MPs debated whether or not the sale of fireworks should be drastically limited in Parliament yesterday.
The debate took place after a petition calling for a clampdown on firework sales and displays to be limited to those licensed by local councils was signed by more than 300,000 people, and backed by a number of human and animal welfare charities.
The petition – which was live last year, and amassed hundreds of thousands of signatures – says the current law “allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause.”
But campaigners who backed the petition said noisy fireworks cause “distress” to vulnerable people and animals.
The proposed sales clampdown would spell the end of many annual domestic firework displays.
During the debate, concerns were raised over a number of issues relating to firework sales and displays, including about the impact of fireworks on newborn children, with Alex Davies-Jones – MP for Pontypridd – saying: “There has been little terms of progress for practical change [and although] a well-organised fireworks display is something people look forward to, we must consider the impacts it has on some.”
MP Justin Madders switched the debate over to animal welfare, by referencing an incident where a dog in his constituency of Ellesmere Port jumped from a first-floor window and ran onto a motorway, adding: “The fact she reacted how she did shows how she must have been feeling.”
MPs also heard claims that over 100 people a year end up in hospital after firework-related incidents.
Over 4,000 animals require support due to fireworks too.
Darlington MP Peter Gibson then acknowledged the claims and said he “understands” the concerns of pet owners, but said a ban would be “counter-productive”, and added that: “We all know how special November 5 can be and many look forward to dazzling fireworks and bonfire shows, however many are afraid and we know fireworks can be used as weapons.
“As a dog owner myself, I well understand the concerns of Darlington pet owners.”
He also referenced that anti-social abuse of fireworks continues around the country, and particularly highlighted fireworks bought online, rather than in supermarkets and dedicated firework shops.
Summarising the points heard in the debate and addressing the issue, Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “I am grateful to members of the public who signed this e-petition. An outright ban on fireworks and an outright ban to the sale to the public is not appropriate.
“We have concerns banning fireworks in this way could have significantly adverse and unintended consequences on public safety perpetuating the emergence of a black market of illicit fireworks.
“There was a reason in the 2019 debate, yes it was an election, and there was an enquiry and the evidence given did align with the current view, that included the police chiefs council and fire chiefs council.
“This debate looks at the impact on vulnerable people and animals.”
Mr Scully says he “sympathised” with animals, and said the government carried out a programme on firework safety.
Following yesterday’s debate, it was heard that further debates would be required in the House of Commons should anything be amended legislatively in the future.
Featured Image – Hippopx