More action needed, say MPs, as Government stands firm on firework law *H&H Plus*

  • MPs debated the latest petition calling for changes in firework law. H&H follows the debate, and seeks welfare charities’ and campaigners’ views

    THE MP of a constituency where a horse died from stress caused by fireworks said a safety campaign is “not enough”, as the Government states a ban on firework sales could have “unintended consequences”.

    A parliament debate on 2 November followed the 2019 petition calling for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public, which received more than 305,579 signatures.

    Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi, who led the debate, said the fact the sale of fireworks has continued means there has been a rise in antisocial behaviour, and added there will be more accidents.

    “Facts are facts; fireworks are potentially very dangerous. If we want to be seen to be acting responsibly, the Government should ban the sale of fireworks,” she said.

    “In my constituency a couple of years ago, I saw a horse lose its life from the stress caused by fireworks continually going off. That is unacceptable.”

    Paul Scully, parliamentary under-secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said the Government understands the “strong feelings” about fireworks but that a ban does not mean the issue will disappear – and can “often have the opposite effect and create unintended consequences”. He added there is legislation to help ensure public safety, including powers to prosecute.

    Mr Scully highlighted the Office for Product Safety Standards (OPSS) awareness campaign launched on 20 October (news 5 November), and said the OPSS has commissioned a testing programme to determine the noise level of common types of fireworks sold for public use – but Ms Antoniazzi said the campaign was “not enough” and “not satisfactory”.

    The RSPCA told H&H it is “encouraged” by the debate and said the organisation is contributing to the noise report.

    World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers told H&H the charity welcomes the debate and noise testing.

    “A review in Scotland has seen additional measures proposed including restricting days and times fireworks can be set off – which would give owners greater certainty as to when they need to put management systems in place,” he said.

    “There is no getting away from the fact fireworks cause horses distress, so we have to find a better way of minimising this.”

    The Scottish proposals were the result of a report published by the Fireworks Review Group to the Scottish Government on 3 November. Other proposals include introducing a mandatory online training course and fee before someone can buy fireworks.

    Julie Doorne, of the FAB Fireworks Campaign, told H&H that the group’s 2020 petition – calling for a limit on the sale and use to organisers of licensed displays only – reached more than 117,000 signatures yesterday.

    “The Government’s response to the 2019 debate was disappointing, but we are expecting a more considered response to our 2020 petition once it’s debated at parliament next year,” she said.