HC Deb 25 February 1963 vol 672 cc901-2
48. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that medical officers of health are being subjected to political interference in seeking to publish facts concerning the health of the population for which they have responsibility; and if he will take steps to remedy this situation.

Mr. Powell

No, Sir. The second part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

Mr. Robinson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the evidence suggests that this is precisely what has been happening in recent months in Twickenham and that his hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) was involved? However, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in view of the fact that since this Question was tabled pressure has been successfully exercised to extract a denial that political pressure was ever applied, I am prepared to leave matters where they are and to say that I am confident that this will not recur?

Mr. Powell

I am sure that all concerned, both the medical officer and others, will resent the terms of the supplementary question.

Mr. Lipton

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it quite clear that, irrespective of whatever may be the political complexion of the local body involved, a medical officer has an absolute right to say whatever he thinks fit in his annual report on the health of a borough?

Mr. Powell

The annual report, by statute, has to be supplied to me exactly as it is produced by the medical officer of health. The question of its publication is for the local authority, but I should regard it as very undesirable that reports of medical officers of health should not be published fully and correctly.

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