HC Deb 12 July 1965 vol 716 cc16-7
14. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many working days were lost because of abortion in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Mr. Pentland

The total numbers of days of incapacity certified on claims for benefit as due to abortion—which is a term used to cover all types of miscarriage—or equivalent cause in the last five years for which figures are available have varied between about 240,000 and 350,000, but I will, with permission, circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mrs. Short

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that these figures, tragic though they are, do not represent the whole position even as far as employed women are concerned? Is he aware that many doctors do not give abortion as a reason for a woman's disability because of the legal implications and the complications likely to occur? Will he and my right hon. Friend do everything in their power to see that this tragic situation is liberalised and modernised as soon as possible?

Mr. Pentland

My hon. Friend will be aware that the statistics I have quoted, and which will be in the OFFICIAL REPORT, have been obtained from an analysis of the descriptions of the causes of incapacity entered on medical certificates by medical practitioners. These are not given by doctor to doctor but only in support of certificates of incapacity for work intended for use by Ministry lay officials. I take note of the further point made by my hon. Friend.

Following is the information:

Period Total days of incapacity in period*
2nd June, 1958 to 30th May, 1959 249
1st June 1959 to 4th June, 1960 286
6th June, 1960 to 3rd June, 1961 354
5th June, 1961 to 2nd June, 1962 Not available
4th June, 1962 to 1st June, 1963 330
3rd June, 1963 to 30th May, 1964 240†
* Estimated from a five per cent. sample of claimants.
† Provisional figure.