HC Deb 24 February 1964 vol 690 cc23-4
18 and 35. Mrs. Slater

asked the Minister of Health (1) if he will make a statement on his recent discussions on the standards of training and qualifications for public health inspectors;

(2) when he expects to be able to estimate how many qualified public health inspectors will be required to meet the demands made upon the service.

34. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Health if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent discussions with the Public Health Inspectors' Education Board; and what further steps he proposes to take to ensure that there will be sufficient inspectors to cope with the growing need for them in connection with housing and the installation of baths, inside lavatories, and hot water systems.

Mr. Braine

I cannot yet add to the reply I gave to hon. Members on 9th December.

Mrs. Slater

Does not the hon. Gentleman know that training has recently been discussed by regional centres of the Association of Public Health Inspectors, the Midlands Centre being one example, and that local authorities such as my own, which is short of 13 public health inspectors, have a colossal programme and that it is a great tragedy that they should have these difficulties? Is it not now advisable to introduce a term of training, perhaps a three-year course, as with teachers, including plenty of practical experience and leading to a qualification like the Dip. Tech., thus raising the status of the service and attracting more people to it?

Mr. Braine

There is undoubtedly a difficulty, as I have told the hon. Lady before. The present position is that the board has asked the local authority associations for information about the numbers of inspectors at present employed by the local authorities and the number expected to be needed in future in order to assess the overall requirements. I understand that replies are still incomplete. The board is responsible for keeping the level of recruitment under review.

Mr. Allaun

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that last week the association agreed to accept less qualified men to assist inspectors, where necessary, on certain types of work? Particularly in view of that, would he be prepared to meet representatives of the association, local authority associations and other Ministries concerned to discuss the whole matter?

Mr. Braine

I will certainly have the hon. Member's suggestion considered.

Mr. Lipton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that metropolitan boroughs and other local authorities will find it almost impossible to meet their legal obligations for dealing with overcrowded houses in multiple occupation unless there are many more public health inspectors available for this task, and that unless more of these inspectors or similar people are made available the housing situation in London and other large towns will remain very difficult?

Mr. Braine

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said. I hope that what has been said today will be drawn to the attention of the education board and of the local authority associations.