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Petitions Committee launches fireworks inquiry

27 February 2019

The Petitions Committee launches an inquiry into fireworks law, including the case for a ban on public sale and use. It follows almost 750,000 people signing petitions expressing concern about fireworks through the site in the last three years.

11 open petitions calling for stricter fireworks regulations

A current petition by Amy Cullen, signed by nearly 300,000 people, calls for a ban on the sale of fireworks to the public and for fireworks displays to be restricted to licenced venues.

The petitioner wrote:

“Every year fireworks are set off unnecessarily.  Fireworks are a nuisance to the public. They scare animals, young children and people with a phobia.  They injure thousands of people every year. They cause damage to buildings, vehicles, emergency vehicles and lastly kids are still being sold them.”

There are 11 open petitions calling for stricter fireworks regulations.

Other recent popular petitions have raised concerns ranging from the impact on veterans, particularly those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), public nuisance effects, particularly noise effects on children and animals, and concerns about the use of fireworks as weapons, injuries and the effects on the emergency services.

Another 11 petitions closed in 2018, among the most popular was Change the laws governing the use of fireworks to include a ban on public use, which attracted 113,000 signatures.

The Government says it recognises these concerns but also acknowledges the enjoyment provided by fireworks and their cultural significance in the history of the UK and to religions including Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.

It believes current legislation and guidance strikes the right balance between allowing enjoyment of fireworks, respecting traditions, ensuring safely and avoiding undue nuisance.

The Committee will investigate this by gathering formal evidence from the relevant public bodies and fireworks experts and is also appealing to people who have signed petitions to share their views via a survey.

Chair's comments

Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The petitions system has provided hundreds of thousands of people with a way to voice their views about fireworks.

Through the scores of petitions we have received on this it is clear that public feeling about fireworks is very strong, and there is a real need to scrutinise the current laws.

The Government believes the rules on fireworks are effective, but the law hasn't been looked at for some time.

We want to make sure the law and rules strike the right balance between respecting traditions, allowing the enjoyment of fireworks and protecting people, animals and property.”

Send us your views

For the first part of the inquiry, the Committee is asking for submissions of up to 3,000 words answering one or more of the questions below.

Does the law provide an appropriate balance between allowing for the safe enjoyment of fireworks by the public and minimising the risk of fireworks harming people, property or animals? Examples of the sorts of things you might like to talk about in reply to this question are:

    • Are the current limits on fireworks by explosive strength appropriate?
    • Are current restrictions on public sale and use appropriate?
    • Are current restrictions on noise levels appropriate?
    • Are current age restrictions appropriate?
    • Are safety standards stringent enough? If not, how should they be strengthened?

        How effectively are the existing laws enforced by local authorities, trading standards, the police and others?

          • How might this be done differently?

              How do the roles of public and private firework displays differ?

                • Could public firework displays more widely fulfil the role of private displays? If not, what prevents them from doing so?

                    What evidence do we have about how dangerous or safe different types of firework displays—public and private—are?

                        • Do we have enough data to give good answers to these questions?

                            How should laws around fireworks take account of the needs of particular groups such as the emergency services, retailers, cultural and religious communities, veterans, children or people with disabilities?

                            Should there be specific rules to protect animals?

                            Are the public and event organisers sufficiently aware of the necessary safety precautions when using fireworks?

                              • How could awareness be improved?

                                If you would like to make a submission, please do so no later than 5pm on Monday 8 April, using our online portal.

                                Further information

                                Image: iStockphoto