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Volume 471: debated on Thursday 31 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans his Department has to establish a system of registration for tattooing and piercing facilities; (178633)

(2) what assessment his Department has made of directions given in respect of reusable needles under the Department of Health's model bye laws issued in September 2007;

(3) what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the regulations of (a) tattooing and piercing under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2003 and (b) the model bye laws published in September 2007.

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, as amended by the Local Government Act 2003, gives local authorities (LAs) powers to require tattooing and cosmetic piercing businesses in their area to register and observe byelaws on hygiene and cleanliness. It is an offence for such a business to trade without being registered with the LA or to breach local byelaws.

LAs in London generally use the London Local Authorities Act 1991 (private legislation) which provides for a licensing scheme for businesses providing special treatments such as tattooing and cosmetic piercing. It is an offence to trade without being licensed or to breach licence conditions.

LAs also have general enforcement powers under health and safety at work legislation. This allows LAs to use improvement and prohibition notices, and ultimately prosecute tattooing and piercing businesses, if appropriate. This would include where there are concerns about a practitioner's competency. Under the licensing regime that exists in London, LAs may refuse a licence on grounds relating to a person's competency.

Information on the local regulation of tattooing and cosmetic piercing businesses by LAs is not collected centrally. However, we keep the legislation under review, taking account, for example, of any feedback from stakeholders such as LAs and their associations.