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Ministry Of Health

Volume 649: debated on Monday 13 November 1961

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Homeless Families

30.

asked the Minister of Health if he will arrange for an urgent and comprehensive report from county welfare authorities on the numbers and conditions of homeless families in their care.

Figures are published annually; individual authorities make special reports where necessary.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is grave public concern about families with children being turned out of their homes and being bandied about between hard-pressed housing authorities and welfare authorities, the luckier ones getting into institutions that are bleak and barrack-like, and sometimes insanitary, and the very unlucky ones having to sleep where they can, like a family in my constituency which is sleeping in a lorry? If the hon. Lady is suggesting that a report is not necessary because all the facts are known, when is the Minister to get together with the Minister of Housing to take emergency action in this matter?

Temporary accommodation is inspected by my Ministry's officers, but I think that the question in the hon. Lady's mind is almost entirely confined to London—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The situation in London is unique, I think—and there I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government received a deputation from the L.C.C. on the 1st of this month.

Salk Vaccine Supplies, Blackburn

34.

asked the Minister of Health what steps he is taking to remedy the shortage of Salk vaccine in Blackburn.

I understand that Blackburn has recently received all the vaccine that was asked for.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that anxieties have been expressed in the Lancet about the safety of the Sabin vaccine and that these doubts are shared by some medical officers of health and others? Will he see that at least 70 per cent. of the eligible groups receive two doses of Salk vaccine before the new Sabin live vaccine is introduced into the community as a whole? While appreciating that steps have been taken to help Blackburn in the current month, may I ask the Minister to give an assurance that supplies of Salk vaccine in Blackburn and elsewhere will be maintained in future at a level to enable two doses to be given to at least 70 per cent. of the eligible groups?

The hon. Lady's supplementary question relates largely to an entirely different question. What she said is different from the advice my right hon. Friend and I have received from our advisory committee on this subject, but I will certainly do my best to ensure that no local authority is short of Salk.

Is the Minister aware that this is not only a problem for Blackburn but for the whole of the North-West? Is he aware, for instance, that the position in Warrington is that the new inoculations were virtually brought to a standstill? Will he deal with this more urgently, as I mentioned when I requested additional supplies and pointed out that only a quarter of the amount required for Warrington had been sent there? How urgently is he dealing with this, and will he make sure that supplies are sent to areas where there are polio epidemics?

I understand that since the hon. Gentleman wrote to me about Warrington a further supply has been sent.

Bone Tumours And Leukaemia

37 and 42.

asked the Minister of Health (1) how many children between the ages of two and four, inclusive, have died in the last two years with bone tumours and leukaemia; and what were the similar figures for 1937–38;

(2) how many adults aged 21 years or over have died in the last two years from bone tumours and leukaemia; and what were the similar figures for 1937–38.

In view of the great importance of this subject, cannot the hon. Lady at least give the figures for Question No. 37? People in Britain want to know the facts, and the information should be given so that it can be known, for instance, in Russia and America.

I am not sure that I understand the hon. Gentleman. I am prepared to circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but if the hon. Gentleman wants to know the figures, I can tell him that leukaemia shows an increase over the decades, and I can go back further than the period 1937–38, which is asked for in the Question. 1927–28 compared with 1917–18 still shows an increase. Part of this is probably accounted for by improved diagnosis. But, in the case of cancer of the bone, the 1938 figures are higher than those for 1959–60.

Can the hon. Lady say whether the situation is worse for children than for adults; for the group mentioned in Question No. 37?

Following are the figures:

Leukaemia and aleukaemiaCancer of the bone
YearAged 2–4(1) Aged 20 and over(3) Aged 1–4(1) Aged 20 and over
193755(2)725(2)(4)(4)
193857(2)821(2)8761
19591172,0941523
19601102,2701523

Notes

(1) Figures for 21 and over not available.

(2) Excludes deaths assigned to Hodgkin's disease, included under this title in the published Tables until 1939 inclusive.

(3) Figures for aged 2–4 not available

(4) Comparable figures not available before 1938

Overseas Treatment (Medical Costs)

38.

asked the Minister of Health what attention his department has given to the introduction of legislation to authorise the provision of additional assistance against medical costs for persons taken ill abroad; and what the estimated cost of such assistance would be.

Would not the Minister agree that a large number of people go abroad without making provision against the possibility of illness? If the Minister is not proposing to introduce legislation on this matter, will he not at least see that when passport information is given or other information is supplied by travel agencies and so on people should be informed of the dangers and given opportunities of knowing what provision they can make for insuring themselves against this? This is a real burden, as the right hon. Gentleman knows.

I do not think that the lion. Gentleman's suggestion is primarily for me, but I shall be glad if the publicity given to this Question and answer emphasises the desirability of getting insurance cover for this purpose.

Professional Staff (Pay)

41.

asked the Minister of Health if he will set up a committee to consider the remuneration of qualified professional staff, other than doctors and dentists, in the National Health Service, and, having regard to the staffing needs of the service, to recommend what relationship the salary scales of the various professions should bear to each other and to the remuneration of doctors.

Why not? Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that these groups include such people as physiotherapists and radiographers who are in such short supply in the Service and are bringing it grinding to a halt, to quote The Times? This proposal is in line with the kind of wage policy which the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to be yearning for and, in those circum- stances, how can the right hon. Gentleman resist this proposal?

No, Sir. To do this would be inconsistent with the working of the normal wage negotiation machinery. It would be quite impossible for that to be worked if there were to be special inquiries, save in the most exceptional circumstances.

But has the right hon. Gentleman not already intervened in the wage machinery by imposing the wage pause and interfering with the arbitration arrangements?

No, Sir. The machinery continues in existence and is being worked at this moment.