Fluoride Action Network

Southampton Itchen MP John Denham calls for clarity over fluoridation

Source: Daily Echo | Education Reporter
Posted on August 17th, 2010
Location: United Kingdom, England

SOUTHAMPTON MP John Denham is calling on the Government to spell out its policy on fluoridation, once and for all.

Mr Denham has written to Tory Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, asking him to explain whether the coalition is going to intervene in the controversial scheme to add the chemical to tap water supplies in Hampshire.

The Labour MP, who says he supports fluoridation in principle but has called on South Central Strategic Health Authority to put its plans on hold in the face of public opposition, said the Conservatives have gone quiet on their election pledges to scrap it.

As revealed in the Daily Echo, anti-fluoride campaigners in Hampshire have already expressed their disappointment at the lack of action since the Tories came to power in May.

Before the election, both Mr Lansley and party leader David Cameron voiced concerns over the SHA’s consultation and questioned whether or not the scheme should be going ahead in the face of public opposition.

More than 10,000 people took part in the consultation, with 72 per cent of those living in the affected area – covering parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams – saying they were against it.

The scheme is currently on hold while a judicial review into the way the scheme was approved is fought in the High Court.

The SHA, which has consistently argued it met or exceeded all of its legal requirements during the consultation, has set aside £400,000 to fight the legal bid, which may not be fully heard until next year.

Mr Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, said in his letter it is still unclear if the Government supports the SHA in its decision to proceed with fluoridation.

He said: “In my judgement, a full consultation process failed to produce the necessary levels of support, even for a beneficial act of mass medication.

“Prior to the election there were a number of statements made by Conservative spokesmen who led people to believe that plans would be dropped if the Conservatives came to power.

“It is now urgent that you clarify the position and, in particular, if you would require a greater level of public support before this policy is implemented.

“If fluoridation is not to proceed then it is important that attention is focused on other ways of ensuring child oral health.”

Mr Denham’s intervention comes after Tory Hampshire MPs Julian Lewis and Caroline Nokes both called on their party to honour their pre-election pledges on fluoride.

Despite those promises, the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, said earlier this year the Government had “no immediate plans” to change the law surrounding fluoridation schemes.