24 Jun 2009

Answers to Julian Lewis's questions in the House

Fluoride: Drinking Water
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance he issues to strategic health authorities on the proportion of representations required in opposition to fluoridation of tap water in a particular community in order for the authority to withdraw its proposals for fluoridation of the water supply to that community; [281140]

(2) for what reasons strategic health authorities consult local communities on whether their tap water should be fluoridated. [281141]

Ann Keen: Under regulation 5 of the Water Fluoridation (Consultation) (England) Regulations 2005, a strategic health authority (SHA) considering the outcome of a consultation on water fluoridation is required to take into account both the extent of support for the proposal and the cogency of the arguments advanced. In so doing, the authority has to be satisfied that the health arguments in favour of proceeding with the proposal outweigh all arguments against proceeding with it before it takes any steps regarding fluoridation arrangements.
22 Jun 2009 : Column 722W
Accordingly, guidance on the application of the regulations, issued by the chief dental officer in February 2008, advised that:

“a SHA cannot base its decision solely on a simple count of the representations for or against the proposal”.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussion he has had with the Prime Minister on his recent statement in Southampton that the people should decide whether the city's water should be fluoridated. [281142]

Ann Keen: The Prime Minister's statement serves to highlight the legislative requirements contained in section 89 of the Water Industry Act 1991 whereby a strategic health authority must "consult and ascertain opinion" before requesting a water undertaker to increase the fluoride content of a water supply.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on Ministerial statements for or against fluoridation during a period of public consultation on whether or not to fluoridate a water supply. [281143]

Ann Keen: The Government support the fluoridation of water because of the potential it offers for reducing inequalities in oral health. To help inform public consultations, Ministers will, if asked, explain the reasons for their support.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will call in for examination the decision of South Central Strategic Health Authority to introduce fluoridation in Southampton and Totton. [281146]

Ann Keen: This would not be appropriate as an application has been made for a judicial review of the decision the South Central strategic health authority to fluoridate Southampton and parts of south west Hampshire.

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