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Public Health

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 6 May 1943

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asked the Minister of Health the number of cases of tuberculosis notified during the past year; if he will give separate figures for Wales, the comparable figures for 1938 and 1941, and indicate whether any particular age group shows an increase?

As the reply involves a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.



asked the Minister of Health whether he will consider setting up a small expert commission to investigate the causes of the recent rise in the birthrate, especially whether or not it is likely to be permanent and its bearing on postwar organisation, especially in connection with the Beveridge Report?

I doubt whether long-range conclusions of any value could be reached with respect to post-war birth rates on the basis of the war-time birth rate movements under the abnormal war conditions; and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by the appointment, in present circumstances, of the commission suggested by my hon. Friend.

Is it not necessary to have careful inquiry into the trend of population before we can in any circumstances adopt the Beveridge Report?

Any inquiry would need to be over such a period and on such a basis that it dealt not with abnormal war conditions alone but with the general trend.

Are not the facts of the trend of population perfectly well known to economic experts, so that the appointment of a committee would be time-wasting?

Milk-Borne Diseases


asked the Minister of Health whether, in intensifying the offensive against pulmonary tuberculosis by mass radiography and appropriate treatment, together with certain financial allowances, he intends to extend these remedial measures to sufferers from non-pulmonary tuberculosis and other diseases acquired by consumers of infected milk supplied under the authority of the Ministry of Food, and which milk cannot be rejected by medical officers of health?

No, Sir. I would refer my hon. Friend to my previous statement in reply to his Question on 15th April.

As the previous statement made no definite reference to remedial measures on the lines mentioned in the Question, cannot we have something more specific?

There is a difference between pulmonary and non-pulmonary tuberculosis, in that the former is probably unique among common disease in combining great importance of early treatment with danger to the community if the disease is allowed to develop. The second factor is not present in non-pulmonary tuberculosis.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that scientific opinion is clearly in favour of early remedial measures with regard to non-pulmonary tuberculosis?

Our resources in this matter are limited, and it is my judgment that it is more important to deal with pulmonary than with non-pulmonary tuberculosis at this stage.

In spite of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, in view of the fact that the clinical symptons and pathological processes of all forms of tuberculosis are absolutely identical and indistinguishable, no matter what their supposed origin, does he not think that with this in mind the hon. Member's Question is completely pointless?

National Health Service


asked the Minister of Health whether steps will be taken as far as practicable to enable medical men, women and nurses serving with the Fighting Forces abroad to express their views in the discussions now proceeding on the future of medical and health services, especially seeing that these discussions go beyond anything contemplated before the war, and that the success of any new type of services will be impossible without their co-operation?

I contemplate publishing as soon as practicable a statement of the general nature of the Government's proposals, which will enable everybody, including men and women in the Forces, to see for themselves what is suggested and to discuss and, if necessary, criticise them before the stage of legislation is reached.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it would be practicable for him to get this detailed information into the hands of doctors and nurses overseas who will be affected?

I think that in this matter there should not be undue difficulty. As my hon. Friend will know, the several professions have verb clear and regulated channels of communication.

Will my right hon. Friend remember that these proposals do go outside anything which was before the profession before the war?

National Health Insurance


asked the Minister of Health whether, as the weekly sums being paid as sick benefit under the Health Insurance Act to persons unable to work owing to ill-health are inadequate to provide the necessaries of life, apart from the special sick nourishment they require, he will take immediate steps to make such provision for these persons as will raise them above the bare margin of existence?

The provision to be made during sickness and invalidity is, as my hon. Friend is aware, receiving consideration in connection with the Government's examination of the proposals contained in Sir William Beveridge's Report.

This matter is very urgent, and does my right hon. Friend consider that it is worthy of our country that so many of those who have paid for sickness benefits should be deprived of the bare necessities of life and have to go to public assistance committees to obtain enough for their bare existence? To me it is a crying shame.

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will increase the rate of the attendant allowance and extend it to all men of both wars who have been disabled in the highest degree?

This Question relates to one of the matters raised in the recent Debate to which, as I then undertook, I am giving consideration.

How many weeks must my right hon. Friend reasonably need before he will be in a position to tell us the result of his consideration of all the matters raised in that Debate?

As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, a large number of matters were raised in that Debate, and I must consider them as a whole and also separately, and I cannot give any definite date.

:-Could not the right hon. Gentleman say approximately the date? Will it be a matter of weeks or months?


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he has studied the declaration of policy submitted by the British Legion (Scotland); and whether he can make a statement?

The declaration, which involves fundamental changes in the pensions system, only reached me a few days ago. I am not at present prepared to express an opinion on it.

Can my right hon. Friend state any time within which he will be able to make a statement?

Is it not time that the whole pensions system was overhauled on lines which have already been recommended by a Committee of this House?


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will arrange to increase the allowances to neurosis patients who accept his offer of hospital treatment, in order that their homes may be maintained during their absence?

The provision for cases in which the neurosis is accepted as attributable to or aggravated by service is the same as in all cases of other accepted disabilities and is at the rates laid down in the Royal Warrant. Where the neurosis is not accepted as attributable to or aggravated by service and, therefore, the Warrant allowances are not payable, special provision is made which places the patient in approximately the same position as the war injured civilian in receipt of injury allowances during a period of incapacity for work and the person in receipt of Workmen's Compensation for total incapacity. The provision in both classes of case seems to me reasonable.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these persons are asked to go to hospital as a measure which will be good for them, but have to leave their homes and their wives with only £I per week for their maintenance?

No. I think I had better send the hon. Member a full list of the allowances. It is rather too long to read out now.

May I say that I shall be glad to have that list, because in the particular case I have in mind I have confirmed the fact that £1 was what a man was asked to accept in going to hospital?

Will the hon. Member send me particulars of that case? I should like to look into it.

Pensions Appeal Tribunals (Northern Ireland)


asked the Minister of Pensions when the Pensions Appeal Tribunal will be set up in Northern Ireland; and whether all dissatisfied with the decisions of his Department for the past years will have the right of appeal to that tribunal?

A Pensions Appeal Tribunal will be set up in Northern Ireland as soon as possible after the Bill which is in course of preparation becomes law, and there will be a right of appeal against past decisions of my Department on appealable issues.

Will my right hon. Friend see that all aggrieved in this matter shall sooner or later have a right of appeal to this tribunal in Northern Ireland?