Orders of the Day — New Schedule. — (Kinds of Fireworks Which Need Not Be Marked.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th May 1951.

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Aluminium or magnesium torches ("Sparklers")

Jumping crackers.


Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Arthur Moyle Mr Arthur Moyle , Oldbury and Halesowen

I beg to move, "That the Schedule be read a Second time."

If this Bill becomes law it will be within the power of the Home Secretary to determine by Statutory Instrument other fireworks which may be excluded from the ambit of the Bill, and such a Statutory Instrument will be subject to the usual Parliamentary procedure and control.

Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett:

I beg to second the Motion.

There has been a certain amount of doubt, even alarm and dispondency expressed by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) on the subject of this Schedule. I understand that that is now being laid at rest by him in another part of this Palace. Probably the doubts are not altogether as intensely felt as they were expressed, and I hope there are no misapprehensions about the meaning of the term "jumping crackers." It is not a state we all get into at the end of a long debate, at any rate we back benchers, if not necessarily the hon. Member for South Ayrshire.

I feel that the assumed ignorance on the subject of "throw-downs" is surely a clue to an extraordinary faultless youth. Surely even that not very bellicose hon. Member must have come across these little lead devices wherein a pistol cap is put. It is then thrown down behind unsuspecting citizens and children in order to afford amusement for the onlookers. Surely those are familiar to most people who have lead a normal mischievous childhood. I am deeply impressed by the innocence of the hon. Member. I feel sure that, with the exception of that hon. Member, the meaning of this Schedule is clear enough to hon. Members present; I feel that it is devoid of offence, it says what it means and means what it says, and is sufficient for the purpose it wishes to serve.

Question put, and agreed to.

Schedule added to the Bill.


Amendment made: In line 4, after "made", insert: to make provision for the marking of fireworks and containers in which fireworks are kept."—[Mr. Moyle.]

12.59 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Moyle Mr Arthur Moyle , Oldbury and Halesowen

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

I never thought, when I drew this horse which had the virtue of being well placed, that it would ever be so well placed as it is today. Having been so fortunate in the Parliamentary Ballot, I felt that the only possible chance I had of securing a Private Member's Bill and having it placed on the Statute Book would be to adopt a subject which was as popular and non-controversial as I could find. I am glad to say that my judgment of this Bill as being essentially non-party has been upheld.

Before this Measure leaves the House for another place, I should like to say how grateful I am not only to my own colleagues, but also to the hon. and gallant Member for Gosport and Fareham (Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett) and the hon. Members for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) and Rushcliffe (Mr. Red-mayne) for their co-operation. They have been of great help. I should also like to mention specifically, if the Home Secretary will permit me, the great assistance I have received from his able lieutenant and also from the representatives of the Home Office.

This Bill is a much better Measure than it was when it secured its Second Reading. I am satisfied that the provisions added to it by way of Amend- ments and new Clauses are calculated to achieve the end we had in view in promoting the Bill. It is tempered with a better measure of justice for the manufacturer and the salesman than was the case when it was first drafted. One of my pleasant experiences has been the good will expressed towards the Bill by the industry. It is another proof, of what was often proved to me during my long experience in industry and in the whole field of collective bargaining, that much of the time of Parliament is used to try to liquidate the blacklegs on both sides.

We seek not only to protect the child and the employee, but also the reputable manufacturer and the good industrialist, from the blacklegs in the industry. Though difficulties may arise in the operation of the Bill, I hope that if and when it reaches the Statute Book our collective desire of defending the child against dangerous fireworks will be realised. Most of us are only too sadly aware of the bitter experiences of last November and of November, 1949. Only a few days ago we learned of what happened, with fatal results, to employees in a certain factory.

While we cannot hope that all such dangers will be eliminated as a result of this Measure, I am satisfied that it will make a real contribution towards the promotion of safety and the protection of children against danger. By sheer luck I have had to accept the paternity of this child. If we assume that the Bill will receive its Third Reading, I should like to tell the Home Secretary that, by the very circumstances of the course the Bill will take, I shall have to ask him to relieve me of my responsibility for its paternity, and to become its foster-father. I hope that I shall be able to find someone in another place who can obtain the same good will and co-operation there as I have so generously received here to get this Bill through as soon as possible. Should this Measure become law, I shall say, in the sentiments of Jackie Milburn the Newcastle centre-forward, "It was not my Bill. I did not score the two goals. They were scored by the team."

1.5 p.m.

Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett:

I deeply appreciate the feeling expressed in the remarks of the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle). All of us in the House, and in the country, too, are aware of the great debt of gratitude we owe him for his public spirit in taking up this vitally necessary piece of legislation, as the Home Secretary described it. I have spoken of my indignation at the maiming of unsuspecting children. I must also declare another interest besides a medical one, and that is that perhaps I have not yet outgrown my own tendency to enjoy playing with pyrotechnics.

Whenever I ignite a firework I have a feeling of apprehension lest it should do something unexpected. It is possibly because of faulty fireworks that I have acquired that feeling. But this Bill will safeguard children and those who are rather older than children, in age at least, from danger. It does not interfere with the right of the citizen to make his own mischievous brews and experiment with them.

Above all, it does not penalise the decent, reputable maker of fireworks whose produce we see exploding in such a splendid manner. I hope that we shall see fireworks exploding in large quantities for our amusement during this year of the Festival that has opened today. There is justice in this Bill for both sides. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the Bill has got to its present stage, and it looks as if it has a sporting chance of passing the winning post.

1.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey De Freitas Mr Geoffrey De Freitas , Lincoln

We have had a mixture of Bills this morning. We have passed from criminal law amendment to pet animals and then to fireworks. There was one moment in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle) when I thought that we were discussing an amendment to the bastardy laws or laws for the care of children.

In discussing this important Bill it is right that we should get a sense of proportion about it first. We must not forget that it is aimed at a very small number of manufacturers who do not follow the usual rule of British manufacturers and exercise great care. The work of the average manufacturers, together with that of His Majesty's inspectors of explosives, results in the fact that we have extremely good fireworks which provide a great deal of pleasure and joy at very little risk.

There is a gap in the law, and this Bill helps to fill that gap. It carries penalties—not the penalty of boiling oil, as one hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested—which are adequate in the circumstances. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Oldbury and Halesowen on breaking his five year's silence, imposed by the position he holds, and on sponsoring such an important Measure as this. If this Bill goes through another place and is put on the Statute Book I shall feel happier in letting children play with fireworks when November comes, and we celebrate the routing of the man referred to already, who, about 350 years ago, without leave of the House, attempted to make us play a highly spectacular part in a fireworks display.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.