52. Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that in many industrial areas, owing to the abnormal amount of unemployment, the local poor rates have increased fourfold; and what assistance is the Government prepared to give to such necessitous areas as the county borough of Middlesbrough, where out relief has increased from an average weekly charge on the rates of £377 in 1914 to £6,500 at the present time?
§ Major BOYD-CARPENTER (for the Minister of Health)
The Minister of Health has at present under his consideration an application for sanction to the raising of a loan for the assistance of the Middlesbrough Union. He has no reason to suppose that the arrangements made for enabling the guardians to spread a portion of their expenses over a term of years will not prove adequate in this and the other industrial areas to which reference is made.
I again ask the Prime Minister is he aware of the total inadequacy of short term loans of six months and five years to deal with the question of necessitous boroughs, and will he receive a deputation representing typical necessitous boroughs on this question before the House rises?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I cannot answer that question, and I suggest to 504 the hon. Gentleman, who is an experienced Member of this House, that this is obviously Departmental business.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
May I then ask whether, in the event of a requisition being made to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health from all the necessitous Poor Law areas in different parts of the country, he will be good enough to receive the deputation?
On this point, may I ask, Mr. Speaker, to whom we should address questions in the absence of the Minister of Health, and if it is not right that who should address them to the Prime Minister where legislation is necessary?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
No, they must be addressed to the Department. The House was informed yesterday of the temporary absence from our midst of the Minister of Health.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Can the Prime Minister toll the House when he is going to fill the position of Minister of Health?