§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has conducted into the effects of adding fluoride to water supplies; what recent meetings she has had with colleagues and others on the issue; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Morley
The Government's public health advisers are the Department of Health who are responsible for water fluoridation policy. The national health service Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York published its Report, "A Systematic Review of Water Fluoridation", in September 2000. In keeping with comments in the Report that there was a need for more good quality research, the Department of Health commissioned the Medical Research Centre (MRC) to advise on how the evidence base might be strengthened. Its Report was published in September 2002. The Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Dental Officer were asked to examine these recent recommendations and to report on the implications for Government policy. Their Report is expected during the autumn. DoH have also commissioned a research study on the bio-availability (absorption) of fluoride.
There has been regular inter-departmental liaison between Defra and Department of Health Ministers and officials about amendments that have been included in the Water Bill to the water fluoridation provisions in the Water Industry Act 1991. The amendments were considered by Committee of the whole House of Lords on 9 July and we anticipate that water fluoridation will be considered in Committee in the House of Commons on 21 October. On the Government side there will be a free vote.