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Session 2005 - 06
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Fireworks (Amendment) Bill


These notes refer to the Fireworks (Amendment) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 20th December 2005 [Bill 106]




1.     These Explanatory Notes relate to the Fireworks (Amendment) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 20 December 2005. They have been prepared by the Member 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.     These 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.


3.     The Fireworks Act 2003 ("the 2003 Act") makes provision for the Secretary of State to make regulations, known as fireworks regulations, to regulate the supply and use of fireworks.

4.     Section 2(1) enables fireworks regulations to be made for the purpose of securing that there is no risk, or minimum risk compatible with the use of fireworks, of three sorts of consequences, set out in section 2(2). They are: (a) death of persons or injury, alarm distress or anxiety to persons; (b) death of animals or injury or distress to animals; and (c) destruction of, or damage to property. By section 2(1), fireworks regulations may contain "any provision which the Secretary of State considers appropriate" for that purpose. Further provisions of the 2003 Act make clear that such provision may specifically include prohibition of the supply of specified fireworks to young persons (section 3), prohibition of the supply, possession or use of fireworks at specified times or places (section 4), and outright prohibition of the supply, purchase or possession of specified fireworks (section 5). Section 11 makes contravention of fireworks regulations an offence punishable on summary conviction with up to 6 months' imprisonment or a fine of up to level 5 (currently £5,000) or both.

[Bill 106—EN]     54/1

5.     Pursuant to the 2003 Act, on 14 July 2004 the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made the Fireworks Regulations 2004, SI 2004 No. 1836 ("the 2004 Regulations"). These impose a variety of prohibitions, some subject to exceptions, on the supply, possession and use of fireworks.

6.     Fireworks are generally classified into four categories. The 2004 Regulations refer to the designations given in Part 1 of the applicable British Standard Specification, BS 7114. Category 1 fireworks are those suitable for use inside domestic buildings. Category 2 fireworks are suitable for outdoor use in relatively confined areas. Category 3 fireworks are suitable for outdoor use in large open spaces. Category 4 fireworks are those which are incomplete or which are not intended for sale to the general public. Regulation 5 of the 2004 Regulations prohibits the possession of a category 4 firework, subject to exceptions contained in regulation 6 (which permits possession of such fireworks by such persons as local authority officers and people involved in professional displays). Regulation 8 prohibits the supply of "excessively loud category 3 fireworks", viz. those producing a maximum sound pressure exceeding 120dB(AI) (that is, the A-weighted impulsive sound pressure level) measured at a horizontal distance of 15 metres from the device.

7.     The Bill provides that fireworks producing a maximum sound pressure exceeding 97 dBAI (that is, the A-weighted impulsive sound pressure level) measured at a horizontal distance of 15 metres from the device will no longer be available to members of the public.

8.     Most if not all such fireworks currently available to the public will be in category 3: category 4 fireworks are not generally available to the public, and few if any category 1 or 2 fireworks will offend this threshold. Moreover section 5(3) of the 2003 Act restricts the range of prohibitions that can be placed on category 1 or 2 fireworks (section 5(3) erroneously refers to these as "class 1" and "class 2" fireworks). The Bill therefore focuses on category 3 fireworks.

9.     The intention of the Bill is to ensure that where fireworks regulations are made containing any prohibition designed to remove or minimise the risk of the consequences defined in s. 2(2)(a) or (b), the prohibition extends to loud category 3 fireworks, ie. those exceeding the noise threshold of 97 dBAI at 15 metres. The 2003 Act, as amended by the Bill, remains an enabling Act: it will still be up to the Secretary of State whether or not to make fireworks regulations containing prohibitions.

10.     The Bill includes consequential amendments to the 2004 Regulations to bring the prohibitions they contain into line with the requirements of the amended 2003 Act.


11.     The 2003 Act applies to the whole of Great Britain, as do certain provisions of the 2004 Regulations. However, the subject-matter is devolved as regards Scotland, and separate fireworks regulations were made by the Scottish Ministers on 13 September 2004 (the

Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations 2004, SSI 2004 No. 393). The Bill extends to England and Wales only.


Clause 1: Amendment of 2003 Act

12.     Clause 1 makes three amendments to the 2003 Act. The main change is the insertion, by subsection (1), of a new section 5A after section 5. The new section works by reference to a new Schedule 1 to the 2003 Act, inserted by subsection (2). Subsection (3) numbers the 2003 Act's existing Schedule as Schedule 2.

13.     New section 5A makes the following provision.

14.     New subsection (1) defines the circumstances in which a prohibition imposed by fireworks regulations must extend to loud category 3 fireworks. The relevant consequences (section 2(2) of the 2003 Act) are (a) death of persons or injury, alarm distress or anxiety to persons; and (b) death of animals or injury or distress to animals.

15.     "Category 3 firework" is not expressly defined, but relates to the well-known device categories 1 to 4 reflected in BS 7114 Part 1. Section 5(3) of the 2003 Act likewise makes reference to the numbered categories of fireworks; Parliament found it unnecessary to include an express definition.

16.     The definition of "loud firework" is provided by new subsections (2), (3) and (4). A loud firework is one which does not meet the noise requirement. The noise requirement is that the firework has met the limit of 97 dBAI at a distance of 15 metres on what is in effect type-testing in accordance with the applicable British Standard, BS 7114 Part 3, as modified by new Schedule 1 to create the necessary test specification. See the commentary on Schedule 1, below.

17.     Paragraph (b) of new subsection (4) provides a mechanism to accommodate the issue of a British Standard specification replacing BS 7114 Part 3. The Secretary of State must make, by fireworks regulations, the modifications to the replacement British Standard that he considers necessary to give the replacement the same effect as BS 7114 Part 3 as modified by new Schedule 1. A European Standard, EN 14035-28:2004 has been partially issued, and is expected in due course to supersede Parts 2 and 3 of BS 7114. The language of paragraph (b) covers the possibility of partial as well as complete replacement of BS 7114 Part 3.

18.     The regulations will be subject to negative resolution.

Clause 2: Consequential amendments (Schedule 2)

19.     Clause 2 introduces Schedule 2. The 2004 Regulations were made for purposes referable to the consequences specified at 2003 Act section 2(2)(a) and (b). Schedule 2 brings them into line with the requirements of new section 5A by extending the prohibitions they contain to loud category 3 fireworks. See further the commentary on Schedule 2, below.

Clause 3: Short title, commencement and extent

20.     Subsection (3) limits the territorial extent of the Bill to England and Wales.

Schedule 1: New Schedule 1 to the 2003 Act

21.     New Schedule 1 to the 2003 Act, set out in Schedule 1, contains modifications to the relevant test specifications set out in BS 7714 Part 3 giving effect to the threshold of 97 dBAI at a distance of 15 metres which new section 5A(3) imposes for category 3 fireworks.

22.     The first modification (paragraph 1) inserts a noise test. The measurement "LAImax" is the maximum A-weighted impulsive sound pressure level. The maximum sound pressure level is the most accurate reflection of the impact of the report as perceived by the humans and animals who hear it. The vertical height of 1 metre and horizontal distance of 15 metres emulate the standard European test parameters for category 3 fireworks. The second modification (paragraph 2) requires the result of the noise test to be recorded.

Schedule 2: Consequential amendments

23.     The 2004 Regulations, so far as applying to England and Wales, are the only enactment requiring amendment as a result of the Bill.

24.     Each relevant prohibition - those imposed by regulations 5, 7 and 8 - is extended or modified to cover loud category 3 fireworks. Any exceptions to which each prohibition is currently subject will apply equally to loud category 3 fireworks. While regulations 4, 9 and 10 contain prohibitions, there is no need to amend them because a loud category 3 firework will invariably be an "adult firework" within the regulation 3 definition. Regulation 11 applies indiscriminately to all fireworks and requires no amendment.

25.     The making of these amendments by Parliament does not elevate any provision of the 2004 Regulations to the status of primary legislation. It remains open to the Secretary of State to amend or revoke them in the usual way, so long as the content of the provisions in force from time to time complies with the duty created by new section 5A.


26.     This is not a Government Bill so requires no statement under section 19(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998. However, in the view of the Member in charge, the provisions of the Fireworks (Amendment) Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.


27.     Clause 3(2) postpones commencement of the Bill to three months after Royal Assent. That is considered appropriate given that the Bill amends the 2004 Regulations by enlarging the scope of prohibitions punishable by criminal sanctions.

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