New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Because I cannot without massive inconvenience to others be present for the upcoming statement on forests, may I unreservedly welcome the Prime Minister's sensible and timely initiative on that matter? Given that the Government are responding so well to the views of the public on that issue, may we have a statement from the Minister for Housing and Local Government on the question of fluoridation in the Southampton area? A court has held that the soon-to-be-abolished strategic health authority has the legal right to proceed with fluoridation despite the opposition of three quarters of the population; nevertheless, if we are down for localism, surely the matter should be for elected local government to decide.

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): My hon. Friend is right that the High Court rejected an application for judicial review of the decision by the South Central strategic health authority to apply fluoride to the water for his constituents, and indeed many others. It is now considering what next to do. I have some-hopefully-encouraging news for my hon. Friend. Under the reforms envisaged in the Health and Social Care Bill, the South Central strategic health authority will be abolished, and its public health responsibilities will be passed to local authorities, which will give my hon. Friend the control that he seeks. The Government are now, in the light of that court decision, working out how best to apply the regulations to take the fluoridation policy forward.]