§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that according to the Returns of the Registrar-General the infant mortality per 1,000 births has increased in the year 1904 as compared with the average of 1901–3: in Fulham from 143 to 152; in St. Pancras from 145 to 150; in Bethnal Green from 150 to 157; and in Southwark from 161 to 174; while in Poplar the rate has decreased from 158 to 154: whether in Poplar much 58 more out-relief is given to nursing mothers than in other parishes, and whether the decreased death-rate is attributable to this cause; whether Southwark had last year the highest infant mortality in London; whether the Local Government Board will inquire in those districts in which infant mortality is on the increase as to what obstacles are placed by boards of guardians in the way of parents seeking medical relief for their infant children, and in particular whether it is the practice to grant such relief as a loan; and whether the parents who apply are required to appear before the board of guardians or a committee.
(Answered by Mr. Gerald Balfour.) I believe that the figures are substantially as stated in the Question. I am unable to say whether more outdoor relief is given to nursing mothers in Poplar than elsewhere. The place in London which in 1904 had the highest infant mortality, according to the annual Return of the Registrar-General, was Shoreditch. There is no evidence, so far as I am aware, that guardians are unwilling to afford medical relief to necessitous parents who are unable to provide such relief for their children. From inquiries which have been made it would appear that it is not the usual practice in London to give medical relief on loan, or to require parents to appear before the guardians or a committee. Even where this is done, the information before me does not point to the conclusion that persons properly entitled to receive relief are thereby deterred from applying for it.