THE NEXT GENERATION A WELSH COUNTY RECORD OF MATERNITY AND CHILD WELFARE EVEN War has its compensations. The terrible conflict on the Continent which is, with ever increas- ing rapidity, draining the life blood of the World's young manhood, has at least helped to awaken the national conscience in our country to some sense of its responsi- bilities towards the next generation. People are beginning to realise that children are a great national asset which, in the national interest, must be conserved. Settlers in the colonies ever regarded children as their greatest wealth. Individual families in the old country have taken the same view, but to the detriment of the national interest have long exploited this wealth to their own selfish and temporary advantage. With spendthrift recklessness they have mortgaged the Nation's future by a prodigal expenditure in the form of child labour in the present. But the War, which has on the one hand enormously increased the demand for juvenile labour in various indus- tries, has nevertheless on the other brought home to the more enlightened among our public men the criminal folly of wasting our national substance for purely tem- porary gain. Realising that the Child of to-day is the Nation of to-morrow, two men in particular have taken steps to arrest the wilful present waste which must mean woeful future want. Mr. Fisher, by extending the limit of. compulsory school age, aims at diminishing that child- hood slavery which would inevitably sap the physical energy and stunt the intellectual development of the next generation. Lord Rhondda, with an even keener vision and fuller insight, goes back to the still wider basis of the infantile foundation of national life. His Ministry of Health aims at saving child life, from the cradle upwards at protecting, fostering, and nourishing the tender plant which is destined to develop into the national tree. His special care as Food Controller to ensure that Nursing Mothers and children of tender age shall have priority of claim for certain essential food-stuffs is part of the same policy. The "Maternity and Child Welfare Bill," recently introduced into the House of Commons by Lord Rhondda's successor at the Local Government Board, is inspired by the same consideration, and is explicitly designed to make further provision for the health of mothers and young children." It is with this aspect of the question the present article has to do, and my purpose is to show what beneficial results may be attained, what national benefits secured, by local authorities through enlightened administration of the law even as it exists to-day, with its frequently all too restrictive limitations of powers. I would emphasise the fact that the initiative rests with the Local Authority. The blame for action, or inaction, is too frequently cast upon the Local Government Board in London, overlooking the fact that the real Local Government Board in any area are the people's elected representatives on the Local Authority. My personal experience is that, so far from hampering any local activities calculated to promote the public health-and especially so where the welfare of young children is concerned-the Local Government Board in London welcomes, and by every possible means promotes, all such well-conceived and properly directed efforts. The main difficulty in the way of reform is to overcome the inertia of the Local Authority,-a common disease which may be easily diagnosed from the symp- tomatic ignorance of or indifference to the imperative demands of child welfare. Once the source of this disease is removed, and a cure effected, once you get a Local Authority really alive to its duties and opportunities, the possibilities of effective reform become immeasureable. Its public officials will throw themselves whole-heartedly into the work, zealous voluntary workers will be readily obtained, the Central Authority in London will assist by guidance and by grants, and a grand transformation scene in the possibilities of the next generation will be produced. Some faint idea of these possibilities may be obtained from the reduced rate of infantile mortality resulting from even our short experience in Carnarvonshire. It was only in June 1916 our Scheme was first put into operation it was at first necessarily, and still is in a measure, largely tentative. The infantile mortality in the County for the four years immediately preceding the partial application of our Scheme had been over 1 1 2 per 1,000 registered births within twelve months this rate was reduced to 84 per 1,000 and this rate was, by the end of 1917 still further reduced to 78 per 1,000. This means that as the result of only eighteen months working of our Scheme the lives of 34 out of every 1,000 children born, were saved. Nor do these figures tell the whole story. The Infantile Mortality rate amongst the infants visited under our Scheme was actually under 32 per 1,000, as compared with 78 per 1,000 for the whole County. We visited 75 per cent. of all the children born, and of these only 32 per 1,000 died. Statistics show that the death-rate of women at child-birth is higher in the North Wales Counties than is the average for England and Wales. It is a hopeful promise of the future that the Local Government Board and the Board of Education are working harmoniously together for the promotion of Maternity and Child Welfare. In July, 1914, the Local Government Board issued to County Councils and Sanitary Authorities a circular emphasising the advisability of safe-guarding infant life, and of educating mothers in the care of infants. A grant in aid of expenditure on such objects was foreshadowed and provisionally promised, and the main lines of a Scheme were suggested. This was followed twelve months later by a further circular based on the Notification of Births (Extension) Act of 1915, extending the provisions of a similar Act of 1907 to every District. This circular promised a definite grant in aid up to 50 per cent. of the expenditure incurred by a Local Authority under an approved Scheme of Maternity and Child Welfare, and was accompanied by a valuable Memorandum on Health Visiting and Maternity and Child Welfare Centres by the Medical Officer of the Board. A further important circular was issued in Sep- tember, 1916, urging Local Authorities, in spite of the