On 30 January, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that he is making £2.5 million available to improve dental services in the community. Proposals from health authorities and family health services authorities are currently under consideration by the Welsh Office.
On 5 April, my hon. Friend the Minister for Health announced the Government's plans for the reform of NHS dentistry, following the consultation on their Green Paper "Improving NHS Dentistry". We believe that the measures proposed will provide stability and security for NHS dentistry, deliver increased quality of treatment for patients and promote better use of resources by targeting care on areas of greatest need.
It is about time too, because many of my constituents face journeys of more than 25 miles to find an NHS dentist—some even have to travel to England to get NHS dentistry care. Has that been the achievement in the NHS dental service in Wales of 15 years of this Government? Many of my constituents cannot get basic national health service dental care, so I hope that the money will be made available and will be taken up.
Will the Minister assure me today that, after 5 April, my constituents, having paid their national insurance contributions, will all have easy access to an NHS dentist, wherever they live?
Perhaps I should bring the hon. Gentleman up to date. Clwyd family health services authority has applied for one additional salaried dentist, an application that we are currently considering—
I must tell the hon. Gentleman that there are 110 dentists in Clwyd, representing an increase, since his party was last in government, of 57 per cent. So I must assume that his constituents were travelling a lot further in 1979.