§ Mr. Cormack
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will publish in the Official Report details of the policy of Governments in the other countries of the European Community with regard to the fluoridation of water supplies; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
While the Department obtains information periodically on the policy towards fluoridation of water supplies of Governments in other European Community countries, it cannot be regarded as comprehensive. The following is a summary of the information held:
Belgium (June 1979)Although legislation allows fluoridation, the Higher Health Council advised against its introduction and there appear to be no plans for it at present.
Denmark (June 1979)The National Agency of Environmental Protection advised against fluoridation, largely because the significant and varying natural fluoride levels of many Danish water supplies would cause technical problems.
Federal Republic of Germany (September 1980)Fluoridation is not prohibited, although each "Land" would have to implement specific regulations before fluoridating. None has yet done so. Advice on fluoridation is awaited from the Federal Health Council.
France (September 1980)France has not adopted fluoridation. The national health administration considers that the measure may have potential drawbacks, in that it is not possible to monitor closely the quantity of fluorine absorbed daily by individuals. The Ministry of Health has been involved in surveying natural fluoride levels of water supplies.
Greece (September 1980)Fluoridation has been officially approved in Greece after the Higher Health Council had expressed a favourable opinion. The Ministry of Social Services on 19 January "gazetted" a decision to implement fluoridation but the measure is still at the stage of technical preparation for which the Ministry of Public Works is responsible.
Italy (August 1979)There is as yet no legislation, but the Higher Health Council has expressed a favourable opinion on fluoridation. The Council has suggested a study to review the position, and favoured the devolution to regions of decisions to choose a method of fluoride prophylaxis, including fluoridation.
Luxembourg (September 1980)Fluoridation has never been introduced in Luxembourg and there appear to be no plans to do so because of opposing opinions as to its effectiveness when little tap water is drunk.
Netherlands (June 1979)Fluoridation ceased in 1973 due to a ruling by the Supreme Court that those who objected to it should be provided with a separate unfluoridated supply. This was technically impracticable and fluoridation therefore had to cease for about 4 million people who were then served by it. A Government measure to allow fluoridation was introduced in Parliament but withdrawn and there appear at present to be no plans to reintroduce it.
Republic of Ireland (September 1980)Fluoridation has been compulsory since a Supreme Court ruling in 1964 that the Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act 1960 was constitutional. About 1.8 million people at present receive fluoridated water. This represents nearly 60 per cent. of the population, out of some 66 per cent. with a piped water supply.