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Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill


 

These notes refer to the Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 16 December 2009 [Bill 19]

SUNBEDS (REGULATION) BILL


EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1.     These Explanatory Notes relate to the Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 16 December 2009. They have been prepared by the Department of Health, with the consent of Julie Morgan, the Member in charge of the Bill, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The Notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.

SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND

3.     The Bill seeks to prevent persons aged under 18 from using sunbeds. Businesses which offer sunbeds for use on their premises would be banned from allowing persons aged under 18 to use or have access to their sunbeds, and from offering their sunbeds for use by persons aged under 18. The Bill includes regulation-making powers which would allow the further regulation of sunbed use.

4.     The incidence of skin cancer is increasing; malignant melanoma is among the five most common cancers in 15-24 year olds in England and Wales. Approximately 80% of melanomas are thought to be caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light - both natural (from the sun) and artificial. In 2003, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued the guide “Artificial Tanning Sunbeds: Risks and Guidance” to assist government health authorities in the development of public health policy relating to sunbeds. The guide says that there is increasing evidence from both experimental and epidemiological data that cumulative exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancers. Therefore, the added exposure from UV tanning appliances is likely to add to the detrimental consequences of natural solar exposure. The guide includes a recommendation that no one under the age of 18 should use a sunbed.

5.     The Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) to the European Commission issued an opinion in July 2006 warning of the risks to health of sunbeds, noting that the risk of melanoma seemed particularly high when sunbeds were used at Bill 19?EN                                               54/5 a young age. The SCCP recommended that those under 18 years should not use UV tanning devices. The EU adopted the opinion and the European Commission has called upon Member States to ensure an appropriate use of sunbeds.

6.     The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), an independent expert advisory committee which advises Government and the devolved authorities on the health effects of natural and man-made radiation, considered the health effects and risks arising from exposure to UV radiation from sunbeds. Their thirteenth report, published in June 2009, confirmed that UV radiation from sunbeds was capable of inducing skin cancer and that young people were particularly vulnerable. One of the recommendations in the report is that the commercial use of sunbeds by persons aged under 18 is prohibited.

7.     The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group (IARC), an intergovernmental agency of the World Health Organisation who conduct and coordinate research into the causes of cancer, announced in July 2009 that it was raising the classification of sunbeds from ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ to ‘carcinogenic to humans’.

8.     Presently, in England and Wales there is no legislation that provides specifically for the regulation of sunbeds. Legislation was enacted in Scotland in 2008 to prohibit the use of commercial sunbeds by persons aged under 18, the sale or hire of sunbeds to persons aged under 18, and the use of commercial sunbeds without supervision (see Part 8 of the Public Health etc. (Scotland) Act 2008 asp 5).

THE BILL

9.     The Bill has 14 clauses. Clause 1 contains the main interpretative provisions. Clause 2 imposes a duty on a person carrying on a sunbed business to ensure that sunbeds are not used, or offered for use, or accessed by a person aged under 18. Clause 3 contains an exemption for medical treatment. Clauses 4 to 6 contain powers to make regulations in connection with sunbed use. Clause 7 and the Schedule to the Bill relate to enforcement of the provisions of the Bill. Clause 8 concerns further offences supporting the enforcement provisions of the Bill. Clause 9 concerns offences committed by companies and other incorporated bodies. Clauses 10 and 11 make further provision about regulations made under clauses 4 to 6. Clauses 12, 13 and 14 cover interpretation, financial provisions, the short title, commencement and extent respectively.

TERRITORIAL EXTENT AND APPLICATION

10.     The Bill extends to (that is, forms part of the law of) England and Wales.

11.     As the Bill does not make provision about a matter falling within the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales, the consent of the Assembly is not being sought. The regulation-making powers in clauses 4, 5 and 6 of the Bill are to be exercisable by the Welsh Ministers in respect of Wales independently of the exercise of those powers by the Secretary of State in respect of England. The Bill will confer regulation-making powers on the Welsh Ministers in respect of the matters covered by those powers. The Welsh Ministers will have executive competence in respect of these matters, but the Bill does not transfer legislative competence to the National Assembly for Wales.

12.     Because the Sewel Convention provides that Westminster will not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters in Scotland without the consent of the Scottish Parliament, if there are amendments relating to such matters which trigger the Convention, the consent of the Scottish Parliament will be sought for them.

COMMENTARY ON CLAUSES

Clause 1: Main interpretative provisions

13.     Clause 1 sets out the meaning of “sunbed” and a “sunbed business”, the two key terms used in the Bill.

14.     A “sunbed”, for the purpose of the Bill, encompasses all types of electronic devices which emit ultra-violet (UV) radiation where the purpose of the emission is tanning. The size of the device or the precise mechanism it uses for emitting the UV radiation does not matter. So traditional lie-down sunbeds are caught as well as those in which a person receives UV radiation whilst standing up. Portable devices such as UV sun lamps are also caught. Electrically-powered devices which spray the skin with a substance that gives the appearance of a tan without the use of UV radiation are not “sunbeds” for the purposes of the Bill.

15.     A “sunbed business” is a business which offers sunbeds for use on the business premises. The business may be exclusively about providing sunbeds for use on the premises (such as a tanning salon) or it may provide sunbeds for use as a complementary or peripheral activity (such as gyms or hotels offering sunbeds for use by members or guests). Either way it is a “sunbed business”. A business can be a “sunbed business” irrespective of whether the sunbed is made available for use in return for payment.

Clause 2: Duty to prevent sunbed use by children

16.     Clause 2 requires a person who carries on a sunbed business (P) to ensure that no person aged under 18 uses, or is offered the use of, one of the business’s sunbeds on the business premises, except where those premises are used wholly or mainly as a person’s home (subsection (1)(a) and (b)). P must also ensure that no person aged under 18 accesses a “restricted zone” (see the definition of that term in subsections (4) and (5), unless the person is providing services to P for the purposes of the business. If P breaches the duty in subsection (1), P commits a criminal offence (see subsection (3)).

17.     A “restricted zone” is defined in subsections (4) and (5). If the business keeps its sunbed in a wholly or partly enclosed space (such as a private room, or a changing cubicle, or a booth or pod) that it reserves for people who use the sunbed, every part of that reserved space is a restricted zone. So, for example, if a sunbed in a beauty salon is kept in a private room reserved for sunbed users, and the sunbed itself is in turn contained in a booth, then the whole of the private room and the booth inside it would be a restricted zone.

18.     If the business keeps its sunbed in a room which is not reserved for people who use the sunbed and the sunbed is not enclosed in any way in a reserved area, the whole of that room would be a restricted zone.

19.     A person aged under 18 is allowed to be present in a restricted zone where the person is there for the purposes of providing a service to P which relates to the sunbed business. So, for example, P would not commit an offence under subsection (1)(c) if a person aged under 18 entered a restricted zone in order to clean or repair the sunbed, or to put fresh towels out, or paint the room in which the sunbed is kept. Any such service could be provided by one of P’s employees, but they could also be provided by a self-employed person contracted to work for P, or a member of staff from an agency or a person gaining unpaid work experience with the business.

20.     Making it a criminal offence for a person aged under 18 to be present in a restricted zone would enable a prosecution to be brought in a case where a person aged under 18 enters the zone with an adult, but it is not possible to show which person actually used the sunbed. For example, if Emma (aged 19) and her friend Elizabeth (aged 17) both enter a private cubicle containing a sunbed, it would be difficult to know which of them used the sunbed.

21.     By making it an offence for an offer of use to be made to a person aged under 18, prosecutions are able to be brought even where the person aged under 18 did not go on to use the sunbed because, for example, the sunbed failed to work or the person changed their mind.

22.     If the person carrying on a sunbed business (P) fails to comply with the requirements in subsection (1), P commits a criminal offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine of up to £20,000 (subsection (6)). The offence is a strict liability offence, which means that P commits the offence if a person aged under 18 uses, or is offered the use of, one of the business’s sunbeds, or if a person aged under 18 enters a restricted zone (except where the person is in the restricted zone for the purposes of providing services to P for the purpose of the sunbed business). It does not matter whether P intended for this to happen, or whether P took steps to prevent the commission of the offence. However, the strictness of this approach is tempered by the availability of a ‘due diligence defence’ (subsection (4)). This means that if P can demonstrate that P took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence in trying not to commit the offence then P has a defence to the offence. So, for example, P may show that the sunbed business has a strict policy requiring proof of a person’s age before allowing the person to use a sunbed and that the policy was properly implemented but was circumvented by a high quality fake ‘proof of age’ document which would fool a reasonable person. Or P might show that the use which was the subject of the offence occurred at night when the properly-secured business premises were subject to a break-in.

Clause 3: Exemption for medical treatment

23.     Clause 3 provides for an exemption from the duties in clause 2(1) where a sunbed is used for the purposes of medical treatment under the supervision or direction of a registered medical practitioner, the sunbed is in, or provided by, a healthcare establishment (as defined) and the sunbed is made available only for the purpose of medical treatment. Where the conditions for the exemption are met, a person aged under 18 may be allowed to use, or be offered the use of the sunbed, or be present in a restricted zone containing the sunbed, without an offence being committed by P.

Clause 4: Power to make further provision restricting use, sale or hire of sunbeds

24.     Clause 4 (like clauses 5 and 6) contains regulation-making powers exercisable by the “appropriate national authority”, which is the Secretary of State in relation to England and the Welsh Ministers in relation to Wales (see the definitions of “regulations” and “appropriate national authority” in clause 12). Subsection (1)(a) allows regulations to be made requiring that the use of commercial sunbeds is supervised. The regulations may make provision about the supervision required.

25.     Subsection (1)(b) and (c) enable regulations to be made to extend the duties in clause 2(1)(b) and (c) (the duties to ensure that sunbeds are not used, or offered for use, by a person aged under 18) so that they apply in respect of sunbed businesses where the sunbeds to which that business relates are located in domestic premises, that is premises used wholly or mainly as someone’s home.

26.     Subsection (2) enables regulations to be made banning or restricting the sale and hire of sunbeds to persons aged under 18. The regulations may cover face-to-face and remote transactions (for example internet transactions).

27.     Under subsection (3), the Secretary of State and the Welsh Ministers must consult with interested parties before making regulations requiring the use of sunbeds to be supervised or prohibiting or restricting the sale or hire of sunbeds.

Clause 5: Power to require information to be provided to sunbed users

28.     Regulations under subsection (1) may require any person carrying on a sunbed business to provide and display information about the health risks of using sunbeds to those who use or may seek to use a sunbed. The nature of the information to be provided or displayed and the manner and circumstances in which it has to be provided or displayed will be set out in the regulations (see the definition of “prescribed” in clause 12).

29.     Regulations under subsection (3) may ban a person carrying on a sunbed businesses from providing or displaying any material containing statements relating to the health effects of sunbed use, other than information that is required or authorised by regulations made under this clause.

Clause 6: Protective eyewear

30.     Regulations under clause 6 may place a duty on a person carrying on a sunbed business to ensure that protective eyewear is made available to users of the business’s sunbeds, and to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that protective eyewear is worn by users of those sunbeds. The guide “Artificial Tanning Sunbeds: Risks and Guidance” produced by the World Health Organisation found that acute effects of UV radiation on the eye include inflammation of the cornea and the iris, and long term effects could include cancer of the conjunctiva. Any regulations made under clause 6 would be for the purpose of protecting the health of sunbed users.

Clause 7 and the Schedule: Enforcement by local authorities

31.     Clause 7 imposes a duty on local authorities (as defined in clause 12) to enforce in their area the provisions of clause 2, and to appoint officers (“authorised officers”) for this purpose. By virtue of clause 12(2), if a local authority assigns any functions under this Bill to a port health authority by an order under section 2 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, references in the Bill to a “local authority” would be read as references to a “port health authority” for the purpose of those functions.

32.     The Schedule sets out the enforcement powers available to authorised officers.

33.     Paragraph 2 enables an authorised officer to enter premises (other than domestic premises as defined in clause 12) where the officer believes a sunbed business is being carried on (paragraph (a)). Additionally, to the extent necessary to enforce clause 2, paragraph 2 enables the authorised officer to carry out inspections of the premises (paragraph (b)), and to require, inspect, take copies of and take possession of any book, document or record, request information (paragraphs (c) and (d)) and require a person to given information, or afford such facilities and assistance as the officer thinks necessary (paragraph (e)). If the authorised officer takes possession of anything under paragraph (d), the officer must leave on the premises a statement explaining what the officer has taken and the fact that possession of it has been taken (see paragraph 8). The requirement to give information under paragraph (e) does not extend to information which a person could refuse to give in Court. This includes legally privileged material and information which is self-incriminating (see paragraph 4).

34.     The enforcement powers under paragraph 2 are only exercisable where, if asked to do so, the authorised officer produces his written authority.

35.     Paragraph 3 enables the authorised officer to carry out ‘test-purchasing’ exercises.

36.     Paragraph 5 enables a Justice of the Peace to issue a warrant authorising an authorised officer to enter any premises (using reasonable force if necessary), other than premises used wholly or mainly as someone’s home.

37.     Paragraph 6 enables an authorised officer entering premises under paragraph 2 or under warrant to take with him such other people and to bring with him such equipment as he thinks necessary.

38.     Paragraph 7 requires that an authorised officer who has entered permanently or temporarily unoccupied premises under a warrant must effectively secure those premises against trespassers on leaving.

Clause 8: Obstruction etc of authorised officers

39.     Clause 8 provides that any person who without reasonable excuse obstructs an authorised officer acting in the exercise of the officer’s functions under this Bill commits an offence. By subsection (2), a person who fails to give to an authorised officer any facilities, assistance or information which the authorised officer reasonably requires for the purposes of enforcement commits an offence. By subsection (3), a person commits an offence if the person makes a statement which is false or misleading, and either the person knows that it is false or misleading or is reckless as to whether it is false or misleading.

Clause 9: Offences by bodies corporate

40.     Clause 9 provides that, if an offence under this Bill, or any regulations made under it, is committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to the neglect of an officer of a body corporate, then that officer as well as the body corporate is guilty of the offence.

Clause 10: Regulations: general

41.     This clause makes further provision relating to the regulation-making powers conferred by the Bill (that is, the powers in clauses 4, 5 and 6). Subsection (3) allows regulations under the Bill to create offences punishable on summary conviction by a fine of up to £20,000. Subsection (4) allows regulations under the Bill to include provision requiring local authorities to enforce in their area the provisions of the regulations.

Clause 11: Regulations: control by Parliament or National Assembly for Wales

42.     Clause 11 sets out the control applicable by the relevant legislature to regulations made under the Bill.

43.     Regulations are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure if they contain one or more of the following: (i) provisions made under clause 4, (ii) provisions creating offences or increasing the penalty for existing offences, or (iii) provisions in relation to enforcement under clause 10(4).

44.     All other regulations made under the Bill are subject to the negative resolution procedure.

FINANCIAL EFFECTS

45.     The Bill requires local authorities to undertake enforcement activities and to appoint officers for this purpose. The Government estimates that the total annual costs to local authorities in England and Wales to carry out those enforcement activities are likely to be less than £100,000.

PUBLIC SECTOR MANPOWER

46.     No changes in the staff of Government departments and their agencies are expected to result from the Bill.

47.     It is possible that the Bill will impact on wider public sector manpower in terms of the enforcement duties imposed on local authorities.

SUMMARY OF THE IMPACT ASSESSMENT

48.     The impact assessment, which relates to England and Wales, illustrates the costs and benefits if legislation were used to prohibit the use of sunbeds in commercial premises by people under the age of 18. The impact assessment considers the costs of the proposal for the sunbed industry, on local authorities and on other sectors including the criminal justice system. It also considers the benefits of the proposal in respect of savings to the National Health Service. The impact assessment concludes that the benefits justify the costs. The evidence base for the impact assessment also includes results for the Competition Assessment, Small Firms Impact Test and the Health Impact Assessment. The results of the Equality Impact Assessment are annexed to the impact assessment and show that an adverse impact is unlikely.

COMMENCEMENT DATE

49.     Clause 14 provides for the Bill to come into force a year after it is passed.

 
 
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Prepared: 27 January 2010