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Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill [Money]

Volume 505: debated on Tuesday 9 February 2010

Queen’s recommendation signified.

I beg to move,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided.—(Gillian Merron.)

The Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Julie Morgan), and the Bill has received a Second Reading and is due to be considered in a Public Bill Committee tomorrow. The provisions in the Bill make new powers available to local authorities in England, and accordingly a money resolution is required in order that the Bill can be debated in Committee.

I would like to make some progress.

As I made clear on Second Reading, I believe that the Bill provides the first legislative opportunity to tackle an urgent problem. It is supported by evidence from a range of sources, including findings of the World Health Organisation, the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment, and surveys carried out by Cancer Research UK on behalf of the Department of Health. The evidence supports the view that informs this Bill: that sunbeds are a health risk, that use of sunbeds by under-18s is growing, that there is a clear link between sunbed use and skin cancer, and that voluntary regulation by the industry has not been enough to protect young people. The Bill addresses those problems directly, which is why the Government fully support it. The provision of funding for local enforcement is necessary if the aims of the Bill are to be achieved. That is why I commend the resolution to the House.

We, on the Conservative Benches, are supportive of the Bill, and we supported its contents on Second Reading. There is clear clinical evidence to support the banning of under-18s from using sunbeds, and we wish to see the Bill progress. As the Minister rightly said, the Committee stage is tomorrow.

However, I have one query for the Minister about the money resolution. It is a query that I raised on Second Reading, but one that I did not get a response to. In the impact assessment, the annual cost of the implementation and enforcement of the Bill is estimated at £88,000—approximately £100,000—which is based on the questionable assumption that 5 per cent. of sunbed salons would continue to allow under-18s to use their sunbeds, and that that would be identified only through public complaint. Is the Minister confident that the detail in the impact assessment is correct? It does not appear to have been strongly or forensically analysed, and that figure could be a gross underestimate of the possible costs to local authorities. Will she therefore confirm that the total cost allowed under this money resolution is £88,000, as detailed in the impact assessment?

We on the Liberal Democrat Benches support the motion, and I see no reason to detain the House any further.

It will not have escaped the notice of hon. Members that the Minister has not put any figures whatever on her assessment of the costs of the provision. My hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds), speaking from the Front Bench, has rightly drawn attention to the figure of £88,000. It will not have escaped your notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are in an age of austerity. Surely we should be considering affordability. In my submission, therefore, it is incumbent on the Minister, before asking us to accept this money resolution, to give us an indication of the likely costs, because surely we cannot be in the business of providing the Government with blank cheques.

But will not the saving for the national health service, in terms of the health of the young people concerned, mean that the Bill will inevitably be an excellent investment, and that we should get on with agreeing to the motion?

The hon. Gentleman makes an assertion. What I am interested in is evidence. I look to the Minister to provide some evidence that the provision will be proportionate, and that it will not offend against the principle of affordability. I also want to ensure that she will take into account the information that came to me earlier this evening, which is that many users of sunbeds who are under 18 are employed in our armed forces. The impact on their morale could be substantial if they cannot continue to use sunbeds. I should be grateful if the Minister could address those points in responding to this brief debate.

I am grateful for the support across the House. I should be happy to clarify this further, but just to make it clear, £88,000 is what we believe will be required to ensure proper enforcement of the ban for under-18s. That is based on information provided to us by the Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Sevices. If we chose to exercise the regulation-making powers, we would of course conduct further impact assessments. I commend this motion to the House.

Question put and agreed to.