Water Supplies (Fluoridation)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th July 1964.

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Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe 12:00 am, 6th July 1964

asked the Minister of Health why he disregarded the researches, of which he was informed, of Dr. Ionel Rapaport into the relationship between the concentration of fluoride in the water supply and the proportion of mongol births.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer my hon. Friend gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Arundel and Shoreham (Captain Kerby) on 24th June. I am sending him a copy of my chief medical officer's circular letter mentioned in it.

Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe

Whilst I am not aware of the content of the letter, may I ask whether it is not rather odd that the Ministry, especially as in detailed evidence in Circular 105, disregards completely the overwhelming evidence in favour of the fact that an increase in mongol births is directly associated with an increase in fluoride in water and that an amount up to one part per million recommended by the Ministry is sufficient in itself apparently to have some effect? Although the number of such births is comparatively small, is it not entirely wrong that a local authority should be encouraged to put fluoride in the water supply even if one mother only is affected thereby?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I disagree entirely with what my hon. Friend has said. I have considered this matter carefully, and the advice I have been given is that there is no basis whatever for any suggestion that fluoride might even cause one mother to give birth to one mongol child. The defects in the report of the work of Dr. Rapaport are fully explained in the document which I am sending to my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Denzil Freeth Mr Denzil Freeth , Basingstoke

Is it or is it not a fact that Dr. Rapaport's statistical evidence and conclusions are not accepted by any reputable authority, and that to the best knowledge and belief of my right hon. Friend no harm has come to anybody by drinking water containing up to one part per million of fluoride, whether artificially or naturally present?

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

There is certainly no evidence whatsoever of any harmful effect from water with a fluoride content of the level which is adopted in fluoridation. A carefully planned investigation by Dr. Berry, in this country, in which virtually all mongols were traced and control areas were included, shows that there is no connection between the concentration of fluoride in water supply and the proportion of mongol births.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that it would be absurd if he were to recommend local authorities to add Epsom Salts to all our drinking water because some people suffer from constipation? Does he not realise that the parallel with the addition of fluoride is exact? Surely all of us do not need to drink fluoridated water just because it is of use to some children.

Photo of Mr Anthony Barber Mr Anthony Barber , Doncaster

I do not agree with the hon. Member. Epsom Salts may be appropriate in his case, but I do not need it.