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Volume 463: debated on Thursday 7 April 1949

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asked the Minister of Health when he expects to receive the final recommendations of the Medical Research Council as to the latest types of analgesic drugs and apparatus suitable to be administered by midwives alone.

No forecast can yet be given. Although existing methods will no doubt be reviewed by the committee which has been set up, the question remitted to the Medical Research Council by the Working Party on Midwives was on the possibility of devising improved methods. This is a relatively long-term project involving the initiation and conduct of actual research work, and quick results are not to be expected.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement on the subject at the earliest opportunity, and ask the Medical Research Council if they are actively considering the matter?

The Research Council are actively considering the matter, but one thing we cannot do with a research body is to bring pressure to bear to make them hurry. They must carry out proper tests. The consequences of recommending apparatus not up to standard would be very serious.

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that no final recommendations on this subject are possible? Instead, would he not consider the possibility of establishing a trial area, in which there could be scientific investigation of the appliances which are currently used by the medical profession?

The Research Council will take all those matters into account, and will have a controlled experiment of their own devising before making general recommendations.

How many research workers are engaged on this line of research, and how much will it cost?

I cannot say, but if the hon. and gallant Member will put down a Question I will try to give him the information.