Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I have not put my name to the amendment, but I want to make it clear

10 Sept 2003 : Column 366

that we support it. Had I been quick enough, I would have added my name, but I was not. I want to make it clear that it receives all-party agreement.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I hope that my remarks will be welcomed. It is certainly my intention to be helpful on this amendment.

We argued earlier, and we stick to the point, that we feel that the amendment is unnecessary. But we understand and appreciate the motive behind it. Like the noble Baroness, I have been in council chambers which have appalling audio systems. They are a positive barrier to debate and are very unhelpful, particularly to those with a hearing difficulty. It is right that local authorities address the needs of those members of the authority who have any form of disability. We recognise and support that point.

As the noble Baroness has said, the issue of discrimination against disabled councillors was raised in 2000 by the Disability Rights Task Force. In responding to its report, the Government undertook in 2001 to extend the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to local councillors.

We believe that it would be wrong to make piecemeal changes to the disability legislation. As the House is now aware, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions intends to publish a draft disability rights Bill later this year. We gave a commitment at Committee stage that my right honourable friend the Minister of State would write to those who raised concerns during the course of that debate. I am happy to say that, in response, the Secretary of State has confirmed his intention to legislate on this matter.

We believe that the disability rights Bill will be the correct legislative vehicle to consider extending the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act. The Disability Rights Commission agrees with us in that regard and has made it plain that it prefers that as the best means of addressing the issue. So we are at one with the spirit behind the amendment. We accept the points that have been made and we intend to deal with them in the forthcoming disability rights Bill. Obviously, we hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful for that response. Part of the way through the Minister's speech, I thought that I should have to ask whether he had intentionally put a full-stop between "we will legislate" and "there will be a Bill". But he said at the end, as I understand it—I say this in terms so that he can contradict me if necessary—that the draft disability rights Bill will be the vehicle to deal with the issue. Yes, the Minister is nodding his acknowledgement that that is the case. On that basis I am glad to enable us to move on. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 115 [Local polls]:

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

10 Sept 2003 : Column 367

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 17:


    After Clause 118, insert the following new clause—


"REGULATION OF COSMETIC PIERCING AND SKIN-COLOURING BUSINESSES
(1) Section 15 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30) (regulation of tattooing, ear-piercing and electrolysis businesses) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) (requirement for person carrying on business to be registered), for paragraph (b) (ear-piercing) there is substituted—
"(aa) of semi-permanent skin-colouring;
(b) of cosmetic piercing; or"
(and in the side-note for "ear-piercing" there is substituted "semi-permanent skin-colouring, cosmetic piercing").
(3) In subsection (2) (requirement to register premises where business carried on)—
(a) for "ear-piercing" there is substituted "semi-permanent skin-colouring, cosmetic piercing", and
(b) for "pierce their ears" there is substituted "carry out semi-permanent skin-colouring on them, pierce their bodies".
(4) In subsection (5) (local authority may not require particulars about individuals whose ears have been pierced etc.), for "or whose ears he has pierced" there is substituted ", whose bodies he has pierced or on whom he has carried out semi-permanent skin-colouring".
(5) After subsection (8) there is inserted—
"(9) In this section "semi-permanent skin-colouring" means the insertion of semi-permanent colouring into a person's skin."
(6) Schedule (Section (Regulation of cosmetic piercing and skin-colouring businesses): transition) (which makes provision about transition) has effect."

The noble Lord said: These amendments are to meet a government commitment to give local authorities outside London specific powers to regulate cosmetic body piercing and micropigmentation businesses. London local authorities already have such powers under private legislation.

The new clause would amend the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 to bring cosmetic body piercing and micropigmentation businesses under the regulatory framework of registration and by-laws that already apply to ear piercing, tattooing, acupuncture and electrolysis.

Under that framework, local authorities would be able to require cosmetic body piercing and micropigmentation businesses to register with them and observe by-laws on hygiene and cleanliness for preventing the transmission of infection. For example, businesses would be required to use sterile instruments for each client. It would be an offence to trade without registration or breach by-laws.

The term "cosmetic piercing" is used to include cosmetic body piercing and ear piercing as these are both forms of skin piercing to allow the insertion of jewellery into the skin. This is the approach taken in the London legislation. "Semi-permanent skin colouring", which means the insertion of semi-permanent colouring into a person's skin, is used to include micropigmentation and related activities such as semi-permanent make-up and temporary tattooing. The use of this umbrella term should stand the test of time should further activities of this kind come into fashion.

10 Sept 2003 : Column 368

The schedule allows a smooth transition when the new legislation is adopted by local authorities. In brief, the transitional provisions provide that the amendment does not affect persons and premises already registered for activities under Section 15 of the 1982 Act—for example, tattooing, ear piercing and electrolysis; the amendment does not affect pending local authority resolutions to apply Section 15 of the 1982 Act in their area; where a local authority has already resolved that Section 15 of the 1982 Act should be brought into force in their area for tattooing, ear piercing and electrolysis, the local authority will be automatically enabled to apply the registration and by-laws regime to cosmetic piercing and semi-permanent skin colouring; and a person and premises already registered for ear piercing shall be counted as registered for cosmetic piercing unless cosmetic body piercing is subsequently provided when a new registration would be required.

This is a serious issue and it is only the lateness of the hour that prevents me giving your Lordships some samples from my The Wildcat Collection catalogue of sophisticated body adornments, which has been on my bookshelf for a considerable number of years. I can show noble Lords that there is no part—and I mean no part—of the human anatomy that cannot have fitted to it a sophisticated body adornment. I do not have the guts to read out some of the details, but my noble friend on the Front Bench has been having a look. I have only one copy of this and I shall not put it in the Library.

I just want to make clear that we are talking about a very serious issue. I once did a TV programme, which is where I picked up this catalogue, and one consultant at one hospital—Wolverhampton I believe—gave examples of having to dig out of bodies some of these sophisticated body adornments—which is the phrase I shall always use—from the most unlikely places. He had been quite surprised himself but he knew that it did not all stop at nipple rounders or spiked nipple collars. There were polo locks and nostril studs and all kind of things. There is a warning on some of the items that they are not suitable for genital piercing—although most of them are—which applies to both males and females. It requires the utmost care. In this case one can take one's own CD and they will do the piercing for you in air-conditioned premises. The prices are obviously a little out of date—I would not dream of reading out some of the prices—and quite modest. As I say, the catalogue has been on my bookshelf for some years.

People choose to do this. One issue I raised on Report was that of young children whose mothers were having them pierced, probably for their own gratification in a way. There is nothing intrinsically wrong or unhealthy in that as long as it is done under proper conditions. There is no question about that; no one says that anything is wrong. The evidence is that the legislation can work in London and we think that the time has come for premises to be more regulated, hence the Government have tabled this amendment. I am only sorry that there is not time to say where all the

10 Sept 2003 : Column 369

pear-drop and nuclear weights can be fitted on the body, and the ultimate necklace—I have to say—is not intended for the neck. I beg to move.

7.45 p.m.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the very welcome reception of this amendment. It was originally moved in the House of Commons by my honourable friend Philip Hammond. After vague promises there we reintroduced the amendment here to see whether we could get those promises firmed up. I am delighted that the Government have seen the sense and, indeed, the necessity of ensuring that these various piercings are carried out under regulated circumstances.

On Report I cited the case of a young man who had diabetes. No medical history was taken because there was no necessity to do so. And because no one was performing particularly capably in the premises where the piercing was carried out, he died. He got septicaemia. That was a desperately unhappy outcome of his trying to make himself look better.

I am delighted that the regulations will be put in force. The Minister was kind enough to write to me about the perplexing question of consent. As the Minister said, not only can mothers have their children's ears pierced, but on the other hand it would be the mothers who would give consent if they were asked for it. So that is a difficult area. I understand that this issue is covered by common law—for example, the assault of a person. So that if there was a complaint made it would, by definition, be something that could be dealt with, although it would probably have to be dealt with by civil prosecution. None the less, this is a huge step forward. I thank the Minister on behalf of my honourable friend, who has been sitting up there for a very long time. I think it is fair to say that he has given up at the one moment when he might have been given credit for the actions that he has taken. I thank the noble Lord.

On Question, amendment agreed to.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page