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Malnutrition

Volume 322: debated on Tuesday 13 April 1937

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6.37 p.m.

I wish to draw the attention of the House once again to the question of malnutrition that is prevalent in this country. I do not think that there is an hon. Member of this House on either side, but would agree that there are many people in this country suffering, from a shortage of essential foodstuffs. The matter has been brought forward by many people outside this House who are representatives of public authorities, medical officers of health, medical men who are not employed in that capacity, and also one of the latest to come forward and talk about the underfeeding or malnutrition of a large section of the population is the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, who has spoken in no uncertain terms about the low standard of physical efficiency of many of the young men who apply for Army service. We have to agree that the standard of physical fitness and the physical determination of measurements and so forth, as far as Army service is concerned, are very low in many instances. The chest measurements and the heights required are very low. I have heard it said that during the Reign of Queen Victoria the standard for entrants into the Army was lowered on two occasions. I do not know whether that is true or not, but we have to agree that, if we have a very large proportion of the young men who apply as recruits not up to the physical standard required for the Army, there is something wrong somewhere.

That is not the only evidence of underfeeding and the lack of nourishment among young people. Some people will say that there is not the amount of malnutrition existing that we claim. We might ask the question, Does malnutrition exist, or is there convincing evidence that malnutrition exists? If that question were put to me I should reply with an emphatic, Yes; that malnutrition exists all over the country, in various parts, in a greater or less degree. I would not depend entirely upon medical or expert opinion. In going about the streets of our towns and cities, and even in urban and rural villages, in some instances, we can see with our own eyes that men, women and children are lacking something because they are obviously in a state of nutrition which cannot but be called below the normal. I know of scores of cases that are well below what they ought to be in appearance, in weight and in stature, and particularly does that apply to many of the school children. I know that the Minister of Health has received certain information as to what is prevailing in many of the districts in this country, and also that there are certain public representatives who say that those who are raising the question of malnutrition on the Floor of this House and outside are doing it because it has become a popular fad and that in many cases it is the result of the Press stunts of some months ago. But I would urge on the Minister to have some regard for the expert opinion which is being expressed up and down the country on this particular subject. Quite recently Major-General Sir Robert McCarrison wrote an article on the question, "Is Malnutrition a Real Problem or a Fad?" He concludes the article with these words:
"Malnutrition is no fad, no fussy insistence on a thing of naught; it is one of the most urgent problems of the day; and without the better nutrition of many of our people, other enterprises designed for the building of an A.1 nation must have their foundations on sand."
That is the opinion of an expert. If further opinion is required I have here a pamphlet written by Alderman Barbara Drake who is a member of the London County Council and who gives further evidence of malnutrition among the children. I know the Minister may quote the school medical officer's report and that is mentioned in this pamphlet. I will quote the following paragraph on page 10 of the pamphlet:
"'The reports from school medical officers,' states the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer for 1934, 'concerning the nutritional state of school children are generally reassuring, though there are exceptions.' The figure of malnourished children (including those in need of observation only), is given as 2.6 per cent. of all those examined. Intensive investigations in particular areas show results which are less reassuring. In Sheffield, for example, the percentage (including 'bad' as well as 'subnormal' nutrition) is given as 11.04 per cent.; in Newcastle as 13.46 per cent.; in 36 rural schools in Monmouth County, as 14.4 per cent. (none of whom were receiving free meals); in six poor schools in Sunderland, as 20.9 per cent.; in three colliery towns in Sunderland, as 21.9 per cent. Similar percentages to those in Sunderland were found by Dr. Glover in poor schools in Tyneside, County Durham and South Wales. Even in a prosperous seaside town, where it had not been thought necessary to make provision for free meals, Dr. Glover found the figure of 'subnormal' nutrition to be as high as 15 per cent. in a poor area elementary school, though not more than 4.4 per cent. in a 'central' school in a good area."
I could go on quoting figures to show that there is a large amount of malnutrition and subnormal physical conditions among large numbers of school children. I am prepared to concede that as a result of measures taken recently in the free distribution of milk there has been an improvement, and although the Minister, if he compares present conditions with those which obtained before the War and for 20 or 30 years before that, may get a lower standard than we have now, it does not alter the fact that in a land flowing with plenty there is still a condition of affairs which everyone must regret to see. The case is proved and accepted that large numbers of people are suffering from malnutrition.

Can the hon. Member let me have the pamphlet from which he has been quoting?

Yes. Sir John Orr says that there are 13,500,000 people who do not spend more than 6s. per week per head on food—

At any rate, there is a good preface to it written by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone). There are 4,500,000 people who do not spend more than 4s. per head per week on food. I do not care who is responsible for providing food for children, I am sure, despite anything which may be said by the Minister of Health or by anybody else, that it is utterly impossible to provide a diet which is body-building and strengthening for a child, an adolescent, or an adult on such a figure. Let me tell the House what it costs for food at the Miners Convalescent Home at Blackpool. We give four meals a day, good, wholesome food, with splendid variety, and we are able to buy in bulk at a good deal less than the retail prices. A housewife cannot get food at anything like the price we pay. But before the rise in the cost of living it cost us in Blackpool 1s.3½d. to 1s. 4d. per day per person, that is 9s. 4d. per week for food alone. When you consider that there are great masses of the population who have less than half that amount it shows at once that they are getting a good deal less than they should.

I am prepared to admit that sometimes malnutrition among miners is not altogether due to low wages. Malnutrition and a sub-normal physical condition may be due to the speed at which they have to work and the heat they have to endure. They may get good food, but some of those who work in hot mines look as though they have not a drop of red blood in their veins. It may not be due altogether to low wages. A miner went to the Blackpool Convalescent Home and put on 14 lbs. in weight during the first fortnight, and said that if he were allowed to stay there he would put on another 14 lbs. in the second fortnight. It shows that these men can pick up when they have the chance. In the case of mothers and children, especially pregnant mothers, it will be agreed that in the distressed areas there is a good deal of malnutrition. I was talking last week to a maternity nurse in my constituency on the question of malnutrition, and she told me that she came across many pitiful cases, but that only in three cases during the last 12 months had she what is known as primary uterine inertia and these were the cases of women whose husbands have been unemployed over a long period. The Minister's statement is quoted in the pamphlet, namely, that if we want to look for malnutrition anywhere in this country the first place to look is among the mothers. I hope due notice will be taken of the suffering entailed in so many ways by women.

The Minister of Health might do something to get the people to realise what is necessary in foodstuffs. I do not say that it is all caused by unemployment and low wages, but it will be agreed that 90 per cent. of the cases of malnutrition are due to unemployment and low wages. There are odd cases, where a man or woman is so exceptionally thrifty that for the sake of saving money they will deny their children the proper quantities of food. I will admit that there may be such cases, but they are very few. There may be cases of malnutrition due to ignorance and lack of knowledge on the part of mothers and housewives as to the proper foods to get and the way to cook them. I have some experience of Lancashire cotton workers and miners and their wives, and it is surprising what they can do with a bit of beef, a few bones, and some vegetables. When I hear hon. Members talk about lack of knowledge of how to deal with food I am certain that many of our Lancashire mothers could give lessons to them in how to prepare and cook food, and, whatever may be said for the exceptional cases, generally speaking it is not a lack of knowledge of how to treat food but a lack of money to purchase the right kinds of food that is the main problem. If it were a lack of knowledge then it is a slur upon our education system.

One thing has always occurred to me as being particularly funny. I think the Minister of Health might enter upon a poster campaign. It always amuses me to see that huge poster "Guinness is good for you," and at 7d. per half-pint. That is the poster where you have a working man who, after having drunk half a pint of Guinness, is performing the function of a modern Samson by pulling down the pillars of a temple. It is about the best joke of the century and worthy of the pages of "Punch." We all know that it is silly, childish exaggeration to put such things on the hoardings of the country. I suggest that alongside posters of a quart of Guinness stout, which costs 2s. 4d. the Minister of Health should put another 2s. 4d. worth in ordinary good food—a quart of milk, six eggs, 10 lbs. of potatoes, and one pound of carrots. That would be a good way to advertise the way in which the people might more profitably spend their money. I think the Minister might show another group of commodities and show the calories, the proteins, and the vitamins which are contained in these foods, as against the silly stuff they are asked to buy at 7d. per half pint. Everybody knows that there is more nutritive value in a pint of milk than in two quarts of this so-called glorious stout brewed by Guinness. I am not a narrow-minded fad, and I am not putting this forward because I am a temperance advocate, but I do not think that any man or woman should spend money on drink until their children and they themselves have sufficient food and clothing.

I do not know where we can find a remedy for all these things, but the Ministry of Health is certainly the best Department through which we can act if we desire to improve conditions among the people. I would suggest that we extend as far as possible the drinking of milk and also advice on the right kinds of foodstuffs to be used and consumed. I know we may be told that there are children who are getting a sufficient quantity of food, which satisfies their appetites but which is not as good as it ought to be for building up their physical and mental well-being. We want the right kinds of foods, foods that will act as preventatives of disease, foods that will save the child or the adolescent from the diseases of rickets, anaemia, dental caries and so on. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will not disagree with what I have said; the only question is of finding ways and means of getting it done. I would like to see through the health committees of our local authorities a more widespread use of the valuable food that is produced, and, if necessary, free distribution among the child population."

When we come to the boys and girls who go to school I would suggest that we accept the advice of another eminent authority, the Archbishop of York. I cannot say that I am suffering from malnutrition and we who are well fed ought to take an interest in these poor creatures who are underfed. In dealing with this question of malnutrition the Archbishop of York made reference to the new measure which we have just passed for physical exercises, and he mentions the differences in individuals. Where in an elementary school, he says, you have a child who may not be up to the requisite standard for taking certain vigorous exercises, you will not find that difficulty among public schoolboys. But in the elementary school there will have to be a fine discrimination between the types of individuals to whom you will apply your physical exercises. He says:
"No doubt the instructors will do their best, but the task of discrimination will be beyond the capacity of any but the most expert. If what we are concerned about is physical well-being, milk is more indispensable than jerks."
I have no doubt that the Minister has seen that statement; if he has not, it is in the "Highway." The Archbishop mentions the conditions prevailing shortly after the War and says:
"There has been some improvement since the War, but not enough to make irrelevant an experience which was very startling to me at the time. Just after the Armistice I was offered an important administrative post in a University. I consulted a man who had been the Vice-Chancellor of a University. He said that if I took up the work my first task must be to establish a refectory and provide cheap and nourishing meals, because the work of students Ns as greatly damaged by their malnutrition."
If that is the case with those who go to public schools and universities, it is much more the case in elementary schools. I ask that the Minister of Health should do something with a view to organising the better feeding of children in the schools. I am certain that it would be a good thing. We may have certain prejudices to break down. In the higher-grade schools and the grammar schools, the child can get a good midday meal for 0d. and 8d. a day. I am all for the practice of children staying in school for their midday meal if we can provide it, and then we can organise as a community a proper service of food and determine in many ways the physical well-being of the children who are attending school. If we could get that going, I am certain that it would prove to be beneficial. I do hope the Minister and all hon. Members of this House will recognise that this is a problem which must be faced. There is intense suffering all over the country, and we ought to do our best to remedy this terrible evil among our people.

7.6 p.m.

I am sure that hon. Members on all sides of the House will desire to congratulate my hon. Friend on the very human appeal which he has made this evening. We have had many discussions in this House on this grave problem. Very largely they have consisted of the quotation of the opinions of experts and doctors, but this evening we have had the essential human appeal and it will be refreshing to the House to have this matter discussed in this way. I myself have formed the conclusion that there is a tendency to raise this matter into some great scientific problem which is very difficult to understand. My view is that this problem is a problem of the purchasing power and the wages of the people. My hon. Friend has quoted slogans and advertisements. If I may suggest a slogan it is, "Give the mother the money; she will provide the vitamins."

It is not a question of knowledge. The old mothers of the last generation may have been lamentably lacking in knowledge. If one had mentioned to my mother and the mothers of that generation anything about vitamins they would not have known what one was talking about, but they did know how to rear families. They knew the kind of food to give children and they could do it to the extent that the husband or the one who earned wages brought them home. I am not going to decry increased knowledge of food values, but to have lectures, reports and talks on the value of vitamins, to have these talks broadcast to people who are compelled to live on miserably low wages and still more miserably low unemployment allowances, is really an insult to the people.

During the last week-end—I believe it has been the common experience of Members—I had no end of letters and I have had them since I came back to the House; a large number of letters, pathetic appeals from unemployed men who are finding that they have got to cut down week after week, that their allowance this week will provide less than it did last week. The Minister of Health should consult with the Unemployment Assistance Board. We protested against these unemployment allowance scales when they were introduced. We said that they were far from being adequate and that they would reduce our people to a starvation level. But these scales are less valuable than they were last year. The price of all foodstuffs is increasing and these poor people are finding that their allowances buy less bread, less meat, less of everything that is required to maintain health.

One of the best services which the Minister of Health could render—he is enthusiastic in his work and keenly desirous of improving the standard of physique and health in this country—would be to make representations to the Unemployment Assistance Board. Why not increase these scales to make perfectly sure that they will in 1937 week by week buy the same amount of food as they bought when they were first fixed? We did not consider them adequate and we protested, but if the cost of living is up 5 per cent. on what it was when they were fixed, ought not 5 per cent. to be added to keep them up to the level of last year?

Generally speaking, we have been regarding malnutrition as a problem of the Special Areas and of industrial areas. During the last few months I have come in contact a great deal with the agricultural section of the county, part of which I have the honour to represent, and I have come to the conclusion that this problem of malnutrition is more widespread and more calamitous in its consequences among our rural population than among the population in the distressed areas. The county of Carnarvon, part of which I have the honour to represent, contributes largely to supplying the Metropolis with milk. One of our critics, who comes from this county, said at one time—and it amuses us very much—"One of the greatest services the Welsh people and particularly the people of Carnarvon taught the English, was how to mix water with their milk." That is a gross exaggeration, for if water is added it is added after the milk arrives at Paddington. But there are a large number of children in Carnarvon who never get milk. They do not get it in school. The schools are too small, the area covered is too wide. It becomes their living and consequently it is the last thing they get. They sell it all.

I would urge on the Minister to make inquiries to find out why this should be in a county like Carnarvon. Even the industrial areas have wide areas and valleys which are very much healthier than the narrow valleys of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, In Carnarvon and similar counties we have a fertile soil and a beautiful coast and yet we have an appallingly high rate of death from tuberculosis in those counties. Why? All the natural aids to health are there, and I am convinced that it is due to the very low standard of life, to the terrible standard of housing, to the horrible cottages in which they live and to the fact that they have to sell all their best foodstuffs in order to live on what is left. These children go away to industrial areas and in a short tithe come back to die of the terrible white plague.

Last week we opened a Temple of Peace in Wales, in which I believe there are also to be the offices of the Welsh National Memorial, which is doing such good work to combat the ravages of tuberculosis. We all know how difficult it is to cure tuberculosis, but it ought to be possible in these days to prevent its ravages. I suggest that the only way to do it is to raise the standard of life of our people. This is a rich country: at this time it must be richer than it has ever been before. The country is so rich that the Chancellor is able to tell us that we can afford the expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds on armaments, that our credit, power and wealth are such that we can stand this enormous expenditure without inflicting damage on the credit of the nation. Sometimes I doubt it; but if the country is rich enough to be able to afford to spend these millions on armaments, it is rich enough to raise the standard of life of the people.

Therefore, I urge hon. Members not to be drawn into regarding the question of malnutrition as some learned thing. Sometimes I am afraid that the tendency to consider malnutrition as an abstract thing takes us away from the reality of the problem. The reality is that malnutrition exists because the purchasing power of the people is low. Malnutrition is not due to ignorance, but to poor pay and low unemployment benefits and allowances. When people get a few shillings at the end of the week, they have to buy the cheapest food. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Rowson) I have had experience in these matters, and could give figures similar to those which he gave. We have in South Wales a convalescent home run by the Miners' Welfare Fund. Men who go to that home put on three or four pounds weight in a fortnight, but then they have to go from that beautiful place, with its good food, to unemployment benefit and allowances, or to hard work in the pits.

The other day, when we were discussing the question of food supplies during war time, I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade whether, during the next war, having the experience of the last war in mind, he would make sure that there would be such a system of rationing that those workers who expended the most energy would get the best food, and the Parliamentary Secretary said that, of course, the Government would. We know that miners require more food than other people, because their work is more arduous. How can we give the miners, the workers of this country and their wives and children, more food? There is only one way, and that is to raise the level of wages, thereby giving them greater purchasing power. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth on having brought the discussion of this matter down to earth, and I urge the Government that the way to tackle this problem is to increase the purchasing power of the people.

7.20 p.m.

I understand it would meet the convenience of hon. Members opposite if I made a few observations at this stage. I would like, in the first place, to congratulate the two hon. Members who have spoken on their very interesting contribution to this subject. Recently we have had a good many Debates on nutrition, and I do not complain of that, for I think it is a good thing to bring public attention to this matter. To-night the hon. Member for Farnworth has put the case with vigour and with comparative moderation—as much moderation as one can expect when dealing with the question of malnutrition. I welcome discussion this evening also because it comes at an opportune moment, and I seize this opportunity to call the attention of hon. Members to the publication of the first report of the Advisory Committee on Nutrition of the Ministry of Health.

I consider this is the most valuable document on nutrition that we have had up to the present time, and I do not think there can be any question as to the authority of the committee. There are on the Advisory Committee some very representative people of all types, not only doctors and experts, but other people. The chairman of the committee is Lord Luke, and among its members are Mrs. Barton, Professor Cathcart, Sir Gowland Hopkins, Professor Mellanby and Sir John Orr. It may astonish hon. Members opposite, when they read of the number of doctors and medical men on the committee, to know that the report is unanimous. I think that report serves a very useful purpose at the present time in that—I think hon. Members will agree with me—during the last year or two the question of nutrition has not only been a subject of much discussion, but one on which all sorts of statements have been made as to the condition of the nation. Many people have been bewildered and confused by masses of assertions and advice, informed or otherwise, on the matter.

I think this report may be fairly summarised in the following way. The committee say that, as far as this country is concerned, much has been achieved in this field, and much has still to be done. I agree with them. In the course of the report, they also state that a great deal of further information on the facts must be obtained before we can reach a final national policy on nutrition. I consider the report is particularly valuable in that it points out a number of ways along which we can make many advances. In considering nutrition, we must have a right perspective in the sense that, while this is an important side, it is one side only of our national health problem. A man does not live by calories alone; the national health does not depend only on vitamins, but I believe on a steady pursuit of many objectives, such as better housing, the clearance of slums, maternity and child welfare, the provision of more open spaces and physical recreation.

The hon. Gentleman who opened the Debate referred to the statements of Sir Robert McCarrison, which are certainly well worth quoting. I would like to add to those quotations a quotation of some remarks which he made:

"The efficient fulfilment of the function of nutrition depends mainly on five things—abundant fresh air, the free consumption of water, the action of sunlight on the skin, properly constituted food and the proper exercise of the body."
All those things go to make up what has properly been described as nutrition. As far as the word "malnutrition" is concerned, I suppose that to-day no word is more often used and more often abused. I would ask hon. Members to read Dr. M'Gonigle's book, in which he gives a very fair description of what malnutrition really means.

Does not Dr. M'Gonigle say that the income of an unemployed family is totally insufficient to buy the necessary amount of food to maintain that family properly?

I would not like to pledge myself to the statements made in a very large book by Dr. M'Gonigle, whose views I appreciate and know, but he says:

"There are those who maintain that the incidence of malnutrition is trifling; others see it everywhere. One result of the apparently contradictory views expressed by men of science and able clinical observers is to be found in the loose and confused manner in which the word 'malnutrition' has been used. This confusion is unfortunate, for it has given rise in the public mind to doubts as to the motives activating the savants. The word 'malnutrition' has by many been used in its narrow sense to indicate a bodily state, resulting from an insufficient supply of food, and characterised by loss of body weight."
He goes on to say:
"The word 'malnutrition' is used by others in a different sense. These people use the word to signify deviations from normal bodily growth or function attributable to incorrect diet. If this latter interpretation of the word is accepted, it follows that a high percentage of the population of this country must be categorised as having been at one time or another victims of malnutrition."
I think that is a fair statement of the position, I would like now to say a word on behalf of my friend Sir John Orr, because I do not think any man has been so misquoted or had such extraordinary conclusions drawn from his observations as those which I am constantly hearing attributed to Sir John Orr. It must always be remembered, in connection with a man who has made a very useful contribution to this subject, that he said in his book:
"There is need for further investigation and further discussion on the whole question in all its complicated relationships in order that the measures taken to deal with the situation may be based upon generally accepted facts and well-informed public opinion."
Sir John On never pretended in his book to give anything more than the results of an investigation.

If the hon. Member win read the book, he will see that Sir John Orr gives some tentative conclusions. I have referred to Sir John Orr because he is an important signatory to this report. That leads me to make some observations on the conclusions of the report which I think should be placed before the House. When I have drawn the attention of the House to one or two important conclusions of the Committee, I will tell hon. Members what I would propose to do as Minister of Health, and then I will make some final observations on the matter. I would like to draw attention to one of the conclusions in the report of the Advisory Committee. The conclusion is a general one, and does not refer to the Special Areas in particular. The committee show how the consumption per head of most foodstuffs has increased since before the War and give the proportionate increases in condensed milk, fruit, butter, vegetables, eggs, tea, margarine and cheese. They say that the consumption of butter and margarine together, is now 50 per cent. higher than it was before the War, but on the other side the consumption of cereals has fallen by nearly 10 per cent. since 1913 and milk and cream by about 6 per cent. They consider that this increased consumption of foodstuffs is evidence of a continued improvement in the national dietary and a rise in the standard of living and I would recommend hon. Members to examine page 16 of the report where they will find the exact figures.

On their broad survey, therefore, this representative committee come to the conclusion that the consumption per head of most foodstuffs has increased since the War and I think the weakest thing to which they can point in connection with the national dietary, is the consumption of milk which is on a very low level in this country. The committee draw some instructive conclusions by comparing the quantities of food available with the nutritional requirements suggested by the technical commission of the League of Nations Health Organisation with which they say they agree, subject to a few minor reservations. They find that, on the average of the years 1934 and 1935, the national food supply contained a fair margin of calories available over calories required and that there is no lack of energy-giving foods in the national food supply. In their opinion all, except a relatively small fraction of the population, are obtaining the full amount of calories which they require. Similarly, comparing protein requirements, based on the League Commission's recommendations, with the total protein supplies of animal and vegetable origin, the committee reach the conclusion that the national diet contains a sufficiency of protein, subject however, to the qualification that the consumption of animal protein increases, while that of vegetable protein remains nearly constant, as the standard of living rises with income. They call particular attention to the low milk consumption and say that the consumption of liquid milk per head has slightly declined since before the War. They record with emphasis the opinion that milk is the most complete food known and that there is no single step which would do more to improve the health and the resistance to disease of the rising generation than a largely increased consumption of safe milk by mothers, children and adolescents. They then turn to other kinds of food which they recommend.

I should also refer briefly to some passages in the report calling attention to two or three inquiries which the committee say ought to be made and pending which I think people ought to suspend judgment. The report is described as a preliminary survey of the whole field and a further investigation into family budgets and matters of that kind is recommended. In the circumstances in which I received the report I thought that a useful step forward could be taken in the direction desired by the committee if I communicated immediately with the local authorities on the matter, Accordingly, some days ago I asked the local authorities to do certain things. Before detailing the things which I asked them to do, I would say, as the committee said in their report, that a large number of local authorities are doing good work and I would not like it to be thought that the request which I am making to them is at all by way of criticism, at any rate, of a large number of the authorities. I have asked each authority to review at an early date its arrangements under the Maternity and Child Welfare Act for the supply of milk and other foods. in view of the importance of securing that the diet of expectant and nursing mothers shall contain the proper constituents and that the consumption of milk, especially by young people, shall be increased. It is true that practically all local authorities have already made some arrangements for the supply of milk, and many have also made arrangements for the supply of other foods, but it is essential that this important matter should be adequately dealt with throughout the country.

I have also drawn their attention to the fact that there is to be no question of the limitations which have hitherto been in operation in some areas. I have said that I do not think it desirable to adopt any such restriction, for instance, as that the supply of milk to expectant mothers should be only during the last two or three months of pregnancy, or that children should be supplied with milk only up to the age of LS months or two years, or that the limit of supply in every case should be one pint per day. I have further asked them to review the scale of income which the authorities at present use in connection with the requirement as to payment for milk and other food supplied. I have not suggested that there should be any departure from the principle that such part of the cost as the recipient can reasonably afford to pay should be recovered, but I have said that it is of great importance that the scales should not be framed so as to render it difficult for any mother to take advantage of the authority's arrangements.

I have added, as regards liquid milk, that wherever possible a supply of efficiently pasteurised milk should be provided and that where this is not practicable, the medical officer of health should approve the source and quality of the milk supplied. Finally, I have asked them to consider afresh the question of a properly organised system of meals. I concluded my communication to the authorities by saying:
"In some areas local authorities have hesitated on grounds of financial stringency to develop these services as fully as they desire to do In areas of this character the additional financial assistance afforded by the recently passed Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act, 1937, provides a further reason for an early review by the authorities of existing arrangements."
The block grants to local authorities have just been raised by £5,000,000 to nearly £50,000,000 a year and the re-arranged distribution gives a larger share to the authorities whose need is greatest. Therefore, I consider, and I have reason to know, that many of them will be able to continue and extend the work which they are doing in the direction indicated by the Advisory Committee.

With regard to the increase in the aggregate of block grants, is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that in the case of many of these services, including education services, the increase in prices which has taken place in the last 12 months is so serious that, even with the larger amount of block grants, local authorities have less money to spend?

I do not for a moment think that that suggestion could be made. In fact, I know, and I can on another occasion give instances to show, that the great majority of local authorities in the country will be enabled and have been enabled during the last part of the period to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, out of the additional grants which they are receiving, to make further provision in these respects, and as I propose to show in a few minutes, during the last few years steady progress has been made.

With regard to the phrase "Can reasonably afford to pay," would the Minister expect an unemployed person to be able to afford to pay for the milk?

Naturally this matter is administered by the local authorities, but if there is any case in which the hon. Member thinks that people are not being treated fairly, I shall be glad to do what I can with the local authorities concerned. Obviously, I cannot be the judge in each case, but as the hon. Member knows I am only too anxious to have these matters dealt with as fairly as possible. The Advisory Committee asked that two or three inquiries should be made, and we are putting one of these in hand through my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour who is shortly to undertake a family budget inquiry to provide the material required for a revision of the basis of the cost of living index.

This is going to be incorporated in the Ministry of Labour cost-of-living inquiry. The committee have asked for certain further information before they issue their next report. I am arranging with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to incorporate in his inquiry the obtaining of the further particulars which are required by the Advisory Committee. The proposals of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Committee will involve the collection of budgets from 10,000 families for one week, and from the large proportion of those families for three other weeks and also supplementary budgets of personal expenditure from wage-earning members of the families. By means of those particulars we hope to be able to obtain the further information asked for by the Advisory Committee.

Are we to understand that a report is going to be made upon a selection of family and supplementary budgets, and if so, what is to be the method of selection?

I cannot give details at the moment, but if the hon. Gentleman would like some more precise information on the subject, I will try to let him have it. I say, broadly, that we hope to be able to obtain the information which the Advisory Committee require through this inquiry of the Ministry of Labour, but as to the precise method I do not know sufficient at the moment to make a detailed statement. We also propose to make certain dietary studies which are recommended by the Advisory Committee.

Some of them will naturally take a considerable time, and I would not like to say when they will be completed, but obviously this information is required, and I hope the hon. Member will not have it in mind that these inquiries will stop other work from proceeding. Obviously, when an advisory committee of this character say they want further information, the Government have to do their best to obtain that information. Finally, I would like to satisfy hon. Members of this. I am conscious that there is much to be done and that in this examination we are only at the beginning of the process of dealing with a nutritional policy for the country. But a great deal has been done in the direction of improving the health of the nation in the matter of nutrition, and in order to impress that fact on the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I will take what has happened since August, 1931. Since August, 1931, the biggest milk-in-schools scheme in the world has been started, and the Milk Marketing Board, in co-operation with local authorities and the Commissioner for the Special Areas, have devised schemes for the provision of milk at a cheap rate for expectant and nursing mothers and for children not of school age. Schemes are in operation in the Rhondda and at Jarrow, and one has been started, I think, within the last week at Walker-on-Tyne, and there will probably be others elsewhere. The main provision is that milk should be supplied at the reduced price of 2d. per pint.

The right hon. Gentleman put a question to me—and I am very glad to answer it—to the effect that prices have gone up so much during the last year or two that local authorities would be unable to make provision for these services and that they were generally in a very bad way. That is an extraordinary statement. I have obtained the figures relating to free meals which were provided during the period I mentioned—a period which no doubt the right hon. Gentleman well remembers—August, 1931. In 1931–32, so far as milk is concerned, about 16,472,000 meals were being provided. That figure in 1935–36 had reached 63,710,000. So far as free meals were concerned, in 1931–32 the figure was 93,232, and last year it had risen to 406,341. The same proportion obtains pretty well so far as other meals are concerned. I also got the figures out, because naturally the people who are concerned with the health of the nation will be interested in them—to show what has been done for the infant welfare centres where provision is being made for a large number of meals. The number of infant welfare centres in 1932 was 3,074, and in 1936 3,368. The total number of attendances of children under five in 1932 was 7,676,000, and that had grown by 1936 to 8,889,000.

That does not meet my point. What I said was that the increasing prices in all commodities, including building materials and the like, had been so heavy that local authorities even with the increase in the block grant would find very great difficulty in meeting the cost of these services.

I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by "very great difficulty." I should say that that was a wholly exaggerated statement. I think it will be found that he is dealing with conjectures and the future, and I am dealing with facts as they are, and that in the next 12 months, with the additional sums which will be made available in the form of block grants, local authorities will be able, as many of them are beginning to do, to extend their services in this connection.

I agree with what both the hon. Gentlemen said about one of the secrets of better nutrition in this country being more employment and better wages. It is a very important thing. It will be some comfort to hon. Gentlemen opposite, as it is a great contribution to the improvement of nutrition in this country, that since August, 1931, the numbers of those in employment has increased by 1,500,000. That is one of the best contributions you can make to the improvement of the nutrition of those people. So far as wages are concerned the Ministry of Labour Gazette in 1936 published these figures. In 1929–31, a period which the right hon. Gentleman opposite will never forget as long as he lives, 4,000,000 people suffered a net decrease of wages of over £250,000 a week. That, I should say, was a blow to the nutrition of those people. Since 1933, conditions have improved, and in 1935 over 2,350,000 work-people benefited from a net increase in wages of nearly £190,000 a week. So far as the nutrition of those people is concerned we did the best we could by obtaining better conditions.

7.52 p.m.

There is one aspect of the policy of nutrition on which I should like to touch for a very short time. One part of the Technical Commission's Report of the League of Nations has not been dealt with by the advisory committee. If the hon. Members would turn to page 44 of the commission's report they would find that white flour in the process of milling is deprived of important nutritive elements. This country is living on white bread, and all the beneficial properties of bread are being taken out in the process and we are being given something which is very bad for the nutrition of the nation. I am told that there was an experiment, I think at Cambridge, where they fed rats on white bread. After a few days some of the rats were dead, and the rest were at the point of death. They then gave them one little grain of wheat and those rats which were not already dead immediately recovered. That is of great importance to the nation. It is unfortunate that those facts have been put before the country by scientists and that the advisory committee is silent on the subject of the recommendation about bread. Other countries have taken drastic action to deal with this bread problem.

Signor Mussolini in 1932 ordered that 95 per cent. of the wheat grain should be a component part of the bread, and here in this country we are not at the moment taking any action to deal with this question. Gluten is extracted from the bread and is being sold as a separate product. You will find it advertised. Farmers are advised to give gluten extract to their livestock to make them fecund, yet we in this country are eating bread without it. That may raise another problem and I do not want to take up the Committee's time in discussing it at the moment.

There is, however, another factor which we might remember. Every year 36,000 people are dying of tuberculosis, and I would attach considerable importance to the connection between the bread we are consuming and the rate of tuberculosis mortality. I was interested in a speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) when he talked about malnutrition in rural areas. In the North Riding we have tried to do what we can to improve nutrition and lower the tuberculosis rate, and we have been extremely successful. One of the ways in which the very energetic tuberculosis officers have dealt with the matter in the North Riding has been to give those suffering from tuberculosis a large proportion of bran in their diet. That has meant that when those suffering from tuberculosis have been caught at an early stage, those who are dieted on bran are completely cured. Surely, this advisory committee should go into the question of the bread we consume with great care, and we should, if necessary, follow the example of Italy in this respect and enact, by order or otherwise, that the bread should be composed of whole wheat and that the gluten and other products should not be extracted from bread.

In the rural areas there is a good deal of malnutrition which we ought to avoid at the present time. Cheap milk is possible to those who are employed in agriculture, but those who live in agricultural districts without being directly employed on the farms find it hard to get milk at the present time. The increase of manufactured milk from 250,000,000 to 410,000,000 is unfortunate in that respect, because some of that milk could go into the feed both of the children and of the stock of the country. Also I have noticed in the country districts a gradual increase in the consumption of tinned food. I would like the advisory committee in their next investigation to inquire more fully into the value of tinned foods as opposed to fresh foods. We must not isolate the nutrition problem and confine it to the urban areas. It is very real in the rural areas, and the rural dwellers are most anxious to benefit from the great work the Government is doing towards improving the nutrition of its people.

7.59 p.m.

I do not propose to follow the last speaker in what he said about Italy's example. I should feel very disinclined to follow the example of Mussolini in anything. I am sure I voice the views of all my colleagues on this side of the House when I say that we do not in any sense deprecate the investigations that are being made by scientists and other eminent people in this country into the food supplies of the people, but we are very much concerned about the enormous delay that these investigations seem to cause. Whilst we are theoretically analysing the problems of malnutrition we are permitting hundreds of thousands of people literally to starve, and it is quite impossible to maintain health if the breadwinner in the household, whether he receives wages or unemployment benefit, or comes under the jurisdiction of the Unemployment Assistance Board, cannot obtain food for his family. The figures that have been cited by the Minister, showing the increasing percentage of milk consumed in this country, are perhaps the most concrete piece of evidence we have of the extent of malnutrition, and of the enormous suffering due to the fact that people are poor. This evening we concluded in Standing Committee upstairs the consideration of an agricultural Bill which has for its purpose the granting of £5,000,000 in order to help the producers of prime beef. If people were provided with adequate wages the standard of living would be so raised that they would consume an ever greater quantity of prime beef.

The Minister, when he was talking about the year 1931, conveniently forgot that since 1931 the Government, by its tariffs and quotas and other restrictions, has deliberately prevented the people from obtaining as great a quantity of foodstuffs as they enjoyed prior to that year. In addition to raising the price of food, they have reduced the income of the people and even though, as they assume, prosperity has now returned, they allow a portion of the Economy Act to survive in the Means Test, as if such an economy were as necessary to-day as in the year 1931. The people who suffer most from malnutrition are the people who reside in and about the Special Areas. As the hon. Member has just said, there are a large number of agricultural workers who are suffering from malnutrition. It is only the poor who suffer from malnutrition, or rather, I should say that 95 per cent. of those who suffer from malnutrition are the poor. Hon. Members say quite correctly that as the income increases so does the standard of living; obviously the converse applies too. If you cut benefits by 10 per cent., whether in the form of wages or public assistance allowances, you lower the standard of living, and to that extent cause increased malnutrition. People in very many instances are faced with slow starvation—and I think that is the term that ought to be used. The National Government, with its enormous powers, ought to see that a sliding scale is applied to wages and to public assistance allowances. The cost of living has risen during the last 12 months by 12 per cent. That is half-a-crown in the pound. Nothing is being done by the Government in order to put that right.

Well if it is 12 points I think it is not far from 12 per cent.—but I think you will find that it is quite 12 per cent. Whatever the figure is—and no doubt we shall hear from the Government—to that extent the people are deprived of food and suffer more from malnutrition. I would ask the Government in the first instance to restore to those who are on unemployment assistance allowances at least what was taken from them under the Economy Act, 1931. The breadwinner in the household should receive what he received before 1931, in order to maintain his family. That reduction is one against which Members of the House have protested during the last few years, but it still continues. There can be no doubt that there is a tendency for the cost of living to rise, and I think it would be well if the Minister of Health tackled that matter immediately; it is of far greater importance than any theoretical inquiry as to the cause of malnutrition. There is a case not only for the supply of free milk, but for the supply of free beef if the people are not to suffer from malnutrition. There is a case for the supply of free bread, and of other things that are necessary to health. One wonders sometimes what is the reason why the introduction of free milk has caught on in this country. It might be interesting to analyse the reason for the setting up of the milk marketing schemes, but that perhaps would be wife of our discussion this evening, and I do not wish to enter into the reasons why the Government has provided subsidies and produced marketing schemes in order to dispose of a surplus in such a way as to give advantage to the industry in high prices as well as in subsidies—for that is what has actually been taking place; the producers of milk and many other commodities have not only been raking off substantial profits but have been receiving a subsidy from the taxpayers as well.

I would like to put what may seem perhaps a small point to the Minister, and I hope we shall have a reply to it. I saw in the Press last week-end that a man for whom I have very great regard, and for whom I know all my colleagues have very great regard, and I trust that the Minister has great regard for him too—Dr. Samuel Hastings—was speak- ing at one of the university colleges and mentioned the time that was taken in inspecting school children under the school medical service. He was, I think, dealing with the London County Council schools. He said that six minutes is the time taken to examine a school child, and he complained that it is quite impossible to find out the flaws in a child's health in six minutes. He also indicated that, whilst it is obligatory on education authorities under the school medical service to examine a child three times a year, the London County Council examines school children, I think, four times a year.

I want the Minister to consult the President of the Board of Education to see whether something cannot be done to give far more accurate information as to school children's state of health than we have at the present time. A few days ago we had occasion to discuss this matter, and we not only questioned the figures that the Minister placed before us, but also the method of computation. Dr. Samuel Hastings has to some extent corroborated what we had to say on this side of the House, and I hope that what he has said in this regard will be examined by the Department, to see whether it is possible to find out the actual physical state of a child in six minutes, including the time in which a report has to be written on the child's condition. I am sure most hon. Members will agree with me that six minutes is certainly not sufficient time. And yet the figures that are presented to us in reports on the condition of school children in this country are dependent on such scanty examination as that.

We do not really know the physical state of our school children, and with such inadequate medical examinations we cannot hope to know it. I hope the Minister will insist that the school medical service is treated in a far more scientific way than it is treated to-day. If the National Government want to deal adequately with the question of malnutrition they would at this juncture, particularly with a rising cost of living, support the people who are on strike on the Clyde, who are asking for just a penny per hour increase on their wages; they would support miners and others, who are working for wages that are totally inadequate to maintain them in a proper state of health. They would also increase the measure of allowance that is paid by the Unemployment Assist- ance Board, and certainly recommend that the surpluses which are accruing in the Unemployment Fund ought to be distributed in increased benefits. That is the concrete way of preventing malnutrition in future.

8.15 p.m.

We have been so long in starting to deal with this serious problem that there is a certain amount of leeway to be made up. The nation is much below the standard of an Ai nation. I remember during the War how we were frequently referred to as a C3 nation, and one would have imagined that, as the result of our experiences, we would have put our house in order immediately after the War. Instead of that, we have made no definite attempt except for the recent splendid work of individual doctors and men who have given their time for a scientific examination of this problem. The wage factor is undoubtedly the main obstacle. Another obstacle is caused by the housing position. An increasing burden is being placed upon working-class people on account of the action of the Government. On the day that the National Government withdrew the subsidy from housing, they put another obstacle in the way of the solution of the problem of subnormal children and people and of the people who are suffering from malnutrition.

If the Ministry were to take a return from the various councils asking them to furnish the number of people on their waiting lists for houses, the country would be appalled. I know several councils in my area which are still busy with the 1930 and 1931 applicants for houses. There are anything from 400 to 800 people on these lists waiting for houses and unable to get them. The alternative is that they often have to live in flats, paying up to 14s. or 15s. a week out of the wages of men who are employed regularly—because in Northumberland we have had fairly regular work for some time. As the result of the increase in wages in January last year, the wages of our subsistence men are 6s. 9½d. a day, and when they are in a full week's work they probably have 37s. to take home. Many are paying 13s. to 14s. a week rent, which leaves them with 23s. for food, clothing and all the necessary expenses of living, without any question of amenities. When Sir John Orr published the fact that there are 4,500,000 spending up to 4s. a week per head on food, I can subscribe to it knowing the conditions that our people have been enduring.

Figures have been quoted by the Minister of the rapid increase in milk meals. The Department ought to go into the question of solid meals. I heartily subscribe to milk meals, but I would prefer the milk to go into the homes of the people so that the milk could be taken at the regular meal times. I sometimes wonder—and I am speaking a little from experience—whether, if the milk is not served to the children in school until 11 o'clock, and they go home at 12 o'clock, they are getting the full benefit of the milk. If we could have an extension of the scheme which has been carried out in parts of South Wales and Jarrow, where milk is supplied to necessitous families at prices they can afford to pay, the milk could be prepared in the cooking at home and be used at the proper meal times. I do not decry the milk meals in the schools, but I would like the Minister to make inquiries and to see that where the milk is supplied in the schools it is supplied as early as possible so as not to militate against the child when it goes home for its midday meal.

This debate is a remarkable sequel to the one we had yesterday. Then we were discussing salaries and pensions, so that we could be sure that certain people could live with dignity, free from temptation, and that they would be assured of being comfortable when they had gone out of harness. Now we are at the other end of the scale, where the millions are. I would ask that some of the vast sums of money the existence of which has been revealed by the armament programme should be given to the millions of the poor and to hardworking people who are receiving low wages, because that would be the proper way to secure efficiency and to abolish malnutrition and the subnormal condition of our people.

8.26 p.m.

I wish to direct attention to one aspect of this matter which I regard as of primary importance. I share the view expressed by the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) that this is a matter of simplicities and not complexities, and that economically nutrition should have as its basis adequate family purchasing power, but it is not less accurate to say that physical nutrition must have as its basis a sound nourishing meal daily in the early years of life and in that sense I share the regret expressed by other Members that we have extended so little the nursery school system. There are permissive arrangements which enable local authorities to repair some of the dire deficiencies which the lower-paid sections of our workers and also unemployed men and women are experiencing. On 22nd March I addressed to the President of the Board of Education an inquiry as to how many free solid meals were supplied in schools in England and Wales in 1936, and I received a very interesting reply that 22,000,000 free solid meals were so supplied. I regard that as "not a bad bit of Socialism," inadequate as it may be—it was so described in the early days of legislation on this question by an hon. Baronet who was a distinguished Member of this House.

The criticism I have to make first of all is that the number of free solid meals provided is inadequate, and, secondly, that they are very unevenly distributed. The President of the Board of Education supplied me further with an analysis of the figures, and I desire to place them on record for some of them are of an extremely disturbing character. Of a total of 434 local authorities equipped with permissive powers to feed school children only 28 per cent. use them to provide free solid meals, that is to say that 72 per cent. of the local authorities do not provide a single free solid meal to one hungry child in their administrative areas. Among these authorities are 62 county authorities, and of those 83 per cent. do not provide one free solid meal to one hungry child. In the county boroughs the figures are exactly the reverse, which is perhaps a reflection of the complexion of the local authorities concerned.

I would direct attention to this unevenness in the distribution of free solid meals for a reason which I feel keenly. My constituency is situated in Derbyshire, and it is not possible for me to believe that in my constituency, or in Derbyshire as a whole, there is not one hungry child who does not need one free solid meal, and yet the Derbyshire County Council does not provide one free solid meal to one hungry child. I know that the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education have done a great deal to encourage local authorities to use their powers, and I would appeal to them to pursue that process, and to do all they can to make it clear that all the hungry and needy children are not to be found in the areas at present providing free solid meals and that it is not the case that in the areas not providing them there are no children who need them. It is an axiom that you cannot adequately educate an inadequately fed child, and therefore the whole purpose of education is being frustrated by niggardliness and meanness on the part of local authorities who will not adequately employ the existing powers. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary and the Board of Education to pursue the policy of persuading reluctant local authorities to use these permissive Powers in order that badly nourished school children shall at least be more sufficiently fed.

8.32 p.m.

I am sure that the Debate of yesterday must be in the mind of every Member, and I feel very much that the House ought not to have agreed to increasing salaries to a very high level until it had succeeded in removing all the malnutrition which arises from poverty. It can be said with truth that a large amount of the malnutrition in the country arises from poverty. Reference was made by the Minister to the block grants and he argued that with the increased money now going to a number of the distressed areas they would be able to provide services which they have not otherwise provided. I have taken out some figures with regard to the additional money which some of the distressed areas will receive under the provision of the block grants, and they show that the claim of the Minister is unfounded in a large number of cases. In Cumberland the county council, as the result of the block grants, got relief to the extent of 23.8d. in the pound, and that is a substantial amount, but the rates this year will not be reduced at all. It is not true to say that Cumberland as a special area will be in a position to increase its services over and above those provided last year. That is characteristic of a number of the distressed areas, because with continuously falling rateable values the existing services need a higher rate to maintain them. Durham, with a rate level of 18s., which is high, have got under the block grant 20.8d. in the pound, but the reduction in the rates in Durham will be only 8d. and not 20.8d. That is another case of a distressed area where the county will not be in a position to provide the added services.

Breconshire is another county where the amount is 20.3d. There, the rate reduction will be nil. Some parts of that county are distressed, such as Bryn Mawr, which town has borne the brunt of the industrial depression since 1921. In Carmarthen, to which reference has already been made, the amount of the block grant was 27.5d., but the rate reduction will be only 2.5d., the rest being absorbed in the normal services. In Glamorganshire the rate is 20s. 11d. in the pound. That is one of the most highly rated counties in the country. The revision of the block grant gave 24.5d. but the council are able to reduce their rates only by 1s. 0¾d. In view of the fact that the rates are so high there, I do not think that the Minister can argue with much force that it will be possible to increase the expenditure in Glamorgan, where the need is particularly strong to provide those additional services. In Pembrokeshire, the amount under the revision of the block grant is 34.7d. and the amount of the rate reduction will be nil.

It is entirely wrong of the Minister to contend that these very necessary services can be extended because of additional money under the revision of the block grant. The Government have put very little new money into the block grant. Under the Act of 1929, the Government undertook to bear a certain percentage of the cost of local government for a period of years, in this case five years. During that five years there was an increase in the expenditure of local government bodies, and the Government paid their 23.2 per cent., which necessitated the £5,000,000 to which the Minister referred. That was part of the arrangement under the 1929 Local Government Act. The only new money which the Government put in was about £220,000 in order to balance up. It is entirely wrong of the Minister to claim that additional money has come to local government bodies as a result of the Government's generosity; indeed, what additional money did come to the Special Areas was as a result of the generosity of other and better off local government bodies in the country. They agreed to the revision of the block grant, and as a result of that agreement some additional money went to the Special Areas. Even with that added money, those areas will not be able to incur very heavy expenditure in increasing the amount spent on these services.

Perhaps what is most fundamental to those areas is the rate of unemployment benefit, and the rates of assistance of the Unemployment Assistance Board. One tires of talking in this House about those rates. Everybody who has had the rather nasty job of working out family budgets knows that a very large percentage of unemployed families are living and providing their meals at an expenditure of about 2d. or 3d. each. It is that position which creates the problem of malnutrition in those homes. All the appeals that we have ever made to the Government have been quite ineffective. Then, in discussions such as this, the Minister of Health contends that the Government are anxious to do what they can to deal with malnutrition. Perhaps the best way to describe that is to say that the Minister is not in earnest when he makes statements of that kind, with the full knowledge that a large number of people have been existing for a long time on those paltry rates of unemployment benefit, and the amounts they receive in unemployment assistance. Nobody has ever contended, not even the Minister of Labour, so far as I know, that the rates of unemployment benefit were intended to be adequate maintenance for anybody. The rates were fixed to tide families over from one period of work to another, but lately they have been regarded as amounts sufficient to maintain families, and they have had to maintain families.

One of the things which the Government could do immediately to deal with the problem of malnutrition, particularly among unemployed people, would be to increase those scales to a point where they would enable people to buy sufficient food. What people need most is an increase in purchasing power. That would enable the mothers to buy food to feed their children. One knows that the mothers of the country, particularly mothers in unemployed homes, are making tremendous sacrifices for their children. We have had experience of that in the county of Monmouth. We say to our schoolmasters, "Will you exercise what care you can to ascertain whether these children have been supplied with breakfasts before they come to school?" The headmasters and school teachers generally co-operate with us in that connection. There are many instances, however, where children have had to be sent to school in the morning without breakfast because there is nothing in the home for them to have. Thursday is the most difficult day imaginable for the woman in the unemployed home. All the purchases of food have gone. It is on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that malnutrition is set up in the unemployed homes.

The Minister made reference to Sir John Orr and quoted certain parts from that gentleman's book, but surely the fundamental point that Sir John Orr stresses is that the purchasing power of people is insufficient to enable them to buy food. What about his 10s. per person? He deals with 4s. per person, 6s. per person, and so on through the scale till he comes to l0s. per person coming into the home for the purchase of food, and it is there that malnutrition disappears. It is at the bottom of the scale that we meet our difficulty. Some years ago an investigation was made in Cardiff and one result was to show the difference in the consumption of milk according to the income of the family. It was found that in homes where the income was about 30s. or lower no milk was purchased but where the income was about n and upwards the supply of milk was adequate for the requirements of the family. The Milk Marketing Board are devising all kinds of ingenious schemes for increasing the sale of milk. I think it is true to say that the board will have to spend approximately £100,000 this year in advertising, in order to tell the people that milk is a good food, while every member of the board knows that the real potential market for food in this country is the poor home. It is those people who have not sufficient money to enable them to purchase milk.

I think the Ministry of Health should recognise that fact. If they did, it would be of great advantage to the State. It would raise the standard of health, and it would improve the dairy trade of this country very substantially, which ostensibly is what the Milk Marketing Board is attempting to do. The Minister referred to Dr. M'Gonigle's book, but he did not quote Dr. M'Gonigle's experience of the removal of those families from slum houses to houses newly built by the council. The rents of the slum houses were, if I remember rightly, about 2s. or 2s. 6d. a week, but the rents of the council houses were approximately 10s. When the people were removed from the slums into the better houses, they had to pay more rent, and they had less money with which to purchase food. The consequence was that, although they were living in better houses, the standard of health fell.

It is no use the Minister talking about houses apart from the question of food; food is more important than houses. I agree that houses are important, but it is necessary to consider both together. If you remove people from the slums, you reduce their food purchasing power, and the result is likely to be more damaging than helpful to the health of the people concerned. This matter is one of considerable importance, and I am sure that every Member on this side of the House would like to see it faced definitely. The Minister has told us about some more inquiries that we are to have. We have had the inquiry of the British Medical Association, and we have had an inquiry and experiments among school children by the Milk Marketing Board. We have had a number of inquiries, and now we are to have another. It is not inquiries that we need. What we need, and what we shall have to have before this problem of malnutrition is solved, is a greater purchasing power in the hands of these people. I hope that the Minister will face that problem. If he does, the Government will then be able to attack the problem in a practical manner, instead of diverting their efforts into inquiries of this kind and that kind and still getting nothing of real importance done.

8.49 P.m.

I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will not think that this Debate has been useless. The subject is so important that it is a pity there has not been a larger amount of interest in it in some parts of the House. Members on these benches have, however, made a number of speeches in support of the idea that a great deal more is needed in organisation and administration, and especially in good will, if proper benefit to the health of the nation is to result from the efforts to combat what is now plainly known as malnutrition.

The speech of the Minister of Health, although it opened with congratulations to my hon. Friends who commenced the Debate, was in such a form and spirit that I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not present now to hear what I have to say in reply. The more I listened, the more I felt that he was completely self-satisfied about this matter. Even though a phrase might be thrown in here and there to the effect that there is much yet to be done, that the Advisory Committee think that some improvement is still possible, and so on, the general attitude of the Minister was, "See what we are doing; see what committees are appointed; see what inquiries I am going to have. Altogether, everything is going to be best in this best of all worlds within the given circumstances, provided that you only trust the present Government to carry out the policy they have laid down." The more I listened, the more I felt that the policy which is being adopted is not touching the problem. Take the report of the Advisory Committee on Nutrition, which the Minister was quoting. The committee say, in paragraph (iv) of the summary on page 29:
"There is, however, much room for further improvement in the health and the physique of the nation, and the more extensive application of recent discoveries in nutrition should result in new and higher levels of physical well-being."
I should have thought, listening to the Minister to-night, that if only you went on pursuing the kind of inquiries and the circulars to local authorities of which he spoke, everything would be all right; but when one looks at the circular issued in the first week in April, it is merely a pious expression of hope to the local authorities that, as a result of the recommendations in the report of the Advisory Committee, the local authorities will do a little more than they have done already in securing milk for expectant mothers and young children. When one examines a circular like that, one feels that, after all, the Minister has made no contribution to the problem. Indeed, he said just now that of course the local authorities would have to do it anyway, that they were going to get between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 more under the revised block grant arrangements, and there was nothing more to be said. He completely failed to answer the objection which I raised on that matter.

There is no one who has been connected with local authority work during the last six months who does not know that, as a result of rising prices of commodities and materials in connection with the provision of new schools and new institutions, the volume of expenditure to be incurred within the next 12 months or two years is so large that it will go far to wipe out any improvement in the block grant revision that would accrue to some of the depressed areas. Therefore, to express a pious hope in a circular issued in the first week in April to local authorities that they may be able to do something more in bringing supplies of milk to necessitous mothers and children, seems to me to be wholly inadequate, coming from the lips of one who was in such a self-praising mood as the Minister was to-night.

It seemed to me to be very regrettable that, at the end of his long recital of what they are supposed to be doing, he made a sort of political attack. The trouble is that the right hon. Gentleman, with all his personal popularity in the House, cannot forget that he was the head and forefront of the Tory propaganda headquarters at Palace Chambers, and, therefore, at the end of every Ministerial speech he has to have some jibe at the party who were in office from 1929 to 1931, and to claim that all the improvement that ever happened in the social life of this country is due to some miraculous condition of affairs which has occurred since the National Government came into office. What awful "bunk" that is when you examine it. Take, for example, the references to wages. What was the amount of wage reduction per week in the period 1929–31, and what has been the amount since? The Minister was very careful not to compare like with like. He gave certain figures which, so far as I remember them, related to 1929–31, but he did not tell us anything about the reductions which took place in wages from 1931 to 1933. We do not hear a word about that. Since then he has been giving us special figures of increases in the last year or two. He has told us nothing about the vast reduction in the volume of money going into working class homes by the ruthless adoption of the means test. He did not tell us anything about the vast hordes of people turned on to Poor Law relief from 1931 to 1935, one of the blessings of the National Government, with all the extraordinarily increased charges upon local rates.

He is completely silent about all that and he gives us this sort of Edison-Bell record that he is so accustomed to broadcast as the leader of the publicity and propaganda of the Tory headquarters. That really will not do as an answer to a considered case for more to be done by the reigning Government in regard to this problem of malnutrition. It will not satisfy the people of the country. We expect the Government to grapple more firmly with the problem. The problem exists and it is no use for the Minister, or for an advisory committee, or any other body as far as that goes, to think that this problem can be settled simply by quoting mass figures and averages. The Minister might do well, if he has not already seen it, to have a look at a paragraph in the "Economist" this week which deals with a recent report on the comparison between the distribution of income in the case of America and of this country. I should like to read a short passage from it:
"In Great Britain there is some danger of some congratulation becoming self-satisfaction. It seems likely from the figures that the average per capita real consumption of the Englishman, even in 1932, was less than that of the American, although, for all the reasons given earlier in this article, the comparison cannot be more than a first impression. And, in any case, the figures are averages. They conceal an increase of destitution among a substantial majority, balanced by a slight increase of consumption by the majority. Averages can be deceptive, for it is impossible in any ultimate sense to balance the starvation of a miner's family in the Rhondda against the five extra hats of five housewives in Oxford and declare them equal."
That is the danger that we have to guard against in dealing with mass statistics of the kind that I find in this report of the advisory committee on nutrition when they purport to set up the total supplies available for consumption in the country and what is the assumed consumption per head, in consequence, as between the two parties. It all depends where the change of habit has come, and, where the spending income has been available in the particular areas or families, what value can be attached to these figures, and it is not a bit of use to rely upon averages when you are made aware day by day, in the reports from the depressed areas especially, of the tremendous amount of malnutrition. Let us take the danger cited by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Jenkins), who was quoting, I take it, from the "Poverty and Health of the People," by Dr. M'Gonigle. I took one or two extracts from the book in regard to the transfer of the working-class population from slum areas to housing estates. He says:
"The population of the Mount Pleasant estate contained a high proportion of young persons and consequently gave rise to the expectation of a low death rate. Calculations based on the age and sex distribution of this group of people show that the expected mean death rate for the five-year period between 1928 and 1932 would have been 8.12 per thousand. Actually it amounted to 33.55. This constituted approximately a fourfold increase on a normal expected death rate.
In 1928 the mean rent on the Mount Pleasant estate was 9s. per family per week. On their transfer to Mount Pleasant the commitments of the translated families were, by reason of higher rentals, increased by 4s. 4d. per week.
It will be noted that the unemployed families on the Mount Pleasant estate spent on food only 2s. 10½d. per man per week."
It is obvious, therefore, that, if you are thinking about the problem of health, if you are thinking about improving housing and the like, it is utterly impossible to hope for a solution of the problem unless, with improved housing conditions and the rental charges involved, you increase the income of the individual holders, whether employed or not, in order that they may be able to obtain the minimum standard of nutrition. Moreover, while I certainly have no objection, any more than my hon. Friend, to an increasing number of inquiries, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to take pride in the fact that there is to be a further inquiry into family budgets. In the Sheffield inquiry, the Liverpool inquiry, the Manchester inquiry, the Salford inquiry, and the inquiry of the British Medical Association, we have an abundance of material available as to what dietaries cost the household for them to take any necessary action if they like. It is simply a long-drawn-out process of appointing inquiry after inquiry instead of doing what is essential, enabling the people concerned in one form or another, either by improved wages, or by increased assistance or by adequate scales for those who have recourse to public assistance, to be able at least to purchase the minimum standard of food required to set up a proper basis of nutrition. There is also sufficient evidence already to show that the increased cost of basic dietaries to-day is such as to justify the special attention of the Government to the income of the families which have to obtain the food.

I hope the Minister of Health has seen published in the journal of the Royal Statistical Society the recent paper by Mr. R. F. George, speaking to the study group of which he is chairman, in which he has clearly proved the case that in settling the poverty line now it ought not to be done by the figures of the British Medical Association scale of two or three years ago. It must be done by the present cost. Mr. George, in a very careful and unbiased and purely statistical way, has worked out the cost on the basis of the British Medical Association's scale. A lot of my friends never agreed that the basic principle of that scale was a fair one, but let us take it. You will find in the paper of Mr. George that in 1933 the cost for an adult meal, on the minimum of the British Medical Association, was 5s. 11d. per week. Mr. George now points out that on the cost-of-living index figure for July, 1936, that same diet would cost not 5s. 11d. but 6s. 9d., and if we examine the change in costs since July, 1936, then the cost of the British Medical Association scale would not be 5s. 11d. per week or 6s. 9d., but 7s. 3d.

The hon. Member for Belper (Mr. Wragg) cannot have studied even the Board of Trade Journal. I observe in the Board of Trade Journal for last week that the wholesale prices of food alone show an increase over the corresponding week of 1936 not of 12 points but of 15.6 per cent. Although it is true that in the case of meat, and in certain districts in the case of bread, the whole rise in the wholesale price has not been passed on by the retail trade, it is inevitable that it will be passed on, and the poorest of our people with their present small incomes will have to deal with the question of diet and nutrition not on the figures for 12 months ago, but on the actual prices at the present time. That figure in regard to food is borne out by the general figures in relation to all wholesale prices, which show an increase in 1936 from 87.8 to 107.3. Let us look at the retail prices so far as they have been reached. The advisory committee in their recommendations said:
"The present average consumption of potatoes is about 56 ounces per head weekly. We recommend that the consumption should be increased."
How is the consumption to be increased by poor people in their present circumstances? We have been begging the Government to remove the levy on potatoes because of the shortage in the main crop; we have been begging the Government to take note of the report of the Food Council about the iniquitous restrictions on the output of potatoes. The Government have taken no action. Let me ask the Minister of Health what he is going to say to his colleagues in the Cabinet. This is what the Food Council said:
"We regret to note the reduction of acreage under potatoes to 590,000 in 1936 as against 671,000 in 1933. This reduction in acreage suggests the advisability of suspending in present circumstances the levy of £5 per acre on plantings in excess of each producer's basic acreage."
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to say anything to his colleagues about that? It would be doing something to carry out the recommendations of the advisory committee. Or is he going to say to the Import Duties Advisory Committee that King Edward potatoes are being charged at 2d. per lb. retail while in my youth five pounds could be bought for 2½d.

They were not 2d. per lb. in April, 1930. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will check the figure for himself—and they have been figuring wholesale at £10 10s. to £11 10s. per ton. The Government talk smugly about the problem of malnutrition instead of doing something effective by obtaining low prices for the people. Take bread. The price this week in most areas has gone up to 9½d., and I very much regret to say that in one or two other areas it has gone even above that. The price at the moment is bearing very little of the Government's levy to the British farmer because of the effect of world prices, but all the way through the Government have been charging the consumer a special levy on bread and flour. That does not aid nutrition. There is not only a high price for bread at the moment but every prospect of the present prices of wheat going higher still. Sugar is up and tea has increased in price, as well as margarine. Because of world conditions and also because of the inflationary policy of the Government, there is a general stiffening of prices, which is a very serious factor in dealing with the problem of getting food for the nutrition of the people as a whole.

The Government have made no real attempt to-night to deal with the problem of nutrition. I agree that the whole of the factors in regard to nutrition are not to be found in prices. There is something to be said for training in the proper use of food, but it is not very much use to tell a working-class housewife exactly what food is best for her family if you do not give her the minimum sum required to buy what is necessary. That is the real point of our criticism against the Government. I do not mind talking about 1930 and 1931. It is a period that I shall never forget as long as I live. It illustrated the truth of the old saw that figures might not lie, but liars can figure. I shall never forget the lying use that was made of figures in 1931. Ever since 1931 until within the last few months the policy of the National Government has not been to assist the working classes to get a better access to the foods required for nutrition. On the contrary, it has been to say that the country could not afford it and to throw the burden of the general Exchequer more and more on the working classes. It has been a policy to increase the taxation of the poor in their commodities by £90,000,000 a year more than in 1931.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer or the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) may say that we can afford £1,500,000,000 for armaments, that we can take it in our stride. The argument now is that the Government are doing all they can to give the people access to all the things which are required for nutrition. I beg the Government to get a real change of heart. They need it very badly in this matter. They have a great deal of leeway to make up for all that they have done to the working classes and not for the working classes during the last few years. If at this time the Government will set about a reorganisation of administration in such a way that our people will be properly fed and their health improved, we will not criticise them but will support them.

9.16 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough (Mr. Alexander) said that one of the things he learned in 1931 was that although figures could not lie, liars could figure. When I have sat down, perhaps the House will be able to judge which of those two ought to be applied to his speech. I would like to deal with one or two of the points made by various hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. E. J. Williams) said that it had been stated recently that the figures regarding the results of an examination of school children could not be of very great value because the time taken for the examination was only six minutes, and obviously it was impossible to have a proper examination in that time. I am told that in fact the time taken for the examination was not six minutes, and that the examination of some of the children took a longer time and that of others less time, the average being six minutes, which was adequate for the purpose.

The hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Ridley) called attention to the fact that no solid meals were granted by the Derbyshire County Council. I understand that the answer to the hon. Member is that in scattered rural areas it is extremely difficult to make the necessary physical arrangements for providing a solid meal, but that the majority of rural counties, where the necessity for school feeding exists, do in fact make adequate provision for the supply of extra quantities of milk instead of solid meals. Another hon. Member referred to the reports of Dr. M'Gonigle. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough also said that in a well-known book Dr. M'Gonigle had reported the results, as he saw them, of the transfer of some people from slums to new housing estates and that Dr. M'Gonigle had drawn the conclusion, from the fact that the death rate went up, that, on the whole, the families were not as well off in the new houses as they had been in the slums. He attributed that deterioration to the fact that they had to pay high rents, and had not enough for food.

I did not know that that point would be raised, or I would have brought with me some extremely interesting results which have been obtained from investigations made by various local authorities into similar circumstances in their own areas. I cannot give the exact figures, but I can assure the House that the general effect was that inquiries were made, on a much bigger scale than those of Dr. M'Gonigle, in Leeds, Manchester and another large town, and it was found that precisely the opposite results had accrued from shifting the population—the mortality rate had gone down and the general health had enormously improved. It is clear that much bigger experiments in large towns such as Manchester and Leeds give infinitely more valuable results than the very small experiment made by Dr. M'Gonigle. I think the House may take it that the figures given by Dr. M'Gonigle are not followed in the rest of the country, but that, on the contrary, the universal experience has been that the people have materially benefited as the result of being shifted from the slums.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough, in his anxiety to make a case against the Government as regards the provision of houses, forgot to mention that one of the most valuable aids given to the local authorities is the 1935 Act, which enables an authority, for the first time, to lump all its housing subsidies together into one fund and to apply the resulting total subsidy money in the way best calculated to be to the advantage of the people to be moved; in other words, to give the maximum subsidy to the particular house where a person is living with a large family on low wages and cannot afford to pay the big rent he would otherwise have to pay. Consequently, it can be said that this Government, for the first time, has endeavoured to tackle the question of high rents. We have provided local authorities with a weapon which will enable them to give assistance to those families in which it is most needed, and to abolish the danger, to which hon. Members have referred, of people not being able to get enough food because they have to pay too high rents.

Will the hon. Gentleman carry his argument a little further? If you have other families above the poverty line, and they have to pay a higher rent than those below, you will bring them down as well.

It is no argument to say that if one cannot do good to everybody, one should not do it to anybody. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillsborough then spoke about the circular which my right hon. Friend sent to local authorities on 1st April, concerning additional provision for maternity, child welfare and school feeding, and the right hon. Gentleman professed to see in it merely an admonition which would have very little result. If he had read the circular carefully, he would have seen that in one of the later paragraphs my right hon. Friend specifically demanded that the local authorities should inform him at an early date of what action they proposed to take or were taking under the circular. It remains to be seen whether or not that circular has been effective in the objects we have in view. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to refer to rising prices and to wages, but if he will look at a chart which he will find in the current number of the Ministry of Labour Gazette he will see that during the whole time he and his friends were in office, money wages and real wages fell.

That does not affect the question as to whether people in this country have enough money for nutrition or not. The fact that the wages of people in other parts of the world fell is no answer to the suggestion I am putting forward. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the chart, he will find that under this Government, since 1933, not only have money wages, but, what is more important, real wages, continuously risen, and they are above the level at which they were when he and his friends were in office. With regard to the cost of living in recent months, the hon. Member for Ogmore said that it had risen by 12 per cent. during the last 12 months, and the hon. Member for Belper (Mr. Wragg) said that it had risen not by 12 per cent., but by 12 points. I have the figures here, and the answer is that it has risen neither by 12 per cent. nor by 12 points, but by 4 per cent. and 5 points, which is a very different matter. The figure was 146 at this time last year, and it is now 151.

I might say that I gave an indication that it was quite impossible for the housewife to-day to purchase with £1 what she could purchase for 17s. 6d. a short time ago.

I have here the Ministry of Labour figures which show that the rise in the cost of living is up by five points or 4 per cent.

Food is not the only thing which enters into the cost of living. Even on that point I still have the Ministry of Labour figures, which show that on food alone the cost to-day is not as high as it was when the right hon. Gentleman was in office.

The right hon. Member mentioned three specific items—tea, sugar and margarine. If he will look again at that table in the current issue of the Ministry of Labour Gazette he will see that except for tea the other two items are to-day still below what they were when he was in office. It is, therefore, absurd for the right hon. Gentleman to say that as a result of something we have done the people in this country are seriously prejudiced in obtaining adequate food. He argued also that one ought not to use averages. I happen to sit for a Lancashire division. The hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Rowson) started this discussion. He also sits for a Lancashire division. I looked up this morning some of the reports of Lancashire medical officers of health dealing with the health of school children in Lancashire. One of the most reassuring things which emerges from reading these reports is that even in the boroughs in Lancashire, where, in view of the long-continued distress which many of these boroughs have suffered, one would have expected to find high rates of malnutrition and sub-nutrition among school children, actually one does not find that. Take St. Helens. Anyone who knows Lancashire will know of the great amount of unemployment and suffering which St. Helens has gone through in recent years. The medical officer of health of St. Helens reported last year—and there is no question here of averages—that out of a total school population of

Division No. 134.]AYES.[9.30 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.Gluckstein, L. H.Peaks, O.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.Goodman, Col. A. W.Penny, Sir G.
Albery, Sir IrvingGrant-Ferris, R.Perkins, W. R. D.
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)Petherick, M.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)Grimston, R. V.Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J.Guinness, T. L. E. B.Porritt, R. W.
Apsley, LordGuy, J. C. M.Radford, E. A.
Aske, Sir R. W.Hannah, I. C.Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)Harbord, A.Rayner, Major R. H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-Remer, J. R.
Beit, Sir A. L.Hepworth, J.Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Birchall, Sir J. D.Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Boulton, W. W.Holdsworth, H.Ropner, Colonel L.
Bower, Comdr. R. T.Hope, Captain Hon, A. O. J.Rowlands, G.
Bowyer, Capt. Sir G. E. W.Horsbrugh, FlorenceSalt, E. W.
Boyce, H. LeslieHudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)Samuel, M. R. A.
Bracken, B.Hudson, R. S. (Southport)Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)Hume, Sir G. H.Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)Hunter, T.Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)
Bull, B. B.James, Wing-commander A. W. H.Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Carver, Major W. H.Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)Somervell. Sir D. B. (Crewe)
Cary, R. A.Jones, L. (Swansea W.)Spens, W. P.
Castlereagh, ViscountKeeling, E. H.Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)
Channon, H.Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Christle, J. A.Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)Lamb, Sir J. Q.Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)
Clarry, Sir ReginaldLatham, Sir P.Strickland, Captain W. F.
Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.Leighton, Major B. E. P.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)Liddall, W. S.Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.Tasker, Sir R. I.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S.G'gs)Loftus, P. C.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)Lyons, A. M.Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. PageMacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Crooks, J. S.MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Scot. U.)Titchfield, Marquess of
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)Tree, A. R. L. F.
Crossley, A. C.McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.Turton, R. H.
Crowder, J. F. E.Magnay, T.Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Culverwell, C. T.Maitland, A.Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Markham, S. F.Warrender, Sir V.
Denville, AlfredMayhew, Lt.-Col. J.Waterhouse, Captain C.
Donner, P. W.Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)Watt, G. S. H.
Drewe, C.Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Duggan, H. J.Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Duncan, J. A. L.Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)Wise, A. R.
Dunglass, LordMorris-Jones, Sir HenryWood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Ellis, Sir G.Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)Wragg, H.
Emery, J. F.Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.
Erskine-Hill, A. G.Nail, Sir J.Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)Nicholson, G. (Farnham)
Fleming, E. L.O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir HughTELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fyfe, D. P. M.Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. G. A.Sir James Blindell and Commander
Ganzoni, Sir J.Palmer, G. E. H.Southby.

5,797 who were examined he only found eight individual school children suffering from malnutrition.

You are aware that Lancashire parents see that their children do not go short?

Yes, but it is also a proof that these stories of widespread malnutrition are untrue. I hope that I have said enough to show that the statements made by my right hon. Friend this afternoon were thoroughly just.

Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

The House divided: Ayes, 161; Noes, 120.

NOES.

Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. DykeGriffiths, J. (Llanelly)Owen, Major G.
Adams, D. (Consett)Groves, T. E.Paling, W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)Parker, J.
Adamson, W. M.Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)Parkinson, J. A.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)Hardie, G. D.Potts, J.
Banfield, J. W.Harris, Sir P. A.Price, M. P.
Barnes, A. J.Hayday, A.Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Barr, J.Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Ridley, G.
Batey, J.Henderson, J. (Ardwick)Ritson, J.
Bellenger, F. J.Henderson, T. (Tradeston)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.Hopkin, D.Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Bevan, A.Jagger, J.Rowson, G.
Broad, F. A.Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Seely, Sir H. M.
Bromfield, W.Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)Sexton. T. M.
Brown, C. (Mansfield)John, W.Shinwell, E.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.Silkin, L.
Buchanan, G.Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Silverman, S. S.
Burke, W. A.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Simpson, F. B.
Chater, D.Kelly, W. T.Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Cluse, W. S.Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.Smith, E. (Stoke)
Cove, W. G.Kirby, B. V.Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Cripps, Hon. Sir StaffordLathan, G.Smith, T. (Normanton)
Daggar, G.Lawson, J. J.Stephen, C.
Dalton, H.Lee, F.Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Leonard, W.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Dobbie, W.Leslie, J. R.Thurtle, E.
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)Logan, D. G.Tinker, J. J.
Ede, J. C.Lunn, W.Viant, S. P.
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)Macdonald, G. (Ince)Watkins, F. C.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)McGhee, H. G.Watson, W. McL.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)MacLaren, A.Welsh, J. C.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.Maclean, N.Westwood, J.
Foot, D. M.MacNeill, Weir, L.White, H. Graham
Gardner, B. W.Mainwaring, W. H.Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Garro Jones, G. M.Mander, G. le M.Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)Marshall, F.Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Gibson, R. (Greenock)Mathers, G.Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Green, W. H. (Deptford)Maxton, J.Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Grenfell, D. R.Noel-Baker, P. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)Oliver, G. H.Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charleton.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Captain BOURNE in the Chair.]