Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:22 am on 16th October 2020.

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Photo of David Johnston David Johnston Conservative, Wantage 11:22 am, 16th October 2020

May I begin by congratulating my good friend, my hon. Friend Laura Trott? If a Member is drawn high on the list for private Members’ Bills that is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing, because it provides a rare opportunity to put one’s name on a piece of legislation as a humble Back Bencher, but it is a curse, because one’s inbox immediately explodes, as every special interest group, charity and business wants you to use their ready-made Bill. It is fair to say—I hope she does not mind my saying so—that she could have picked an issue that generated more hype and likes for her on social media, but instead she has opted to do something really important. I congratulate her on doing so, as it demonstrates the kind of Member of Parliament that she is.

I have been a Member of Parliament only since December, and I am already struck by the fact that private Members’ Bills seek to do things that are surprising, because I cannot believe that they are not already law. It is extraordinary that people under 18 can be given these procedures and possibly suffer damaging effects as a result. They cannot have a tattoo on their skin until they are 18, yet they can have these procedures under their skin. That demonstrates why the measure is necessary and why the industry as a whole needs greater regulation.

When preparing to speak on the Bill, I spoke to various beauty clinics and salons in my constituency. Some of them offer these treatments, but others do not. NIYA Beauty Clinic in Southmoor does not do them, but thought unquestionably that they should be banned—that it was not appropriate to offer them to under-18s. The Good Skin Club in Wallingford and the House of Beaux in Didcot thought exactly the same. They offer those treatments, but they use highly qualified people to do so, and administer them only to adults. They both felt, as do I and a number of hon. Members, that the danger of people who are unlicensed and do not know what they are doing applies to all ages. We are discussing the under-18s, but there is a broader question about who is administering treatments that can cause bruising, swelling and perhaps blindness, as we have heard, and which can affect people of all ages.

As we are talking about the under-18s, let me say that when I was a teenager people wanted to get hold of alcohol as early as they could, try it and see what it was like. They wanted to stay out late at night, even though they had nothing really to do; they just wanted to be out, hanging around. They wanted make-up, outfits and piercings that their parents strongly disapproved of. All of that is true today, but when I was a teenager they did not want to have these kinds of treatments—they do today. So what has changed? It is clear that if a doctor that has not told someone to have these treatments, they have no health benefit—in fact, they pose great health risks. We will not find many adults who think our children need to have these alterations. What has changed is a lot of what we have heard about in this House today: the impact of social media and advertising; and the poor mental health and low self-esteem that so many children have at the moment. It is the same thing that has led to a rise in eating disorders and in self-harm. So I completely support this Bill, because it tackles a very real danger that those under 18 are facing, but we should all have our eyes on the factors that lead them to take that risk in the first place.