§ 2.40 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government—
§ (1) How many persons were injured by the letting off of fireworks this year;
§ (2) Whether, in view of the increasing amount of hooliganism in Trafalgar Square on 5th November each year, Her Majesty's Government will consider legislation forbidding discharge of fireworks in that area, and substantially increasing the penalties for discharging fireworks on the public highway and in public places.]
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (EARL JELLICOE)
My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister of Health is obtaining from hospitals detailed information about people receiving in or out patient treatment for fireworks injuries between October 15 and November 10. It is hoped that returns from the hospitals will be received in the near future. Thereafter the necessary analysis will be completed as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, I regret that I am unable to give any reliable information about the number of persons injured.
As regards the second part of the Question, it is already an offence under Section 80 of the Explosives Act, 1875, if a person lets off a firework in a street or public place. The maximum penalty is a fine of £5, and consideration will be given to increasing this in the current review of small fines.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for the Answer he has given. I should like to assure him that it will be received with great relief by the police and by the hospital services. May I further ask him whether he is aware that on several occasions in Trafalgar Square fireworks have been thrown into cars stuck at traffic jams, and would he urge most emphatically on his right honourable friend the need for increasing these penalties as soon as possible?
My Lords, I am aware, of course, that there is a considerable degree of noisiness and rowdyism in Trafalgar Square on Guy Fawkes night. However, I should like to point out to my noble friend that the number of persons arrested on Guy Fawkes night this year in Trafalgar Square, for fireworks and other offences, represented a very considerable decrease on the number last year. As regards the second part of his second supplementary question, my right honourable friend is, of course, giving close attention to this matter of the smaller statutory fines.
Arising out of that supplementary question, may I ask Her Majesty's Government whether, bearing in mind that Her Majesty's Government are under considerable pressure to introduce legislation against discrimination on grounds of colour or religion, the celebration of Guy Fawkes night is not contrary to the spirit of that pressure, and ought not to be discontinued altogether?
That is a consideration which I am sure my right honourable friend will bear closely in mind