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Volume 466: debated on Tuesday 21 June 1949

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Analgesia (Training)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many local health authorities in Scotland have submitted schemes under the National Health Act; how many of these schemes make provision for the training in analgesia of midwives at present on their roll; and how many make full provision for transport for analgesia equipment.

All Scottish authorities are operating under approved statutory proposals requiring them to make provision on both points mentioned in the Question.

Have the schemes which have been submitted already given full satisfaction in those areas? Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long, on the average, it will be before all the midwives at present on the rolls will be trained under the schemes?

I think, speaking from memory, it is about two years—it is less than the period specified in the Measure brought before Parliament—before all our midwives can be trained. There has been some delay because some of the local authorities and some of the medical authorities have different views on what type of analgesia should be used, and some have different ideas on the economy of the different systems.

Does my right hon. Friend consider it advisable, in view of the dreadful housing conditions in Scotland, to encourage domiciliary midwifery?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many areas in Scotland where not a solitary midwife is trained at all, and that there are also many areas where there is no transport provided for any of the midwives?

I think I have explained to the hon. Gentleman before that that arises because in Scotland—in theory at least—every woman in confinement is entitled to the services of a doctor, and the doctor is in charge of her case and can utilise any method whatsoever to relieve her pain.

But is the right hon. Gentleman not quite well aware that, whatever the theory be, there are numbers of women in Scotland who do not have a doctor attending them in childbirth, and who are dependent on the services of midwives, and that a wholly inadequate service is provided in this regard?

I think the hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken. There is a greater and greater number of patients who are actually treated by doctors at the time of their confinement, and it is the practice of doctors wherever possible in Scotland to be personally present at the confinements.

Sight Treatment


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if any facilities are available for sight-without-spectacles treatment, as recommended by certain doctors and others in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Eye exercises for the correction of defects are used by ophthalmologists in suitable cases. If the hon. Member has something else in mind, perhaps he will let me have particulars.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at least one of my constituents—and there are probably many more—cannot get spectacles, and looks to the right hon. Gentleman to give him some substitute treatment until spectacles can be made available?

I hope that all the authorities concerned will avoid giving spectacles if the eye can be treated and cured in other ways.

Can I have the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that he will take steps to see that the provision of curative treatment rather than the provision of spectacles will have his attention?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, it would be quite improper for any politician to interfere with technicians on these matters.

Pig Producers


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons are registered as personal pig producers for the 1948–49 period.

The number of persons in Scotland receiving pig rations under the Self Suppliers Scheme is 2,536. In addition 40 pig clubs, with a total membership of 451 pig-keepers, receive pig rations.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these figures are very disappointing as compared with those for England; and will he take steps to see that personal pig production is encouraged in Scotland to a proper degree?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, as a practical farmer, will realise that the pig population is increasing very rapidly.

Could the right hon. Gentleman explain the difference between a personal and an impersonal pig?

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman will go and see "Whisky Galore."

Agricultural Grants (Piping)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the Department of Agriculture are refusing to pay grants under the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Acts in respect of copper piping and insisting on the use of asbestos piping, although asbestos is not available.

In administering this scheme the use of copper piping is restricted as far as possible because it is too expensive for ordinary agricultural purposes. There are, I know, serious delays in the delivery of both asbestos and cast-iron pipes, and if the hon. Member has a particular case in mind I shall be pleased to look into it.

Does this not mean that the right hon. Gentleman is putting a ban on the use of copper piping, or alternatively that he is postponing necessary agricultural work which should be done at once?

I have no doubt that cast-iron pipes would be very efficient in this direction. We must consider the cost of this scheme, and if we were to permit the use of copper, which is imported for dollars, we should automatically be restricting the number of people who could be helped by the scheme.

Is the Secretary of State not aware that in many districts the water is of such a nature that cast iron pipes are entirely useless, and that those districts must be provided with copper pipes, in view of the fact that they cannot get asbestos piping?

These are matters which can be looked into, but the asbestos is there.

On what ground did the right hon. Gentleman make the statement that copper has to be imported for dollars?