Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:44 am on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk 9:44 am, 16th October 2020

The Bill is about fillers, and we could have had a filibuster—you never know.

I congratulate my hon. Friend Laura Trott on her brilliant speech. This Bill is clearly well justified. She set out the scope of it and the key powers in it, and she has done herself immense credit.

I need to declare an interest. For many years, I have benefited from an artificial enhancement to my appearance. It may not be obvious to most people in the room, and before the speculation starts, it is not botox. It is made of something called hydrogels. I am, of course, referring to my contact lenses.

The point is a serious one. It is a good feature of the Bill that it will still be legal for children to have botox treatments where it is necessary for medical surgery. We talk about “enhanced appearance”. In my case, if I did not wear my lenses, whatever it did to my appearance, it would certainly affect everyone else’s, because my prescription is minus 7.5 in the left eye and minus 9 in the right eye, and I have a strong astigmatism. Without my lenses or glasses, I would not be able to see anything. I had glasses in secondary school that were so thick, it was like someone had attached two pint glasses to my head. When I got contact lenses, it helped with sport and many other things, and it gave a huge boost to my self-confidence and self-esteem. I will not comment on whatever it did to my appearance, because that is not the point. I understand and empathise with those who want to invest in procedures or enhancements that give them greater self-confidence about their appearance. It is an entirely reasonable thing to do, and millions of people do it up and down the country. I am not necessarily aware of the cases involving children, but many people use botox perfectly reasonably and are very happy with the results. It is a booming industry, and I suspect most procedures are successful.

As much as I welcome the Bill and believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks made a good case, we on the Government Benches in particular—there are not many on the Opposition Benches—should, by default, take the devil’s advocate position with respect to any regulation that will restrict what people can do, no matter how worthy. I feel I have to do that, given that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, who was supposed to speak before me, probably would have examined that position in some detail.

These are heavily regulated times. I have a table booked in a restaurant in my constituency on Sunday for the six members of my family. Because Essex has gone into tier 2, I got a phone call to ask whether any of us are from Essex. At a time when we are regulating every aspect of daily life—which, of course, is for reasons beyond our control, because of covid—we must be extra careful in examining the case for all new regulations, even if it is morally very strong.