HC Deb 30 July 1883 vol 282 cc942-4

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to a memorial recently sent to the First Lord of the Treasury by the Association for Promoting the Extension of the Contagious Diseases Acts, showing the results of the suspension of the compulsory examination of public women; and, whether he has any objection to laying it upon the Table of the House?


asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is the fact that in the districts protected by the Contagious Diseases Acts such diseases among the troops rose in number between the years 1877 and 1880 (the date of the last Army Medical Report) from 35 per thousand to 74 per thousand?


asked the Secretary of State for War, If his attention has been called to the increase of patients at the Naval and Military Hospitals at Stoke and Stonehouse (Devon); the number at the first place being 184 against 118, and, at the second, 100 against 45, as compared with ten weeks of the same period last year, when the Contagious Diseases Acts were in force; and, whether any steps will be taken by the Government to check the ravages of disease among our soldiers and sailors?


Sir, if the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson) will move for the Memorial and the reply to it, I will lay both upon the Table of the House. The ratio of venereal disease in protected districts did rise, as stated in the Question of the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), during the years 1877–1880, from 35 per 1,000 to 74 per 1,000, being an increase of 39 per 1,000. I should state, however, that the increase in the same period in the districts not protected by the Act was from 68 per 1,000 to 119 per 1,000, being an increase of 51 per 1,000. It would seem that a serious wave of venereal disease occurred in 1880, as there was a sudden rise in the ratio of 27 per 1,000 in protected districts, and of 59 per 1,000 in 14 large stations not under the Acts. By the later Returns for 1881, not yet published, I find that the ratio for protected districts remains at 74 per 1,000, while that for unprotected districts underwent a further increase of 7 per 1,000, the ratio being 126. In reply to the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Macliver), I have to state that the amount of sickness from venereal disease at the Naval and Military Hospitals at Stoke and Stonehouse has been substantially such as is now stated by the hon. Member; but, on account of the difficulty of obtaining accurately the numbers for the Naval hospital, it is difficult to ascertain what ratio per 1,000 these figures represent. It is, however, to be observed that, while there has undoubtedly been a serious increase in the amount of venereal disease in the protected districts, there has also been a large, though by comparison a lesser, increase in the unprotected districts, which would seem to point to the presence of other causes as well as the suspension of compulsory examination. In these circumstances, the Government prefer to wait the result of further experience before deciding on any line of action.


I would ask the noble Lord whether, as the Government have dropped the Bill which was promised in substitution for the Contagious Diseases Acts, he will consider the advisability of replacing the Metropolitan Police, which were formerly employed in certain towns under this Act?


I do not think it would be correct to call it a Bill in substitution for the Contagious Diseases Acts. It was a Bill which was brought in to give effect to a Resolution passed by the House. As I have stated, we do not propose, without further experience as to the working of the present system, to introduce any further measures.