HC Deb 24 May 1928 vol 217 cc2051-3
29. Mr. MALONE

asked the Minister of Health for what reason he has issued a circular to the maternity and child welfare centres instructing them that no milk is to be given to mothers and babies where the family is in receipt of Poor Law relief; what is the amount spent on milk by the maternity centres throughout the country; and what is the total amount spent on the maternity and child welfare centres, both by way of grant from the Exchequer and by the local authorities; whether the guardians are authorised to spend money on milk for expectant and nursing mothers over and above reliev- ing actual destitution; and whether he is aware that when the guardians make an allowance for milk they are obliged to allow the full retail price of milk, whereas the maternity centres are able to obtain milk for distribution under contract at a reduced price?


No such circular has been issued, but I have suggested to certain of the maternity and child welfare authorities that they should reconsider their procedure in dealing with applications for milk and refer applicants who are in receipt of Poor Law relief to the guardians, in order to avoid overlapping and waste. The net expenditure on milk and food of local authorities in England administering maternity and child welfare schemes was £331,562 for the financial year 1926–27, but this was largely in excess of the usual expenditure owing to the prolonged mining dispute during that year. The total expenditure of those local authorities on maternity and child welfare during the same year was £1,585,972, towards which Exchequer grants were paid amounting to £765,477. In addition grants amounting to £217,554 were paid to voluntary agencies in respect of this work. As regards the last two parts of the question, it is competent for the guardians in giving relief to decide, on the advice of their medical officer, whether any special need is present, arid if so to take account of that need in determining the amount and form of relief. The guardians are in no worse position than a maternity and child welfare authority because they can also purchase milk by contract for distribution to those in receipt of relief.


While congratulating the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his return to the House, may I ask whether this is one of the first steps taken to put into practice the Prime Minister's pledge to care more for maternity?


There are so many questions embodied in the one question on the Paper that I do not quite catch the application of the hon. Member's further question.


When circularising local authorities calling attention to the necessity for examining this question, did the right hon. Gentleman also circularise boards of guardians and intimate that the advantage to be derived from maternity benefit may not be available in future?


I explained that in my answer.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most boards of guardians do take into consideration benefits to be derived in certain cases from other local government sources?


Yes, Sir.


Does my right hon. Friend ensure that any steps are taken to see that the milk supplied to these maternity and child welfare centres is pure milk?


That is a question for the maternity and welfare centres themselves.


Does the right hon. Gentleman think that, if the guardians exercise a wiser discretion as to the value they place upon the food and milk supply in assessing the amount of relief requisite, the work would not be impeded as it is now?


When the right bon. Gentleman says that it is a matter for the maternity and child welfare centres, does he repudiate all over-riding responsibility to see that this is properly carried out, and, if not, will he take some action in the direction suggested by the hon. Member for the Royton Division (Dr. Davies)?


I do not see why the hon. and gallant Member should assume that they are not being carried on properly.

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