheaper than that of a television.

And yet more stringent checks and guidelines have undoubtedly increased the administrative costs for the police of processing them, with that cost said to be £200 on average.

While there are farmers and landowners who genuinely need guns, there are also many for whom it is a hobby, a luxury, and it is unfair that public money is subsidising this.

If it is true, as is reported, that civil servants have been told not to continue with an ongoing review of these fees, the Government must think again. With police forces struggling to investigate every crime reported, what is effectively a subsidy for firearm users is simply not acceptable.