HC Deb 20 May 1841 vol 58 cc680-3
Mr. Maclean

moved for returns of the number of inspectors appointed under 2 and 3 William 4th., c. 75, commonly called the Anatomy Act, and the districts under their separate inspection. Of the amount of salary paid to each inspector, and allowance for travelling expenses in each year from 1836 to 31st day of December, 1840, inclusive. Of the number of visits made by each inspector, to the several schools of anatomy within his district, specifying the name of the school, and date of each visit, from 1833 to 1840, inclusive. Of all subjects sent to the several colleges and hospitals, and schools of anatomy; specifying the number to each, and the date thereof. Of each inspector's report to the Home-office, of all contraventions of the Anatomy Act by teachers or students, from the year 1833 to 1840, inclusive; and also (if any) what proceedings have been taken thereon.

Mr. Fox Maule

was prepared to assent to the motion, with the exception of that part of it which called for a return" of all subjects sent to the several colleges and hospitals, and schools of anatomy; specifying the number of each, and the date thereof." That part of the motion, he should oppose.

Mr. Maclean

was willing at the present moment to take what he could get; but on a future occasion he should move for the whole of this information, and for the appointment of a committee to consider the subject. He would not now press that part of the return which was objected to.

Mr. Warburton

believed, that the Anatomy Bill had worked well, and that no complaint had been made against it from any of the schools.

Mr. T. Duncombe

begged to correct his hon. Friend who had just spoken. It was due to the medical men, whose petitions he (Mr. Duncombe) had presented, to state, that very great dissatisfaction existed as to the operation of the Anatomy Act. He was only sorry that the Undersecretary of State (Mr. F. Maule) did not feel it consistent with his duty to give the whole of the returns for which the hon. Member for Oxford had moved. Some of the petitions stated that certain hospitals carried on a regular trade in bodies, and he thought that the time had arrived when some inquiry ought to be instituted into the working of the Act.

Mr. Wakley

said, it was a mistake to suppose that the secretary had power to direct the distribution of subjects under the act, neither had the inspectors, unless upon an agreement with the lecturers on the science of anatomy. Such an arrangement had been made between the profession and the inspectors, and therefore the former had no right to complain of the act, which had nothing whatever to do with these arrangements. If any complaint could justly have been made, such complaints would have reached the House. But this was a subject which could not with advantage be mooted in this place, but whenever it might be so, he hoped it would be discussed with temper. He thought the act was one of the greatest boons ever conferred upon London, for it had put an end to the nefarious system of body snatching and worse, and he was sure, that if anything happened to cause the repeal of that law, the horrid scenes of which everybody had heard would be renewed with all their atrocities.

Mr. Maclean

said, he had taken this course in consequence of the petitions which he had himself presented on this subject, containing complaints which he believed to be correct. He concurred that if this act was effectually carried into effect it would be a considerable boon, in. putting a stop to the scenes which he had spoken of. But if it were not carried out in true sincerity—if private arrangements were made which ought not to be made, dissatisfaction would be produced, and the best way to put an end to that dissatisfaction would be by the production of the information he sought for, in consequence, he repeated, of the information which had reached him. He therefore hoped no time would be lost in laying the particular return now objected to upon the Table of the House.

Mr. Fox Maule

said, he would be happy to give every information in reference to the appointments under the act, and as to the salaries of the officers who had to carry it into effect. He would also feel happy in laying before the House such general information in regard to the number of complaints as it was in his power to give; but he could not give the hon. Gentleman opposite either the returns in regard to the operation of the act as connected with the science of anatomy, or those specific complaints made against individuals for the infringement of the act. He thought that the act had worked admirably, especially in one respect; for no one could deny but that the practices so frequent before the passing of the act had since then totally ceased.

Lord John Russell

said, that there certainly had been suggestions made to the Government in regard to the carrying the act into effect; but he believed that he left the Home-office immediately after these suggestions were made, and had not consequently given them his consideration. He agreed with the hon. Member for Fins-bury, that it would have the worst effect on the operation of the measure, if they were at the present time to institute an inquiry of the nature proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman would refrain from taking this step, as it might for the future prevent the act from being carried into effect in the mode in which it was at present; and it would also interfere with the adoption of any further suggestions which might be given.

Mr. Maclean

trusted that the production of the necessary documents would put it out of his power to bring the question again before the House; but unless this was done, he would consider himself bound to renew his motion.

Returns, as modified by Mr. Fox Maule, ordered.

Forward to