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Public Health

Volume 443: debated on Thursday 30 October 1947

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Deaf Aids

8.

asked the Minister of Health why, in view of the fact that 80 per cent. of deaf aids now manufactued are one-piece aids, he has decided on a two-piece aid for free supply to the deaf under the National Health Service.

The decision has been taken owing to the disproportionate cost involved in using the miniature batteries required for one-piece aids.

In view of the fact that the Government aid is being manufactured on a mass production basis surely it is possible to make a one-piece aid on a cheaper basis?

That is another question. I have said that they will be available when the National Health Service starts on 5th July next year.

9.

asked the Minister of Health what scales of spares and replacements have been allowed for to service the two-piece deaf aid now being manufactured for free supply to the deaf.

The general basis adopted has been an annual replacement rate of 25 per cent., with a higher rate for valves owing to their shorter life.

Can the Minister say why a very much higher rate of replacement was decided upon in the case of his unit than is customary in normal commercial practice?

I understood that British valves are being used in order to save dollars and we could not be sure what the experience with them will turn out to be.

Water Supply, Newark Rural District

16.

asked the Minister of Health if he will give any indication of when a piped water supply will be made available to villages in the southern part of the rural district of Newark.

Proposals for supplying the area cannot be considered until a new source under a scheme for an adjoining area has been tested. A local inquiry will be held shortly into the latter scheme. I am unable to say when the villages in question will be supplied.

Is the Minister aware that the farmers in that area will be quite unable to carry out their task unless water is supplied? Will the Minister, therefore, give attention not only to this scheme, but to schemes of a similar nature in all rural areas?

We should be far better able to supply these needs if hon. Members opposite had done their duty many years ago.

Can the Minister give an assurance that there will be no slowing down of the plans and the work of providing a piped water supply to rural districts in general?

There is no slowing down. There is rather a hastening, and more is being done now than has been done for many years.

Mass Radiography Sets

17.

asked the Minister of Health what progress is being made in the provision of mass radiography sets; how many are now in operation, and how many persons have been examined for tuberculosis by this means.

There are 23 sets operating in England and Wales. Arrangements are in progress for starting 14 more, and further expansion is planned as apparatus comes forward. Up to the end of June 1,669,000 persons had been examined.

Can the Minister give an indication of when a sufficient number of these sets will be available to provide every major local authority with one of them?

I cannot give that information at the moment, but we are doing our very utmost to provide them as quickly as we can.

Municipal Nurseries

18.

asked the Minister of Health how many municipal nurseries have been opened during the past 12 months, and how many closed during the same period.

In view of that answer and of the urgent need to recruit female labour into industry, will not the Minister do something to stimulate local authorities to open more municipal nurseries; furthermore, will he go back to the system which operated during the war, when his Department took the whole financial responsibility?

It does not necessarily follow that nurseries are closed down because local authorities are lethargic. They are sometimes closed down because there is no demand for them, and in other cases because the sites are required for houses. There are one or two instances where nurseries have been closed down for reasons which I do not think to be adequate. I am having further inquiries made into those cases.

Sutton Coldfield Hospital (Linoleum)

28.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that an application was made by Messrs. Batemans on 20th January, and granted by his Department on 15th April, to cover with linoleum the stairs and landing at the Good Hope annexe to Sutton Cold-field Hospital; and why an application for a permit to purchase this linoleum was refused by letter dated 1st October from his Department to Messrs. Batemans under reference Py.20578/M.

The shortage of supplies makes it necessary to impose severe restrictions on the use of linoleum, and permits cannot be issued to enable linoleum to be used for corridors, staircases and landings of hospitals and nursing homes. As regards the first part of the Question, I am looking into the matter and will write to the hon. Member.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Ministry of Works has said that no permit was necessary, whereas the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Health have said that a permit was necessary? Are such conflicts among Government Departments settled by a majority? If so, is that the explanation of the extraordinary muddle?

St Lennard's Hospital, Shoreditch

30.

asked the Minister of Health if he has considered the memorandum signed by 33 medical practitioners in Shoreditch and neighbourhood regarding the threatened closing of the inpatient wards of St. Lennard's Hospital, Shoreditch, and asking that he should intervene and cause a public inquiry to take place before action to close the hospital is taken; and what action he is taking.

Yes, Sir. The London County Council have appealed to me, under the Nurses Registration Act, 1919, against the decision of the General Nursing Council to withdraw recognition from this hospital as a training school for nurses. I am arranging for the appeal to be heard shortly.

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that poor people in this area to whom this hospital is a great necessity are looking to him to maintain a firm front against the General Nursing Council on this matter?

I will certainly take all relevant considerations into account, including the General Nursing Council.

Hospitals (Staffing)

15.

asked the Minister of Health how many hospital wards have had to be closed for the lack of staff; how many hospitals are affected and what part of the country is most seriously affected; what is the cause of this situation; and how he proposes to overcome it.

My information is that at the end of June, there were over 50,000 beds closed for lack of staff. The hospitals were situated in most parts of England and Wales, though more in the populous counties. Causes and possible remedies have recently been examined in the Report of the Working Party on the Recruitment and Training of Nurses, on which I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) on 23rd October.

In view of the very serious statement that 50,000 beds are to be closed for lack of nurses, I would ask the Minister if he will bear specially in mind the needs of the hospitals in rural districts when getting more nurses, in view of the fact that in those cases there are no neighbouring hospitals near by.

Certainly, I am fully aware of the needs of the rural areas, and when I receive advice from the various professional bodies on the Working Party's report, I hope to reach certain conclusions which will help the situation.

Arundel Hotel, London (Release)

13.

asked the Minister of Health if he is now prepared to release the Arundel Hotel, Arundel Street, W.6.2, for commercial purposes, as it is urgently required as office accommodation by firms wholly engaged in export business.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why there has been such a terrible delay in this matter?

There is often delay in many of these matters because existing users have not yet been terminated.

If the hon. and gallant Member puts a Question down, I will give all the information he requires.

Local Authority Employees (Territorial Army)

31.

asked the Minister of Health whether it is his intention to recommend by a circular to all local authorities that they should encourage their employees to join the Territorial Army and in particular whether he will recommend local authorities to grant extra holidays with pay to any of their employees who attend the full period of annual training.

No, Sir. Local authorities will already be aware of the Government's views on this matter as stated in the Debate on the Territorial Army on the 21st July last. The question of granting additional leave with or without pay remains however one for local authorities to decide.

While assuming that the right hon. Gentleman is quite uninterested in the efficiency of the fighting Forces does he not think that his Department might give a lead to local authorities, particularly in view of the fact that many large employers are doing their very best?

Local authorities are perfectly well aware of this, and there is no need for a circular. There are various other desirable matters on which we might circularise local authorities.

School, Highbridge (Examination Papers)

34.

asked the Minister of Education whether he has completed his investigation into the alteration of examination papers at the Church of England School, Highbridge, Somerset, and with what result.

As a result of my further inquiries I am satisfied that the local education authority have done everything they could to meet the situation and that there is nothing more I can usefully do.

Could the right hop. Gentleman make one point clear? Was the culprit traced who was responsible for this particularly mean action which might have jeopardised the whole educational future of the children of this school?

Yes, Sir, traced and removed from a position in which anything of the sort could happen again.

Newfoundland (Future Status)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will make a statement on the recent negotiations between Canadian and Newfoundland representatives as to the future status of Newfoundland.

In pursuance of a Resolution in March by the National Convention of Newfoundland, a Delegation of the Convention went to Ottawa. Their terms of reference were to ascertain from the Canadian Government

"What fair and equitable basis may exist for the Federal Union of Newfoundland and Canada."
On their return to Newfoundland, the Delegation presented to the National Convention an agreed record of their discussions in Ottawa, and other papers bearing on all the main issues involved in Federal Union. I understand that the Canadian Government will shortly convey to the Government of Newfoundland, for communication to the National Conven- tion, an answer to the Delegation's questions about a possible basis for union, if, in the forthcoming referendum, the people of Newfoundland should declare themselves in favour of Confederation. My hon. Friend will, no doubt, recall that the function of the National Convention is to make recommendations to His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom about the possible forms of future Government to be laid before the people of Newfoundland in the Referendum.

Indian Army Personnel (Memorial Scrolls)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations why memorial scrolls have not been granted in respect of British officers of the Indian Army, who were killed in action or died on service between 1939 and 1945; and whether he will arrange for scrolls to be granted in respect of such officers in the same way as for members of the British Forces.

Before the transfer of power, the Government of India agreed in principle that" memorial scrolls based on the British model should be issued to the next of kin of Indian Army personnel. I understand that the detailed arrangements are now being made.