HL Deb 14 March 1828 vol 18 cc1136-7
The Marquis of Lansdowne

said, he had a petition to present, which related to a subject of great interest. It came from a body of surgeons, but it could only be presented as the petition of their president, he having signed it in the name of the whole body. It conveyed to their lordships the opinion of the surgical profession, with respect to the state in which that profession were placed, from the total absence of means of procuring bodies for the purpose of dissection. The petitioners stated that, by the law as it now stood, the profession of surgery was placed under the direction of corporations, which required persons engaging in that profession to go through a course of studies, in which the dissection of bodies formed a necessary ingredient;—that it was subjected to considerable penalties for resorting to measures to procure the means of attending that course;—that teachers of anatomy were subject to personal penalties; and that surgeons who had, by no fault of their own, but through the impediments thrown in their way, been debarred from the means of studying, were liable to action and to payment of damages, in consequence of ignorance, resulting from the embarrassments under which they had laboured in procuring the means of prosecuting their studies. The petitioners stated, with respect to the necessity of dissecting the human subject, that scientific men were agreed that no ingenuity which could be exercised in making models, could supply the place of the advantages to be derived from the inspection of the human subject. The moderate degree in which that which was so necessary for their instruction was supplied to them, narrowed the means enjoyed by surgeons in the pursuit of their studies. Notwithstanding that, the profession was daily becoming more numerous, and a considerable number of young students were compelled to pursue their studies in other countries, and particularly in France, where great facilities were afforded to them in procuring the necessary instruction. The present was not the proper opportunity to point out the means by which relief might be given to the profession; but he did not think that parliament would find it impossible to provide, without injuring those feelings which existed in the public mind, if not a complete, yet a much more adequate supply of human subjects than that which now existed. He thought the best way to proceed, in the first place, would be to repeal the existing law.

Ordered to lie on the table.