Fireworks Bill will cause ‘black market’ with more injury and deaths, MSPs told

The Fireworks Bill will lead to a “black market” with more injuries and deaths, industry figures have told MSPs.

Groups representing fireworks and pyrotechnics businesses spoke to Holyrood’s justice committee on Wednesday.

The committee is considering the Scottish Government’s Fireworks Bill, which would impose a number of restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks.

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These include special training and a licensing scheme for those buying fireworks and limits on the times and areas they can be used in.

The Fireworks Bill will lead to a “black market” with more injuries and deaths, industry figures have told MSPs.

Fraser Stevenson, vice-chairman of the British Fireworks Association (BFA), said the businesses his organisation represented imported most fireworks into the UK.

Saying only a small number of people misused fireworks, Mr Stevenson asked the committee: “Why does the Bill appear to target the majority of consumers who are using fireworks in an appropriate way?”

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He continued: “Greater restrictions would not be appropriate due to the real risk of creating a black market.

“The BFA feels this Bill will be the biggest contributor to the creation of a black market.

“It does nothing to address the issue of misuse, instead it specifically targets law-abiding Scots.”

Saying the demand for fireworks would instead be met by organised criminals, Mr Stevenson added: “It will not improve safety, it will result in more injuries not less, it will lead to deaths.”

Andy Hubble, chairman of the British Pyrotechnists Association, said his organisation also had concerns about the creation of a black market.

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He told the MSPs: “Never before have I felt so passionately that a mistake has been made.”

Norman Donald, owner of the Aberdeen retailer NJE Fireworks, said the Bill being considered by MSPs was “completely backward”.

He said: “If we create a black market we are definitely going to put the public in danger, injuries are going to be vast and as Fraser says, it probably will lead to deaths.”

Last week, representatives from the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) and the fire service spoke to the committee in favour of the Bill.

They raised concerns about fireworks being used to attack emergency service workers, with the SPF saying this was a growing problem.