§ 40. Major ROPNER
asked the Minister of Health whether he has now received the Reports of the medical officers of health for Houghton-le-Spring and Chester-le-Street; and whether they show that there has been any increase in the infant mortality rate due to want of proper food and nourishment of mothers and children?
§ Sir K. WOOD
My right hon. Friend has received Reports from the medical officers of health of the districts mentioned. The infant mortality figures for these districts during 1927 have just reached me and show a small increase in each district as compared with 1926, though the rates are lower than for the years 1924 and 1925. Only the Report of the medical officer of health for Houghton-le-Spring suggests under- 1913 nourishment as one of the causes of the increase, and his Report was not written until the 22nd February. My right hon. Friend is advised that other medical authorities in Durham attribute the temporary increase in infant mortality in that county during the last few months of 1927 to the exceptional prevalence of bronchitis and pneumonia.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the infantile mortality rate in Houghton-le-Spring for the quarter ending December last was 206.5, for October over 300, and for January 210; and is he aware that the medical officer himself said that that is mainly due to under-nourishment?
§ Mr. LAWSON
Has not the medical officer of health for Chester-le-Street repeatedly made a statement to the effect that there is want of proper nourishment and food on the part of children and mothers; and is it the doctrine of the Ministry of Health that there is proof of destitution only when there is death from starvation?
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
Does not the fact that the Report states that deaths have been due to bronchitis show that there is a lack of clothing as well as of food?
§ Sir K. WOOD
I have already stated that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health takes the view adopted by the majority of medical officers.