New Forest East



Dr Julian Lewis: Will the Minister give way?

The Minister for Health (Edward Argar): May I make a little more progress? I have more to say on obesity, so my right hon. Friend should not worry. [...]

Dr Lewis: I happen to agree that there is a question of proportionality on the alleged nanny state issues, but does my hon. Friend agree that where an issue is contentious – such as the fluoridation of water supplies, which has been contentious over many years in this House – it should be properly debated before the state takes control of it, not just tucked away at the end of a very long Bill? That causes me concern.

Edward Argar: I take my right hon. Friend’s point, but I would argue that we are placing the matter before the House in a Bill that has been debated and has gone through its stages, including one of the longest Committee stages of a Bill in my time in this House. There is, or was, the opportunity for Members to table amendments on Report on the aspect that he mentions, and I suspect that it will be extensively debated in the other place as well. I take his point, but I would argue that we have provided sufficient time and have brought the issue to the House in that way.

Dr Lewis: Would the Minister be as surprised as I was to know that quite a lot of Members of this House are completely unaware that that provision has been added at the end of the Bill?

Edward Argar: All I would say – without in any way implying any criticism of right hon. or hon. Members – is that soon after I entered the House I was a member of the Procedure Committee for a year, and one of the first pieces of advice I was given was to read the legislation and go through it in its entirety. I recognise that this is a long and complex piece of legislation, but I would make that point. [...]