The following question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. R. RICHARDSON:24. To ask the Minister of Health whether, when he found that the starvation deaths in Berkshire were about five times as many in proportion to population as those of the rest of the provinces, he made any investigation or tried to find out why there was so great a preponderance of cases in Berkshire; whether the Local Government Board or the Ministry of Health made any and, if so, what efforts to stop them or reduce them in the future; and, if they made any efforts, where and when did they do so.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
May I call your attention, Sir, to the fact that this question contains an imputation which, as far as personal inquiries show, has no foundation? Will it be in order to ask the Minister what is the justification for this question, and if the deaths referred to are not those of tramps, and not people belonging to the county?
§ The question was put on the second round by Mr. JENKINS (for Mr. R. RICHARDSON):
As the hon. Member is aware, inquiries were made into all the cases which he mentions. In no case which arose in the county of Berkshire was there any ground for suggesting that the death was due to a failure of Poor Law administration. No special investigation was made on the lines which he suggests. I would point; out that the total number of deaths from starvation or of deaths accelerated by privation in Berkshire in the seven years 1908-14 was nine, and no general comparison with the rest of the country could reasonably be based on such a very small number of cases.