Skip to main content


Volume 972: debated on Monday 29 October 1979

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has knowledge of any country in Western Europe having abandoned fluoridation of public water supplies; and if so what are the reasons for such abandonment.

Fluoridation was introduced in Holland but it had to cease because of a legal decision on a technicality, and not for any medical or dental reason. A limited scheme was also stopped in Sweden for similar reasons.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which countries in Western Europe operate a policy of compulsory fluoridation of public water supplies.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many adults are likely to benefit by way of better dental health as a result of adding fluoride to the public water supply.

Fluoridation of water supplies reduces the prevalence of dental decay throughout life in all those who consume fluoridated water during the years of tooth formation—from birth to 14 years. Eventually, therefore, all those who have lived during these years in fluoridated areas will benefit from the consequent improvement in dental and general health.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost to public funds of fluoridating all public water supplies in the United Kingdom.

The cost of extending the fluoridation of water supplies in the United Kingdom would be spread over a number of years depending on the availability of public funds. Costs would vary from place to place, according to such factors as the amount of fluoride already present naturally in particular water supplies, the type of fluoridation equipment required to supplement it, and the distribution of sources. The technical problems have not yet been fully assessed for all supply sources.Owing to these circumstances the overall cost has not been calculated. However, experience has shown that fluoridation is a most effective and economical method of protecting the whole community against dental decay.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what evidence has recently been put before him as to the incidence of cancer in areas where the public water supply has been fluoridated.

We are aware of a recent re-examination of data from a paper published in 1974 about differences in cancer incidence in various organs between certain fluoridated areas and certain similar control areas, and between sets of areas with varying levels of fluoride naturally in their water supplies. I am advised that differences reported in this paper could have arisen by chance and do not indicate an association between cancer incidence and fluoride in drinking water, whether present naturally or added artificially. I am advised that substantial parts of the procedures in the recent re-examination are statistically invalid and hence that no reliance can be placed on any deductions drawn from them.My right hon. Friend's advisers will continue to study any properly documented claims on this subject but I have not so far seen any valid evidence of a link between fluoridation and cancer incidence.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has given further consideration to the introduction of legislation to compel water authorities to add fluoride to the public water supply.

The Government are considering this issue in the context of the report of the Royal Commission on the National Health Service—Cmnd. 7615.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which countries in the EEC artificially fluoridate their public water supplies.

Five of the nine EEC countries at present permit fluoridation of water supplies and, of these, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland have introduced it.