I write with regard to the Committee's report published
on 10 July on the Fireworks Bill.
I am pleased that the Committee regard the provisions
of the bill as generally acceptable. But I have also noted the
concerns expressed in paragraph 18 and the consequent assurances
sought. These were as follows:
a training requirement for public displays should be imposed only
where unusually dangerous fireworks are involved;
there should be a mechanism whereby the Secretary of State may
approve the level of fees payable under clause 10 by those attending
fireworks training courses and by those licensed to provide training.
In light of the above, I would like to take this
opportunity to reassure the Committee - and also other noble members
of the House who share your concerns. With regard to the first
concern, I can tell you that it is indeed the intention that clause
10 of the bill would only apply to those operating fireworks displays
where "unusually dangerous" fireworks are used. In our
view, this clause would particularly apply to operators that use
category 4 fireworks - which under the British Standard classification
(BS7114) are not suitable for sale to the general public. This
is enshrined in the Fireworks (Safety) Regulations of 1997 (regulation
4(2)(b) as read with regulation 5). It should also be noted that
the majority of operators use fireworks in this category.
Regarding the second concern, it is general Government
policy that any service provided by Government or delegated body
may charge only on a cost recovery basis - and not seek a surplus
above and beyond such level. Such policy would be the guarantor
that fees and charges would be set at fair and proportionate levels.
Notwithstanding this policy, the Government, by way of addressing
the Committee's concern directly, will ensure that any regulations
made under clause 10(4) (training courses) setting out the fees
for training courses will include a mechanism whereby the Secretary
of State will be able to approve the level of fees.
I hope that this addresses the concerns of the Committee
and of other noble members of the House.
16 July 2003