Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:57 am on 16th October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Laura Farris Laura Farris Conservative, Newbury 10:57 am, 16th October 2020

I will proceed for a moment and give way in due course.

Two points about the personal injury element are particularly pertinent. The first is that the very act of injecting filler or botox into a young and developing face has potentially serious medical consequences in and of itself. The second is that if it does go wrong, the impact, not just physically but psychologically, could be so much more serious than for an adult. My hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks gave the example of a young 15-year-old girl who nearly lost her lips; imagine the trauma that surrounds that.

The force of the Bill is not just in its creation of an offence of injecting a filler or botox into an under-18-year-old, but in the scope of the defence set out in clause 2(4)—the reasonably onerous requirement for a practitioner to show that they took “all reasonable precautions” and conducted “due diligence” in establishing the age of their patient before they administered the treatment. The Bill does not just have the effect of creating an offence if the practitioner fails to do that; as my hon. Friend Claire Coutinho said, by introducing such a regulation, it brings insurance into the frame and creates a right to make a claim for personal injury against a practitioner—a claim for damages should personal injury arise—in a case of this nature.

The second reason why I support the Bill is that it implicitly recognises the undesirable psychological impact of children embarking on invasive cosmetic procedures. This goes so much further than a manicure or a haircut; it is the beginning of a teenager, basically, changing their face. They do it because of a three-pronged assault that they face: from celebrities, from people who participate in reality TV shows, and from social media. I have to say that I think Instagram is particularly pernicious in this regard.

That is why the Bill dovetails so neatly with the ten-minute rule Bill introduced by my hon. Friend Dr Evans. When they are taken together, they are more than the sum of their parts, because they recognise that young people face a barrage of photographs of women with an unattainable standard of beauty, where the woman herself has probably been doctored and the image certainly has, too. These young people, at a stage in their lives when they are impressionable, vulnerable and at their least assured of their own identities, are fed a tacit message that it is not just desirable but necessary to adhere to that standard of beauty.