HC Deb 19 February 1878 vol 237 cc1990-4

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that its object was to provide for the examination and registration of dentists. It was rather remarkable, considering that all doctors and surgeons must be examined before they were permitted to practise, and that chemists and druggists were liable to examination, dentists should not be compelled to give a similar proof of their professional skill. The system proposed in the Bill had been introduced in America, where it had worked satisfactorily. The Bill was supported by the Royal College of Surgeons, and he had presented Petitions in its favour from more than two-thirds of the surgeons practising dentistry. The signatures to these Memorials comprised the names of most eminent members of the surgical, medical, and dental professions. He would not at that hour enter into the details of the Bill; but its principal object was to protect the public against quacks by giving them an opportunity of ascertaining whether dentists were properly qualified.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir John Lubbock.)


supported the second reading of the Bill, but reminded the hon. Baronet who introduced it that certain degrees relating to dentistry were conferred by the Universities. This circumstance seemed to have been forgotten, as there was no reference to it in the clauses of the Bill. Up to the present moment, the public Universities both in England and in Ireland had been in the habit of granting degrees; but by the clauses of the Bill, as at present drawn, such degrees would be unavailable. He hoped that this part of the question would receive attention in Committee.


rose to move the adjournment of the debate. At that late hour it was quite impossible to discuss a Bill involving a principle so important. The hon. Baronet who introduced the Bill informed the House that its chief object was to get rid of quackery in dentistry. He had no doubt that was the object the hon. Baronet had in view; but it was sought to be attained in such a way as to provoke the hostility of a great majority of the members of the medical profession, who were the last in the world to interfere on behalf of quackery. This Bill, he believed, would rather promote quackery than suppress it. It proposed that any person practising under the title of dentist, or surgeon-dentist, or a dentist-surgeon, should be liable to fine and punishment unless he was registered according to the provisions of this Bill. It proposed, further, that no person should be registered who either was not qualified as a licentiate in dental surgery by some medical licensing body, or who was not already practising. The man who was not a surgeon would not be allowed to call himself a dental surgeon, although he might call himself an aural surgeon, or an ophthalmic surgeon. He would thus be precluded from adopting a speciality. But any man practising dentistry, no matter how uneducated, would be able to call himself a surgeon and a dental surgeon. The British Medical Association, comprising many members in all parts of the country, opposed this Bill, and a Petition against it, which was deposited at The Lancet office only on Saturday last, had received the signatures of the most eminent practitioners in London, including Sir William Gull. The Bill was also opposed by the most eminent dental surgeons, who said that, while at present they were distinguished as dental surgeons from surgeons practising dentistry, if this Bill passed the most uneducated men would be equally entitled to call themselves dental surgeons.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Br. Cameron.)


thought that the questions raised by the hon. Member who moved the adjournment of the debate, although very important, might be left to the Committee, as they did not go to the root of the matter. The Memorial which the hon. Member had referred to did not object to the principle of the Bill, but merely suggested certain alterations which could be dealt with in Committee. He hoped the Motion for the adjournment of the debate would not be pressed.


admitted that there were many objectionable provisions in the Bill, but he was satisfied that the hon. Baronet who had charge of it was willing to make the necessary alterations in Committee. Some system of registration was, undoubtedly, necessary, and the Bill ought not to be opposed at that stage. Although he objected to the Bill, as at present framed, he did not know that any professional man could object to the principle it laid down. All that the hon. Baronet wanted to secure was that a certain amount of registration should take place to suppress quackery and to control a department of surgery which had got outside the lines of surgery, and, to some extent, had fallen into the hands of pure mechanicians, and was, moreover, outside the control of the College of Surgeons.

Question put.

The House divided: —Ayes 27; Noes 49: Majority 22.—(Div. List, No. 20.)


moved the adjournment of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— (Sir Joseph M'Kenna.)


said, he had supported the hon. Baronet (Sir John Lubbock) in the last division; but as there was other Business to be disposed of, he hoped the hon. Baronet would not seek to proceed further with the Bill.


trusted that his hon. Friends would not press the adjournment after what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman.


said, that having tested the opinion of the House once, he was not desirous of proceeding further.


did not think there was any great necessity for pushing on the Bill in such a violent hurry. Hon. Members had not seen any of the Amendments yet. Opposition to the Bill was only withdrawn yesterday or the day before, and the right hon. Member for Edinburgh University had assured him that he had withdrawn his opposition under a mishapprehension. The result of that was that the medical profession and others interested in the Bill had not had an opportunity of considering the matter. He would suggest that the second reading of the Bill be postponed.


thought the hon. Baronet ought to be very well satisfied with having passed one Bill that evening.


seconded the Motion for the adjournment of the House, for the purpose of getting a promise from the hon. Baronet that, if the Motion was withdrawn, he would not proceed further with this Bill. The second reading was not moved until the most unreasonable hour of 20 minutes past 1.


hoped the hon. Baronet would move the adjournment of the debate, and not the adjournment of the House.


urged that the House should either affirm or reject the principle of the Bill. If the House affirmed its principle, then his hon. Friend could place his Amendments on the Paper. If the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) objected to any further progress on the Bill, he could do so on the Motion for going into Committee. He hoped that the Motion for the adjournment of the House would be withdrawn.


said, the principle of the Bill, as he understood it, was simply to provide for the formation of a trade's union, or if it be considered more respectful, of a professional union. The House was not in the practice of legislating for such objects as that, nor did he think such legislation was desirable. He hoped the Motion for the adjournment would be persevered in, as at that hour they ought all to be elsewhere.


hoped the Motion for the adjournment of the House would not be pressed, for considerable inconvenience to Public Business would result. He trusted that the hon. Baronet would take a course which would render such a step unnecessary.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 11; Noes 61: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 21.)


denied that, as the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) seemed to assume, the House had affirmed the principle of the Bill. The debate had been directed to the question of the propriety of adjourning the debate or the House. He would move that the debate be now adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)


said, he would offer no further opposition to the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Tuesday 5th March.