A BILL proposing a crackdown on the sales of fireworks and which has Government support receives its crucial Second Reading today (February 28th).
Fireworks would only be allowed to be sold for three weeks up to 5 November. Sales would also be restricted to packs costing at least £10, under MP Bill Tynan's proposal. His private members bill aims to reverse the trend towards year-round firework displays and the misuse that cause misery to residents, pets and wild animals.
The Bill has massive support from the general public and has strong cross-party support, as MPs realise that the public are calling for tough restrictions on the use of fireworks.
Stricter licensing governing the retail sale of fireworks will be imposed, with a legal requirement for retailers to keep records of people purchasing fireworks for private events, such as weddings and anniversaries.
Fireworks required for the celebration of cultural festivals such as Diwali and Chinese New Year will be covered by the provisions of the Bill, although the emphasis on large-scale celebrations will be towards organised displays.
Mr Tynan, Labour MP for Hamilton South, has been working on the bill with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) Fireworks Task Group and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
"The misery caused to the general public and domestic and wild animals by the misuse of fireworks is a growing problem all over the UK," he said. "Lack of licensing of retail outlets, periods of sale and noise levels, together with problems with importation, distribution and storage, all contribute to the nuisance use of fireworks. This will promote the responsible use of fireworks by limiting the hours of the day, confining general sale to the public to a relatively short period before 5 November."
The Government have been taken aback by the depth of public feeling against the misuse of fireworks and the demands for stricter controls on their sale and use, and has thrown its weight behind Mr Tynans Bill, which strengthens its chance of success.
Consumer Affairs Minister Melanie Johnson spoke in favour of Mr Tynans Bill, saying: "It aims to put an end to neighbourhood nuisance and anti-social behaviour that is so often seen around bonfire night and beyond, and I welcome it wholeheartedly," she said. "I know the misery that fireworks can cause. There is too much noise, with fireworks being let off late into the night and lasting for far too long beyond the traditional fireworks season."
On the package of measures being put forward, Mr Tynan commented: "We need to deal with fireworks in an effective and comprehensive way. This means controlling and monitoring them from when they are unloaded at Felixstowe or Bootle, to how they are then stored and sold and then limiting the consequences of their use through maximum decibel levels and restrictions on who they can be sold to."
In addition to those areas covered in the draft Bill discussions and consultations are continuing about how best to tackle the issue of noise levels and it is expected that, once these are complete an addition to the Bill will be made to tackle this important area.