HC Deb 16 January 1964 vol 687 cc390-2
18. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now publish in the Official Report the statistics of accidents caused by fireworks between 14th October and 9th November. 1963, together with the comparable figures for 1962; and what further action he is proposing to take to reduce the number of such accidents.

Mr. Woodhouse

I am circulating the figures in the Official Report. My right hon. Friend is sending copies to the British, Firework Manufacturers'Safety Association with a view to discussion of the figures between the Home Office and the Association at a meeting early next month.

Mr. Boyden

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I am grateful to the Home Office for the trouble that it has taken in providing these figures? Can he say whether the steps taken by the trade in respect of bangers and the handling of fireworks, and the precautions that they have introduced this year, have had any effect in reducing the number of accidents?

Mr. Woodhouse

I am glad to assure the hon. Member that in respect of bangers the figures of accidents are distinctly smaller this year than they were last year. I am glad to say that nearly all the figures are smaller, but for bangers they are more conspicuously so. As for the precautions about handling, it would be wise for me not to make any further statement until the figures have been analysed and examined.

Mrs. McLaughlin

Is my hon. Friend aware that this year a considerable number of these bangers were still available in the shops and that where they were not available in the ordinary form they were obtainable in a converted type of firework? They were the original type in a doctored form. When discussing these matters with the Firework Manufacturers'Safety Association, will my hon. Friend see that this kind of alteration is investigated seriously, and that the manufacturers will not be allowed to treat this safety matter as being secondary in importance to sales?

Mr. Woodhouse

I can gladly give my hon. Friend the assurance for which she asked in the last part of her supplementary question. The question of the conversion of bangers into other types of firework is a matter which I am sure the Association will wish to look into.

Mr. Snow

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are bangers and bangers? Is he aware that a rather undesirable practice has been developing on the part of some youths in London, to which the police have as yet not paid sufficient attention, of creating a devastating explosion by the judicious mixture of weed killer and sugar, and that there have been complaints in the Westminster City Council area about this practice, which has become extremely dangerous?

Mr. Woodhouse

I will gladly pay attention to that point. I am aware that there are bangers and bangers. In fact, this year the manufacturers took off the market the cheaper bangers—the penny ones—which were the most damaging. I will certainly pay attention to the point which the hon. Member has raised about the "do-it-yourself" type of firework.

Following is the information:

Fireworks Injuries in England and Wales, 1963

The figures given below analyse in various ways information obtained from hospitals in England and Wales relating to the 2,461 persons who received hospital treatment for injuries caused by fireworks between 14th October and 9th November,1963. The figures in brackets are those for the comparable four-week period (15th October to 10th November) last year, when the total number of persons involved was 2,832.

A. Place where injury occurred
(i) Family or private party 1,144 (1,200)
(ii) Public or semi-public party in park or open space, e.g., sports club 372 (531)
(iii) Casual incident in street 717 (816)
(iv) Other places 89 (161)
(v) Unknown 139 (124)
B. Type of firework involved
(i) Banger 885 (1,236)
(ii) Rocket 280 (266)
(iii) Jumping cracker 237 (270)
(iv) Display firework (e.g., roman candle) 447 (483)
(v) Other than above (including home-made firework) 181 (206)
(vi) Unknown 431 (371)
C. Circumstances leading to injury
(i) Ignition in pocket 78 (157)
(ii) Accidental ignition in box or container 80 (115)
(iii) Examining firework after faulty or delayed ignition 302 (371)
(iv) Holding firework in hand 548 (570)
(v) Deliberate misuse 545 (645)
(vi) Other causes 555 (637)
(vii) Unknown 353 (337)
D. Age groups of person injured
(i) Over 21 398 (418)
(ii) 16–20 222 (264)
(iii) 13–15 509 (664)
(iv) Under 13 1,332 (1,486)
E. Nature of injury
(i) Eye 916 (1,038)
(ii) Face 493 (642)
(iii) Hand 827 (978)
(iv) Other parts of body 518 (687)
(These figures total more than 2,461 because some victims received injuries in two or more of the categories.)
F. Severity of injury
(i) Died 0 (0)
(ii) Admitted to hospital 332 (483)
(iii) Not admitted to hospital but injury severe 387 (505)
(iv) Minor injury 1,729 (1,828)
(v) Unknown 13 (16)