MEMBERS of Parliament – including nine from the Merseyside and Cheshire area – recently voted to take fluoridisation of our tap water a step closer.

The vote gives Strategic Health Authorities the power to ask water firms to add fluoride to our water.

The British Dental Association, apparently wanting to put themselves out of business, are in favour, saying it will have a massive effect on reducing tooth decay.

The average child in Liverpool, we are told has 2.3 missing or repaired teeth at the age of five. That is a shameful statistic. But before we all rush off and demand fluoride right now, think of a few important factors.

Comparisons are made between Birmingham (which has fluoride) and Manchester (which doesn’t) showing that Brummies have better teeth; but then there’s the comparison between Gateshead (which does) and Liverpool (which doesn’t)- and there isn’t a lot of difference.

Fluoride is a poison which has a cumulative effect on the body. The amounts placed in our drinking water might not be poisonous. But the long-term effect, along with other fluoride products such as toothpaste, is not really known. There has been a link suggested between fluoride and cancer, brittle bones and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Other reports say there is no link. As ever, it’s a battle of experts. But I, for one, am not happy about my body being tinkered with against my will.

There is also the whole Big Brother issue here: a lot of children probably don’t have very good diets either, so what’s next, putting vitamins in the tap water? Many children come from poverty- stricken homes – so, will they be getting free money? Will kids whose parents don’t spend time reading with them be sent a teacher every night for a bedtime story? And at the end of the day, sugar causes tooth decay – so why don’t we just ban sweets from the shops?

Then there’s smoking- it causes lung cancer, never mind tooth decay, so why don’t we ban fags from the country, or put those anti-nicotine chemicals in the water as well?

None of those things will ever happen, of course, they’re all crazy ideas. But as far as I’m concerned, so is putting fluoride in my tap water. And I’m taking a wild guess here, but I don’t think most of the poor five-year-olds who have tooth decay drink a lot of tap water anyway – they’re more likely to be swigging Coke.

The recent vote said that local communities had to be consulted before any decisions were made. Make sure you know your own opinion before that time comes.