HC Deb 04 April 1887 vol 313 cc463-7

Order for Second Reading read.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

I rise to move the second reading of this Bill. Of course, at this time of the morning, I shall not go into any detail, but merely state to the House that the measure is promoted by the Pharmaceutical Society in the public interest. It is very necessary that chemists and druggists, who have to make up our medicines, should receive a competent training before going up for examination. The general tenour of the Bill is that the candidates for the diploma of the Pharmaceutical Society shall be obliged to attend lectures upon botany, chemistry, and materia medica, and be compelled to go through a practical training for three years. I submit that this Bill is distinctly in the public interest, and I hope the second reading may be now agreed to.

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

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I regret very much so important a Bill should be brought forward at 10 minutes to 2 in the morning, and I trust my hon. Friend (Dr. Farquharson) will not press the second reading. The object of the Bill is to give additional powers to the Pharmaceutical Society; to give the Society, in fact, powers and privileges with which such a body ought not to be vested. Up to 1868 anyone could carry on the business of a chemist and druggist; but in that year a register of chemists and druggists was drawn up, and an examiner was appointed by the Pharmaceutical Society to give a qualification to all who practised as a chemist and druggist. Now, the Society wish to go further—they wish to be empowered to create a curriculum, and to compel those who desire to trade as chemists and druggists to pass in chemistry, botany, and materia medica. If the Society were so empowered, the chemist and druggist trade would simply be made a very close corporation, because the chemists and druggists in small towns and poor neighbourhoods will be unable to qualify. In large places like London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, where you have courses of lectures on botany, chemistry, and materia medica, it will be quite easy for students to attend the courses and qualify themselves. Up to the present time, all you have asked for is that those who practise as chemists and druggists should know something of their business. To go beyond that, and allow this body to determine a curriculum, and compel persons to go through that curriculum, will be to limit the trade to a small number of men who will make a monopoly of it. In the next place, I am opposed to the principle of the Bill. I think that all we have to do for the benefit of the public is to see that men who practise as chemists and druggists should pass a proper examination. To allow the Pharmaceutical Society to lay down a curriculum is beyond the province of legislation. By passing this Bill we should be giving up the principle of Free Trade altogether, and we should be limiting the selling of drugs to a very small and select class. If we intend to grant any power of this kind to any Body, it ought to be to some public Body, and not to a mere society of traders who can make their own bye-laws, and whose bye-laws would have all the effect of an Act of Parliament. If my hon. Friend (Dr. Farquharson) perseveres with this Bill, I shall be compelled to endeavour to amend it so as to make the Pharmaceutical Society representative of the 12,000 persons engaged in the chemist and druggist trade, and not merely of the 2,000 members of the Society. I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months. There is no necessity for any change in the present system. The Pharmaceutical Society have passed certain rules or bye-laws which are practically illegal, and now they are asking this House to give them power which they ought to have possessed before making the bye-laws.

MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W. E., Holmfirth)

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Dr. Clark.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I think we must support this Bill, and for the reason that it will assimilate the English and Scotch law to the law of Ireland. The law in Ireland has undoubtedly worked well. It is said there is something very severe in compelling attendance at certain lectures before examination and certification; but I think, on the contrary, it is very beneficial to the persons concerned. Everyone knows that it is a very common practice for men who have to pass examinations to go to some crammer, who fills their minds with bits of information, and that Governing Bodies, knowing that this dangerous practice has to be encountered, are often in the habit of making exami- nations unnecessarily severe. If, how-over, Governing Bodies know that those presenting themselves for examination must have gone through a preliminary course of study, they are move inclined to let the examination partake more of a common-sense examination than otherwise. I do not think the operation of this Bill will work hardly upon any individual. The rights of old practitioners as chemists and druggists are already safeguarded under the main Act; and it is only proper, in the interest of the public safety, that men who have no qualification whatever should not have the right to dispense most powerful poisons.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not rise for the purpose of opposing this Bill; on the contrary, I mean to support the Bill as far as I possibly can. There are several points in connection with the Bill which have not obtained that amount of duo consideration to which they are fairly entitled. At the present time there is a great deal of discontent, because the rights of many chemists and druggists in England have not been properly respected. From time to time I have received communications from chemists and druggists, in which the writers point out that if this Bill is passed without due deliberation and proper debate, they will be placed in a position which it is quite certain the promoters of the Bill will admit is nothing else but regrettable. I sincerely hope a compromise may be arrived at. Instead of pushing the second reading of the Bill through the House to-night, perhaps it would be better if it were postponed, say, until next Thursday, or, if the House does not adjourn for Easter, until some day next week. When the second reading comes on again clauses may be submitted which will enable a great number of people who are employed as chemists and druggists, but who might be deprived of the employment by which they now find the means of livelihood, to continue their trade. There are a great many points in connection with this Bill which I should like to bring under the notice of the House, but as the hour is now so very advanced I will not do so. I sincerely trust, however, that the second reading of this Bill will be deferred for some days.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 76; Noes 22: Majority 54. —(Div. List, No. 88.)

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.