HC Deb 20 May 1999 vol 331 cc410-1W
Mr. Burden

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will discuss with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions trends in harassment and nuisance arising from the misuse of fireworks; and if he will make an assessment of the risks to consumer safety arising from such misuse. [84691]

Dr. Howells

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions has no responsibility for the harassment and nuisance issues arising from fireworks.

Firework incidents that occur in the street during the November firework season and require treatment by A&E departments are recorded in the DTI's census of firework injuries, which is conducted over a four-week period covering the run-up to 5 November and a few days afterwards. The summary report of firework injuries treated during the 1998 firework season—a copy of which is in the Library of the House—shows that there was a 12 per cent. drop, from 256 in 1997 to 226 in 1998. in hooligan-related injuries.

The Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997, among other things, introduced controls on the supply of certain fireworks, including some types that are most often misused. These controls, together with a targeted safety campaign, played a significant part in reducing the number of firework injuries and incidents of misuse during the last firework season.

Mr. Burden

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what arrangements are in place to ensure that imported fireworks placed on the market in the United Kingdom have received authorisation and categorisation by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. [84692]

Mr. Meale

I have been asked to reply.

It is a requirement in law that any commercial explosive, including fireworks be classified by the Health and Safety Executive before it is imported into the UK. It is also a requirement under section 40(9) of the Explosives Act 1875 for explosives to be authorised. The conditions for authorisation have been published by the HSE. In the case of fireworks, authorisation is conditional on compliance with the requirements of British Standard 7114:1988. This is also a requirement under the Firework (Safety) Regulations 1997 which are enforced by Local Authority Trading Standards officers.

If satisfied with an application for classification, the HSE issues a Competent Authority Document assigning the fireworks to an appropriate Hazard Classification and United Nations Serial Number. The details of each classified firework are held on a database and published as a list from time to time. The Competent Authority Document also acts to authorise the fireworks but this is subject to the fireworks meeting the relevant conditions for authorisation. Any firework not meeting these conditions would be considered not to be Authorised.

The HSE has enforcement powers under the applicable classification regulations and will take appropriate action where unclassified or unauthorised fireworks are found in the UK. Checks for compliance are made as part of the normal duties of the explosives inspectorate such as inspection of explosives factories and magazines, checks of transport activity, liaison and support to local authorities and investigation of incidents and complaints.

Mr. Burden

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the likely trends in the use of fireworks at the time of the millennium celebrations; and what plans he has to promote consumer safety associated with that use. [84690]

Dr. Howells

It is expected that fireworks will feature in Millennium celebrations, but it is not possible to predict patterns of use. DTI officials are currently working on a publicity strategy to address firework safety issues for the 1999 firework season and the Millennium celebrations. Discussions are also taking place with the fireworks industry about the period when fireworks should be sold and other safety issues associated with the use of fireworks over the Millennium.