Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:41 pm on 29th January 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Siân James Siân James Labour, Swansea East 12:41 pm, 29th January 2010

That is true.

From those who have suffered with skin cancer, the message is clear and consistent: "Do something now. Don't let young people go through what I went through." It is a heartbreaking message. I was interviewed recently for a TV programme on the subject by a well-known celebrity, Nicola Roberts. She said that she had visited somebody who was dying of skin cancer and how difficult it is to explain to the person who is suffering why nothing is happening quickly.

Young people who are aware of the issues are saying to us, "Why don't you lot at Westminster get on and change the law as quickly as possible?" Very few people say to me, "Don't change the law. Don't bring in regulation. Don't ban use for under-18s." Not one person has yet approached me with that message.

The Welsh Assembly has led the way in this matter for us in Wales. The Committee on Health, Wellbeing and Local Government conducted an inquiry into sunbeds and found a need for immediate action. I put it on record that its key recommendations included, first, prohibiting under-18s from using sunbeds; secondly, that facilities should be staffed with well-trained staff; and thirdly, that information setting out the potential health risks should be prominently displayed.

We in south Wales know very well what it is like to be a sunbed hot spot. My constituency has a sunbed parlour on practically every corner. They are in places as diverse as above beauty salons, in hairdressers, in local facilities and even in corner shops. Once one starts looking for salons, it is amazing where one finds them.

I quote the words of the mother of a 14-year-old, Kirsty McRae, who was very badly burned last year. My hon. Friend Julie Morgan has already referred to her. In evidence to the Welsh Assembly's Committee on Health, Wellbeing and Local Government, the mother said:

"As a family, we have always taken a responsible attitude to the sun and used the appropriate products, considered the time spent in the sun and the time of day we were in the sun. I am therefore quite happy that in educating her about natural sunlight and sun damage, I did as much as I could as a parent. I had expressly forbidden her to even consider using a sunbed, and, as has been reported previously, I acknowledge that she went against my wishes and she acknowledges her responsibility in that respect as well. The concern is that the operation of such a salon allowed her a facility to misuse the bed."

Clear warnings are needed. We have updated them, but we need to carry on. Posters need to be prominently displayed and we have to match our work to the campaign. Cancer Research UK, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Teenage Cancer Trust and other cancer charities have raised skin cancer's profile and prepared and distributed documentation.

There are no health benefits from using sunbeds. There are disbenefits, not benefits, and we need to get that message across clearly. Sunbed use is too cheap at 25p a minute. There are no parents around and it does not matter whether one has a sunbed at home or not; everybody uses sunbeds in communities such as mine. Having a tan is their little bit of glamour. It is so easy to achieve and people can access irresponsible and unstaffed salons. The question is, why are young people starting to tan at such a young age? Children aged 11 to 14 are saying that they want to go to salons and get a tan. We have to address that issue.

Philip Davies asked about restricted zones, and I understand that, in case of prosecution, the zone-the cubicle or the salon-is defined as a private area. The issue is simple, because one cannot see what goes on in such places, so the zone has to be defined to ensure that, if the young person enters it, there is a clear demarcation demonstrating that they went into an area where they were not allowed. I accept the point about inadvertently wandering into such a zone in a sports facility, but that is why the zone should be clearly defined. We need to know where it is, who is there and who has used it.

Do I think that sunbeds are dangerous? Yes, I do. Do we know that young people are using them? Yes, we do. It is now time to take action. I hope that my colleagues will join me in arguing for the greater protection of children and young people throughout England and Wales, and support the Bill.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website