HC Deb 04 May 1959 vol 605 cc7-8
15. Mr. Sydney Irving

asked the Minister of Health how much money will be spent by his Department on cancer research this year, apart from the £206,400 granted to the Institute of Cancer Research in this year's Estimate.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Expenditure from public funds on cancer research is mainly undertaken by the Medical Research Council which, I understand from my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council, expects to spend some £580,000 for this purpose during the current year, including the grant to the Institute of Cancer Research referred to in the Question. Cancer research is also carried out in the National Health Service in the course of treatment of patients, but, as I have told the hon. Member previously, it is impossible to make a separate estimate for the expenditure involved.

Mr. Irving

Is the Minister aware that the House will have nothing but the highest praise for the effort made by voluntary bodies, but, while not wishing to discourage in any way that magnificent effort, may I ask whether he is aware that it will be difficult for many people to understand why, in the attack on this terrible disease, so much of the burden should have to fall on voluntary effort? Will he examine the position again to ensure that no kind of fruitful research shall be held up through lack of funds?

Mr. Walker-Smith

I think the country appreciates the work done by voluntary bodies in addition to the public work in this direction. The view commonly taken is that this is a fruitful and proper field for the co-operation of voluntary action. The expenditure of public funds is increasing in a gratifying way.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman assure the House that an adequate amount of money, public and private, is forthcoming in this very important field of research?

Mr. Walker-Smith

Oh, yes. The increase in money is, I think, taking account of the general logistics of this question. As the right hon. Lady appreciates, in addition to having more money, we must increase the supply of personnel with the appropriate qualifications for contributing to the work.