§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH rose to move, that it be in instruction to the Select Committee to which the Bill has been referred, that before authorising the powers sought under Clause 58 ("Venereal disease") they should satisfy themselves that there is special local need for such powers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Salford Corporation Bill raises a matter of great public importance. Your Lordships will recollect that Regulation 33B, which deals with the compulsory treatment of venereal disease, was introduced as a war-time measure, and lapsed at the end of December, 1947. The decision of the Ministry of Health not to renew that Order was conveyed by a circular to local authorities in the early days of January. In the Salford Corporation Bill, Clause 58 seems to me to be seeking to reproduce for Salford a local regulation very much corresponding to Regulation 33B.
§ I do not think it necessary to go into the merits of this question in any detail. All I desire to say to your Lordships is that Regulation 33B certainly bore a family resemblance to the notorious Contagious Diseases Acts which were put into 528 force in this country in the 'sixties, and which disappeared because of the disastrous effect they had on the rate of venereal disease. Regulation 33B has now disappeared but, to my way of thinking, Clause 58 of the Salford Corporation Bill bears a strong family resemblance to it. For that reason, I ask your Lordships to say that the Select Committee shall examine the Bill, and this clause in particular, in order to see whether there is local need for it. On the general merits, in one sentence, all I want to say is that this compulsory method of treating these diseases is a short cut which leads inevitably into a bog. The history of this country proves that the only successful method of combating these difficult social diseases is by voluntary treatment, and by making the treatment and everything concerned with it as easy as possible. This clause seems to me to be directly anti-social, and for that reason I beg to move.
§ Moved, That it be an instruction to the Select Committee to which the Bill has been referred, that before authorising the powers sought under Clause 58 ("Venereal disease") they should satisfy themselves that there is special local need for such powers.—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
My Lords, I hope the House will agree to this Motion. My noble friend the Earl of Drogheda is unfortunately indisposed, but the Bill was brought to his notice, and he would, I believe, have referred Clause 58 to the Select Committee for their consideration, although so far there is no Petition against it. I would, therefore, advise your Lordships to agree to the Motion.
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, my right honourable friend the Minister of Health authorises me to say that Clause 58 of the Salford Corporation Bill is not in accord with present national policy, which does not contemplate compulsory examination and treatment of persons suffering from venereal disease. If and when a change in that policy is decided upon by His Majesty's Government, it should be given statutory form by public general Act of Parliament, and not by a private Act of purely local application. His Majesty's Government approve the Motion for the instruction to the Committee, and will express their 529 strong objection to the enactment of the clause in the usual way, by a report to Parliament from the appropriate Department—namely, the Ministry of Health.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.