HC Deb 18 December 1854 vol 136 cc463-4

On Motion that the House do go into Committee on the Militia Bill,


begged to call the attention of the House to the circumstances in which medical officers of the militia are placed at the present moment. The Militia Bill was similar to that which had been passed during the last war; but circumstances were changed, and that which in former times might have been perfectly just, might, under present circumstances, be the reverse. It was well known to the Members of the House that the surgeons acting under the present Militia Bill were men of the highest character in their profession. They were men holding a local position, and many of them were rendering essential service to the localities in which they resided. It was proposed that those men should be taken away to perform active duty in the Colonies, or in different portions of the kingdom, and there kept on active service for two or three years, and then disbanded without a penny of compensation, saving the daily pay they had received during the time. It was a well-known fact, and should be remembered, that at the present time the standard of education in the College of Surgeons was reduced in order to make up the deficiency existing, and that the army and naval medical boards had not got a single candidate upon their lists. Under these circumstances, the Bill was to be passed, and the Government would be doing great injustice to the men they were collecting into the militia force, unless the medical officers were placed on the permanent staff. He hoped his observations would not be allowed to pass idly by; that they would be weighed and considered, and that justice would be done to those men by improving their position. Something should be secured to them for coming forward at that time to render essential service to the country.

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