HC Deb 21 July 1884 vol 290 cc1724-5

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether care will be taken to remove from the Statistics in the Navy Report for 1883, the error by which, in the ports subjected to the Contagious Diseases Acts, 4,000 boys were reckoned as men, so that the average of venereal disease was greatly lowered in favour of the subjected ports; whether he is aware that, though partial correction has been made of the error since the publication of the Report for 1882, yet the misleading summary of the figures is retained, without correction, on pp. 72 and 76, and is referred to in support of the commendation of the Acts contained in the "Introductory Letter;" and, who is responsible for the error, and for the long resistance offered from its first insertion, when it was pointed out by Dr. Nevins to the Department?


In answer to the first Question of my hon. and learned Friend, I have to say that the tables to which he takes exception cannot appear at all in the Navy (Health) Report for 1883, because, owing to the changes made during that year in the administration of the Contagious Diseases Acts, the materials for them no longer exist. With regard to the further Questions, I must point out that there has been no error in the matter. What the Admiralty undertook to omit was the last page of the Report containing a direct comparison of percentages of venereal disease in five protected and five unprotected ports; but in the letter in which this omission was promised, written on the 5th of May, 1883, Dr. Nevins was informed that— My Lords propose to omit this comparison altogether, but to retain the statistics with regard to the ports in question, for they may be useful as showing the fluctuation of disease in different years among similar bodies of men. No dissatisfaction was expressed with this arrangement, and the summaries to which my hon. and learned Friend alludes form part of the statistics which it was thus intimated would be retained. The year 1882, however, is necessarily the last for which, even in this modified form, these tables can be prepared.