HC Deb 18 June 1947 vol 438 cc2172-9

This Act shall cease to have effect from 31st December, 1952.—[Sir J. Mellor.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Sir J. Mellor

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This has been submitted in manuscript form in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) and myself. It is a reproduction of the first Amendment to Clause one, which I apologise for having put in the wrong place. I shall be very brief about this because I have made the point previously. The purpose of this new Clause is to limit the operation of the Bill approximately to five years because in the view of my hon. Friends and myself a great deal is going to be learned in that time and in the course of that period it may well be, with the expansion of medical knowledge, that it would be justifiable to modify the measure of control in this Bill. I was sorry to discover from the Parliamentary Secretary that apparently it is the view of the Ministry of Health that they have nothing to learn about penicillin. In my view they have a great deal to learn, and I think this new Clause is therefore well justified.

Mr. J. Edwards

I think I said earlier that on the particular points of the dangers arising from the maladministration of penicillin we had nothing to learn. I do not suggest that we should not learn anything more about penicillin. What I said was that the dangers had been demonstrated, the evidence seemed to be certain and the need for control established, and that there was no reason to suppose we should have a different view in five or ten years' time. I do not deny that it may be necessary to have some amendment of the law as time goes on. It may be that the precise form of control may need to be modified. I do not think there is any ground for supposing that the main evidence on which the Bill is really based is going to be different in five or ten years' time. I cannot accept the proposal made by the hon. Baronet because the effect would be for me to say that I am not certain we need the powers which we are now taking. I am certain that we need them, and I see no reason why they should be limited to a duration of five years.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I feel bound to express disappointment at the further evidence of the negative attitude which the Parliamentary Secretary has unfortunately taken throughout the Committee stage of the Bill. The acceptance of this Clause does not of course in the least imply that his claim to have some powers of control at present is not made out. The hon. baronet would have been the last to suggest—indeed he did not suggest—that that would be the effect. I am within the recollection of the Committee, but I should have thought that if there was one thread which has run through the whole of the discourse on the Bill it is the fluidity of the penicillin situation generally.

In almost every discussion we have had it has been urged that the situation is necessarily at the moment not clearly defined, and for that reason the Parliamentary Secretary has stated that he does not attach much importance to the current definition of penicillin. He made that point in the last discussion we had. All that points irresistibly to the conclusion that this Bill should not be without a limit on time. The Parliamentary Secretary has refused an Earlier Amendment designed to substitute the affirmative Resolution of the House for the negative Resolution in procedure. He now declines to place a time limit on the operation of the Bill. In both cases he is seeking to make the effect of the Bill to be prolonged without necessarily incurring the scrutiny of Parliament. In a case such as this where the situation is fluid it is right that this matter should come before Parliament within a fixed and ascertainable period of time. That would be done by the new Clause without any of the deleterious consequences which the Parliamentary Secretary has pleaded in excuse for his negative attitude of opposition.

12.30 a.m.

Wing-Commander Robinson

I rise to support the new Clause, which is of great importance. Here we have a new drug of great importance. If we use it properly it is within our powers to give a valuable benefit to the people of this country. What we are doing is to hand over control of the drug to an exclusive few. If we are going to do that we should ensure that within a period of five years, there is a review of the matter to see whether it is being used properly or not. It is all very well the Parliamentary Secretary saying that the matter can be raised in this House in a good many ways, but under the present system it is impossible to introduce legislation unless it is sponored by the Government. We all know how many desirable reforms are passed by because the Government say we have not the time. Therefore, I suggest that it would be wise to leave this important matter in such a position that a review is forced upon the Government of the day, whatever it may be, during the next five years. All I am anxious to ensure is that the Government use these beneficial powers of penicillin as wisely as possible. It is a well-known fact that here we have one of the most potent cures of venereal diseases, as shown by American research. As exemplified in the results shown in the Journal of the American Medical Association we can practically cure pre-natal syphilis.

The Deputy Chairman

That is a point which should have been raised on Second Reading.

Wing-Commander Robinson

I do not want to transgress the Rules of the House. All I want to say is that here is a chance for the Government to do great things in regard to a public health campaign. So far as the Bill is concerned, I am anxious that we should be able to review the matter after five years. After all, the terms of this matter are entirely restricted, as laid down in the Bill. The only way we can help the situation is to ensure that after five years' time the matter is reviewed, so that the Government of the day—I hope there will be a change—can be checked to see whether it is doing the job properly.

Question put, and negatived.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended, considered.

12.32 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. John Edwards)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

I do not think I need say anything further in moving the Third Reading—

Mr. Linstead (Putney)

On a point of Order. Am I right in saying that the suspension of the Rule which was moved at the beginning of Business was in respect of the Committee stage only?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

The Penicillin Bill [Lords] was exempted at this day's Sitting from the provisions of the Standing Order by the Resolution passed at the commencement of Business.

Mr. Linstead

Further to that point of Order I think if the notice be read aright, you will see it was not in regard to the Penicillin Bill but that the proceedings on the Probation Officers (Superannuation) Bill and in Committee on Probation Officers (Superannuation) [Money] be exempt.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I put another interpretation upon the Resolution agreed to for the suspension of the Standing Order, namely that— the proceedings on the Probation Officers (Superannuation) Bill and in Committee on Probation Officers (Superannuation) [Money] and on the Penicillin Bill [Lords] be exempted.

Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)

May I submit with the greatest respect that if it had been intended to exempt the Bill from all stages, then the words "Penicillin Bill [Lords]" would have been inserted after "Probation Officers (Superannuation) Bill" and "on the remaining stages of the Penicillin Bill." Surely the words "in Committee" preceding Probation Officers (Superannuation) [Money] and the Penicillin Bill [Lords] show it is intended to be limited.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South)

May I submit that it was quite clear that all stages of the Probation Officers (Superannuation) Bill and the Committee stage of the Probation Officers (Superannuation) [Money] were to be called. Then follows the Penicillin Bill coming from the Lords. I suggest that the intention is clearly that the whole of the stages should be exempted.

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)

Surely for that argument to have any validity, the word "proceeding" would be repeated, making it read: that the proceedings on the Probation Officers (Superannuation) Bill and in Committee on the Probation Officers (Superannuation) [Money] Bill and the proceedings on the Penicillin Bill [Lords] because that is how that would be drafted to make it clear.

Mr. Linstead

May I submit the following additional point? If one looks at the Orders of the Day, one finds no reference to any other stages, and I submit that notices of Motions relating to the Orders of the Day can only relate to that particular stage mentioned with that Order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

They do not have to be in the Orders for the Day in the order suggested by the hon. Member. My Ruling is that the word "Proceedings" applies to all the three Bills and was so intended to apply, and when it was put to the House this afternoon it was presumably voted upon on that understanding.

Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)

I think it is within the recollection of everyone that the normal words are "the remaining stages of the Bill," and the mere fact that that is the normal thing and the remaining stages do not appear, is prima facie evidence that the Committee stages only were intended.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am informed this is the normal procedure and I rule it is in Order to take the remaining stages now.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

As Amendments have been made in the course of the Committee stage, is it not impossible to take the Report stage at one fell swoop?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman may not be aware of it but we have already passed the Report stage. I announced to the House that we were on the Report stage and no hon. or right hon. Member rose. I then called upon the Minister to move the Third Reading.

Mr. Hudson

Surely I am correct in saying that the Report stage consists of reading out the Clauses?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

There can only be a Report stage when Amendments have been proposed. As there are no Amendments proposed there can be no Report stage.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

How can there be Amendments on the Report stage when the Committee stage has only been concluded a few moments ago? There has been no opportunity. I submit that the Government having moved Amendments into this Bill, there must now be a Report stage. Surely it must be wrong to take the Report stage of the Bill now since it is in a form in which Members of the House have not been able to consider it, because there is no Bill printed which contains the Amendments moved into it by the Government.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. and learned Member has put it to me that the Report stage cannot be taken now because no Amendments have been proposed. That is true, and therefore we now have passed to consideration of the Third Reading.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Are we to understand that the Third Reading is being moved of a Bill which is not available to this House? There is no Bill as amended available to the House now.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is not a question of understanding. It is the fact.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Are we to understand from your Ruling that in future the procedure of this House is to be that the Opposition are to have no opportunity of putting down Amendments on the Report stage, because the Committee stage is concluded and the Report stage is taken im- mediately and formally, and then the Third Reading is moved? I submit with all respect—I am not criticising—that in effect tonight the Opposition have had no physical opportunity of putting down any Amendments, or even submitting manuscript Amendments on the Report stage.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman has put two important points to me. The first point is with regard to the fact that we are now to consider the Third Reading of the Penicillin Bill. On that, I am simply carrying out what was decided earlier by the House. With regard to the second, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is fully aware that there is no intention at all to deprive the House of its rightful opportunities for discussion.

Sir John Mellor (Sutton Coldfield)

I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."

I do this on two grounds—first, the reasons put forward in the short discussion that has just taken place; and second, in view of the absence of the Minister of Health. We were told that the absence of the right hon. Gentleman was due to some misfortune in connection with his journey. It is important that we should adjourn the Third Reading until the Minister has had an opportunity of considering what was said during the Committee stage. He might well desire to re-commit the Bill in respect of other Amendments. He is represented here by his Parliamentary Secretary who was himself expecting the Minister to be here and therefore had no authority delegated to him, and was in no position to accept any Amendments. In these circumstances, it is of real importance to the House that this Debate should be adjourned, so that the Minister of Health may have time to study what was said during the Committee stage, and so that there may be opportunity of introducing Amendments.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I beg to second the Motion.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Does the hon. Member move that the Debate be adjourned, or that the House do adjourn?

Sir J. Mellor

I move that the Debate be adjourned.

Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The House divided: Ayes, 16; Noes, 70.

Division No. 265.] AYES. [10.44 p.m.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Gibson, C. W Morgan, Dr H. B.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) Gilzean, A. Morley, R.
Alpass, J. H. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Morris, P (Swansea, W.)
Attewell, H. C. Gooch, E. G. Neal, H. (Claycross)
Bacon, Miss A Gordon-Walker, P. C Orbach, M.
Balfour, A. Grey, C. F. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Beswick, F. Grierson, E. Parkin, B. T
Bing, G. H. C. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Pearson, A.
Blyton, W. R. Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Platts-Mills, J F. F.
Boardman, H. Guest, Dr. L. Haden Poole, Major Cecil (Lichfield)
Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W Hannan, W. (Maryhill) Porter, G. (Leeds)
Braddock, T. (Mitcham) Hastings, Dr Somerville Rryde, D. J
Brook, D. (Halifax) Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Randall, H E
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Herbison, Miss M Rankin, J.
Buchanan, G Hobson, C R. Reid T. (Swindon)
Burden, T. W Holman, P. Robens, A.
Burke, W. A. Holmes, H E. (Hemswortti) Robertson, J J. (Berwick)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) House, G. Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Carmichael, James Hoy, J. Scollan, T.
Champion, A J. Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.) Segal, Dr. S.
Cobb, F. A Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme) Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Cocks, F. S Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Shawcross, Rt. Hn Sir H. (St. Helens)
Coldrick, W Janner, B. Shurmer, P.
Collins, V. J. Jeger, G (Winchester) Simmons, C. J.
Colman, Miss G. M. Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Snow, Capt J W.
Comyns, Dr. L. John, W Steele, T.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Jones, Rt Hon. A C. (Shipley) Swingler, S
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Sylvester, G. O.
Corlett, Dr. J Keenan, W. Taylor, R. J (Morpeth)
Crawley, A. Kenyon, C. Thomas, D E (Aberdare)
Davies, Edward (Burslem) King, E. M. Timmons, J.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E Ungoed-Thomas, L
Deer, G. Kinley, J. Usborne, Henry
Delargy, H. J Leonard, W Walkden, E.
Diamond, J Levy, B. W Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Dobbie, W. Lewis, A W. J. (Upton) Warbey, W. N.
Donovan, T Lindgren, G. S. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Durbin, E. F M Lipton, Lt-Col. M Wigg, Col. G. E.
Dye, S Logan, D. G Wilkins, W. A.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C Lyne, A. W Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Edwards, John (Blackburn) McAllister, G. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) McKay, J (Wallsend) Willis, E.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) McKinlay, A. S. Wills, Mrs. E. A
Fairhurst, F. Maclean, N (Govan) Wise, Major F. J
Farthing, W. J McLeavy, F. Yates, V. F.
Fernyhough, E, Mann, Mrs. J Zilliacus, K.
Field, Captain W J Mellish, R. J.
Foot, M. M. Middleton, Mrs. L TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Mikardo, Ian Mr. Michael Stewart and
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Mitchison, G. R Mr. Popplewell.
Birch, Nigel Hollis, M. C. Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Bossom, A. C. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Sanderson, Sir F.
Bower, N. Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Scott, Lord W.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Snadden, W. M.
Carson, E. Linstsad, H. N. Spence, H. R.
Challen, C. MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness) S uart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)
Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G. McKie, J. H (Galloway) Studholme, H. G.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Maclay, Hon J. S. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A F
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E Manningham-Buller, R. E Walker-Smith, D.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G. (Penrith) Marples, A. E. Wheatley, Colonel M. J
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond) Marshall, D (Bodmin) White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Mellor, Sir J. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Molson, A. H. E. York, C.
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Neven-Spence, Sir B. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead) Mr. Drewe and Major Ramsay

Question put, and agreed to.

Division No. 266. AYES. [12.45 a.m.
Birch, Nigel Linstead, H. N. Robinson, Wing-Comdr. Roland
Bossom, A. G. Manningham-Buller, R. E. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Marples, A. E. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Mellor, Sir J. Walker-Smith, D.
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Neven-Spence, Sir B. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Ramsay, Maj. S. Mr. Studholme and Major conant.
Blyton, W. R. Glanville, J. E. (Consett) Orbach, M.
Brook, D. (Halifax) Gordon-Walker, P. C. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Burke, W. A. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) Pearson, A.
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side) Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Callaghan, James Guest, Dr. L. Haden Porter, G. (Leeds)
Cocks, F. S. Hastings Dr Somerville Pritt, D. N.
Collins, V. J. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick) Randall, H. E.
Comyns, Dr. L. Harbison, Miss M. Rebens, A.
Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G. Holmes, H E (Hemsworth) Scollan, T.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.) Hoy, J. Segal, Dr. S.
Corlett, Dr. J. Janner, B. Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Crawley, A. Jeger, G. (Winchester) Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St. Helens)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jeger, Dr S. W. (St. Pancras, S. E.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Deer, G. Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools) Swingler, S
Delargy, H. J. Keenan, W. Sylvester, G. O.
Diamond, J. Kenyon, C. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Durbin, E. F. M. King, E. M. Timmons, J.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Leonard, W. Walkden, E.
Edwards, John (Blackburn) Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) McAllister, G. Wilkins, W. A.
Fernyhough, E. McKinlay, A. S. Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Foot, M. M. McLeavy, F. Zilliacus, K.
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Morgan, Dr. H. B. TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gilzean, A. Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Mr. Simmons and Mr Popplewell.

Original Question again proposed

Mr. J. Edwards

In moving that the Bill be read the Third time, I do not think that there is any need for me to add to what has been said already, except to say that my right hon. Friend has tried to meet the wishes of hon. Members. Amendments have been put down which. I think, have improved the Bill and I hope that the Third Reading will cause nobody any difficulty.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed with Amendments