Fluoride Action Network

MPs divided in big fluoridation debate

Source: UK Newsquest Regional Press - This is Lancashire | November 20th, 2003
Location: United Kingdom, England

A HOUSE of Commons committee has backed plans to allow fluoride to be added to tap water following an impassioned plea by a Bolton MP.

Brian Iddon urged fellow members of a scrutiny committee to support controversial Clause 61 of the Water Bill after hearing that 70 per cent of five-year-olds in his Bolton South-east constituency have tooth decay

That would clear the way for Strategic Health Authorities to add fluoride to water without consulting local councils.

At the meeting MPs investigating proposals in the Water Bill referred to Bolton as an example of an area which suffered from high levels of dental decay among young children.

Dr Iddon told the committee that fluoridation was not “mass medication” but that it would have major benefits for the dental health of youngsters in the borough. He said: “Fluoride in water should be regarded — like vitamins and minerals — as a trace element essential to good health.

“It is shameful that there are so many children in Britain today with such poor dental health that some as young as two and three have to have teeth out.” If MPs approve the bill at its third and final reading in Parliament next week it will be passed for Royal Assent and become law.

Labour MPs have been given a free vote on the controversial clause to be considered separately from the bill following a storm of protest from residents over safety concerns.

Bolton North-east MP David Crausby has vowed to vote against Clause 61 while Ruth Kelly who represents Bolton West said she will support fluoridation in areas where there has been thorough consultation with residents.

Afterwards Dr Iddon claimed that not enough children were receiving fluoride through their toothpaste.

He said: “I was ashamed to hear our town being mentioned for its poor dental record but the reality is that many parents do not buy fluoridated toothpaste.

“Perhaps they are poorly educated or ‘ain’t got the brass’ and consider putting food on the table as more important.”