Government confirms no plans to change firework legislation

Wednesday, 28th November 2018

FOLLOWING a petition regarding the sale and use of Fireworks, the Government has confirmed that it has no plans to change legislation.

Fireworks have been common practice for hundreds of years and I am sure we all have some fond memories of magical displays. The use of fireworks by the general public however, seems to have increased year-on-year, much to the annoyance of many, from looking at Social Media comments.

Locally this year of course, we saw a huge blaze which destroyed a medical centre and is believed to have been caused by a stray firework. You can read about that here.

This year an online petition was started, asking for the government to ban the sale of fireworks to the public and to restrict displays to licenced venues only. This petition gathered momentum and to this date has nearly 300,000 signatures and can be seen here. Although the total number of signatures appears to be a high number, it was only signed by 810 people in the Tamworth constituency, this is less than 1.0% of the constituents.

Once a petition to the Government reaches 10,000 signatures, the government will respond to the petition.  In response to the fireworks petition, the Government said that it notes “the strong feelings that many people have about fireworks” but added that “fireworks have played a part in the UK’s history, and have been used for celebrations by many of our cultures”.

They go on to say “We believe the legislation and guidance already in place is appropriate to allow for the safe use of fireworks by the public; therefore, we have no plans to ban private sales”.

However, as the petition has been signed over 100,000 times, this has triggered a parliamentary debate on the subject. The debate was held in Westminster Hall on Monday 26 November and was opened by Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee.  The debate lasted nearly three hours.

It is worth knowing however that petition debates in Westminster Hall however, cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition.

The Debate

The Legislation

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 are designed to tackle the anti-social use of fireworks. Since January 2005 the sale of fireworks to the public is prohibited, except from licensed traders. However, fireworks can be sold by unlicensed traders for:

  • Chinese New Year and the preceding three days,
  • Diwali and the proceeding three days,
  • Bonfire Night celebrations (15 October to 10 November), and
  • New Year celebrations (26 to 31 December).

Under the 2004 Regulations, it is an offence to use fireworks after 11pm and before 7am without permission (except on permitted fireworks nights when the times are extended).

There are various categories of fireworks. Category F1 fireworks present a very low hazard and are intended for use in confined areas, including inside domestic buildings. Categories F2 and F3 fireworks are on general sale to the public but only category F2 fireworks are intended for outdoor use in confined areas (such as a small garden).

Under the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015, a retailer must not sell category F1 fireworks to anyone under the age of 16. Category F2 and F3  fireworks must not be sold to anyone under 18. The most powerful F4 category fireworks (display fireworks) must not be sold to members of the public; they can only be supplied to a person with specialist knowledge. These measures are specifically designed to promote consumer safety.