HC Deb 24 April 1963 vol 676 cc203-4
16. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that the infant mortality rate in Scotland is higher than in many other Western European countries, including England and Wales and the Netherlands; and whether he will conduct investigations into this state of affairs.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Noble)

The Scottish rate is higher than in some Western European countries. It is highest in the industrial areas of the West of Scotland; and Glasgow Corporation is conducting a special analysis, in which my officers are assisting, of the circumstances attending every birth to Glasgow mothers. I will consider sympathetically any further proposals for research into this subject for which my assistance may be required.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the right hon. Gentleman circulate in the Official Report the figures for Scotland, England, Wales, the Netherlands and other Western European countries in order that we may see the comparisons here? Will he be able to make a further statement at the time of the debate on the Estimates regarding health in Scotland to show what progress is being made in the efforts to find the reasons for the discrepancy?

Mr. Noble

I will circulate the figures in the Official Report. It is unlikely that by the time of the Estimates debates I shall be able to give any results from the inquiry. We shall have to wait for about a year to see how the results come in and what the picture shows.

Mr. T. Fraser

Have not there been numerous inquiries over the last twenty or thiryt years into the cause of the high infant mortality rate in Scotland, and have not the inquiries shown the cause to be the dreadful housing conditions in that part of Scotland to which the Minister referred, coupled with the inadequacy of the facilities for hospital confinements?

Mr. Noble

Certainly, both those factors have had an obvious influence on the results. I think that what we want to do is to get a little further than just making a general statement. We are doing our best to improve housing and to increase the number of maternity beds.

Following are the comparative figures per thousand live births in 1961, as published in the Registrar General's Annual Report for 1961:

Portugal 89
Poland 54
Hungary 44
Greece 40
Spain 38
Austria 33
Western Germany 32
Eire 31
Japan 29
Northern Ireland 28
Belgium 26
France 26
Scotland 26
Denmark 22
England and Wales 22
Finland 20
New Zealand* 19
Sweden 16
Netherlands 15
* Excluding Maoris

Back to