HC Deb 21 March 1907 vol 171 cc884-5
*MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland),

in asking leave to introduce a Bill to amend the law relating to the tenure of parochial medical officers of Scotland, said he wished to bring before the House a great grievance which existed in the islands and Highlands of Scotland. Since 1896 a number of dismissals had taken place, and the parochial medical officers had been pressing this matter. During the election of 1900 the question was very prominently brought forward, and in the following session a memorial was presented to Parliament signed by practically the whole of the medical profession in Scotland and supported by all the non-official Members for Scotland representing both sides of the House on the subject. That memorial was very favourably received, and the then Secretary for Scotland, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and also Lord Dunedin and the Marquess of Linlithgow were sympathetic, and he had no reason to believe that the present distinguished occupier of the office of Secretary for Scotland held any antagonistic view to the Bill. He held no brief for the medical profession, and they had in that House members who were quite capable of representing their views. This was a question which in the islands and Highlands of Scotland affected the poor to a very great extent. Owing to our un-Christian and immoral land law the position of the poor in the North of Scotland had become one of very great difficulty. They had only three classes of people to turn to for aid and assistance—the minister, the schoolmaster, and the doctor—and of those the doctor held the most uncertain position and was the one who suffered most. The minister and schoolmaster could hold on to their positions, but it was a great and growing injustice that the doctor could be thrown out of his position. without proper notice, and great scandal attached to that state of things. A case had recently arisen where a doctor had been dismissed. He had a young family and had to commence the world again with a black mark against him. By means of this Bill they did not ask for very much. All that they wanted was that these parochial medical officers should have the right to go to the Local Government Board and have their cases heard before that body. At the present moment the medical officers of poor-houses had that, right, and the result of their having that right was that there had not been a single application from any one of them to the Secretary for Scotland as representing the Local Government Board. In England, with its vast population, there had been only six cases in which such dismissal had taken place during the last five years. In Ireland during the same period there had been only three cases, and it was for the purpose of doing this small act of justice, of giving these men the right to appeal, that he had ventured to bring forward the Bill in the manner he had done, and he hoped it would commend itself to the Government and to the House.

Motion made, and Question, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Law relating to the tenure of parochial medical officers in Scotland"—(Mr. Cathcart Wason)—put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Cathcart Wason, Mr. Ainsworth, Mr. Harmsworth, Mr. John Dewar, Mr. Crombie, Mr. Gullard, Sir Henry Craik, Viscount Dalrymple, Major Anstruther-Gray, Mr. Younger, Mr. Cross and Mr. Mitchell-Thomson.