HC Deb 22 July 1897 vol 51 cc809-11

The medical officer or sanitary inspector, as the case may be, may at reasonable times. in the day time, enter and inspect any house or premises in the district in which he has reason to believe that any infectious disease exists, or has recently existed, and the medical officer may examine any person found on such premises with a view to ascertaining whether such person is suffering, or has recently suffered, from any infectious disease, and in the event of admission, inspection, or examination being refused, the sheriff, or magistrate, or justice may, on reasonable cause shown, grant warrant authorising such entry, inspection, and examination, and on such warrant being obtained and exhibited, any person refusing to admit the medical officer or sanitary inspector, as the case may be. to such house or premises, or obstructing him in making the inspection or examination aforesaid, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings for every such offence.


moved, to leave out the words "or sanitary inspector as the case may be." He sail that this clause gave power to the medical officer or sanitary inspector to enter a house in which infectious disease was thought to exist. The right of entry ought to he given to the medical officer only.


resisted the Amendment.


said that the sanitary inspector could not possibly detect infectious disease. Diagnosis was difficult, even for a medical man.


thought the Government might add the words "under the direction of the medical officer" after the words "sanitary inspector." The inspector ought to have authority from some person capable of detecting disease before entering private houses. This power ought to be used under judicious rules and regulations, but this clause as It stood was so awkward in its wording that it would lead to difficulties in the administration of the public health.


said the whole purpose of the provision was to ascertain whether disease existed, and the only man competent to form an opinion at all on that question was the medical officer. It would be extremely unfortunate if a sanitary inspector had power by Statute to enter the bed-chamber of a person ill, in order to ascertain whether he was suffering from infectious disease.


thought it was rather a strong measure that a sanitary inspector with no medical knowledge should have such power. It would be a violation of the feelings of a great many people to have a sanitary inspector, who might be a plumber or a stonemason, invade their residence to see whether there was a sick person in the house. [Opposition cheers.] He had received a great ninny communications from laymen in Glasgow and elsewhere, who said they would resent at once a sanitary inspector going in, while they would welcome at any time a medical man. ["Hear!"]


suggested that the sanitary inspector should be cut out of the clause or his powers safeguarded by a subsequent Amendment.


remarked that the jealousy which appeared to exist betwen the sanitary inspectors and medical officers would effectually succeed in killing the Bill, and suggested that the House should proceed to more important questions.


protested against this being considered to be only a question between the medical officer and the sanitary inspector; the question was whether they were to refuse to authorise the sanitary inspector, who had no scientific knowledge, to enter any dwelling except under the order of the medical officer. This was a matter which excited strong public feeling.


said he was quite aware that the question had excited great attention. He could only say that he had done his best in the matter, and that he was perfectly willing to leave it an open question for the House to decide upon.

Question put, "That the word or' stand part of the Bill."

The House divided:—Ayes, 82; Noes, 110.—(Division List, No. 326.)

Clause 46,—