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Public Health

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 1 April 1943

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Milk (Pasteurisation)


asked the Minister of Health what standard of cleanliness is required in pasteurised milk?

Standards of cleanliness for pasteurised milks are prescribed in the Milk (Special Designations) Order, 1936. "Pasteurised" milk must contain not more than 100,000 bacteria per millilitre and "Tuberculin Tested Milk (Pasteurised)" not more than 30,000 bacteria per millilitre at any time after pasteurisation and before delivery to the consumer.

Is my right hon. Friend sure that he is alive to the danger of pasteurisation as at present carried out covering up foul and filthy milk by falsely engendering the idea of safety behind this process? Is he aware too of a recent case, published by a reputable journal, in which a labourer's boot covered with dry manure was found in a receptacle containing this milk?

Why is "T.T." milk ever pasteurised? Is not such an action quite inexcusable?

What number of germs are there in one-thousandth part of a quart?

Typhus Squads (Compensation)


asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been drawn to the public-spirited action of men in Norfolk Rural District Council areas who have volunteered for work in typhus squads in case outbreaks should occur; and whether he will take steps now to assure them of compensation for personal injury on the terms that apply generally to Civil Defence volunteers?

Yes, Sir. It does not appear that the statutory provisions of the Personal Injuries Scheme as applicable to Civil Defence volunteers could be applied, as they stand, to the persons to whom my hon. Friend refers; but I am considering the matter further and will confer about it with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions.

Artificial Limbs (Children)


asked the Minister of Health whether he can yet make any statement as to the advice to be issued to the maternity and child welfare authorities with regard to the provision of artificial limbs for children in need of them; and whether he will lay down that no child who loses a limb shall be deprived of the right to an artificial one by reason of the inability of the parents to purchase one should it be recommended by the medical authorities?

A circular, to be issued jointly by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education and myself, is now being printed and will I hope be issued before the middle of the month. I will send my hon. Friend a copy. I have no power to require welfare authorities to supply artificial limbs but the circular will give approval to the exercise of their powers for this purpose.

Diphtheria Immunisation (Cost)


asked the Minister of Health the amount of the expenditure incurred by his Department in the advertisement and carrying out of the policy of immunisation against diphtheria during the last financial year for which the figures are available; and the estimated amount of such expenditure for the current year?

The cost to the Exchequer of publicity advocating the immunisation of children against diphtheria was £2,276 in 1941–42, and £19,909 in 1942–43. The cost of carrying out immunisation falls on the local authorities except as regards the toxoid, which the Government supply to the authorities free of charge. The cost to the Exchequer of the toxoid was £14,638 in 1941–42 and is estimated at about £17,000 in the year ended 31st March, 1943.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, in view of the fact that the benefits up to now have been quite nil, the expense should now be terminated?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that this is a very cheap price to pay for the very large number of lives that have been saved?

Venereal Disease (Treatment Fees)


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that fees are charged for treatment of venereal diseases at many hospitals and clinics; and whether this can be abolished so as to remove this deterrent to improving the nation's health?

No, Sir. It has been made clear to local authorities that treatment of venereal disease at approved centres under their control is to be free. If my hon. Friend can send me particulars of any case where fees are being charged at such a centre, I will look into it. I have no jurisdiction, of course, as regards treatment not connected with the public health service of local authorities.

Is it not a fact that a great many people think that unless they pay for treatment it is not good?

Hospital Nurses (Welfare)


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the longer hours worked and the strenuous service rendered by hospital nurses, he will recommend to local authorities that particular consideration should be given to the need of providing an adequate and nourishing diet for nurses and an arrangement for hours of duty and holidays for probationer nurses who have to sit for examinations, so that undue strain is not imposed upon them?

I have no reason to suppose that the importance of an adequate and nourishing diet is not fully appreciated by local authorities and other hospital authorities; but I will look into any particular instances which my hon. Friend may bring to my notice. As regards hours of work and length of holidays for student nurses, I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to paragraphs 50 and 52 of the First Report of the Rushcliffe Committee, which has been generally commended to all hospital authorities.

Would it not be useful to circularise local authorities, in view of the fact that some nurses are undoubtedly feeling the increasing strain?

I do not think there is any need for that, because the authorities are represented on the Committee.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to raise the standard of cooking?

Is the old rule still in existence by which Members are responsible for facts stated or implied in Questions? If it is implied that conditions are unsatisfactory, ought not Members to get to know that the facts are correct before putting such a Question on the Paper?

I think the hon. Member is asking if Members are responsible for the facts stated in their Questions. Yes, every Member is responsible.

May I ask you, Sir, to elucidate that further, because what is the point of asking a Question if you are certain of the reply?

When one asks a Question, one does not state facts. One states the circumstances from which the Question arises, and one is responsible for ensuring that these are as reasonably accurate as is possible before putting a Question on the Order Paper.

If the facts stated by the Member are wrong and he is responsible, what is the sanction?