HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 cc772-3W
Dr. Kumar

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the use of fluoridation as a public health measure to combat dental health problems; and which areas have been identified for possible fluoridation. [120629]

Miss Melanie Johnson

The Government wishes to empower health communities to make well-informed choices about improving oral health including the option of deciding whether to fluoridate their water. We are particularly attracted by the potential fluoridation offers for reducing inequalities in oral health. The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Dental Officer are considering the implications of the recent Medical Research Council report, "Water Fluoridation and Health", for the development of Government policy on fluoridation. It would be for primary care trusts and strategic health authorities (SHAs) to decide whether to consult on fluoridation. New schemes could be introduced only where a majority of the population were in favour.

The Government have received representations from the water industry, requesting that the legislation on fluoridation be amended to make SHAs solely responsible for deciding, where their populations are in favour, that a new fluoridation scheme should be introduced. We tabled a relevant amendment to the Water Bill on 2 July 2003, for debate on 9 July before third reading of the Bill in another place.