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House of Lords

Tuesday, 24th June 2003.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Peterborough.

Lord Cullen of Whitekirk

William Douglas Cullen, having been created Baron Cullen of Whitekirk, of Whitekirk in the County of East Lothian, for life—Was, in his robes, introduced between the Lord Rodger of Earlsferry and the Baroness Linklater of Butterstone.

Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan any action to discourage sun exposure, including the use of sunbeds, particularly among young people at risk of developing skin cancer.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, we have, with key stakeholders, developed the SunSmart campaign, run by Cancer Research UK. The campaign was launched in March and funded by the UK health departments. Campaign leaflets and posters have been sent to all GP surgeries, secondary schools and health promotion units. A copy of the leaflet is in the Library of the House.

The advice given by the Health and Safety Executive on sunbeds is that no one should exceed 20 sunbed sessions per year. Under-16s are advised not to use sunbeds at all. The Department of Health "SunSafe" webpages provide advice on sun safety and are designed to be attractive to children.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and take the opportunity to congratulate him on his appointment. I declare an interest as someone who has had sun-induced skin cancer and who has been married to a dermatologist.

I have grave concerns about the Minister's reply, because the excellent campaign with Cancer Research UK has only just started. Does the Minister recognise that Australia, after a 20-year ongoing campaign, has managed to cut the numbers of deaths through malignant melanoma? Even though Australia has a higher number of cases per annum, it has about 1,000 deaths per annum, whereas we have about 1,640 per annum. Malignant melanoma is now the third main killer of young people.

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Does the Minister also recognise that schools need to be actively involved in a long-term campaign so that children do not have PE at lunchtime out in the open, are encouraged to cover up, and schools are encouraged to create shade?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her welcoming remarks. It is worth informing the House that the Sun Know How campaign was run by the Health Education Authority between 1994 and 2000, so it is not as though we are just starting with this particular campaign. We intend to carry on with the campaign, as I think I made clear in my initial Answer. Children are at the centre of the campaign. Much effort is being devoted to making the webpage attractive to them. The national and regional media, broadcast and print, carry a lot of information about the campaign which provides parents with information to give to their children.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, while I greatly welcome the public health campaign, the SunSmart campaign, will the Minister consider the regulation of sunbed parlours? As he knows, sunbeds double the risk of contracting skin cancer. Are sunbed parlours inspected by the National Care Standards Commission or will they be inspected by CHI? Are there any limits on the use of sunbeds by under-16s, as is proposed in Scotland?

Lord Warner: My Lords, the Department of Health's medical view is that the use of sunbeds should be discouraged. However, I draw the noble Lord's attention to the advisory committee on non-ionizing radiation chaired by Sir Richard Doll which recommended that the use of sunbeds and sun lamps for cosmetic tanning should be discouraged. However, it also said that the scientific evidence is as yet insufficient to permit a firm conclusion regarding a causal relationship between the use of tanning lamps and skin cancer. Inspecting and ensuring safety in parlours where sun lamps and sunbeds are used is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive, which has issued guidance on the subject, and local environmental health officers.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords—

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, will my noble friend explain—

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner, is going to ask a question about Australia.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, as an Australian I have suffered many skin cancers although I came to live in the northern hemisphere in my early twenties. However, it is what you do in terms of exposure to the sun when you are young that matters. Fortunately, basal cell carcinoma is not the same as melanomas, which are much more horrific, but I must have had dozens removed. Does the Minister

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appreciate that in Australia the "Slip, Slop, Slap" campaign—that is, slip on your cream, slap on your hat and so on—has been more effective since sportsmen have put cream on their faces? They comprise the peer group for young people. As I say, it is what you do in terms of exposure to the sun when you are young that matters. The peer group for young people comprises sports heroes. Will the Minister ensure that sports heroes are also involved in such campaigns in this country?

Lord Warner: My Lords, we miss Shane Warne and his icon image covered up in the sun. We must approach Michael Vaughan and see what he can offer.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, can my noble friend explain the role of the Health and Safety Executive because, quite rightly, it gave guidance as to how often people should use sunbeds, but surely its role is defined in the 1974 Act as being responsible for looking after people at work? Is my noble friend really suggesting that everyone who is on a sunbed is at work in a "slip, slop, slap" in a massage parlour?

Lord Warner: No, my Lords, but I am suggesting that the Health and Safety Executive issued guidance in 1995 on the use of sunbeds in commercial premises. The fact that they are in commercial premises means that the HSE becomes involved.

Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, Section 3, obliges employers to protect members of the public who may be at risk because of their faulty working practices?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I understand that. The Health and Safety Executive has issued extensive information and literature on controlling health risks and on the use of ultra violet tanning equipment. That information is available to people running sunbed parlours and to the public.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, what is the percentage of people who go abroad and get skin cancers as compared with those who holiday at home?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I do not think that information is available but I shall inquire and write to the noble Baroness.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the Question seems to relate mostly to children. Does it mean that those who are of riper years are all right from the point of view of sunbeds and sun?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I believe that all of us should wear a T-shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and factor 15 sunscreen when out in the sun.

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Foreign Direct Investment

2.51 p.m.

Lord Watson of Richmond asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they intend to take to reverse the decline in the United Kingdom's share of foreign investment from outside the European Union.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, latest Eurostat figures show that in 2000 the UK had 52.9 per cent of the stock of foreign direct investment from outside the European Union. That was a drop of 2.1 percentage points on 1999. We do not have more recent comparable figures as other countries in Europe are not as prompt as we are in delivering their figures.

Ernst & Young's project-based figures for 2002 make it clear that the UK continues to attract more investment than any other country except for the US. The Government are determined to see the UK retain its position as No. 1 in Europe and will continue to pursue economic policies that will ensure that.

Lord Watson of Richmond: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for that reply, and congratulate him on his additional responsibilities. However, I am sure that he will confirm that one statistic brought to his attention was that published at the beginning of the month by the European Commission data office. It made it clear that, since the introduction of the euro-zone, our share of foreign investment from outside the European Union has declined from 48 per cent to 25 per cent. In the light of that startling and worrying trend, would he not confirm that any advocacy of ruling out membership of the euro-zone in perpetuity would be something of a suicide note?

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that question. I do not recognise the statistics that he gives. The statistics that I have from government sources and Ernst & Young paint a quite different picture. For example, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that foreign direct investment stock in the UK in the fourth quarter of 2002 was at a record level of 396.2 billion, an increase of 15.6 billion, or 4 per cent, on the same quarter in 2001.

The Government are confident that a successfully operating economic and monetary union, and UK membership of the euro on the right basis, would boost inward investment over the longer term. However, there is a risk that the longer the membership of the euro is delayed, the longer the potential gains in terms of increased inward investment are postponed.

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