HL Deb 02 July 1996 vol 573 cc1433-4

11.10 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Baroness Denton of Wakefield) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 12th June be approved.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move that the Explosives (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1996, a draft of which was laid before the House on 12th June 1996, be approved.

The principal purpose of this short order is to amend the regulation-making power in Section 3(1) of the Explosives Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, so as to provide greater flexibility in the making of fireworks regulations. This change would be effected by Article 3.

The result will provide the Secretary of State with the same powers to make fireworks regulations as he currently has to make explosives regulations in general. At present, Section 3 of the Act restricts the Secretary of State's regulation-making power to matters covering the sale and use of fireworks. The reform proposals published in January this year—which have been generally well received—require a more flexible power. Hence the need to amend the 1970 Act.

The only other significant change is effected by Article 4. This amends the Explosives Act 1875 to make it an offence to sell fireworks to any child apparently under the age of 16 years, and brings the law in Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. I beg to move.

Moved, That the order laid before the House on 12th June 1996 be approved.—(Baroness Denton of Wakefield.)

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, this is a sensible order and I therefore support it, particularly in so far as it gives extra protection to children.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham

My Lords, this is a late hour, a gloomy hour, and particularly well suited to discussing such matters as deaths registration and explosives, For me, it had a brief shaft of light a few moments ago when the noble Lord, Lord Henley, referred to past Liberal and Whig governments.

I feel that the order is probably long overdue; it is certainly accepted on these Benches. But I should like to take this opportunity to say one other thing briefly. I am well aware that the noble Baroness, with her heavy departmental responsibilities, will be aware of what I am about to say. It is this. I am using the rubric of explosives just to say something about the current situation.

I should like to congratulate the Irish Government and the Garda on their discovery of that large cache of explosives recently, and I should like to say how important it is. I trust that the Government agree—particularly at this juncture when the Provisional IRA have turned their backs so conclusively on the course of peace—how vital it is that the two governments continue to work closely together on the issue of security and indeed on the general thrust of the peace process, which must be continued with all possible vigour. I hope the noble Baroness does not mind my intruding those thoughts into the discussion of this amendment order, which I am glad to support.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their support and I would confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Holme, that it continues to be inexplicable that anyone should think that violence has any part in the building of peace in Northern Ireland. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Irish Government and all others who reject violence utterly and totally. This order will bring a little more sensibility into this issue. I commend it to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.