HC Deb 24 January 1832 vol 9 cc825-9

Mr. Warburton moved the Order of the Day for a Committee of the whole House on the salaries of officers to be appointed under the Anatomy Bill.

Mr. Hunt

expressed his determination to oppose the Bill in every stage, particularly with regard to this part of it; for he had not the slightest idea that the Bill would be again altered, as he now found to be the case. The Bill was not yet printed, and the public money was, it appeared, to be voted away without any notice being given.

Mr. Robinson

said, he was sure the Bill could not properly be discussed as long as the Reform Bill was before the House, and he was determined it should not be passed pro formâ.

An Hon. Member

requested some provision might be made for the decent interment of the remains of bodies after dissection. He considered a provision of that sort would do away with many objections to the Bill.

Mr. Briscoe

would be very happy to lend his assistance to any legislative enactment which might have the effect of appeasing the public mind on this subject; and, more especially, might tend to check those horrible and disgraceful crimes which had taken place in the metropolis of late. He should also be most willing to do anything that would promote surgery and the cause of science; but he nevertheless felt strong objections to many of the provisions of this Bill. He could never give his consent to create a property, by legislation, in the remains of the dead: this was the first time, at least, that the House had been been called upon to invest a legal property in the living of the remains of the dead. He never heard of a law which gave a power to the executor, or next of kin, to dispose of the bodies of their deceased friends and relatives. Nor ought such a power to exist, unless the individuals had, during their lives, either by writing or orally, in the presence of two witnesses, expressed their consent to their bodies being so disposed of. In reference to the proposition made by the hon. Member this evening, to give salaries to certain inspectors, he could not see how that scheme could follow out the object of this Bill. But what were to be the duties of the inspector? That which they were intended to do was a thing in no way practicable to be done. He should, at least, like to submit to the House whether provision ought not to be made that no places should be allowed to be open for anatomical dissection which were not previously licensed for that purpose by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. In France, and in other countries, it was true, schools were expressly provided by the Government for the purpose of teaching anatomy. Such ought to be the system in this country. These places might still be subject to inspection; indeed they ought to be both licensed and controlled by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He had no wish to continue this discussion, but being called upon to vote that the Bill should go into Committee, without any debate having taken place on the second reading, when it was the usual course that a discussion of the principles and merits of the measure should be taken at that stage, he could not help thinking that it was desired to carry this Bill without any discussion at all. He had hitherto purposely abstained from urging on the discussion, entirely in deference to the motives and intention of the hon. member for Bridport. But he should take every possible step to oppose this Bill, unless he could be assured that it should not be brought forward at one o'clock in the morning, when it was impossible that the subject could receive that full, fair, and ample consideration and discussion which its importance required. He should never consent either to what he considered to be, in this enlightened age, too barbarous a provision to form part of the Bill, the clause which went to revive the custom of hanging felons in chains, exhibiting them in the common highways dangling in the air. This was, of all the provisions, perhaps, the most objectionable one; although he entertained very strong objections to many other parts of the Bill, and hoped to have an opportunity of expressing them fully, before the Bill was allowed to pass, however anxious he might be to have a subject of so much importance, and of such excitement, set at rest.

Mr. Nicolson Calvert

said, this discussion had already lasted too long; and he would merely state, that the object of his hon. friend was to have the money clause passed pro formâ after which the Bill could undergo in Committee a full and fair discussion. He was quite sure, that such was the wish of his hon. friend, and that he would not treat the House unfairly.

Colonel Sibthorp

wished to offer only one word on the subject, which was, that in times of excitement like the present, they could not do better than leave the people, in matters of this sort, to themselves. The hon. Member was proceeding with this measure, without affording Members the opportunity of considering it fully. He protested against proceeding any further with the Bill, until it had been carefully discussed, and more information should have been obtained. Here a Bill had been read a first and second time, and, on both occasions, at a late hour in the night, without any discussion, and now Members were asked to vote for its going into Committee at the same late hour, and without any previous debate. When reforming the Parliamentary Representation of the people was talked of, he would say—"Reform yourselves." He had assured his constituents the other day, that this House wanted more reform in its proceedings than in its constituency. Instead of being a grave and deliberate assembly, the House passed laws of the greatest importance pro formâ, forsooth, and without discussion, and yet was deluding the people with all kinds of promises of good to accrue to them when the Reform Bill was passed. "There will be no taxes," it was pretended, "all will be prosperous and happy." This was the substance of what was said—just the same as what the people of Ireland were told when the other Reform Bill was passed. But he would, in that House, say, that the Representatives of the people were deceiving the people, sitting in that House from day to day doing nothing at all.

Mr. Warburton

said, he had no wish to prevent the Bill being fully discussed at the proper time, but the object at present was, to have the money clause passed pro formâ, that the House could go into a Committee.

The House divided: Ayes 87; Noes 4—Majority 83.

The House then went into Committee.

Mr. Warburton

said, that the whole expense of the Inspectors for England, Scotland, and the Provinces, would cost no more than 500l. a-year. Many Gentlemen were willing to perform the duties of the office gratuitously; but he thought that the House ought rather to pay small salaries, say even 25l. a-year, than leave duties, however easy, to be performed gratuitously. He then moved a resolution, that it was the opinion of the Committee, that his Majesty should be empowered to grant salaries of not more than 100l. a-year to the Inspectors under the Anatomy Bill now in progress through the House, and that the expenses of those officers should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund.

Mr. Hunt moved, as an Amendment, that the Chairman should leave the Chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again, as he considered it was too late to discuss so important a clause.

The Committee divided on the Amend- ment,when there appeared, Noes 78; Ayes 4—Majority 74.

The Chairman then put the Original Question.

Mr. Hunt

opposed the Resolution, and called for a division.

The House having divided accordingly, the numbers were, for the Resolution 78; against it 1—Majority 77.

Resolution agreed to, and ordered to be reported.