HC Deb 24 January 1949 vol 460 cc561-3
55. Mr. Austin

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will give details of organisations undertaking research work on cancer, detailing the respective financial expenditure per annum.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Research on cancer forms an important part of the programme of the Medical Research Council, and, approximately, £145,000 from public funds are being spent upon it by the Council in the current financial year. This sum includes capital expenditure on new forms of radiation apparatus of a costly kind, and on special buildings to house it. Large sums on cancer treatment and research and spent also by the Ministry of Health and by certain hospitals. The principal non-official organisations supporting cancer research in this country are the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the British Empire Cancer Campaign. Details of expenditure by these bodies are given in their reports.

Mr. Austin

In view of the increased incidence of this dreadful scourge and the toll of lives which it takes every day, does not my right hon. Friend agree that a sum of £145,000, plus the additions he mentions, is really trivial in relation to the problem, and will he not now give serious consideration to increasing the amount of money available for research on this disease?

Mr. Morrison

If I may say so, one of the functions of Parliament is to protect the taxpayer and the public expenditure. I assure my hon. Friend that if schemes were put to me whereby probable improvement in our knowledge of cancer could be obtained by spending more money, I would look at them with favour, but I am not going to spend more money for the sake of spending it unless I can see that probably good results will come out of it.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

Is it not a fact that, as regards cancer research, the total amount contributed by voluntary organisations is much greater than the £145,000 contributed by the Government?

Mr. Morrison

I do not know, but it may well be so, and that should be taken into account.

Mr. J. Lewis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the answer he gave to my hon. Friend regarding cancer research is precisely the same as the answer he gave me when I raised the question of the common cold, and will he continue to bear in mind that one cannot tell the result of scientific research until the money has been spent?

Mr. Morrison

It is quite likely that the answer is the same, and the answer will continue to be the same for similar questions.