I appreciate the concerns that many people and organisations have around the use of fireworks and I recognise the stress and anxiety they can cause to vulnerable people and to pets and livestock. However, I also recognise that most fireworks are used responsibly and provide great enjoyment for many people, particularly as part of festive events.
Since January 2005, the sale of fireworks to the public has been prohibited, except for from licensed traders. However, fireworks can be sold by unlicensed traders for Chinese new year, Diwali, Bonfire Night celebrations and new year. On the use of fireworks, under the Fireworks Regulations 2004, it is an offence to use fireworks after 11pm and before 7am without permission, except on permitted fireworks nights, when the times are extended. The regulations also allow fireworks use by local authority employees to put on displays permitted by the local authority, or for a national public celebration. Overall, I believe that the current regulation around fireworks is satisfactory and that most people but and use fireworks responsibly. I therefore do not support a change in the law.
However, I do believe there remain a number of issues the Government could address. I am concerned, for example, that while local trading standards bodies enforce the laws surrounding fireworks, cuts to local authority budgets have reduced their staffing by up to 56% since 2009. It is difficult to believe that this reduced capacity does not have am effect on their ability to enforce existing regulations. I also believe that the Government should gather statistics on fireworks, and on complaints about their use, so that we can monitor whether more needs to be done to restrict their use in the future. Finally, I believe the Government should look at what it can do to improve public awareness on the responsible use of fireworks, so that those who enjoy them can use them responsibly.
As you will know, a petition on this issue has received over 180,000 signatures and will be considered for a debate in Parliament. I can assure you that I will continue to monitor this issue and will bear in mind the points that have been raised with me.