HC Deb 23 July 1962 vol 663 cc939-41
23. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Health if he will take steps towards the provision of fluoride in the drinking water supplies in areas where the natural concentration is low, in view of the results achieved in certain areas of the country and the resultant benefit to health.

27. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health what action he proposes to take following his recent report on the experiments on the fluoridation of water to prevent dental decay.

56. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Health what action he now proposes to take to prevent dental decay by adding fluoride to drinking water.

The Minister of Health (Mr. J. Enoch Powell)

I would refer the hon. Members to my (reply of 9th July to the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon).

Mr. Lubbock

When the Minister examines the report he has received, will he consider providing financial assistance to local authorities which are prepared to introduce fluoridation of their water supplies; bearing in mind that the cost would be very low and that the Ministry of Health would save large sums of money on the treatment of dental decay?

Mr. Powell

The fact that the cost would be very How can be argued both ways, but this is obviously one of the points in question.

Mr. Pavitt

Is the Minister aware that he has been ultra-cautious in taking such a long time to reach a decision, but now that the Report has come out, will he press on with the utmost speed so as to get action on the results of the experiments? Will he also make it known to local authorities that there is no value in stannous fluoride being used in toothpaste; that the real answer lies in the fluoridation of water and not in toothpaste?

Mr. Powell

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's second point arises on this Question. As to the first point, this report has only recently appeared. It deads with a very important matter, and I think it right that time should be spent in giving it full consideration.

Mr. Lipton

As the Government find it almost impossible to provide adequate school dental services, would it not be simpler, quicker and cheaper to adopt the recommendation of the Committee with regard to fluoridation than to allow the situation to drift?

Mr. Powell

I do not think that this would obviate the importance of the school health service, but it is obviously a point in the matter.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the doubts about this matter are not confined to eccentric opponents of the proposal, but that it is a subject of very widespread importance and most people will be very grateful to him if he takes the utmost care in examining it before reaching a decision that will affect so many people?

Mr. Powell

I agree entirely about the importance of this point.