THE Welsh Liberal Democrats decided to oppose the fluoridation of water – although they allowed their elected representatives to vote on the issue according to their conscience.
Recent legislation has given the National Assembly the power to decide whether domestic water supplies should be fluoridated.
Kirsty Williams, the party’s spokesperson on health at the Assembly, argued that it made sense to add fluoride to water.
She said, “Liberal Democrats have always prided themselves on wanting to have a National Health Service rather than a National Illness Service. Make no mistake, levels of tooth decay in Wales are very dire – 75% of Welsh constituencies have above average levels of tooth decay.
“In Islwyn, children have 2.73 teeth affected by tooth decay on average by the age of five in comparison with just 0.6 teeth in Tamworth, where the water is fluoridated.”
But South Wales West AM Peter Black opposed fluoridation, saying, “Kirsty is absolutely right. Tooth decay is appalling. But one of the chief reasons is bad diet. The average adult eats 130 pounds of sugar a year, mostly through processed foods and drinks like Coca-Cola.
“Fluoridation is a cop out, an acknowledgement of defeat by the medical profession and the government. They have failed to persuade the people to change their diet. Fluoridation began in the 1950s and there are many statistics linking it to arthritis, hip failure and an accumulation of toxins in the body system.”
Party leader Lembit Opik, speaking in a personal capacity, was also against fluoridation.
“This is a human rights issue,” he said. “It is about whether the government has the right to medicate the public. By definition it is a form of medication. People must have the right to choose whether to put fluoride into themselves or not.”
Conference delegates voted overwhelmingly against fluoridation.