HC Deb 22 July 1897 vol 51 cc765-72

In this Act the following words and expressions have the meanings hereinafter assigned to them, unless such meaning is inconsistent with the context: The word "Board" means the Local Government Board for Scotland; The word "secretary" includes assistant secretary; The expression "medical officer" means a duly qualified medical practitioner appointed by the local authority under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 or under the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892, or under the Acts repealed by this Act or under this Act; The expression "sanitary inspector" means a sanitary inspector appointed by the local authority under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, or under the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892, or under the Acts repealed by this Act or under this Act; The word "parish" means a parish quoad civilia exclusive of any burgh situated or partly situated therein; The word "burgh" includes not only royal burgh, parliamentary burgh, burgh incorporated by Act of Parliament, but also any police burgh within the meaning of the Burgh Police (Scotland)Act 1892; The word "county" means a county exclusive of any burgh, and does not include a county of a city; The word "district" means the district of any local authority under this Act; The expression "district committee" means a district committee under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, and subject to the provisions of Section seventy-eight, Sub-section three, of that Act., as amended by Section nineteen, Sub-section seven of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1894, in the case of a county not divided into districts includes a county council; The word "magistrate" means a magistrate or judge having police jurisdiction under the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892, or under any general or local Police Act; The word "decree" or "decern" includes any warrant, sentence, judgment, order, or interlocutor; The word "premises" includes lands, buildings, tents, vans, structures of any kind, streams, lakes, seashore, drains, ditches, or places open, covered, or inclosed, whether built on or not, and whether public or private, and whether maintained or not under statutory authority, and any ship, lying in any sea, river, harbour, or other water, or ex adverso of any place within the limits of the local authority; The word "ship" includes any sailing or steam ship, vessel, or boat; The word "street" includes any highway and any public bridge, and any road, lane, footway, square, court, or passage, whether a thoroughfare or not, and whether or not there are houses in such street; The word "house" means a dwelling-house, and includes schools, also factories and other buildings in which persons are employed; The word "owner" means the person for the time entitled to receive, or who would, if the same were let, be entitled to receive, the rents of the premises, and includes a trustee, factor, tutor, or curator, and in case of public or municipal property applies to the persons to whom the management thereof is entrusted; The word "occupier" means, in the case of a building or part, of a building, the person in occupation or having the charge, management, or control thereof, either on his own account or as the agent of another person, and in the case of a ship means the master or other person in charge thereof; The word "company" includes commissioners; The expression "author of a nuisance" means the person through whose act or default the nuisance is caused, exists, or is continued, whether he be the owner or occupier or both; The expression "common lodging-house" means a, house or part, thereof where lodgers are housed at an amount not exceeding fourpence per night, or such other sum as shall be fixed under the provisions of this Act, for each person whether the same be payable nightly or weekly, or for any period not longer than a fortnight; The expression "keeper of a common lodging-house" includes any person having or acting in the care and management of a common lodging-house; The word "cattle" means bulls, cows, oxen, heifers, and calves, and includes sheep, goats, and swine; The word "dairy" includes any farm, farmhouse, cowshed, milk store, milk shop, or other place from which milk is supplied, or in which milk is kept for purposes of sale; The word "dairyman" includes any cow-keeper, purveyor of milk, or soupier of a dairy.


moved to leave out the words,— the expression 'medical officer' means a duly qualified practitioner appointed by the local authority under, and to insert,— expressions 'medical officer of health' and 'medical officer' mean a legally qualified medical practitioner appointed by the local authority.

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)

said he thought it made the Bill somewhat obscure to have the two terms "medical officer" and "medical officer of health" running throughout the Statute. A Measure like this, which promised to be a great consolidating Measure and of great use to the health of the country, should be as perfect as possible. If the term "medical officer of health" were used throughout, they would have a title indicating the functions of the person holding the office. An ordinary person taking up an Act of Parliament, and finding in one place an officer described as the "medical officer," and in another place an officer described as the "medical officer of health," would be confronted by a condition of things not at all perfect. He wished, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would adopt the term "medical. officer of health'' throughout. Another objection he had to take was this. It was not in any way indicated that these officers to be appointed under the Bill, especially the sanitary officers, were to have sanitary qualifications. He knew it was not, required in all cases; but until it was insisted upon, the public health of this country would never be placed on a proper basis. The House having placed upon the Statute-book other Acts which require sanitary qualifications in the men who filled appointments of this kind, he was sorry that in this Bill they had not attempted to bring it up to the standard to which he had referred. He hoped they would hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he was not wedded to this particular Amendment; but that he was willing to adopt the title "medical officer of health" throughout the Bill as the proper description of an officer whose functions were to look after the health of the community. It would get rid of ambiguity and prevent confusion in the public mind, and would make the Bill more easily understood.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

said he was sure the general public, who were not possessed of the legal subtlety of the Lord Advocate, would think there was some essential difference or distinction between two classes of officers. In fact, before he heard the explanation of the Lord Advocate, he was under the impression that there was some subtle distinction of that kind; and although he was now told that no such distinction was implied, he was afraid it would lead to confusion. It would be much better to make the matter perfectly clear by sticking to the old title "medical officer of health." Then, with regard to the next Amendment, of which the Lord Advocate had given notice, would it not be better to use the term "registered" instead of "legally qualified" medical practitioner?

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)

pointed out that if "legally qualified" were left out and "registered" inserted, it might have the effect that no person who was medically qualified could he a medical officer under the Bill unless he happened to be registered. Now that was not the sense of the Committee, for they passed Clause 15 enabling a person in certain cases to be a medical officer, although he did not possess certain definite qualifications. Under that clause a registered medical practitioner might be considered to be qualified as a medical officer of health, whereas the two things required a different certificate or diploma. What he wanted to ask the Lord Advocate was this—would the words "legally qualified medical practitioner," as used in the Amendment, interfere with the operation of Clause 15 from line 28 to line 34? He did not want to press the right hon. Gentleman just now. It was a matter requiring to be looked into; and if he would promise to do so, with a view to modifying the Amendment at a later stage if necessary, he should be content, as he understood the right hon. Gentleman did not wish to interfere with Clause 15.


said the real point, as the House would recognise, was a double one. In the first place, there was the question of the name or title of the medical officer of health. That had been dealt with already, and in the remarks made by hon. Members he entirely agreed. In all English legislation of this kind the medical officer was called the medical officer of health, and it would be a blot upon this Bill if they were to have a loose definition, which said that medical officer of health and medical officer meant the same thing, viz. a legally qualified medical practitioner. But there was another point. Practically they were taking a backward step in not requiring that in all instances the medical officer should hold a diploma of public health, which as the years went on every local authority would regard as an essential qualification. ["Hear, hear!"]

SIR WILLIAM PRIESTLEY (Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities)

thought there might be some misapprehension, inasmuch as the words "registered medical practitioner" simply meant one duly qualified for medical practice, and on the medical register. No man who was qualified by passing medical examinations could sign a certificate nor give evidence in a court of law until he became registered. Therefore it did not in the least affect the question raised.


said he took it that the words "legally qualified" meant in accordance with the Local Government Act and the Burgh Police Act. That was to say, no one could be legally appointed unless he held a diploma in Public Health, or was appointed before the Act of 1878-9. He thought that he made this point in Committee, and the Lord Advocate had put these Amendments on the Paper to meet him. As the Amendments stood, they first defined a medical officer of health by using the term "legally qualified" instead of "duly qualified;" and he took it the "legal" qualification meant that if a man was appointed since the passing of the Local Government Act, he must have the qualification required by that Act, and only those who were appointed before the passing of the Local Government Act and the Burgh Police Act could hold office without that qualification. The provision that "legally qualified medical practitioner" should mean a "registered medical practitioner qualified as the case may be," meant that he should be not merely qualified in medicine, surgery, and midwifery, but that he should be qualified in public health.


That is another Amendment.


submitted that the two Amendments of the Lord Advocate were practically the same—one was contingent upon tae other. Originally they had the words "duly qualified." That was considered too loose, and now they had "legally qualified medical practitioner." Now he took it that, inasmuch as the two Acts to which he had referred required a diploma of public health as a necessary condition of appointment, unless the appointment was made before the passing of the Act of 1878–9, these words "legally qualified medical practitioner" meant a man holding the diploma of public health. If that was meant, and if the Lord Advocate would say that was what was meant, then he was satisfied. But if they were in the position they were in before the Act of 1878–9 was passed, when any medical man might be appointed, if he was "duly qualified" in medicine, surgery, and midwifery, knowing nothing about public health, then the qualification was not satisfactory. What they wanted to get at was this, a man should not be held qualified for the post of medical officer of health unless he held the diploma which proved him to have had special training in the subject of public health. The ordinary medical man, unless he had received this special training, was no better than anybody else. They wanted a specially qualified class of men, and the only way to get there was to insist on their having passed the examinations which entitled them to the proper diploma. He wanted the Lord Advocate to tell them whether the phraseology he had adopted would limit these appointments to men who were so qualified?


said the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries Burghs had expressed a fear that under this Amendment the appointment of men who did not hold a diploma of public health', under Clause 15, would be interfered with. It would not be interfered with because every man must be on the medical register in respect of other qualifications, and he would not be entitled to appear there in respect of holding a diploma of public health. His hon. Friend the Member for Caithness would see that it did not make the provision he would like to see. But that matter did not arise now. It would arise on Clause 15, upon which he himself had an Amendment on the Paper. But he would ask the right lion. Gentleman what was the necessity for making such a great alteration in this clause? If he were simply to say that the expression "medical officer of health" or "medical officer" meant a duly qualified medical practitioner appointed by the local authority under whatever Acts he might choose to enumerate, would not that meet the necessities of the case? The ambiguity was still further increased by the Lord Advocate's Amendment of Clause 15 as drafted. It appeared to him that this Amendment of Clause 3 was rather clumsy. To say that a medical officer of health should be a legally qualified medical practitioner, and then that a legally qualified medical practitioner should be a registered medical practitioner, was rather a roundabout way of doing it.


observed that surely it was simpler to say what they had done in Committee, as they did by the form in which the Bill now stood. There was no distinction between the two classes of medical officers.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: At the end of the same paragraph insert— Wherever in this Act the expression 'legally qualified medical practitioner' is used, it shall mean a registered medical practitioner qualified as the case may be. In the next paragraph leave out "under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, or."—(Lord Advocate.)


moved, at the end of the same paragraph to insert— The expressions 'veterinary surgeon,' and 'qualified veterinary surgeon,' mean a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.


was not sure that this Amendment would exactly meet the case. In addition to "members" there were "fellows." A fellow had a higher diploma and qualification than a member and yet not be included under this expression. Would it not be better to apply the same rule to veterinary as to ordinary surgeons?


would inquire if there was any necessity for doing so.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6,—