Prevention Of Scalding Injuries

House of Commons

Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): I will be brief because the House has a busy day. I pay tribute to the sincerity with which the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) spoke to her Bill. I should say, for the record, that I have never to my knowledge fallen asleep in the bath. The shower that I had this morning did not have a thermostatic valve, and nor do any of the showers in either my flat in London, or my house in Worcestershire. While I respect the hon. Lady's sincerity, I simply ask her to reflect on whether the Bill might be a step too far. Ten-minute Bills are useful to raise awareness of important issues. I introduced such a Bill for that purpose some 10 years ago with great success. However, I hope that the hon. Lady might be persuaded to leave it there.

Let us get the matter in some perspective before deciding which of us is right. I am told that of some 100,000 burns injuries, scalding accounts in total for some 2,500, and about 2,000 of those cases are minor. I accept that it is a problem if there are 500 serious scalding injuries. We often talk in the House about the nanny state. Such phrases in the political lexicon are perhaps used too often and their overuse can lead to their devaluation. However, when the House considers such matters, it must reflect carefully on the point at which individuals must take personal responsibility for their actions and when politicians should tell people how to behave.

I accept that the hon. Lady has made a powerful case for vulnerable people using thermostatic valves for their baths. I would prefer a scheme to assist vulnerable people to access such valves so that risks were minimised. There are many wrongs and problems in the world, but they cannot all be answered by political intervention, and my suspicion remains that we are considering such a problem. An intervention made by the House must be proportionate to the problem that it

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is trying to address and must genuinely protect the freedom of others. The Bill, well meaning though it is, fails both tests.

Mr. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): Will my hon. Friend give way?

Peter Luff: I do not think that I am procedurally allowed to give way during a speech on a ten-minute Bill. I apologise to my hon. Friend.

I listened, as many hon. Members would have done, to this morning's "Today" programme and heard the gloriously flippant responses received from many listeners. I heard the voice of John Humphreys rising with incredulity as he presented the piece. However, there are serious issues to consider. After a long day out in the countryside in the winter, it is my preference to relax in a long bath. I let a bit of cold water out and put a lot more hot water in so that I can have a half-hour bath, rather than a five-minute bath. Baths are not just for cleansing, they are also for therapy, and I suspect that the Bill would get in the way of the liberty that I enjoy.

The issue is important, and I pay tribute to the way in which the hon. Lady has raised it. It is often said that the state should keep out of the bedroom, but it is my view that the state should keep out of the bathroom, too. Frankly, the idea deserves a cold bath, although I give a warm welcome to the spirit in which the hon. Lady raised it.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 23 (Motions for leave to bring Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business), and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mary Creagh, Sandra Gidley, Mr. David Blunkett, Mrs. Siân C. James, Dr. Alasdair McDonnell, Dr. Ian Gibson, Alan Simpson, Mr. Stewart Jackson, Mr. Sadiq Khan, Mr. Robert Walter and John Bercow.

Prevention of Scalding Injuries (Bathing in the Home)
Mary Creagh accordingly presented a Bill to make provision about the installation in homes of thermostatic mixing valves to set bath tap water temperature to a maximum of 46 degrees centigrade; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 16 June, and to be printed [Bill 160].

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