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Mr. Leigh: I have not said that I do not want the Bill to succeed. I want to improve it. To be honest, the industry is in a dreadful cleft stick. It believes that if the Bill does not—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Once again, I remind the hon. Gentleman of the narrowness of the amendment and of the need to contain his remarks to it.

Mr. Leigh: I shall try to respond to my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Dr. Murrison) later. He made a serious point.

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I want to ensure that the Bill deals with the main evil—if there is an evil—of people who do not worry about other people and deliberately set out to cause distress and noise. Looking at recent history and what is contained in regulations, Acts of Parliament and announcements by the industry and the Minister, I do not believe that those serious powers need to apply to class 1 and 2 fireworks, the traditional fireworks that we buy and take home for our own firework displays. I hope that the Minister reassures us on that.

Mr. Bill Tynan (Hamilton, South): I was reluctant to get involved in the debate, but arguments are being developed that are not relevant to the Bill. We have a proposal on the noise level, whether it be 120 or 95 dB. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has argued strongly for 95 dB. When I embarked on the Bill, I tried to get as much consensus as possible. People might think that that is not the right way to proceed, but I think that it is better to get agreement on how we move forward than constantly to bicker about the issues raised by fireworks legislation.

10.45 am

I tried to draw all the strands together and spent considerable time with the voluntary organisations because I thought that their views were important. I also wanted to reassure the British Fireworks Association and the explosives industry group that there was a problem with which we had to deal. The 120 dB has been discussed in Europe and will probably not come into effect until 2004. We could live with a Bill that included 120 dB. That would be acceptable. It is up to the Minister to say what she thinks about that, but I think that 120 dB is sensible at the moment.

The fireworks industry argued that a level lower than 120 dB would make the composition of fireworks and displays difficult. I attended a "Quiet Please" firework demonstration and understand the problems that the RSPCA raises, but I believe that the inclusion of 120 dB is sensible for the Bill's purposes.

Mr. Chope: I am extremely grateful for what the hon. Gentleman just said. If that position had been made clear earlier we might not have had to spend an hour discussing the subject. Does he intend to table an amendment to that effect in another place? How does he intend to go about that because it is important to stipulate 120 dB in the Bill for the reasons set out earlier?

Mr. Tynan: I must make it clear that the Bill is an enabling Bill to deal with present problems. There is no need to table such an amendment in another place. I hope that my assurances and those given to the British Fireworks Association by the Minister would be sufficient for the hon. Gentleman to accept the Bill as it stands. That would be sensible.

Mr. Leigh: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for replying to the debate in a moderate and sensible manner. He is clearly trying to make progress. With the greatest respect, however, I am afraid that his reassurances are not enough because he is not the Minister responsible. Such an assurance has to come from the Minister when she sums up.

Mr. Tynan: Perhaps it is my Scottish accent or that I talk too quickly and should slow down, but I made the

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point that I hope that the Minister will indicate in her response that 120 dB is satisfactory for the Bill's purposes. I hope that that clarifies the situation.

The hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) mentioned category 1 and 2 fireworks. If we only had fireworks of those categories, we would not have the problems that we do and would not be so concerned. Category 3 and 4 fireworks are the major problem and they are primarily what the Bill attempts to address. It is important to compromise. The last thing I want to do is to accuse Opposition Members of wrecking the Bill, which is important for our constituents. A jocular remark was made about the electorate. The Conservative Front-Bench spokesman said that millions of people enjoy fireworks. So do I. However, they enjoy fireworks when they are used safely and responsibly. That is what the Bill is about; it is not about trying to put pressure on the fireworks industry. We do not want to create a situation in which we cannot make progress with the Bill.

I ask the Minister to accept that category 1 and 2 fireworks are not a problem and that a noise level of 120 dB is not a problem. I hope that we can have a sensible debate on that basis. Until now, we have been prevaricating and widening the debate. Obviously, Madam Deputy Speaker, it is for you to determine the limits of the debate, and you have done so efficiently. I want a debate on the issues, not on supposition about what might happen.

Mr. Leigh: We are making a lot of progress, which is what Parliament should be about, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he is summing up the debate. He agrees with us about 120 db and about categories 1 and 2. I cannot remember his exact words, but he seemed to be saying that if there were only category 1 and 2 fireworks, there would be no problem. He has already requested that the Minister state that she does not want to the Bill to apply to those fireworks; do I take it that the hon. Gentleman is prepared for amendments to that effect to be tabled, perhaps in another place?

Mr. Tynan: I will allow the Minister to respond to that question. Other issues have been raised by the amendments which I would like to address, but as I said, 120 dB and category 1 and 2 fireworks are not a problem.

The intention behind the Bill is that fireworks are used responsibly and enjoyably. I am conscious that today is Friday 13—black Friday, as far as many are concerned—and it would be a black day if two Conservative Members were able to destroy the work done over the past few months to reach agreement with all sections of the industry and with voluntary organisations. [Hon. Members: "And the House."] Indeed. I hope that those two Members will be content with what I have said.

Mr. John Baron (Billericay): I want to make it clear that I support the Bill. In particular, I support licensing, so that there will be proper control over the sale of fireworks to the public, and the tightening of controls on

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the import of fireworks, which, in some cases, we know is a public health hazard because of low standards of manufacture.

I suggest to the Minister, however, that clarification about the regulations to be made under clause 1(2) would help the House tremendously. I share the concern expressed by my colleagues, which I believe the hon. Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan) has expressed in the past. We have a natural aversion to enabling powers. I cast no aspersions on the Minister, but the House should be concerned about allowing the Government, at a later stage, to introduce unknown powers or regulations over which we will have no control.

I am not suggesting that the Minister would introduce draconian powers, but it is only right that the House question her on the issue because the measure could be open to all sorts of abuse. We need to know the boundaries and parameters within which the Government are operating, so that we have some idea of what we are agreeing to in this enabling Bill. It goes against the interests of the House easily and freely to give enabling powers without clear guidance as to how the Government will use them. That is the main concern of Conservative Members, who support the Bill overall.

Mr. Robathan : For the benefit of any doubt, I reiterate that Her Majesty's Opposition support the Bill. Valuable points have been made, and I was particularly impressed by the sincerity of the hon. Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Tynan). I know that he has done a great deal of work on the Bill, and we all want it to improve life for our constituents, but that is not to say that it is perfect. We have expressed our concerns before, and the amendments go to the heart of those concerns.

We do not distrust the Minister, but as we all know, Ministers, and Governments, come and go. I hope that the Minister is still here this evening. [Interruption.] Not in the Chamber, although perhaps she would like to stay until then, but in her post. Our major concern is that the Bill gives the Government enormous enabling powers. In his speech on Second Reading, the hon. Member for Hamilton, South said that he did not like enabling Bills. I, too, dislike them, not because I distrust this Minister, but because I distrust the giving of unfettered power to any Government, be they Conservative or Labour.

I want to see my children and, if they become parents, my children's children enjoying fireworks parties, and I want my constituents and their children to enjoy them. I am concerned that the powers in the Bill could, in the hands of a different Government or a different Minister, lead to a complete ban on fireworks. As we have heard, the "Quiet Please" campaign is really about getting rid of fireworks altogether. I did not see the demonstration on Potters Green, but I spoke to some people who were there, and they said that it was a bit of a joke. One wonders what on earth was the point of those fireworks.

I take on board the severe criticism that I have received from my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope), and I accept his blaming me for not adequately scrutinising the Bill in Committee. As I said, however, we want it to proceed—

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