HC Deb 16 July 1941 vol 373 cc587-8
28. Dr. Morgan

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies why the medical secretary of a British organisation has been invited to accept a position temporarily of medical superintendent of the leper colony in Trinidad, especially in view of the fact that adequately qualified and experienced medical men suitable for this appointment were available from the ranks of local medical officers; what are the terms, tenure, salary, etc., of this temporary post; and whether the conditions in this leper colony have been improved in recent months to the satisfaction of the nuns who nurse and care for the diseased inmates?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. George Hall)

The Government of Trinidad have been fortunate to secure the services for a period of 18 months of Dr. Edwin Muir, Secretary of the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association, no local candidate of comparable qualifications being available. In addition to his work in Trinidad, it is hoped that Dr. Muir may be able to conduct a survey of leprosy work in neighbouring Colonies, as he has done in East and West Africa, and that he will be able to train a successor against his departure. His emoluments are at the rate of £700 a year, with £150 a year travelling allowance, and free passages. No report has as yet been received regarding the leper colony in Trinidad since Dr. Muir's arrival, but my Noble Friend has every confidence that nothing but good can come not only to Trinidad but to neighbouring Colonies from the temporary appointment of this very eminent scientist.

Sir Francis Fremantle

Was not this appointment decided upon as being best, both in the interests of the Colony and in the interests of the campaign against leprosy throughout the British Empire?

Mr. Riley

While not questioning the wisdom of the appointment referred to, may I ask whether inquiries were made in Trinidad to find out whether some suitably qualified person was available for this position? Will the Minister bear hi mind how much the local population are disturbed when such appointments are made, unless there is clear evidence that no local ability is available?

Dr. Morgan

Having regard to the very special nature of the appointment and the special character of the person appointed, would it not be better to appoint him under the Welfare Fund, rather than through this particular institution which is really local and for which there are admirable candidates in the Colony?

Mr. Hall

My Noble Friend considers that we are fortunate; in securing the services of such an eminent person. While it is true there are persons qualified in Trinidad, the fact remains that no one is so well qualified as Dr. Muir.

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