Local Government Bill
Baroness Hanham (Conservative)
My Lords, this amendment was first moved in another place by my honourable friend Philip Hammond. I understand that it is appropriate to raise this issue within the terms of this Bill. I do so only because I seek some assurances. When I briefly mentioned the issue at Second Reading and—because of Mr Hammond's concerns—asked for an assurance that Ministers were considering it, some noble Lords quizzically raised their eyebrows. The Minister in another place, Mr Nick Raynsford, said that discussions were taking place. I wonder whether there has been any progress on those talks and where we go from here. I also realise that my amendment may not be drafted correctly. If so, I am willing to take advice.
Body piercing may seem an odd issue to raise. However, increasing numbers of people, particularly young people, are undergoing the procedure. All parts of the body can end up with bits and pieces stuck through them. The procedure is undertaken also by some who are not quite so young. No one is concerned at all about that; it is up to them. We are simply concerned about whether those doing the piercing are under any form of regulation or licence.
We are concerned for several reasons. First, it is an invasive procedure that involves needles and should involve sterile procedures and a hygienic location. I think that parental consent also should be required in the case of those in their early teens, and certainly those under 16. Such consent is currently not required. The Greater London Authority Act regulates the procedure in London, where all premises carrying out such procedures are regulated and licensed. As I understand it, however, that is not the position in the rest of the country.
Therefore, several issues arise, the first of which is consent. The second is the need to ensure that these establishments maintain clean and sterile procedures. People have contracted septicaemia when the procedure was performed in unclean conditions. There is also the issue of whether young people should be allowed to have their bodies abused in this way without their parents being informed and giving consent. Furthermore, those performing the procedure ought to know that the procedure can affect various medical conditions. That issue was brought to the attention of another place as the result of the death of a young man of 17 who had a congenital heart defect. Those performing the procedure were unaware of his condition. He contracted septicaemia, to which he was susceptible as a result of congenital heart disease, and he died.
That is the burden of the amendment. The amendment asks that, within a reasonable time—the amendment provides for one year—regulations be issued to ensure that premises cannot carry out these procedures without being regulated. However, I do not want anyone to say that I am trying to stamp on anyone's enthusiasm for self-decoration. It is just that if they are going to undergo the procedure, they should survive it. I beg to move.