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Public Health

Volume 389: debated on Thursday 20 May 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Alien Doctors


asked the Minister of Health whether he can make any statement as to the policy of the Government for the future of alien doctors allowed to practise under restrictions in this country for the duration and anxious, if possible, to continue to serve here or in the Colonies?

No, Sir. As my hon. Friend is aware, the present arrangements under which certain medical practitioners are temporarily registered under the Medical Acts by virtue of foreign qualifications will cease with the lapsing of the Emergency Powers under which they are made.

Will doctors who have served us during the war be given any kind of consideration for permanent residence in this country or the Colonies when peace is restored?

We should have to consider that. I have answered as to the facts and stated how they now operate their medical skill under the Emergency Powers.

Would it not be better for those doctors who belong to foreign countries to go back and help their own countries in their time of need?

Disabled Persons (Benefits)


asked the Minister of Health whether, when the Government are considering the question of sickness and invalidity benefits in connection with the proposals in Sir William Beveridge's Report, sympathetic consideration will be given to the claims of cripples and disabled persons who are ineligible for health insurance benefits and have not reached the age for the old age pension, for adequate provision to meet their needs?

Yes, Sir. I recognise that the position of the classes of persons to which my hon. Friend refers will need special consideration.

Will my right hon. Friend have a census taken of the disabled persons in the category mentioned in the Question?

I would like to look at the information available before I give any such undertaking.

Food And Drugs Act, 1938


asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the decision of the Divisional Court in the case of Collins Arden Products, Limited, versus Barking Corporation, given on 2nd April, 1943; and whether he proposes to amend, at the first opportunity, the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, to cover such cases?

I am aware of the case referred to. I do not propose to make Regulations under the Food and Drugs Act to deal with this matter, but my right hon. and Noble Friend the Minister of Food, in conjunction with my Department, is considering the establishment of suitable standards having regard to present-day conditions.

Local Authorities' Medical Officers (Hospital And General Practice)


asked the Minister of Health whether he approves of arrangements whereby in the present call upon medical practitioners, medical officers, both men and women, holding appointments under local authorities, voluntarily agree to assist in the work at hospitals and general practices in cases of special urgency; and whether he will consider taking steps to encourage this type of arrangement in present circumstances?

I am glad to learn of any co-operative arrangements between medical practitioners which will help to relieve the pressure on the profession at the present time, but owing to the great variation in local conditions I do not think that I could usefully commend any particular scheme for this purpose.

While realising the difference in local conditions, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would let local authorities know that where practicable this kind of co-operative effort meets with his approval?

I think that they know that, and this Question will serve to spread the light further.

Day Nurseries, Liverpool


asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the medical officer of health of Liverpool has received from employers, labour officers and factory welfare officers applications for the establishment of more day nurseries with the provision of which the local authority is prepared to proceed providing such schemes are given his sanction; how many schemes have been submitted to him by the city council for approval; how many have been approved by him to date; will he state the reasons for his non-approval in other cases; and whether his approval can be expedited in such cases so as to meet the local demand?

I am not aware of any applications for day nurseries in Liverpool having been put up for approval but not considered, Thirty schemes have been submitted by the City Council to date, and 29 of these have been approved. Any fresh applications which may be made will be considered without delay.

Venereal Diseases


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the fact that only one man and 27 women have been treated under Regulation 33B, he will now consider the introduction of compulsory notification in order effectively to reduce the incidence of venereal disease?

No, Sir. The numbers mentioned by my hon. Friend relate to persons so far reported from more than one quarter as alleged sources of infection, and the figures are not in themselves a true criterion of the efficacy of the Regulation, which it is already evident is indirectly doing much to help in getting infected persons to undertake voluntary treatment.

In view of the fact that this disease is a great menace to public health, will the right hon. Gentleman say how serious must the incidence of venereal disease become before he will introduce effective measures?

I have promised the House that if, in the light of the working of Regulation 33B, I find it necessary to ask for further powers, I shall not delay taking action, but we ought to have time to see how it is working, because I am sure the House does not want compulsion for compulsion's sake.

Is not the issue of this Regulation merely trifling with what is really a terrible problem?

I would not agree. Those who are administering the Regulation locally in certain difficult places do not take that view.

Private Members' Time


asked the Prime Minister whether he can give an assurance that at the earliest possible moment after the cessation of hostilities the Government will take steps to restore to Members of Parliament the right to introduce Bills and other rights which have been suspended and dispensed with during the period of hostilities?

Yes, Sir. It is the Government's desire to restore Private Members' time as soon as practicable after the war.

Is it not a fact that the House has accepted gladly the restriction while the war continues, but Members want to regain their rights immediately after the cessation of hostilities, and will my right hon. Friend pay special attention to reducing the number of Orders in Council, which the House, in the main, does not care very much about?

My right hon. Friend says "as soon as practicable after the war," but surely it is the intention of the Government to restore Private Members' rights at once?

Would it not be the right of the House and not the Government to decide that?

That is quite right, but I am sure my hon. Friend would not wish the Government to do something that was not practicable.

North African Campaign


asked the Prime Minister how many of the casualties suffered by the United Nations in the North African campaign are prisoners of war?

About 70,000 of the casualties suffered in North Africa by the Forces of the United Kingdom, the Dominions, the Colonies and India are now prisoners of war. I regret that I have no figures of the prisoners from the Forces of the other United Nations.

Day Of National Prayer


asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider the setting apart of a day, preferably a week-day, of national prayer to give thanks for our recent victories?

I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the observances held throughout the country last Sunday and to the formal act of public thanksgiving in St. Paul's Cathedral yesterday.

Amended Orders


asked the Lord President of the Council whether he has observed the difference in methods of amending Orders in the recent cases, namely, 1943, NQ. 653 and 1943, No. 616; that in the former case the Minister of Food has adopted the method of amendment by reference and in the latter case the Minister of Supply has adopted the method of restating the Order in amended form; and whether the latter will be regularly followed?

I have been asked to reply. Order No. 653 of 1943 alters a permitted charge from 3s. to Is. To revoke and re-enact an Order extending over 36 pages to make this amendment would appear to be a course open to criticism, but where the nature of an amend- ment is such that a revocation and reenactment are necessary for a proper understanding of the amendment this course is followed and, I can assure my hon. Friend, will continue to be the regular practice of my Department.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary draw the attention of the Lord President of the Council to the desirability of reducing as much as possible in delegated legislation the evils and inconveniences of legislation by reference?

Pensions Appeal Tribunals


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he can now give the House any information about the proposed independent appeal tribunals for war pensions?

The necessary legislation is being prepared and will be introduced as soon as possible. Meanwhile the practical measures for the setting up of Tribunals are being prepared.

Armed Forces (Pensions And Grants)


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will consider the possibility of paying the cost of dental treatment for dependants of serving men on the same scale as payment for medical treatment?

Assistance in respect of dental treatment is already given under the scheme of emergency grants explained in Command Paper 6318 of 1941, in all cases where such treatment is necessary for the relief or cure of a serious and prolonged illness resulting in a financial emergency in the household. The scheme does not cover other types of illness and there are no grounds' for making an exception in respect of general dental needs.

Can the hon. Member explain how it is that his Department refers such cases to charitable organisations as apparently they require dental treatment and is he aware that the principal charitable organisation concerned has a waiting -list of 500 people, for whom the funds cannot be found to give the dental treatment?

I am not aware of that, but what I am aware,of is that if dental treatment is necessary to cure a patient or to assist in his cure, it is paid for. In other cases it is not, because those cases do not come under the regulations.

Then may we take it that his Ministry are not concerned with people who want dental treatment unless it is regarded as being the cause of serious trouble?


asked the Minister of Pensions whether he will again bring before his Central Advisory Committee the question of extending wives' and children's allowances to cases where the most severely disabled ex-Service men marry after disability is incurred?

Will my right hon. Friend call the attention of the Committee to the fact that this important reform has already been made by all our Dominions, so that they may take that fact into account?

I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that all those points are placed before the Committee.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the House will be informed of the decision come to on this and other points by the Central Advisory Committee?

My hon. Friend knows, because I have told him already, that I am considering every point which was raised in the Debate, and also various points sent in to me by organisations representing ex-Service men, one of which would mean a very important and fundamental change in policy, and I think the House will agree that the best method I can pursue is to go carefully through all these suggestions and then bring comprehensive proposals before the House.

Can we have the assurance of the Minister that in bringing this proposal before the Central Advisory Committee he will give it his support, and his enthusiastic support?

My hon. Friend can rest assured that I shall put everything in front of the Advisory Committee that is likely to be helpful to them.

Has the right hon. Gentleman abandoned the idea of asking a Select Committee to consider all these questions and made a report to the House?

I think it would be better first for the House to hear my proposals. Then the House can decide whether there is any necessity for setting up a Select Committee.

May I ask for a specific reply to my question? It was not whether the Minister would put the relevant facts before the Committee but whether he would personally recommend this policy?

With all due respect to my hon. Friend, I do not think that is a fair question to put.


asked the Minister of Pensions why the allowances to disabled ex-Servicemen undergoing in-patient treatment under Articles 34 and 35 of the Royal Warrant, 1943, are less favourable than those granted under the Ministry of Labour scheme for the training and resettlement scheme of disabled persons?

The broad distinction between these two classes is that the pensioner undergoing in-patient treatment is comparable with the workman who is off work on account of illness, whereas the trainee is a fit person undertaking a course of training for a new occupation and at the same time drawing his pension. It must be taken into account that training allowances are subject to reduction in the event of sickness.

Surely a disabled person needing medical treatment and not undergoing training is more in need of adequate allowances for his family during that period than is the comparatively fit man who is undergoing a course at the Ministry of Labour? Is there not any collaboration between the Pensions Department and the Ministry of Labour in regard to these problems?

I think I have sent to my hon. Friend a list of the allowances both for in-patients and out-patients. As to the question relating to the Ministry of Labour, I think that should go to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour.

That is not my point. Will the Minister submit this matter, with all the other complaints that _we have made, to his Central Advisory Committee, and make a statement on it?