asked the President of the Board of Education whether he has considered the representations of the Essex Education Committee concerning the calling-up for military service of Dr. J. W. Pickup, senior school medical officer for the county of Essex; and whether he will reconsider his decision not to request this officer's deferment?
The most careful consideration has been given to the committee's representations. I have been obliged to reach the decision to which the hon. Member refers in view of the medical man-power position. The staffing of the school medical service in Essex is stronger than in other comparable areas. I have also had to take into account the age group into which this officer falls, and the decision of the Central Medical War Committee on his case.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this officer has effective charge of the health of 120,000 school children; and, whatever the shortage of doctors, is not the health of children of paramount importance?
Yes, the health of the children is paramount; and I am glad to say that it has been looked after extraordinarily well, despite the very severe position in regard to medical man-power at the present time. I am in touch with the authority about the arrangements they are making to replace this able officer. I very much regret that we have had to adhere to this decision.