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Session 2002 - 03
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Fireworks Bill


 

These notes refer to the Fireworks Bill
as brought from the House of Commons on 16th June 2003 [HL Bill 77]

FIREWORKS BILL


EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1.     These Explanatory Notes relate to the Fireworks Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 16th June 2003. They have been prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry, with the consent of the Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, the Peer in charge of the Bill, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The Notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.

SUMMARY

3.     The Bill makes provision for the Secretary of State to make regulations ("fireworks regulations") which will regulate the supply and use of fireworks.

4.     The existing powers of the Secretary of State to make regulations ("safety regulations") under section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 ("the 1987 Act") are not adequate to deal with fireworks as those powers are limited to the supply (as opposed to the use) of consumer goods. The Bill also contains provisions, such as those in clause 10 relating to training courses, that are incidental to the supply of fireworks.

5.     As a consequence of the provisions of the Bill relating to the making of fireworks regulations, certain provisions of the Explosives Act 1875 concerning the sale of gunpowder on highways, the sale of gunpowder to children, the packaging and labelling of gunpowder and the offence of throwing fireworks in a thoroughfare are superseded and therefore repealed by clause 15 and the Schedule.

COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES

Clause 1: Introduction

6.     Subsection (1) defines the term "fireworks" used in the Bill and subsection (2) provides for a new definition to be substituted by the Secretary of State by regulations.

7.      Subsection (3) clarifies the meaning of "supplying fireworks" as referred to in the Bill.

Clause 2: Power to make regulations about fireworks

8.     Subsection (1) provides that the Secretary of State may by fireworks regulations make provision for securing that there is no risk that the use of the fireworks will have the consequences specified in subsection (2) (namely death, injury or distress to persons or animals (and also alarm or anxiety to persons) or destruction of, or damage to, property) or that such risk is the minimum that is compatible with fireworks being used.

9.     Subsection (3) requires the Secretary of State to undertake consultation before making fireworks regulations unless subsection (5) concerning an urgent need to protect the public applies.

10.     Subsections (6) and (8) clarify the power of the Secretary of State to make fireworks regulations, and subsection (7) applies section 18 of the 1987 Act (which empowers the Secretary of State to require information to be furnished to her) in relation to fireworks regulations.

Clause 3: Prohibition of supply etc. to young persons

11.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the supply of fireworks to persons below a specified age.

12.     Subsection (2) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the purchase or possession of fireworks by persons below a specified age.

13.     Subsection (3) provides that an exception or dispensation from such prohibition may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

Clause 4: Prohibition of supply etc. in certain circumstances

14.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the supply, purchase, possession or use of fireworks during specified hours of the day.

15.     Subsection (2) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the supply, exposing for supply, purchase, possession or use of fireworks at specified places or in specified circumstances.

16.     Subsection (3) provides that an exception or dispensation from such prohibition may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

Clause 5: Prohibition of supply etc. of certain fireworks

17.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the supply of fireworks of a specified description or prohibiting such supply to persons of a specified description.

18.     Subsection (2) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the purchase or possession of fireworks of a specified description or prohibiting such purchase or possession by persons of a specified description.

19.     Subsection (4) provides that such specified description of persons includes persons who do not satisfy any specified conditions that relate to the matters mentioned in subsection (5) as regards training, experience and insurance cover.

20.     Subsection (6) provides that an exception or dispensation from such prohibition may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

Clause 6: Public fireworks displays

21.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting the operation of public fireworks displays unless specified conditions are complied with including the giving of notice and other information and the payment of required fees.

22.     Subsection (2) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting persons from operating public fireworks displays unless specified conditions are complied with including any conditions relating to training.

23.     Subsection (3) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting persons from operating or assisting in the operation of public fireworks displays if they are below a specified age.

24.     Subsection (4) provides that an exception or dispensation from such prohibition may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

25.     Subsection (5) defines the term "public fireworks display". These will not include private parties and private club functions from which the public are excluded.

Clause 7: Licensing of suppliers

26.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting persons from supplying, exposing for supply or possessing for supply fireworks unless they and the premises at which the fireworks are kept are licensed.

27.     Subsection (2) provides for the licensing arrangements if such a prohibition is imposed.

28.     Subsections (3) and (4) provide that a person may not be licensed unless specified conditions, including conditions relating to training, are satisfied.

29.     Subsection (5) provides that an exception or dispensation from such prohibition may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

Clause 8: Information about fireworks

30.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision for securing that appropriate information is given and inappropriate information is not given in relation to fireworks. Such information may by subsection (2) include marks, warnings and instructions to be given on or with fireworks.

31.     Subsection (3) provides that an exception or dispensation from such requirement may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

32.     Subsection (4) provides that if such requirement is imposed, the fireworks regulations may require the keeping of records by any person to whom information is given.

Clause 9: Prohibition of importation etc. of fireworks

33.     Subsection (1) provides that fireworks regulations may include provision prohibiting fireworks from being imported, having their manufacture completed or being placed on the market unless requirements to give information have been satisfied.

34.     Subsection (2) provides that if the prohibition concerns the completion of manufacture or placing on the market, the fireworks regulations shall specify the circumstances in which a person completes the manufacture of the fireworks or places the fireworks on the market.

35.     Subsection (3) provides that an exception or dispensation from such prohibition may be contained in the fireworks regulations.

36.     Subsection (4) provides that if such prohibition is imposed, the fireworks regulations may require the keeping of records by any person to whom information is given.

Clause 10: Training courses

37.     Subsection (1) provides that where fireworks regulations specify conditions relating to training, the regulations may also make provision for the creation and provision of training courses to be provided by the Secretary of State, bodies established or recognised by the Secretary of State or by licensed persons.

38.     Subsections (2) to (5) provide for the licensing arrangements and the running of courses if such training courses are to be provided by licensed persons.

Clause 11: Offences

39.     The following offences are created by subsections (1) to (3):

    (a)     contravening a prohibition imposed by fireworks regulations,

    (b)     failing to comply with a requirement imposed in or under fireworks regulations to give or not give information, and

    (c)     knowingly or recklessly making a statement which is false in a material particular when a requirement to give information is imposed by or under fireworks regulations.

40.     Subsection (4) provides that the maximum penalty is six months' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000) or both.

41.     Subsection (5) provides that fireworks regulations may not provide that any contravention of the regulations are an offence.

42.     Subsection (6) applies certain provisions of section 11 of the 1987 Act concerning the commencement of proceedings to fireworks regulations as to safety regulations.

43.     Subsection (7) applies section 39 of the 1987 Act (defence of due diligence) to certain offences under this clause.

44.     Subsection (8) provides a defence for a contravention of a prohibition under clause 3(1) for a person to show that he had no reason to suspect that the person supplied the fireworks was below the age specified.

45.     Subsection (9) applies section 40(2) and (3) of the 1987 Act (offences by bodies corporate) to an offence under this clause as to an offence under the 1987 Act.

Clause 12: Enforcement

46.     Subsections (1) and (2) apply certain provisions of the 1987 Act concerning enforcement to fireworks regulations as to safety regulations.

47.     Subsection (3) amends Schedules 14 and 15 to the Enterprise Act 2002 for the purpose of restricting the disclosure of information obtained by the Secretary of State in the exercise of any function under the Bill.

Clause 13: Savings for certain privileges

48.     This applies the provisions of section 47 of the 1987 Act to the Bill. That section preserves a person's right to claim privilege in refusing to answer questions or produce documents.

Clause 14: Prohibition of supply etc. of other explosives

49.     Subsection (1) extends the power to make regulations conferred by clause 3 or clause 4(2) so as to cover explosives other than fireworks (as defined in subsection (2) and in respect of which a new definition of "explosives" may be substituted by regulations by the Secretary of State under subsection (3)).

Clause 15: Repeals and revocation

50.     Clause 15 brings the Schedule to the Bill into effect.

FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE BILL

51.     The regulation of public firework displays under clause 6 and the licensing of suppliers under clause 7 will involve expenditure by local or other authorities. The provision under clause 10 of training courses by the Secretary of State, recognised bodies or licensed persons may also involve expenditure. Expenditure under clauses 6, 7 and 10 may be recovered through fees.

52.     Enforcement of fireworks regulations by virtue of clause 12 (which will be carried out by bodies which are enforcement authorities for the purposes of the 1987 Act) may involve an increase in expenditure by those authorities.

EFFECTS OF THE BILL ON PUBLIC SERVICE MANPOWER

53.     The Bill will have no effect on central government staff numbers. It is anticipated that where fireworks regulations confer power on the Secretary of State to provide training courses, such courses would be provided by contractors. Depending on the content of fireworks regulations, the Bill may have an impact on local government numbers. The extent of any such impact will be considered when specific fireworks regulations are proposed.

REGULATORY APPRAISAL

54.     A Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment has been prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry.

COMMENCEMENT

55.     The Bill will be brought into force on an appointed day.

TERRITORIAL APPLICATION: WALES, SCOTLAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

56.     The Bill extends to England and Wales and Scotland but not to Northern Ireland. The Bill will have no effect on the functions of the National Assembly for Wales as functions relating to fireworks will not be devolved as regards Wales.

 
 
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Prepared: 17 June 2003