§ 71. Sir B. PETO
asked the Minister of Health whether he has any information as to the increase or decrease in the prevalence of syphilis and gonorrhea in the civilian population; and whether he is still of opinion that his policy of treatment only of persons who have contracted these diseases at clinics and denying access to preventives through chemists holds out a prospect of stamping out, these diseases, or either of them?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
These diseases are not compulsorily notifiable, and the only information available as to their prevalence in the civilian population is that obtained from the treatment centres pro vided by local authorities. The returns received from these centres show that there has been a considerable reduction since 1920 in the number of persons treated at the centres, although the figures for the last two years show a small increase over those for 1925, which is probably due to recent improvements in the facilities provided at some of the centres and to continued propaganda as to the dangers of these diseases. As regards the second part of the question, I am not aware that the present policy in dealing with these diseases involves any denial of access to preventives through chemists. The restrictions imposed by the Venereal Diseases Act, 1917, apply only to written or printed notices or instructions in regard to the use of preventives.
§ Sir B. PETO
I asked a question specifically with regard to two venereal diseases, and can the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether the diminution and recent increase, to which he referred in his answer, apply equally to both diseases, or only to one?
§ Sir K. WOOD
I think that there is a slight difference between the two particular diseases. At any rate, I do not think that the increase is a very large one.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman take care to secure that no other persons administer preventives of this disease than fully qualified people?
§ Mr. BRIANT
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it is highly undesirable to encourage persons to go to chemists, either for the prevention or cure of these diseases, which require the attention of the most skilled medical men?
§ Sir K. WOOD
There is a good deal to be said for what the hon. Gentleman has stated. The whole matter was discussed recently by a Departmental Committee, to which I would refer the hon. Gentleman, but, at the moment, the matter is covered by the Act to which I have referred.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that even highly skilled medical men are not all qualified to administer preventives of this disease, and will he secure that only those who are fully qualified are allowed to administer them?
Dr. VERNON DAVIES
Is it not a fact that there is no preventive which any chemist can sell as a guaranteed cure of the disease?