Deaths from Starvation,

Oral Answers to Questions — Ex-Service Men. – in the House of Commons on 17th May 1922.

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Photo of Mr Robert Richardson Mr Robert Richardson , Houghton-le-Spring


asked the Minister of Health (1) the names of the counties and unions where 28 persons, after an inquest, were declared to have died from starvation or privation in the year 1920;

(2) the age and sex, specifying in what unions they died, of the four persons who were found upon an inquest to have died from starvation or privation in London;

(3) whether he will obtain a report on the deaths caused by starvation or privation in 1020 in Durham county from the Coroners as well as from the Poor Law inspector; the ages and sex of the deceased person and the name of the unions where they died; whether be has received information that the number of such deaths were four in London and 28 in the provinces from inquiries made from all the Coroners in England and Wales; and, if not, whether he will make inquiries from all Coroners who have not been asked so as to ensure that the total numbers are given correctly?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

As the reply to these questions is necessarily lengthy, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The answer is as follows:

The counties and unions in which these deaths occurred were as follows:

County and Union.

  • Cumberland.—Cockermouth.
  • Denbigh.—Wrexham.
  • Devonshire.—Tavistock.
  • Durham.—South Shields.
  • Durham.—Sunderland.
  • Durham.—Durham.
  • Durham.—Easington.
  • Durham.—Easington.
  • Glamorgan.—Bridgend and Cowbridge.
  • Huntingdon.—St. Ives.
  • Kent.—Eastry.
  • Kent.—Sheppy.
  • Lancashire.—Ashton-under-Lyme.
  • Lancashire.—West Derby.
  • Lancashire.—Ormskirk.
  • Lancashire.—Chorley.
  • Lancashire.—Burnley.
  • Leicester.—Billesdon.
  • London.—Kingston-on-Thames.
  • London.—Reigate.
  • London.—Lambeth.
  • London.—Whitechapel.
  • Merioneth.— Corwen.
  • Middlesex.—Hendon.
  • Norfolk.—King's Lynn.
  • Oxfordshire.—Bicester.
  • Shropshire.—Madeley.
  • Somerset.—Long Ashton.
  • Southampton.—Petersfield.
  • Staffordshire.—Burton-on-Trent.
  • Suffolk.—Newmarket.
  • Yorkshire (West Riding).—Wharfedale.

The particulars of the four cases in the County of London are as follows:—

  • Female, aged 45–50.
  • Male, aged 44.
  • Male, aged 40.
  • Male, aged 60.

The particulars of the five cases in the County of Durham are as follows:—

  • Male, aged 54, South Shields Union.
  • Male, aged 70, Sunderland Union.
  • Male, aged 73, Durham Union.
  • Male, aged 5 months, Easington Union.
  • Male, aged 47, Easington Union.

All Coroners' verdicts are registered by the Registrar of Births and Deaths. and there is no necessity to inquire of Coroners as to whether these figures are complete. The special report made at the hon. Member's request into the Durham cases gives the following further particulars.

J.M., aged 54, a dock labourer, on 26th February, 1920, at 11, Maxwell Street, South Shields: verdict—Found dead in his bed: heart failure, want of food and all necessaries of life and medical aid. An unknown man, aged 70, on the 7th February, at linker Beach, Sunderland: verdict—Starvation and exposure to wet and cold. R.R., aged 73, a retired coal-miner, on 4th September, in a field adjoining Tudhoe Village, Spennymoor: verdict —Senile decay and exposure through sleeping out. W.H.R., aged 5 months. son of an hawker, on the 21st May, at Wingate: verdict—Exposure to the night air due to natural causes. J.E.A., aged 47, a coalminer, on the 22nd August, at Wingate: verdict—Exposure, having probably mistaken his way in the dark and fallen down and being unable to get up again. In the course of his inquiries the general inspector communicated with the coroners for the county, and extracts from the replies received from four of these gentlemen are appended:— My experience has been that the deaths from exposure have not resulted from any neglect on the part of the Poor Law Authorities. A tramp moving from one institution to another is taken ill or has become belated, and takes a rest, is the general cause of death in these cases. Drunkenness is responsible in other cases.In my experience I have always found the Poor Law Authorities, without exception, considerate and sympathetic in the performance of their duties, and there is no possible ground to reflect on them in these three cases.In none of these cases, however, was any reflection or blame cast upon the Poor Law Administration, and I may add that in my experience with cases where Poor Law Administration has been concerned no blame has ever been attached to them and I have always found the officials most ready and willing to give every assistance and information that I required.In none of these cases was there, or could there be, any complaint against the Poor Law system or its officers.

Photo of Sir Robert Clough Sir Robert Clough , Keighley


asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the Vote on the Leeds and Bradford Extension Bill and the feeling thereby engendered on municipal plans of this nature, he will now consider the desirability of instituting a general inquiry into the whole question of urban extension and the principles which should govern it, so as to avoid injustice to the non-urban districts and the waste of money in promoting schemes which do not meet with public acceptance?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I am at present conferring with representatives of the County Councils Association and the Municipal Corporations Association on the general question of borough extensions, and I hope it may be possible to arrive at some agreement which will commend itself to the judgment of the House.