HC Deb 24 January 1940 vol 356 cc583-6
60. Mr. Leonard

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, pending the report of the special committee considering the effect of rationing upon the balance of foods required by diabetics and other invalids, he will issue instructions authorising the supply of rationed food to such sufferers, in quality and quantity to meet their needs, as certified by their medical advisers?

62. Mr. Leach

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he is aware of the anxiety of diabetics and other invalids on account of the prolonged failure of his Department to issue the promised regulations on their behalf; and whether he can now state when they will be issued?

63. Mr. Burke

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what arrangements he proposes to make to enable persons suffering from diabetes to obtain the extra rations of butter, bacon and meat which their diet sheets prescribe for them?

64. Mr. Lipson

asked the Chancelllor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will allow a supplementary butter ration to persons suffering from certain specified diseases, and whose medically-prescribed diet does not permit them to take other foods in place of butter?

75. Mr. White

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he is now in a position to announce a decision with regard to the granting of allowances supplementary to the normal food rations in the cases of certain illnesses?

Mr. W. S. Morrison

It will be within the recollection of the House that at the request of my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, and of myself, the Medical Research Council have appointed an expert committee to advise from time to time whether it is necessary on medical grounds to modify or supplement rations in the case of invalids and other persons on special diets. I understand that the committee have now concluded the first phase of their inquiry. Their report is not yet available. I am, however, already aware of the decision which the committee have reached on the question of supplementary allowances of butter for invalids, and in view of the widespread interest which is felt on this subject, I should communicate to the House the information which has been placed at my disposal. It is to the effect that provided adequate supplies of vitaminised margarine are available, the committee do not consider that the present rationing regulations necessitate provision of extra rations of any food for cases of diabetes mellitus or of any other diseases. In view of this authoritative pronouncement, there are no grounds for the issue of such supplementary allowances at the present time.

Mr. Leonard

Is the Minister aware that the dietary of these sufferers is already based upon expert investigation and opinion; and if the report to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, in any way deals with alternatives for these supplies, will he bear in mind that alternatives which might be suitable for application in hospital, might be entirely unsuitable in domestic circumstances?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that all these factors were taken into consideration by the committee of the Medical Research Council which investigated the matter and I would ask the hon. Member to wait until I get the full report, when, perhaps, I can go into the question in greater detail.

Mr. George Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that for over 15 years the medical profession in this country has repeatedly stated that butter is necessary as a diet for diabetics and that a number of diabetics have written to practically all Members in this House and to the Minister on this subject? The Minister's post-bag on this question must be bigger than on anything else, and will he sec that these people get the butter—never mind margarine?

Mr. Morrison

It is clear that this matter must be decided by me upon the best medical advice I can get. An alteration in a scheme which applies generally over the whole country must be justified on medical grounds if it is to be made. I have taken every step I can to secure the highest medical authority on the subject.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry P. Croft

If a diabetic is precluded under medical advice from using his supply of sugar and bacon, surely in those circumstances there will be an extra supply of butter?

Mr. Morrison

Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will wait until I have received the full report when I can deal with these matters.

Mr. G. Griffiths

Why has the Minister delayed the appointment of this committee for so long, after having made a definite statement in this House on 1st November that diabetics would have consideration?

Mr. Morrison

I promised consideration and it was at once considered. I received medical advice from one source, a departmental source, but not being satisfied to leave the matter at that, I appealed, in conjunction with my right hon. Friends, to this the highest medical authority in the land so that I might be assured that no injustice would be done to these invalids. I think that in view of the importance of this matter, it was well worth spending time to have it thoroughly investigated.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

We cannot have a Debate upon the subject now.