HC Deb 24 June 1968 vol 767 cc94-105


Mr. K. Robinson

I beg to move Amendment No. 85, in page 85, line 8, leave out from 'to' to 'of in line 11 and insert:

  1. (a) the provisions of section 55(b), sections 56 and 57, subsections (3) to (5) of section 77 and sections 79(2), 80(3) and 81(2) of this Act, in the application of any of those provisions to 95 the retail sale, offer or exposure for retail sale, or possession for the purpose of retail sale, of medicinal products and to the supply, offer or exposure for supply, or possession for the purpose of supply, of medicinal products in circumstances corresponding to retail sale;
  2. (b) the provisions of subsections (2) and (3) of section 78 of this Act, in their application to the supply, or possession for the purpose of supply, of leaflets with medicinal products sold or to be sold by retail, or supplied in circumstances corresponding to retail sale; and
  3. (c) the provisions of sections 85 and 86.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this Amendment we can discuss Amendments Nos. 86 to 89, and 94 to 100.

Mr. K. Robinson

The five Government Amendments on page 85 amend subsection (2) so as to limit the scope of the functions that can be conferred on the Pharmaceutical Society and the food and drugs authorities by directions or arrangements given or made by the appropriate Minister. The Amendments are on the lines described by my hon. Friend during the discussions in Committee in reply to an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean). In the course of drafting the Amendments we took the opportunity to set out more fully the aspects of the Clauses mentioned which are relevant to the directions or arrangements.

The broad effect of these Amendments is that in relation to composition, mis-description and contraventions relating to labelling, leaflets, containers, marking and information on automatic machines, neither the Pharmaceutical Society nor food and drugs authorities could be given enforcement functions in relation to the manufacturing and wholesale levels, but only at retail level. Also, in relation to advertisements and representations, the Pharmaceutical Society could be given enforcement powers only where they are issued, displayed or made at premises or places where products are sold by retail or are displayed on or near automatic machines.

This series of Amendments meets the objective of Amendment No. 94 in the names of hon. Members opposite, which I think was a paraphrase of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member in Standing Committee.

Mr. Fortescue

While preferring our own Amendment No. 94, we give a luke- warm welcome to this series of very complicated Amendments which the Minister has put down. We would point out that Amendment No. 86 appears to be the key to the situation, where the words: to such extent as … the arrangements or directions may provide are inserted. Those words are very wide and may mean anything at all. However, provided that those arrangements and directions are in the spirit of what the Minister has just said, we are happy about that, subject to our Amendment No. 93 which we will be discussing next with some other Amendments.

I have only one minor point, and that is that in all these Amendments there is constant reference to advertisements or representations. Representations are defined in the Bill as descriptions given by the spoken word, as opposed to advertisements which are descriptions given by the written word. We do not quite see how inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society is expected to police or enforce the spoken word as between the pharmacist and the patient, or as between the doctor and the pharmacist. Eavesdropping is certainly not in the Minister's mind, I am sure. We would like to see "representations" taken out at a later stage, and perhaps a little more thought could be given to that.

Mr. Robinson

It is a useful reserve point to have in. I will certainly consider the point which the hon. Gentleman has made.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: No. 86, in page 85, line 16, at end insert: 'to such extent as, in the case of that Society or authority, the arrangements or directions may provide'.

No. 87, in page 85, line 17, leave out '(a)'.

No. 88, in page 85, line 19, leave out '(b)'.

No. 89, in page 85, line 20, leave out from 'enforce' to end of line 21 and insert— the provisions specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) f this subsection, in their application as mentioned in those paragraphs, and the provisions and regulations specified in paragraph c) f this subsection. (3) Any arrangements made with, or directions given to, the Pharmaceutical Society, under subsection (2) of this section, in so far as they relate to the provisions specified in paragraph (c) of that subsection, shall be limited to the enforcement of those provisions in respect of—

  1. (a) any advertisement issued or representation made on or in any premises, ship, aircraft, vehicle, stall or place where medicinal products are sold by retail or are supplied in circumstances corresponding to retail sale, and
  2. (b) any advertisement displayed on, or in close proximity to, an automatic machine in which medicinal products are offered or exposed for sale.'—[Mr. K. Robinson.]

Mrs. Joyce Butler (Wood Green)

I beg to move, Amendment No. 90, in page 85, line 30, leave out from 'pharmacies' to end of line 32.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this Amendment, I suggest it would be convenient to take Amendment No. 91, in page 85, line 39, leave out from ' Wales' to end of line 42, and Amendment No. 93, in page 86, line 44, at end insert: (9) Notwithstanding any provisions in this section of this Act, the Pharmaceutical Society shall not have the authority to enforce the provisions of the Act and any regulations made under this Act with regard to the retail sale of medicinal products on the general sales list other than the retail sale of medicinal products on the general sales list in registered pharmacies.

Mrs. Butler

These Amendments relate to subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 99, in which powers and duties are laid on the Pharmaceutical Society to enforce the regulations in Clause 58 with regard to the preparation, dispensing, safekeeping and other functions concerned with the sale of medicinal products on the general sale list.

The important thing about the provisions in Clause 99 is that it is not only in registered pharmacies that the Pharmaceutical Society will have these powers of enforcement; the inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society will also have powers of enforcement with regard to products on the general sale list in village stores, to which particular reference was made in discussions during the Committee stage, in general stores in towns, co-operative shops, supermarkets, herbalists and health food stores, in fact in any kind of shop which sells products on the general sale list.

While I think everybody is agreed that it is perfectly right for the Pharmaceutical Society to have these powers with regard to registered pharmacists, there is considerable concern about their extended powers under the Bill. When the matter was under discussion during the Committee stage, it was pointed out that the food and drugs inspectors already have the right and the duty of entering these shops to enforce their regulations, and that it would be more appropriate for them to carry out these duties under Clause 99. The effect of the two Amendments taken together is to give the power to the food and drugs authorities.

6.15 p.m.

The position under the Bill is that the inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society have certain powers, and also there are the traditional powers of the food and drugs inspectors, and in this Clause the Minister has come down in favour of the Pharmaceutical Society inspectors. I find it very difficult to accept this decision. With the importance that is attached in the Bill to the general sale list—it is conceded on all sides that it is an important provision—there is something to be said for setting up a special inspectorate concerned with the operation. This is not what I am asking for. I am asking that the inspectorate enforcing these provisions should be completely objective in its enforcement of the regulations.

The Pharmaceutical Society, quite rightly from its point of view, is on record as wishing to confine the sale of medicines to registered pharmacies. This has caused considerable alarm among the proprietors of shops which will be selling medicines on the general sale list. They feel, rightly or wrongly, that there may be bias on the part of Pharmaceutical Society inspectors. Quite apart from this, it was pointed out in Committee that there are only 15 inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society, and they will find it extremely difficult to carry out their duties. I am concerned about the danger that they may not be seen to be objective.

Apart from sales in stores and in shops generally, some of the products sold by health food stores and herbalists will also be on the general sale list, and they feel particular concern about inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society vetting their product. They recognise, as we all must, that the inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society will have no knowledge whatever of herbal products which may be on the general sale list. My right hon. Friend might argue that neither will the food and drugs inspectors, but there is not the same danger of bias on the part of food and drug inspectors as there might be with Pharmaceutical Society inspectors.

My right hon. Friend said in Committee that he would look at this point again, and the Committee were hopeful that he would bring in Amendments on these lines. It may be that he has an intention of doing something of this kind in another place but, if he has no such intention, I would urge upon him that he should look again at this point. It is a point of considerable importance which will become increasingly important as the provisions of the Bill become known. As more people become aware of the situation, he will probably receive many representations from all types of retailers about these provisions. I am not suggesting that he should be intimidated by such representations, but it is a point of considerable public importance and I would therefore ask him, if he will, to accept the Amendment, or to give an assurance that he will do something in another place to meet the point at issue.

Mr. Fortescue

I wish to support very strongly everything said by the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler). But, although we welcome her Amendment, we do not think that it goes far enough, and we prefer our own Amendment, No. 93.

The reasons are a little complex. If the hon. Lady's Amendment were accepted by the Minister, it would still leave paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) in subsection (4) and, under them, the Pharmaceutical Society would still have all sorts of rights quite foreign to the business of members of the society; for example, to enter premises which have nothing to do with members of the society. We have all paid tribute to the Pharmaceutical Society, but we on this side think that its activities should be confined to the premises and businesses of its own members.

In this regard, I might point out to the Minister that, when we made similar suggestions in Committee, he gave as justification for the inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society being allowed to enter shops where goods on the general sales list were sold: The fact is that the Pharmaceutical Society's inspectors already have a duty, and powers, to enter non-pharmacy premises in order to enforce Clause 43 of this Bill."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 23rd May, 1968; c. 806.] That is now Clause 45 in the revised numbering. We accepted that at the time, perhaps wrongly. On an examination of the Bill, it appears that the Pharmaceutical Society's inspectors do not have that power. The Minister's statement was not accurate. I am sure that it was quite inadvertent, but he gave that as his reason for not accepting our Amendment. The inspectors have no such power under the Bill and, therefore, the Minister's arguments in Committee refuting our Amendment were wrong. As a result, I hope that he will now accept our Amendment, the second time round, because his reason for refuting it has been destroyed.

Mr. Richard

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler) for moving this Amendment, because it gives me an opportunity to try to put at rest some of the fears which have been expressed and get the matter in perspective.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Gar-ston (Mr. Fortescue) quoted from our proceedings in Committee. Having looked at it again, I am sure that he will concede that the reason given by my right hon. Friend in regard to Clause 43, now Clause 45, was not the only reason that he had for rejecting the Amendment.

It is right to draw attention to the possibility of bias in the enforcement of these regulations by the society, but it is also right to get the whole matter in perspective. We are dealing here with medicines and, whether they are sold by pharmacies or by other shops, the regulations dealing with them are essentially pharmaceutical matters, and the Pharmaceutical Society is the best body to deal with these matters, if only to ensure that the standards are enforced uniformly throughout the country.

May I make one or two comments about the society's method of enforcement? It can reasonably be claimed that the inspectorate of the society is as independent of the society's Council as a police force is of its watch committee. The appointment of inspectors is subject to Privy Council approval. The society's committee which deals with their reports is advised by an experienced solicitor, and the secretary and registrar and the chief inspector, although not practising lawyers, are all members of the Bar.

The society's present duties of enforcement require it to ensure that Part I poisons are not sold except under the supervision of a pharmacist in a pharmacy. This entails inspectors and agents checking on ordinary shops which sell medicines. In 1967, over 12,000 premises owned by chemists were visited, compared with 5,000 ordinary shops. Those figures do not support the expressed fear that the society's inspectors tend to concentrate on small traders and perhaps neglect pharmacies.

Under the 1933 Act, local authorities are required to maintain a list of sellers of Part II poisons and inspect their premises. Many authorities have chosen quite deliberately to have this work done by the society's inspectors until they appoint local staff, and some arrangements have been running for as long as 30 years. There has never been a complaint by a local authority about the society's inspectors. They are wholly independent and show no bias. Many other authorities have consulted the society's inspectors on a number of problems.

It is important that these matters are put in perspective. The inspectorate of the Pharmaceutical Society is highly skilled, highly competent and highly trained. Its members know a great deal about the subject, and should be allowed to get on with their job.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Surely the point at issue is that the Pharmaceutical Society has a vested interest. The case was well made out by the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler). There is something unpalatable about the society having supervisory powers over non-pharmacy outlets. When the general sales list comes into being, there could be serious areas of contention, and, if there is resentment on the part of some traders, we shall be building up trouble. It is far better to have an independent force doing the supervising.

Mr. Ogden

I hope that the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Dudley Smith) and my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler) are not suggesting that the Pharmaceutical Society operates as a sort of MI.55. When they use the words, "powers of the Pharmaceutical Society", they might as well use the other words, the enforcement duties laid upon the Pharmaceutical Society by various Acts of Parliament. I was intrigued by the latter point put forward by my hon. Friend when she spoke about a special inspectorate. This is a point which might be considered seriously. I have checked on the number of enforcement officers who, in law, can go into a pharmacy or shop selling medicinal products. There are eight different types of inspector, ranging from health inspectors, Shops Act inspectors, factory inspectors and safety regulations inspectors. It seems that any inspector is entitled to go into a pharmacy.

This might be the basis for a consideration of the kind of inspectorate that we have, so meeting some of my hon. Friend's points, without the extreme example of the suggestion that there is an MI.55 operating.

Mr. K. Robinson

The Amendments seek to remove from the Pharmaceutical Society the duty of enforcing regulations under Section 58 at premises and places other than registered pharmacies.

When we discussed the enforcement rôle of the Pharmaceutical Society in Standing Committee, I offered, without commitment, to consider whether and to what extent food and drugs authorities should be brought into these enforcement functions.

Any question of redistribution of enforcement functions involves the considered examination and ascertainment of the views of the enforcement authorities affected or likely to be affected. Although I have given some consideration to this and have had an expression of view from certain sources, there has been insufficient time since 23rd May to reach a considered view. However, I will repeat my assurance that I will look into the matters involved and, if it appears that the provision in the Bill should be amended, I will arrange for Amendments to be moved at an appropriate stage in another place. On the other hand, if I come to the conclusion that no change should be made, I will let my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Joyce Butler) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue) know, so that, if they wish to press their points, they can secure that they are discussed in another place.

In any case, I could not advise the House to accept the Amendments now on the Notice Paper. The first one, in the name of my hon. Friend, would make it the duty of local authorities— county borough, borough, urban and rural district councils—to enforce all the regulations under Section 58 elsewhere than at registered pharmacies. These are not in general the food and drugs authorities, and I doubt if they would be the appropriate authorities to enforce these matters.

Whatever we may do ultimately about the possibility of bringing in the food and drugs authorities, I must advise the House against making this a function of the local authorities, who would be the authorities if my hon. Friends Amendment were accepted, since they are the ones responsible for what I might call

the purely sanitary requirements such as those in Clause 58(1)(f) and (g).

6.30 p.m.

The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston goes very much wider. It would exclude the Society from enforcing any provisions in the Bill, or any regulations, in relation to the retail sale of medicinal products on the general sale list except at registered pharmacies. He suggested that one of the arguments that I put forward was somewhat misleading. I can assure him that under Clause 99(4)(b) the Pharmaceutical Society must enforce Clause 44, which deals with the sale or supply of medicinal products restricted to pharmacies, and that under Clause 102 various officers have the right of entry in order to ascertain whether there has been a contravention.

On reflection the hon. Member will probably feel that I did not mislead him. Certainly I do not think that his Amendment should be accepted. I say that, however, without prejudice to the promise that I have given that I shall pursue my consultations and examination of the possibility of bringing in the proper food and drugs authorities.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 115. Noes 159.

Division No. 230.] AYES [6.31 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Goodhew, Victor McAdden, Sir Stephen
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Grant, Anthony McMaster, Stanley
Batsford, Brian Grant-Ferris, R. Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Gresham Cooke, R. Maude, Angus
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hall, John (Wycombe) Mawby, Ray
Boyte, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Braine, Bernard Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hawkins, Paul Monro, Hector
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Channon, H. P. G. Hill, J. E. B. Murton, Oscar
Clark, Henry Holland, Philip Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hordern, Peter Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Cordle, John Hunt, John Noble, Rt, Hn. Michael
Costain, A. P. Hutchison, Michael Clark Onslow, Cranley
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Iremonger, T. L. Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Dance, James Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Kerby, Capt. Henry Peel, John
Doughty, Charles Kershaw, Anthony Percival, Ian
Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Kitson, Timothy Pike, Miss Mervyn
Emery, Peter Knight, Mrs. Jill Pink, R, Bonner
Errington, Sir Eric Lancaster, Col. C. G. Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Eyre, Reginald Lane, David Price, David (Eastleigh)
Fisher, Nigel Langford-Holt, Sir John Prior, J. M. L.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Pym, Francis
Fortescue, Tim Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Gibson-Watt, David Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Glyn, Sir Richard Loveys, W. H. Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Lubbock, Eric Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Scott, Nicholas Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Scott-Hopkins, James Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Sharples, Richard van Straubenzee, W. R. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Silvester, Frederick Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Smith, John (London & W'minster) Walker, Peter (Worcester) Mr. Jasper More and
Speed, Keith Walters, Dennis Mr. Anthony Royle.
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Weatherill, Bernard
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Henig, Stanley Pavitt, Laurence
Alldritt, Walter Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Pentland, Norman
Allen, Scholefield Horner, John Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Armstrong, Ernest Hoy, James Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hunter, Adam Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Hynd, John Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Beaney, Alan Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Randall, Harry
Blackburn, F. Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Rankin, John
Blenkinsop, Arthur Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull,W.) Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.
Booth, Albert Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Richard, Ivor
Bradley, Tom Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Judd, Frank Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Kelley, Richard Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Kenyon, Clifford Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Buchan, Norman Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Roebuck, Roy
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Carmichael, Neil Lawson, George Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Chapman, Donald Leadbitter, Ted Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Coe, Denis Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Lee, John (Reading) Short,Mrs.Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)
Dalyell, Tam Lestor, Miss Joan Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Lipton, Marcus Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Lomas, Kenneth Silverman, Julius
Dell, Edmund Skeffington, Arthur
Dickens, James Loughlin, Charles Slater, Joseph
Dobson, Ray McBride, Neil Snow, Julian
Doig, Peter MacDermot, Niall Spriggs, Leslie
Driberg, Tom McGuire, Michael Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Mackie, John Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Eaelie, Alex Maclennan, Robert Swain, Thomas
Ellis, John MacPherson, Malcolm Symonds, J. B.
English, Michael Manuel, Archie Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Ensor, David Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Tinn, James
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Mendelson, J. J. Tuck, Raphael
Faulds, Andrew Millan, Bruce Urwin, T. W.
Fernyhough, E. Miller, Dr. M. S. Varley, Eric G.
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wallace, George
Ford, Ben Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Watkins, David (Consett)
Fowler, Gerry Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Weitzman, David
Garrett, W. E. Moyle, Roland Wellbeloved, James
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Murray, Albert Whitaker, Ben
Gregory, Arnold Newens, Stan White, Mrs. Eirene
Grey, Charles (Durham) Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Philip(Derby,S.) Wilklns, W. A.
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Ogden, Eric Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) O'Malley, Brian Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orme, Stanley Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hamling, William Oswald, Thomas Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hannan, William Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Harper, Joseph Paget, R. T. Woof, Robert
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Haseldine, Norman Park, Trevor TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hazell, Bert Parker, John (Dagenham) Mr, John McCann and
Mr. Harry Gourlay.

Amendment made: No. 92, in page 86, line 9 after 'Act', insert: ' and of any regulations made under section 71(2) of this Act'.—[Mr. K. Robinson.]

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