HC Deb 12 November 1906 vol 164 cc1062-3
MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to a Home Office Return showing that in 1905 there had been forty-eight deaths upon which a coroner's jury had returned a verdict of death from starvation or death accelerated by privation, in the county of London, of which fifteen were in the Eastern District, and whether eleven of these were in the Whitechapel district; what was the date of the commencement of the Home Office Returns of starvation cases, and what has been the number of deaths in Whitechapel declared by a coroner's jury to be from starvation or privation, from such commencement to the present time; what steps, if any, have been taken by the Local Government Board since the receipt of the like Return for 1904, with a view to a reduction of the number of such deaths; and will he suggest to the guardians and relieving officers of Whitechapel that they should make it known in Whitechapel that in any case of serious or infectious illness (including phthisis and tuberculosis) of any person in White-chapel destitute of the means of obtaining a doctor otherwise, an order would be given by the relieving officer for the union doctor to visit such sick person.


My attention has been called to the Return for 1905 referred to. I gather from it that of the fifteen cases which occurred in the Eastern District ten took place in Whitechapel. The first Return appears to have been made in 1870. I cannot at the moment give the number of the deaths in Whitechapel from starvation or privation during the whole period to which the Returns relate, but I may say that the number since 1891 (the year in which the Local Government Board first obtained the observations of the guardians on the cases included in the Return) is ninety-eight. As I stated in reply to my hon. friend's previous Question, I do not understand that there was any default on the part of the guardians or their officers in any of the cases mentioned in the Return for 1904, and consequently it did not devolve on the Local Government Board to take any action in the matter. I am not aware that the Whitechapel guardians interpose any difficulty in the way of medical attendance being given by the district medical officer in any case of urgent sickness on the part of a destitute person. On the contrary I understand that if the officer's attendance is not immediately available, they are willing to pay for a visit by another medical man, including medicines. Further, the guardians have an excellent infirmary into which cases of this kind are freely admitted.