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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Lord is, of course, entirely right, but it is common and helpful when that is to take place that noble Lords should give a minimum of notice of the matter they intend to raise by placing a Motion on the Order Paper to oppose the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Lord Haskel: I respond to the noble Lord's point that he made earlier. Eighteen is the current age and there is no expectation that it will be changed.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Prohibition of supply etc. in certain circumstances]:

[Amendment No. 10 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

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On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Renton: I have a short point on Clause 4 of which I have not given notice. I do not consider it necessary for me to have done so. It appears that the supply or use of fireworks will be prohibited by regulations during periods of the year to be specified in regulations. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, what periods of the year he had in mind when he inserted that provision in the Bill?

Lord Monkswell: My understanding is that there is some concern among members of the general public about the selling of fireworks for some time prior to 5th November and also for some time afterwards. What we have set out in the Bill is a power for the Minister to circumscribe the period during which fireworks may be sold. That would be decided after consultation and therefore no specific dates can be mentioned as regards the limitations that are envisaged. I am sure the noble Lord understands that there is genuine public concern about this matter. This is a fall-back power if the sale of fireworks over an extended period of time were to continue.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Prohibition of supply etc. of certain fireworks]:

[Amendment No. 11 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Public fireworks displays]:

[Amendment No. 12 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

On Question, Whether Clause 6 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Haskel: I may anticipate the points that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is to raise but it may be helpful if I deal with two points raised by the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation relating to the concept of public fireworks displays.

First, there was concern that training requirements might discourage traditional firework events put on by clubs such as scout groups, or even backgarden displays. I can confirm on behalf of the Government that there is no intention that events of this sort should be penalised. Where clubs and individuals wished to use the more dangerous types of fireworks it would be the intention to ensure that training was readily accessible to them.

Secondly, the Select Committee sought clarification of what is meant by a "public fireworks display". Specifically there was concern about whether the definition was too widely drawn and might include events of the kind I have just described. I should like to take this opportunity to confirm that we have looked at this matter closely. Clause 6(5) provides that a public fireworks display is one,

    "to which the public, or any section of the public, are admitted (whether or not on payment)".

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The important question to ask about any display is, "is it open to the public, or to a section of the public?". We are firmly of the view that displays at private parties, private club functions, etc., are not public displays, because they are clearly not open to the general public.

Lord Renton: Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, that when a Select Committee of this House has drawn attention to particular provisions in the Bill it must be in order for us to refer to the views of the Select Committee and ask for undertakings, especially when the Select Committee has suggested that undertakings should be asked for.

On that basis, I invite the attention of the Minister to paragraph 11 of the Select Committee's report at the top of page 5, and the indication by the committee that,

    "a Ministerial undertaking might be made [with regard] to ... traditional back garden bonfire night fireworks".

That goes to the heart of the matter. That is where the people of this country will be interested, involved and concerned as to the effect of the Bill. Bearing in mind the view of the Select Committee that on this and other matters mentioned in the paragraph there should be a ministerial undertaking, perhaps the noble Lord would be so good as to add to his remarks. I am sure that the Committee would be appreciative.

Lord Haskel: The point made by my noble friend Lord McIntosh was that it is the usual courtesy of the House to give notice of these questions. As I was not given notice of this matter, I shall have to write to the noble Lord about it.

Lord Renton: The noble Lord was not given notice by me but by the Select Committee. Presumably he read the committee's report; he was obliged to do so.

Lord Haskel: The clarifications and undertakings required by the Select Committee were dealt with in relation to previous amendments and at Second Reading, when I made a statement on many of these points.

Viscount Astor: I am sorry to disagree with the Minister, but in fact the matter did not arise at Second Reading. We did not discuss any of these points. It is only now, when we are examining the detail of the Bill, that we are doing so. However, we should be grateful to the Minister for saying that he will come forward with those clarifications.

Lord Monkswell: My understanding, having glanced at paragraph 11, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is that my noble friend Lord Haskel did effectively give a ministerial undertaking that satisfied both of the questions raised by the Select Committee. We may need to check Hansard to see that the specific wording of the undertaking given directly meets the requirements of the Select Committee. I am fairly sure that it does. However, a reading of Hansard will allow us to appreciate whether that is the case. If it does not, I am sure that we can arrange for undertakings to be given subsequently.

5 Jun 1998 : Column 665

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Training courses]:

4.15 p.m.

Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 12A:

Page 6, line 6, after ("State,") insert--
("( ) authorise the making by the Secretary of State of provision about the charging of fees for the grant or variation of licences,").

The noble Lord said: I suggest that with this amendment we also discuss Amendments Nos. 12B to 12D; they all go together.

First, perhaps I may make a somewhat general comment. I should point out that these and the other amendments outstanding on the Marshalled List were tabled by my noble friend Lord Mancroft. I am sorry to say that my noble friend cannot be present today as he has been taken rather severely ill. My noble friend obtained advice from the Government--that is the euphemistic way of putting it--before he tabled these amendments, and we are grateful to the Government for the help that he was given.

At Second Reading my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Kimball, and others complained that the Bill was merely an enabling Bill which was vague and lacking in safeguards. Its contents were severely criticised by the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation. The amendment I now move and those grouped with it, and other amendments on the Marshalled List, are intended to try to overcome the sweeping delegated powers contained in the Bill, which, as I said at an earlier stage, are quite exceptional. I have never seen anything like it before.

Members of the Committee will see that Amendment No. 12A inserts the words:

    "authorise the making by the Secretary of State of provision about the charging of fees for the grant or variation of licences".

Amendment No. 12C inserts in Clause 10 the words:

    "making by the Secretary of State of provision about the charging of fees for attendance at courses of training in the uses of fireworks, and

    the making by the Secretary of State, or by any body or bodies established or recognised by the Secretary of State under this section".

This is a somewhat technical group of amendments and I do not believe that the Committee will expect a full explanation of them. They are essentially drafting amendments, but they pave the way for a later amendment on affirmative resolutions. I beg to move.

Lord Annaly: I support these amendments. Without them there is no requirement in the Bill that the fees referred to by my noble friend Lord Renton will be approved by the Secretary of State or be subject to a limit specified in regulations. It was the firm recommendation of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation that the fees charged for granting a licence to both training providers and those wishing to attend training courses should either be

5 Jun 1998 : Column 666

approved by the Secretary of State or be subject to a limit specified in regulations. These amendments fulfil that requirement and should be supported.

Lord Haskel: These amendments are acceptable to the Government. They will allow the Secretary of State to specify that fees be set according to a formula which covers costs and allows for a reasonable element of profit but is not excessive.

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