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Volume 264: debated on Tuesday 24 October 1995

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To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the role of (a) trading standards officers, (b) the fire service and (c) the police in enforcing the law relating to the sale of fireworks to children under the age of 16 years in metropolitan areas. [38899]

Section 31 of the Explosives Act 1875 makes it an offence to supply fireworks to children apparently under 16 years of age. The 1875 Act makes no provision for the enforcement of section 31. Accordingly, the police, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service, have the clearest role in dealing with offenders. However, trading standards departments have a well-established responsibility for safeguarding the safety of consumers and, in our opinion, should be in a position to bring prosecutions under section 31 in cases where the police have not become involved or have decided not to proceed. My Department draws no distinction between metropolitan and other areas regarding the standing of trading standards departments with respect to this legislation. Fire authorities in metropolitan areas are designated to undertake certain functions under the 1875 Act but have no duty to enforce section 31. Nevertheless, they too may be able to bring prosecutions under this provision.It is also an offence under the General Product Safety Regulations 1994 for a retailer to supply to any person a product which he knows, or should have presumed on the basis of information in his possession, is a dangerous product. Local authority trading standards departments have a duty to enforce the regulations and in doing so can draw on the range of powers supporting consumer safety legislation.

To ask the President of the board of Trade what has been the number of firework-related injuries since 1985 in total and each year, and how many of these were children under the age of 16 years. [38914]

For the year 1985 to 1994, the total number of people receiving treatment for firework injuries at accident and emergency units in Great Britain within the four-week period around 5 November was 9,553; 5,053 of these were children under the age of 16. The figures for the individual years are set out in the table.

YearTotal injuredAged less than 16