Milk.

Oral Answers to Questions — Public Health. – in the House of Commons on 9th July 1942.

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Photo of Mr David Adams Mr David Adams , Consett

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that persons suffering loss and damage through illness traceable to infected milk unfit for human consumption have a right of action against vendors of such milk; and whether, as the financial circumstances of poorer citizens prevent their taking such action, the local authorities in such cases make ex gratia payments?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I am aware that in certain circumstances there may be such a right of action as is referred to in the first part of the Question; I am not aware that local authorities make such payments as are referred to in the second part of the Question.

Photo of Mr David Adams Mr David Adams , Consett

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that the local authorities ought to have power to recoup sufferers in their areas?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

It is not quite as simple as that. In the absence of negligence by the vendor there is not a right of action in every case. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Square v. Model Farm Dairies (Bournemouth) Ltd., which he will find in 55 "Times" Law Report, page 384.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, unless he presses for an amendment of the national milk scheme, which comes into operation in September, and arranges for the purification of all milk, the Government will be morally responsible for the dissemination of tuberculosis?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

The hon. Lady knows that everything is being done that is practicable in view of war conditions.

Photo of Mr David Adams Mr David Adams , Consett

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware of the rise of dangerous milk for human consumption supplied to Newcastle-on-Tyne citizens as undesignated milk for the years 1939, 1940 and 1941, shown from 758, 738 and 571 samples, respectively, with unsatisfactory percentages of 24.6, 30.4 and 38.7 and that daily bacterio-logical examinations would reveal some 75 per cent. of such milk unsatisfactory; and whether it is intended to use such data as the above in the campaign for the better health of the nation?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I am aware of figures for 1939 and 1940, but I cannot trace the receipt of figures for 1941. I understand that these figures show the proportion of milk found unsatisfactory according to the cleanliness tests prescribed for designated milks. Such results serve to emphasise the need for the measures included in the recent White Paper on Milk Policy, and I trust that these, in conjunction with the work of local authorities, will contribute to improving the position.

Photo of Mr David Adams Mr David Adams , Consett

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the corollary of this question is the erection of plant for pasteurising this milk instead of poisoning the citizens?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

We have to work inside the limits of what is practicable now.

Photo of Dr Edith Summerskill Dr Edith Summerskill , Fulham West

Has the right hon. Gentleman forgotten that there were 13,000 notifications of non-pulmonary tuberculosis last year?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I have not forgotten it.

Photo of Mr David Adams Mr David Adams , Consett

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I will persist in these questions until satisfaction is obtained?