§ 17. Mr. James Lamond
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has received any communication from the Oldham Executive Council regarding the patient/dentist ratio in the Oldham area.
§ Mr. Alison
Yes, Sir: a letter dated 5th January 1973 enclosing for information a copy of a letter which the Chairman of the Oldham Executive Council had addressed to the Editor of the British Dental Journal.
§ Mr. Lamond
Did the Minister observe that the Chairman of the Oldham Executive Council had referred to his previous answer in the House as "misleading" and "juggling with statistics"? Is it not the case that there is a serious shortage of dentists in many areas of the country? Would not the Minister be better employed in trying to do something constructive about that shortage rather than juggling with figures to conceal the true picture when an hon. Member asks a Question?
§ Mr. Alison
I refute the allegation that we juggle with figures. If the hon. Gentleman will recall the earlier answer, he will note that it contained a substantive qualification. However, I accept that 217 there should be more general dental practitioners in service in Oldham and, indeed, throughout the country, and we should like to see this.