Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:10 am on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of Suzanne Webb Suzanne Webb Conservative, Stourbridge 11:10 am, 16th October 2020

My hon. Friend raises a really important point. It is the fact that people feel so self-conscious, but it is also about how, by embracing who you are, you take the consequences of your actions. We all fail at times—we cannot always look beautiful, and we sometimes make disastrous decisions about what we are wearing and how we look—but that is how we grow and learn, and that is how we become strong. We become strong individuals in our life by learning through our mistakes and so forth. It is about turning up with the wrong frock or the wrong jacket on, putting too much lipstick on, or just looking flipping awful some days. Am I allowed to say “flipping” in here? That is what it is about, and it makes you a strong character. Manufacturing who you are does not make you resilient for life, and I think that is a very important point.

The growth in non-surgical treatments increases the need for consumer protection, and I believe it is important to work with stakeholders to strengthen the regulation of cosmetic procedures, so that only regulated health professionals may administer botox or dermal fillers to under-18s, which may be required for medical reasons. It concerned me greatly when I heard about the impact on and damage to that person. The story was quite heartbreaking.

I know that botox is a treatment option for people who suffer from chronic migraines. It is used in the treatment of a range of medical conditions, including the management of bladder dysfunctions, face and eyelid twitching, painful involuntary neck muscle contractions and severe sweating, as my hon. Friend Claire Coutinho has already mentioned. I am pleased that it will be used in these cases, with under-18s being able to access that treatment.

I believe it is important that these procedures remain available where there is an assessed medical need. I think that is key—the assessed medical need. It is not needed for beauty; it is needed only for a medical reason and when provided by a registered health professional. At present, practitioners do not need to be medically qualified to perform those procedures, which is a great concern. I did not realise that that was the case until my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks introduced her Bill. There are no mandatory competency or qualification frameworks related to the administration of those procedures, which is incredibly scary. The potential health risks, which she raised, include blindness, tissue necrosis, infection, scarring and psychological impact.

My hon. Friend has made a really powerful case for the need to prevent under-18s from accessing botox or dermal filler procedures for aesthetic reasons, making the administration of botox and cosmetic fillers by injection to under-18s an offence, and I thank her for doing so. She also wants to establish a regulatory framework for local authorities to ensure that businesses have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent under-18s from using their services. She has 100% support from me for her Bill, which will stop dangerous and unnecessary non-medical procedures that can ruin children’s lives. Let us not forget that. We do not yet know the consequences for a young adult of using botox. We still do not know the consequences for adults of using botox as a beauty treatment.

The Bill also ensures that any treatments that are required are performed by a medical practitioner, which I really appreciate. For me, the most important part of the Bill, in conjunction with the private Member’s Bill introduced by my hon. Friend Dr Evans, which tackles body dysmorphia and unrealistic images in social media, is the fact that it contributes significantly to promoting body positivity, which I have long championed, and I will continue to do so. That begins at home and at school, and we need to educate young adults and children from the age of one, two, three, four and upwards. They are beautiful as they are. We embrace who we are and what we look like, and that is what makes us stronger in life. Any measures that do that have my unquestionable and unwavering support.