|Debate considers firework petition
A debate took place in Westminster Hall in the House of Commons on Monday considering a petition that called for the government to 'Change the laws governing the use of fireworks to include a ban on public use.'
Susan Jones, Labour MP for Clywd South, opened the debate and said that there was, 'a strong case' for the private use of fireworks to be restricted to the 5 November, New Years Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year.
Ms Jones quoted from a 2005 report by the RSPCA which researched 'Firework fears and phobias in the domestic dog.' Nearly half of respondents reported that their dog was frightened of load noises. Forty five percent said their dogs showed fearful behaviour when it heard fireworks.
In 2004 the Fireworks (Amendment) Regulations Act made it law that only licensed traders can sell fireworks. However, unlicensed traders can sell them on specific dates around the four celebrations.
It also made it an offence to use fireworks after 11pm and before 7am without permission, except on bonfire night, when the cut-off is midnight and on new year's eve, Chinese new year and Diwali, when the cut-off is 1am.
The petition identified the need for proper statistics about firework-related incidents and Ms Jones called for a proper comprehensive consultation on the issue.
Bill Grant, Conservative MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, an ex-fireman, pointed out, 'As a member of a pet-owning and pet-loving family, I am acutely aware of the stress that fireworks cause many domestic pets.... and we must never forget assistance dogs, such as guide dogs, hearing dogs and companion dogs, which may be unnecessarily distracted from their important duties.
'Of course, many domestic pets are simply unnecessarily petrified by the noise of fireworks, which is often not simply a bang but a screech or a whine. Their hearing is distinctly different from ours. Given the more frequent use of fireworks, we inflict that experience on man's best friend more than just one day a year. Those pets, who are much loved, including by many in the Chamber, are simply inconsolable.'
Replying for the government, Andrew Griffiths, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a new, 'Office for Product Safety and Standards.'
This new body, 'will look at evidence-based policy making, so it will look at the evidence, chase down and identify where the risks are, and—where necessary—come forward with suggestions and advice to Government.' It will be able to make recommendations about banning items, such as fireworks, to ministers.
However, the official response to the petition stated that the government had no plans to change current firework legislation. They said, 'There is legislation in place that controls the sale, use and misuse of fireworks; we have no plans to extend this further.'