HC Deb 27 May 1957 vol 571 cc21-2
31. Mr. W. Griffiths

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that in 1956, in the City of Manchester, deaths of infants under the age of one year increased in number for the first time in ten years; and what information he has as to the causes of this.

Mr. Vosper

I am aware of the small increase to which the hon. Member refers. As, however, the figures for related live births are still only provisional, the 1956 infant mortality rate cannot yet be determined, and it would be premature to look for causes.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the Minister aware that the Medical Officer of Health of the City of Manchester—who, after all, is on the spot—is of the opinion that this deplorable trend is due to shortage of ante-natal and obstetric beds and to bad housing? On the first point, is he aware that there is not the slightest chance of improving that position if he carries on cutting the financial allocations to regional hospital beds? On the second point, will he lend the support to his Department to the plea of the City of Manchester that some decision he taken by the Government about land for Manchester's housing programme?

Mr. Vosper

As the hon. Gentleman probably knows, every year for the last five years the figure for the infantile death rate in Manchester has shown a decrease, from 37 in 1950 to 28 in 1955. Should there be an increase such as the hon. Member has in mind, it will be an increase of only one point—still a great improvement. I do not think there is cause for undue alarm.