HC Deb 22 July 1946 vol 425 cc1695-7
Mr. Key

I beg to move, in page 16, line 38, after "Board," to insert "and a Hospital Management Committee."

This Amendment gives effect to an undertaking which we gave in Committee to extend the powers and functions of the hospital management committees and gives them the power of carrying out research. There are other Amendments on the Order Paper for discussion later which will also extend the powers of these management committees.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Sir Alan Herbert (Oxford University)

May I say, as briefly as possible, that this Clause, as amended, will leave a highly unsatisfactory situation so far as the universities are concerned? At the urgent request of the Vice-Chancellors and the medical faculties of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, a series of Amendments was put down in Committee about research and teaching but those Amendments, unfortunately, were not called. Still more unfortunately an Amendment put down for consideration on the Report stage will, I understand, be out of Order, but for that we must be responsible. Nevertheless, in the hope that there may be some remedy, may I mention the point of view of the universities? This is a Clause concerning research which, with teaching, is the primary function of the universities. There is no reference to the universities in the Clause, although I must give all honour and credit to the Minister for mentioning them in the Bill as much as he has. Naturally, the universities by no means object to the Regional Hospital Board or the hospital management committee having powers with regard to research, but as regards the teaching hospitals they feel, as the expert authority on research and teaching, that there should be a different arrangement; because they are the authority who know how research is to be done, with what and by whom. They envisage, under an Amendment which may or may not be called, a kind of working partnership between the university and the teaching hospital, the teaching hospital, naturally, without interference running its own affairs, but the university having the primary say in matters of research, the teaching officers also being part of the hospital machinery so far as administration of affairs is concerned and so on. Perhaps this is not the proper time for me to develop the instructive suggestion of the universities, but, if there is no remedy, the universities take the most serious view of this and have, in fact, said to me that it is vital to the whole future of medical research.

Mr. Bevan

This matter has been discussed, and I think the position has been made perfectly clear, but I understand the hon. Member will have further opportunities of raising the whole question on the Report stage.

Sir Ernest Graham-Little (London University)

I should like to support the argument of the hon. Member for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert). I do not think the Committee realise how completely research is dependent upon teaching hospitals. The last 100 years has shown that research counts upon the teaching hospitals in increasing measure, and they have been responsible for the tremendous advances in medicine made during the war years.

The Chairman (Major Milner)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member but we cannot discuss further the question of the universities in relation to research. I understood that the Junior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Herbert) is merely raising, as an objection to the Clause as it appears before us, the fact that it contained insufficient provision for the universities. There cannot at this point in the Bill be a plea for the universities.

Sir E. Graham-Little

Can I not argue the point that the teaching hospitals are urgently concerned?

The Chairman

There may be other opportunities, but the hon. Member cannot develop that argument at this point.

Mr. Piekthorn (Cambridge University)

I am sorry I have not quite followed, but that is no one's fault except my own. The right hon. Gentleman said that there might be later opportunities but I would point out, with respect, that in fact that is not within the right hon. Gentleman's control. I do not wish to elaborate the argument at all, but I think it is a little hard if we may not indicate what seems, on the face of it, the fact that the universities, as teaching institutions, and being concerned with the matter in that sort of way, might reasonably be expected to have more to do with research. If we could be sure that it is to be considered at a later stage, that would be the end of it for the present.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Bevan

The right of the universities to conduct research is not affected by the Amendment before the Committee, but the right of the management committees to conduct research.

Mr. Pickthorn

Are we not discussing the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill"?

Mr. Bevan

We are on the Amendment, are we not?

Hon. Members


Mr. Bevan

The universities are in an entirely different position. They have rights to conduct research. We do not desire to dictate to universities. They can conduct research in their own right, and no one desires to interfere with them. That point does not arise now.

Mr. Pickthorn

Does it arise at some other stage?

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.