Clause 4

Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 10 February 2010.

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Power to make further provision restricting use, sale or hire of sundbeds

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North

Again, this is an important clause because it deals with the regulations. The clause allows regulations to be made to support the aim of the legislation, which as we all know, is to prevent the use of sunbeds by under-18s. It allows secondary legislation, by Welsh Ministers in the Welsh Assembly and by Ministers in Westminster, in three areas: supervision, use of sunbeds by under-18s in domestic premises, and the sale and hire of sunbeds to persons under 18.

We know that some salons are unsupervised and we know from research by Cancer Research UK that 6 per cent. of 11 to 17-year-olds use sunbeds. As we have so many Welsh Members here today, I will give the figure for Wales, which is higher. Some 8 per cent. of children aged 11 to 17 have used a sunbed in Wales. In the 15 to 17-year-old group, 11 per cent. have used a sunbed. It is clear that younger children are using sunbeds in salons.

Supervision in salons is crucial, a point supported by WHO and COMARE. If a salon has no members of staff, there is no one in place to check age and if necessary to say no. As many of my colleagues are aware, the Welsh Assembly’s Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee recently conducted an inquiry into the use and regulation of sunbeds. Not only did it recommend that under-18s should not be allowed to use sunbeds, but also that

“facilities provide full-time supervision by well-trained staff”.

It considered evidence from one sunbed operator who argued that they were able to identify the age of users remotely, via CCTV. We have already had a discussion about how difficult it is to tell the age of young people. The Committee considered that argument to be “risible” and that it was difficult enough to tell someone’s age, let alone if using CCTV. It is precisely for that reason that licensed premises often require identification evidence before serving alcohol and that issue has already been raised.

Should the Bill be enacted, I am pleased to confirm that the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, Edwina Hart, is committed to bringing forward regulations straight away to protect children in Wales. The Secretary of State for Health also confirmed his intentions at the Bill’s launch, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South referred. We received an enormous amount of support. He said that he would introduce regulations straight away to tackle unstaffed salons once the Bill is passed.

The Bill also ensures that, as part of the process of introducing regulations, a consultation must occur involving all interested parties. It is very important that that consultation take place. It is a sensible way forward and the owners of businesses should have the opportunity to make their views known. Ensuring that salons are supervised may mean that extra staff have to be taken on. Although that would provide job opportunities, there are also implications for the salons and they must have every opportunity to put their views forward.

Staff supervision is important and, should the Bill pass, regulations would be introduced, subject to consultation, to ensure that salons are supervised. The regulations might be seen as a ban on coin-operated or self-determined sunbeds. However, they will not create an explicit ban, and before they are introduced, there must be consultation with interested parties. However, they will drastically limit the use of coin-operated sunbeds.

The other power to make secondary legislation ensures that under-18s do not use or are not offered the use of a sunbed by people who carry on sunbed businesses from their homes, and prohibits or restricts the sale or hire of sunbeds to under-18s. Subsections (3) and (4) ensure that the consultation takes place.

Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds Shadow Minister (Health)

I thank the hon. Member for Cardiff, North for her introduction to this part of the Bill. I want to raise two or three points. She is absolutely right to emphasise the importance of consultation, particularly with those legitimate businesses that want to comply with the law and subsequent regulations to ensure that everything is done safely and appropriately, and that the Department understands the impact of subsequent regulations on the viability or otherwise of particular businesses. However, I want to press the matter a little further.

First, is the hon. Lady saying that it is certain that subsequent regulations will make unmanned sunbed salons illegal? If so, why is that not in the Bill, because that is the right thing to do? Secondly, what is the difference between “unmanned” and “supervised”? “Supervised” implies that the supervision could be external from the premises rather than internal, and I would like to know whether there is a nuance, or whether I am just being suspicious of the choice of words.

Another issue is the time scale of the subsequent regulations. If the Bill is enacted, as we all hope it is, it is unlikely that regulations would be introduced during the lifetime of this Parliament, so there would be a time gap. People under the age of 18 would be unable to hire a sunbed, but they could buy one for their own use. If that is the case—everyone agrees that we should ban under-18s not only from using sunbeds in salons, but from buying them for their own use—why is that not in the Bill? What is the importance and necessity of the consultation for those two narrow aspects?

It would be helpful to understand the Department’s thinking on coin-operated sunbeds, and the hon. Lady was absolutely right to raise that. Is the intention to make that illegal under the regulations, or is it to consult the industry on the detail to ensure that in some circumstances that is still allowed? I would like to know under what circumstances coin-operated sunbeds will be allowed, because I believe that they are one of the main problems that need to be sorted out, not just for those under 18, but for those over 18.

Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South

My attitude to legislation is scarred by my long experience of the Private Security Industry Act 2001, which was diluted and not properly enforced. Best intentions may be undermined by an Administration with different perspectives from those of a previous Administration, or the earlier Administration may change. The words in the Bill cause me some concern. “May” make provision is too flexible. “Will” would be better, because “may” leaves a gap for someone who wishes to dilute the provision.

Subsection (1)(a) states that

“the use of sunbeds to which the business relates is supervised in such manner as the regulations may require”.

We do not know what the regulations are, but we all know, because we have all been members of Committees dealing with regulatory measures, that they often go through at a rate of knots, and that members of such Committees do not always want to be members. Can the Minister assure us, as far as she is able, that the impetus for the legislation, which has been some time in coming, will be sustained? Will principles be laid down for regulation and subsequent action by overstretched local authorities and Government, because many redundancies will result from people being turfed out of work? I hope it will be possible to stiffen what is contained in the Bill to ensure that enforcement will be serious and not perfunctory or zero.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

The Government support the proposed regulation-making powers contained in clause 4. Regulations made under the clause will support the Government’s position, which is that under-18s should be prevented from using or accessing sunbeds for cosmetic purposes. However, we acknowledge the impact on the sunbed industry, which is why mandatory consultation with interested parties is the right thing to do.

The regulations will require the supervised use of sunbeds and will prohibit or restrict the sale of sunbeds to under-18s. As I said earlier, regulations are right and proper, not least because of the amount of consultation on the practicalities of the Bill, and that is why regulations will be used to give effect to the Bill, as is normal. We intend to carry out the consultations as soon as possible after the Bill—as we hope—completes all stages in the House. Importantly, as the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness inquired, we will also carry out a full impact assessment before making the regulations. I hope that the Committee will support the clause.

Photo of Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds Shadow Minister (Health)

Unusually, the Minister has not, I feel, given adequate responses to the points that I raised. Of course consultation is important. Of course it must be done with the relevant and legitimate businesses. I want to understand the difference between manned and supervised. That has not been explained. I want to understand whether it is the view of the Government—it is clearly the view of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North—that unmanned salons, and coin-operated salons, should be made illegal under the subsequent regulations. The Minister might say, “That is part of the consultation process”, in which case we can conclude only that it is not the intention of the Government under subsequent regulations to make those two particular aspects illegal. As I said earlier, if that is the case, it should be in the Bill and not left to subsequent regulations.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I can reassure him that there will be a proper consultation. From the Government point of view, it would be wrong to say otherwise. On whether certain aspects will produce the result that the hon. Gentleman referred to, it is not for me to predict the outcome of a consultation. I, of course, will look at the results of the consultation.

On the question of the difference between unmanned and supervised, that will be set out in the regulations. They will spell out exactly what is meant by supervision. We could go further than just a coin-operated sunbed, which has a member of staff on the premises at all times. Whatever the result, we must have regulations that work. At this stage, I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman should—he said he was perhaps being—

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health

I thank the hon. Gentleman. I did not want to misrepresent him. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Worthing, West obviously thinks he is not a suspicious man by nature. We will specify in regulations what “unsupervised” and “supervised” mean. That is the right place to deal with that matter. The time scale for regulations is to be determined. I hope that that helps Committee members.

Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North 5:45, 10 February 2010

I thank hon. Members for their contributions.

I reiterate that there is a commitment from Ministers in the Welsh Assembly and in Westminster to advance the regulations as soon as possible if the Bill is passed.

The hon. Member for Boston and Skegness may be interested in what has happened in Scotland, where there is a definition of staff supervision. Coin-operated sunbeds can still be used, but they must be supervised. People can still pay for use in that way, but there must be supervision ongoing. There can still be coin-operated sunbeds, because that is just a method of payment, but supervision will be taking place. For me, the key issue is that there is supervision.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.