HC Deb 20 November 1947 vol 444 cc1329-30
47. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Lord President of the Council what was the total grant made from Government funds for the purpose of cancer research in each of the last 20 years; and in what form it is proposed to continue these grants after the Public Health Act, 1947, comes into operation.

Mr. H. Morrison

Expenditure on cancer research from the Parliamentary grant-in-aid for the work of the Medical Research Council has been at the rate of approximately £6,000 per annum during the greater part of the period mentioned, this provision being, of course, supplementary to the much larger expenditure from the endowments and other resources of unofficial organisations concerned with this particular field. Expenditure from the same source in the financial year 1946–47 was about £12,000, and expenditure in the present financial year is estimated at £31,000 (including £14,000 of a non-recurrent nature). Substantial additional expenditure in the future has been approved for research on applications of atomic physics to the treatment of cancer. These activities are not affected by the National Health Service Act, 1946.

Mr. Freeman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the whole of this period there has been a steady increase of deaths from cancer? Is he satisfied that the method of allocating a very large sum of money is the most satisfactory?

Mr. Morrison

It is the best we can do. As far as I know, everything is being done. I share my hon. Friend's disappointment that we have not solved this problem, and if any hon. Member or anybody else has suggestions to make whereby improved methods of research might be conducted, I will be prepared to consider them.

Mr. Somerville Hastings

Is the sum mentioned sufficient for the legitimate demands of those who are engaged in this research?

Mr. Morrison

I think so, in the light of the useful activities which can be conducted. My hon. Friend, whose interest in the matter I appreciate, will realise that very considerable sums are being spent elsewhere in the field of research, under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, hospitals, and what not. I do not think there is any difficulty about money, but I would be prepared to consider further developments if useful avenues of research were available to us.

Earl Winterton

In view of the implied criticism in the Question about this fund and the way the money is spent, may I ask hon. Members who are interested whether they are aware that, in the opinion of laymen, of hospital authorities, and of the highest members of the medical profession, this money is being admirably spent?

Mr. Morrison

That was my impression, and I am much obliged for what the noble Lord has said. It is certainly no good looking at a sum of money and merely asking whether it is enough. That question must be decided in relation to the good purposes for which the money can be spent.

Dr. Morgan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that for some years there has been a substance called H.11 which has been used in private research work and upon which a considerable amount of money has been spent? Will he now ask the Medical Research Council to review the whole subject of this particular substance, and to see whether they can get it produced at considerably less cost?

Mr. Morrison

Perhaps my hon. Friend will let me have particulars about it and I will make the necessary inquiries.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

May I say that I was a member of the Medical Research Council and that the difficulty is not money but men—research experts? As for the point raised by hon. Members opposite, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he realises that the Medical Research Council know all about H.11?

Mr. Morrison

I am prepared to consider representations from both sides.

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