HC Deb 18 May 1915 vol 71 cc2133-4

asked the President of the Local Government Board if, having regard to the importance, especially at the present time, of taking steps to reduce infant mortality, he will consider the desirability of amending the Notification of Births Acts, so as to confer an express power on local authorities to provide health visitors, maternity centres, and similar arrangements for promoting infant welfare?


There can be no division of opinion as to the great importance of measures for reducing infant mortality, and I may perhaps remind the Noble Lord that the Government have undertaken to make substantial Grants in aid of maternity centres and other agencies for infant welfare, which are approved by the Local Government Board. It would, I think, be an advantage if the Notification of Births Act were amended in the way suggested in the question. Notifications are of little value unless they are followed up by health visiting and by the provision of advice and skilled assistance to mothers. The Act itself confers on local authorities no express power to do this work, and at present recourse has to be had to powers in other Acts which were not framed with infant welfare particularly in view. One result is that the powers of a county council adopting the Act differ from those of a district council. If it were shown that a small amending Bill, such as is suggested, would meet with general support, I should be glad to consider the early introduction of such a measure.


Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to ascertain the views of Members of this House on the possibility of doing this?


I will inquire as to that.