HC Deb 14 July 1958 vol 591 cc813-5
17. Mr. Gresham Cooke

asked the Minister of Health what evaluation he has made of the report, a copy of which has been sent to him, prepared by Mr. Percy Stocks of the British Empire Campaign Council on cancer; with what result; and if he will arrange for its findings to be studied within the National Health Service.

18. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Health what consideration he has given to the researches of Dr. Percy Stocks into the causation of cancer, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Govan; and what steps he proposes to take to have the conclusions of Dr. Stocks studied further.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner), on 7th July.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

While appreciating that reply, and while appreciating that this is an excellent report, no doubt, for specialists on the subject of cancer, I should like to draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member should ask a question if he has one to ask.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

May I draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Would my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind that this report has received very wide publicity and needs some evaluation from the point of view of the public, because from Press reports it appears that one can get cancer not only from cigarette smoking and pipe smoking, but also through eating fried foods, frequent beer drinking, living near igneous rocks, having organic carbon in the garden, and early marriage?

Mr. Rankin

As I do not know the terms of the reply given on 7th July, may I ask if the Minister will use his influence to see that when the results of the work of this distinguished scientist are made public they are not expressed in terms which cause alarm in the public mind? Does he realise that one of the things now supposed to be predisposing factors in the cause of cancer is the eating of fish and chips, and that fact can cause widespread depression throughout the country?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Dr. Stocks' report, which is an exceptionally detailed and interesting one, is one of a number of studies on this subject. It is primarily of interest, of course—and intended to be—for research workers in this field, but I shall study his findings with great interest. As to the specific matters mentioned by my hon. Friend and the hon. Member opposite, further research is needed before any action on presumed connection between cancer and any of the factors other than smoking would be required.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

The Minister has referred to smoking. Will he tell the House what further steps he proposes to take to discourage what evidently is a very dangerous habit among young people, and particularly to discourage advertising of tobacco products?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I shall shortly be issuing a circular to local health authorities asking for a report from them on what action they have taken in bringing the question of the connection between smoking and lung cancer before the public.