Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 12 March 2010

Bid for sunbed ban passes MP vote

The Bill would ban under 18s and unstaffed sunbed salons

A bid by the Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan to see under-18s banned from using tanning salons has moved closer to becoming a law in Wales and England.

The private member's bill has received cross-party support from MPs, and will now pass to the House of Lords to be considered.

An attempt by Conservative MP Christopher Chope to change the proposal was thrown out.

Cancer Research UK said it was "delighted" to see support for the law.

The charity says its own research has shown that more than a 250,000 children between the ages of 11-17 have used sunbeds in England and Wales.

"The dangers of sunbeds are unquestionable," insisted Cancer Research's head of policy, Sarah Woolnough.

"The International Agency for Research into Cancer has elevated them into the highest risk category for cancer, alongside tobacco.

"And people who begin using sunbeds under the age of 35 are increasing their chance of developing malignant melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer - by 75%."

The Cardiff Labour MP won the chance to bring forward her call for legislation after winning a ballot in the House of Commons.

Preventing harm

Speaking in Friday's debate, she said the measure would "save lives".

"It is important - it will protect young people," she added.

Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts had joined Mrs Morgan and Health Secretary Andy Burnham to launch the bid for a change in the law in the Commons in January.

The bill would place a duty on sunbed salon operators to prevent the use of its equipment by under-18s, and would also give local authority enforcement officers the powers inspect premises and penalise those who broke the laws.

It would also ban unmanned automatic coin-operated salons, which have been highlighted in a number of cases in Wales, including a 10-year-old girl from Port Talbot who received 70% burns in a salon last year.

The UK government's junior health minister, Ann Keen offered her support to the Bill, saying: "Voluntary self-regulation by the industry has not worked, and the government is committed to taking action to prevent young people from harming themselves through using sunbeds."

Mr Chope failed in attempts to make a series of amendments to the bill, which he called "draconian", including a reduction in the size of the maximum fine.

But he eventually concluded: "I grudgingly concede that it is probably better than nothing."

The bill will now be considered by the House of Lords, where Baroness Finlay of Llandaff has already said she will take it on there.

However, it could still struggle to make it onto the statute books, as parliamentary time is running out before a general election is called.

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