Fireworks

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th March 1999.

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Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East 12:00 am, 25th March 1999

If he will make a statement on progress made in improving the regulation of fireworks safety. [77043]

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

I have no plans to introduce further controls on fireworks. The Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997 introduced a comprehensive framework of firework safety measures to protect consumers. I believe that the regulations played a significant part in reducing the number of firework injuries during the 1998 firework season, details of which I announced on 16 March.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and congratulate him and the Government on reducing the number of injuries from fireworks. However, I am sure that he knows of another major and increasing fireworks problem, harassment on the streets. Has he considered the possibility that that problem will become even greater this year given the proximity of bonfire night and the millennium celebrations? Has he considered training more people to stage public displays, something about which the fireworks industry is concerned?

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

The regulation-making powers available to me under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 do not allow me to regulate for the safety of goods by introducing a statutory training scheme for operators of fireworks displays. Nor can I restrict the periods during which fireworks can be sold or let off. I must remind my hon. Friend that a total ban took effect on 31 December 1997 on the sale of bangers—[Interruption.] Not sausages, bangers.

It is probable that some retailers decided to risk selling off stocks of bangers held over from the 1997 bonfire season, and those bangers may well be responsible for some of the harassment on the streets referred to by my hon. Friend. Trading standards officers in various parts of the country have seized stocks of bangers and other prohibited fireworks in the run up to 5 November, and I understand that there will be a lot more prosecutions of those who try that trick.