HC Deb 26 January 1971 vol 810 cc316-7
Q7 Sir D. Renton

asked the Prime Minister (1) what steps are taken to co-ordinate the responsibilities in relation to population of the Secretary of State for Social Services for family planning and abortion, the Secretary of State for the Home Department for immigration, and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for emigration; and what steps are taken to formulate the Government's population policy in that way;

(2) whether the population studies under the chairmanship of the Chief Scientific Adviser, which were started by his predecessor, are still continuing; what stage they have reached; and whether he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

There is already close co-ordination between the Departments concerned with family planning and abortion, immigration and emigration. The implications of population growth and its probable distribution are already under study within the Government, but I am in addition considering whether the previous Administration's proposal to set up a study unit on population growth should be pursued.

Sir D. Renton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is growing anxiety in this country about the prospect of a population growth in the next 30 years equivalent in size to 20 times the present population of the city of Leeds? Will he bear in mind the need to stabilise the population by voluntary and moderate methods over the next 30 years so that we may still have some environment in which to enjoy a good quality of life?

The Prime Minister

I am well aware of the importance as well as of the difficulties of this problem. This is why I am considering setting up a study unit, and I hope to reach a conclusion in the very near future.

Mr. David Steel

When the right hon. Gentleman does that, will he consider including a financial discussion of the relative costs of providing family planning provisions free within the National Health Service as against the considerable social cost of dealing with unwanted births?

The Prime Minister

Yes. This is an important point and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services is examining this group of problems now. I am sure that he is giving attention to the point which the hon. Gentleman raised.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Is not example in these matters more important than precept? Are not my right hon. Friend and myself making an effective contribution to zero population growth?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that my hon. Friend is doing his best.

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