To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of (a) adults and (b) children are registered with an NHS dentist in England; and what the figures were in May 1997. 
[holding answer 18 March 2003]: On 31 January 2003, 43.9 per cent. of adults and 60.1 per cent. of children were registered with a general dental service (CDS) dentist in England. At 31 May 1997, 51.9 per cent. of adults and 62.2 per cent. of children were registered.The registration rates at 31 January 2003 and at 31 May 1997 are not directly comparable due to changes in the registration period that affected registration numbers from November 1997.Registrations now lapse if the patient does not return to their dentists within 15 months of their last appointment. Registration rates therefore exclude patients who have not been to their CDS dentist within the past 15 months and unregistered patients who receive dental treatment from other National Health Service dental arrangements, such as occasional treatment.