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Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 22 March 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland in how many cases in Scotland was analgesia administered by domiciliary midwives or nurses trained in midwifery in the years 1938, 1944, 1947 and 1948, respectively.

There could not have been any cases in 1938 and 1944 because it was only in July, 1946, that the Central Midwives Board for Scotland authorised the administration of analgesia by midwives. In 1947 there were 120 cases and in 1948, according to preliminary returns, about 800.

Will the right hon. Gentleman do everything in his power to make sure that this service is extended and is known and encouraged by his Department, because it is not so at the moment?

Would the right hon. Gentleman say, of the figures he has given for 1947 and 1948, how many of those cases were treated without the presence of a doctor?

In Scotland more than half the cases of births outside hospitals were treated with a doctor present, and in every case the doctor has the authority over the case.

Would the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the total number of births these figures represent?

About half the total number of 116,000 births in Scotland take place in hospital, more than half of them are under the care of a doctor, and less than half of them have the midwife only present at the birth.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this is a terrible percentage in Scotland as compared with the figures which the English Minister gave the other day?

I think my hon. and gallant Friend is mistaken because in Scotland the tradition is different. As I mentioned last week, the doctor is in charge of the case, and until 1946 midwives were not allowed to take charge.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland at what rate he expects that midwives, and nurses qualified in midwifery, in Scotland will be trained during the next two years in the use of analgesia; and when he anticipates that such training will be completed.

Training in analgesia is now being given to certified midwives at the rate of almost 250 a year, and to all student midwives numbering about 600 a year. I have every hope that by the end of 1950 over three-quarters of the midwives then practising in Scotland will have had this training, and my aim is to have the process substantially complete by the end of 1951.

Does that figure include, not only midwives, but nurses qualified in midwifery, which is not quite the same thing?

The Question relates only to midwives. I take it that all the nurses are being trained.

If they are qualified in midwifery they have been trained in the use of analgesia.

Can my right hon. Friend assure the House that the mothers of Scotland, who have expected and been entitled to the services of a doctor, will not now be fobbed off by midwives; and will he hand the midwives over to hon. Members opposite who have been in labour pains since the General Election of 1945 and who have not yet produced a policy?

In view of the last question, is the Secretary of State aware that the midwives of Scotland will not like to be regarded as "fobbed off"—and may I ask him by what date he considers there will be a sufficient number of doctors to attend all confinements?

In Scotland the number of cases in which the doctor himself is present at confinements is increasing. We certainly have no intention of taking away from the doctor the responsibility of doing the job.

Local Authority Members (Payment)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state in detail the schemes in operation in the cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow and the counties of Ayrshire, Dumbartonshire, Fifeshire and Lanarkshire to reimburse councillors for loss of salary or wage while on local government work.

Payments to local authority members by way of financial loss allowance are made in accordance with Sections 112 and 118 of the Local Government Act, 1948, and the Local Government (Travelling Allowances, etc.) (Scotland) Regulations, 1948, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Is the Secretary of State aware that miners attending council meetings lose a bonus shift and that this is not accounted for when meetings are arranged; and would he arrange a meeting with representatives of local authorities and the Coal Board in order to try to get something done about this very serious handicap to miners?


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware of the dissatisfaction in local government in Scotland with the present system of compensating members of local authorities for loss of earnings while engaged on local government work; and if he will make some inquiries on the subject and. if necessary, take such action as he may regard as appropriate to ensure that no hardship will be involved by those who are prepared to devote themselves to the service of local government.

I have received a number of representations on the subject of financial loss allowances but these have not disclosed any conditions which were not before Parliament when it passed the Local Government Act. 1948, and there is no likelihood of any amendment being proposed.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the passing of the Act was intended to aid councillors, and would he be surprised when I tell him that in the city of Glasgow alone the councillor, because of the passing of this Act, now receives less by way of allowance than the permanent official; and is he aware of the treatment of miners in regard to wages for loss of employment which operates under the Act?

Both these points were discussed when the matter was before the House. I think that at that time it was resolved that the question of the miners' bonus shift was a matter for arrangement between the Coal Board and the Miners' Union. Certainly, there is no likelihood of our going back on that in the near future.

Is the Secretary of State aware, in spite of his contradiction, of the case where a member of the Airdrie town council was refused an allowance because he did not have a job at the time and was refused unemployment benefit because he was not available due to his attending the meetings?

I will look into that case if the hon. Gentleman will let me have particulars. I cannot speak of cases of which I have no knowledge.

Aged Infirm, Glasgow


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the number of aged infirm in Glasgow awaiting admission to hospital for treatment and care and the average weekly admission; and what system is adopted by the Regional Hospital Board to see that each hospital accepts its responsibility in this essential service to the aged infirm.

The Regional Hospital Board are at present inquiring into this whole problem in order to determine the responsibilities of each of the hospitals concerned for this class of patient, but no complete information of the kind for which the hon. Member asks is yet available. The Board have a Central Admission Bureau which is gradually assuming responsibility for hospital admissions in the Glasgow area and especially for this class of person.

Does my right hon. Friend say that the inquiry into the responsibilities for these aged infirm people has been taking place ever since the Act came into operation in July, 1948? Surely, whilst the inquiry is being made they should be entitled to some form of easing of their troubles.

The point is that until July, 1948, the voluntary hospitals had no responsibility at all for this type of patient; that was dealt with by the local authority. This is an entirely new responsibility. Unfortunately, however, a number of people are contracting tuberculosis because there are not enough nurses to permit of hospital treatment. Therefore, in deciding who shall go into hospital first, we must select the most urgent cases. I think that many old people would agree that those whose lives are at stake should receive priority in treatment.

National Health Service (Aliens)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether an alien on a visit to Scotland, either in connection with his business or on holiday, is able to obtain dentures and spectacles free of charge under the National Health Service scheme.

Yes, Sir, if he remains in the country long enough to be fitted with them in his ordinary turn.

Is not this free gift scheme rather hard upon our taxpayers?

What arrangement exists to ensure that such an individual, who obtains a set of dentures or pair of spectacles in Scotland, does not cross the Border and obtain another set or pair?