HC Deb 07 August 1844 vol 76 cc1896-911
Sir J. Graham

rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the better regulation of the Medical Practice throughout the United Kingdom. In ordinary circumstances he should have been unwilling to introduce a Bill of this importance without the power of proceeding with it immediately; but he knew the anxiety of the profession to ascertain the details of the proposed measure: in many quarters groundless apprehensions were entertained:— "Mussat tacito medicina timore."

He was anxious at once to remove their alarms, and to submit his measure to fair discussion and consideration during the recess; certain that it would be regarded without referenee to party feelings, and as a matter affecting science and the life and health of the community. There was no art or science which had done so much for suffering human nature as the noble science of medicine, and in no country in Europe had its beneficent influence been extended so widely. Being an inductive science, its boundaries were enlarged by enlightened knowledge and increased experience, and although at the present time there might be some legal imperfections in the system, he was glad to pay a tribute of respect to the great body of medical practitioners throughout the kingdom, and it was not lightly or unadvisedly he should presume to interfere with them. All interference by law had, it was true, been stigmatised, and there was a letter extant from Adam Smith to Cullen on this subject, in which, with more playfulness than is generally characteristic of that author, Dr. Smith deprecated all legislation in the strongest terms. On the other hand, the practice in this country had not been to leave this matter unguarded by all legislative interference. From an early period there had been legislation in regard to medical practice. Physicians in England now practised under licenses from the College of Physicians in London, or by virtue of degrees granted by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. For seven miles round London the degrees granted by Oxford and Cambridge were ineffectual, and conferred no privileges. In later times the Legislature had conferred upon the Universities of London and Durham the power of granting degrees, but they were worthless as to privileges. For a long time prior to 1800, the College of Surgeons gave the title of surgeon. In 1800 the Charter was renewed, and they still gave the title, but conferred no privileges. In regard to the Apothecaries Company, he should be sorry to say anything disparaging of the individuals composing that society, still it must be recollected, that after all, they were a trading body, and entrance might be obtained into it by apprenticeship, birth, purchase, by almost any mode except by examination as to qualification. Yet, no man could practice as a Dispenser of Medicine, without being examined by this trading body. The Apothecaries Act was passed in 1815, and in that Act there was a Clause which, considered in regard to the skill, knowledge, and attainments which should be possessed by the great body of medical practitioners in England, appeared utterly indefensible. He alluded to the Clause by which no person, who had not been apprenticed five years to an apothecary, should be qualified for examination. Those five years occurred exactly at the period of life the most valuable and important for obtaining surgical and medical knowledge. The youth was bound, at about fourteen years old, to an apothecary; and his opportunities during his apprenticeship for acquiring general knowledge were very limited, until at eighteen or nineteen he entered upon a more enlarged sphere of action. He was then naturally desirous of turning his profession to account, and often, at twenty-one, sought to enter into practice, having passed five of the best years of his life in an apothecary's house and shop, cut off, generally speaking, from attending lectures, and from all opportunities of general study and improvement. In the United Kingdom there were sixteen or seventeen Colleges for granting degrees in medicine and licenses to practice including the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, St. Andrews, and the two Universities at Aberdeen; the Colleges of Physicians in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, the College of Surgeons in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, and the Apothecaries' Company in London. Now, it was obvious that without some controlling power these various bodies must be rivals, and, as rivals, their tendency uuchecked, was to underbid one another. If that underbidding only related to the amount of fees, it might be very well, but the general tendency was, to pass the greatest possible number of students for the purpose of granting licenses or degrees, and as the fees became low, and the standard of knowledge relatively reduced the attraction became great in favour of the cheap and easy Universities. In the northern part of the United Kingdom particularly, those degrees had been sold without requiring any examination, and even in regard to this country, the standard of the College of Surgeons in Dublin was higher than in London, where it had been studiously kept low. As might be expected from the increased facilities of the north, the licenses granted there were as five out of six from all other Universities. One evil attendant on the practice of medicine was the incompetency of those who professed to practise it, and the remedy required was to secure to the public a sufficient degree of knowledge and skill on the part of the practitioner. But all men were tenacious of life, and when life was endangered and the healing art administered no cure, there was a natural tendency to fly for succour to those who held out promises of relief. Hence quackery attained an influence over the human mind, and the delusive hope of relief aided the cheating practice of the quack who promised it. It was vain in such circumstances to propose that quackery should be put down by statute. The object of the present Bill, however, was to amend many of the provisions of the present imperfect law: to put down quackery by legislation would be seeking to attain an impossibility, to discourage it by securing exclusive advantages to the regular practitioner, was within the reach of the law, and this was the object of the Bill now under consideration. Without attempting to suppress quackery, he still thought it was within the scope of a wise Legislature to offer direct encouragement to the able, qualified, and accomplished practitioner. The principle of his measure, therefore, he might state in general terms to be this: he proposed no restriction on private practice whatever; it would be open to every man to prescribe and administer medicine without any previous examination or proof of qualification. But he thought a wise Legislature should offer to the public some certain and accredited guarantee of the fitness, competency, skill, and knowledge of those practitioners who voluntarily submitted themselves to examination, and who, by examination had given proofs of their competency and skill. His principle, therefore, was that none should be eligible to fill a medical or surgical office in any public institution, unless his qualification had been tested by competent authority. That was to say none should be prohibited by law from practising medicine, but none should be qualified to fill surgical or medical situations, of a public character, unless qualified according to the conditions of this Bill. The question then was, what was meant by "public situations?" His answer to this question was, that he held an office to be public where the choice of the medical attendant did not rest with the patient or any member of his family. Having said thus much, he would now state the provisions of the Bill he wished to introduce. He proposed to repeal all the Acts of Parliament and Charters that at present were in force relating to the practice of medicine and surgery; but at the same time he should re-enact such portions of the existing law as it might be deemed desirable to retain—beginning the work of legislation on the subject of medicine as it were, de novo. The effect of this would be that all peculiar privileges or all local privileges in England—as contradistinguished from what was the state of the law in Scotland or Ireland, would be swept away. In Scotland, licences for practising medicine were granted, but the parties so licensed could not practise in England. By the Bill he proposed to introduce, all these exclusive privileges for practising medicine would be abolished. The most important feature, however, of this measure, would be the establishment of a Council of Health in this metropolis, in direct connection with the Executive Government, and for the proceedings of which Council the Executive Government would be more or less responsible. Thus the present great anomaly of a number of rival bodies possessing powers capable of being exercised without any responsibility would be abolished. This Council would be given the power of controlling the examinations of persons seeking legal qualifications to practise, and also of regulating and equalizing the fees to be paid by them. It was proposed that the Council of Health, and of Medical Education should remain at all times within this metropolis, holding periodical sittings. The Council was to consist of ex-officio members and of members to be appointed by the Crown. The ex-officio members would be the regius professor of physic of the University of Oxford, the regius professor of physic of the University of Cambridge, the regius professor of physic of the University of Dublin, the regius professor of physic of the University of Edinburgh, and the regius professor of physic of the University of Glasgow. These would have seats in the Council in right of their professorship. It was then proposed that there should be one physician and one surgeon chosen from the College of Physicians and the College of Surgeons respectively in England, Ireland, and in Scotland. He had thus enumerated eleven persons who would form part of the Council; it was then proposed that six others should be appointed by Her Majesty by the advice of Her Privy Council. Of these six, if he might presume to give any advice upon the subject, one at least should be a physician practising in the rural districts, as contradistinguished from practising in the metropolis, and also one a surgeon, likewise practising in the rural districts. These six members with the eleven ex-officio members would, together with the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the time being, constitute a board of eighteen. Of the six members to be nominated by the Crown he should propose that one physician and one surgeon should retire annually, but to be re-eligible. It was also proposed that any member might resign, and that a member might be dismissed by the Crown for notorious misbehaviour or unfitness. The Council were to appoint one principal Secretary, who was to be resident in the metropolis, and in constant attendance on the Council. The Council would also have the power to appoint two local Secretaries—one for Scotland and one for Ireland—subject to the control of the Secretary of State. To the ex-officio members no salary would be given, but to the other members it was proposed that their travelling expenses from time to time should be paid, and that a moderate salary should be given to them with the consent and under the control of the Treasury. It was proposed that minutes of all their proceedings should be kept by the Council; and he now came to that which was the real and essential means of control of the exercised by the Committee over all the seventeen licensing bodies throughout the United Kingdom. He proposed that a register should be kept of all physicians and surgeons licensed to practice medicine and surgery. This list was to be kept in alphabetical order and published annually. The Council of Health would, on letters testimonial being granted by any of the seventeen licensing bodies in the country (who would retain the power of examination, permit the party to be registered. [Mr. Wakley: without examination?] Yes: without exami- nation. There would be three degrees of practitioners licensed. One the vendors of medicine, another surgeons, and the third physicians. He proposed to enact that, with regard to licensing the vendors of medicine who would be the general country practitioners the licensing bodies should have the power to grant that degree to no person under twnty-one years of age. The testimonial would be founded upon an examination both in medicine and in surgery, by one or other of the seventeen licensing bodies. With respect to surgeons, he proposed that the license to practice in surgery should be issued to no person under the age of twenty-five years; and with respect to physicians, the age at which a license could be obtained would be twenty-six years. At these several ages the respective parties might obtain licences to qualify them to be registered, having previously undergone the necessary examination by the licensing bodies. But a person wishing to be registered as a physician, who had not qualified in the manner required by having graduated in some university, would not be eligible for registration until he had attained the age of forty years, and had been examined by the Royal College of Physicians in England; or in case the application should be made to some of the seventeen licensing bodies, then the Royal College of Physicians should previously grant a special certificate that they had made inquiry as to the circumstances under which the degree had been conferred. Thus facility would be given for the licentiate to register as a surgeon at twenty-five years of age, and as a physician at twenty-six. Therefore, any person so licensed might combine in his own person the two branches of the profession, and might at twenty-six be registered both as a surgeon and a physician. He attached great importance to this point, relating as it did to what was termed general practice, and which combined the usually separate departments of medicine and surgery—the skill and ability of the party, however, being tested in all cases by actual examination. But all these provisions would be quite nugatory, unless some precautionary measures were taken by the controlling body, to insure that the standard of knowledge requisite to obtain a testimonial to be given to the licentiate should be equally, uniformly, and carefully maintained. He, therefore, proposed to give to the Council of Health the power to inspect the proceedings of those licensing bodies—more espe- cially with respect to their course of examination and the scale of fees received by them. These would be submitted from time to time to the Council, and would be regulated by them. The qualifications, therefore, of persons seeking to be registered would, as far as possible, be uniform throughout the United Kingdom. No University would have the power to grant a licence to those who had not attended the lectures on medicine in that University, and who had not been examined, and shown that they possessed a competent knowledge of Latin and Greek. The Council would beyond this possess the power of refusing to register persons notwithstanding such persons had obtained testimonials from the examinig body, if the Council had previously satisfied themselves that the testimonials were granted without due regard to the general rules to be established by the Council of Health. He had already stated, that he did not propose to proceed by penalties, but by inducements. The principle of the measure was, that persons not duly qualified should not be competent to fill certain specified offices. He would now state what were the offices which he should term public offices. He proposed that no person, after the passing of this Act, who was not registered by the Council of Health, should be appointed to any medical or surgical office in any public hospital, prison, infirmary, dispensary, workhouse, or other public institution in the United Kingdom, or any medical or surgical office in the Army, Navy, or East India Company, but he had made a special reservation in favour of medical men who were natives of India; but no other person appointed by the East India Company would be entitled to take the appointment without a certificate of registration. He also proposed that certain privileges and exemptions, now given by law to the members of the profession generally, should henceforth be confined to medical men who were registered that they should be exempted from being summoned to serve on juries, or to serve on corporate, parochial, or township offices; but none who were not registered, were to be so exempted, nor would they be competent to give evidence in any court of law where the certificate of any medical man was required. He thought these exclusive privileges and advantages would be found a very effectual inducement to persons to be registered. With respect to persons at present practising, it was not his wish to make it a harsh mea- sure. He therefore proposed to give to these who were now in practice in the United Kingdom a period of twelve months within which they might apply to be registered, or application might be made, within the period of two years, by persons practising in Colonies, on the production to the Council, of his diploma, licence, or certificate, or such other evidence as should show that, at the time of the passing of this Act, he was legally entitled to act as a physician, surgeon, or apothecary, in some part of the United Kingdom. He proposed to inflict a penalty of 20l. upon any man who practised in a public office without registration. Any person unlawfully practising in any part of the United Kingdom if registered within twelve months, was to be considered qualified for public appointments. He now proposed to notice a Clause respecting which he frankly admitted he felt some hesitation: it amounted more nearly to a penalty, than any other provision in the Bill: it provided that none but registered persons, or those who could have been registered before the passing of the Act, were entitled to recover at law for medicines, attendance or advice. He meant it as a warning Clause, and he hoped that it would be so understood. Those who falsely pretended to be registered, were to be liable to the punishment awarded to those who were guilty of misdemeanor. Having thus gone through the great outlines of his proposed Bill, he had only to thank the House for the attention it had paid to what he had stated, and to add, that he left it open to the public in their individual capacity to make their own choice of a medical attendant, even if they preferred an unregistered to a registered practitioner. The measure, which he proposed, gave the utmost encouragement to skill, science, and learning, tested by examination; while it discouraged quackery, and placed it under signal disadvautage; in public institutions none but registered practitioners would be tolerated; but each individual would retain the unrestricted right of choosing his own medical attendants. He concluded by moving for leave to bring in his Bill.

Mr. Macaulay

rose to second the Motion with pleasure. For many reasons it would be improper now to advert to the details of the intended measure, and the right hon. Baronet did not, perhaps mean, to pledge himself as to all the provisions he had stated. He brought it forward that it might be considered and discussed out of doors during the recess. As he however had the honour to represent the seat of a great medical school, he had bestowed some attention on the subject, and regarded it with a lively interest, he might say, generally, that he had great satisfaction in expressing his cordial approbation of the main principles just developed. A law like that about to be introduced ought to abolish all existing authorities — ought, above all, to destroy the absurd system of apprenticeship, and to extinguish all local privileges connected with medical practice. There ought to be no such distinction as that a man authorised to practice at Kelso was excluded from Newcastle, or at Dublin was excluded from Holyhead. If the sixteen medical bodies alluded to were left, it was absolutely necessary to adopt some system to prevent them from underbidding each other, and to compel them to adopt some particular standard. All this he found provided for in the promised Bill, and he thought that the right hon. Baronet had judged wisely in determining not to inflict any penalty or unauthorised practice merely as such. He had also judged wisely in putting, as it were, a mark on the practitioner recognised by the State, by reserving to such persons all public employments. It was a matter of detail, but he might mention that he had some doubt on the point of the civil remedy; but when the subject was again brought forward—he hoped early next Session—he should be prepared to approve of the general principle, and to state his objections to the details in a friendly spirit. He believed he could answer for those whom he represented, that the Bill would receive their cordial acquiescence, and he apprehended that the same feeling would prevail in other bodies of great consideration. He alluded not merely to the medical school of Edinburgh, but to the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. To them the measure would give great satisfaction, and from them it would receive general support.

Mr. G. Knight

took the liberty of asking his right hon. Friend whether he intended that the Apothecary's Company should continue to possess the privilege of granting licences?

Sir. J. Graham

thanked his hon. Friend for putting the question, and was glad of the opportunity of making it more clearly understood that such was not his intention.

Mr. G. Knight

said, he was glad to hear it, as he always had considered that the possession of such a privilege by a trading Company was a degrading anomaly. He would ask another question—which was whether any penalty was to be introduced into the Bill to deter the vendor of drugs from prescribing? [Sir J. Graham did not contemplate the introduction of any such penalty.] He regretted it, because it was notorious that evil consequences were constantly arising from the rashness of ignorant druggists, or of their still more ignorant apprentices; and those evil consequences most frequently fell upon the poor, who were in the habit of asking the druggists to prescribe, in order to avoid the expense of a doctor. If there was to be no penalty, he only hoped that, in future, the druggists would feel it to be their duty to inform themselves in proportion to what they ventured to undertake. With regard to the scheme for Medical Reform which had been brought forward by the right hon. Baronet, he admitted that something of the kind had long been called for; though, in this matter, another proof had been afforded that many things which cannot be defended in theory, succeed tolerably well in practice—for it could not be denied that, even as it was, the reputation of the medical body of this country stood as high as that of any medical body in the world—that they possessed the confidence of the public, and that, even as it was, nearly as much assistance was afforded by them to their suffering brethren as was within the reach of human aid. Still, however, improvements might be made, and he considered that the plan proposed by the right hon. Baronet would, in most respects, prove beneficial. The great feature of that plan was the Supreme Council of Health—and through such a Council would be obtained that uniformity of qualification, that improved method of examination, that extended education, the attainment of which was admitted by all to be desirable. He did not object to the continuance of the sixteen privileged Corporations, because it was obvious that the Registration, and the sanction of the Council of Health, would confer the efficient license, the real diploma, to which the attention of the public would be directed; the continuance therefore of the sixteen Corporations, if it should appear to be superfluous, would at least be harm- less; but the part of the plan, as to the merit and success of which he doubted, was the constitution of the Supreme Council. A Supreme, Controlling Council was expected and desired—but it was well known that, in the mode of constituting that Council, some infusion of a popular nature was looked for by the whole medical body of the three kingdoms. He did not mean to recommend any thing of so extensive a character as had once been recommended, and was now disclaimed, by his hon. Friend the Member for Kendal, but he did think that, in the constitution of the Supreme Council, the elective and representative principle might have been introduced in a modified form—and he thought he had learned from experience that legislation seldom succeeds when it proceeds in exact opposition to the wishes and feelings of the parties concerned. He was also of opinion that it would be more convenient if branch Councils were established at Dublin and Edinburgh. In making these few observations, he begged his right hon. Friend to believe that, he was actuated not by any wish to obstruct his measure, but from an earnest desire that it should be crowned with success.

Mr. Wakley

said, that petitions had been presented from all parts of the kingdom on the subject of medical legislation, and what were the prayers of those petitions? Those prayers were invariably that the petitioners might be invested with a controlling power with reference to those Medical Institutions to which they belonged. In other words, they desired to have an opportunity afforded them of electing the controlling body of those colleges of which they were members. How were these petitions answered? Were the petitioners to acquire additional power by the proposition of the right hon. Baronet? Were they to elect the Council? No; but they were to be subject to a Council appointed by the Government, and by Colleges of the conduct of which they had been incessantly complaining. Did the right hon. Baronet consider such a proposal would be satisfactory to the medical profession? He was aware that in the present case the profession should be but a secondary object, and that the public must be looked to first. He gave the right hon. Baronet credit for having attended to the subject, and though what he now said might give offence out of doors, he would yet declare that he believed the right hon. Baronet really wished to place the medical profession on a better footing than that on which it now stood. But the right hon. Baronet had been ear-wigged, deceived, misinformed, and had had the subject misrepresented to him by somebody who had gained access to him, while the medical body had not been able to obtain a hearing. The right hon. Baronet, he feared, had been wilfully deceived, and he was satisfied that no measure would create more dissatisfaction out of doors than the measure now before the House. The right hon. Baronet could never pass the Bill. It was incredible to suppose that the 30,000 medical men located in the towns and kingdoms of this Empire would consent to the Bill becoming law. The Bill was irreconcilable to what was due to medical competency, and due to the medical body. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh said the Bill would give satisfaction in Edinburgh. No doubt it would, because the Bill conferred a favour on Edinburgh. But what did the Bill do in respect to the practitioners of England—between 15,000 and 20,000 in number? What was done with regard to the medical body of England? Why, everybody in England, no matter who he is, no matter whether of sufficient capapacity or if no capacity at all, if he choose he may practise medicine. In order to give increased facility to persons who may choose to undertake the duty of practising medicine in England, the right hon. Baronet began by repealing the 58th Geo. III., the Apothecaries Act, which inflicted a penalty of 20l. for practising without a licence. He approved of the alteration in respect of apprenticeships; but he was of opinion, in order to protect human life, in order to prevent unnecessary human suffering, it was indispensable to protect them from dupes, and to prevent them from becoming the victims of a profligate, mercenary, and extortionate set of men, by maintaining a proper restriction as to medical practitioners. What did the House do in regard to lawyers? Let the House see how differently they were disposed to deal between life and property. Could any one practise as an attorney? No; but any one might practise as a surgeon or an apothecary. If a person practised as an attorney without being duly admitted, he was subject to a heavy penalty; but the lives of families and neighbourhoods might be seriously affected by an ignorant pretender to medical knowledge, if the Bill became law. It was not the time to discuss the subject, but he thought it was right to give the hon. Baronet notice, that when he embodied his principles and views in this Bill he (Mr. Wakley) was determined to use every form which the House permitted for the purpose of preventing the measure from becoming law. He was satisfied that a measure more injurious to the medical body and the public could not become law. Reform was commenced inauspiciously. The first prayer of the medical body was answered by a charter to the Royal College of Surgeons. There was little doubt that some influential persons, who could make their approach by the back-stairs, had induced the right hon. Gentleman to grant the College of Surgeons a new Charter, which had since proved the source of great injustice, and of many heart burnings in the profession. Amongst other rules it gave to the Council of the College the right of conferring the franchise upon individuals connected with the College. Now it happened that this part of the system was brought into operation last July for the first time in consequence of an election for officers, when it appeared that out of 10,000 persons in the profession, there were but thirty who were allowed by the Council to be qualified to exercise the franchise. Yet this system was to be left entire and intact by the right hon. Gentleman. And no redress in these respects had been given by the Executive to the much mortified petitioners. Now, he did not imagine the right hon. Baronet was one who would feel indifferent to the interests of the profession, which he (Sir James Graham) would admit, he thought, consisted of men of considerable acquirements anxiously labouring in the investigation of scientific matters and the search after truth; and he could hardly conceive how the right hon. Gentleman could come to any other conclusion than that such men were the best qualified to judge who were the persons most competent to govern and provide for the interests of the general body. It was painful to look at the barbarous system upon which the Council was now acting under the right hon. Baronet's Charter. [Sir J. Graham: You should, in fairness, describe the system before that Charter was granted.] He would grant that that was a system which had reflected disgrace upon them in the eyes of Europe; and the system of the trading part of the profession in Blackfriars was infinitely more creditable than that of the Royal Incorporation of Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. To prove that in so characterising that body he did it no injustice, he would allude to two cases, the case of Mr. Brooks, the most eminent, indeed almost the only lecturer of his day, and the most perfect minute anatomist known. What did the College for him? Did they admit him to the Council or distinguish him by any reward? Quite the reverse; they left him to pine in want, and of want he died. Another instance was that of Mr. Carpue: a more highly gifted, or more generally and warmly beloved man did not exist; he had educated hundreds, and, perhaps, thousands, but he was not elected on the Council of the College of Surgeons, and why? Because he had instructed students at a cheaper rate than the rest of the body, and because he did not belong to hospitals of which they were members. Yet upon this so constituted Council did the right hon. Gentleman confer by his late Charter the control and government of the body, with new and extraordinary powers. The expression of Mr. Lawrence had been referred to with acquiescence, and he too deferred to it, that no person would be admitted to practise in the profession who did not know the whole of it; but this was a truth as old as Celsus, and had since been inculcated by Abernethy whose pupil Mr. Lawrence had been. In the face of this admitted truth the Council had established a regulation that in order to be ballotted for as a member of the Council, the Surgeon must be recommended by three persons members of the Council, and also have a certificate that for five whole years previously he had not practised as a surgeon accoucheur, or that he resided within five miles of the Post Office. What, in heaven, did that restriction about the Post Office mean? It was curious that this Bill should come on at this particular time, and after the scene which the right hon. Baronet had only yesterday witnessed. For the very man who had saved the life of the Queen, and the life of a Prince, would be marked for degradation and exclusion by this body; he would not be admitted to the Council unless he could prove that he had not been contaminated by the odious practice of midwifery during the last five years. Did the right hon. Baronet think it right to exclude that branch of the profession of which W. Hunter and the father of the present Chief Justice of England were such distinguished members? The right hon. Baronet had been deceived by some one who called himself a "pure" Surgeon, which in the profession was understood to mean a person purely ignorant of everything in medicine, except that which related to his own particular department. He held that it was the paramount duty of that House to prevent any person from practising who was not duly qualified. Why was all this mess and difficulty with respect to medicine? Was there anything in the law giving this free power? A gentleman went to one of the Inns of Court, he ate in his knowledge, and after that every one must either plead his own cause or employ one of these qualified persons. He did not mean to say that if a person competent to judge should prefer going to a quack, he would say don't let him go, but they were legislating for the poor, and for those who could not judge, and he saw the fatal results of ignorance every week of his life. Now, no one could dispense medicine unless he had obtained a certificate from the Apothecaries' Company. The regulations were imperfect, but they had had the effect of preventing, in a great measure, the evils of incompetent practitioners; and it was the duty of the House, instead of repealing those restrictions, to see that the public were provided with a competent class of medical practitioners. The Bill proposed to fling the medical practice entirely open, so that any man who chose might practise as a physician, a surgeon, or an apothecary, without any restriction or penalty; and if they passed such a law they would not only inflict injury upon the medical practitioners, but they would lead to the misery and deaths of hundreds and thousands of the poor of this country. He, therefore, intreated the right hon. Baronet to reconsider this question; he begged of him to attend to other evidence than that which he obtained at the Home Office, and to listen to the petitions of the medical practitioners themselves, and he was sure that if the right hon. Gentleman applied his powerful mind to the subject he would see it in a very different light, and would introduce a very different measure.

Mr. Hawes

thought, that the hon. Mem- ber for Finsbury had in some degree wandered from the subject before them, which was whether they should place on an improved footing the practice of medicine, and then whether the Government proposed a measure which would accomplish this object. He would only then take the scheme as a whole, he would not go into its details, or into the question as to the charter given to the College of Surgeons, but taking the general outlines of the scheme, he said that it did deserve the general attention of the House, and he would be ready at its future stages to render his humble aid, and to act cordially and sincerely with the right hon. Baronet in effecting some great change. He thought that the Council was too exclusive, and that there was ground of complaint that the great body of the medical practitioners would not be represented. The registration of the medical body, particularly of the medical students, would be a great improvement. With respect to putting an end to quackery, he was disposed to agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that it was better to hold out inducements, than to adopt any measures of restraint; still he thought that justice was hardly done to the Apothecaries' Company, who had introduced a very useful improvement in the great body over whom they presided, and he was of opinion that some steps might be taken to continue their Act. That this Bill would be opposed he had no doubt; but he regretted that the hon. Member for Finsbury should before the measure was fully known, have expressed so strongly his opinion against it, and looking to the opposition offered by the hon. Member to the two former Bills which had been introduced upon this subject, and his opposition to this, he could not see to what scheme of reform the hon. Member would give his aid.

Leave given.

House adjourned, quarter before eight o'clock.