HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 cc1058-9
37. Mr. John Hall

asked the Minister of Health what percentage of tuberculosis patients undergoing treatment in this country are immigrants.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

I regret that this information is not available.

Mr. Hall

Is it not a fact that this is the only country in the Commonwealth that does not demand a certificate of good health from immigrants? Would it not be helpful, possibly for both the medical services and the health of this country, if we adopted a similar regulation?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

As my hon. Friend is aware, there was an investigation in 1954 when the present Minister of Labour and National Service announced that the Standing Tuberculosis Advisory Committee had advised that the position did not indicate a serious menace to the health of the country. There is no evidence that the incidence of tuberculosis is particularly high among the latest groups of immigrants who have been arriving, mainly from the West Indies, whose services we very much need.

Dr. Summerskill

In view of the fact that we attach great importance to mass radiography for the detection of tuberculosis, why does the Ministry refuse to X-ray these immigrants who live in overcrowded conditions in this country when they arrive?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The whole of this problem, including the very point raised by the right hon. Lady, was investigated by the Standing Advisory Committee, which advised against such a procedure as recently as 1954.

Mr. Paget

Is the hon. Lady aware of the terrible hopelessness in displaced persons camps of people with a tuberculosis scar whom nobody will accept? Is it not something of which to be rather proud that we in this country have given homes to some of these people?