HC Deb 18 March 1937 vol 321 cc2249-50
44. Mr. Lees-Jones

asked the Minister of Health the number of deaths from influenza which have taken place in Great Britain during the 12 months ended February, 1935, 1936, and 1937, respectively?

Sir K. Wood

The number of deaths assigned to influenza which took place in England and Wales during the 12 months to the end of February, 1935, was 5,354. The corresponding figures for the years ending February, 1936, and February, 1937, are not yet available. Any question relating to deaths in Scotland should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Mr. Markham

Is there any reason why these statistics should be 15 months in arrear?

Sir K. Wood

I could give a certain amount of information on this matter to anyone who desires to have it. We give a special weekly return covering 122 great towns. Perhaps that would be sufficient for my hon. Friend and I should be glad to send it to him, and to any other hon. Member who would like to have it.

45 and 46. Mr. Lees-Jones

asked the Lord President of the Council (1) over what period experiments and research have been taking place, with the assistance of the Medical Research Council, towards finding a medium for the prevention and cure of the common cold and influenza; and what the cost has been to date;

(2) what progress has been made by, or under the aegis of the Medical Research Council within the past 12 months towards finding a medium for the prevention and for the cure of the common cold and influenza?

Mr. R. MacDonald

Research on influenza and the common cold has been assisted by the Medical Research Council from time to time. In particular, the investigations into influenza which are now being made by the council's own staff at the National Institute for Medical Research have been in progress since 1933. An account of recent progress is given in the annual report of the Medical Research Council for the year 1935–36, presented to Parliament and published last Tuesday. During the past year there has been further confirmation from different parts of the world that the virus originally isolated at the National Institute for Medical Research in 1933 is the infective agent which causes epidemic influenza, and on this basis attempts to devise preventive measures are being continued. Substantial progress has been achieved by these scientists working in the service of the British Government, and there is considerable ground for hoping that a satisfactory means of producing at least temporary immunity will be evolved. Earlier methods of inoculation against influenza have been unsatisfactory, because they were not based on the accurate knowledge, which is now believed to be available, regarding the nature of the causative agent. The council are not at the moment supporting any direct attack upon the common cold, but the problems are closely related and an advance against the one disease is likely to assist attack on the other. A statement which has been made in the Press to the effect that the council have, as a matter of policy, abandoned work on the common cold is without foundation. It is not possible to state the cost of this investigation separately from that of other work involving the same personnel and equipment.

Mr. Macquisten

Is not the surest way to cure the common cold and influenza to reduce the Whisky Duty?