Clause 2

Part of Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 10th February 2010.

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Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South 5:15 pm, 10th February 2010

The hon. Gentleman has retained his youthful good looks, and I would have thought that he had a good degree of difficulty getting into Parliament  when he first arrived. I have not had those difficulties. I am not a parent, but we all know of kids who are 14, 15 or 16 getting into licensed establishments. The staff or supervisors either do not care or are deceived. The hon. Gentleman’s point is absolutely valid. There has to be proper supervision.

When we were conducting the study, I visited a number of establishments. Most of them appeared to be good, and they were good. Yes, they are supervised, but the supervision is done by someone who has a rota to undertake and complete. Yes, the signs are all around, assuming that people read them, but many do not. It could be a disaster if someone slips through the system, even though there is a reasonable degree of supervision. There are a number of issues that I would like to raise.

Before the hon. Gentleman interrupted me, I was saying that I had quoted all sorts of learned sources, but there is one that is not normally on my list. There was a wonderful launch of the campaign to secure support for the Bill—it was superb. I do not think people came to watch any of us, they came to watch Nicola Roberts, from a group I have seen, although I am too old for it. I am still in the Jerry Lee Lewis era—I haven’t quite matured, or immatured, beyond that point. Perhaps it is a bit naughty to quote a speaker from somebody else’s meeting, but that young lady, Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud, said:

“Tanning is a subject that is very close to my heart. I was once in a place where I did feel the pressure to have a tan. Having a tan made me feel more attractive. It made me feel more accepted. And as a young girl I became very influenced by peers, by media, by everybody in society and that was just the way I felt. If I didn’t have a tan, I didn’t feel attractive. I didn’t feel very good at all and it’s about teaching young men and young women that it is ok to be your own colour, you don’t have to conform” to the norms. She added:

“You don’t have to be tangoed to be accepted! It’s not the way it’s supposed to be”.

I thought that was eloquently delivered, and it resonated when that young woman said how she felt—I presume she meant at that time; she may or may not have been 18 years of age. She expressed a view that may not be one we experienced in our day, but one involving pressures from a very different cultural environment. There are pressures to look beautiful. If beauty means having darker skin, young people think “It won’t cost me much to get it. Some old people might say that in 25 or 30 years’ time I might have cancer, but they’ll have cured it by then. I’m not worried—it’s a long time ahead. My attention span is 25 hours, not 25 or 30 years.” We can understand that pressure.

Young people may not thank us for spoiling their choice, but I hope that in time they will recognise that we are doing the right thing and that we have to protect people who might wish to be protected. I have cantered around the field. There are some more specific issues to consider. I hope that they can be ironed out in the next few weeks.