Labour MP recalls firework being thrown at her as she calls for ban

·3-min read
The crowd watching the Alexandra Palace Fireworks in north London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
The crowd watching the Alexandra Palace Fireworks in north London (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

A Labour MP has recalled young people throwing a firework at her while cycling home from Parliament as she urged a comprehensive ban on their sale.

On Monday, MPs debated a petition relating to the sale and use of fireworks, which garnered more than 301,000 signatures.

Labour MP for York Central Rachel Maskell said she risked being severely injured after young people threw a firework at her while on her way home from Parliament three years ago.

Pressing the Government on a comprehensive ban during a Westminster Hall debate, she said: “We have got to remember that at this time of year, our precious NHS which is overstretched, sees about 2,000 injuries arriving through its doors, 600 of those affecting children, and has about 35 inquiries about burns in relation to both Diwali and Bonfire Night.

“And of course, we know our public servants can often be a target for people who misuse fireworks. Indeed, only three years ago, I was cycling home from Parliament when young people who were playing with fireworks threw a firework at me. It was nanoseconds of me, slamming on my brakes that caused it to miss. Had it hit, as it exploded as it hit the ground, who knows what the history would have been?”

Labour MP Rachel Maskell (Jessica Taylor) (PA Media)
Labour MP Rachel Maskell (Jessica Taylor) (PA Media)

Ms Maskell said that now, every year when she cycles on that section of her route, she “fears what could happen”.

She added: “Fireworks are so easily accessible in supermarkets and other shops, and that’s why we need to make sure that we see a comprehensive ban. If people want to enjoy a firework display, to have one put on by the local authority or fire services, of course is better use of public money, as there are fewer call-outs, which are required by our NHS as well as other emergency services. But also it can bring communities together, as opposed to what fireworks are now doing, which is pushing communities apart.”

Business minister Paul Scully said it was “terrible” to hear what Ms Maskell faced.

On banning fireworks, though, he said: “We have concerns that actually banning fireworks in this way could have significant adverse and unintended consequences for public safety, in particular, perpetuating the emergence of a black market of illicit fireworks.”

He added: “I am always sorry to hear the stories about some individuals and animals and how they have been affected by fireworks in this way. That is why the Government are committed to promoting the safe and considerate use of fireworks, and why we have been carrying out a programme of action on fireworks to ensure that those who use fireworks do so safely and appropriately.

“I think it’s first of all important to set out that that this is a highly regulated area, with a comprehensive regulatory framework already in place to control the sale, availability and use of fireworks. We believe that this framework strikes the right balance for people to enjoy fireworks while aiming to reduce risks to people and disturbances to people and animals.”

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