Firework Safety

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 4 December 1996.

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Photo of Ms Liz Lynne Ms Liz Lynne , Rochdale 1:45, 4 December 1996

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will introduce further proposals to improve firework safety. [5796]

Mr. John M. Taylor:

I place a very high priority on improving controls on fireworks. Following the thorough review that I initiated earlier this year, I am considering a number of possible measures.

Photo of Ms Liz Lynne Ms Liz Lynne , Rochdale

Can the Minister at least guarantee that, by next 5 November, there will be stricter guidelines on the import of fireworks, especially from China, as those were most responsible for the horrific accidents? Will he also say whether there are any new proposals for tougher sentencing or tougher penalties on shopkeepers who sell fireworks to children?

Mr. Taylor:

I am excluding nothing from the review that we are carrying out. In particular, I am considering how aerial shells can be controlled. These are, generically, the kind of fireworks to which the hon. Lady referred. I am prepared to look at the import licensing regime, which was replaced in 1993, but I have to tell the House that the Health and Safety Executive says that the single authorisation scheme which replaced that regime in no way weakens safety controls. In fact, it makes them more flexible.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths , Edinburgh South

Why does the Minister not listen to the British fireworks business when it tells him that the abolition of import controls on fireworks has caused three deaths from aerial shells and that the Government's deregulation of firework safety regulations has caused injuries to soar to record levels? Does he not realise that the number of fireworks sold is likely to rise before new year's day as people celebrate with fireworks on that day? Why does he not now invoke section 11(5) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 to take immediate action to ban aerial shells before more people are killed as a result of Government negligence in this matter?

Mr. Taylor:

I do not accept that assertion. I do not accept its attribution either. I am taking this matter extremely seriously. As far as I am concerned, one person injured is too many. There are serious issues here and I am determined to get this right. Time spent now will be well spent—I assure the House of that.