HC Deb 21 December 1954 vol 535 cc2589-90
44. Brigadier Medlicott

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works as representing the Lord President of the Council, what research is taking place into the possible effect of petrol fumes as a cause of cancer of the lung.

Mr. Bevins

The Medical Research Council are undertaking an extensive programme of work on the effects of atmospheric pollution on health. Research on the possibility of engine exhaust fumes being a factor in causing lung cancer forms part of this programme.

Brigadier Medlicott

Is the Minister aware that the incidence of this form of cancer coincides at least as much with the increased use of petrol as with the increased use of tobacco, and that this might be a helpful line of inquiry to be followed in relation to this baffling and terrible disease?

Mr. Bevins

That may be so, but the fact remains that so far there is no established connection between the two.

Dr. Stross

Has the Minister noticed that in his Report for 1953, recently published, the Chief Medical Officer speaks of the march of this disease as being inexorable and mysterious, and points out that last year 1,000 more people died from cancer of the lung as compared with 1952? Can the Minister explain to us why the word "mysterious" is still used when his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health in February was quite explicit that there was an obvious association between excessive cigarette smoking and cancer of the lung?

Mr. Bevins

Yes, the Report has been brought to the attention of my noble Friend. I think that that particular expression may have been rather unfortunate.