HC Deb 01 February 1960 vol 616 cc629-30
44. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Minister of Health what reports he has received from medical officers of health about the problems revealed at orthopaedic clinics caused by teen-age girls' footwear; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Edith Pitt)

References to foot defects caused by unsuitable footwear are made from time to time by principal school medical officers in their published annual reports. Local health authorities, with the aid of publicity material provided by the Ministry and from other sources, continue to give publicity to the importance of foot health.

Mr. Iremonger

While thanking the hon. Lady for that reply, may I ask whether she is aware of the very great importance of this matter? Does she not think that her right hon. and learned Friend might take the initiative, possibly in conjunction with the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Education, in trying to make more impact both on the supplier and the consumer about the dangers of this footwear?

Miss Pitt

My right hon. and learned Friend is certainly aware of the importance of this problem, but it is not an easy one because so often fashion is opposed to commonsense. My hon. Friend may be glad to know that an independent survey of the feet of children of various ages is to be undertaken as a research project. This is to be privately financed, but the details have not yet been fully worked out.

Dr. Summerskill

Having regard to what the hon. Lady has said, would she not agree that this question should be very much on the consciences of fashion dictators, who are not all concerned about the crippling of young women's feet?

Miss Pitt

No, I do not agree. It is really a matter for parents and others who have responsibility for children to try to impress upon them the importance of good footwear.