HC Deb 30 April 1968 vol 763 cc986-7
22. Mr. Brooks

asked the Minister of Health whether he will undertake studies to establish the criteria for assessing the optimum population for the United Kingdom.

Mr. K. Robinson

I have no present plans for undertaking such studies.

Mr. Brooks

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that today Britain faces very serious land use problems arising from mounting population pressure? In these circumstances, has not the time come for a long-term policy on population to be defined and to recognise the reality and dangers of the long-term predicament in which we may find ourselves?

Mr. Robinson

I agree with my hon. Friend that this is an important matter. He will appreciate that it cuts across many Departmental boundaries. I am replying to his Question because I am responsible to Parliament for the Registrar General's activities. But there are many studies on population questions which need to be undertaken. It is, however, a little difficult to see how the optimum size of the population could be determined by objective criteria.

Mr. Lubbock

Would it not at least be very useful if the Minister undertook long-term studies into the rate of the population change, as indicated by the Registrar General's report only yesterday which showed a decline in the birth rate, so that proper provision can be made for housing, schools, education and so on?

Mr. Robinson

These continuing studies are done by the Registrar General's Department. We shall have more and more information about this as the census becomes more and more sophisticated.