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Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 5 December 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the research by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics regarding overall potential benefits and harms deriving from fluoridation of drinking water; and whether they are reviewing their policy on this issue. [HL335]

We welcome the recommendation in the report, Public Health: Ethical Issues, that decisions on fluoridation schemes should be taken locally since this is the guiding principle of the Water Fluoridation (Consultation) Regulations approved by Parliament in 2005. We do not therefore intend to change our policy, but we are acting on the report's other main recommendation by continuing to commission research into the effects of water fluoridation.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What percentage of the United Kingdom population has imposed fluoridation of its drinking water supply; and what areas or regions are currently exempt. [HL336]

Following consultations in which the local population were found to be in favour, the areas in the strategic health authorities listed in the following table receive drinking water to which fluoride has been added to a target concentration of 1 part per million. We would encourage other areas with high levels of tooth decay to consider fluoridation, but this is for local decision.

Strategic health authority

Percent of population with fluoridated water supply

Yorkshire and the Humber

2.6 per cent

North West

3.8 per cent

Eastern England

5.4 per cent

East Midlands

13.8 per cent

North East

34.8 per cent

West Midlands

84.0 per cent