HC Deb 24 May 1999 vol 332 c11W
Mr. Burden

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the levels of harassment and nuisance caused by misuse of fireworks. [84694]

Mr. Boateng

I have been asked to reply.

Fireworks, provided they are used sensibly and safely, can provide pleasant entertainment. I am, however, aware that the thoughtless misuse of fireworks by a small element of the population, mostly unsupervised children, can result in local disturbance, nuisance and harassment.

It is important, therefore, to regulate the sale of fireworks. Relevant legislation comprises the Explosives Act 1875, as modified by the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 and as amended by the Explosives (Age of Purchase) Act 1976, the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997. Under the 1875 Act, it is an offence to discharge a firework in a street or public place. The 1997 Regulations, among other provisions, make it an offence to sell certain types of firework to any members of the general public and to sell other types to anyone under 18, or in some cases, under 16. There is a maximum penalty of £5,000 or six months' imprisonment or both.

For over 20 years, Government-organised firework safety awareness campaigns run in collaboration with local authority trading standards departments, fire services and the fireworks industry have aimed to heighten awareness of the dangers from the misuse of fireworks. The Government consider the safety of the public as paramount and will keep under consideration the effectiveness and coherence of legislation, policies and strategies to ensure that problems and potential problems are addressed in a practical way.