London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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London County Council 1912

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]

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Report of the County Medical Officer—General.
Vermin Inquiry.
On pages 62 and 63 of the annual report of the medical officer of health for the year 1911, the
question of the seasonal prevalence of three particular kinds of vermin (fleas, lice, and bugs), is discussed
at some length, and a diagram was included illustrating this point. It was noted that the high autumnal
level in the flea and bug curves suggested comparison with the curves of diseases which have an autumn
prevalence. The mode of spread of certain infectious diseases is by no means completely understood,
and the possibility of biting insects acting as carriers of infection cannot be ignored. It is, however,
impossible to base any definite hypothesis on the scanty information at present available, and the most
that can be done is to continue the collecting of evidence to form material for future investigations in
this branch of work. In the meantime the efforts of public health authorities working with the object
of diminishing the prevalence of vermin are being persisted in, and it is possible that this work may
have even more far-reaching effect than is now generally appreciated.
Water supply to tenement houses.
Sanitary authorities have made considerable use of the powers provided by section 78 of the
London County Council (General Powers) Act, 1907, for requiring the provision of a water supply to
the upper floors of tenement houses.

So far as can be gathered from the information contained in the reports of medical officers of health, the following table shows the extent to which the powers referred to have been applied during 1912:—

Metropolitan borough.No. of premises caused to be supplied.No. of legal proceedings.
Bethnal Green4
St. Marylebone3211
Westminster, City of212
Total for 19 boroughs1,26512

Act, 1903.
Revenue Act, 1903.
Under section 11 of the Revenue Act, 1903, on the certificate of the medical officer of health
that the house is so constructed as to afford suitable accommodation for each of the families or
persons inhabiting it, with due provision for their sanitary requirements, there is exemption from or
reduction of inhabited house duty, as follows:—
Where a house, so far as it is used as a dwelling house, is used for the sole purpose of
providing separate dwellings —
(a) The value of any dwelling in the house which is of an annual value below twenty
pounds shall be excluded from the annual value of the house for the purposes of inhabited
house duty; and
(b) The rate of inhabited house duty, in respect of any dwelling in the house of an
annual value of twenty pounds, but not exceeding forty pounds, shall be reduced to three
pence; and
(c) The rate of inhabited house duty, in respect of any dwelling in the house of
an annual value exceeding forty pounds, but not exceeding sixty pounds, shall be reduced
to sixpence.
For the purposes of these provisions medical officers of health were called upon to certify
numerous houses during the year, and in some instances the application was granted, in others it was
refused, while in others, again, it was only granted after alterations had been made to meet the conditions
necessary, before certification. The Act appears to be instrumental in ensuring a higher standard
of dwelling accommodation than before.
(a) Number of notices served. In the majority of cases the work was completed during the year.
18820 K