Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:13 pm on 29th January 2010.

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Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds Shadow Minister (Health) 1:13 pm, 29th January 2010

I congratulate Julie Morgan on her success in the ballot, on her excellent choice of topic and on the work that she must have put in behind the scenes to get the Bill in its current form. She gave a succinct and articulate introduction, which credibly set the scene for the ensuing debate.

Mrs. James should also be congratulated on her diligence and dedication in continually raising the issue, not giving up and pressuring the Government and hon. Members of all political parties to take it seriously. She was right to make the point that there are responsible operators and that the House needs to support them over those who do not operate in a considered and structured way.

I shall take the opportunity briefly to defend my hon. Friend Philip Davies and his contribution to the debate. He was right, particularly on two matters. First, he is right that, in a democracy, the other perspective must be presented-that is what the House is for. Secondly, he was right to suggest that just because something is popular, it does not mean that the House should follow that view.

The only defence for legislating on health care and banning something is if a ban is supported by clinical evidence. I have drawn different conclusions from my hon. Friend. The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Products produced a detailed report on the use of ultra-violet radiation devices in 2006, and it concluded that people should not be advised to use tanning devices, specifically if

"there are skin phenotypes of type I and II and the presence of freckles...multiple and/or atypical moles and...a family history of melanoma."

It also says that the risks are high for people of "a young age". It concludes:

"Thus UVR tanning devices should not be used by individuals under the age of 18 years."

That is exactly what the Bill would achieve.

We have heard many statistics about the increasing use of sunbeds, some of which are very significant: more than 11 per cent. of 15 to 17-year-olds have used a sunbed; 6 per cent. of young people-250,000 children-a year use sunbeds. There are pockets of the country where sunbed use is high, and we have heard about south Wales, Sunderland and Liverpool. We need to introduce legislation that goes some way towards addressing the potentially detrimental outcomes of sunbed use by individuals under 18.

Other clinical evidence supports the premise behind the Bill. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has raised the status of sunbeds from "probably carcinogenic to humans" to "carcinogenic to humans". There is clear evidence to suggest that if people under 35 use sunbeds the risk of their getting cancer increases by up to 75 per cent. As has been said, more than 10,000 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed in the UK in 2006 alone, and there has been a significant increase in such cases over the past 30 years. Sunbeds are linked not only to skin cancer but to other health conditions, including eye damage, dermatological conditions, photosensitivity and premature skin ageing.

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