The infant mortality rate in Malta which rose during the first years of the war to the maximum figure of 345 per thousand in 1942 declined sharply last year to 116 per thousand, a rate substantially lower than that of the best pre-war year, 1936, when it stood at 190. The rate up to the end of September this year is 154, higher than last year, but again considerably lower than 1936. The lower rate of 1944 is attributed to the fact that there was a substantial increase in the birth rate that year with a large number of first babies who tend to receive more care and attention from their mothers than do their successors.
With regard to the milk supply I take it that the hon. Gentleman's interest in it is connected with the first half of his Question: that is, the milk supply to babies and young children. Tinned evaporated milk is reserved exclusively for babies and is rationed on the scale of 16 tins a month from birth to four months,20 tins a month from four to 12 months and 12 tins a month from 13 to 18 months. Full cream milk powder is rationed to children from 19 months to five years at the rate of 2 lb. per child per month and to all children between five and 14 registered with the Child Welfare Scheme—some 10,000—at the rate of half a pint a day. The general public is also permitted to buy half a pound of powdered milk a day, the total daily issue to this category of consumer being, however, limited to half a ton a day. In addition to the ration about 1,430 gallons of pasteurised milk a day and 5,500 gallons of raw milk are on the open market.