I thank my hon. and learned Friend for those figures. Does he agree that they hide substantial local variations, and that it is especially welcome that the Government are introducing, on a trial basis, arrangements to encourage dentists to set up in shortage areas by providing financial incentives?
My hon. Friend is right. The sharp increase in the number of dentists working in the NHS is welcome news to everybody, but it disguises considerable variations. For instance, there are twice as many dentists per head of population in North East Thames as in the Trent region. Plainly, we must do something to make the spread more even.
Will my hon. and learned Friend take another look at his Department's policy of discussing dental issues with only just over half the dentists, who are members of the British Dental Association, and ignoring all the others who are members of the General Dental Practitioners Association, because I, for one, find that confusing?