§ 51. Mr. ANDERSON
asked the Prime Minister the official estimate of the number of children dying every week whose death is due to preventible causes; if he will state why the Government delay legislation on this matter; whether the vested interests of large insurance companies is a contributory cause of the delay; and whether he can make a statement as to any future action it is proposed to take?
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Hayes Fisher)
My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. In 1916 the number of deaths of children under five years of age registered in England and Wales was 109,966. It is, of course, not possible to state exactly how many of these are due to preventable causes, but I am satisfied that if the local authorities in England and Wales were given the same powers as are now possessed by local authorities in Scotland and Ireland, and if they used them as I have reason to know that they would do, the work which they are now 26 doing in regard to infant welfare could be developed so as to effect a great reduction in the number of deaths, and, may I add, not only of infants but of mothers. My Department has for some time been anxious to secure for local authorities this extension of powers, and local authorities have pressed for it, but, owing to opposition from insurance organisations, the legislation has hitherto been delayed.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Seeing that Lord Rhondda has stated that the number of children whose deaths might be prevented is at least 1,000 weekly, is it not the business of the Government at a time like this, despite any opposition from insurance companies, to press forward this most necessary legislation?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the figure he gives shows an increase or decrease upon the figures of former years?
§ General Sir IVOR PHILIPPS
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the names of these men who are taking such an active part in preventing our protecting the lives of the children—can he give the names of the insurance companies?
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to put himself into communication with the Treasury or the Board of Education with a view of giving greater grants to local authorities for the purpose of extending the school clinics, which save the lives of the babies and the young children?