HC Deb 15 March 1972 vol 833 cc519-21
14. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons have died of lung cancer in Scotland in each of the last five years; and, on the basis of figures available from international sources, how these figures compare with other Western European countries.

Mr. Monro

Deaths in Scotland from cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung in each of the years 1966 to 1970 numbered 3,022, 3,145, 3,197, 3,277 and 3,443, respectively.

The most recent international comparison made by the World Health Organisation in 1967 indicates that death rates in Scotland from this cause are higher than in any other country in Western Europe.

Mr. Dempsey

Have the medical authorities given any reasons for this distressing and unparalleled death rate in Scotland from cancer? Will the Under-secretary of State give the House an assurance that finance will be no obstacle in prosecuting the campaign against this killer disease? Will he say to what extent, if any, Scotland will benefit from the cancer research campaigns outside this country?

Mr. Monro

I cannot give any specific reason, but the figure is marginally higher than in England and Wales. We are doing all we can in the preventive field. Cash is not unlimited but is substantial. My Department's Health Education Unit was one of the first to use television, and at least £40,000 will be spent this year on television material. In reply to the second part of the question, the Director of the Scottish Health Education Unit has visited the United States and research done in other countries is constantly being studied.

Mr. MacArthur

Will my hon. Friend say whether a further study of these terrible figures is likely to show any geographical difference in the incidence of respiratory cancer?

Mr. Monro

I cannot say that this will be so. A great deal of research is going on, but whether it will show up specific differences between East and West Scotland I cannot say.

Mr. Carmichael

Will the Minister confirm that the amount of money spent on the campaign directed at the younger generation against smoking will be increased? The figures are so shocking that extra money should be given by the Government for this purpose and the campaign directed at school children should be intensified.

Mr. Monro

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. The more publicity hon. Members give to these figures, the better the results we can expect. I assure the hon. Gentleman that at least the Scottish Office Ministers are all non-smokers and are likely to be long-lived.

Sir G. Nabarro

I applaud the excellent example set by the Scottish Ministers, but do not these appalling figures demonstrate graphically the in-ineffectualness of the Government's policy on smoking and health? Had the Government adopted the Tobacco (Health Hazards) Bill making it legislatively necessary to take stern action against smoking, these figures could have shown some abatement.

Mr. Monro

I appreciate what my hon. Friend has done to publicise the terrible dangers but I think he will realise that, however much the dangers of smoking are publicised, if people wish to smoke there is very little we can do to stop them.