Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill

It is nice to be able to start a speech in a debate on a private Member’s Bill without having to declare an interest, although my children suggest I should perhaps reconsider. As the next piece of business is on drugs testing in prison, I should say that the same applies to that debate.

Shortly after I was elected in 2015, a constituent came to one of my surgeries with a case that was later taken up by Save Face. It concerned a cosmetic surgeon who was conducting procedures from his home in my constituency, claiming to be a nurse consultant and describing himself as on the same level as a doctor. The truth was that he had been struck off for failing to disclose a serious assault conviction related to domestic abuse.

The lack of safeguards around these procedures is shocking, as is the lack of accountability of many of those carrying them out. That is a huge problem for the population as a whole. Fortunately, my constituent’s daughter’s procedure was not botched, but too many are. When they are, they too often have life-changing impacts. That is a terrible scar—quite literally—for many adults, but when it affects children and young people we have a particular responsibility to act.

The growth in botox, fillers and other similar cosmetic procedures is of great regret to Members on both sides of the House, because it reflects a deeper problem in society and the way that people feel about themselves and value themselves. A large part of it is down to the effect of celebrities and influencers in making treatments popular, particularly among young people who see Kylie Jenner in TV shows such as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, to give just one example, as a way of measuring their own worth, yet nothing could be further from the truth. That is damaging enough when the actions taken amount only to a filter on Snapchat to alter appearance into some idealised version, but it cannot be right to leave unregulated such permanent life-changing surgery on people who are not yet at the age of majority. There is a responsibility to act in law.

I am pleased by the work that Girlguiding has done to promote body confidence through its Free Being Me programme, helping to address some of the root causes of this trend. There is a clear need for the Bill that my hon. Friend
the Member for Sevenoaks (Laura Trott) has rightly introduced to restrict the use of such procedures on children for aesthetic purposes when it is not medically necessary.