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Clause 2 — Duty to prevent sunbed use by children

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 12th March 2010.

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Photo of Ann Keen Ann Keen Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health 12:30 pm, 12th March 2010

Mr. Chope has tabled a number of amendments relating to the offences and penalties specified in the Bill.

Amendments 7 and 32 apply to clauses 2 and 10, and seek to reduce the maximum level of the penalty from £20,000 to £5,000. The risk posed to young people who use sunbeds is great, and sunbed businesses must take their duties under this Bill seriously. The Government believe that the maximum fine should be substantial, so that we can ensure that the sanction provides an adequate deterrent. The maximum penalty is proportionate to the offence. However, it is important to stress that this is the maximum fine that can be imposed for committing the offence. Clause 10(3)(a) enables offences created by regulations to incur that maximum fine.

Amendments 21 to 24 relate to clause 8. Clause 8(2) requires people to co-operate with enforcement officers who have entered the premises, but amendment 21 would require only that information be given to the enforcement officers. Clause 8 is about facilitating co-operation with enforcement officers, and in order for enforcement officers to do their job properly, it is reasonable to expect that they may need more than information; they may need to access files on a computer, for example.

Clause 8(3) creates an offence where a person makes a false or misleading statement either knowing or not caring that the statement is false or misleading. Amendments 22 to 24 would amend the offence so it only covers situations where a person makes a statement knowing it to be false or misleading. The problem with amending clause 8(3) in this way is that it means that there is no recourse against a person who is asked for information by an officer and guesses at answer, but does not care whether the answer is wrong or right.