§ Mr. Higgins
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what legislative authority gives area health authorities powers to make proposals for adding fluoride to water supplies, and water authorities the power to do so.
§ Mr. Marks
Under the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973 my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has a duty to provide such facilities for the prevention of illness as are appropriate. He has directed by regulations that this duty should be exercised by regional health authorities and, on their behalf, by area health authorities. Under the Water Act 1945, water undertakers are required to provide a supply of wholesome water for domestic purposes.
Fluoride is a natural component of most sources of water supply and has been shown to reduce the incidence of tooth decay. In view of this, the addition of fluoride to water supplies within concentrations occurring naturally is considered to fall within the scope of the statutory powers of the authorities concerned.