HC Deb 06 February 1956 vol 548 cc1344-6
64. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the number of notifications for dysentery in 1954 has reached the highest total ever recorded; whether he will provide an approximate estimate of the figures for 1955; what steps he is taking to investigate the reasons for this high incidence; and how the disease may be prevented.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

Yes, Sir, and my right hon. Friend regrets that the figures for 1955 showed a further increase, approximately 37,500 cases having been notified. A special committee of the Public Health Laboratory Service is collaborating with medical officers of health in investigating the high incidence. Good personal and environmental hygiene provide the best available means of prevention.

Mr. Hastings

As the figures which the hon. Lady has given show the increasing seriousness of this matter, will she do her best to hurry those engaged in this valuable research, and perhaps bring into the scheme other bodies besides the two which she has mentioned?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I quite appreciate what the hon. Member has said, but investigations have proved that the trouble caused is not so much by bodies whom one can regulate as by the conduct and hygiene of individuals, who do not come under any particular control. We shall certainly do our best to bring this to the public notice and to increase education in personal hygiene, but investigations show that it is not, for example, food handlers who are so much to blame as individuals not directly under any authority.