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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 February, 2003, 14:01 GMT
MPs back fireworks crackdown
Fireworks
Fireworks can cause misery to pets and wild animals

Tough restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks have moved a stop closer after MPs backed the plan in the Commons.

Under the proposals, firework parties will have to end at 11pm and sales of fireworks will be restricted to the period leading up to Guy Fawkes Night.

There would be a licensing system for fireworks and the types on sale will be regulated.

The government-backed plans were given an unopposed second reading by the Commons on Friday and will now go on to be considered in detail in committee.

The bill comes in response to an increasing number of complaints by people disturbed or scared by the explosions.

The Fireworks Bill, which has cross-party support, aims to reverse the trend towards year-round firework displays and general misuse which cause misery to residents, pets and wild animals.

The intention is to bring about a year round curfew of 11pm
Bill Tynan
Fireworks will only be freely available for sale for three weeks around 5 November.

The private members' bill, sponsored by Labour MP Bill Tynan, will also make the noisiest fireworks illegal and impose stricter rules on the training of those who give professional displays.

People wanting fireworks for cultural festivities, such as New Year's Eve, Diwali or weddings, will have to go to retailers with a higher form of licence.

Noise

Opening the second reading debate, Mr Tynan said: "There is a general perception that fireworks are getting louder and their use is increasingly extended all year round and becoming later at night."

Lack of licensing of retail outlets, periods of sale and noise levels, together with problems with importation, distribution and storage, all contribute to the nuisance use of fireworks, he said.

"The number of members here today demonstrates the public interest in the bill and the concerns that their constituents have raised over the years," he said.

Under the bill, sales of fireworks to minors would be banned and restrictions imposed on their sale and use.

Bill Tynan
Tynan: Wants to promote the responsible use of fireworks
"The intention is to bring about a year round curfew of 11pm," said Mr Tynan to MPs' cheers, although there would be exceptions such as New Year.

Mr Tynan said it was essential that the supply and movement of fireworks were tracked.

"If we don't do this they can be sold in pubs or clubs, car boot sales or whatever, we have to deal with those rogue retailers and the way to do it is through this bill," he said.

"I foresee a new regime where we respect fireworks as the explosives they are, but recognise their legitimate use."

He added: "This bill is not a killjoy bill - as those with expertise have agreed it's a sensible, considered response to the problems of fireworks misuse."

Mr Tynan said the turnout of MPs at the debate was "incredible" and showed the strength of feeling on the use of fireworks.

Andrew Robathan, for the Tories, gave his support to the "spirit of the bill", but claimed it had been "hugely watered down" to win government support and therefore lacked "substance".

Injuries

Vincent Cable, for the Liberal Democrats, offered his party's unequivocal support for the bill.

But he said: "I think there is a question to be asked about how far this all-embracing legislation is required."

Mr Tynan, MP for Hamilton South, has been working on the bill with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) Fireworks Task Group and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Home Secretary David Blunkett attended the debate, and organisations including the RSPCA and British Medical Association and National Campaign for Firework Safety also support it.

Recent figures have shown that each year some 1,300 people are injured during the bonfire night season.

New powers

Guide Dogs for the Blind have to retire four animals annually because of stress caused by fireworks. Another 150 dogs need further training to deal with problems related to loud bangs at a cost of 27,000 per dog.

Mr Tynan said a voluntary ban on airbombs, which cause up to half of all firework accidents in the street, was not working.

Earlier, Consumer Minister Melanie Johnson said the Fireworks Bill "will provide a raft of new powers to control the misuse of fireworks".

"It aims to put an end to neighbourhood nuisance and anti-social behaviour that is so often seen around bonfire night and beyond, and I welcome it wholeheartedly," she said.




SEE ALSO:
Firework crackdown on way
14 Feb 03 |  Politics
Move to restrict fireworks
07 Nov 02 |  England
Should we ban fireworks?
01 Nov 02 |  Breakfast
Police register fireworks concern
23 Sep 02 |  Scotland


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