HC Deb 01 December 1970 vol 807 cc1072-3
27. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will offer special assistance to those British consultants who are evaluating new methods of treating cancer.

Sir K. Joseph

The Medical Research Council and my Department both support research on methods of treating cancer. Proposals are adjudged on their scientific merits.

Mr. Ashley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Dr. Issels' methods have not been proved scientifically but that a number of leading British cancer specialists have recommended that they be investigated? In order to assess whether a new medical discovery has been made or whether false hopes have been raised, will he conduct an inquiry into these methods?

Sir K. Joseph

The question of an inquiry will be considered by the Joint Co-ordinating Committee for Cancer Research, on which the Medical Research Council is represented, as soon as the details of Dr. Issels' treatment have been published and studied.

Dr. Miller

Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that in the conquering of this horrible disease one must not disregard any kind of method no matter how outlandish it may seem? In the interest of attempting to find a cure, should it not be made clear to the public that money should be made available for the investigation of any method which might lead to a cure?

Sir K. Joseph

Certainly. I am sure that the medical profession would agree that every possible method must be investigated, but there must be a scientific discussion of the method before it can be studied, and that is what the medical profession is waiting for.

Sir R. Cary

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the famous Christie Hospital and the Holt Radium Institute in my constituency have not yet received details of this new form of treatment?

Sir K. Joseph

Yes, and I gather that details are eagerly awaited in many parts of the world.

Dr. Summerskill

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that although millions of pounds are raised by charities each year for research into the treatment of cancer, there is still a lack of money because of the expense of the equipment required?

Sir K. Joseph

The Medical Research Council, which is not my responsibility, and my Department both support a considerable amount of cancer research and I should be grateful to know whether there is any difficulty in investigating Dr. Issels's methods, once they are known—I am sure there will not be—for lack of money.