asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that the amount contributed by the Government for the welfare of the 2,000,000 lepers in the British Empire is insufficient and has to be supplemented by private charity; and will he take steps to increase the amount to ensure that everything possible is done for these unfortunate people.
Although accurate figures are not available, my information is that a maximum of 700,000 out of the number of lepers mentioned by the hon. Member live within the Colonial Empire; of these the greater part are in Nigeria. Expenditure from Government funds on leprosy relief work in the Colonies generally is increasing. In Nigeria a big anti-leprosy campaign is now being undertaken. A grant of £258,000 for this campaign was approved last year from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote, and a sum of £5,000 per annum for a period of five years is being contributed by the Nigeria Government. An application by the Nigeria Government for a further £170,000 from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote is at present under consideration. I can assure the hon. Member that I fully appreciate the importance of leprosy welfare, and I would like to pay a tribute to voluntary organisations for the very valuable work undertaken by them in dealing with this disease. I should regard it as most unfortunate if this work was curtailed in any way.
While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask if he is aware that if more money were made available it would be possible to cure a larger number of lepers?
As I have said, we have provided additional money. It may not be enough, but it is very much more than it was, and we hope to be able to provide more in the future.
Is the Minister aware that while every assistance should be given in cases of this kind, the same thing applies in this country with regard to tuberculosis cases?