Clause 1 - Introduction

Fireworks Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 30th April 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 2:30 pm, 30th April 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in

clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out 'regulations' and insert

'order made by statutory instrument'.

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments:

No. 4, in

clause 1, page 1, line 11, at beginning insert—

'( ) no order shall be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'.

No. 1, in

clause 2, page 1, line 18, leave out 'may by regulations' and insert

'shall by order made by statutory instrument'.

No. 2, in

clause 2, page 2, line 3, at beginning insert—

'( ) no order shall be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

As the Committee will know, the Opposition have no great problem with the Bill. Indeed, I applaud the work of the hon. Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) in promoting it. I hope that it will assist in making the lives of our constituents less noisy, and that it may help to reduce the upset and anguish that some people suffer as a result of firework noise.

As the Minister knows, the Bill has little content; it merely allows the Government to make regulations. However, we have a philosophical objection to giving the Government too much power to make regulation—powers that may be abused in years to come. Therefore, the amendments propose that the Government make changes by statutory instrument, which should be placed before Parliament. That is not unreasonable. Nor is it a wrecking move. We simply want the Government to agree, so that if a future Government were ill-disposed to a sector of the fireworks industry, or for some other reason wished to introduce draconian measures, they would not be able to do so without coming before Parliament.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

I welcome you, Mr. Benton, to the Chair. I also welcome the remarks of the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) in support of the Bill. I, too, express enthusiasm for the Bill.

I clearly understand the philosophical point made by the hon. Gentleman. However, I am advised by parliamentary counsel that amendment No. 2 is different from the others. Only that amendment would have an effect on the Bill, in so far as it would lead to fireworks regulations being subject to the affirmative resolution procedure; they are currently subject to the negative procedure. Only that amendment would have the effect that the hon. Gentleman seeks, and that would happen under clause 16(3).

I am informed that amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 4 do not achieve anything; they are technically defective. I hope that hon. Members will not press me too much on the detail, but the reason is the interaction of the amendments with the wording of clause 16, which deals with the parliamentary procedure for making regulations. It is probably a technical matter.

If the hon. Gentleman and others are concerned about the powers that the Bill would give the Government and wish to table further amendments in lieu of amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 4, or if they want the Government to deal with the matter on Report, we shall be as helpful as we can. However, I am happy to accept amendment No. 2 if the Committee so desires. As I say, it would make orders subject to the affirmative resolution procedure that would otherwise have been subject to the negative procedure.

I turn to the previous private Member's Bill on fireworks, which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Linda Gilroy). The concerns that were expressed at that time have already been addressed. Clause 1(2) and clause 14(3) provide powers to introduce regulations. The regulations that existed at the time that the previous Bill was discussed are those that were thought to cause problems. The regulations are now secure.

Regulations under those powers are to be subject to affirmative procedure. It may be that some of the difficulties or potential concerns that the hon. Member for Blaby has just outlined are addressed by different drafting in the present Bill. That addresses part of the problem.

I am happy to accept amendment No. 2 and to look at the need for further amendments. However, amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 4 cannot be accepted.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I am grateful to the Minister for her very reasonable stand on the matter. As she will know, the Opposition do not necessarily have the benefit of extensive parliamentary counsel assistance. If it is the view of parliamentary counsel that amendments Nos. 1, 3 and 4 are defective, I understand that they will not be allowable. Given that, and her reasonable assurance that, if necessary, she will come forward on Report with amendments to the Bill, I am happy to withdraw the amendment. I ask that she write to me and other members of the Committee so we shall know exactly what will happen on Report.

I shall not press the amendments. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.