§ Considered in Committee.
§ [COLONEL CLIFTON BROWN IN THE CHAIR.]
§ CLAUSE 1.—(Alternative conditions to be complied with by authorised sellers of poisons.)
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out "articles other than," and to insert:drugs, or of drugs and medical appliances, or of drugs and surgical appliances, or of.This Amendment, and the one which follows, are little more than drafting Amendments. Clause 1 of this Bill represents a settlement of a question that has given a good deal of trouble since the Pharmacy Act of 1933 was passed. It was found after that Bill became an Act that co-operative societies and certain other multiple shops were placed under an unforeseen disadvantage, namely, that if they had any one branch where they sold poisons they had to have a registered pharmacist in charge at any other branch where they sold drugs which were not included in the poisons list. That has been the position since 1933, but for many years the Pharmaceutical Society and the Co-operative Congress have had an understanding. That understanding was brought to an end as the result of a decision in the High Court in December, 1937, and since then there has been this lacuna in the law. Clause 1 of this Bill provides that it shall not be necessary under those circumstances to have a registered pharmacist at each of the premises of a multiple concern where drugs are sold, provided certain conditions are complied with, and those conditions will be found set out in paragraphs (a) to (g) of Sub-section (1) of this Clause.
One of the principal considerations in the minds both of the Pharmaceutical Society and of the multiple shops concerned is that the sale of drugs shall form only a small part of the total business carried on on those premises. It is very convenient, especially in country districts, that it should be possible to obtain certain common remedies either at a grocer's shop or at a co-operative stores, but if it is not to be necessary that there should be a registered pharmacist in charge of the branch where these articles are sold, then the conditions referred to must be com- 554 plied with. The principle condition is that the sale of drugs shall form a small part of, and shall only be ancillary to, the general business carried on. In reducing to words this understanding between the Pharmaceutical Society and the co-operative stores, we have had some difficulty in getting the right draft. If hon. Members, however, look at Subsection (3) of Clause 1, they will see that we have taken power to make regulations for determining certain matters. When we came to look at condition (a) in Subsection (1) very closely it was thought that the words "the predominant part of of the business '' might be considered by a court of law as implying anything in excess of 50 per cent. of the business. It is, as I say, the intention of the parties that the sale of drugs in these cases should consist only of a very small part of the total turnover, and in order to secure that end we thought it better to provide not that thesale of articles other than drugs …must constitute the predominant part …but rather that the sale of drugs, etc.,must not constitute a substantial part. …We thought that would meet the intention of the parties better than the words which were originally included in the Clause.
§ Sir Francis Fremantle (St. Albans)
Is there a difference between medical appliances and surgical appliances, and if so what happens, supposing a shop has medical and surgical appliances but no drugs? That seems to have been left out.
§ Mr. Peake
I believe there is a difference between medical appliances and surgical appliances, and I should have thought that my hon. Friend was in a better position than I am to decide that question. The Clause, however, is now so drafted that the sales of drugs, medical appliances and surgical appliances added together, must not constitute a substantial part of the turnover of the premises.
§ Amendment agreed to.
There is nothing before the Committee at the moment. We have decided the point.
555 Further Amendment made: In page I, line 16, leave out "constitute the predominant," and insert "not constitute a substantial."
§ Captain Elliston (Blackburn)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 26, to leave out "dispensed," and to insert" compounded."
The effect of this Amendment, and of the following Amendment standing in my name, is to make it unlawful for any medicine to be compounded in branch businesses belonging to chemists unless there is a pharmacist. I do not think it necessary to stress the desirability of this Amendment, because the Bill as at present drafted applies such a prohibition to prescriptions only. I take it that this is a matter of drafting and I trust that my hon. Friend will be able to accept the Amendment without further discussion.
§ Mr. Peake
We have looked at the Amendment, and I think we are in agreement that it is not desirable that any compounding or dispensing of any kind should be carried out at those branches where there would be no registered pharmacist in charge. The hon. and gallant Member's Amendment extends the ban upon such dispensing or compounding so as to bring within the mischief of the Clause, a practice which, I believe, is common in the north of England, of taking along to a chemist's shop a prescription not provided by a doctor but taken out of a newspaper or handed down from one's grandmother. The hon. and gallant Member's Amendment will, therefore, have the support of the Government.
§ Mr. Woods (Finsbury)
I should like to know whether this proposal is entirely satisfactory. It is all very well for the Minister to suggest that these prescriptions are handed down from one's grandmother. But take the case of a typical mining community where people suffer from lumbago. It is not a question of speculation or one's grandmother but of actual experience, and it is a very common thing in a mining village for a miner to ask for a simple prescription which has been found an effective remedy for an ailment to which miners are particularly subject. All that this Amendment means is that they would have to take two bottles instead of one and they would be able to get both these ordinary ingredients, which 556 are standing commodities. It is a question of two or three oils for rubbing in and of whether one bottle or two or three have to be taken to the shop. It is not a question of dispensing. It is a question of practice for years. I imagine that miners will think that the House of Commons has gone a little sentimental when it demands that three bottles should be taken along instead of one, and that the miners should get these ingredients and mix them themselves. The Committee would be well advised to be satisfied with "dispensing "in the ordinary sense of the word. We were given assurances on the Second Reading that herbalists would be able to continue to practise.
§ Mr. Woods
I think it concerns the village store—not particularly herbalists but cases where a village store has a supply of herbs. This Amendment would mean that these herbs could be sold separately but that they could not be compounded. I suggest we might be satisfied with "dispensing" and not try to tighten up the Clause further.
§ Mr. Peake
I would only say that we have discussed this Amendment with the Pharmaceutical Society on the one hand and co-operative societies on the other, and it has proved mutualy acceptable to them. Of course, if the idea we have in view could be so easily evaded by the miner's wife taking two bottles to the grocer's instead of one, and dispensing her own mixture when she gets home, then the Amendment proposed by my hon. and gallant Friend is not going to do very much harm.
§ Mr. Peake
The hon. Member cannot catch me with that one. If he will look at Clause 1 (10) he will see that the expression "dispensed" means supplying on order in accordance with a prescription duly given by a registered medical practitioner. We are using the word "compounding" in preference to the word "dispensing" because the prescriptions which have been discussed in the Amendment now before the Committee have not been duly given by a registered medical practitioner.
§ Amendment agreed to.557
§ Further Amendments made: In page 1, line 26, after "premises," insert" for the use of a particular person."
In page 2, line 29, leave out "sale of articles other than," and insert:
retail sale of drugs, or of drugs and medical appliances, or of drugs and surgical appliances, or of.
§ In line 31, leave out "the predominant," and insert "constituting a substantial."
§ In page 3, line 44, leave out "and surgical."— [Mr. Peake.]
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ CLAUSE 3.—(Prohibition of advertisements relating to certain diseases.)
The first Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Dr. Peters): In page 5, line 9, at the end, to insert:or to a reference to or prescription of herbal or other treatment given to a patient at a healing centre or privately and not connected with a registered medical practitioner or registered pharmacist.has not been selected.
§ Dr. Peters (Huntingdon)
I do not wish to disagree with the Chair but I wish to raise a point. My Amendment really does go to the essence of the particular words referring to a certain article or articles. I do not know whether that decision could be reconsidered.
I am afraid this Bill refers to articles. This Amendment deals with treatment, which is quite a different matter.
§ Dr. Peters
I beg to move, in page 5, line 26, at the end, to insert:(i) persons engaged in medical research not coming within the provisions of paragraph (g) here of.There is a similar Amendment on Clause 5, which is consequential. There are people, like myself, who for a number of years have taken an interest in all kinds of healing; and it need hardly be said that over that long period, one has found that the medical profession, for which I have the greatest respect, in some cases does not produce a cure. I am anxious that other people who are not 558 registered practitioners, who do not come within the various provisions of this Clause, but who are engaged, quite earnestly, in finding out what all these various methods of healing point to, should have the benefit of those provisions, which apply to medical men and other bodies. I do not think that that is unreasonable. I hope my right hon. Friend the Minister will be able to accept the Amendment. I was associated with him as his Parliamentary Private Secretary for many years, and I know with what thoroughness he prepares his brief. In court I would often like to have a look at the brief of my opponent, and, similarly, I would like to see my right hon. Friend's brief now. I hope he will not close his mind to this proposal.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Ernest Brown)
My hon. Friend knows that if I could meet him at all, I would do so. We got along very well, as he has said, when I was in another office. But I am in a difficulty here. The object of this Clause is a fundamental one. It is to prevent sufferers and their friends and relations from being imposed upon by advertisements of useless remedies. The Amendment is so vague that I have not the least idea what it means, or who would come under it. As I read it, almost anyone who describes himself as being engaged in medical research would benefit by the Amendment. It is not possible to separate persons engaged in medical research as a definite class. It would open the door to a very wide circulation of advertisements by an ill-defined and indefinable group. If my hon. Friend has a particular point, affecting a definable group, I shall be very glad to talk to him about it, and to see whether anything can be done.
§ Dr. Peters
In view of the way my right hon. Friend has met me, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Loftus (Lowestoft)
I thoroughly approve of the Clause. It prohibits, however,the publication of any advertisement referring to any article, or articles of any description, in terms which are calculated to lead to the use of that article or articles of that description for the purpose of…559 and then follows the list. There are several natural mineral waters which are strongly recommended by eminent doctors, not for the cure but for the treatment of such diseases as diabetes. There is a firm in this country which imports these famous mineral waters from foreign springs, and which has issued a prescription for their use. In three or four cases, the highest medical authorities have recommended their use for the alleviation or treatment of such diseases as diabetes. I have not a copy of the prescription, because, unfortunately, all copies were destroyed recently in the city of London. But I should like an assurance that these famous mineral waters, if recommended for the treatment of people suffering from diabetes, will not come under the Clause, and that the individuals themselves will not be liable to prosecution. Also, I would like to be assured that the research work carried out, and the remarkable results achieved, by bio-chemical workers will not be, in any way, hampered by this Clause.
§ Mrs. Tate (Frome)
I should like to ask the Minister whether, under this Clause as it stands, if at some future date someone outside the medical profession produces a cure for any of these diseases, it will be impossible to describe it in the public Press. I visualise a purely imaginary case, which might, however, arise. Although I have had very great kindness from many members of the medical profession, I am one of those people who have absolutely no faith in them whatever. I consider that a doctor's plate on the door might be considered, in many cases, to be advertising of a dishonest kind, for it leads the gullible public into the illusion that if they enter that door they may be relieved of their ills, whereas they are far more likely to be relieved of the contents of their pockets and of part of their bodily organs. In this country the main idea of a cure among the medical profession is to eliminate as large a portion of the body as possible. Surgery is a most important part of medicine.
§ Mrs. Tate
Perhaps I am, but I believe that that is a general experience. A 560 man told me only the other day that, having a very bad pain in his shoulder, he consulted an eminent Harley Street surgeon, who told him that he had chronic appendicitis, and it was so serious that it would be necessary for him to spend three weeks in a nursing-home before it became possible to operate. As the man did not wish—
§ Dr. Peters
I hope that I shall be able to keep in Order. What I want to say now, Colonel Clifton Brown, is partly what you prevented me from saying just now. I want to bring one or two things to the notice of my right hon. Friend. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) mentioned the point that he raised just now. I feel that any reference to any such remedies which have come into this country during the past few years would, at once, bring them into my right hon. Friend's net. The people concerned could easily be prosecuted as criminals. I hope that that will be remembered. There are certain nice little things of which one is supposed to take so many. That is a case of an article, not a treatment. I dare say that some of my right hon. Friends and colleagues know that there are spiritual healing centres in which you do not get spiritual healing, but prescriptions of herbs. They involve an article and not a treatment. I should say that herbs are prescribed in the vast majority of cases, plus some other treatment, but I leave that out. Those people, undoubtedly, will come within my right hon. Friend's ban. It is no use the Minister shaking his head. I know that if I went before a court of law I could argue what was an article. There are hundreds of these healing centres up and down the country. Does my right hon. Friend really want to try to stop them and other quasi-religious people—and some very religious people are. doing this 561 work. There is the bio-chemist. There are some medical practitioners who are doing that work. They are highly-skilled medical practitioners, but there are others who are not medical practitioners and who are carrying out the same sort of work.
My right hon. Friend has a golden opportunity of showing that great heart of his by not making it impossible for people who cannot get cured in one way, to go somewhere else. I wart to see all these different cross-sections of healing brought together, so that we shall not have all this friction between one and another. When persons are suffering— and we have the greatest sorrow and feeling for those who are suffering—and they cannot get healing from one form of medical science, let them go somewhere else. Do not let us try to prevent them. In 1939 we had a Cancer Bill which contained provisions with regard to advertising. Here we have a number of other diseases mentioned in this Clause. There are treatments for them, and, like the insulin treatment, they have to go on and on, and they are not a cure. I do not want to see the Government taking part in anything that will stop people who can cure these sufferers doing so—-and they have cured them in hundreds of cases on record. I know that my right hon. Friend does not want to do it, but the provision in this Bill is the thin end of the wedge. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not lend himself to any Measure which would stop suffering humanity from getting treatment elsewhere, if effective treatment cannot be found in the orthodox manner.
§ Dr. Russell Thomas (Southampton)
Although I welcome Clause 3 and congratulate the Minister on putting it in the Bill, because it is a step in the right direction and I think it is an estimable thing that parliament should interfere. But I would like to say a word or two about the mysterious list of diseases defined in this Clause. It is not a long list, but it is meant to be impressive, although, in my opinion, it will not have the slightest effect whatsoever on the advertising of patent medicines. I notice that one of these diseases is locomotorataxy. It seems a very nice idea to have this disease included in the Clause to prevent people from advertising cures for it, but let us for a moment examine it. I do not want to be pedantic or to appear to be teaching the Committee 562 anything, but this is a very rare disease indeed. It has to do with syphilis and occurs five, seven or ten years after infection, taking an insidious course. It might, indeed, take one, two or more years before a person gets into such a condition that he must seek medical advice. In the meantime the patient, I believe, suffers from certain symptoms in the early stages, such as pains in the legs and a staggering gait and quite easily can use remedies advertising cures for neuritis and dizziness, ad lib, with nothing to check him until the disease is diagnosed. When the disease is diagnosed the patient is taken great care of by a doctor or by a hospital until he either gets better or dies, when there will be no opportunity at all of any patent remedy getting near him. In any case it would not pay people to advertise cures for this disease, because the number of people suffering from it in the country is so few that the amount of patent medicine sold would not pay for the advertisements.
The next disease I want to deal with—because I think it is important to examine it under this Clause—is diabetes. This is a very well-known complaint, but very often people suffering from it do not know anything about it for a long time. They feel themselves getting weaker, but they go on with their work and use all sorts of patent remedies for their weakness, continuing to do so until their disease is diagnosed. Often a diagnosis is not made because the patient has not sought medical advice until he gets so weak that he has to be sent to hospital, where everything is done for him byway of diet and insulin, and I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) that the doctor can recommend mineral waters and biological treatment, if he thinks fit. The whole of his remaining life is protected and regimented. I do not think this Clause will have the slighest effect on the advertising campaign for the debility and weakness I have referred to, before the disease is diagnosed.
Then we have two most remarkable complaints listed in this Clause—glaucoma and cataract. Let us deal with cataract first. Everybody knows that, normally speaking, cataract is a disease which does not show itself until late in life. The eyes get dim, and the patient gradually begins to lose his sight. As a rule the patient does not consider taking patent medicines for 563 that but generally consults an oculist. There is nothing in the Bill, however, to prevent a person using all sorts of eye drops until the cataract is diagnosed. The Clause will have no effect on this sort of advertising.
The inclusion of glaucoma in the Clause is most remarkable, and completely futile. Glaucoma is also a disease of the eyes, and a person suffering from it slowly loses his sight and, unless he receives attention, may become blind; but until he seeks advice from an oculist he will use all sorts of powders and remedies which will be advertised for pain in the head. No vendor of patent medicines would be so foolish as to say that he has a cure for cataract or glaucoma, but there will be ample scope until the disease gets to such a pass that the patient seeks medical or surgical advice for the patent medicine vendor to advertise in a subtle way remedies which, in a general sense, would treat the particular symptoms from which the person is suffering.
There is also included Bright's disease, a disease which varies considerably. There is acute Bright's disease, which comes on quickly, so that the patient becomes very ill and sends for his doctor, and there is no chance of his getting into the hands of a patent medicine vendor. Then there is, chronic Bright's disease, which is more insidious than the other form. The first thing sometimes which most people known about a patient who has chronic Bright's disease is that he has had a stroke in the street and is dead. In later life the kidneys often get diseased, the patient is short of breath, and he has spots in front of his eyes, and he treats himself according to the symptoms he has himself noticed and sometimes takes patent medicines for cleansing the kidneys, and so on. Other people unwittingly, or because they are super-patriotic, and do not wish the Government to pay any interest on the money they disperse, develop the complaint slowly, but surely, although unknowingly in the local "pub." Until the diagnosis of chronic Bright's disease is made, there is no field for the operation of the Clause, but in the years before there is every field for the vendors of patent medicines to sell their wares for the treatment of the symptoms which are slowly developing. The inclusion of Bright's disease in this Clause
564 will have no effect on the patent medicine trade.
The same thing applies to epilepsy. Very often this disease occurs early in life. The patient falls down in a violent fit; if he is at home, his parents get very worried and alarmed on seeing the boy or girl foaming at the mouth and lying on the floor, and immediately send for the nearest doctor. Therefore, the patient gets into the hands of the doctors and is very carefully treated for epilepsy throughout the whole of his life, or until the disease eases off, and the whole field of patent medicine is debarred to him. I could go on in the same way about paralysis, and so on, but I will not take up more of the time of the Committee. However, I believe that the Clause is valuable in that it shows that Parliament is taking an interest in this matter; otherwise, I believe it to be futile in that it will not affect the patent medicine trade in any way. I hope the Minister will regard this as merely filling up a gap pending greater efforts in the future.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
In regard to the proviso about leave being given to voluntary hospitals, may I ask whoever is to reply what is the definition of a voluntary hospital? As far as I know, there has never been any definition of a voluntary hospital, and I think this Bill might be the occasion for considering some suitable definition.
§ Mr. Woods
I hope the Minister will take into consideration the point raised by the hon. Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate). The Committee is entirely agreed that there should be no exploitation of the anxiety of victims or their relatives. The fact remains, however, these diseases are so baffling to the medical profession that the medical profession have often had to acknowledge that they are bunkered, in spite of their training and equipment. The medical profession have been in this position time and again. It is then that an inspired man who has had no special training and who has no professional status may, because he has concentrated upon one thing, be able to give benefit to mankind. This Clause would prevent that individual from making known and making available his remedy, and it would also circumscribe him in regard to any experimental work. I know the Minister can say there is a covering 565 Clause, and that such a person could advertise if he had the sanction of the Minister of Health. But, before that sanction was given, the Minister would probably refer the matter through the orthodox medical machinery, and the profession would be so annoyed because an inspired amateur had put them in the shade, that they would turn him down and advise the Minister to have nothing to do with his remedy. On the other hand, suppose the Minister was convinced that the man had a remedy and he used his own judgment. What would be the position if he gave permission? That person would be able to state that his advertisement had the sanction of the Minister of Health. It would be a jolly good advertisement and a money-getter— there would be no provision to prevent the exploitation of that sanction. Before we leave this matter, the Minister should look at both sides of the problem and make some definite provision for research. We do not want to create the impression, because the medical profession may be baffled, that we do not want research to continue. I hope we shall continue to struggle against those diseases which are incurable. I entirely agree with the intention of the Clause, and that we do riot want any further exploitation of people who are the victims of a disease.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Norwich)
I should like to ask one question before my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary replies. During the Second Reading Debate numerous examples were given from all parts of the House of fraudulent advertisements of medicines, not one of which will come within the prohibition of this Clause. I wish to ask whether this Clause is directed against any advertisements which are known to be in existence, because, if it is not, we might at least suspect that this is not the best way of dealing with an existing evil. If it is not directed against any existing advertisement, I would ask the Government seriously to consider inserting a new Clause, making it a criminal offence deliberately to publish a false statement of fact in connection with the sale of a medicine.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Horsbrugh)
My right hon. Friend will, of course, look into the numerous questions that have been put and suggestions which have been made 566 with a view to meeting the points. While I have been listening I could not help thinking that there is still some misunderstanding as to what the Clause does, or attempts to do. The hon. Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) made her point very clear, and we were left in no misunderstanding, but there is nothing in the Clause to prevent her or anyone else from putting up a brass plate and treating people. What is going to be made illegal is the advertising of specific articles which are said to be a cure for particular diseases, not the treatment of them. We have been asked why these particular diseases have been selected. It was explained on the Second Reading that certain diseases were suggested in the Report of the Committee of 1914. Some of them have been included, and two have been added to the list. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Strauss) has pleaded again that we should go further in the prohibition of advertisements. The difficulty is that the Bill does not deal with advertisements as such, but with the evil of advertisements of cures for serious diseases which can be alleviated, if not cured, if action is taken in time.
The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) put the case of mineral waters. If he will give my right hon. Friend particulars he will look into it, but as far as we know no mineral water is advertised as alleviating or curing a particular disease. Unless certain mineral waters or other articles which may be used for a particular purpose are advertised for the treatment of human beings for certain diseases, they would not come within the scope of this Clause. I would remind hon. Members that the Bill contains the protection that proceedings will not be taken except with the consent of the Attorney-General or Solicitor-General.
§ Mr. Loftus
The last Sub-section of Clause 5 says,No prosecution for a contravention of any of the provisions of the last two preceding sections shall be instituted.Does that include the whole of Clause 3?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
Yes, it covers the whole Clause. We have seen in this Debate, as we saw on Second Reading, that some hon. Members think we have not gone far enough and others think that we have gone too far. Some think that it will discourage research and others do not think it will make the slightest 567 difference. If, however, hon. Members realise the purpose of the Clause and realise that there is the protection I have mentioned, they will perhaps agree that the attempt is well worth making. It can be improved later, perhaps, by amending legislation. I can assure hon. Members that it does not stop anyone from making every effort to use his or her skill to alleviate human suffering but it does prevent certain remedies being advertised as cures, or for the treatment, of particular diseases.
§ Sir R. Glyn
Will my hon. Friend say why the word "voluntary" is inserted before hospital? Would not hospital be sufficient?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
The reason is that other hospitals come under local authorities, who are also mentioned.
§ Sir R. Glyn
Is my hon. Friend satisfied that a group of people cannot get together and form a voluntary hospital for the purpose of defeating certain things in the Bill?
§ Captain Strickland (Coventry)
Is it intended to make any difference between municipal and voluntary hospitals?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
No. The term "local authority" will include the municipal hospitals. My right hon. Friend thinks that all the various kinds of hospitals are covered, but if there is a doubt about it, he will look into it.
§ Dr. Russell Thomas
Why was the report of a committee 27 years ago taken in this matter? Medical science has advanced enormously in that time, and advertisements which would persuade people to take certain medicines then would not have the slightest effect to-day.
§ Miss Horsbrugh
There was another committee in 1937 which reported the same diseases as those mentioned in 1914. We are a little more up-to-date than my hon. Friend thought.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
I am in favour of this Bill as a whole, but I am 568 not sure that this is not a most dangerous Clause. There are certain of the diseases mentioned which are perfectly curable according to certain researches going on now. It is quite possible under certain modern methods of treatment /to cure locomotor ataxy. I have seen it done, provided the disease is caught at a certain stage. Supposing a doctor is struck off the roll for some minor offence, quite un-associated with medicine, such as antedating a certificate, and supposing that doctor discovers a cure for locomotor ataxy. He has to make a living. He is a trained man, although he has been struck off the roll. Is he not to be allowed to advertise his cure for a disease which he is able to cure, or is he only to be allowed to do so with the sanction of the Minister of Health?
§ Miss Horsbrugh
I think the hon. Member will agree that a person who has engaged in this research, even if he has been struck off the roll, will not normally wish to keep his discovery entirely to himself. If he wants anyone else to know about it, he will know with whom he has to communicate to say that he has found a cure. To begin with, there are Members of the Houses of Parliament. He can send to anyone who is a Member of Parliament and say, "I have found a cure for this particular disease." He can also send the information to other people, including local authorities. If the hon. Member looks at the list he will see that it is a pretty comprehensive one.
§ Dr. Morgan
That does not meet my point. I have no wish to encourage the amateur treatment of disease, because as a medical man I have seen too many cases of death resulting from that. But I know the General Medical Council very well. I have long wanted to get an opportunity to debate it in this House, but I have not been able to do so. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Raise it on the Adjournment."] I wish I could, but it is very difficult. A doctor may be struck off the roll for what I consider to be a very minor offence. He has to live. Many doctors who are in that case are struggling in the Colonies. That man may be a great authority on a certain disease and he may discover a cure for it. I want that man to be able to exploit his discovery, and be able to advertise his treatment and to keep the cure a secret 569 at the same time, if he wants to do so. Why must he have the sanction of the Minister of Health, who may not be at all proof against the antagonism of the recognised members of the profession? Take the loose term "paralysis." Paralysis may mean paralysis of anything, of one muscle. As a doctor, I know the difficulty of treating dermatitis. I have dealt with such cases under the Workmen's Compensation Act and I know there is difficulty in curing them. I know a doctor who at the present time is making researches into dermatitis and giving a particular form of treatment which is producing very good results in a very short time, even in the most persistent cases, though I am not saying that he is as yet completely successful. That man is doing something unique, which nobody else has been able to do, and I do not want that man to have to advertise to the world the whole of his ingredients, or his technique, or his methods of treatment. I want that man, if he gets into a difficulty, to be able to earn his living by exploiting his discovery, and I do not see why he should first have to communicate his discovery to the Minister of Health or 570 to certain other people. I do not want to encourage the inspired amateur, but, after all the explanations which have been given, I still say that this seems to be a most dangerous Clause, and I wish the Minister would promise to look into the matter again to see whether he cannot find some form of Amendment which will meet the situation, which some of us view with great concern.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Clauses 4 and 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill
§ Ordered, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—[Mr. Adamson.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day,
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Resolved. "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Adamson.