HC Deb 26 January 1972 vol 829 cc1378-9
20. Mr. Maddan

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, in the context of the reorganisation of water services, if he intends the regional water authorities to have responsibility for fluoridation.

Mr. Peter Walker

Whether fluoride should be added to water in a particular area will be decided by the local health authorities.

Mr. Maddan

Will my right hon. Friend encourage water authorities to encourage health authorities to fluoridate water? Would he agree that improvement in the water supply over the decades has helped to eliminate cholera, typhoid, polio and dysentery? Would he agree that it is impossible to draw a line between purification and improvement—lime is an example—and that therefore fluoridation should be encouraged.

Mr. Walker

On the first half of the question, No. Sir. I do not believe that this is a task for the new water authorities to perform. On the second half of the question, it is up to the health authorities to decide.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Secretary of State do something urgently to cut through the red tape surrounding the situation of eight million Londoners? There are 32 county boroughs. Twenty-seven want to fluoridate, but because it is a metropolitan water authority, one council is sufficient to prevent this happening. Would the Secretary of State do something in order to get the will of the majority acceded to?

Mr. Walker

I will pass this matter on to my right hon. Friend, who is responsible for health matters.

Mr. John Hall

Would my right hon. Friend agree that it is rather dangerous to enforce medication of water? If we did that, should we not cater for the most prevalent of modern complaints and put Epsom salts in the water?

Mr. Walker

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will take note of my hon. Friend's suggestion about Epsom salts. But it is not the task of the water authorities to decide on this point.

Mr. Denis Howell

Would the Secretary of State think again about this matter? His answer that it was a matter for health authorities is correct at present, but when we get regional water authorities we shall not have regional health authorities. We shall certainly have a great deal of conflict, and we need some new thinking about this.

Mr. Walker

I will certainly give consideration to any problems which may arise in this sphere. But it is a matter for health authorities, and not water authorities, to decide.