A HAMPSHIRE MP has urged the Government to come clean and be honest with people over plans to put fluoride their tap water.

Julian Lewis fears residents will again be left powerless to prevent fluoride being added to their tap water against their wishes, even once councils are handed authority over the controversial scheme.

He believes the Government is planning to force elected councillors to ignore public opinion if “health experts” tell them there are benefits to fluoridation.

The Conservative New Forest East MP has raised concerns that Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise that people would decide on fluoridation, would be “rendered worthless” if the proposed changes to the law are accepted.

The Department of Health is consulting on new rules for councils once they take over responsibilities for public health after strategic health authorities are axed in the spring.

Dr Lewis said the recommended changes will “cheat” the people by meaning fluoridation could be imposed “undemocratically” and has written to the department’s policy manager calling for the government to ensure people have the right to make up their own minds.

The PM’s pledge was made after South Central Strategic Health Authority prompted outrage amongst campaigners and politicians when it unanimously approved fluoridation for Southampton and surrounding areas, despite 72 per cent of respondents to its consultation opposing the plans.

The SHA argued it followed the rules because it was convinced by the scientific case for fluoride, and successfully convinced a High Court judge it acted correctly.

Dr Lewis said the Department of Health is now recommending local authorities be placed under the same restrictions as health bodies, ordering a key factor in their decision making be “whether health arguments in favour of proceeding with the proposal outweigh all arguments against proceeding”.

The MP said that shows the department has “every intention of continuing with the morally disreputable position” of insisting councils hold “pointless and expensive” public consultations. However they should ignore the result if health experts say fluoridation’s benefits outweigh disadvantages.

He said: “The health department needs to come clean and be honest with the British people.

“They should not do what they are proposing to do – to continue with a system whose headlines pretend that the people will decide, but whose small print reveals that the people will be ignored.”

Dr Lewis added that despite appearing to promote its health benefits, even the Department of Health admits there could be serious risks with fluoridation schemes.

Included in the proposals is a provision allowing the Secretary of State to immediately halt fluoride schemes without delay “if a risk to general health was identified from fluoridation”.

Dr Lewis said: “The fact that such a provision is recommended shows that even the Department of Health can conceive of the possibility fluoridation could indeed be harmful.”