HC Deb 09 April 1856 vol 141 cc756-62

Order for Committee read.


said, that there had been a generally expressed wish that the measure should be referred to a Select Com- mittee. There appeared to be much opposition to it in its details, but not on its principle. The interests of various parties were affected by it, and they wore anxious that their opinions should be heard before the Bill passed. It seemed to him very desirable that the House should not waste its time by entering into a discussion of that nature in a Committee of the whole House, and as his hon. Friend who introduced the Bill was willing to refer it to a Select Committee, if it was afterwards taken up by the Government, he (Mr. Cowper) was prepared to take charge of it, and if the Committee adopted certain alterations which he should submit, he would undertake the responsibility of carrying it through the House after it emerged from the Select Committee.

Order discharged.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee.


said, the subject had been considered again and again by Select Committees, and every possible information was already before the House. At the same time, as the Government would take charge of the Bill, he should not object to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Health.


said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last somewhat misunderstood the right hon. Member for Hertford. He (Sir J. Pakington) understood that right hon. Gentleman to say, not that the Committee would investigate the whole subject, but the details of the Bill, He was very glad that the Government had changed the intention they announced last week in reference to this measure, and had consented to take it into their own hands.


said, he understood the right hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. Cowper) to imply that evidence might be taken before the Committee from the parties whose interests were affected by the Bill. [Mr. COWPER: No, I did not mean that.] The right hon. Gentleman certainly intimated that there existed parties whose interests were affected, who wished to be heard, and it would be far better to hear their opinions before a Select Committee than if their opinions were quoted in the discussion in that House. If the Motion for the reference of the measure to a Select Committee were persisted in, he should certainly move that the Com- mittee have power to send for persons and papers.


said, he would beg to offer the suggestion, made to him by an eminent member of the medical profession, that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into the subject, upon the result of whose labours a measure might be introduced.


said, he did not men that the Committee should hear evidence, but as the opinions of medical men on the Bill had been expressed in petitions, and in that House by their representatives, their views should be considered by the Committee.


said, he could not consent to such an unsatisfactory proceeding. If the interest of particular persons was affected as alleged, they had a right to be heard, and to hear them only through the means of memorials and petitions was extremely unsatisfactory. The medical body was not quite the body to sit quiet under such a proceeding, and the effect would be that when the Bill came back to them the House would find itself in a worse position than it was at present. What he should suggest was, that evidence should be allowed to be given, not upon the whole subject, but upon those particular clauses of the measure by which private interests were affected. To take evidence in that restricted sense was a very common proceeding, and entirely avoided the opening of the whole question.


said, that to grant a general power to the Committee to take evidence would endanger the reopening of the whole question, upon which an enormous mass of evidence had been already given. He thought that the best way would be to leave it in the hands of the Select Committee to come to the House when any point came under their consideration affecting private rights, and ask their permission to take evidence on that particular point in the restricted sense indicated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire.


said, he quite agreed in the suggestion, for he considered that the principal difficulty lay in reconciling the University systems with those adopted by the different medical corporations. He thought the granting of a general power to take evidence would not be advisable.


said, he could not consent to the course proposed to be adopted. The main question was, whether the go- vernment of the medical profession should remain in the hands of the Executive Government of the country, as at present, or be vested in a council of the profession itself. That question, in his opinion, ought to be discussed in the House, and not by a Select Committee. The particular mode of election, whether a University should elect one member, or a particular college another member of a medical council, might very properly form the subject of consideration by a Select Committee, but the question of the government itself ought to be considered by the House. Of one thing he was satisfied, that unless the compulsory principle of the Bill were altered it would not become popular.

It being now a quarter to Six o'clock,


, in pursuance of the Standing Order to that effect, declared the debate adjourned.

The House adjourned at ten minutes to Six o'clock.