§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths
I am sure that all hon. Members, not only those who come from Wales, but hon. Members from every part of the Kingdom, would desire that my first words this afternoon, in opening the Debate on the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Anti-Tuberculosis Service in Wales and Monmouthshire, should be to express our gratitude to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and his colleague, Dr. Courts, for the work they have done in hearing and collecting evidence, and in presenting an extremely valuable report. I wish, on behalf, I am sure, of all Members of this House and also on behalf of the people of Wales, to express our sincere gratitude to them for having raised this tremendous 1331 issue and presented us with this very valuable report.
In the circumstances, I do not think 1 shall be using words that are too strong if I say that this report has shocked the nation. It reveals a truly terrible state of things. Speaking from what knowledge I have of Wales, I would say that the report has in some respects understated rather than overstated the situation, and it presents us with a terrible problem, a problem which we must seek in every possible way to solve, whatever may be the effort needed and whatever may be the expense. If I had to choose a title for this report, other than the cold official titles which Blue Books generally bear, it would be this: "The Price Wales Pays for Poverty" For that is the fundamental fact which this report reveals. It reveals Wales as an impoverished nation. There are revelations of malnutrition, bad housing, poor schools, inadequate social services—all these things being, I claim, by-products of poverty and of the ignorance, inertia and fatalism that poverty breeds, plus the subordination of the public welfare to the narrow, selfish interests, which is the final condemnation of the economic system under which we live. I think everybody who has read the report will agree that it presents us with a terrible picture of the position.
I want, first of all, to present the report in its proper setting. The task of the members of the Committee was to inquire into one aspect of the health of our nation, but we shall not be able to appreciate the full value of this report unless we read it in the setting of the Wales in which these things are happening. Therefore, before considering the report in greater detail, I want briefly to relate it to other reports and facts about the Principality. First, I want to refer to two reports that have been published within the last three years. In 1936, the Ministry of Health conducted, through their officers, an investigation into the grave problem of maternal mortality in Wales. What did that report reveal? It revealed that in the period 1924–33, the rate of maternal mortality in Wales exceeded the rate in England by 35 percent. Of the 10 counties in England and Wales having the worst maternal mortality rate, eight were Welsh counties. This indicates the price which the mothers of Wales are paying for 1332 poverty. At about the same time, there was an investigation into another aspect of the problem of the health and conditions of the people of this country. The Ministry of Health conducted a survey of the problem of overcrowding and finally published their findings. They were based on the Ministry's own test of what is overcrowding, a test which hon. Members on this side would never accept as being a good test, if we are to judge what is a good house; but on that test, the overcrowding survey showed that of a list of 30 of the worst counties from the point of view of overcrowding, 11 were Welsh counties.
There is another thing which is essential as a background in reading and considering this report. For years past, the Ministry of Labour every month have published statistics of unemployment, and since 1928, they have published separate figures for Wales as a country. During the 11 years from 1938 to the end of 1938, the percentage of unemployment in Wales has never been below 20, and has risen to as high a figure as 38 per cent. Making a rough average, this means that for 11 years a quarter of the 'population of Wales has lived on the dole, and those who know what living on the dole means, will realise the full implication of that. If we relate the present report to that background—maternal mortality, overcrowding, unemployment, impoverishment of the people, a quarter of the nation on starvation level, for that is what it means to be on unemployment assistance and public assistance—we understand that the facts revealed in the report are the consequences of the facts which I have submitted to the House.
This report presents a terrible, an appalling picture of the toll which the white scourge is taking of our people in Wales. From the wealth of statistical evidence provided in the report I cite a few figures to give a general picture of the extent to which Wales is paying the penalty of its poverty in tuberculosis. First, I take the county boroughs. The report tells us that in the period from 1930 to 1936, the average mortality rate from tuberculosis in the 83 county boroughs in England and Wales was 986 per 1,000,000. Three out of the four county boroughs in Wales—Cardiff, Newport and Merthyr—exceeded that average. In the same period the average mortality rate from tuberculosis in the counties of 1333 England and Wales was 724 per 1,000,000. Only one county out of the 13 in Wales namely, Flintshire, was below that average, and it was only just below the average. Twelve Welsh counties were above the average recorded for the whole country. In this black list of the mortality rate from tuberculosis seven Welsh counties occupy the seven highest places —Carnarvonshire, Merionethshire, Anglesey, Cardiganshire, Pembrokeshire, Glamorganshire, Carmarthenshire.
These seven Welsh counties represent 80 per cent. of the population of the Principality and each one of the seven is on the three black lists I have cited, namely, the black list for tuberculosis, the black list for maternal mortality, and the black list for overcrowding. Therefore, these lists provide us with an indication that 80 per cent. of the people of our country are living under conditions which ought to be a spur to this House to act as quickly as possible. That is the picture, that is the problem, that is the malady. What are the causes? This report quotes authentic medical opinion to the effect that 75 per cent. of the population of this county are infected with the tuberculosis germ before the age of 15 but only a comparatively small minority suffer from the ravages of the disease and fewer still die from the disease. It is only when resistance has broken down owing to some cause or other that its ravages are experienced. Where the conditions are such as to disable persons from offering physical resistance to the disease then its ravages are felt. The report points out that there are a number of elementary factors responsible for this disease and to these I propose to pay some attention.
I wish to face the fact that the first message of this report to the people of Wales is that this is a man-made disease and that what man makes, man can conquer. What we have to conquer is not a decreed fate but a social problem capable of solution. The people of Wales who have been stirred by this report are prepared to act, and they expect the Government to act with them. The first essential is for the people of Wales to rid themselves of the fatalism which has paralysed our will to act in this matter in the last few years. It is tragically true —and I want to face the facts and other hon. Members who come from Wales will bear me out in what I say—that when we are speaking in private conversation 1334 about this disease, our people in Wales quote a colloquial Welsh phrase to the effect that it is y dicai—the "decline" or the "decay" —and they speak of it as if it were some terrible plague from which they could not escape by any action of their own.
I am afraid it is too true that as a people our Welsh folk are prone to fatalism. No one who knows me would charge me with not appreciating the tremendous contribution of our religious teaching to Welsh life and Welsh culture, but I am bound to admit that some of our religious teaching is responsible for this fatalism, for regarding this disease as some terrible plague which we cannot overcome. We are not facing a predestined fate, we are facing a social problem, and if my words can reach the people of Wales I would say to them in the language of religion which they know best, that we must work out our own salvation. If this report helps us to do that, then it will have contributed in no small measure to the creation of that healthier and better Wales which we all want to see. For generations we have argued in Wales—I have taken part myself in many such arguments in debating societies—on the interesting topic of whether man is made by the environment or the environment made by man. While we have been arguing, the appalling environment of Wales has been sapping the vitality of our people. Let us cease to argue and begin to act; let us make use of this report as the charter of a new and a healthier Wales.
What then are the environmental conditions which cause the disease and which we must sweep away if we are to solve the problem? First in importance is malnutrition or, as a prefer to call it, semi-starvation. Malnutrition is a meaningless term to the mass of the people, and as I want my words to reach the mass of the people I prefer the use of the word "semi-starvation" which will be understood. The first line of defence against tuberculosis is to build up the physical resistance of our people to the ravages of this disease. To do this, we must give our people good food and plenty of it. This report indicates the conditions which prevail in industrial Wales. Industrial Wales has at least had some attention paid to it, but the report reveals also an appalling state of poverty 1335 in rural Wales. Talk about Special Areas—why the whole of Wales is a Special Area. If the facts are as stated in the report, and we know that they are, then the first problem which we have to face is that there is in Wales in the industrial areas depression, unemployment, low rates of unemployment benefit and assistance, and in the rural areas terrible poverty and a low standard of life.
Malnutrition or semi-starvation is shown to be due to two causes, first the fact that people are unable to buy the food which they want, and second that there is a large amount of ignorance of food values. My one criticism of the report is that I think the investigators have under-estimated the amount of malnutrition due to poverty and overestimated the amount due to ignorance. After all, poverty and ignorance are not unrelated. My view, speaking for Wales as I know it, is that if you give the mothers the money they will provide the food. I do not deny that there is a good deal of ignorance, but what is the use of giving the wife of an unemployed man or the wife of a farm labourer a cookery book and at the same time giving the unemployed man an allowance or the farm labourer a wage which makes that cookery book a mockery? Therefore I say the first approach of the problem of malnutrition is to give the people sufficient money.
I am sure that hon. Members who have read the report must have been struck by the account given of the diet of the people in Cardiganshire and also in Carmarthenshire—my own county. It is a diet devoid of all those foods which are known to be the real protective foods in relation to this disease. This diet prevails in a country which produces those very protective foods. In a land flowing with milk, children are denied a glass of milk a day. In Carmarthenshire I live near the main railway line and every day half-a-dozen special trains thunder past my house, conveying milk from Carmarthenshire to London, where a lot of it is wasted in hotels. That milk passes through all those counties where there are starving children who ought to have it. That is a scandal; there is no other word for it. In Carmarthen and Cardigan there are villages where it is impossible to purchase milk while we are sending 1336 millions of gallons to London, Birmingham and other great cities. I make no apology for saying that I believe that ultimately this problem can be solved only on the lines of the policy in which my party believes. That applies equally to Wales as to every other part of the country. But in the meantime there is a responsibility upon all of us to see that what steps are possible within the limits of the existing regime are taken to remove this terrible semi-starvation from our people. The second line of defence against tuberculosis, the second Maginot Line, is good housing. Let me make one quotation from the report:Disease flourishes where families are herded together in dark, damp and dingy houses, whether they be built singly or crowded in courts and narrow alleys, destitute of light and air, often ramshackle and rotting, with small windows which will not open and leaky and sagging roofs. These are the haunts o the germs which are a danger and a menace to man.Those who have read the report know the appalling picture which it presents of housing conditions in Wales. They can be described in one word "disgusting." It is a strong word but I think I am justified in using it and the authors of the report are fully justified in using it. There is one point which I wish to press at this stage because it relates to the county which I know best and it supports what is said in this report. Two years ago I was privileged to take part in a Debate in this House in which I pressed upon the then Minister of Health, who is now the Secretary of State for Air, the fact that in Carmarthenshire there was special need for a close and careful investigation of the housing problem. He was good enough to say at the end of that Debate, publicly in the House and privately to me afterwards, that he had been impressed by what I had said, and that he would send his officers down to investigate the housing conditions in Carmarthenshire. They came, and they investigated those conditions. Will the Minister publish the report of his own officers? From what I know from the officers of the local authorities in Carmarthenshire, the conditions revealed in that investigation were terrible and were a complete justification of this report. That was two years ago.
The names have been given of some places in which the conditions are worse than in Shanghai—hell holes. I will not 1337 cite individual cases, but I will cite one case, if I may, from my own county, in the division represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin)—Llandilo, seven miles from my native place, on the banks of the Towy, set on a hill, with the old castle on the hill symbolic of the old Wales, a beautiful place. The population is just under 2,000. I have not been able in the time at my disposal to get the figures, but I am assuming that there are round about 700 houses there, and the Minister's officers, two years ago, having examined all the houses in Llandilo, presented a report to the effect that 400 houses should be demolished at once, and, worse than that, that they should have been demolished years ago. I ask the Minister, What has been done? May I, in passing, say that Llandilo is the council which is referred to in the report as a "wire pulling" council. I would suggest that the Economic League, which is the Conservative party under another name, and the Minister, and others, instead of hunting Labour Members who charge 6d. too much in fares, should give Carmarthenshire and Monmouthshire a rest and go to Llandilo, where there are scarcely any Labour Members. That is a situation and a condition of things which ought to stir this nation.
Now let me refer to the part of the report which deals with schools, and I am glad to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education is here. The picture portrayed in this report of the school life in rural Wales has left an indelible impression on my mind, of little children trudging miles through all kinds of weather to a school building that should have been pulled down 25 years ago, of children sitting on the cold, hard benches, with damp feet, and wet clothes, and shivering for hours, in the name of education, with no hot meals, with no milk— in rural Wales—with no fire, in a country where coal is running to waste and where colliers, too, are running to waste. It is a picture of which we ought to be ashamed, and I hope the Board of Education will do its duty, because it has a duty not merely to supervise what the local authorities do, but to spur them on if they are not doing their duty. That is the real function of the Board of Education, of the Ministry of Health, and of other boards, too.
1338 I will now pass on to a subject to which I and other hon. Members have devoted some time and attention, namely, the question of occupation. Wales is paying a terrible price because its economic life has been built up on too narrow a basis. Our life has been built on coal, iron and steel, and the cultivation of the land. Can anyone think of any workers who work harder than those who work in the coal mines, or the steel workers, or the tinplate workers, or the agricultural workers, or the quarrymen? The figures of unemployment tell us how much we suffer for that narrow basis of our economic life in depression, and this book and other reports show how much we are paying in health also. Almost every boy and girl in Wales is pressed into these hard occupations, whether they are physically fitted for them or not, and we have literally killed hundreds of thousands of boys in these industries who should never have gone into them. But what else is there for them? One of the things for which this report calls out loudly is that we should broaden the base of the economic life of Wales and diversify the industries of the Principality.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), in a comprehensive and valuable speech last night, referred to the problem of silicosis. Over 60 per cent. of all silicosis in the coalfields of this country is in South Wales, and, worse than that, the coalfield in which I was interested, the anthracite coalfield, which is only one-fortieth of the British coalfield, has more than half its silicosis. Then there are the quarrymen. We have here evidence that at Blaenau Ffestiniog 80 per cent. of the quarrymen over 40 years of age had silicosis, and Dr. Morris, who gave evidence, said that he was satisfied that most of them had tuberculosis as well. In this connection I want to read one comment given by Dr. Morris in his evidence to the Commission. He used these words:I have been stating these facts in my reports year after year. Copies have been sent to the Ministry of Health, but nothing has been done yet. After my 1931 report the investigation department of the Canadian Government sent eight doctors.Our Government sent nobody. What a commentary that is, that for years these facts have been included in this medical officer's reports, and our Government 1339 have sent nobody, but the Canadian Government sent eight men over to investigate! The Ministry of Health does not come well out of that fact in this report. I do not propose to say more than a word or two about that part of the report dealing with treatment, because there are other hon. Members who know more than I do about the Welsh National Memorial Association and its work, but it occurs to me, in passing, that the one cheerful thing in this report is about the work being done by that association.
Let me say a word or two about local government and health services. This report reveals what virtually amounts to a breakdown of local government over wide areas in Wales. What are the reasons for that? They are to be found in this report. Listen to these figures. There are six county councils in Wales out of 13 where a penny rate produces less that £1,000, half of the 30 county boroughs where it produces less than £100, and 24 of the 59 rural district councils where it produces less than £100. It is utterly impossible for these authorities to provide adequate public services with such resources, and this report calls for a drastic reorganisation of local government over wide areas in Wales. The old boundaries, the tiny brooks, that divide local government areas, the old geographical areas do not fit in to the modern needs; and local government services ought not to be fitted into geographical areas, but ought to have regard to the great public services if they are to fulfil their tasks.
There is clear evidence in the report that there are many authorities in Wales which are managed by people who subordinate public welfare to narrow selfish interests. That is true. As a matter of fact, they are not Labour people, but the people who manage these authorities are people who regard high rates, high money rates, with horror, but high mortality rates with complacency. There is further evidence that there has been a neglect to perform their duties on the part of Government Departments, the Ministry of Health as well as the Board of Education and the Ministry of Mines. Here are the facts set out in this report and in other reports. Is this the first the Ministry of Health have heard of these facts? Did the Ministry know of 1340 them before? If they did not, some people have been neglecting their duty; if they were known, and I believe they were known, why has not the Ministry of Health acted before now? If what I say is true, and if these facts are true, this report becomes as much a condemnation of the Government as of the local authorities in Wales. I hope that no hon. Member opposite will think that all these things are true because we are Welsh. Have an investigation in Scotland or in parts of England, and you will reveal conditions in many respects even worse than they are in Wales. These facts are true, not because we are Welsh, but because we are poor. They are the price of our poverty, not of our nationhood. I therefore say that this report is a call to action by the people of Wales.
We must bestir ourselves to solve this problem, even if it requires the drastic reorganisation of our local government. We must have adequate resources, and Wales has not the resources with which to do it. We are entitled to ask this nation, this great kingdom, not for charity, but for justice. For over a century we contributed more than our part in making this the great industrial nation what it is. We should not be able to help the Czechs or anybody else but for the fact that we have built up a mighty industrial nation. The valleys and counties of Wales have played a very big part in building up the resources of this nation, and we are now entitled to ask as a measure of justice that some of the wealth we have contributed shall be returned to rescue our people from their terrible condition. I thought when I read the report that if half the fortunes made in Wales and taken out of Wales by coalowners, royalty owners and landlords were available for us now, we would sweep our country of this disease in a few years. Money has been taken out of the country and poverty has been left—terrible, stark naked poverty and starvation, with all the consequences. Wales is paying the terrible price of poverty, and we are entitled to ask this nation to help us to rid the country of the poverty that saps the life of our people.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Sir Henry Morris-Jones
We have listened to a very eloquent address from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), and I am sure that the sympathies of the House have 1341 been with a good deal of what he has said. The report is certainly somewhat distressing reading. It may be in part a little melodramatic. I think that many people in Wales rather expected it to be, judging from the course which the inquiry took. I do not think my hon. and learned Friend gave any impression that he was going into anything like a secret hush-hush inquiry when he started it in Wales. We may say on balance that it is an exceedingly able report. It has been contradicted in parts. For instance, the medical officer of health of South Carnarvonshire contradicted it on questions of fact. He mentioned some particulars in regard to two houses, one in Criccieth and one in a village in the county, about which, in his view, the report does not give the correct facts of the case. Whatever contradictions there may be here and there, we are bound to admit that the report is founded on undeniable facts, and that in the main the Committee have established completely that the position is a serious one in the Principality in regard to this scourge of tuberculosis.
It may be true, as the hon. Member for Llanelly said, that an equally searching inquiry into some parts of England, in the counties of Northumberland and Durham and in some parts of Scotland, might reveal equally startling facts. If that be so, so much the worse for the whole of Great Britain, but we are not here dealing with parts of England. We are dealing with a report on Wales, and no one connected with Wales, whether the Government of the day, which is, of course, the Government of Wales, or members of local authorities in Wales, or members of Parliament representing Wales in every party, can escape their responsibility in regard to this report. I think that, on the whole, the condemnation by the hon. Member for Llanelly was of rather too sweeping a character in regard to the Government. I do not altogether blame the hon. Gentleman, as he is in Opposition, for he would naturally take the opportunity of such a report as this to make a condemnation in sweeping terms of the Government. If I were challenged on party considerations, however, I could show that in many of the areas mentioned in this report supporters of the National Government have not been in power. I do not wish to enter into that side of the discussion, but I should 1342 have no difficulty in showing that if I were to start to analyse the report.
It has been emphasised in the report that tuberculosis is not a hereditary disease. Of course, we know it is not. It is an acquired disease and a preventable disease. There is no more preventible disease among the major categories of mortality than tuberculosis, and the fact that we in this country have made such progress in the reduction of mortality in recent years shows that it is an entirely preventible disease. There is nothing racial about it so far as Wales is concerned. I think we may say that the climate of Wales is a slightly predisposing factor, especially in regard to the South Western counties, which are very damp. Another, but not very important predisposing cause, especially in the rural areas, is the habit of rather too much intermarriage. That has not been mentioned in the report, but I feel that it is a slight predisposing cause of the disease. The main predisposing causes are those of occupation. The report mentions a serious fact in regard to seafaring men, and it is a matter affecting some of the Welsh ports. It is a striking thing that in an occupation in which the atmosphere is as pure and the ozone as good as it can be, that that fact is not a sufficient countervailing balance to the rather bad hygienic conditions on some of the ships.
The most serious factor in connection with the report, in my view, is the incidence of tuberculosis in rural areas. We must not use this report as a condemnation of Wales for some areas have come out of it very well. The industrial areas rather surprisingly have come out exceedingly well. I am glad to say that my own county, which I have the honour to represent, the county of Denbigh, comes out very well, too, largely because we have excellent local administration and probably one of the ablest clerks in the country, and also representatives of the ratepayers who have been clearly alive to their responsibilities. It is a satisfaction to me that the report states that, in spite of the great difficulties in regard to distances, this is one of the best administered counties in Wales. Naturally I cannot help but feel some satisfaction about that. The adjoining county of Flintshire also comes out in it in a very satisfactory manner. Another serious factor revealed by the report is that the 1343 number of people who died from tuberculosis in institutions in Wales is much smaller than the number in England. The report states that out of the total number of deaths from tuberculosis in Wales 16 per cent. died in institutions or sanatoria or hospitals, whereas the figure in England was 37 per cent. That would lead to the conclusion that either there is insufficient accommodation, or an unwillingness of people to go to institutions, or a lack of encouragement among the authorities, both local and voluntary, to make use of institutions, or a lack of any compulsion to go to any institution.
I should like to mention the King Edward Memorial Association dealing with tuberculosis. That institution was founded by a distinguished Welshman, Lord Davies, a member of the other House, who, it is only right to say has, associated with his great wealth, a great deal of practical idealism, and has given signal services of a philanthropic character to the principality of Wales. His conception 30 years ago, when this institution was established, was a remarkable one. He had a great idea of abolishing tuberculosis from Wales altogether. It is no reflection on this Association that the results so far have been somewhat disappointing. The report does not give very great space to the King Edward Memorial Association. But on the whole it exonerates the association from any serious responsibility in regard to the difference in the mortality rates and the incidence of tuberculosis in Wales as compared with England. I think that on balance we may say that.
Though here I may be treading on rather delicate ground I think I ought to say that in my judgment this association has not developed its educational work among the masses of the people in Wales in the way we were led to expect when it was founded. We have not sufficient institutions for tuberculosis in Wales. We have large sanatoria in North and in South Wales, but very few small institutions of a nature that would encourage people to be segregated early, to avoid contacts and to get early treatment, in that way helping towards eradicating the disease. We ought, I feel, to show a sense of proportion in regard to things. I should be the very last Member to wish in any way to try to gloat over this report and say that all is well, but the 1344 mortality from tuberculosis in Wales is, after all, less than that of cancer, for instance. I am very hopeful that the Cancer Bill, brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, will, in a very short time, reduce the mortality from that dread disease, but the mortality from cancer in Wales is higher than the mortality from tuberculosis, and as cancer is not entirely a disease due to poverty—
§ Mr. A. Jenkins
What can be the purpose of the hon. Member in bringing in cancer? We know everything there is to know about tuberculosis, but very little indeed about cancer. We know how to cure tuberculosis.
§ Sir H. Morris-Jones
I think the hon. Member ought to let me develop my argument a little further. His colleague made a sweeping condemnation of the whole of Wales in regard to poverty and said that was the cause to a great extent of tuberculosis. As the mortality from cancer in Wales is greater than the mortality from tuberculosis, and as poverty certainly is not the cause of cancer, I suggest that it proves, if it proves anything, that poverty is not actually the cause of tuberculosis either. As a matter of fact poverty is not the cause of tuberculosis.
§ Sir H. Morris-Jones
Any hon. Member who says that poverty is the cause of tuberculosis is going against established facts, against scientific facts. It may, I agree, be a predisposing cause. This leads me to the two factors which are the two main causes in my opinion and are pointed to in the report. The first cause is found in the undoubtedly appalling housing conditions in some parts of Wales. I was very glad to see the report paid a tribute to the women of Wales as regards the cleanliness of their houses, despite the appalling housing conditions. I can corroborate that from a good deal of experience in my early days as a practitioner: in those little houses which are condemned by the report as hovels, as unfit for human habitation, as damp, leaky and tottery, I have seen as much cleanliness as I have seen in the houses of the very rich. It is a great tribute to the women of Wales that in those circumstances they are able to keep up the standard of cleanliness which the report mentions.
1345 Besides housing there is the question of nutrition, and I am not sure that that is not an even more serious factor than housing; certainly it is quite as serious. The two together are, in my opinion, the main predisposing causes. No one can controvert the argument of the hon. Member that poverty is the cause of a good deal of malnutrition, and it is true that a large number of the population in Wales, as in England, have not the wherewithal to buy a completely satisfactory diet; but having said that we must face up to the fact, to which the report draws attention, that among people dealt with in the report are those who can afford an adequate amount per capita for diet but whose diet is wrong. The old custom of eating good food—home-cured hams and bacon, good vegetables from the garden, and milk—has gone in favour of foods of a deleterious character, some of it tinned food, part of it stimulant in the shape of tea., bread and butter, jam and various articles of diet of that sort. In many cases they are more costly than the diet which would be more satisfactory for the human system.
I certainly expect and hope that my hon. Friend who, with his Noble Friend in the House of Lords, is responsible for the education of this country, will take up the question of nutrition, because it is most important. As is pointed out in the report, and to my knowledge, there are children who go seven or eight miles to school in some of the rural districts. They get an early, and probably a hurried, breakfast, they wait for a bus, and they are all day in school, taking with them a mid-day meal which is unsatisfactory, insufficient and lacking in the vitamins necessary to maintain health. We ought to see that these children, especially in the rural areas, get an adequate mid-day meal every day of their school life. We ought to be assured on that point, because the report reveals that the mortality among young people, from 15 to 25, and in the ages from 25 to 45, is greater than at the other ages.
As has been already said, no one can be satisfied with the conditions disclosed in the report. The report reveals a state of affairs which is completely unsatisfactory. It reflects a great deal of discredit upon many of those who are responsible—we must not get away from that fact—very serious discredit. It re- 1346 veals a condition of affairs which is preventible, reveals a condition of affairs which only a small sum of money, an infinitesimal proportion of what we spend in one day upon rearmament, would completely transform. I hope that my right hon. Friend will, as I know he will, send his inspectors down to these areas and get the local authorities really alert in the matter; and if we can get a grant from the Government, that will transform a situation which at the present time we all regret.
§ 6.40 p.m.
Miss Lloyd George
I must confess that I find myself more in sympathy with the attitude of the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr.J. Griffiths) towards this report than I did with the attitude of the hon. Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones). There is no doubt that the report reveals social conditions existing in Wales which ought not to be tolerated in any civilised community. The hon. Member for Denbigh has suggested that the report is melodramatic in certain respects. All I can say is that if official restraint has left things as they are to-day, then I am all for the melodramatic method. If this report has the effect, first of all, of rousing public opinion in Wales, and I hope in England as well; if it has the effect of galvanising local authorities into activity, and if it has the effect of also arousing the Government upon this matter, it will certainly have been justified. We should take a purely Jesuitical view of the report. There may be things in it with which we do not wholly agree, but we should judge it by its results, and the end should justify the means.
There are one or two criticisms which I would, nevertheless, like to make of the report. It is true, as has been stressed many times, that the incidence of tuberculosis in Wales is infinitely higher than in England, but it is largely confined to certain areas inside certain counties. The impression made, judging from some of the comments in the newspapers, has been that tuberculosis is ravaging the whole of Wales from end to end, whereas we must bear in mind that thousands of people go with their families to Wales every year to renew their physical strength and energy. That is a fact of which we must not lose sight. I should like to refer to Anglesey, to which great prominence has been given in this report. The incidence 1347 of tuberculosis there is lamentable, but it is largely confined to two districts. Outside those two districts the mortality rates are really not very much higher than in the majority of English counties. The same observation applies to one or two districts in Carnarvonshire.
It has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Denbigh that there is no single factor which can be held to be responsible for the incidence of this disease. There are very many factors to be taken into consideration—climate, occupation, race and, to a limited degree, geographical situation, but there are two main social factors to which I would refer. One, of course, is housing. How far does housing affect the incidence of tuberculosis? The medical officer of health of Anglesey points out that in one district in the island where tuberculosis is very high, 78 per cent. Of those suffering from the disease were living in houses classified as fit, and 20 per cent. in houses classified as unfit. In another district 80 per cent. were in houses classified as fit and 14 per cent. in houses that were unfit. That does not mean that housing is not a factor, but it means that it is a limited factor in the incidence of tuberculosis.
On the other hand, there is the equally striking factor that the mortality rate for females is in the main higher than for males throughout Wales. One of the main reasons must be that while the men spend most of their day in the fields or at their occupations in the villages or the towns, the women spend a great part of their lives indoors, breathing the fetid air of these damp and miserable hovels. Some criticism has been made that the commissioners have taken individual houses, in some instances a single house or a terrace. That is undoubtedly so. If you were to examine individual cases of that kind in villages in England or Scotland you would find conditions that were very much the same. I do not say that you would find they were worse, but they would certainly be very bad. The same thing applies to overcrowding.
The fact remains—and it seems to me a fact that has to be faced—that overcrowding, as disclosed in the overcrowding survey is higher in Wales than it is in England. Another fact is that less has been done in Wales than in England to 1348 remedy bad housing conditions. Those two facts are incontrovertible. The conditions are appalling. I would like to cite one or two instances. According to the report of the sanitary inspector in Caernarvonshire, where the rate of tuberculosis is the highest, there are 1,500 houses in a state so dangerous and injurious to health as to be unfit for human habitation, and 1,700 houses not in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation. I do not know what standard was applied, but I gather that it was not a very high one. The medical officer of health adds that, in his judgment, those were appalling figures, and he says:I believe that the figures would be even larger if a reasonably high standard of ascertainment were adopted by every authorityI am convinced that adequate action is not being taken to deal with bad housing. Instances have been cited in the Debate, and I would like to give one specific instance among many that are included in the report. It comes from a town in Carmarthen where the medical officer of health condemned a number of houses as unfit. In 1937, a survey was made of that place, and 60 houses were condemned. Those houses are still standing and are still occupied. The case of one street in particular is mentioned where there is a row of houses which have all been condemned. As soon as one family goes out another family comes in, entirely contrary to the instructions of the medical officer of health.
There is some criticism of local authorities in this report. I do not believe in whitewashing this report, but I think that those criticisms are justified. I would like to quote from the report one criticism, which states:Medical officers of health repeatedly told us that, from the date of their appointment, they had year after year reported upon the bad conditions of housing and sanitation, and warned the authorities as to the dangers attendant on those conditions, until, as one medical officer of health told us, they were tired of doing so. They told us that the usual fate of their reports was that someone on the council moved that the report be now considered, and then someone else moved that no action be taken—and the second motion was carried—often unanimouslyThe hon. Member who opened the Debate mentioned that there were 400 houses in Llandilo which were condemned two years ago and about which nothing has yet been done. I wish I could think that 1349 was an isolated instance, but I am afraid it is occurring all over Wales.
I would now like to make one or two suggestions. Local authorities have powers to compel landlords to put their property into good repair. They have power also to require the demolition of insanitary houses. Those powers are not being used to anything like the degree that they should. I do not know what the reasons may be, but perhaps I could give one or two myself. There is a definite reluctance on the part of local authorities to use those compulsory powers upon landlords in rural areas. I would like to see those powers far more vigorously used. County councils also have power to take over the functions of a rural council which is not undertaking its duties properly. I should very much like to see county councils being made the housing authorities in the rural areas. I am sure that the Minister will point out to me that I was a member of the committee which drew up the report on rural housing andwhich—I am only saying this before the Minister gets an opportunity of saying it—came to the conclusion that the matter was best left as it now is; but I have since quite definitely come to the conclusion—I am as entitled as any other Member to change my mind—that the county councils are quite definitely the appropriate and proper people to undertake housing responsibilities. They have, at the moment, power to supersede the rural district councils.
There is yet another power, that of the Minister himself to override a local authority and compel it to undertake housing improvement in its area. Those two powers, although they have been in effect since 1930, have not been used on a single occasion. I cannot conceive why they were put into the Act unless they were meant to be used, and I cannot conceive of circumstances and conditions being more appalling than those which exist in many parts of rural Wales at the present time. There is no doubt that local authorities have been definitely neglecting their responsibilities and their business as guardians of the public health. I am sure that not even the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken would deny that there are backward authorities who have not faced their responsibilities, but when we condemn them for their lack of initiative and drive, we must remember also the very slender means at their disposal and in- 1350 creasingly heavy burdens that are being put upon them. The hon. Member for Llanelly said that there were places where the high rates of mortality were less repugnant than the high rents that were charged; I am afraid that is true, but, in the main, local authorities live up to their responsibilities although they have quite intolerable burdens to carry. The very interesting fact is revealed in the report that if you take the counties that have done least in the matter of housing you will find that they are the counties where resources are the least and where the product of a penny rate is low. In Merioneth the product of a 1d. rate is £642 and in the county of Anglesey it is £633. You can also judge the poverty of those counties by the rising cost of public assistance in them during recent years. It is very difficult to ask those authorities to undertake great housing schemes without further assistance from the Exchequer.
Another matter which has been raised this afternoon is that of water supply, which is a vital factor in public health. Local authorities are again criticised because of the lack of adequate water supply in their areas and the appalling sanitary conditions which obtain in some of the rural areas. The Government were so impressed some time ago with the need for improving the water supply of rural areas in this country that they provided £1,000,000 for that purpose. I am not sure whether the money was not for the whole of Great Britain, but, at any rate, it was for England and Wales. No doubt the Minister would inform us whether it was to cover Scotland as well. The Act did not specify how much might be allocated to any one scheme, but as there are 660 rural districts in this country, if you divide that £1,000,000 among those rural districts you have £1,500 for each of them.
Let me quote an extreme case from my own constituency of Anglesey where a water supply cannot be provided within the boundaries of the island. You have to bring it across from Carnarvonshire, from the mainland. The cost of doing so would be £500,000. Therefore, in order to provide a decent water supply for one area where the incidence of tuberculosis is high, you would have to take half the sum that has been allocated for Great Britain. That sum of £1,000,000 has already been allocated; it is finished, but I do not think that the water supply, 1351 certainly not in Wales or in England, is adequate at this moment. No further provision has been made, and the problem remains substantially untouched. I believe that the time has really come when we should review the financial burdens which local authorities are expected to bear.
Schools were mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. A great deal has been said about conditions in the schools in some areas. I hope that the next time the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education comes to Wales—and I hope that he will come very soon—he will not confine his attention to the new and the reorganised schools, but will make a special visit to the schools which have been mentioned in this report I am sure that he has information about them at the Board of Education to show that they are ill-ventilated, that the sanitary arrangements are appalling and that they ought to have been closed down years ago. One must remember that parents are compelled to send their children to these schools. The Government should, therefore, have a very great sense of responsibility. The Board have been very proud of the great part which education plays in the life of Wales. We have sacrificed, and past generations have certainly sacrificed, a great deal for the sake of educating their sons and daughters. I hope that we shall not in this generation sacrifice the health of the children to education.
The only other thing I want to mention is the question of poverty and nutrition. Great stress has been laid upon poverty and under-nourishment as one of the factors in the incidence of tuberculosis. One of the most striking features of the report is, that whereas everyone has been conscious, unfortunately conscious, for years, of the conditions that existed in the industrial areas, we have not been conscious enough of the poverty in the rural areas. The report brings out that point more than anything else has done. The poverty of the rural areas is greater than in some of the industrial areas in South Wales. I was told of a survey made in one of the areas— I think it was in Monmouthshire—into the conditions of the urban and rural children. It was discovered that, on the whole, the rural child suffered more from under-nourishment than did the urban child. That might be to some extent 1352 because they are not provided in the rural areas with a mid-day meal as children are in the urban areas, but, at any rate, we should be fully conscious of the poverty that exists, not only in rural Wales but in rural England as well.
There are farmers in the rural areas of Wales who have as little to live on as the unemployed man living on public assistance. There are certainly agricultural workers who live on a wage which makes it quite impossible for them to provide the barest necessities for their families. I heard of a case only this week in my constituency in which a child was examined for tuberculosis. The father, was a labourer with a wife and five children. The wage he received, including half board, was 23s. a week. He paid in rent 3s. a week, and the amount left to feed six and clothe seven people was £1 a week. An hon. Member spoke of building up the resistance of the population against tuberculosis. How in Heaven's name can you build up the resistance of a human being on £ 1 a week? It is very difficult to see how, with the miserable wages and the poverty that prevails in the rural districts, they can afford, not to provide vitamin-producing food but the barest necessities of life; certainly they cannot afford anything which would enable them to resist this dread disease or to overcome the debility which makes them a prey to that or any other disease.
It seems to me that this report has revealed the fact that there exist in Wales social conditions which are a reproach, not to our race particularly, but to the whole country. I think a grave responsibility rests on local authorities and on the Government, who must provide the initiative and the drive that are necessary, and who may have to provide the legislation—for I think that some legislation will be necessary; and I think a very great responsibility rests upon this House, and in particular on every Member who has the honour to represent a Welsh seat in the House, to see that this appalling state of affairs is remedied.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Elliot)
I think it is desirable that, with a report on this matter before the House, I should say a few words upon it from this bench. In the first place, I ought to say that this 1353 report is an occasion for debate upon conditions in Wales, and I think it has not been taken by the House merely as a report upon tuberculosis in Wales. It is a report upon which the important subject of the conditions of the Principality can be reviewed, and I think that in that respect we owe a great debt of gratitude, which has been mentioned before by other speakers and should certainly be mentioned from this Box, to the Members of the Committee which has produced the report and more particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) for his work as Chairman of the Committee. It is rather a surprise to me as a Scotsman that the Welsh Members so seldom take the opportunity of reviewing the conditions of their country.
§ Mr. Elliot
The matter is undoubtedly in the hands of the Opposition. The Scottish Members have no more opportunity than the Welsh Members, but the Scottish Members use the great Parliamentary opportunity of the Estimates in the constitutional way by making every use of one or two days a year to raise questions of interest to them.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman says we do not use our opportunities as the Scotch do. May I hope that in the future he will recommend his Government to appoint a Secretary for Wales? Then we shall have the Estimates for a Welsh Office and two days a year to discuss them.
§ Mr. Elliot
As the hon. Member knows, the Welsh Estimates are put down along with the English Estimates, and it is entirely in the hands of hon. Members of the Labour Opposition or the Liberal Opposition to choose one of the Supply days, which it is in their power to select, for a review of the position. They will not deny that, because they cannot deny it. Now that we have had that little matter cleared up—
§ Sir H. Morris-Jones
Before my right hon. Friend disposes of this matter might I intervene? I think he has given the impression that the Scottish Members use opportunities which are equally available to Welsh Members, but which Welsh Members do not take. I repudiate such a statement, because it is within the 1354 knowledge of my right hon. Friend that over and over again in this House we have Debates on Scottish legislation in which practically nobody takes part except Scottish Members. We never have any Welsh legislation.
§ Mr. Elliot
I think my hon. Friend is mistaken, because although it is true that legislation arises which affects one particular part of the country, it is well understood that this House exists for the purpose of redressing grievances before voting Supply. That is its great function, and the Supply days are by constitutional procedure the days on which grievances can be discussed. Grievances exist in all parts of the country, and those who suffer from them use the Parliamentary opportunity of raising those grievances before they allow Supply to be voted. I will not deny that there are many occasions when legislation arises particularly referring to Scotland. I merely say with regard to Supply that Supply is voted for Wales as for other parts of the country, and on the Supply days the redress of grievances in Wales can be urged on this House, as it can be in the case of other parts of the United Kingdom. I would not go further than that, but the Supply days are allotted on the demand of the Opposition.
As I said, I think we may now consider that matter disposed of. The Welsh Members have very rightly taken advantage of this opportunity of debating conditions in Wales. This matter cannot, obviously, be raised as a party matter from one side or the other, because it affects the Principality as a whole. Undoubtedly there are challenges to the central Government, which the central Government will have to examine or meet, either in argument or in further measures. There is also a challenge to the local authorities, which the local authorities will have to examine and meet, either by legislation or by taking further measures to improve the steps which they are taking at present. And there is a challenge to the national spirit, which is accepted by all to-night. It was accepted in a most helpful speech by the hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in which he said that their teaching and their religion dispose the Welsh perhaps to a fatalistic acceptance of the condition of affairs. Who should know that better than one as closely akin to the people of the Principality, both in blood and in upbringing, in philosophy 1355 and in religion, as a Member from Scotland?
I know well that we have these problems in our own country. The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) did not go beyond the facts when she said that other parts of the United Kingdom show similar problems. The report on Rural Housing in Scotland certainly drew widespread attention, particularly among Scottish Members, to conditions there, and the hon. Lady herself, sitting as she does on my Housing Committee, knows that the housing conditions in rural England are in many ways highly unsatisfactory. [An HON. MEMBER: "More shame to them!"] Yes, more shame to them; more shame to all of us. But Parliament exists to remedy that state of affairs. This is the Legislature of a free people, and it exists in order that grievances should be brought out here and ventilated, and none of us should ride off by saying this is all the fault of the local authorities, or of the national spirit.
This is an occasion for an inquest on crying scandals, which we are all determined to put an end to, but they are not crying scandals for which any of us can evade the responsibility or attribute the fault to somebody else. The cases from Wales that have been mentioned can be paralleled from Scotland. The concentration of heavy industries, like coal, iron and steel, the difficulties of our rural and remote areas—all these exist in Scotland and in many parts of England. As the Minister responsible, I have from time to time to review the conditions in Durham, in Whitehaven, in West Cumberland, and in many other parts of the United Kingdom, where certainly I could make a report, not perhaps as bad as this report in some particulars but, it might well be, worse in some others.
What has particularly brought home the problem to the House and to the Welsh Members who have spoken is the fact of the poverty in the rural areas. The report itself brings out the poverty of the peasant, and that is a great problem which we cannot get away from by shutting our eyes. It was my problem for five years as Minister of Agriculture, and the poverty of the agricultural worker, the low rate of agricultural wages, and the low state of nutrition in the rural areas 1356 are things which are not always recognised. You talk about people flocking from the countryside into the town, but they do not do that from original sin, but because they get more to eat there, because they get better houses and a more enjoyable kind of life. [An HON. MEMBER: "Better wages!"] They get better wages, yes. But all these things will make the House sympathise with the efforts of the Minister for Agriculture, who, time and again, has endeavoured to ensure that the great basic industry of agriculture shall be safeguarded and helped so that it can pay adequate wages, without which, as all will agree, these conditions cannot be fundamentally rectified.
This review, as I say, arose out of the Committee which was appointed in 1937 to go over more particularly the work of the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association, and I am glad to see that the Committee was impressed with the general efficiency of the work of that Association, and that they found no evidence that this work has been or is being carried out on extravagant lines. I would like to pay a tribute to the action of Lord Davies in originating this idea, and the patient work which be has given to building up the Association and the organisation which controls it. One of the first things I did during my recent visit to Wales was, in company with Lord Davies, to visit the Association's offices and go round its recently built hospital at Sully, where I was very glad to see that further provision is being made for a specific attack upon this problem of tuberculosis in Wales. But the report drew attention to the fact, to which reference has been made this afternoon, that treatment is only one aspect of tuberculosis work. The Committee strongly emphasise that. They have given a full account of the steps which have been taken in connection with the treatment of tuberculosis, but they say that this is only one aspect of the problem, and they draw attention to the fact that, over large areas in Wales, preventive duties have been neglected or carried out imperfectly by some local authorities, who did not seem to the committee fully to realise their responsibilities.
The committee point out that more strenuous efforts are required to secure examination by tuberculosis officers of all 1357 contacts, and particularly of young adults who have been in contact with infective cases of tuberculosis. I support very strongly their view that, if all young contacts could be persuaded to attend for examination immediately they become aware that they have been in contact with an infective case, the disease could be caught at an early stage and many lives could be saved. The hon. Member for Llanelly pointed out that there was a certain fatalism about the people of the Principality, that they rather tended to think of these things as inevitable, and that, in addition to the further steps which would need to be taken, an effort was required on the part of the people them selves. He said, "We must work out our own salvation," and I am sure that one of the ways in which they could do so is by seeing that tuberculosis officers and contacts get into relation with one another, and that the segregation which is one of the great factors in the checking of tuberculosis is thoroughly and efficiently carried out. That is a matter for those who, like the hon. Member, are the leaders of their people in their own areas; it certainly cannot be enjoined upon the people by legislation passed by this House. The report refers to the defensive attack—[Interruption]—I hope the hon. Lady opposite will not undertake a defensive attack against me while I am making my speech—
§ Dr. Summerskill
I said that I thought the right hon. Gentleman was taking the offensive, not the defensive.
§ Mr. Elliot
I am not taking either the offensive or the defensive against anybody in this matter. What I am trying to take is the offensive against tuberculosis, and that is what concerns us all. We are not taking the offensive against each other, but against disease. The Committee brought out most clearly the fact that the field of offensive against tuberculosis, and, indeed, against disease in general, covers very much wider ground than merely remedial or medical measures such as we talk about on purely health subjects. Naturally, the House will not expect me to deal with every aspect of the services to which the Committee have drawn attention. Unfortunately, as we know, in addition to the ordinary day-to-day work of my Department, further heavy duties have been placed upon it recently, in- 1358 volving work which has nothing to do with disease or evils which may be brought on by germs, or even by fate, unless the folly of man is to be accounted among the fates.
My first preoccupation on entering my office was to look round rural England and Wales more particularly, because I knew, from my experience in Scotland, that it was very probable that a great deal of good could be done there simply by that personal contact of administrators which is one of the key methods for improving conditions which are found to be deficient. I undertook a tour of rural Wales of a week's duration. That visit had to be cancelled because of the crisis of last September. It may well be some time before I can get back to Wales again, but one of my objects during my tenure of office as Minister of Health is to go personally not only to industrial but to rural districts, because I feel that a great deal can be done by the mere contact of the Minister with the administrative machine, and it may well be that that contact will in itself do something to remedy some of the evils of which we have had to complain and to which this report draws attention. Naturally, I have asked for the observations of the Welsh Board of Health on the report, and I am also asking for the observations of local authorities. Criticisms have been made of their work, and it is necessary that they should have the opportunity of stating what their reply to those criticisms is. I know that there is a reply to some of the things that are stated in the report, and I think it is desirable that local authorities also should have the opportunity of making their observations known. It may be possible later, and I hope the idea will appeal to the House and to local authorities, to call a conference of the local authorities, possibly in Wales itself, which naturally I as Minister should attend, and where we could go over some of these problems and see whether first-hand conversation could not clear up more than a great deal of letter-writing or even committees' reports.
To come to the actual points raised during the Debate, the question of nutrition has been raised, and, of course, the question of housing, as well as the question of water and the question of high rates. These, perhaps, are the four main points that have been raised so far. The question of occupation also was raised, 1359 but I think it was agreed that that is rather a Home Office question, more particularly as regards mines and as regards silicosis, which is an occupational disease coming within the purview of the Home Office and not of the Ministry of Health. As regards nutrition, attention has been drawn, perhaps more particularly in the report than in the speeches to-night, to the case of milk. The report repeats the opinion which has frequently been ex pressed by other competent authorities as to the value of milk as a food. They question whether this is sufficiently appreciated by the general public, and they recommend that the freer use of milk, especially in the diet of children, should be encouraged. I am very glad to notice that the Committee recognise the attention which the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture have given to keeping the supply of milk pure and free from infection, and they also draw attention, quite rightly, to the success of the milk-in-schools scheme, and to the fact that some 47½per cent. of the children in the elementary schools of Wales are in receipt of a daily ration of milk, although, of course, they point out that the percentage is lower than in the case of Eng land. As, however, schools are more particularly subject to the Board of Education, and as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board will be speaking later in the Debate, I will not go further into that matter now. I would, however, say a word on the question of the purity of the milk supply, because that is raised in the report, and it is a matter on which progress is not only being made, but is being made along the lines which have been advocated by some speakers this afternoon. The number of attested herds in Wales is steadily rising —
§ Mr. Elliot
The number has gone up from 454 herds, comprising 13,000 animals, on nth February, 1938, to 1,460 herds, comprising more than 38,000 animals, on 26th August, 1938. That is a very remarkable increase. Moreover, since the latter date a good deal of further progress has been made. Between August, 1938, and the end of February, 1939, the number of attested herds in Wales almost doubled, and well over 2,000 additional herds were being tested with a view to 1360 qualifying in due course for a certificate of attestation. That shows that the big basic industry of agriculture is at any rate making progress in Wales, and I am sure we are all glad to see it, and that the supply of pure milk, which is very important, not merely from the point of view of the basic industry of agriculture, but from the point of view of another great industry of rural Wales, namely, the tourist industry, is being made more and more adequate for the visitors who go to that country.
§ Sir Francis Fremantle
Does my right hon. Friend say that attested milk is really free from tubercle bacilli?
§ Mr. Elliot
Yes, certainly. The Attested Herds Scheme is intended to eradicate bovine tuberculosis, and the conditions of attestation include very stringent rules in order to maintain the herd in a state of freedom from bovine disease. I am not talking of accredited milk. That is a very remarkable achievement, especially considering the low economic level, to which the report also draws attention, of many farms. I do not wish to take up time unduly, because I know that in Scottish Debates we limit ourselves voluntarily to a ration of 15 minutes, and, although I believe that a Minister is allowed something like 25 minutes on such occasions, I am very anxious not to use up the time of the Welsh Members unduly. But there are one or two figures which I think the House will be interested to have.
§ Mr. Richards
Before the Minister leaves that subject, would he say something on the very serious question, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly, of the scarcity of milk in rural Wales, and the difficulty of getting it? I quite recognise what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the improvement that has taken place, but the fact is that there is no milk, good, bad or indifferent, to be had in some parts of Wales.
§ Mr. Elliot
I have not nearly left that subject yet. Milk is a matter that is very dear to my own heart, and I am glad to have the opportunity of saying something about it. Indeed, it is of great importance that the purity of the milk supply should be stressed, and that any impression that Wales is riddled in every direction with tuberculosis should be carefully avoided.
1361 The report speaks of the routine inspection of cattle, and the necessity for the taking of more vigorous steps to eliminate infected cattle; and it draws attention to a letter by Professor Picken in which he points out that certain counties—Glamorgan, Flint, Denbigh and Monmouth—are at the head of the list for slaughtering cattle under the Tuberculosis Order, while certain other counties, namely, Pembroke, Carnarvon, Brecknock and Radnor, are at the bottom of the list, and rather draws the conclusion thta that seems to be due to laxity on the part of the authorities which are at the bottom of the list as against the greater keenness of those at the top. That, I think, is not exactly true, because, if one looks into the matter, one finds that the counties I have just mentioned, where the rate of slaughter is low, are just those counties where the largest numbers of self-contained herds are, and where enormous efforts have been made to clear the herds from tuberculous infection, whereas the counties where the rate of slaughter is high are counties in which the herds are largely maintained on a "flying" basis with outside stock. It is one of the figures that ought to be taken into account when we are trying to examine this very important and interesting report to see whether we can explain any of the figures. I think the counties which have done so much to clear up their herds should not be branded as inefficient because they have not so much tuberculosis as to necessitate immediate slaughter.
On the purity of milk supplies, the report also draws attention to the coming into force of legislation for a 'State veterinary service. That will be of interest because it deals with two points made to-night, namely, the lack of power for local authorities to carry out these works, because of the lowness of their resources, and the necessity of bringing in people from outside who should do this work. These things have been planned. The State veterinary service has, in fact, been brought into operation. It has saved Wales something like £11,000 a year, and is now providing a service of which the total cost is something like £31,000. That is a very great advance. Before the State veterinary service came into operation, on 1st April, 1938, there were only six full-time veterinary inspec- 1362 tors in all Wales, and now we are able to say that the whole-time staff of veterinary inspectors in Wales and Monmouth consists of two superintendent inspectors, 13 divisional inspectors and 26 veterinary inspectors. Each county in Wales constitutes a division which is in charge of a veterinary inspector, and all are paid entirely by the State. The House will be glad to have those figures, and to learn of the setting up of this service, because it is so much in line with the recommendations made in some of the speeches this evening.
An hon. Member asked for information about the actual supplies of milk. It is true that there is a difficulty in obtaining supplies of milk in some schools in Wales, more particularly in the rural districts. That is probably because the distributive margin was fixed, quite rightly, as low as it could be, and it may have been fixed at a point which did not fully remunerate the distributor for the service of these small scattered units, where the overheads are higher than they are in larger units. An increase was recently granted to the distributors, and I hope that will go far to remedy the undoubted evil that the children whose fathers keep the cows are not getting the milk to drink. The report calls attention to that anomaly, and says that it believes that, with good will, these matters can be put right. It requires a good deal of trouble to get an adequate supply for all the schools, and especially in the rural areas, but it should be remembered that the law does not compel people to send their milk away. The Welsh should help the Welsh, just as the Scots should help the Scots and the English should help the English. It is all very well for people to say that the milk is streaming away from the areas where it is produced, but it is streaming away because it is being sent to other people in London. It is up to the producers to co-operate with those who desire to purchase the milk locally, and see that it is available for those who want it in the locality. They must not blame it all on economic forces or on the policy of the Government.
§ Mr. Jenkins
What quantity of tested milk is consumed by the children in the schools of Wales at present?
§ Mr. Elliot
I could not give that information without notice. The Parliamentary Secretary will do his best to get the information. If he cannot get it 1363 before he speaks to-night, he will write to the hon. Member and let him know. The milk supplied to the schools has to be provided under the authority of the county medical officer. It has to be T.T. or the best milk available. I can say that every single herd from which milk is bought for the milk-in-schools scheme is inspected four times a year, and in addition a considerable proportion of this milk comes from T.T. herds.
I come to a point which was raised more particularly by the hon. Member for Llanelly concerning the figures of stamina: for instance, maternal and infantile mortality, which are of vital importance. It was pointed out that maternal mortality in Wales was higher than in England. That is true, but it has always been true. It is, however, true to say that in Wales, as in England, maternal mortality is coming down. And when one considers this tremendous and graphic phrase used by the hon. Member, that "one quarter of Wales is on the dole," it is important to remember that in one area where unemployment has been very persistent—Merthyrߞmaternal mortality is below, not merely the average of Wales but the average for England.
§ Mr. Elliot
That may well be, but it shows that the block grant from the central Government is sufficiently high to enable that Labour council to carry out good social service schemes, although its resources are very low.
§ Dr. Summerskill
l: Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, throughout England, where there is a good maternity service, however much poverty exists the maternal mortality is low?
§ Mr. Elliot
Undoubtedly, good maternity services are an effective factor in reducing maternal mortality, although there are cases where environment goes far to counteract their effect. If an efficient service were organised throughout England and Wales, it should go further to reduce the figures which have been given. As it is, the Welsh figure has fallen steadily since 1934. In that year it was 6.61, in 1935 it was 5.89, in 1936 it was 5.17, in 1937 it was 4.54. The fall in the rate is particularly noticeable in Merthyr, where it was 5.01 m the period 1364 1929–33 and 3.41 in the period 1934–37. The infantile mortality rate has also come down. It was 81 in the period 1921–25, 74 in the period 1926–30, 73 in the period 1931–33, and 63 in the years 1934–37. We are not standing still, because, under the Midwives Act, we have a service of salaried domiciliary midwives. At the end of 1937, there were 702 midwives employed in this new service in Wales. It is too soon to say what the results will be, but the arrangements are working smoothly and there is a better standard of midwifery in Wales now than ever before. There has also been much improvement in the provision of infant welfare centres in Wales. Between 1931 and 1937 the number increased from 278 to 312. In 1931 there were 60 ante-natal centres and 7,203 women attended, while in 1937 there were 109 centres and 17,353 women attended. Against the black background, we must always bear in mind that, at any rate, progress has been made in Wales. It is possible for us to do more, but we should not feel that our efforts have been in vain.
In regard to water supply also, there has been progress in recent years. There are 895 parishes in Wales and Monmouthshire and 547 already have piped supplies. Another 25 have good public wells. Schemes are being carried out in another 42 parishes with the aid of the rural water grant. When these are completed, 614 out of 895 parishes will have a proper water supply. As for Anglesey. 33 out of 55 parishes have been assisted by grants, and a total grant of £7,300 has been made to the county. The total capital cost of the works is some £32,000. It may be true that for a completely satisfactory water supply in Anglesey a sum of 500,000 would be necessary, but I am sure that neither the hon. Member for Anglesey nor I would wish, if we had that sum for Anglesey, to spend the whole of it in bringing a water supply there. There might be other things we have in mind, particularly housing, which would have preference even over a main water supply being brought from the mainland. It is estimated that, out of the £1,000,000 rural water grant the amount allocated to Wales and Monmouth has been over £134,000, so that a fair proportion has gone to Wales.
I should like to say a word with regard to housing. It is true that a great deal 1365 of the report concentrates on this question. The hon. Member for Llanelly, my hon. Friend the Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones) and others specially stressed this point, and mentioned that finance is a very great difficulty with rural counties and that assistance would be needed from the Exchequer. I want to draw the attention of the House to the terms under which housing schemes can now be carried out in Wales, and to the necessity for taking advantage of the legislation and finance which the Government have made available. A grant quite out of proportion to any grant ever made before for rural housing is now available. It is not now a matter of asking for finance. The difficulty is to take advantage of the finance provided, to build the houses and use the grant. It is a very generous grant as far as the rural districts arc concerned, and, if one takes in the county contribution, an 80 per cent. grant, £4 out of every £5 being provided by the central Government. Now is the time to go ahead and remedy these conditions, of which complaint has rightly been made in this report. I do not think that anybody will complain that the grant of 80 per cent. is insufficient or inadequate to enable the local authority to go ahead and to tackle this problem, which is certainly very necessary.
§ Major Owen
Do the Government really expect these small local authorities, which are the housing authorities, with only an income from a 1d. rate of a few pounds—£12, £25 or £40—to go on with any housing scheme even if the grant is 80 per cent.?
§ Mr. Elliot
Yes, undoubtedly I do. I do it all the more because, with the recent revision of the block grant formula, many of these local authorities with money in their pockets do not use it for that purpose, which the report recommends and which we all recommend so strongly. If you give a grant and find that it is not used for some of the main purposes suggested, I do not think that you can reasonably say that the central government are to blame in the matter. The report draws attention to that fact and in paragraph 411, on page 242, it says:Finally, we would direct your attention to the fact that, in a few areas, the Block Grant is more than sufficient to meet the local expenditure, and some part of it is 1366 therefore used towards meeting the county preceptI do not wish to blame any local authority or any central authority for allowing money, as Gladstone said in a famous epigram, to "fructify in the pockets of the taxpayer" But in view of the conditions such as are described in this report, some of that money granted to the local authority might be used to alleviate conditions which are a scandal not merely to Wales, but to the country as a whole.
Miss Lloyd George
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any schemes have been submitted from rural areas in Wales?
§ Mr. Elliot
I am coming to that. The programmes adopted by local authorities in the nine rural counties cover 5,700 houses, and towards the solution of this problem about 3,000 new houses had been built at the end of last year, and another 750 were under construction, and there is no reason why they should not carry through that programme. Overcrowding is a very serious matter to some of the counties. In the nine counties, the number of houses found to be overcrowded at the time of the 1935 survey was 5,700, and the reports of the medical officers of health showed that at the end of 1937—which is the last date upon which we have this source of information —the number of overcrowded houses had been reduced to 4,400, with obviously a large programme to be got on with. I think that the figures show that the works in front of the local authorities are not impossible, nor are they unlikely to be achieved.
The hon. Member opposite asked me about Carmarthen particularly. I sent down inspectors to the county of Carmarthen to make an inspection of housing conditions in that county. We found, as the hon. Member truly said, that the programmes adopted by local authorities were inadequate for the real needs of the population, so we applied pressure to the authorities to extend their programmes and to expedite their execution. While in the last four years the number of houses built by the local authorities in that county was, in the first year, 48, in the second year, 71, in the next year 260, and in the next year 204, the number of houses approved during 1938 was 432.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Is that for the whole county? The county is divided into two areas—wide industrial areas and rural areas—and can the right hon. Gentleman analyse these figures and say how many of the houses are in industrial and how many in rural areas?
§ Mr. Elliot
I have not the figures analysed here, but I will certainly have them analysed and send the hon. Member particulars of the analysis. All these figures show that the programmes of the authorities did not represent a complete picture of the housing needs. On the contrary, I am often told that we send down from the Department inspectors from the towns who are totally unacquainted with conditions in the countryside and that they insist on a standard of housing far higher than is needed by the people of the countryside. I am sure that the figures of mortality and the results brought out by these reports are very serious as far as rural Wales is concerned. The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey will not deny that the housing inspector is not always welcomed in the rural areas.
Let me take another county—Montgomery. Before 1938 progress had been very small. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery has always been seriously concerned about the housing deficiencies of his county and has given valuable assistance in stimulating effort there. We have had conferences with the local authorities, and two of my inspectors have visited it, one of whom made a detailed investigation. One hundred and forty-two houses were built in 1938 in that county, and in the borough of Welshpool orders were confirmed for the demolition of 131 houses, and 100 new houses were erected. In the borough of Llanidloes orders were confirmed for the demolition of 53 houses, and 30 new houses were erected. In Llanfyllin, 16 new houses were erected, and in Machynlleth. [Interruption.] I have always found that one of the ways of ingratiating oneself with the population is for the foreigner slightly to mispronounce the names. Anyhow, in that urban district orders were confirmed for the demolition of 14 houses, and approval to the erection of 29 new houses has been given. To hon. Members for industrial constituencies these figures may seem very small but we are dealing here with rural counties where the population and the number of 1368 houses are small, and where each of these things represents almost a personal struggle. Before you can get a house demolished in a rural area, it requires a very great expenditure of administrative thought and action, far more than is required for the demolition of streets of houses in the great towns.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I understand the right hon. Gentleman is now referring to Machynlleth. That happens to be a borough and not a rural district.
§ Mr. Elliot
Nobody can say that it is a great industrial centre anyhow. I have done my best to bring these facts to the attention of local authorities. Last summer I held conferences in all the rural areas, one of which was attended by nearly all the Welsh local authorities, and I tried to draw attention to the necessity of making use of this Act and also of the reconditioning Acts. I think that a great deal more could be done by using the facilities which Parliament has put at the disposal of local authorities to deal with these questions. I cannot now spend any time in going over either the financial problems of the local authorities at length or the possibility or the necessity of using greater areas by means of a combination of local authorities, which is a very interesting point that has been raised by certain hon. Members. Naturally, I have not come to any final conclusion on these points because the abolition of a local authority or the joining of one local authority with another is a matter upon which one must be guided by local opinion expressed in the local authorities and in Parliament. It is true that these counties represent a small rateable value, but they also represent long traditions, and hon. Members know that when there is a suggestion of entrenching upon the local government of any of the industrial areas, they resent it.
As to the necessity or otherwise of combining the counties, it may well be that these counties are too small fully to carry out the duties which fall upon them under modern conditions. I should like to hear the House on that matter, and to be guided by the House and the local authorities before coming to any final decision. We have often discussed the advantages of the formula and a revision of the block grant and of extra sums being granted to 1369 the poorer local authorities. On the last occasion every local authority in Wales gained under the revision of the block grant.
§ Mr. Elliot
It may nearly all be gone, but at any rate it shows that all benefited by it to a considerable extent. It may well be that we shall have to do more, as in the case of veterinary services, by taking over services altogether, but I am anxious that the structure of the local authority should be preserved. It represents more than efficiency. It represents an education in civic work and duty and in the spirit of democracy, which would not be fully made up merely by a very efficient service run by inspectors from Whitehall. We tried to review the county districts under the last review under the Local Government Act, but in Wales the suggestions made for alterations of boundaries were really very few and far between. My duties as Minister are strictly limited in that respect.
Before giving any further consideration to this problem, I should like very much to have the views of the local authorities and Members of Parliament. I think I have touched, after having been led away by certain questions asked by hon. Members opposite and indeed by hon Members on all sides of the House, upon the four main points raised in the report, and with which I said I would try to deal in my review of the problem this evening. I fully appreciate the fact that nobody would wish, as the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey said, to whitewash the conditions which are revealed in this report. They are profoundly unsatisfactory in the rural areas, and we have all heard time and again of the unsatisfactory nature of the industrial areas in Wales. We are all agreed. They depict people living under haphazard and distorted development, which is perhaps the most serious of all the things brought out in the report.
It is vitally necessary that we should do our best in Wales, as indeed in my own country, to try and get a better balance of the national life, so that the whole does not depend upon one, two or three great industries, which by the turn of a tariff in some foreign country, can be smashed out of existence. The idle streets and valleys of Wales are a con- 1370 demnation of some of the industrial methods of the nineteenth century. Labour was pushed to most fantastic extremes, the most fantastic of all of which was not seen here or in Wales, but in some of the textile counties of my own country. I do not deny that these things are unsatisfactory, but I do not agree with the philosophy of the hon. Member for Llanelly, that these things will never be remedied until a completely new social system has been constructed. But we all agree that we have to live with the social structure as it is and we have to do our best to improve it.
I have tried to show that great improvement has been secured by working this social system in recent years, and possibly very much greater advantage can still be secured. Let us try not to pass our responsibility on to someone else, but regard it as a reproach, primarily to Wales and the people of Wales, and, secondly, to Britain and the people of Britain, who have allowed this to exist, just as I accept responsibility for reports on rural and industrial Scotland first as a reproach to Scotland and the people of Scotland and, after that, to Britain and the people of Britain. The best thing that the Welsh people can do is to try to revivify their own country. Argument here is good but argument in Wales is better. Agitation here is good but agitation in Wales is better. If there is one thing from which my country has suffered it is debates going on for a whole generation as to whether man makes his environment or environment makes the man. Let us take things as they are, things which we cannot completely alter in an afternoon but which we certainly can improve, as we have improved them in the past, and let us use this report as a challenge both to Wales and to Great Britain, and see whether we cannot, if not shatter things to bits, at least remould them nearer to our heart's desire.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Sir William Jenkins
I am very disappointed at the Minister's speech. I expected an answer to the case put up by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), and that he would make some statement in connection with the report. The only suggestion that I have heard is that he is going to call a conference. He has dealt with figures and shown us what has been done, 1371 and what is likely to be done, but he has not given a single instance of what he is going to do with this report except that he is going to call a conference. I have spent nearly 40 years in local government and I know something about it, and I know something about the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and I know something about meeting the Minister of Health from time to time, and conferences have provided no remedies. Here is an opportunity for a remedy. I consider that this report is an indictment of the Ministry of Health. I hope that my hon. Friend's suggestion will be attended to, and that the Board of Education and the Ministry of Health will take some steps.
I join in everything that has been said in connection with the Welsh National Memorial. It has done an immense amount of work. Lord Davies in the initial stages did very excellent work for Wales, but the social service and the voluntary work that was then taken up was not supported as it should have been because for very many years we failed to get the Government to take any active interest in it. They were not given any financial aid when they started this campaign, and it was only when the local authorities came in that we were successful in getting the Treasury to give some assistance. I also welcome this, the first opportunity since I have been in the House of having a Welsh discussion and talking about nothing else except Wales, and I hope we shall confine ourselves to it. The Minister naturally has told us a good deal about Scotland, and has said that we have the same opportunity as, Scotland has. That is not the actual fact because you can have a day for Scotland, and there is something down on the Paper for Scotland, but for us there is nothing down except for England and Wales.
When a charge is made against a public body it gets wide circulation. We heard last night about the housing conditions in other parts of the country, particularly in the mining areas, where they have absolute hovels, as we do not deny we have in Wales. Whatever the shortcomings of the county councils, where there is an active county council there has been increased efficiency which has resulted from the centralisation of public work in their hands. The added responsibility has been accepted by the county councils with 1372 courage and determination, but we are confronted with difficulties and we are not able to provide the needs of the people. We have had to break through old traditions, which has not been an easy task. Some authorities have met their obligations as well as they have been met in any other part of the country, but that is no excuse for Welsh authorities which have neglected their obligations to the people whom they represent. This report calls upon us for action. We have no suggestion from the Minister about action except, "You can take action in Wales. We can discuss it in the House, but do something in Wales."
§ Sir W. Jenkins
The right hon. Gentleman did say that we must do something ourselves. We cannot do anything in Wales without coming to him. We cannot do what we like in the local authorities. We can put forward schemes but the schemes have to be accepted by the Ministry.
§ Mr. Elliot
I have provided an 80 per cent. grant based on local authority schemes and agreed to put up £4 out of every £5 to carry the houses through.
§ Sir W. Jenkins
That is for the rural areas. I know something about the difficulties and the amount that they are able to provide out of a penny rate. What is the rateable value of a rural area? That is the difficulty with which we have to contend. There is nothing new in the action that has been taken by local authorities, but this publicity will give a new impetus to the laggard authorities who will not move to assist the people. I had experience of these local authorities in my younger days. We could not move them. But of recent years, when we have a live local administrative body anxious to do something for the people, there is something else preventing them, particularly what we have in one county—Glamorgan. This report is an indictment against the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education, because it is no use their saying that they have received the report, but that action must be taken by the authorities themselves. The Ministry of Health and the Board of Education are themselves laggard authorities who continue year in and year out without 1373 carrying out the obligations laid upon them. You legislate but you take no action. I agree with my hon. Friend. You send your inspectors and auditors to the active authorities, but in the case of authorities who do nothing at all, no steps are taken. They are allowed to go scot-free with no criticism at all. The representatives of the local authorities have made an effort, but the Ministry do not escape criticism for their inaction. The report does not call attention to the inactivity of the Ministry. Why, I do not know. Neither does it say anything about the lack of planning.
I was glad that the Minister referred to the hovels which have been put up as near pit tops as possible, particularly in Glamorgan; to pit-heaps and dust in the houses, causing discomfort and disease; to the planning of houses by local authorities which are dictated by landowners who want to avail themselves of every acre of land in and around industry; to the expenditure caused by subsidence in regard to roads, gas, water mains and electricity, the silting of river beds, causing floods and making the whole area in some parts of Glamorgan insanitary. The urban authorities in Glamorgan should have been commended for their foresight and courage in the efforts that they have made to deal with the housing problem with a falling population, with whole industries closing down, with reduced rateable value and greater responsibilities upon the authorities and unemployment staring them in the face, but with implicit confidence in the future that, given a fair chance, the potentialities of Glamorgan are outstanding. It is one of the counties which have added prestige to the country. The courage and loyalty of its people in any emergency that has arisen have not been surpassed and they are asking, and ought to receive, the support of the country.
I sometimes marvel at their courage in face of their disappointment at the small number of factories and new industries which have found their way into South Wales. I asked a question the other day as to the number of industries which have come into England, Scotland and Wales. In 1932 the number of factories opened in England was 606, extended 156, and closed 376. In Wales 10 were opened, eight extended, and five closed. In 1936, 508 were opened in England, 175 ex- 1374 tended, and 376 closed. In the whole of Wales five were opened, one extended and three closed. In 1937, 506 factories were opened in England, 231 extended, and 345 closed. In Wales there were 13 opened, three extended, and two closed.
The people of Wales have asked, have pleaded for a Cabinet Minister or a Cabinet Committee to deal with the problems which affect Wales. We have been unsuccessful. Have we been denied because we have endeavoured to reason with the Government? Have we been denied because we love peace and persuasion? We have been denied what we are entitled to get from the Government. We have asked for a Secretary of State, for a Cabinet Committee. A conference of local authorities was held some time ago at which the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour asked for someone in the Cabinet to deal with the problems of Wales, a Minister of Cabinet rank who would be able to represent the views and aspirations and demands of Wales in the inner circle of the Cabinet. The medical officer of health for the County of Glamorgan, Dr. Colston Williams, has continuously called attention to the conditions which exist. I have a copy of his report for last year with me. He says:The statistics for 1937 are 513 deaths from phthisis as against 503 for last year, and 106 deaths from other forms of tuberculosis against 107 last year.… There is no reason to suppose that this is any more than a temporary check due to unfavourable economic conditions which depress the nutrition level of so many families. This is one of the important, if not the most important factor in the problem, and it can be but little affected by social and medical services. The level of real wages and the amount of unemployment vitally affect the public health …Those sections of our working population not in receipt of wages sufficient for adequate nutrition are at extra risk of infection. …The medical service is conditioned by the general social state of the community and it cannot of itself remedy such things as low wage levels. Their persistence will require hospital service, their improvement will diminish it. Tuberculosis is only one of many things with claims on public expenditure, and can only expect to obtain its appropriate share of the public health budget. …The heavy incidence and mortality of pulmonary phthisis among young females in the 15 to 35 age group continue to be a marked feature in the statisticsThat is an indictment against the Government. The public health committee of the County of Glamorgan has spent enormous time in trying to cope with existing evils with the money which is provided. Much more could have been 1375 done if they had had more money. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the block grant. We appreciate everything that has been done, we appreciate every penny of assistance that has been given us, and I want to pay a tribute to the officials of the Department who have tried to meet us as far as they are allowed. We have lost in the county of Glamorgan itself, according to this report, 100,000 of the population in the last six or seven years, and we are losing in child population 1,000 per year, which is to continue up to 1944 according to the estimates that have been made. We are providing milk in our schools free to all who cannot afford to pay. Out of 352 schools we provide milk in 350, but that is not enough. We ought to be providing not only milk but dinners as well for the children attending the schools.
There is no hope, to my mind, unless we can make provision for good square meals for these children. Their parents cannot afford it. In our secondary schools we are providing dinners at 4d., 5d. and 6d. per meal to those who can afford to pay, but where the earnings are below a certain amount they get free dinners. There is a marked difference in the children who get dinners at school and those children who are supplied with milk. We are proceeding with the reorganisation of our schools and have commenced in two of our senior schools to provide dinners as well as milk. In these schools there is a very marked difference in the children who get dinners. I am most anxious that this should be done because the parents cannot afford to give them a good square meal.
Take the miners of South Wales. At the present moment the average wage of a miner is £2 10s. 6d. per week. There are thousands of miners in Glamorganshire who have to pay 5s., 6s., and 7s. for bus fares, and for rent anything between 10s. and 22s. 6d. per week. They have also to pay national health insurance and contribute towards medical benefit at so much in the £. They also contribute towards hospitals and various other institutions, such as blind institutions and deaf institutions out of the small wage they are receiving. We also make provision for the supply of spectacles to children, and are providing hundreds of pairs of spectacles every quarter because the parents are not able 1376 to provide them themselves. That is the position, and something should be done to assist these people.
I have for 12 or 15 years been running a fund to provide boots for particularly hard cases, and I have collected some thousands of pounds. The subscriptions are falling off at the moment, but I have collected about £50 this year. The education authorities send reports from schools as to parents who are unable to afford boots for their children. I had a request this week asking me to sanction an amount for boots in the case of a man who was earning £2 15s. per week and who had nine children, seven of whom were attending school. He had been losing one or two days' work per week, and they asked me to sanction a sum of money for boots as he could not get boots from the public assistance committee or the Unemployment Assistance Board. They could not get boots from the educational authority. I said that if they were able to find two pairs, I would find five pairs. That is the position in our county.
With regard to public assistance, in Glamorgan the gross annual expenditure on public assistance for this year, up to last week, is £1,375,705, and the product of a penny rate is £10,296, so that, apart from Treasury grants, the cost of public assistance in Glamorgan, expressed in terms of a county rate for the next year is 10s. 5½d. in the £Hon. Members on these benches have on many occasions asked that this burden should be distributed over the whole country. At a time when the best of the men and women from our county are going to other parts, our people, who are earning such wages as £2 10s. 6d. a week, have to bear this unparalleled burden of public assistance. The number of blind persons in receipt of allowances is 900, with a weekly cost of £560, making an annual total of £29,120. The other day, I asked the Minister:whether he will reimburse the Glamorgan County Council the amount paid to old age pensioners as public assistance over and above their pensions of 10s. a week, and accept it as a State liability for the years 1936, 1937 and 1938?He replied:No, Sir. The Government are not prepared to adopt this suggestion"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1939; col. 1897, Vol. 343.]This year we have in Glamorgan 6,741 old age pensioners, 4,136 women pensioners, with dependants numbering 1377 2,235, making a total of 13,112. The cost to the county is £4.203 9s. 11d. per week. This sum has to be paid to people who are receiving old age pensions. They have to be pauperised, although they have given good services to the nation. It is nothing short of a scandal that the local authority should have to provide this year £218,581 to assist old age pensioners. The Government ought to be prepared to consider this matter and to make provision for it in the coming Budget. Considering the present circumstances of the local authorities, it is the duty of the Government to assist them in this matter. On hoardings throughout the country, the railway companies are asking for a square deal. The old age pensioners are entitled to a square deal. When the country was in need, they were ready and anxious to give their services; they have done everything they could for their country.
§ Sir W. Jenkins
I am saying that these people have given good service to industry, and they are entitled to receive consideration from the Government at the present time. I ask the Minister what he intends to do as a result of this report. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, who is to reply, what he intends to do for the children who are suffering in the county of Glamorganshire and in Wales. Is the report to be implemented? Are the Government going to make the necessary provisions? These people are suffering and they are entitled to the best that can be given to them. It is the duty of the Government to see that they get it.
§ 8.31 p.m.
Captain Arthur Evans
I am sure that no hon. Member has more sympathy for the old age pensioners than my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, but, after all, we are to-night discussing a report on the anti-tuberculosis service in Wales and Monmouthshire. Although I admit that no one has a greater right than the hon. Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins) to speak on behalf of South Wales, I cannot share his view that this report is not only an indictment of the Government but of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health. I have read the whole report with much care, and I have failed to find 1378 one paragraph in which any charge is made of a lack of efficiency on the part of the Government. It is clear that certain charges have been made against the local authorities, in a part of the report to which I am anxious to address myself to-night, but I cannot find one paragraph in which there is any criticism of the Government. In view of the fact that, as far as rural housing is concerned, the Government are prepared, and indeed anxious, to give a grant of no less than 80 per cent., it would be difficult, even with the ingenuity and imagination of the Opposition, to found a charge having any substance on that score.
I think the House welcomed the sympathetic intervention of my right hon. Friend in this most important Debate, for if there is one thing that is clear, it is that if a solution of this grave problem is to be advanced, it needs the co-operation not only of the local authorities and the Members of this House, but of the Government. There is one point on which I must disagree with my right hon. Friend, and that is with regard to the facilities for debate which are afforded in the House to Welsh Members. Of course, I appreciate that it is within the right of the Opposition to demand of the Government certain facilities for debating economic, industrial and any other questions pertaining to and affecting the interests of the people of Wales, but fortunately for the Government, all the Members who are elected by the Principality are not as yet Members of the Opposition.
Most of them are, as the hon. Member says. At the present time, Wales and Monmouthshire return to the House of Commons 36 Members. Fortunately for the country, 11 of those Members are returned to support the Government, while 25 are returned to oppose it. Speaking on behalf of the Welsh Parliamentary party, of which I have the honour to be chairman, I say with complete frankness and sincerity to my right hon. Friend that I share the view that if it had been possible for this Government or previous Governments to have appointed a Secretary of State for Wales to protect our interests, this lamentable state of affairs would not have arisen in the very grave way in which it has been brought to our attention. I join 1379 with my right hon. Friend and with the official spokesman for the Opposition in congratulating the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and his colleague Dr. Coutts on the very frank and courageous way in which they have tackled this difficult and complex problem. We know that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery is a Welsh-speaking barrister, possessing a trained legal mind, and he has been assisted by one who is a well-known authority on tuberculosis and who, for many years, rendered distinguished service as an official of the Ministry of Health. No two men were better suited to deal with this problem in an impartial mind and give the House and the country the benefit of their findings. It is in that spirit that I propose briefly to examine a certain aspect of the report.
My right hon. Friend said he was anxious to hear the views of the House on the question of a possible reorganisation of local authorities—on whether, in the circumstances with which we are faced, it would be desirable or necessary to reorganise them on a larger basis, or in some instances and in certain senses, supersede them altogether. It is to that aspect of the situation that I wish to address myself. I do not think it is any good to shirk the issue and to content ourselves with the knowledge that the unfortunate conditions which exist in the Principality exist also in other parts of the United Kingdom. All Members from the Principality regret such conditions in other parts of the country as much as in their own country and the existence of such conditions elsewhere does not help us to solve our own problem. I would direct particular attention to the chapters in the report which deal with housing and sanitary conditions. These make the most distressing reading in this very sad volume. The hon. Gentleman who spoke officially for the Opposition said that the report contained an allegation that local government in Wales had broken down under the strain of health administration, and the logical conclusion was that this form of machinery was no longer suitable, in the conditions which obtain in the Principality, for dealing with the situation in an effective and efficient manner. It is well for us to remind ourselves of the exact charge that has been made against 1380 the local authorities by the commissioners. They say:It is obvious …that the local authorities in Wales have not taken the advantage that they ought to have done of the powers and assistance given to them by Parliament.… The failure …to take advantage of the grants made by Parliament seems more inexcusable when it is realised that the authorities knew how bad the housing conditions were in most of the areasIf that means anything, it means that certain local authorities are out to defeat the purpose and the will of Parliament, and I do not feel that the House is entitled to overlook that lack of efficiency on their part. The commissioners go on to say that authorities in certain countieshave fallen far short of their duties and their obligations. We find that they have had insufficient regard to their powers and their duties or to the advice which has been tendered to them by their officers. In fact they have failed in their trusteeship as guardians of the health and welfare of the people who have elected themAs far as the electors are concerned, I am confident that after an examination of this report and after the Debate in the House to-night, they will, when the opportunity offers, know how to deal with these gentlemen who have failed in such a serious fashion, in the discharge of their duties. But the question which we have to ask ourselves to-night is: What is to happen in the future? Are we satisfied that after the attention which has been concentrated on this vital matter, these authorities will be prepared to tackle the problem as it should be tackled? Are we satisfied that the machinery is at their disposal which will enable them to deal effectively with the question? Are we satisfied that the present system of a large number of local authorities in the rural districts with overlapping responsibilities, is one which can bring about a change for the better in a very short time, even when the personnel has undergone a change?
My right hon. Friend, in reply to a question from a Member of the Opposition some time ago, said that he had already called for reports from local authorities who have been severely criticised in the report. He said this had been done in order to give them an opportunity of stating their case, which is obviously right and fair. When he receives those reports, I hope he will consider seriously whether it is necessary for him to use the powers which he already 1381 has, or indeed ask the House to grant him further powers, to scrap any unnecessary administrative machinery which exists in the rural district of Wales today and put in its place efficient authorities covering larger areas and deriving their strength and wealth from larger numbers of people. I have not the honour to represent a rural district but it is common knowledge what happens in these cases. A parish council, for instance, decides at a village meeting that something is necessary affecting the health of its people. It makes representations to the rural district council. That body also holds a meeting, and under the conditions to which attention is drawn in the report, the recommendation of the parish council, in many cases, is rejected. The matter is referred back, and another meeting of the parish council is held at which they decide to make representations directly to the county council. The county council, having regard to the fact that the rural district council has turned down the proposal, set up a board of inquiry; they send for experts and representatives to give evidence, the whole matter is sifted again, and probably in the end rejected, and nothing is done.
In those circumstances it is not surprising that keen and efficient officials, the employés of various local authorities, become discouraged. Attention has been drawn to this matter in the excellent speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) and, having regard to the smallness of the population in these areas, we are entitled to ask ourselves whether there are not too many self-important bodies which could be abolished. While regard must be had for sentiment, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, I feel that in this day and age it is far more important in the interests of the health of the people, that regard should be had to efficiency, and unless the sentimental ambitions of these local authorities can be measured up to a degree of efficiency which will satisfy the House and the country then I am afraid the time has come when sentimental considerations must be put on one side. There is another point. If this were done the cost of administration would be lessened, and the money thus saved could be spent in the actual improvement of conditions. What is more important, the cost of these essential ser- 1382 vices would be able to be spread over a much wider area, where the revenue from a penny rate is of a substantial instead of a relatively small sum.
I am advised that one of the reasons which persuaded my right hon. Friend to set up this committee of inquiry was that the City of Cardiff and, indeed, other local authorities objected to certain items of capital expenditure prepared for the last fixed grant period which were disallowed by the Ministry pending further consideration, and I understand that as a result of certain local authorities failing to fulfil their statutory obligations in matters relating to public health, contributing authorities in the Principality have had their burdens considerably increased —in the case of the City of Cardiff, which I have the honour to represent, by a very substantial sum of money. I mention this matter because it affects the City of Cardiff in a very real manner. Before I deal with that aspect of the case, I will draw the attention of the House to page 184 of the report, where it is stated, referring to Cardiff:We have been greatly impressed by the foresight, care, activity and public spirit of both the council and their officials. They have overcome immense difficulties and have tackled with vigour and success a heritage of bad houses: and mean streets left to them by previous generations. They now have a. city of which they may well indeed be proud, a public service second to none, and a civic centre, and parks and open spaces, which are an example, not only to Wales, but to other cities.I mention this, because obviously these services have been built up at very great expense by the ratepayers of Cardiff City, who have done their utmost to improve the health services in their own area. It is somewhat discouraging to note, on page 277 of the report, that in respect of tuberculosis the city of Cardiff is the highest contributing authority, not only in Wales, but in the whole of the United Kingdom, paying roughly no less than £43,000 a year, or approximately £190 per 1,000 of the population. I suggest that there is not one ratepayer in Cardiff who objects to paying this sum towards the cure of this terrible scourge, but they have a right to demand that that money shall be properly spent by the local authorities to which the people of Cardiff make their contributions. The House well knows that under the scheme of the Welsh Memorial Association the city of Cardiff contributes to the cost of administering 1383 services in connection with tuberculosis for the whole of the Principality, and while they have set an example of which I think the people of Cardiff have a right to be proud, at the same time they have a right to demand that their money shall be spent in an efficient manner and according to the will and the determination of this House.
There were one or two other matters to which I desired to address myself, but I will content myself with expressing the hope that my right hon. Friend and His Majesty's Government will be ruthless in dealing with those local authorities which, by neglect and inefficiency, are defeating the will and purpose of this House of Commons and, if necessary, not hesitate to introduce legislation which will simplify the machinery of local government in such areas and substitute a system more in accord with this enlightened age.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Hopkin
I am afraid I am not able to follow the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans), who has taken upon himself the necessity of defending His Majesty's Government. I do not believe that this Debate has been carried on in any party spirit. I believe that on the fundamental issues and principles of this report there has been unanimity in the House, because no one can read this report without having a very deep feeling, not only of shame, but of anxiety as well. There is a Welsh proverb which says, "Hateful is the man who loves not the country that nursed him." To love one's country is to love the people of that country, and it has come with a very great shock to many Welshmen to know that so many of our fellow-countrymen have been condemned to live under conditions of which they are most heartily ashamed. It is no kind of consolation to Welshmen to know that if such an inquiry were held, say, in Cornwall or in Lancashire, the same kind of results would be given. The fact of the matter is that Welshmen are very proud of their country, and they are very sorry indeed to know that it is possible that conditions are such that it was necessary, for the sake of the truth, to have this report made. I desire to join with my hon. Friends in congratulating my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies) on his courage in writing this report. My hon. 1384 and learned Friend is a product of the county school system of Wales, and perhaps he is, in this report, repaying something to the old country for having given him his chance in life.
There are two main causes for this scourge which have been shown in the report—firstly, the conditions under which people live, and, secondly, the question of nutrition. I desire to make one point only on the question of the local authorities and to pray in aid some examples from my own division. Local authorities to-day have the statutory responsibility of providing houses, water, and systems of sanitation. I desire to take the examples of two small boroughs, first of Llandovery, which has been mentioned previously in this Debate, where a penny rate produces£24, and then Kidwelly, where a penny rate produces £28. How can it be expected that these two small boroughs should carry out efficiently their statutory duty, first of all, of providing houses, and then, as in the case of Llandovery, where they are about to spend £6,000 in providing water? I would urge the Minister of Health to send one of his officers down to this little town of Kidwelly, which has now provided 32 houses and has then stopped and said it ought not to provide any more. The tinplate works there has not worked since December, 1937, and I would particularly ask him to see to what means decent respectable people there have to go in order to provide their own sanitary arrangements.
In two other localities, Carmarthen Rural District and Llanelly Rural District, there is heavy unemployment and there are great needs. Does not the Minister think that there are any means by which the 400 unemployed miners in Pontyates can be employed to do something which the people in that valley have been trying to get for 20 years, namely, a sanitation system which starts in the top end of the valley and will provide a decent system for all the people in the valley? Is that impossible? Are these men always to remain unemployed and idle when they want to work? Here at their doorsteps is work which they know to be absolutely necessary for good health. Have we not arrived now at the point where the machinery of local government has not kept pace with modern requirements? Is the Minister now prepared to advise that a Royal Commission should 1385 be set up on local government in Wales? I am not able to go as far as the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff in his almost sweeping condemnation of local authorities, but I ask the Minister seriously, in view of the examples which I have given, whether we have not imposed upon local authorities certain statutory duties which they have not the means and the capacity to carry out.
I desire to deal a little more fully with the part of the report which deals with schools and school children. I say without hesitation that that part of the report is first class, with one small exception at the end of the chapter, where my hon. and learned Friend has perhaps slipped up a little. After all, he has not had the advantage that the Parliamentary Secretary and I have had, of being a trained teacher. Otherwise he would know that the answer to that last paragraph is easily given. Apart from that, every word is that chapter is true. Indeed, it may be that from it will arise a Magna Carta for the school children of Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins) has spoken to-day. The Parliamentary Secretary knows that he has created for himself in Glamorgan a memorial of which any man would be justly proud. Every new school is due very largely to my hon. Friend's energy and foresight, and this chapter in the report may lead to a Magna Carta whereby the school children of rural Wales will be better cared for. The first point I desire to make on this chapter is that the Welsh Department of Education should be sent from London; that it is divorced from its work and its problems; that the Board of Education are very rapidly converting the gentlemen in this Department into nothing more than glorified clerks; that it is utterly futile—and I make this challenge deliberately to the Minister—to have a Welsh Education Department in London where all it can do is to write letter after letter.
In 1925 two council schools were on the condemned list—Ammanford and Penygroes. There were also four non-provided schools—Cwmamman, Llanstephan, Cwmdwr and St. Clears. In 1939 they are still on the condemned list. What have the Board of Education been doing to allow these schools for at least 14 years to remain condemned schools? Let us be clear what a condemned school 1386 means. It means that the Board of Education themselves say that the school is a menace to the health of the children who attend it. If the Parliamentary Secretary and I were inhabitants of Llanstephan, and we had to send our children to these schools, would he agree to send his to a school that has been condemned? He knows that the reason why these schools remain in this condition is simply that it is only the children of the working classes who attend. If children of all classes had to attend they would very soon be put right. I blame the Department for this. The Parliamentary Secretary is a trustee on behalf of the children. He has only to say, "If you do not put this school right I will stop your grant" Of course, there are other people to blame, but the Parliamentary Secretary is far too intelligent to run away and say, "lam not to blame; other people are to blame" I am using the illustration of my own county to show the number of condemned schools, about which no one knows better than the Parliamentary Secretary. There are condemned schools in every county in Wales. I blame the Board of Education in general, but I blame the Welsh Department in particular. If they were stationed in a town in rural Wales, such as Carmarthen, they would not allow the children to go to these schools.
There are 1,398 children who still attend condemned schools in the county of Carmarthen. Soon 730 are going or have gone to new schools, but that leaves 668 still going to schools which the Board of Education themselves have condemned. Why not get the Welsh Department to-Wales in a place like Cardiff, where they could work side by side with the Welsh Board of Health? The only way to deal with this question is to have the two-Departments side by side in Wales. In addition to that there are 1,989 children in schools where the premises do not satisfy modern requirements—that is, seven council schools and five non-provided schools. I know some of these schools, and I say without hesitation that many of them ought to be on the condemned list. It is not as if the Board had not been warned of this. They have been warned over and over again and have been well aware of this shocking state of things, and they have done nothing. My hon. Friend is not going to 1387 say that he wrote a letter. That is too ridiculous, writing letters to people for 15 years, because nothing has been done. Here is a report from one of his own inspectors in the year 1937:The lighting in a number of schools is not adequate, and in a large proportion it can hardly be said that the classrooms are bright even on days when the sun is shining. The ventilation of the classrooms is in many cases defectiveAnother thing which I would earnestly beg the Parliamentary Secretary to put an end to is the use of backless desks. There are 67 schools in Carmarthenshire in which these terrible desks are being used. And here is one example of what these children in rural areas have to put up with as lavatories:At three schools the offices are built over open water-courses and depend for their efficiency on the amount of water in the stream. In dry periods they can become completely insanitaryThere are ever so many more examples of that kind of thing. I want to know what the Board of Education have done in the last 14 or 15 years to put an end to this state of affairs. It is gravely unfair to the teachers, it is a gross injustice to the children, and now that in this county they have a first-class director of education, I do hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will do all he can to help the local authority to see that these conditions shall come to an end.
One further word I desire to say is that I entirely agree that the best thing that can be done for the feeding of the children is to provide a good midday meal. It is not expense that is going to stop it. I will read this extract from a report:In one instance where soup has been made practically every day during the winter months for 10 years everything has been provided from school funds. Local farmers and parents supply the vegetables, meat is bought twice a week, but often free gifts of meat are received in the form of rabbits and 'cig-man.' The total cost for about 13 children is about 1s. 3d. a weekThe best thing the Board can now do is to hasten this scheme of reorganisation. May I make one further plea to the Minister regarding differential rating in the County of Carmarthen? I know that that county has gone a certain way to put it right, but I beg of him that, if it is necessary to do away with this great injustice to the rural children of this part 1388 of Wales, he will press the Treasury to give some grant to tide over the time of transition. He knows the whole problem, and he knows that, at any rate in the case of this county, that is one of the main things which has prevented the advance which the people are only too anxious to make. I join again with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff in asking, What are the Board of Education going to do? I beg of the Government not to keep the Welsh Department here. Send the Department into Wales, where they can work, where the staff can become something more than clerks writing letters and starting a long correspondence which simply comes to nothing. Let them go down and see the problems, for themselves, on the ground. If that is done, for that alone it will have been worth while for this House to have given its time and study to this report.
§ 9.13 p.m.
Mr. O. Evans
I feel sure that every Member upon this bench who represents Wales will feel grateful to His Majesty's Opposition for having set down this particular subject for discussion. It is an opportunity which seldom comes our way, whatever the Minister may say. I want to assure him that Welsh Members are only too anxious to secure time for the fullest discussion of Welsh questions in this House. It may be right and proper to emphasise once more our view, as Welsh Members, that we do not get sufficient opportunities to discuss Welsh questions. By the nature of Parliamentary procedure we cannot get as much time as we might. It is useless to say that the Opposition have the selection of the matters to be discussed upon the Estimates when we are a very small group of the Opposition and, obviously, there are other matters which take precedence of questions affecting Wales. What we do want is a definite day, or more, in a Session when we can get the opportunity to give vent to our feelings and express our grievances, and I hope that this Debate will, at any rate, focus attention upon the necessity of Wales being given its rightful place in the consideration of this House.
About 100 years ago a blue book was published as the result of the labours of a Royal Commission which investigated the social, educational and moral condition of the Welsh people. That inquiry was conducted by people outside Wales 1389 and they were not very sympathetic with Wales and its people. That report was stigmatised by the Welsh people and has ever since been referred to as "Brad y Llyfrau Gleision, "which means, in common English and translated, subject to correction by the scholars who are sitting alongside me," the treachery of the blue books" To-night we are dealing with another blue book affecting Wales and some of the most important aspects of Welsh life. It has been sympathetically produced by a son of Wales who certainly could not be accused of being unsympathetic to Welsh affairs and problems. I am sure that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) is as keen as any Welshman that the terrible things of which we have read in this blue book are remedied, but we know that we have not the power or the authority to remedy them, and that we have to come to this House and ask the Minister in Whitehall to give authority to Wales to settle its problems. I am not raising the question whether we could do those things better for ourselves, but am pointing out the simple fact that we cannot remedy those evils without the consent of this House of Parliament.
The report has been published in the Welsh Press and discussions have taken place. The report has received much serious criticism on some of its aspects, and we welcome that criticism because it is the only way in which we can discuss things in a free and democratic country. It is the best way to get things done and, even if there were some exaggeration, according to some people, if it has been the means of drawing attention to these lamentable conditions in Wales the report will certainly have served its purpose. This Debate is serving another purpose, because this question is not only one for Wales, but one which affects other countries as well. There is nothing to crow about in those other countries, or to flatter oneself about, either in England or Scotland.
Take housing. Anybody who knows Scotland will be aware of the conditions in Glasgow, which is one of the premier cities of that country. Anybody who knows where and how people live in that industrial city will find those conditions do not exist in the industrial parts of Wales. Anybody who went to the Glasgow Exhibition will remember a replica of cottages which are to-day in existence. 1390 I never saw in my constituency any cotage to match those which were in the Exhibition. In the figures given in the report we can get the true perspective of what has happened. On one page we are given the number of deaths from tuberculosis in Wales out of every 1,000, and the comparative figures are 0.68 in England, 0.74 in Scotland, and 0.86 in Wales. The difference between Wales and England is 0.18 and between Wales and Scotland 0.12. Those figures do not justify the tendency on the part of some hon. Members to take an attitude of rather smug complacency about this matter.
The other afternoon I heard an hon. Member above the Gangway, the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson) asking a question relating to the improvement of sanitation on the Gold Coast, and he chose to take the opportunity of making an insulting reference to Wales on that occasion. He asked whether, if those sanitary measures on the Gold Coast were successful, the Minister would apply them to Wales. My advice to the hon. Member is that he should look at home and clean his own doorstep. The Secretary of State for Scotland has power to deal with such matters in a more effective way than is the case with Wales. Scotland has the great advantage of a Secretary of State, and of a Department of its own which gives time for discussion on these matters, and in which the affairs of Scotland are concentrated. We demand for Wales similar consideration so that we can tackle our problems in an effective way.
I would draw attention to another aspect of the report. Tuberculosis conditions in England affect the rural areas of Wales. Not sufficient regard has been paid in the report to the effect upon the statistics of tuberculosis in the rural areas by the deaths of those who have gone from those rural areas to England and who have come back again. Reference was made to the presence of tuberculosis among sailors. Within my knowledge in the last few years there have been sailors in this condition, particularly in Cardiganshire. I have known of cases in which tuberculosis has been contracted, not in Cardiganshire, but on the sea, in ships. The men come into port and they may die there, and are recorded in the local tuberculosis statistics. There has been no thorough inquiry into the statistics of these matters, although this is a funda- 1391 mental question of interest to rural areas in Wales. In the last few months a girl came up from Cardiganshire to enter the nursing profession in London. I suppose she would be medically examined before she was accepted, but that was two years ago. That poor girl is now in a sanatorium, and if she does not get better the probability is that she will go down to Cardiganshire and be included in the cases of tuberculosis contracted in Cardiganshire. Every member representing a rural area knows that there are many cases of that kind which swell the figures for the rural areas. I am sorry that the report does not deal with that type of case and has made no attempt to trace these cases so as to get the true facts.
The emphasis in the Debate to-night has been placed upon aspects of this question which indirectly, and not directly, concern the treatment of tuberculosis in Wales, but I am not complaining about that. Far be it from me to tolerate the housing conditions which exist in the rural areas throughout Wales, but I think those conditions are getting better and less general. Houses of the type with a door in the centre and a window on each side are getting fewer. Speaking for that part of the country from which I come, I can say that those houses are now occupied by very old people, and I cannot think of one that is occupied by young people. The old people are still there, but the houses are unfit for human habitation. They have been a problem for the local sanitary authority to get those old people to turn out, even when they have a place for them, and the result has been that those people have died at a very old age. Not more than half a mile from my own house there is a house of that character, extremely clean inside, very comfortable and very warm, which was occupied by an old lady over 80 years of age, who died the other day. The result of that will be that nobody will ever go to live in that house again. These houses are gradually falling into ruins, because when these old people die no one else takes their place
But what I want to emphasise to-night is the direct question of treatment of tuberculosis. I know that housing and clean milk are of tremendous importance, and while I am on that point I would say that it surprised me, in looking up 1392 the report that, so far as pulmonary or respiratory tuberculosis is concerned, it is said that it is due to the human bacilli, and has nothing whatever to do with the bovine bacilli, that the two are not transferable, and that it is the non-pulmonary or non-respiratory tuberculosis which is usually transferable from the bovine bacilli. That is rather a sad thing because I find from the figures that the number of cases of respiratory tuberculosis in Wales is about five times the number of the other forms of tuberculosis. Therefore, the clean milk campaign at any rate will not go very far towards reducing that kind of tuberculosis which is derived from human bacilli.
The reason why this report was ever produced was that there were difficulties between local authorities and the Association. The last report of the Association is a very bulky volume, and it is quite clear from that that the relations between the Association and the local authorities have not been altogether satisfactory at all times. That is the real reason why this inquiry was instituted by the Minister. That, of course, is a state of things which it is very essential to correct.
I should think that we Welshmen ought to be glad that the body which is responsible for the treatment, cure and prevention of tuberculosis is on a national basis, and not on a sectional basis, representing every county, and those counties doing each their little job in their own way, and not doing it very well. It is very essential that the relation between the contributing authorities and the Association should be of the best because, unless it is, the work of the Association cannot be as effective as we should like it to be. The primary object of this inquiry was to enable the Committee to guide the Minister as to the steps that may be necessary to improve those relations and to obtain better collaboration between the Association and the contributing authorities.
§ Mr. Jenkins
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point I would like to ask him whether the troubles that were responsible for this inquiry were not those mentioned on page 159 of the report, where it is stated:The tuberculosis mortality rate in Cardiganshire is the fourth highest among all the counties in England and Wales1393 And further down it is stated:The District Councils have been dilatory and pathetic. The County Council should have exercised a closer surveillance over the District CouncilsI understood the hon. Gentleman was complaining about the inquiry into the matter.
No, I am not complaining at all about that. All I am saying is that the primary cause of the inquiry, as stated in the terms of reference, was to see whether the contributing authorities and the association were working in collaboration, and whether something should be done to improve their relations.
§ Mr. Jenkins
No, but whether the contributing authorities were doing all they could in the preventive work.
I should be very glad if the hon. Member could show me from the terms of reference how the cause of the inquiry could be interpreted as widely as that. The question is that of the arrangements between the local authorities and the association. The committee has reported specifically on various points because there were certain matters that were left undecided after a meeting of the association, and the committee was specifically asked to inquire into them. For instance, there was a question of a new hospital, and indeed the committee recommend that the new hospital should be set down in a position for the even distribution of beds. That was one point. Another point was the question of research, because the local authorities thought that too much money was spent on research. I want to say that one of the principal parts of the work of the association, in my judgment, should be the work of research, and I am rather sorry that the report does not deal more fully with the researches which the association has already made during the 26 years of its existence, because we should very much like to know what has been the result of the researches of the association into tuberculosis.
In conclusion, I want to ask the Minister what he proposes to do in face of the sweeping condemnation in this report of the attitude of the local authorities on preventive measures and on the improvement of housing conditions. He has not told us. He has said that he is going to have a conference. Has the 1394 report under-estimated the difficulty? Is the problem inseparable from the problem of establishing prosperity in the countryside? Because, to my mind, all this matter is inseparably bound up with the improvement of the prosperity of our countryside, and if there were better conditions of agriculture and higher wages in agriculture then the question, in my opinion, would solve itself. Regarding housing, I have long since come to the conclusion that, so far as concerns the housing of the working classes in Wales and in all other rural areas, we can no longer expect private individuals to build houses for them, and we must rely upon the public authorities.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Dr. Summerskill
I ask the foregiveness of my Welsh colleagues in the House for intervening in this Debate, which is purely a Welsh matter, but I feel that they will perhaps realise that in my case there may be special circumstances, because I have the great good fortune to have a Welshman for a husband. From my very close association with Wales, I claim to have made a particular study, not only of Welsh culture, but also of the social services which obtain in Wales to-day. I agree with the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin) that the conditions which have been revealed in this report are not peculiar to Wales. I think that, if the hon. and learned Member who conducted this inquiry also conducted an inquiry on the same lines in England or Scotland, the English and Scottish Members of the House also might have cause for alarm and surprise. I cannot, however, agree altogether with the hon. Member who has just spoken that all the local authorities in Wales are free from blame. We all know of reactionary small authorities, which have always a member who indulges in one speech, and that is generally to refer some very urgent matter back or to move the next business.
But, while the report has directed the attention of the House to the gross neglect of certain small authorities, it is, in my opinion, a glaring indictment of the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education. What impressed me most during the Debate was the extreme complacency of the Minister himself in the face of this alarming report. I want to know why it is that no immediate action has been taken, and why, in the face of the result of this inquiry, which occupied 1395 two years, the House is told again that it must be content with another conference, further inquiries, and letters from the central government to local authorities. I want to know whether the Minister is not convinced that the accusations—for that is what they amount to—of the hon. and learned Member who conducted this inquiry are not sufficiently grave for immediate action to be taken. I want, for instance, to know what is going to happen with regard to some of the conditions in houses.
We are told in the report that there is evidence that the local authorities in some districts have taken no action in regard to the disinfection of houses which have already housed tubercular people. It is well known that, in a house in which a tubercular person has lived, six weeks after the death of the patient the walls of the room in which the patient died have been scraped, and the dust has been found still to contain virulent tubercle bacilli. The report reveals that there are houses throughout Wales which are never disinfected after the death of a tubercular patient. Is the Minister of Health going to content himself with another inquiry and leave these disease traps to infect their next innocent occupants? What is he going to do about those houses with regard to which it is stated that, in 104 beds, there were 104 phthisical patients, but, besides those 104 phthisical patients, there were 113 other healthy people—in other words, in a bed containing a tubercular person there was another healthy person, and in some cases two, becoming infected? Are we to be content with being told that there is to be another inquiry into these conditions? What of the Slum Clearance Act? These authorities were to report, we are told, on a certain date. The report which has been made is admittedly incomplete, but nothing has been done.
Most of us know of the conditions of some of these hovels. I share the view of the hon. Member for Denbigh (Sir H. Morris-Jones), whose views I do not often endorse, that the women of Wales are to be congratulated on keeping these hovels spotlessly clean. There is one paragraph of the report—the only paragraph which I will not endorse—which contradicts what might be regarded as the housewifely attainments of the Welsh woman. On the one hand we are told that she is 1396 an excellent housewife, who keeps a hovel which is little better than a pig-sty in order, but, on the other hand, we are told that she is much too fond of the tin-opener when feeding her family. Welsh housewives are perhaps—and I say this after due consideration—are perhaps the best cooks in England and Wales; in fact, I believe their pastry cannot be beaten, even by that of the Yorkshire housewife. Therefore, I cannot believe that the bad nutrition which obtains in many families is due to Welshwomen using the tin-opener.
I have watched the reactions of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education this afternoon, and, when the schools in Wales were being discussed, I hoped I might detect at least a blush, but I have detected no discomforture at all, and, because of that, I am duly shocked. Some schools in Wales are so bad that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomeryshire (Mr. C. Davies) said it would be better for the children actually to forgo their education rather than attend these schools. I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to one very important sentence in the report, which states that the incidence of heart disease among the children is increasing as a direct result of the rheumatism which they are contracting because of the damp schools and the lack of drying facilities in the schools. This is not something which can be dealt with by letters, and I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education to go down and make personal inquiries into these matters. We have heard some thing about milk. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Cardiganshire (Mr. D. O. Evans) who rather dismissed the problem of infected milk. He told the House that he has made inquiries and finds that the incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis is five times as high as that of surgical tuberculosis—
§ Dr. Summerskill
He finds it stated in the report that the incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis is five times as high as that of surgical tuberculosis. Surgical tuberculosis is acquired through the bovine tubercle bacillus, which is often due to tuberculous udders in the cows, and he, therefore, asks or at any rate implies the question: Why, therefore, should we worry about infected milk?
§ Dr. Summerskill
I agree with the hon. Member that it would not relieve the situation regarding pulmonary tuberculosis, but has he discovered how many children are dying every year of tuberculosis from infected milk, which could be relieved if there were a clean milk supply?
§ Dr. Summerskill
Yes. I think the hon. Member agrees with me that there should be only one designation of milk—safe milk or clean milk, as opposed to dirty milk. In the report it says that 40 per cent. of cows give positive reaction to the tuberculin test. This fact is borne out by impartial investigators in this country. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education has read also in the report that these authorities who are giving innocent children in our schools infected milk of this character are, in fact, callous. That is the word used in the report. I would say, criminal. Something must be done immediately about cleaning the milk supply of the country. Another aspect that has not been mentioned is the number of duties which many sanitary inspectors are asked to perform. In some of these small areas they are veritable Pooh-Bahs. One combines the duties of the collector of rents, the land agent, the building inspector, the architect, and the rating officer; and sometimes he is also a small builder on his own account or a hotel keeper. The House can imagine how the private interests of this official often clash with his public duties; and the amount that he is paid for his public duties is often £36 a year. In the face of these conditions, which I consider almost medieval, we ask the Board of Education to take bold action.
Might I also deal with the time factor? The Minister of Health may say that these authorities have not time to do it. 1398 The report says that in one village the sanitation is in the same condition as when the Romans left it in A.D. 400. We are told that the Ministry is going to have another conference, and yet the medical officer in charge makes this statement. He says that sewage is still discharged untreated, in its crude state, into the river; the privies are still emptied into the garden where the pump stands. Sir George Newman drew a picture similar to that in this report 20 years ago.
Therefore, may I enumerate certain recommendations which, I think, should be immediately carried out? One particularly has to do with the provision of more beds for those who are suffering from tuberculosis. We are told that, because of a certain fatalism in Wales, the people refuse to leave their homes and enter a sanatorium, and that is why there are 16 per cent. of patients dying of tuberculosis in institutions in Wales and 34 per cent. in England. The reason is that there are not sufficient beds in Wales, and a medical officer cannot bring pressure to bear on any patient to go into an institution because there would be no bed for him. In Cardiff, the patients are ready and eager to go to a sanatorium, but, when the report was drawn up, nearly 500 could not find beds. I believe that another factor which militates against patients going into a sanatorium is the fact that immediately they go in the public assistance grant is decreased. Grants to the dependants of a tubercular-person should be taken out of the hands of the public assistance committee and administered on a much more generous scale.
I want to draw attention to the importance of early diagnosis. Perhaps I shall be accused of pressing for something which is impracticable, but I want the Minister of Health to consider what I asked him to consider in the Debate on the Cancer Bill. In Wales, in 1936, of the new adult patients found to have tuberculosis half were advanced cases,. and 58 per cent. were people between 15. and 35. There can be no question that the best approach to this disease is to facilitate early diagnosis. The incidence among the young women is extremely high in Wales. The young married women in Wales have between them and the doctor an economic barrier. One of the finest methods of preventive work that the Minister could do in order to- 1399 reduce the morbidity and mortality rate in Wales from tuberculosis would be to include the dependants of the insured worker under the National Health Insurance Act. This is a very urgent reform, and one which in Wales, where there is so much poverty and distress, would be very welcome.
§ 9.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Jenkins
We are disappointed with the statement we have had to-night from the Minister of Health. As far as I was able to gather, all he promised was that we should have a conference in Wales. He did not go in much detail into the cause of the disease or the reasons for the inquiry or the report. He spoke for very nearly an hour, and I think everybody will agree that he gave no hope at all, either to the people who framed the report or to the people in Wales, that they are likely to get any substantial advantage in the near future. I would like to congratulate the chairman of the committee and his medical colleague. They have both shown very remarkable courage in making the statements they have. The Chairman is a Welshman, a son of Wales, as the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. O. Evans) has told us, and he has shown courage in writing quite plainly for the world to see what he considers to be the serious state of things in his country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardigan has rather tried, I think, to minimise the report and to take away some of its importance. He referred to the question of bovine tuberculosis and said, "it is only one in five of the people who suffer from bovine tuberculosis" That is said in the report, but even that is a substantial reason for ensuring clean milk. That is of very considerable importance. We have not given as much attention to the disease as I would have liked to have been given to-day.
We ought to ask ourselves whether or not the disease can be prevented. That is an important question. From all the knowledge that medical science has been able to gather and pass on to us, it is perfectly clear that the disease can be prevented. I remember reading a paper delivered at Oxford by Dr. Powell, Chief Medical Officer of the Welsh National Memorial, in the latter part of last year. He complimented the county of Oxfordshire upon the fact that they had had 1400 only 51 deaths during the course of the previous year, but he added, "You are one of the counties with the lowest death rate in the whole of this country, but lest you should rest on your laurels, you ought not to be contented until you have saved the 51 lives that you are losing every year, and that is possible."
We have discussed this report with regard to Wales to-day and we are bound, I think, to arrive at two general conclusions. One is, that the Ministry of Health, the Board of Education, and the local authorities are responsible for bad houses, for the lack of pure water supplies and for the bad and dangerous schools that exist in Wales at the present time. We are losing a large number of lives in consequence of this disease being allowed to have full play, as it has at the present time in Wales. During the eight years from 1930 to 1937, inclusive, we lost 19,408 lives in Wales as a consequence of this disease—lives which could have been saved according to the hon. Gentleman who has medical knowledge and has spoken in the course of this Debate. Why have they not been saved? Why have these schools not been put into a proper condition, and why have not the local authorities provided houses?
Do the Ministry of Health say that they had no knowledge of the housing conditions in these areas prior to the inquiry? The inquiry was set up in September, 1937, practically 18 months ago. We have now got the report, and we are having a Debate upon it to-night, but the Minister of Health cannot tell me or the House that the Welsh Board of Health had not informed the Ministry of Health that houses were in a very bad condition in these areas, were dangerous and were producing tuberculosis and other diseases as well. If that be so, why has the Ministry of Health—the present Minister of Health has not been in his post very long—wasted all this time until we get a report of this kind? Does the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education suggest that he has no knowledge of the wretched type of schools that are described in this report? Has the Welsh Board of Education had no knowledge of the condition? We know perfectly well that the present conditions have existed for many years, and that there has been every opportunity for the 1401 Board of Education using the lever of the grant in order to compel these authorities to provide buildings that might have been regarded safe for the children. Why have not they taken that step?
The position to-day is very bad indeed. The inquiry came about because of a difference of opinion between the local authorities and the governing body of the Welsh National Memorial Association. The Welsh Memorial Association put certain items into their budgets. They wanted to increase their services. A conference of local authorities was held, and some of these authorities took exception to the expenditure. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans) has referred to it to-night. The City of Cardiff complained, for instance, that they were spending a substantial sum of money in trying to cure the patient made ill by the wretched conditions contained in these areas. It was that which the Minister referred to the committee for consideration. They went fully into the whole matter.
§ Mr. O. Evans
The Committee themselves gave the reason why they were appointed. It was stated that in July, 1037, they reaffirmed the estimate presented and resolved that the Minister should be asked to appoint a Committee to make a special investigation into the work of the Association, and particularly in regard to the proposals put forward in the estimate. The Minister appointed the Committee for that purpose.
§ Mr. Jenkins
It will be remembered that the Association was not satisfied with the amount of work that was being done generally, both on the preventive and the curative side. They were very concerned about the attitude of certain local authorities. They considered that they were not taking the measures for prevention that might have been taken, They also went into other matters as well. The Committee were very concerned that in Wales there was not an adequate supply of beds for hospital treatment. They referred to it in the report. They showed that in Wales there were only 86 beds, but that in England there were 114 beds, in Scotland 150, in New Zealand 190, in Canada 200, in the Netherlands 105, and in Denmark 190. We know perfectly well that there is always a substantial waiting list, and that it is impossible for the Asso- 1402 ciation to give hospital treatment to surgical and other cases as the need arises, and that is because of the fact that they have not adequate funds to do it.
I should like to call attention to a comparison I have made as to the costs for treatment of tuberculosis between Middlesex and Carmarthen. In Middlesex the expenditure per 1,000 of the population amounts to £111 5s. 10d., the product of a penny rate per 1,000 of the population is £39 3s. 11d., the rateable value per head of the population is £10, and the rate liability for dealing with tuberculosis is 2.8d. In Carmarthen the expenditure per 1,000 of the population is £98 12s. 7d. with a rate production per 1,000 of the population of £11 15s. 8d., a rateable value per head of the population of £3 Is., and a rate liability in dealing with tuberculosis of 8.4d—nearly four times the rate liability that you have in Middlesex. This characterises the whole expenditure in Wales upon tuberculosis and other services, and the local authorities are placed at a very substantial disadvantage indeed as a consequence of that.
There are some very startling figures as to rate liability of different localities in dealing with tuberculosis. Durham has been depressed, poverty has played a very big role throughout the post-war years, and there is a low rateable value per head of the population. The cost of dealing with tuberculosis is 7.1d. Take some of the better-oft English counties. In Essex it is 3.8d., in Kent 2.9d., Middlesex 2.8d., Sussex, East 1.5d. and Sussex, West 1.4d. Compare that with some of the Welsh counties—Monmouthshire 8.3d., Glamorgan 8.3d., Anglesey 7.8d., Carnarvon 6.3d. and Cardigan 8.4d. There you have a much heavier rate liability in dealing with tuberculosis than anywhere else in the country. The result is that you have substantial difficulties in raising the money necessary to deal effectively with it. That is only for treatment. When you come to deal with preventive measures many of these authorities are not able to handle it at all. Many of the areas are small. The Minister pleaded that he did not desire to interfere with the present local government boundaries. He wanted to avoid it if he possibly could. Perhaps there is something in preserving local government boundaries, but I think it is, more important that we should preserve 1403 life if we possibly can, and we must have regard to that.
There are some ridiculous local government bodies in Wales. Montgomery has a population of 877 and a penny rate production of £12. There, I believe, they have a mayor, four aldermen, 12 councillors, a sanitary officer, a medical officer and, when they meet and sit down to do business, about the most expensive thing they have to do is to mark a football coupon. They could not do much more. You cannot impose on an area of that kind, with such financial resources, any real responsibilities at all. They cannot carry them out. There is another town in South Wales with a population of about 1.000 with a rate production of £20 for 1d. There are numbers of others. There are 17 urban district councils in which the production of a penny rate varies from £12 to 45. There are 75 urban district councils in Wales and in 41 a penny rate produces less than £100. What is the Minister going to do with that? He has told us that he is going to call a conference. What is he going to do when he calls a conference? Does he think he can impose a heavy liability on areas such as these? I doubt whether he can.
Something has been done which helps a matter of this kind. It has been done in his own country. I was looking at the report of the Committee on Scottish Health Services the other day and at the medical scheme in operation in the Highlands and Islands. The report refers in very complimentary terms to the system which is providing a medical service in that very sparsely populated area, a medical service which turns out to be a good one. It says that in the old days it was impossible to get doctors of a high standard to go there. Some were very good but in the main the good doctors took the earliest opportunity of getting away. Anyhow, since this system has been in operation I believe they have kept more doctors there, and apparently doctors of a higher standard. The report also says:Geographical and other circumstances, combined with the facts of declining population and poverty of rating resources, make the Highlands and Islands a Special Area no less for the services of administration by the local authorities than for those administered by the central department as part of the Highlands and Islands medical service.There you have established a system by 1404 which you have overruled the local government areas, and I believe this House has voted a kind of subsidy of about £60,000 a year in order to maintain that service. It is one about which the Scottish people now talk in praiseworthy terms. What is to prevent something of that kind being done for Wales? Here we have a sparsely populated area, poverty and an exodus of population. The Minister himself to-day or yesterday told my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, East (Mr. Mainwaring) that the number of people who had left Wales between mid-1926 and mid-1938 was 378,700. One-seventh of the population gone. Some time ago the hon. Member for Llanelly put down a question as to the number of people who had left the countryside, the rural workers who had left the countryside, during the post-war period. The number approximately was 20,000. The truth is that the healthiest of the people go away; they are the people who leave the countryside. What has been done in Scotland in the provision of medical services for sparsely populated areas might well be done in certain parts of Wales.
I blame the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education and many of the local councils with a complete neglect of their responsibility to provide healthy conditions for the people. It has been going on for years, and there is not much doubt that it will continue if we have to depend only on the conference which the Minister has suggested. Here we have a problem which is just as bad as a Special Area problem, and it cannot be solved except by strengthening the financial position of the people in these areas. The Minister has referred to the block grant. I admit quite frankly that some areas have had an advantage from a review of the block grant recently, but some of them did not use the whole of it. As a matter of fact, great pressure was brought to bear on many of the councils in these areas not to use it. The rates were not high. Take my own area, where the county rates are 15s. in the £We got a substantial reduction as a consequence of the block grant, but the rates this half-year will increase, because of the disappearance of the population, by approximately Is. 6d. in the £. The same thing is happening in other areas.
It must not be forgotten that areas which have a declining population lose in 1405 two ways. An area with a declining population and a declining rateable value cannot continue to provide a high standard of services. That is precisely what is happening in Wales, and I hope we shall get a statement which will give us reason to hope that the problem which is set out in the report will be faced by the Government. The Government ought to set up a committee of inquiry or commission to make recommendations as to what steps must be taken in order to create in Wales conditions which will enable the people to live in a healthy manner. As long as they have to occupy the wretched hovels of which the report speaks, as long as the children have to go to the schools of which the report speaks—unless they are wiped out and the Government are prepared to advance more money—it seems that we must go on getting a continuous increase of the liability arising from tuberculosis.
I have mentioned that there were approximately 20,000 deaths each year, which is a very high rate per million of the population.' It is very substantially in excess of the rate for the rest of the country. I would point out that in 1930 there were 21,569 cases on the register, and that in 1937 the number had increased to 26,433. That is a very substantial increase, although 1 cannot say whether it is due to the register being more accurately kept. However, there is ample room for steps to be taken to improve the hospital accommodation and to establish what I regard as being of tremendous importance, namely, some arrangements for after-care when the people return to their homes.
We know what happens. For instance, a woman goes to a sanatorium. She knows the conditions in her home. It may be that her husband is unemployed and is dependent on unemployment benefit or the Poor Law. In the sanatorium, the woman cannot forget the hardships of the home, and she returns before she ought to do so. She goes back to the bad housing conditions, and in a very short time she has again to go to the sanatorium. It often happens that a man who is receiving treatment in a sanatorium, knowing what are the conditions in his home, wants to return and try to work before he ought to do so. When people go to the sanatorium, what provisions are 1406 there, under the present law, by which they can get adequate relief? If I understand the position rightly, before they can get adequate relief they must go to the police court and there must be some arrangement by the magistrates for sending them away; and in those circumstances it is possible for the public health committee to give relief. Apart from that they are reduced to the Poor Law level.
That is a condition of things that ought not to be. It is a condition of things that ought not to be imposed by this Government or by any other Government. If a man falls sick with tuberculosis, he ought to be given an opportunity of going to a sanatorium and getting whatever treatment may be necessary to cure him, if he can be cured, and he ought to be relieved of any worry concerning conditions in his home. The same applies to women. But that does not happen at the present time. It has been said that there is a certain reluctance to go to the sanatoria, and the Minister spoke about that. It may be that in the past people were reluctant to go to hospitals and similar institutions, but at present there is a long waiting list all the time. I have the waiting list for Wales for Saturday, 11th March, of this year. There were 335 people waiting, ready and anxious to go into sanatoria for the purpose of getting treatment. The hospital accommodation is not there, and there is no money for providing the necessary facilities. Already the local authorities are burdened with very heavy rates—rates that are higher than in any other parts of the country. Regard must be had to this fact.
I am not sure whether the formula under the block grants could be weighted sufficiently to meet those difficulties. Moreover, if it could be weighted, the richer authorities would complain, as they did on the last occasion, that it amounts practically to taking their money in order to meet the situation in the Special Areas. On the last occasion we were told in the Committee by the local authorities that the proper thing to do was for the Government to provide money from national funds for the purpose of meeting the situation in the Special Areas. I think one could say with a great measure of truth that the whole of Wales is a Special Area at the present time, certainly as far as tuberculosis is concerned. I hope that the Government will take steps to deal 1407 with this problem and will take those steps early. If the Minister sits down under this report and takes no steps whatever are we to allow these people to go on suffering as they are suffering at the present time? Every year 2,500 of them are dying while we know perfectly well that many of those lives could be saved. We know that many of those who are affected with tuberculosis cannot be cured, but it is high time this House took measures to prevent the continuance of the conditions which give rise to tuberculosis and cause it to spread at such a terrific rate.
Imagine the condition of the children in one of these wretched schools which have been described. I went to one of those schools as a boy. It faced north and we never saw the sun. Apparently the builders never thought that the sun could be good for anybody. In the centre of a room nearly as large as this Chamber there was one old stove. If you stood near the stove you were roasted; if you were at a distance from it you were frozen. That school, fortunately, has been removed, because we have a progressive local authority, but many of the old schools, built a long time ago, remain in use to-day. I do not attempt to say that the conditions in my own area are perfect. There is room for a great deal of improvement in housing, in sanitation and in school accommodation. I hope the Government will take steps of a definite character without delay. If it is necessary to examine the problem, let them do so immediately and when they have found what is necessary in order to eradicate this disease from our midst, let them decide at once to take those steps. If the money cannot be provided by the ratepayers in those areas, then it is a liability which the State ought readily to assume.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay)
I am sure that most hon. Members welcome this Welsh day, and I certainly do. As far as my right hon. Friend and I are concerned, the Debate has been a sort of international with two Scottish Members versus a mixed Welsh fifteen, but although Wales beat us this year in the football field, I am glad to think that in this contest there is no winning or losing, because we are both 1408 imbued with the same ideal. None of the speeches in this Debate has been delivered with a party accent, or if that accent entered into any of them, it was very difficult to detect. This is the report of a committee which started by being an inquiry into certain arrangements dealing with the prevention, treatment and aftercare of tuberculosis, and, as far as I am concerned, it has finished up by being a searchlight on the whole of Welsh local government and administration. The investigators have seen fit to comment even upon the school curriculum and the qualifications of Directors of Education and, for my part, I do not complain. I think the report is cheap at the price of £1,400, and I think it is a very disturbing report, although it is also a very challenging report. Taken in its proper perspective, I think that, as far as the schools are concerned, it underlines the whole of the present policy of the Board of Education, and at a time when our minds are so filled, as they are inevitably at the moment, with foreign affairs, it is an extremely wholesome thing that we should reconsider the condition of our own people.
Hon. Members opposite have asked for a Royal Commission, for a Secretary of State, and for many other fundamental reforms. Although this report started by being an inquiry into a specific though a very dangerous disease, it spread itself very widely, and inevitably the Debate has spread itself also very widely, but I think it is unreasonable to expect my right hon. Friend—after all, the report is only recently out—to come to an immediate decision on the precise steps that he is going to take. Nor do I think he could do it, and he certainly could not, in this Debate, anticipate legislation, although that may be only a debating point. What he did was to show very great sympathy as far as the various points that were raised were concerned, point by point; he did suggest, as must happen, consultation with the local authorities. I should like to congratulate, on some very constructive suggestions, particularly the last speaker, whose comments on the Highlands and Islands medical service indicated some possible reforms in Welsh local government. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans), whose speech was the only one I did not hear, was, I believe, speaking with some con- 1409 demnation of the present machinery, but, I think it is well to remember that things have been happening, that even in this last year the new Rural Housing Act and the Agriculture Act dealing with veterinary services have been measures of progress. The hon. Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins) came down on old age pensions, and the hon. Lady the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) on the very interesting topic of extending insurance to the dependants of those who are insured. All that is important, and the House cannot expect me to discuss it in reply to this Debate.
I wish to refer almost entirely to the schools. In 20 pages in the middle of the report it is impossible to do very much justice to the school population, and I think the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) knows that very well. He has referred to certain deficiencies, but on further analysis he will have to admit that that is only half the story. All that I want to do is to put some of his points in perspective. You might imagine, from some of the speeches, that the whole of Welsh education, which is a very fine and ancient institution, was filled with schools which had impossible conditions, no lavatories, and the rest of it. The position is this, that there are 1,909 public elementary schools in Wales, and the great majority of them are in satisfactory premises. Some of the new senior schools are; models of their kind, and I wish there were more of them, but there is still a number of schools which fall below modern standards. I will give exact figures. There were in 1925, when the survey was made, 268 on the Black List, and they were classified A, B, and C. A were hopeless, B required substantial improvements, and C were those which required some improvement.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I cannot give the figure off-hand. Our policy, as declared by the previous President of the Board of Education six months ago, was to clear off the remaining schools on the Black List within the next two years. There were 81 in Class A, 151 in Class B, and 36 in Class C. Since that time 54 have been removed from Class A, 78 from Class B, and 22 from Class C. That still leaves us with 114, and proposals for dealing with 45 of these are under ay. That leaves 69 to be dealt with.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I have not been able to get in the short time available the exact number, but there are in the counties of Wales 549 voluntary schools. Generally speaking, there is a greater difficulty with the voluntary schools. I will give a concrete example in a few minutes. Out of 1,909 schools in Wales there are 69 Black List cases which have not yet been dealt with, which is 3.6 per cent. of the total number of schools in Wales. Let me give a generous figure and make it 5 percent., for perhaps on modern standards there would be more; schools on the Black List, though, of course, the number of pupils in them has been steadily declining. The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) urged me to visit Wales. She knows that my plans were all prepared to visit not only Anglesey and Criccieth, but many other places, but they had to be postponed owing to the crisis in September. I happen to be spending part of the Easter Recess in Wales, so that that will be remedied. The hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin) referred to three specific schools—
§ Mr. Lindsay
I cannot go into the details of all of them now, but I will let the hon. Member know. In one case I have a report which says:Premises unfit for continued use. New senior council school required for the area with transfer of juniors and infants to neighbouring schools. H.M.I, states that ventilation of cloakrooms should be improved. Managers disagree. Case discussed between board and authority and noted for two months
§ Mr. Hopkin
The school to which the hon. Gentleman is referring has been on the condemned list for 14 years at least, and more likely for 30 years.
§ Mr. Lindsay
The hon. Member cannot say that. I have already said that in 1925, when the survey was made, 268 schools were on the list. I have said that all but 114 have already been dealt with, and that plans are under way for dealing with 45 others. Therefore, there must have been some progress. There is nothing new about this question in Wales or anywhere else. I will give a case in point to illustrate the difficulties. This 1411 is the sort of letter we receive after repeated inquiries have been made; it is from a certain authority in Wales drawing attention to a passage in a letter from the Board stating they would be prepared to approve certain improvements "subject to an assurance that the managers have the necessary funds available" This letter stated:The managers maintain that the Board have grossly exceeded their province in addressing the underlined portion of the passage to them as a body of responsible men; and they are determined to pursue this matter further by requesting a Member of Parliament to ask a question respecting it in the House of Commons at the earliest possible opportunityI do not know whether my hon. Friend wants a complete dictatorship. If he wants a dictatorship, wants to destroy local government, he can have it. Time after time during the last year I have had blacklisted authorities—and I am not talking of Wales—in my room at the Board of Education. Unless you are going to penalise them, as has happened at Liverpool, unless you are going to withdraw grant and face the consequences, there is no alternative but to use your powers of persuasion, by speeches and visiting the authorities, as my Noble Friend and I have been doing every week during the last two years. It is easy for hon. Members to stand up here and say, "What a scandal it is that for 20 or 30 years schools have been in this condition." Of course, there have been such schools. There are parts of England where no school has been built for 40 years—there is nothing new about it—in the North Riding of Yorkshire, in Cumberland. The other day I was in West Sussex, having a 3d. meal at a new school.
§ Mr. Lindsay
The point is that this school is not in Wales, but in what is supposed to be a richer county—West Sussex. At this new senior school we had an excellent 3d. meal—cut off the joint with two vegetables, sweets and the rest —and yet within two miles of it there was a little school with all the conditions that 1412 have been detailed in the case of schools in Wales. There were little children walking two or three miles to that school. I opened their little papers or cardboard boxes and saw the slices of bread with an apology for margarine between. That is going on not only in Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire, but in other parts of this country. It is going on in the black spots. What is wrong is to get things out of perspective, and that is why I have tried to put this question of premises in perspective.
But we are not at such a great distance from completing reorganisation. That is the only answer; it is the only reason why certain schools are not closed or radically altered in Wales. It is not such an easy matter to remove a school from the grant list. A time-limit is sometimes fixed. That has been done in several cases recently. It is the effort made to urge the authority to "get a move on." But one has to remember that there is an obligation on the authority to provide alternative accommodation, and if they cannot replace the condemned school it is a very serious thing for the children. I see that the report says that it would be even better for the children to stay at home. I have my doubts about that. It is obviously only a short-term policy. But I welcome this report because, if interpreted rightly, it is the biggest single advertisement for reorganisation that we have had. My efforts in going about the country are nothing compared with a glaring report like this, if the lesson of it is learned, because there is no single question so far as schools are concerned raised by this report which would not be remedied by reorganisation.
I notice the hon. and gallant Member for Carnarvonshire (Major Owen), and I hope he will, at any rate, follow me, if he does not agree with me. In Devonshire or Leicestershire, where rural reorganisation is far advanced, none of these problems exist. All the problems of heating, water supply, lavatory facilities, playgrounds, transport facilities, mid-day meals, instruction in domestic science and gardening—all are solved. I am not saying that education is perfect, but all those questions are solved. We have been expressing our ideas about them in circulars and pamphlets for the last 20 years. In view of this report I am a little tired of being told that we are breaking up village life. If this is 1413 the village life that is to be broken up, I am not sure that it would not be better to have it broken up in some places, but next Tuesday I am going to show a film in the House of Commons depicting rural senior schools in Devonshire, and I give a special invitation to all the Welsh Members to come to see it. What it does illustrate is that in an area where great advance has been made in the last 15 years, none of those problems is to be found, and that there is a real attempt to reconstruct the things which used to happen in the homes and which now, I am afraid, have got to happen in the schools.
I should like to make one very general comment on the curriculum in Welsh schools. I have a great admiration for what Wales has done. They have been pioneers in secondary education. They have produced many teachers and many preachers and they have produced a very lively, artistic and musical population; but I believe that has been done at the cost of elementary and practical education. That, at any rate, is my conviction, from what I have seen of Wales, and it is to some extent true of the whole of our educational system. The Spens Report says that our education system is out of step with the structure of society and with the economic needs of the day. That is the whole basis of those 500 pages of the Spens report. In the old days, in spite of what the hon. Lady the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) says —and I am sorry she measured my interest in the schools by the colour of my cheeks during the Debate—that the old folk lore and the old home lore is gone. I have been brought up in the country, and I remember the days when people did cook at home. I do not say that there is no cooking going on anywhere in the country, or in Wales, but in large districts in England such as parts of Yorkshire, the old days of home-cooking are gone and the day of the peripatetic grocer has come in. The old stockpot is not there. [Laughter.] The hon. Lady may laugh, but I have been brought up in that sort of atmosphere. It has gone, and the result is that you have to reproduce it in the schools.
In spite of what was said by the hon. and learned Member, one cannot expect to be right and wise on everything in a report which covers so much ground, 1414 but it is broadly true that the old approach is gone; similarly with gardening and rural science. I am engaged at the present moment with the Ministry of Agriculture in trying to work out a connected scheme of rural education which will give all schools in the countryside a rural colour and lead up to a proper vocational training, using the farming institutes, young farmers' clubs and possibly the new type of secondary school. Up to the present in this country or in Wales there has been no education of that kind in the countryside. I was very interested to see that in Carmarthenshire they are thinking of constructing a junior technical agricultural school, and when I was there I went out of my way from Swansea to encourage them. I spent at least five minutes of my speech in encouraging them to go ahead on those lines, because it is pioneering. It is interesting that those experiments are going on, and we in the Board of Education hope to publish before long an up-to-date report showing the progress which has been made in that direction.
By and large, all the statements in this report of the difficulties which the schools are facing in Wales would be solved by proper reorganisation. I do not underestimate the difficulties in rural areas. There are difficulties of transport, and difficulties with the voluntary schools, but if Leicestershire and Devonshire can do it, others can. It is a little bit too much to talk about low-rated areas. The product of a penny rate does not give such a fair impression as that figure divided by the number of children in average attendance, which I will give for various areas. It is 2s. 3d. in Anglesey, 2s. 5d. in Cardiganshire, Is. 6d. in Carmarthenshire, and Is. rod. in Pembrokeshire. Then, if you turn to England, you find that in Staffordshire it is 2s. 7d.; Suffolk West, 2s. 6d.; Cumberland, 2s. 5d.; Huntingdon, 2s. 4d.; and Lincolnshire (Holland) Is. 8d. The only thing I can say is that on the whole these are the counties in England which have made least progress in reorganisation.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that there are other obligations, such as public assistance, which weigh very heavily on Wales.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I am not doubting it for a moment. In Wales there are several 1415 factors which make it difficult—heavy unemployment, remoteness, and certain other factors. But still from the point of view of education there are very similar difficulties in the poorer parts of England.
There is one further point that is referred to in the report. The hon. Member for Neath, who has done such good work for education, was, I think, just a little unfair in his criticism. He said that we allowed the laggard authorities to go scot-free. I have a volume of letters here dealing with recalcitrant authorities. He is a very old and experienced member of a local authority, and I can assure him that we are dealing with them, and have taken up the question of solid meals with Glamorgan. These are the figures, which are very eloquent. In 1927–28 only 2,800 public elementary school children in Wales received free solid meals or milk. In 1937–38, 14,500 received free solid meals, and 68,500 free milk—in all 28 times as many children. In 1927–28, eight Welsh local education authorities exercised their powers in this respect. Now the number is 27 out of 30, including all the urban areas and 10 of the 13 counties. But the most significant figures are these. In 1927–28 the expenditure of Welsh local education authorities on these services was £7,000; in 1939-40 it is estimated that it will be £120,000. In the face of these figures nobody can say that very considerable progress is not being made. In the Estimates which I shall have to introduce shortly the figures for England and Wales of expenditure on meals and milk show an increase of £250,000. I do not think we ought to ignore what has been done, when we are facing the very real difficulties that exist.
There is one question which has been raised by several hon. Members, and I will be very frank and admit that I do not know what the answer is. When you have had a question and answer in the House and you have said to an hon. Member opposite that you hope that the facts that you have given will have publicity in the country; and when you have had deputations and have met the local authority in your room and made speeches at them; and finally threatened to withdraw grant, there comes a point in the relations between central and local government where somebody has to think out a new weapon. I am not quite sure what it is at the present moment. But 1416 I can tell the House that, in spite of the general improvement I have mentioned, the counties of Cardigan, Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire do not yet give free milk. I have here copies of letters sent by the Board of Education urging them to do so, and I have no doubt that in due course they will take the necessary steps.
The directors of education have been referred to. The hon. Member for Carmarthenshire says that there are areas with directors of education who are getting very old. One of the reasons why nothing has happened in some places for 30 or 40 years is because of a rather old-fashioned approach by an old-fashioned director of education. He has pot used to his job, and has gone on.
With regard to milk, the county medical officer, as hon. Members know, has to certify the milk, but there are places where both pasteurised milk and T.T. milk are unobtainable; and, moreover, the question of price is sometimes a real difficulty. As the hon. Lady opposite knows in Anglesey the children pay 1d. instead of ½d. for a third of a pint, and the county feeds 2,000 children free at that double price. That is a very real problem, due to the fact that the milk is T.T. milk. Where that is insisted upon, there is no way out. In the county of Cardigan, where the local authority has been so remiss, a voluntary effort has been made, as stated in the report, worked by a number of people. I do not think that that is the way to provide meals for children. I am very glad that the people have had the initiative to do it, but I hope the local education authority will themselves take over that work.
As my right hon. Friend has said, one real difficulty is the distribution margin in remote rural areas. I can only hope that the Milk Marketing Board's regional officers, who are very ready to give assistance, will help the various local authorities to overcome this problem of remoteness. But I will say, in spite of what the hon. Lady says, and in spite of the adjective "callous," which she repeated from the report, and which, naturally, I had noticed—it is rather a strong adjective—that where there is neither T.T. nor pasteurised milk obtainable, the value of milk is so great that the children will on balance be in more danger of tuberculous infection if they are debarred from. 1417 taking milk than if they take the risk and drink ungraded milk. I make that statement because there is a real problem in these districts. Moreover, it is to be remembered that any milk which the children get at home in such places will also be ungraded.
§ Dr. Summerskill
In view of the fact that the hon. Gentleman has no qualification at all to make a statement of that kind, I think that for the Press to repeat it is highly dangerous.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Perhaps the hon. Lady will know that I would not stand at this Box and make a statement on a question of a highly technical nature without authority.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I thought the hon. Member would see the point. It was a quick point, but I am quoting from my Department. I hope that is quite clear.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Does the hon. Gentleman wish to convey to the House that he is making that statement on the authority of his own medical officers.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Quite definitely, and there are thousands of people who will agree with it. I said that this report was a searchlight on the working of local government, but I think it is also a candid comment on the working of our whole democratic machinery. I must confess to a certain impatience at the slow working, very often, of local government in relation to the central government. I have felt it in my own Department. But I think that what above all is very difficult to justify is the quite unwarrantable difference of treatment or of opportunity for a child because of the geographical incidence of his residence. It is not for me to-night to think out far-reaching remedies; the most I can do is to appeal 1418 to civic pride in the local authorities, and to hope that the same spirit will be shown in Wales as was shown 100 years ago. A report was written nearly 100 years ago condemning things in Wales far more roundly than is done in this report. As a result of that, in 1889 a whole system of education was instituted, including secondary schools and the rest. I think it is not impossible that from this report there will emerge a new awakening of civic pride in Wales, a new relationship between my own Department and Wales, and a very real improvement in those matters which have been the subject of this Debate. The more I look at it, the more I think that what we are discussing is the condition of the people. This Debate may, I think, serve to bring the people of Wales back to a reconsideration of the fundamental problems that lie at the root of it.
§ 11.1 p.m.
§ Mr. George Griffiths
I mean to have a say in this Debate, because I happen to have been born in Wales, and I have been interested in it from then until now. Not only the people in Wales are interested in this document, but also the Welsh people living outside Wales. The Parliamentary Secretary seemed too cocksure about his Department. I am glad that at the finish he cooled down a bit. He said that there were only 114 schools on the black list. But surely it is the business of the Board of Education to get the whole lot off. If there is one black-listed school it means ill health for the children there. The hon. Member said, "Do you want complete dictatorship? If so, you can have it." I did not think we had got into Germany yet. We do not want dictatorship, but we want the Board of Education to round these people up if they need it. The hon. Member said he would like to instil more civic pride into local authorities. It is not civic pride they want, but the money to help them to do the job. The hon. Member said, "I was fed on untested milk." He looks well on it. I was fed on no milk at all, except a little on Sundays in my tea. That is why I look so bad.
The hon. Member talked about cooking in Yorkshire and other places. I do not know whether he goes into the working class homes. When he goes to Yorkshire he goes to a bean feast. He goes into a school and everybody waits on him, but 1419 has he ever been in the miners' homes in Yorkshire? They can cook there, and they can cook in Wales. My mother was one of the best women ever born, and she could cook with the best, but there were times when she could not cook, because the money was not coming in to buy the things for cooking. It is a libel on the working classes to say that they do not cook now as they used to cook. Our people cook in Yorkshire, and I believe they do in Wales. I am not going to sit silent in this House and listen to anybody on the benches opposite or anywhere else libel our people as far as cooking is concerned. They can do the cooking all right when they have the cash with which to do it.
I want to speak on the section of the report dealing with education. The Parliamentary Secretary skimmed it over pretty well to-night. I am referring to the recommendations brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). The Parliamentary Secretary seemed to belittle the report. He said that the hon. and learned. Gentleman did not know it all. I do not think that he knows it all, but I think he knows a good deal about it. He was bred, born and educated in Wales and if he does not know anything about Wales, I do not know who does. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary does.
§ Mr. Lindsay
The hon. Member will remember that the remarks about the cooking with which he disagrees were made by the hon. and learned Member, so that the hon. Member cannot have it all ways.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I agree, and I am coming to that in a minute. If the Parliamentary Secretary will read his words in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see that he was making an attempt to upbraid the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery. There are some damning indictments in this report. It says,Little, if any, reorganisation has so far taken place in the rural areasFor what are we paying the Board of Education if they do not see to this job? It is their business. They are the heads of the Department and must insist that reorganisation comes about. The report further says:There still exists in Wales a number of old schools, badly constructed, dark, ill- 1420 ventilated, badly or insufficiently heated, with inadequate water supply, if any at all, primitive and most objectionable sanitary arrangements, or insufficient sanitary accommodation, no facilities for drying clothes, no facilities for feeding the children, and poor or insufficient playgroundsWhen I read this I thought to myself that conditions were not as good as they were when I went to school in North Wales 55 years ago. There is another passage in the report which says,A number of medical officers of health drew attention to the importance of warmth and an even temperature in the schools, and particularly to the importance of dry clothes, boots and shoes. They told us that the child runs grave risks When sitting for long hours in damp clothes and damp shoesMany of these children have a long way to go. In one instance, the report states, a child had to walk four miles each way—eight miles a day. Eight multiplied by five makes 40; that child had to walk 40 miles a week to school, and there were no facilities for conveyance. The one thing that brought a kind of pride into my own mind and soul, and a certain amount of shame also, was that the people themeslves went short of food so that the children should have a meal at school. When children have to travel distances like this to school, there should be a meal prepared for them without their having to pay for it. The child takes a snack in a piece of paper or a satchel and there is nowhere to warm it. There is nowhere to have a drink of warm milk or tea. How do you expect them to stand against the Germans? There is an old adage that the child is father to the man. If you do not put a foundation into the child there will be no man when it grows up. The Committee do not think there should be any homework for the children. Neither do I. When they have been at school all day and arrive home at about five o'clock, that is enough for the day. I have been very pleased to sit through this discussion all day and I thank the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery for being so definite. I was very pleased to see, as he went from town to town, that he took no whitewash brush with him. He put blunt questions to all who came in front of him. I was patiently waiting for the report and I trust that some good will come out of it from local authorities, from the Minister of Health, from the Board of Education and from us, all of us doing our best for Wales and for other parts of the country also.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.