§ Mr. Fatchett
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what action his Department intends to take in the light of the proposals by the Severn-Trent water authority to give notice to terminate the agreement by which fluoridated water is supplied from the Elan valley reservoir to Birmingham, Solihull and adjacent areas unless by 1 February his Department and the Water Authorities Association resolve the current dispute over the terms of the indemnity granted to water suppliers;
(2) what are the terms of the indemnity granted to water suppliers who have previously agreed to requests for fluoridation schemes; how the indemnity offered to water suppliers for new schemes has been implemented since the Water (Fluoridation) Act 1985; how such indemnities were implemented before that Act; and what extensions to the existing indemnity have been offered to the Water Authorities Association in recent negotiations with his Department.
§ Mr. Freeman
I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) on 16 January at columns41–42 which said that a copy of the terms of the indemnity for water undertakers had been placed in the Library. The only major change to the indemnity since the passage of the Water Fluoridation Act 1985 has been the withdrawal of cover in the event of a legal challenge to the powers of water undertakers to add fluoride to the water supply. This is because the Act itself removed any doubt about these powers.
We are considering the terms of the indemnity following representations from the Water Authorities Association.