Diphtheria (Schick Test).

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 15th March 1922.

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Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

55.

asked the Minister of Health whether he knows anything of an unofficial and informal Conference called by his Department to consider the Schick test; whether his Department offered to bear the cost of the test and treatment, and suggested to the medical officers present that they should test the children in the institutions under their care; whether the children in the Holborn workhouse schools have already been inoculated; whether the Lambeth guardians are now contemplating the same; and under what authority is he carrying out these experiments on children?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

The answer to the first, third, and fourth parts of the question is in the affirmative. At the conference referred to it was stated that, in order to assist local authorities desiring to use the test to secure reliable material, my Department would be willing to bear a portion of the cost in a limited number of cases. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the answer which I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for the Dartford Division (Mr. Mills).

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Are the Ministry of Health pursuing these inquiries at the expense of the children of the workhouse?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

We are not pursuing any inquiry at all. We are assisting local authorities, who desire to use a method of diagnosis which has proved of the highest value in this country and other countries, and to adopt the best and most reliable methods of doing so.

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Therefore you are inoculating the children—

Photo of Mr James Gilbert Mr James Gilbert , Southwark Central

64.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the children attending the Norwood schools of the Lambeth board of guardians have been treated with the Schick cure for diphtheria; that such treatment was given without the consent of the guardians; will he state if such treatment has the approval of his Department; and also will he state of what the treatment consists and from what country it originates?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I understand that in the presence of an outbreak of diphtheria in these schools the medical officer thought it necessary to ascertain, by the application of the Schick test, the extent to which the children in the schools were liable to infection, and that this was done as a matter of urgency without the consent of the board of guardians. The answer to the third part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the last part, I will send my hon. Friend a description of this treatment and of its origin.

Photo of Mr Charles Ammon Mr Charles Ammon , Camberwell North

Is it to be understood that the helpless children of the poor are being used to experiment upon?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Not at all; there is no question of experiment! It is no more a question of experiment than if the hon. Gentleman went to his doctor and got a prescription. It is a question of applying an approved method of diagnosis for a very serious outbreak of diphtheria, a method which has proved of infinite value in other countries and in this country where it has been tried by the medical officers of health.

Photo of Mr William Ormsby-Gore Mr William Ormsby-Gore , Stafford

Why is the Labour party always against medical progress?

Photo of Mr Charles Ammon Mr Charles Ammon , Camberwell North

We are against being experimented upon!