HC Deb 12 December 1912 vol 45 cc850-9

Nothing in this Act shall authorise the Irish Parliament to enact any law which will have the effect of repealing or amending the Medical Acts of 1858 and 1886 and the Dental Act of 1878, and of the several Acts amending the same.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."


In moving this Clause, I should state that it was put down originally as an Amendment to Clause 2 of the Irish Local Government Act, but in consequence of the Closure was not reached. I like the form in which it appeared then on the Paper better than the form in which it now appears. There is very good reason why the Clause I now move should appear as an Amendment to Clause 2, because this particular Clause deals with an Imperial matter. The operation of these Acts is not confined to the United Kingdom, but covers the whole of the Empire. Therefore it is very right and proper that these matters should be relegated to the Imperial Parliament, even if there were Parliaments for the different parts of the United Kingdom. The chief Medical Act to which this matter refers gives power to the General Medical Council—and let me point out to branch councils existing in England, Scotland, or Ireland—to exercise certain regulative and disciplinary powers over all examinations qualifying for medical registration. The object of the present Clause is simply to continue to the General Medical Council the wide powers which it at present possesses. The purpose of these powers is to maintain in the Kingdom and elsewhere a minimum standard of proficiency for those who are trained as medical practi- tioners. I may perhaps read the Clause in the main Act which is as follows:— The standard of proficiency required from candidates at the said qualifying examinations shall be such as sufficient to guarantee the possession of the knowledge and skill requisite for the efficient practice of medicine, surgery, and midwifery. I should say that the British Medical Council do not in any way interfere with the number of the different examinations which may be held in different parts of the Kingdom or the Empire. All that they do is to ascertain before any examination, whether held in England, Scotland, or Wales, shall qualify for registration, that that examination shall be of a certain standard of proficiency. The Act enables the General Medical Council to send inspectors to ascertain in all these cases the character and standard of the examination. It is only in those cases in which the council has reason to believe that a lower examination is being held, or one which is not up to the standard required by the General Medical Council, that the Council can then appeal to the Privy Council, and they, after hearing evidence on all sides of the question, can eliminate that particular examination from those qualifying for practice. I venture to think that this is a matter of very great importance to Englishmen—to medical practitioners in Great Britain, and also to medical practitioners in Ireland, because, as the Act at present stands, any medical man who has the qualifications which are granted by the General Medical Council can come over to England and can practise there, or in Scotland, or in Ireland. Further than that, when registration has been obtained from the General Medical Council, that registration does, in fact, confer a primâ facie title on anyone holding that title to practise throughout His Majesty's Dominions. Therefore, I think I may say, that the matter is one distinctly of an Imperial character. It may be asked, as on a former occasion, whether one has any mandate for this proposal which I now put before the Committee. The following proposal was carried by the General Medical Council:— That in the opinion of the Council it is important in the public interest that a uniform standard of medical and dental registration should be maintained in Great Britain and Ireland, and that accordingly steps should be taken to procure the insertion in the Government of Ireland Bill of provisions reserving to the Imperial Parliament the control of legislation relating to these Acts; and that the President is requested to communicate this resolution to the Lord President of the Privy Council. I would like, further—because there is no necessity to elaborate the arguments in favour of a proposal of this kind—to say that the following resolution was carried by the British Medical Association and the Irish Association at a conjoint, board:— That in view of the large number of Irish medical students destined to practice in Great Britain and the Colonies, the Joint Committee of the British Medical Association and the Irish Medical Association hopes that in any legislation for the separate government of Ireland, provisions will be inserted safeguarding the present system of the supervision of medical education and registration of medical practitioners by the General Medical Council representing all the three Kingdoms. It is for the reasons that I have briefly stated that I suggest, in the interest of the medical practitioners throughout the whole Empire, that this Clause should be added to the Bill.


I quite agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down that there is nothing whatever contentious about the proposal which he has made, although I cannot, on behalf of the Government, accept his proposed new Clause. I do so for two reasons: First of all, because, once you begin to attribute to the Irish Parliament a likelihood of being retrograde in its legislation, I do not know that you can stop with the medical profession. I do not know of any profession so well defended by interests and by principles, and by almost a natural disposition to pursue them, as the medical profession in Ireland. This medical Act of 1858, to which reference was made very shortly by the hon. Gentleman, is of world-wide importance. It established this General Council which exercises power; I do not say that might be thought somewhat tyrannical; I do not go into that now—but it establishes a register, and unless a doctor is on that register, of course he would be tabooed in all countries where these laws operate, and they operate not only over this country, but also in a good many of our Dominions. If in Ireland these qualifications of doctors or the examinations for doctors were interfered with, it would only have the effect of confining all these medical practitioners in Ireland to their own country, and their own country is not big enough to supply them with the necessary practice for themselves, and the result is that wherever you go you find Irish doctors carrying on their profession. If you are abroad, and you wish to have a practitioner whose language you speak with facility, and you send for one of your own countrymen, the odds are that you will find he is an Irishman. Only about a year ago I was hustled somewhat roughly by ladies and I slipped and displaced a cartilage of my knee. I went home in great pain and at once sent for a practitioner, and a gentleman was brought to me who relieved me of all my suffering. I guessed he was an Irishman, and when I disked him his name he told me it was Redmond. I only instance that as showing that Irish doctors are the last of whom you may be afraid in this matter, and it is an imputation upon the Irish Parliament to suggest that in this matter, in the forefront of European intelligence, that they are going to alter and repeal these great Statutes affecting the medical profession all over the British Empire, thereby confining their practitioners to the 4,000,000 of people who live in Ireland, and denying the opportunity to them of carrying their high qualifications and great skill in diagnosis to other portions of the Empire.

It is excessive caution on the part of the General Medical Council to entertain any apprehension of that kind. The fact is always like that in connection with Home Rule. People have some little fear of their own. There is always some "but," and they want to accept one "but," and if you listen to all the "buts" nothing would be left. I do not say that in some circumstances an attempt at exception might not be justified, but the General Medical Council in this case are exhibiting unnecessary alarm. There is no reason whatever to suppose that an Irish Parliament, in which the medical interests are likely to be represented far more strongly than they are in our Parliament, would be at all likely to interfere with the welfare of their own medical practitioners, almost all of whom are ambitious of better conditions and of seeking appointments in other parts of the United Kingdom. I agree it is a matter of great importance. without going into the whole question of the Medical Council, that the qualifications of doctors and the severity of the examinations should be maintained as far as possible on what you may call the cosmopolitan basis throughout the British Empire, so that wherever you went you would find a qualified doctor who went through this curriculum. I think there would be no likelihood of the Irish Parliament departing from that high standard, and there need be no alarm on the matter. I am clothed from head to foot in an armament of confidence which enables me to resist the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman without in any way calling in question the importance of the subject he has brought before the Committee. But once you begin to exempt this and to exempt that from the operations of such a Bill as this, there would be really no end to it, and certainly if I gave way in this I should find it very difficult to resist other applications with probably something more behind them.


If I may say one word in reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I think he will find first of all that his argument would apply to all the reserve matters set out in the second Clause of the Bill. It is an argument we could all use, namely, that if you grant this you must grant everything else. We have exempted a great many things under Clause 2, and I think this matter is equally as important as a number of them. The second point I would raise in reply to the light hon. Gentleman is that this matter has the support of the whole of the medical profession, and that the Irish Medical Council agreed in this recommendation, and I understood when this Clause was put in my hand that the leaders of the Irish party would support it. The matter is one of Imperial importance, and I cannot but express my extreme surprise that the right hon. Gentleman has not accepted it.


But for the remarks of the hon. Gentleman I should not have intervened, but I should have, thought that if the medical men of Ireland for whom the hon. Gentleman speaks were anxious about this matter, I should have heard something about it. I have heard nothing about it. I thoroughly agree with the Chief Secretary that it would be a deplorable thing if we were to have one system of medical qualification in Ireland and another system in England. I do not think that would be a good thing for the State at large. I think it would be a monstrous insult to the new Parliament to pass a Clause like this. The Irish medical men and the English medical men must in the nature of things have practically the same qualifications. After this Bill is passed you will have to have competitive examination as usual for medical men, for the Army and Navy, and it will be in the interest of the Irish colleges to do what they always have done to keep themselves well in front of the various associations in the Empire in these competitive examinations and to keep their curriculum always at a high pitch. As regards the question of the General Medical Council, I think the least said about it the better, because there are many medical men who think they have a great deal too much power at the present moment. No doubt they may have called upon the hon. Gentleman who moved this Clause, but I feel sure that the Irish doctors would in no circumstances wish to place themselves in a different position, and they certainly would not be so treated by an Irish Parliament. The interests of the Irish Parliament would be to keep up the same high level of education for the medical profession of Ireland

as in this country, and I think that in the circumstances this Clause would be quite unnecessary, as the Irish Parliament would do nothing which would tend to place Irish medical men in a disadvantageous position as compared with Englishmen or Scotchmen.


I am afraid the hon. Gentleman was not present when I read the resolution of the general board of the Irish Medical Association.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 103; Noes, 281.

Division No. 445.] AYES. 7.58 p.m.
Aitken, Sir William Max Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Baird, John Lawrence Goulding, Edward Alfred Pretyman, Ernest George
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Greene, Walter Raymond Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Balcarres, Lord Gretton, John Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Baldwin, Stanley Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds) Rees, Sir J. D.
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Haddock, George Bahr Remnant, James Farquharson
Barrie, H. T. Hamersley, Alfred St. George Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Harris, Henry Percy Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Hickman, Col. Thomas E. Salter, Arthur Clavell
Bigland, Alfred Hill, Sir Clement L. Sanderson, Lancelot
Blair, Reginald Hills, John Waller Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Boyton, James Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Spear, Sir John Ward
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Stanier, Beville
Bull, Sir William James Houston, Robert Paterson Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Burn, Colonel C. R. Hume-Williams, W. E. Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Butcher, John George Hunt, Rowland Swift, Rigby
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Jessel, Captain H. M. Talbot, Lord E.
Campion, W. R. Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Lane-Fox, G. R. Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)
Cautley, Henry Strother Larmor, Sir J. Thynne, Lord A.
Cave, George Lewisham, Viscount Tobin, Alfred Aspinall
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Tullibardine, Marquess of
Chambers, James Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Valentia, Viscount
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. s.) Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Denniss, E. R. B. Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich) Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Dixon, C. H. MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Doughty, Sir George Macmaster, Donald Wills, Sir Gilbert
Duke, Henry Edward M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Middlemore, John Throgmorton Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Falle, Bertram Godfray Mount, William Arthur Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Newton, Harry Kottingham Yate, Colonel C. E.
Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Nield, Herbert
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir P. Magnus and Mr. Fell.
Gardner, Ernest Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Gibbs, George Abraham
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts., St. George) Chancellor, Henry George
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Bentham, G. J. Chapple, Dr. William Allen
Acland, Francis Dyke Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Clancy, John Joseph
Adamson, William Black, Arthur W. Clough, William
Addison, Dr. C. Boland, John Pius Clynes, John R.
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Booth, Frederick Handel Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Bowerman, C. W. Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.
Alden, Percy Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Condon, Thomas Joseph
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Brace, William Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Brady, Patrick Joseph Cotton, William Francis
Armitage, Robert Brocklehurst, W. B. Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)
Arnold, Sydney Brunner, John F. L. Crean, Eugene
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Bryce, J. Annan Crooks, William
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Buckmaster, Stanley O. Crumley, Patrick
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Burke, E. Haviland- Cullinan, John
Barnes, G. N. Burns, Rt. Hon. John Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)
Barton, William Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Carr-Gomm, H. W. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)
Dawes, J. A. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
De Forest, Baron Jones, Leif Straiten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Price, Sir R. J. (Norfolk, E.)
Delany, William Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Priestley, Sir W. E. (Bradford)
Devlin, Joseph Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney) Pringle, William M. R.
Donelan, Captain A. Jowett, F. W. Raffan, Peter Wilson
Doris, William Joyce, Michael Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Duffy, William J. Keating, Matthew Reddy, M.
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Kellaway, Frederick George Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Kennedy, Vincent Paul Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) Kilbride, Denis Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) King, J. (Somerset, North) Richards, Thomas
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Elverston, Sir Harold Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'r'nd,Cockerm'th) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Esslemont, George Birnie Leach, Charles Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Falconer, James Levy, Sir Maurice Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)
Farrell, James Patrick Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson, Sidney
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Low, Sir F. (Norwich) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Lundon, Thomas Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Ffrench, Peter Lynch, A. A. Roe, Sir Thomas
Field, William Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Rowlands, James
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward McGhee, Richard Rowntree, Arnold
Fitzgibbon, John MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Flavin, Michael Joseph MacVeagh, Jeremiah Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
France, Gerald Ashburner M'Callum, Sir John M. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd M'Kean, John Scanlan, Thomas
Gilbooly, James McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Gill, A. H. M'Micking, Major Gilbert Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Ginnell, Laurence Manfield, Harry Sheehy, David
Gladstone, W. G. C. Marshall, Arthur Harold Sherwell, Arthur James
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Mason, David M. (Coventry) Shortt, Edward
Goldstone, Frank Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Meagher, Michael Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)
Greig, Col. J. W. Menzies, Sir Walter Snowden, Philip
Griffith, Ellis J. Millar, James Duncan Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) Molloy, Michael Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Molteno, Percy Alport Sutherland, J. E.
Guiney, Patrick Mond, Sir Alfred M. Sutton, John E.
Gulland, John William Mooney, John J. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Morgan, George Hay Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)
Hackett, John Morrell, Philip Tennant, Harold John
Hall, Frederick (Normanton) Morison, Hector Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Hancock, J. G. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Thorne, William (West Ham)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Muldoon, John Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Hardie, J. Keir Munro, R. Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.) Nannetti, Joseph P. Verney, Sir Harry
Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Needham, Christopher T. Wadsworth, J.
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Nolan, Joseph Walsh, J. (Cork, South)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Norton, Captain Cecil W. Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Waring, Walter
Hayden, John Patrick O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Hayward, Evan O'Doherty, Philip Watt, Henry Anderson
Hazleton, Richard O'Donnell, Thomas Webb, H.
Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East) O'Dowd, John White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)
Helme, Sir Norval Watson Ogden, Fred White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.) Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.) Wiles, Thomas
Henry, Sir Charles O'Malley, William Wilkle, Alexander
Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Higham, John Sharp O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Hinds, John O'Shee, James John Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. O'Sullivan, Timothy Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Hodge, John Outhwaite, R. L. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Hogge, James Myles Parker, James (Halifax) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Holmes, Daniel Turner Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Winfrey, Richard
Hope, John Deans (Haddington) Pearce, William (Limehouse) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Hughes, S. L. Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Pirie, Duncan V.
John, Edward Thomas Pointer, Joseph TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Geoffrey Howard.
Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Power, Patrick Joseph

I call upon the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Shirley Benn) to move the second new Clause standing in his name.


I am in this difficulty, Mr. Chairman. I am relying upon the promise of the Prime Minister made when introducing his Motion in which he re- ferred to safeguards, and he specially mentioned the questions raised in my new Clause, dealing with decrees of Ne Temere and Motu proprio.


I can only deal with the Clauses at present on the Paper. The Clause put down by the hon. Member is quite outside the scope of the Bill; in fact, he proposes to add a new crime to the calendar.


The Prime Minister promised it, and not I.