§ 30. Mr. Buchanan
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has considered the Report of the committee presided over by Sir John Boyd Orr dealing with child mortality; and what action it is proposed to take.
Yes, Sir. On the day of publication, I invited the associations of local authorities and other interested bodies to consider the report with a view to discussions which I propose to open immediately. I may add that preliminary estimates indicate that the infant mortality rate, while still unsatisfactory, is likely to be lower in 1943 than it has ever been in Scotland.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Am I to understand that this is a reason for not discussing this report, which discloses a most ghastly situation; and is it a fact that the Minister consulted with only one or two authorities?
Not one or two authorities. As I said, I have invited the associations of local authorities, which covers them all, to consider the report, and, as the hon. Member is aware, there are many matters of great variety in which I hope to stimulate activity.
§ Mrs. Hardie
Will the Minister press on local authorities to proceed immediately to provide maternity accommodation, in view of the shocking housing conditions that exist?
§ Mr. Buchanan
Is the Minister aware that, if this report applied to some other country, this whole House would be shocked at the terrible state of affairs disclosed, but because it is about a part of Scotland, where this has always been known, it is ignored?
The report is not being ignored. It was published as early as possible, and I drew the attention of the associations of local authorities to it on the day of publication. Arrangements are now being made for active preparation for remedial action as far as possible.
§ Sir R. W. Smith
In a very short time, we shall be having a Supply Day, and it will be perfectly appropriate to raise this question on the Minister's salary. May I ask the Minister however if he will see that we have a whole day in this House to deal 1120 with this question, not merely a general Supply Day, on which other subjects can be discussed, as this is a serious matter?
§ Mr. Sloan
Is the Minister aware that the vital statistics and all material evidence have been at the disposal of his Office during his whole term of office; and is there any guarantee that he will take any more active measures now, than he has done in all the past years when he had the matter under control?
§ Dr. Edith Summerskill
Is the Minister aware that this is one of the few civilised countries in the world where no provision is made for the expectant mother in industry, and that she is worn-out even before her confinement?