§ The EARL of HARDWICKE
presented a petition from Leicester, for the adoption of measures enabling naval assistant surgeons to acquire an extended knowledge of their profession. The noble Earl said he could not support the prayer of the petition. He regretted that the subject of the better accommodation of assistant surgeons in the Navy had been brought before the House of Commons as a distinct Motion, because it was a question of pure detail, which Her Majesty's servants at the Admiralty had the best means of deciding. He contended that no comparison could be justly drawn between the services of the assistant surgeons in the Navy and those in the Army. The petitions which had been presented on this subject would, if their prayers were conceded, interfere essentially with the discipline of the Navy, and especially with that portion of it which was best known by the name of quarterdeck discipline. If he could choose that part of the ship in which he should most like to dwell, it would be the very part in which the midshipmen and assistant surgeons were now located; for it was lower down in the water than the gun-room, and was warmer in cold, and cooler in warm, climates. He humbly submitted that the public were not acquainted with the bearings of this question, and hoped that Her Majesty's Government would pause before it consented to make the alterations now called for, even though those alterations had obtained the sanction of a favourable division in another place.
The EARL of MINTO
observed, that the noble Earl had added greatly to the services which he had already rendered to his country and to his profession by the remark which he had just made. The public was acting in gross ignorance upon this subject. He regretted, with the noble 361 Earl, that such questions should be discussed in either House of Parliament. The same arguments which were now employed in favour of the assistant surgeons in the Navy, would apply with greater force to the case of mates; for they, like the assistant surgeons, had a severe examination to undergo before they could be advanced another stage in their profession, and, therefore, wanted additional accommodation for study.
§ Petition ordered to lie on the table.