Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:01 pm on 29th January 2010.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 12:01 pm, 29th January 2010

Thank you very much, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am delighted by your intervention to prevent my being sidetracked by unhelpful sedentary interventions from Mr. George.

The crucial issue is where people use sunbeds. That comes back to a point I made earlier, because obviously the Bill will affect only the people who use sunbeds in the private or local authority sector. This particular research showed that 60 per cent. of users were using sunbeds either at their own home or somebody else's. The figure may not be as high now, and I appreciate that since this research was carried out the cost of sunbed sessions in the private sector has, as the right hon. Member for Don Valley said, become considerably cheaper and that that will encourage more people to use those facilities. However, if an awful lot of people are using sunbeds at home and they are doing so for far longer periods and far more often than the people who use them elsewhere, perhaps the people the hon. Member for Cardiff, North is trying to protect will not be protected by her Bill. All that she may well be doing is inconveniencing lots of people who use sunbeds so infrequently that it is not causing them a big problem, while the sunbed users who have a big problem fall outside the scope of her Bill. The research found that 43 per cent. of users owned their own sunbed and 16 per cent. of users hired one. We need to consider these issues. However popular the Bill might be, we need to consider whether it is proportionate and whether it will be effective in bringing about the result that the hon. Lady wishes.

I do not intend to delay the House for much longer, but I should say that we must accept that sunbeds can have health benefits for some people and that an important issue of choice is involved here. Indeed, only last year, Lord Darzi said that

"perceived health benefits...relative to health risks, is a matter about which individuals make their own choices."-[ Hansard, House of Lords, 1 June 2009; Vol. 711, c. WA58.]

I hope that we all agree with that sentiment. The issue is who is in the best position to decide what is in the best interests of under-18s and to decide who should take responsibility for their actions. The hon. Lady and her party seem often to take the view that the best person to determine what is best for children is the state. I argue that, for the good of society as a whole, it is best, wherever possible, to give parents responsibility for their own children because, as I have said, the dangers of not doing so are there for all to see.

Although I expect the Bill to get a Second Reading, I hope that the hon. Member for Cardiff, North will reflect on two points. First, is it proportionate to go straight to a ban or should we try some other measures instead, such as requiring parental permission to be given through written consent or making health warning notices available? I certainly agree with her about ensuring that premises are staffed so that under-18s can be prevented from using sunbeds. That seems to be a sensible situation. So will she consider whether there are other things that we can do? Secondly, will she consider whether some of the measures in the Bill are slightly over the top, particularly those that ban under-18s from being in the same room as a sunbed? I hope she will give serious consideration to that because, despite her best intentions, if some of those issues are not ironed out they will make her good intentions less valuable, as they make the Bill somewhat flawed.

I do not want to block the passage of the Bill at this stage, but I hope that hon. Members will remember that there are always two sides to an argument.

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