§ 35. Mr. JAMES DUNCAN
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the high infant mortality rate last year in Kensington, 93 per 1,000 births as compared with 59 per 1,000 for England and Wales as a whole; and whether he is satisfied that the Kensington Borough Council is taking all possible steps to reduce it?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Mr. Shakespeare)
The answer to both parts of the question is in the affirmative. My right hon. Friend understands that the borough council have recently decided to add two whole-time medical officers to their staff, with a view to the further development of the valuable work of the infant welfare centres.
§ Mr. DUNCAN
Is there any evidence to show that the deaths of these young children have been due to any particular cause, or that they belong to any particular class, such as the unemployed?
§ Mr. WEST
Is the hon. Member aware that the death-rate in the northern part of the division is 102 per thousand, the highest in London, and that it was recently stated that the chief factors in this terrible mortality are overcrowding, underground rooms, vermin and high rents. Has not that something to do with the borough council?
§ Mr. DUNCAN
Is it not a fact that the highest death-rate is in a ward of South Kensington, and not in North Kensington?
§ Sir W. DAVISON
Is the Minister aware that many of the infants who are returned to swell this abnormally high death-rate were not born in Kensington and did not die in Kensington, but that it is only because of the method of registration by the Registrar-General that they are attributed to Kensington?
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
It is not for me to settle the dispute between the Kensington Members, but the plain facts are that housing conditions in Kensington are bad and that there is a particularly active council in all matters of housing.