HC Deb 04 December 1967 vol 755 cc950-2
54. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that a letter from his Department, dated 26th September, 1967, incorrectly stated that Professor Sir Arthur Amies, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Science at the University of Melbourne, had denied that he was opposed to fluoridation; and if he will take an early opportunity to correct the misstatement.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Kenneth Robinson)

The letter to which the hon. Member refers correctly stated that this gentleman had published a statement contradicting the propaganda that he is opposed to fluoridation. This he did in a letter of 29th May, 1963, to the President of the Australian Dental Association in which he said he was neither for nor against the proposition to fluoridate. I have, however, now become aware that he has recently said that he holds the opinion that artificial fluoridation should not be employed until a great deal more knowledge is obtained concerning toxic effects. I am also aware that, with one exception, his colleagues in the Melbourne Faculty of Dentistry and Dental Hospital have dissociated themselves from his views.

Mr. Hall

Is the Minister aware that the House will be glad to hear that he has been able to correct the wrong impression held that the professor had opposed fluoridation; and that his statement at least has clarified this misunderstanding?

56. Dr. David Kerr

asked the Minister of Health how many local authorities have agreed to support the fluoridation of their local water supplies; how many have refused; and what further advice he is offering on this subject.

Mr. K. Robinson

Of the 203 local health authorities in England and Wales, 110 have decided in favour of fluoridation of water supplies and 73 against. In addition to encouraging the implementation of individual proposals, I am considering what further advice and encouragement can best be given.

Dr. Kerr

Does not my right hon. Friend think that this situation is rather unsatisfactory? This matter has been hanging fire for much too long. Should we not be getting on in a much more forceful way if we are to protect children's teeth adequately?

Mr. Robinson

I would agree that progress has been disappointingly slow, but in three areas fluoridation has been carried out and 16 water undertakers are discussing with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government the possibility of introducing schemes. A further seven schemes are being examined in detail, and seven have been approved but not yet put into operation.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the Minister not aware that much tendentious and in accurate propaganda is being disseminated against fluoridation by the so-called "pure water association "? Will he publish the 10-year results in Watford and Anglesey, which will completely refute the arguments of the "pure water" people?

Mr. Robinson

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman about the tendentious propaganda going on. I will certainly look into the question of the publication of the results obtained by these two authorities.

Mr. Rankin

Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the 73 local authorities which have had the good sense to oppose the fluoridation of the water supply? Is he aware that the Kilmarnock Town Council carried out an experiment which has shown that fluoridation does not protect the teeth of young people?

Mr. Robinson

I do not agree with the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. I certainly will not congratulate those 73 councils, which I think are misguided.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

Can the Minister say whether it is still his policy that the final decision in this matter should be the local authority's, and not that of his Ministry?

Mr. Robinson

Yes, Sir. I am still hopeful that we shall get the right results by persuasion.