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Tynwald Sitting - 20th November 2007 20 November 2007

Oral Question 14 | Oral Question 15 | Oral Question 16 | Oral Question 17 | Written Question 36 | Written Question 37

The question number refers to the question order specified in the official Tynwald Order Paper. To read the answers, scroll down this page or select a link to a question from above.

Question NumberSubjectQuestion from
Oral 14Deputy Chief ExecutiveMr Henderson, MHK
Oral 15Payment for FluoridationMr Gill, MHK
Oral 16Fluoridation - FashionableMr Gill, MHK
Oral 17Fluoridation Mr Gill, MHK
Written 36British Fluoridation SocietyMr Gill, MHK
Written 37Fluoridation EmergencyMr Gill, MHK

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Oral Question 14

For Oral Answer:The Hon Member for Douglas North (Mr Henderson) to ask the Minister for Health and Social Security –

  1. Can you explain the rationale for re-creating the post of Deputy Chief Executive for the DHSS at a potential cost of over £80,000 to the public, given this post was eliminated as an unnecessary business need by the previous Minister; and
  2. can you explain why the agreed consultation processes regarding the creation of this post were not adhered to with the relevant trade union?


Mr Speaker

  1. The post to which the question is directed is that of Chief Operating Officer/ Deputy Chief Executive which has responsibility for organisational development and performance management as well as deputising for the Chief Executive in his absence. Since taking over the political leadership of the Department I have made three observations which may hinder the progress of the Department: - Size - Lack of strategic direction - and culture.

    As a consequence of a number of external inquiries and reviews of the Department’s services in recent years, certain key issues which impact on the Department’s strategic aims have been identified. The Departmental response to these reviews coupled with Government’s drive for more effective performance management of the delivery of services, present a challenging change agenda. In addition to this the Department faces continuing demands from the Island’s community for the delivery of more and better health and social services.

    The resulting changes will place a greater emphasis on organisational change while at the same time ensuring that operational effectiveness of service delivery is maintained. There will be a continuing need for the Department and, in particular the Chief Executive, to review existing strategies and to develop new strategies in response to external drivers and influences – not least the Government’s strategic plan for the 2007-2011.

    Given the magnitude of the Department’s statutory obligations and the links needed to ensure cohesive policy development across Government, I have reached the conclusion that the Chief Executive should focus his efforts on these strategic issues. This solution has been approved by the Civil Service Commission. The Chief Executive, however, retains overall accountability for the Department’s organisational development, operational performance and effectiveness. Given these extensive responsibilities it was recognised that the support of a Chief Operating Officer would effectively drive forward the areas of organisational change and performance management.

    Given the size and importance of the DHSS to the people of the Isle of Man it is vital that we achieve a clear view of its future development. At the same time I am keen to engender a culture of performance and value for money to facilitate the best possible use of available resources.

  2. I can confirm that the Department is not responsible for consulting with the trade union regarding the creation of this post. That is the responsibility of the Civil Service Commission.

Oral Question 15

For Oral Answer:The Hon Member for Rushen (Mr Gill) to ask the Minister for Health and Social Security –

Can you confirm that when you stated to the Hon Member for Onchan, Mr Karran, in respect of Oral Question 13 at the sitting of Tynwald Court on 20th February 2007 in respect of costs for fluoridating the public water supply -

“There was not any proposal to ask third parties to pay for it”

that this categorically confirms that all capital, revenue and associated costs will be met entirely from within the DHSS budget?


Mr Speaker

If there is a policy decision to fluoridate the Isle of Man water supplies then the costs for this public health intervention I confirm all costs would be met out of the DHSS budget. The recurrent costs would amount to about 60 pence per head of population per year and would be a cost effective and cost efficient way of tackling the important health problem of tooth decay which on the Isle of Man leads to pain, abscesses, poor school performance, orthodontic problems and placing children at risk from general anaesthetic. The costs of fluoridation would be less than the costs necessary to employ dentists and oral hygienists to effect an equivalent decrease in tooth decay.

Oral Question 16

For Oral Answer:The Hon Member for Rushen (Mr Gill) to ask the Minister for Health and Social Security –

At the October sitting of Tynwald Court in response to a series of supplementary questions further to Oral Question 23 about the assertion by your Member for Health that young people regard mottled and stained teeth caused by fluoride in the water supply as fashionable, you make the assertion that –

“in the same debate (ie with myself and the Chairman David Callister of Manx Radio) on Manx Radio , I am led to believe that there is an allegation made that over half of the children in the Republic of Ireland have in effect mottled teeth”
  1. are you in a position to be able to clarify that you have advice that your belief in this matter is inaccurate and that neither I nor Mr Callister made such an assertion;
  2. will you therefore retract your statement and furthermore will you also retract your factually inaccurate concluding comment –
    “so let us not let the truth get in the way of a good story, sir!”?


Mr Speaker

I understand that he claim that

“half the children”

in Ireland have mottled teeth as a result of water fluoridation was made by a Mrs Vaughan from Cumbria on Manx radio when she and Mr Doug Cross, based in Cumbria, were being interviewed.

This assertion is not true and could cause alarm. The rate of fluorosis in Ireland is below 12 percent and in the vast majority of these cases is either undetectable to an untrained eye or simply manifests as a mild white speckling of the tooth. Neither Mr Gill MHK or Mr Callister made the assertion and the claim by Mrs Vaughan occurred during a separate debate on Manx radio. My statement

“so let us not let the truth get in the way of a good story sir”

was aimed at the claim by Mrs Vaughan and as such I will not retract.

Oral Question 17

For Oral Answer:The Hon Member for Rushen (Mr Gill) to ask the Minister for Health and Social Security –

Further to your responses to my Oral Question 13 at the February 2007 sitting of Tynwald can you elaborate on your reassurance that in respect of a public consultation and where you state –

“we will be led by the views of the public”

what does this actually mean?


Mr Speaker

My Department is undertaking a public consultation in respect of water fluoridation and an important part of this consultation will be to provide the public with factual information about fluoridation. We will follow this up with an exercise to test public opinion on the proposal to fluoridate water to help us deal with the big problem we have with tooth decay. Once we have the results of from the public opinion survey we will discuss these in COMIN whereupon I, as Health Minister, will determine a policy to take forward. The public opinion survey results will thus lead us into a process of policy formulation.

Written Question 36

For Written Answer:The Hon Member for Rushen (Mr Gill) to ask the Minister for Health and Social Security –

Will you circulate a copy of the Mission Statement of the British Fluoridation Society to all Members?


Mr Speaker

The Following Mission Statement has been reproduced from:

British Fluoridation Society

The British Fluoridation Society was founded in 1969 by a group of concerned professionals anxious to see an improvement in the dental health of the UK population by the implementation of Government policy for water fluoridation. Founder members include Eric Lubbock MP (now Lord Avebury, and Vice-chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group). From its inception the Society has been a multi-disciplinary organisation, and has enjoyed the support of politicians from all political parties.

The aims of the Society are:

to promote improvement of dental health by securing the optimum fluoride content of water supplies (one part per million) in those areas where high levels of tooth decay remain a public health problem;

  • to promote and co-ordinate medical, dental, educational, and administrative efforts to achieve this;
  • to distribute information about dental health.

Membership is open to individuals and organisations who support the Society's aims. The Society is a multi-disciplinary organisation - individual members include dentists, hygienists, health educators, politicians, doctors, health visitors and administrators. Corporate members include many health authorities and professional organisations.

The Society's main activities include:

  • providing a scientifically-based information service about water fluoridation to: health authorities and boards; educational establishments; professional organisations; the media; politicians; and, the general public;
  • organising scientific meetings to promote oral health through water fluoridation;
  • working at local, national and international level in order to extend water fluoridation within the UK, or safeguard existing water fluoridation schemes;
  • contributing to the body of scientific knowledge on water fluoridation and dental public health;
  • researching and producing scientifically sound, reader-friendly publications on water fluoridation.
  • responding each year to around 3,000 requests for information about water fluoridation from individuals and organisations nationally and internationally;
  • continuing to support the fluoridation activity of the Departments of Health, health authorities, PCTs and health boards throughout the UK.
  • maintaining links and sharing information with international colleagues - in particular with the US Public Health Service and colleagues in European countries.

Funding: Since its establishment the Society's funding has been from membership subscriptions and Government (Departments of Health) grants.

Written Question 37

For Written Answer:The Hon Member for Rushen (Mr Gill) to ask the Minister for Health and Social Security –

What measures would the Isle of Man Ambulance Service be required to take in response to a major spillage of Hexafluorosilicic acid en route between Douglas Harbour and the water treatment plants in Glencrutchery Road and Sulby?


Mr Speaker

In answer to the Honourable Member’s question I can advise that as with any chemical incident, the Ambulance Service would take its lead from the Fire & Rescue Service and would keep a safe distance upwind from the scene until told it was safe to approach.

As Hexafluoroscilic Acid is a corrosive the Ambulance Service, together with the Fire & Rescue Service, would follow procedures as laid down on the Chemdata sheets for this chemical in relation to any casualties involved.

The procedures involve flushing eyes or skin with water, removing contaminated clothing, giving water to drink if chemical swallowed or oxygen if inhaled and causing breathing problems.

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