HC Deb 20 May 1889 vol 336 cc605-29

Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed [30th April], to Resolution.

"That a sum, not exceeding£79,688, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending the 31st day of March, 1890, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinates Offices."

And which Amendment was, to leave out"£79,668," and insert "£79,618."—(Mr. Bernard Coleridge.)

Question again proposed, "That '£79,668' stand part of the Resolution."

* MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

I rise to support the Motion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Bernard Coleridge) to reduce the salary of the Inspector under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, by the sum of£50. On the last occasion when this Vote was before the House my hon. Friend gave instances of very cruel experiments performed on living animals. I will not harrow the minds of Members by going into such details—my hon. Friend was justified in doing so to lay ground for his Motion—my remarks are of a somewhat different nature. The Act was passed in 1876, and was founded upon a Report of a Royal Commission, which sat to inquire into vivisection at a time when the public mind was very much horrified by details of the practice which became known. The Commissioners reported early in 1876. That Report emanated from a body of most emiment men, and those who have given any attention to the subject will know that it was by that Commission thoroughly investigated. Based on the recommendation of the Commission a Bill was introduced in 1876, which received the Royal Assent in the August of that year. Now, the pith and marrow of that Act lies in Clause 3, which places painful experiments on living animals under very severe restrictions. But during the passage of the Bill through the House of Lords, and mainly in consequence of strong representations from various scientific bodies, considerable alterations were made in this clause, with the result that the Bill when receiving Royal Assent had a very different shape to that which it had when it left this House. That part of the clause which provides for the issue of certificates, and sets aside the main restrictions of the licenses is to my mind very much to be regretted. One sentence in the Report of the Commissioners I may take as the foundation of my remarks. They say— The Secretary of State must have the most complete power of efficient inspection and of obtaining full returns and accurate records of all experiments made. Evidence leads me to doubt whether at the present moment inspection is properly carried out. The intention of Parliament was perfectly clear, and was made manifest by the Division which was taken by Mr. Robert Lowe, now Lord Sherbrooke. He desired to relieve graduates of Universities from the onus of taking out licenses, but the House rejected the proposal by a majority of three to one, and insisted upon no distinction being made between scientific men and laymen. In that spirit the Act should be administered. Now I turn to the Report of the Inspector, and, by the way, I may say that it approaches a Parliamentary scandal that we should, on the 29th April, vote the salary of an Inspector whose Report only comes into our hands on this the 20th May. I take the Report of the Inspector, Mr. Busk, which relates to 1879, and that of Mr. Erichsen for 1888, and I find that in 1879 36 of these licences were issued, and in 1888 there were 75 of them. In 1879 26 were operative, the others not being used, and in 1888, 55 were operative. But, whereas in 1879 there were 270 experiments reported, in 1888 the number had increased to 1,069. This enormous increase is precisely what the Royal Commission foretold. Then it becomes a very serious point who are the holders of these licenses. In 1883 there was a discussion in the House, initiated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dumfries (Mr. R. T. Reid) on which occasion he made a most careful and able speech that everyone interested in this matter might read with profit. My hon. and learned Friend mentioned the names of two or three men who, since the passing of the Act, had performed I think I may say, hundreds of experiments. Of these gentlemen one is Mr. C. S. Roy, and another is Mr. Rutherford, and both of these names appear in the Schedule of the holders of licenses for 1888. But there is also another name which has become famous or infamous in relation to this matter, the name of Dr. E. Klein, and in mentioning his name I come to the root of the matter, and to my contention the Inspector does not obtain full and accurate information. Dr. Klein appeared before the Royal Commission, and this is part of the evidence he then gave (Question 3538). Dr. Klein says— Except for teaching purposes and for demonstrations I never use anæsthetics where it is not necessary for convenience. Then he is asked— When you say you never use them for convenience sake, do you mean that you have no regard at all to the sufferings of the animal? And the reply is— No regard at all. Then again he is asked— You are prepared to establish that as a principle which you approve? And he says— I think that with regard to an experimenter, a man who conducts special research, and performs an experiment, he has no time for thinking what the animal will feel or suffer. Then there is another question— For your own purpose, then, you disregard entirely the question of the suffering of the animal in performing a painful experiment? to which he answers "I do." In relation to Dr. Klein's there is a remarkable circumstance mentioned in the Report. The Secretary to the Commission sent the witness a proof of his evidence; it was not returned promptly, and upon the Secretary writing for it, it was returned so altered and mutilated that the Secretary deemed it his duty to take the instructions of the Commissioners as to whether it should be printed as Dr. Klein wished. The Commissioners declined to print the evidence so altered. They printed it as originally given before them, and added Dr. Klein's amended version, as an Appendix to the Report. Now, I do not think that a person so treated by the Commission and who so treated his own evidence is a fit person to hold a license under this Act. If the Inspector obtains his information from the holders of licenses, then I say information from Klein is not to be relied upon. Now I return to the reply of the hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend, or rather his speech in the discussion, for reply it can hardly be called. By this time the right hon. Gentleman must have discovered that he fell into some extraordinary misconceptions. In in the first place,he spoke of Mr. Erichsen as having discharged the duties of his position for 10 or 12 years to the entire satisfaction of successive Secretaries of State. Now, the actual fact is that Mr. Erichsen was appointed in 1886 by the right hon Gentleman and Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Childers). Then the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary went on to say that those charges recited by my hon. Friend were impossible; but we must admit the evidence given by my hon. Friend (Mr. Reid) in 1883, established a case for great watchfulness. I will now refer to some evidence in support of my contention that the inspection is insufficient. In volume 179 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for 1888, I find reference to experiments of such a nature as to shock humanity, experiments carried out by Mr. E. H. Schäfer, and this person's name appears as the holder of a license and a certificate relieving him from the obligations to kill animals before recovering from anæsthesia. In the Journal of Physiology for February, 1887, Dr. Pye Smith gives an account of experiments upon cats and rabbits extending over a period of six years. In the Practitioner of October, 1884, we have an account by Dr. Lauder Brunton as to the effect of extreme heat upon cats, baking the animals to death in fact, carried out by Mr. Cash, who, I observe, is the holder of five certificates under the Act. In the Zoophilist for April, 1888, I find Mr. Watson Cheyne, who is also a licensee under the Act, giving an account of the experiment of placing small glass balls full of croton oil under the skin of rabbits. In the Lancet of November 20th, 1886, Dr. Hughling Jackson observes in relation to some physiological reseaches— I say little of Brown Sequard's researches in epilepsy because Mr. Victor Horsley has recently repeated this distinguished physician's experiments. Mr. Horsley, I find, is a licensee and a holder of six certificates. Again, at a lecture at the Royal Institution, May 29, 1885, we find how Mr. Coleman related experiments in freezing rabbits, by Mr. McKendrick, until they died, and Mr. McKendrick is a licensee. In the Journal of Physiology for November, 1888, occurs accounts of some terrible experiments by J. R. Bradford. I avoid details, but it is necessary to mention these things to get an idea of the importance of the point we are urging. The Home Secretary challenged my hon. Friend to say if he meant to suggest that the whole system of the Vivisection Act was a sham. I do not know that my hon. Friend went so far as that, but I do ask why, in these scientific publications year after year, we find these accounts of the most painful and horrible, and in many instances, unnecessary experiments on living animals, and still, year after year, we are lead to believe by statements of Secretaries of State and Reports of Inspectors that nothing of the kind is going on. Another misconception of the right hon. Gentleman was, that curare is not allowed as an anaesthetic, and that, therefore, experiments of which my hon. Friend has given an account were absolutely prohibited. The Act does not prohibit the use of the drug, and a whiff of curare, the effect of which soon passes off, would be permitted under the Act. The right hon. Gentleman is also mistaken as to experiments upon dogs and cats. Anyone who holds a simple license can vivisect a cat or a dog if an anæsthetic is employed. Now I come to a name mentioned by my hon. Friend, that of Dr. McWilliam, of Aberdeen University. In the Journal of Physiology an account of these experiments is headed "From the Physiological Laboratory of the Aberdeen University," and there is nothing to suggest to the reader that the experiments did not take place within the University. This point I hope we may have cleared up. And now as to the provision of the official whose salary we are called upon to vote. I do not doubt his scientific eminence; but this I do say, that he is a warm advocate of the system against which the Royal Commission reported, and in the evidence before that Commission there is given at great length accounts of the most terrible experiments performed by Mr. Erichsen. True, these experiments were made in 1845, so that Mr. Erichsen was either a very young man then or he is considerably advanced in years now. He was a Member of the Royal Commission, but he acted throughout almost entirely as an advocate of those who performed those experiments. Acting as he did, Mr. Erichsen is not a fit person for the position of Inspector. I do not ask for the appointment of a man who takes the strong view. I know many people who hold that no experiments should be allowed on living animals for purposes of research, but I do not hold that view myself. But I do ask for the appointment of an Inspector who will hold the balance equal between parties. If I wanted further evidence of Mr. Erichsen's unsuitability, I should find it in his letter to the Scotsman, of May 10 last year, a most improper example of the bad habit which is growing up among officials of writing to the Press. The position is, then, we have an Act of Parliament imperfectly carried out; to use the words of the Royal Commission, the Secretary of State has not complete inspection and the fullest accounts of experiments made. I would put one or two questions to the Under Secretary, which he may be able to answer in his reply. Is he able to assure us that none of these terrible experiments are going on except in licensed places? Are all licensed places frequently and unexpectedly inspected? And, finally, are the facts and figures given in the Annual Reports of the Inspector derived from his own knowledge, or are they simply the statements of the persons who by Act of Parliament are under inspection? I cannot sit down without one word about the rather unjust attack made by the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) upon my hon. Friend Mr. Coleridge. The right hon. Gentleman said he had never known a greater abuse of the privileges of this House by any hon. Member than in his speech. Those who were present know that my hon. Friend made a most able, lucid, and cogent speech on the subject, and I say that when we are asked to vote the salaries of any of the officials, we are perfectly within our right in criticizing their conduct. I think the right hon. Gentleman will see, on reflection, that he was not within his right in so strongly characterizing my hon. Friend's speech.

* Sir H. ROSCOE (Manchester, S.)

I rise to oppose the Amendment, and I do so, in the first place, because I believe that the Acts referred to are worked honourably and honestly by all the men of science who obtain their licenses or certificates under them, and that the inspection and registration are carefully done. I was glad to learn from my hon. Friend (Mr. J. E. Ellis) tha the does not object to the Acts if they are properly carried out; but I think that is not altogether the case with many of those who speak on the question. A great number of those who are agitating on this matter desire the entire abolition of vivisection, that is of experiments on living animals whether effected under anæsthetics or not. I believe those experiments are of the very greatest value, and both medicine and surgery have highly benefited from them, both in this country and abroad. They are experiments not mainly or to any extent which give pain to animals, but are conducted under such restrictions and with such care that the animals do not suffer at all. My hon. Friend mentioned the name of Professor Ferrier. The results following on the experiments made by that gentleman have, in the hands of many distinguished surgeons, and especially of Mr. Victor Horsley, actually effected the alleviation of one of the most dreadful diseases to which flesh is heir—the disease of epilepsy. Professor Ferrier's experiments proved that epilepsy is caused by the irritation of the surface of the brain as opposed to that of its mass. And it is now possible, solely owing to these experiments, to localize in an epileptic patient the actual seat of the pressure on the brain. In many cases a portion of the skull has been removed, a tumour has been found and removed, and the epilepsy has been entirely cured. In fact, in the same way, owing to previous experiments on animals, a diseased kidney can now be removed with ease, and thus the life of the patient saved. There is not a page in any manual of physiology of which the principles laid down are not in some way connected with, or dependant upon, these experiments on animals. Then, again, there is no doubt that the principles of antiseptic surgery, which have been laid down by Lister, have been ascertained by experiments of this kind. In the early years of the forties the deaths in the, Vienna Lying-in Hospital from puerperal fever were 92 per thousand. In 1863, in consequence of the adoption of an antiseptic treatment, the death rate had diminished to 13 per thousand, and in 1881, through the introduction of stringent antiseptic methods, it was still further reduced to four per thousand. In the same way in the York Road Lying-in Hospital in this neighbourhood, in 1838, 26 per cent of the patients died from this complaint. The hospital was often closed, but was re-opened in 1879 on strict antiseptic principles. The result has been that there has been only one case in three years, or less than one per thousand. I might continue to quote an almost endless number of cases in which humanity has benefited to an undreamt of extent by experiments on animals, but now I will content myself by reminding the House of the most remarkable of all—namely, the cure and prevention of that most horrible of all maladies, hydrophobia, by the discoveries of Pasteur. Not one of these cases of cure could have been effected without experiments, for the most part painless, on animals, which the Amendment now before the House asks us practically to discountenance. But, Sir, it has been said by the opponents of these Acts that animals are thus sacrificed to the selfish interests of man. Such a statement only shows an entire ignorance of the facts, because the knowledge obtained by these experiments has been of the greatest value to animals themselves. Take the case of anthrax. Through the labours of M. Pasteur again, we know that that disease—Russian cattle plague—can now be actually overcome by innoculation, and that every year hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle are now saved by inoculation from a painful death. I trust that those who think of supporting the reduction of the Vote will bear in mind that to stop those experiments will be to arrest the progress of scientific and modern medicine and surgery, and that by voting for the reduction they attempt to throw a most undeserved slur on the character of a high-minded, conscientious and eminent man.

* DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

I should like to say a few words about Dr. Klein, to whom reference has been made. He is a foreigner, and when ho was examined before the Royal Commission he was not well acquainted with our language, and he has practically confessed that he lost his head and said things which he did not intended to say, and this is why he asked permission to correct his proof. He may have been wrong, but I think his evidence and proceedings can be explained by the fact that he was not a native of this country and was imperfectly acquainted with our language. We have been told that it is an objection against Professor Erichsen that he is an eminent man and has some know ledge of the subject with which he has to deal. I should have thought it was an advantage rather than otherwise that Mr. Erichsen was a man of some scientific knowledge. The experiments in asphyxia, to which reference has been made, he made 40 years ago, when he was a young and enthusiastic phy- siologist, and curiously enough they gained him the medal of the Royal Humane Society, they had a direct practical bearing and led to the adoption of improvements which have been the means of saving many lives. From that time Mr. Erichsen has not made any experiments. An intimate acquaintance with him enables me to say he is a man of singularly calm and judicial habit of mind and of recognized ability. Having retired from public duty as a surgeon, he has from patriotic motives taken up the distasteful and laborious work of this Inspectorship which brings him a good deal of worry and discomfort. The complaints I have heard of Mr. Erichsen from scientific men is that he is a great deal too strict, that he holds the reins too tightly, and that he will not allow latitude enough; and the Home Secretary lately received a deputation, including three of the highest scientific authorities, who represented to him the excessive strictness with which the Act is carried out. I notice, however, that when complaints are made of the Inspector's want of impartiality, they generally came from those who want a leaning in the direction of their own view, the adoption of which would make us a laughing-stock with every scientific society in Europe. In this matter neutrality seems almost impossible. All that can be done is to choose a judicially-minded man with some knowledge of the subject, and I think we have such a man in Professor Erichsen. The anti-vivisection party are really annoyed because Mr. Erichsen, more than anyone else, whilst acting as Scientific Assessee before the Royal Commission, pricked their bubble and showed how futile are many of the accusations brought against vivisection. The House knows pretty well what are the safeguards against abuse. A man cannot get a license unless he obtains a certificate signed by three scientific men of character that he can be safely trusted with these experiments. I am sorry not to see the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Professor Stokes), the President of the Royal Society, in his place, because he signs a good many of these certificates, and he could state with authority what class of men they are to whom these certificates are given. The public can have reports of these experiments, and can judge for themselves as to whether or not they have been properly conducted. Laboratories are licensed from Aberdeen to Plymouth, and if it is proposed that these experiments shall be minutely inspected, even if a competent medical man could be found to take upon himself the odious task of acting as a scientific detective, going from one laboratory to another for the purpose, the expense of the undertaking would be enormous. It would be necessary to have scientific medical men to do the work, and I do not think it would be easy to find them. I think the time must come when you must trust somebody, and in spite of what we have heard to-night, from those who support the Amendment, I am bound to say that I think the person to be trusted is the scientific investigator whose sole cause of action is the alleviation of suffering. I have a better opinion of human nature—particularly scientific human nature—than hon. Gentlemen who have spoken against vivisection. I think we can trust the scientific authorities to carry out the law with all honesty and loyalty. From the Returns sent to us from year to year we can see that all the experiments which are carried out are almost conducted in public places and open to inspection by anyone. Objection has also been taken to Mr. Erichsen because he signed a memorial to the Royal College of Surgeon some years ago praying for better physiological laboratory accommodation, and the delusion is a common one that such institutions are largely used for the purpose of experiment on animals. But all who have any experience of them know that it is principally chemical and pathological work that is carried on, that experiments on living animals are few and occasional, and that they must invariably be carried out under the direct sanction of the law. Of course, nothing could be more unfair and calculated to lead people astray than to bring into account the cruel experiments that have taken place abroad. We all know what those experiments sometimes are, and that nothing of the kind is ever practised here—and we know that if some of the experiments that are conducted in foreign countries were practised here, the national feeling, the feeling of the students, and the sentiment of everyone, would revolt against them, and soon bring such things to an end. And now I have arrived almost at the conclusion of what I desire to say. I have only one point more—namely, the second point raised by the hon. Member for Sheffield as to the experiments carried on by Dr. McWilliam. Dr. McWilliam is a man of proved ability, who has made invaluable researches regarding the functions of the heart which give great promise of practical utility. It did not appear to me that the hon. Member for Sheffield was well instructed as to these experiments. I do not know where they were carried out, but wherever they were conducted, they were conducted absolutely and entirely without pain. I have received a letter from Dr. McWilliam on the subject which should satisfy hon. Members. He expresses himself astonished to find any charge of cruelty put forward with reference to his experiments, and says that anyone making such a charge must be misinformed. He declares that the animals experimented upon were profoundly anæsthetized, and were never allowed to regain consciousness; in fact, if they had been allowed to regain consciousness, the whole object of his experiments would have been frustrated. I am sure that the House will believe these statements. It is undoubted that in some cases it was necessary to apply artificial respiration, and the insinuation has been made that this proves that curare was used; but that does not follow. The reason why artificial respiration had to be used was because the chloroform which had been used as an anæsthetic interfered with the breathing of the animal, and artificial respiration was necessary to keep the animal alive. The Committee may take it from me that no curare was used. Though scientific men did not consider when the Vivisection Act was brought in that legislation was necessary, they have loyally obeyed it, and have honestly carried it out, and I venture to hope that after what I have said the Committee will say that Mr. Erichsen is to be regarded as a fit and proper person to carry on his duties, and that Mr. McWilliam ought to be absolved from all blame, and that the Amendment ought to be rejected.

MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)

I do not want to say much on this subject, as it is one that every man of feeling must recoil from speaking about. My hon. Friend below me has spoken about the utility of these experiments as if it were a matter conceded by scientific opinion or conformable to the common sense of other people, who are as much entitled as men of science to exercise their common sense about these matters of fact, that almost every cure for every known human ill has been at some time or other discovered by these means. And when men of science are beaten upon one point in this regard, they go to another. To-night it is anthrax, epilepsy, and antiseptic surgery. I have no doubt that these claims will be exploded after a short time; and then some fresh series of diseases will be brought forward as having been cured by means of this process. It is well-known that there are scientific men who are living and scientific men who are no longer alive who have declared their opinion that the whole of this business is a cruel imposture. After the lapse of many centuries, during which these practices have been going on, and when men of great attainments and of undoubted honour have declared them to be an imposture, I am inclined to accept with a good deal of hesitation the language of scientific men in these days concerning the subject. We find that men of science really attempt to occupy the same sort of position that priests occupied of old. They want to govern our opinion, and I have more confidence in all men together than in men of a special class. But the question we have to face is how the Act is being worked. It is stated that animals do not suffer under these experiments; but if I cared to inflict on the House a repetition of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, I could give the House the most painful particulars of the most horribly cruel experiments that can be well conceived. Horrible cruelties have occurred that I do not wish to enter upon, but which will be found recorded in medical papers such as the Lancet as having occurred last year and in previous years. It is idle to say that these things do not take place. The Inspector under the Act is a gentleman named Erichsen, and I have no doubt he is an honourable man. He is placed in the position of umpire or guardian of the interests of these animals—who are not the constituents of any Member of this House. What is this gentleman? Mr. Erichsen is himself an avowed performer of these experiments and an avowed advocate of them in the case of the Faculty. Does anybody think he has given these things up ever since his appointment? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] That he has denounced them ever since? [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] Well, I see a good many scientific men around me, and I will say, even if we can suppose he has not committed these acts for a number of years, yet it must be admitted that that is what he used to do; and I further say that he was a gentleman who acted the part of advocate of those who support this class of scientific experiments from the beginning to the end of the Royal Commission, and was not, therefore, an impartial person to administer the Act; and he no doubt thinks that people who hold my views are utterly beneath contempt and unworthy of consideration in this matter as can be gathered from some letters he wrote on the subject in Scotland. What I say is that Mr. Erichsen cannot be regarded as an impartial administrator of this Act, and that, whether the person appointed to this office holds one opinion or the other, we ought to have a man who has not committed himself by his own acts, as Mr. Erichsen has done, to one particular line on this important question. Well, Sir, what is it that we see is being done? We see that there are a number of gentlemen who have received licenses under this Act, and among them is Mr. Klein. My hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. J. E. Ellis) has read his answers to a series of very short and perfectly clear questions as to which there can be no doubt at all, and anyone who does entertain the slightest doubt had better look at the language he is reported to have used when examined before the Royal Commission. On that occasion that gentleman said he had no regard for the sufferings of the animals experimented upon; that he had no time to think of them, but disregarded them altogether; and this evidence relates to some of the most cruel and horrible experiments ever recorded—so horrible that I should not like to lay them before the House. I may also refer the House to some frightful experiments that were performed in 1883 by Mr. Roy and others—experiments which I will not detail; but those gentlemen have licenses and may continue to carry on experiments of the same nature. The fact is that, in my opinion the administration of this Act has been little better than a sham. I believe that the Home Office is in the habit of deputing its jurisdiction with regard to these experiments to some persons or to some body of men who take not the slightest notice of what is going on. The best proof that the administration of the Act is a sham is to be found in the expression used by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeenshire when he said that if anyone said a word in favour of effective supervision under the Act, he would be regarded as a scientific detective. But that is just what we want. While experiments of this sort are allowed to be carried on, it is absolutely essential that care should be taken to ensure that they are carried on properly. I should like to know how the inspection is carried on—whether the Inspector personally sees what is being done when these experiments are carried on, or whether he merely takes the statement of those who perpetrate the acts which constitute the experiments. In fact, it is my belief that there is very little inspection at all, and I trust that one good result of this discussion will be that the Home Office may be stirred into taking much greater care in regard to this matter in future. I hope we may find that public opinion will be brought into harmony with the view which I and a good many others hold on this subject; and although it may yet be a long time off, I trust that by continuing these debates in this House in a fair temper we may be enabled to induce those who have animals entirely at their mercy to believe there is something more in the exercise of kindness than, I am sorry to say, seems to be the prevalent opinion among men of science.

* SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)

My hon. Friend who has just sat down has alluded to the necessity of showing tenderness towards animals, but I entirely deny that there is, in rela- tion to this matter, any want of such tenderness among medical men. In fact, I entirely repudiate the view enunciated by the hon. Gentleman. Although there is a great difference of opinion in the Committee, I think, at any rate, we are all agreed in the desire to diminish suffering, and we only differ as to the mode in which that may best be done. My hon. Friend has said he is able to quote high scientific authorities who agree with him in the views he holds on this question. All I can say in reply to that is, that I very much wish he had done so.


There is Mr. Morse.


Even if Mr. Morse may be regarded as one; he is only one. The almost unanimous opinion of those best qualified to judge is that these experiments have greatly diminished suffering, both on the part of animals and of mankind. But my hon. Friend seems to doubt that there are cases in which the experiments that have been made have really tended to diminish suffering. Well, in answer to that, I would point out that before such experiments were carried on, it was found that in cases of compound fracture from 50 to 60 and even 70 per cent of the operations proved fatal, whereas, at the present time, the percentage of deaths is not more than one or two, owing to the improvements in surgery, which have resulted from recent discoveries—a fact involving not only the preservation of an immense amount of human life, but also an enormous diminution of suffering. Then, again, take the cases of puerperal fever in women; it is proved by statistics that before the experiments, which have produced such great improvements in medical methods, there were in the lying-in hospitals fifty years ago 26 per cent of deaths in puerperal fever cases; whereas, at the present day, owing to the experiments which have led to the antiseptic treatment, the number of deaths in these cases has been reduced to less than 1 per 1,000. Again, in cerebral diseases—the most terrible forms of human suffering—take, for instance, epilepsy—recent researches have thrown much light on the causes of these terrible maladies, and the experiments that have been made give reasonable hopes of greatly diminishing mental suffering, by means of successful operations, which would have been impossible some years ago. It has been said that the circulation of the blood was not discovered by means of experiments; but the great Harvey, to whom we are indebted for that discovery, always maintained that his experiments led him to that great discovery. That discovery, as we know, has led to important improvements in medical methods, and to an enormous diminution of human suffering. Then, again, take the case of neuralgia in the face. Previous to Sir Charles Bell's researches on the functions of the nerves, it was usual to divide the facial nerve, which is now known to be quite a useless operation. One of the most painful diseases from which human nature suffers is angina pectoris, but the discovery of the effect of nitrite of amyl —or, to speak more exactly, one of its components—has had a wonderful effect in easing human suffering from that disease. Then, again, the greater knowledge we now possess of the action of poisons—a knowledge which could only have been obtained by experiment—has gone far to stamp out the terrible crime of poisoning. Beyond this, we have one of the greatest discoveries of all — the introduction of anæsthetics. It must be remembered that vivisection, as practised under the Act, does not mean, in the greater number of cases, the cutting up of a living and feeling animal, but experiments performed under anæsthetic drugs; and it should also be recollected that under the name of vivisection are included experiments in inoculation, which have led to the antiseptic treatment which has so greatly diminished human suffering and death. The discovery of the properties of chloroform and laughing gas could only be ascertained by experiments, which the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down wishes entirely to prevent. The hon. Gentleman has spoken with some contempt of scientific authority.


With great humility.


He says, "with great humility; "but I did not perceive much humility in the attitude he took. I have the greatest respect for the opinion of my hon. Friend in regard to any question of law, but when the subject at issue is one relating to medicine I should rather look to the opinion of great medical authorities. My hon. Friend said there were differences of opinion, and he objected to accept the opinions of priests. Well, in all matters of theology there is a good deal of difference of opinion among the priests: but here, among the medical authorities, there is practically no difference of opinion. The International Medical Congress of 1885, containing the greatest Medical Authorities, not only of this country, but of the whole world, passed a resolution which was adopted unanimously, and which I should like to read to the House. It was as follows— That this Congress records its conviction that experiments on living animals have proved of the utmost service to medicine in the past and are indispensable to its future progress. That accordingly, while strongly deprecating the infliction of unnecessary pain, it is of opinion alike in the interests of men and of animals that it is not desirable to restrict competent persons in the performance of such experiments. That resolution was adopted without a single dissentient. I say that this is a strong fact, and I think that no one can deny that medical men are most anxious to diminish suffering. I say, also, that when we see that the representatives of the medical profession at large and in the widest geographical sense are unanimously of opinion that the experiments which have been made have greatly tended to reduce suffering, we ought to be very careful to consider what we are doing before we decide on putting a stop to these experiments. I do not think the intention of the Act was to check experiment, but to ensure that no experiments were to be carried on except under proper safeguards. I believe we are practically united in what we wish to accomplish; the only difference of opinion is as to whether these experiments entail an unnecessary amount of suffering on animals, and whether they have been conducted with all proper precautions and a due desire to diminish pain rather than to increase it. But there is another point of view which I think the House ought to consider. I allude here to the pratical question. Anthrax is a disease which is very fatal to cattle and sheep. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am sure, will agree that the question of anthrax is one of very considerable importance from an agricultural point of view. Now, Sir, experiments which have been made have greatly reduced this disease. In France in 1886 over 200,000 sheep and over 20,000 cattle were inoculated, and the number of deaths have been reduced to less than one-tenth of what it used to be. The Royal Agricultural Society were deeply impressed with the importance of that discovery, but when it was proposed to inoculate our flocks and herds so as to protect them from this disease, the Home Office interfered and maintained that to do so was illegal under the Act. On this the Royal Agricultural Society appointed a deputation to wait on the Home Secretary on the subject. Sir Matthew Ridley, in introducing the deputation, said:— We have come before the Lord President in consequence of the practical difficulty which was standing in the way of ordinary operations upon domestic animals on a farm, because it appeared that unless there was an absolute certainty about the effect of an operation it was illegal. Lord Egerton of Tatton said that our herds were very liable to attacks from anthrax and swine fever, and that he believed that by inoculation those diseases could be to a great extent prevented; but that the law as it was at present stood in the way of any improvement. He also said— Being President of the Royal Agricultural Society I have had certain operations carried out with the view to see whether these experiments would be successful or not, but practically I have been prevented by the somewhat stringent application of the existing Act, and I am anxious that Act should be somewhat relaxed in order that these experiments may be carried out, because the county rates are burdened by enormous sums. I am anxious that something should be done, because the law as it at present stands is in the way of any improvement. I am not now proposing to alter the law, but what I wish to impress upon the House, is that not only is this in the opinion of the highest agricultural authority a matter of great importance to the agricultural interest, but it also shows how many thousands and thousands of our domestic animals must be suffering from a very terrible and a very painful disease which might be entirely removed by more scientific treatment. Now, Sir, reference, has been made to the Inspectors under this Act. Well, the first Inspector under the Act was Mr. Busk. I believe everyone who knew Mr. Busk knew that a more humane man never lived in this country. The present Inspector is Dr. Erichsen, who, it is quite true, holds with almost every medical man that these experiments have tended to diminish suffering, but I do not think that is any reason for interfering with him as Inspector under this Act. In conclusion I would like to read, at the request of Sir James Paget, a few lines of a letter I have received from him. Every one who knows Sir James Paget knows that he is one of the highest medical authorities of this country, and that there is not a more humane man living than he is, and he has begged me to express his deliberate conviction to the House that "in his opinion and in that of the overwhelming majority of the medical profession, the experiments which have been made have led to the most important results—that very few of them involved any pain, and that they have effected already an immense diminution of sickness and of suffering." He hopes that the House will not agree to the Amendment, though he was sure that it had been proposed with the very best intentions.

* MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)

I will not detain the House for more than a few moments. It does not appear to me that the question we have to discuss on the Amendment of my hon. Friend, is the utility of vivisection. The question we are engaged upon is the administration of the Act of 1876, and what I propose to do in a very few words is, first of all, to say and to show why that Act requires very careful and watchful administration. How is it that I do not at present see the evidences of sufficient watchfulness in that administration? I am perfectly open to conviction. I say at this moment I am not aware of that sufficient watchfulness. And lastly, I want information upon several matters concerning the working of the Act. Now, Sir, with reference to the nature of the Act and the necessity for this watchfulness, let me point out its Peculiar character, If we turn to that Act, what we find is this, that the 2nd Section of the Act enacts that no person shall perform on a living animal any experiment calculated to give pain, except subject to restrictions contained in the Act. Then in the 3rd Section you have the restrictions, and the restrictions are of this character:— 'The experiment must be performed with the view to the advancement of discovery, physiological knowledge,' and so on 'The animal must be under the influence of an anæsthetic,' 'the animal must if the pain continue, be destroyed before it regains consciousness.' &c. These restrictions express the views and desires of many persons at the time that measure was introduced, and those were the restrictions which if I remember aright were proposed by the Government. But in the very same clause containing those restrictions there is a certain number of provisos subsequently introduced, which repeal, or almost absolutely destroy, their power. I do not know that you could find any Statute containing a similar clause, in which you find a number of propositions in the first part of the Section, and those propositions practically repealed by what follows. What are these provisos? First of all, the experiments may be performed as an illustration of a lecture, if a certificate be given that they are necessary for the due instruction of the persons to be instructed. They may be performed without anæsthetics on a similar certificate being given that the presence of the anæsthetic would frustrate the objects of those experiments. They may be performed without the persons being under the obligation to kill the animal before it has regained consciousness, on a certificate that to kill it would destroy the value of the experiment. Well, now, I think the House cannot deny that these provisos absolutely repeal the force of the preceding part of the section, with the single exception of the restriction that the person performing the experiment is to be licensed by the Secretary of State. Under these circumstances, what I ask myself is this: What is the power, and what is the function of the Secretary of State? If you turn to the second Section of the Act you will find that the Secretary of State may insert in his license a provision that the place shall be registered in which the operations are to be performed. I should like to know from the Secretary of State whether he is in the habit of inserting any provisions in those licenses. I have no information upon the subject; I am not aware whether any information is before the House. I want to know?


There is Section 7.


By Section 7, the Home Secretary is entitled to insert in his license that the place where the experiments are to be performed must be registered. What I want to know is, does the Secretary of State insert that provision? Well, then, another question is this. By Section 10, all registered places are to be inspected. I believe I understand correctly, therefore, that no places are inspected, except those now registered. But do I quite understand this correctly, that there are licensees who operate in places which are not registered? I am not aware. I see nothing in the Act which makes it impossible for the licensee to operate in an unregistered and uninspected place. Therefore, I assume that the licensees operate under any circumstances, and that practically speaking some places are not inspected at all. Well, then, has the Secretary of State really ever revoked a license for neglect of the conditions contained in the license granted by him to the experimenters, or have the experimenters ever reported to him the details, or has he directed those reports to be made. I find a statement made by Mr. Erichsen that only eight experiments involving pain were reported. I presume they were reported by the operator, and were not witnessed by himself. Only eight cases reported; that struck me as an extraordinary statement and a very unlikely figure. Turning to another part of the Report, I find there were 195 operations under certificates which dispensed with the necessity of killing the animals before the anæsthetic had ceased to operate. Therefore, it is evident that these animals in the 195 cases must have suffered, and that the eight cases cannot exhaust the number. I think I am entitled to ask the Secretary of State the actual number of real inspections, what is the nature of the inspections, and whether the places in which the experiments are conducted are all registered? I do not see how it can be so, and I want to know in what respect and in what manner the Secretary of State finds himself able to exercise his discretion and fulfil his responsibility with regard to operations of this kind conducted in unregistered places? I will not carry the matter further at this time, but I hope the Secretary of State will be able to give us some information on these points.

* MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield)

The right hon. Gentleman must know that my right hon. Friend has exhausted his right of reply, and it is, therefore, my duty to answer him and other hon. Members. I am sorry he found it necessary to add such a large number of questions to the number already put, for they will necessitate my making longer observations than I had intended. It is true, Sir, that under the terms of the Act it is possible for experiments to be performed in unregistered places. There are only four licensees who enjoy that power, and I could give the right hon. Gentleman the names of the four Gentlemen who appear in the report, and I could give if necessary the reasons why they should be so privileged. The right hon. Gentleman asks also whether licenses had been revoked by the Secretary of State. I cannot speak to what was the practice before my right hon. Friend came into office, but I have in my mind the case of a gentleman who enjoyed the privilege of performing experiments in a private place, and whose license was revoked because of neglect of its conditions. Conditions are invariably attached to the licenses issued, alike in respect of the time, place and number of experiments. The number of inspections made appear on the face of the report. I wish to remind the House that the Government are coming for the first time to Parliament with the request to sanction the creation of a new and additional Inspector, so that if it be true that the inspection has been deficient in the past, we are to that extent doing our best to remedy the deficiency, and we hope to have a gentleman who will visit the various places, and so far as possible be present during the active performance of the experiments. We have had some remarks made as to the personal character of the inspection, and as to the honesty of the administration of the Act. I must, in justice to Mr. Erichsen, say that great and humane improvements have been introduced by him in the administration of the Act, and the hon. Gentleman will notice that far more information is given to Parliament than used to be the case in the time of his predecessor. You have the number of experiments made, and the number in which certificates are given, and therefore you can arrive at a comparison between different kinds of experiments. He has himself introduced some of the most humane conditions, such as that which is attached to inoculation experiments. This condition renders it imperative on the part of the experimenter to destroy an animal under anæsthetics in the event of pain being developed as a result of the operation. I must notice another fallacy. When the right hon. Gentleman supposes that the experiments reported in the list had been made under the certificate dispensing with the use of anæsthetics, I wish to point out that that is not necessarily a test of the number of painful experiments. An enormous majority of these experiments are simply inoculation experiments for pathological purposes, and many of them do not involve more pain than is necessary in making a puncture, while directly the morbid conditions induced by the puncture are set up, then there is an obligation to destroy the animal under anæsthetics. If I do not deal further with the allegations made, it is not my fault. I see the impatience of the House, but I do wish to say one thing before I sit down. The hon. Member for Sheffield and some of his Friends have alleged that this Act has not been properly administered, that the Inspector is not be believed, that the act is worthless because it is worked by men of science for the medical profession, and indeed he has not scrupled to add that certain Members of the medical profession are banded together for the purpose of suppressing the truth. The hon. member for Sheffield, in support of his case, has read out to the House sensational reports of experiments carried out, not in England, but in a foreign country. Moreover, in reading the account of certain other experiments performed in this country he has suppressed the paragraph in that account which states that the experiments were carried out upon completely anæsthetized animals— animals under the influence of ether or chloroform. This shows that the statements of others besides medical men are not always to be received without scrutiny, and that others may be banded together for purposes no better than those attributed to these professional men. The Act, I submit, is being administered honestly, and improvements in its administration are being carried out.

The House divided:—Ayes 171; Noes 50.—Division List, No. 121.)

Resolution agreed to.