HC Deb 25 November 1937 vol 329 cc1401-2
70. Mr. Day

asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the increasing anxiety occasioned by the Croydon typhoid outbreak, he will state when the public inquiry to be held into he cause will conmmence; and whether members of the public who may desire to give evidence at the inquiry will be allowed to do so?

Sir K. Wood

I understand that Mr. Harold Murphy, K.C., and the two assessors are holding an informal meeting this afternoon, and I hope to be able to announce the date of the opening of the inquiry to-morrow or the next day. It will be appreciated that the time of the officers of the Croydon Corporation is at present very fully occupied with urgent executive duties in dealing with the outbreak, and I am sure it will be generally recognised that the performance of these duties must be a first call for the present. I am advised that the fact that a short time must necessarily elapse before the opening of the formal investigation can be in no way prejudicial to the public health. As I have already stated, all possible effective steps have been taken by the Corporation, acting in collaboration with officers of my Department, to safeguard the purity of the water supply, and I am glad to have this opportunity of giving an assurance that, on the advice available to me, the public need have no further fear of infection from that source. As regards the second part of the question, the conduct of the inquiry will be in the hands of Mr. Murphy, but I have no doubt that members of the public will be given the fullest opportunity of tendering all relevant evidence that may be in their possession.

Mr. Day

Is the Minister able to say where the inquiry will take place—whether in London or Croydon?

Sir K. Wood

I expect that it will be in Croydon.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

Will the owners of watercress beds be given full opportunities of appearing at this inquiry and clearing themselves of the charge that any of this disease is due to watercress beds?

Sir K. Wood

That, of course, will be a matter for the court, but I am sure that Mr. Murphy will he willing to receive all relevant evidence.

Mr. Levy

Will the terms of reference be sufficiently wide to enable this inquiry to recommend that a standard of purity for water supplies shall be inaugurated so as to prevent a recurrence of this state of affairs?

Mr. Macquisten

It ought to be pasteurised.

Mr. E. J. Williams

May I ask whether the Minister has seen the report of an outbreak of typhoid fever in Maesteg? Will he make inquiries and draw the attention of his Department to it?