HL Deb 15 June 1868 vol 192 cc1554-6

Order of the Day fur the House to be put into Committee read.


explained that the object of the Bill was to provide for the safety of the public by compelling all persons keeping shop for the sale of poisons, and all chemists and druggists to undergo an examination before the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as to their practical knowledge; and no person was to be permitted to keep a shop for the sale of poisonous drugs, or to call himself a "chemist and druggist" unless duly certified. The Bill proposed the further precautions of requiring that every box or bottle in which any poison was sold should be labelled with the name of the article, the word "poison," and the name and address of the seller. The Bill further proposed Amendments on the 15 &, 16 Vict. c. 56, known as "The Pharmacy Act."

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(Earl Granville.)


expressed his general concurrence in the Bill, and his wish that its provisions might be extended to Ireland.


said, as far as he was concerned, he should only be too happy to extend the operation of the Bill to Ireland on the suggestion of so high an authority.


said, he would not question the discretion of his noble Friend in extending the Bill to Ireland, but he should have thought that would not facilitate its progress in the other House. [The noble Duke proceeded to quote the Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council for 1866 to show the danger to life from the indiscriminate sale of poisons in village shops, and referred to the fatal case at Bradford, in which arsenic was sold by mistake for plaster of Paris, and used in the making of lozenges.] The Pharmaceutical Society was a voluntary one, and if there had been any other of the same character, it would have been fair to consider its claims to be put upon an equal footing but as this Society occupied the ground alone, having come forward in the public interests to promote examinations, it was desirable that it should have the advantage which the Bill would confer of conducting throughout the country such examinations of chemists as were necessary for the protection of the public. But it was necessary, as these examinations were to be made compulsory upon all persons undertaking the trade of chemists and assuming that name, that the Government should have some control over the mode in which the examination was to be conducted; and to carry out that view he had given notice of an Amendment, which was assented to by the noble Earl opposite. It proposed that the Privy Council should be the authority to see that these examinations were conducted in a proper manner, and also that the Society should have the power to make regulations for the general sale of poisons, subject to the approval of the Privy Council. He concurred in the view that it would be better to look to these regulations as the means of effecting general security in point of detail than to attempt the embodiment of every minute provision in the strict terms of an Act of Parliament. He rather questioned whether the noble Earl (Earl Granville) had included in the Schedule of the Bill all the poisons which were sold and used to the destruction of human life. For instance, there was ample evidence that opium and its preparations were most extensively sold in several parts of England. It was not only largely used by men and women but it was given to infants, and great destruction of life was the result. The reports on the subject were most distressing, and he should, therefore, have been glad to see opium added to the Schedule. He did not know whether there was any special reason for omitting it; but, in the absence of any such reason, there was good ground for adding it if the House thought fit to do so. With these qualifications, he approved the measure as one calculated to be generally useful.


said, he had given Notice of a clause, which many noble Lords and others were anxious to see introduced, and if any objection were taken to inserting it in Committee, he would move it on the Report. The Pharmaceutical Society had not proposed it because at first it might give a little trouble to adopt one form of bottle as a "poison bottle," but when once it became known that poisons were to be sold only in a particular form of bottle, which would be known as the "poison bottle," and when it was made unlawful, not only to sell poisons in other bottles, but to sell things not poisonous in "poison bottles," there would be far less risk than there was at present of persons been poisoned by mistake, as too many unfortunately were. Fatal mistakes were sometimes made in the dark, and these would be avoided by having a bottle of such a character that anyone who took hold of it would know it was the "poison bottle."


feared that if the Bill were extended to Ireland it would require more Amendment than the mere assertion of the name.

House in Committee.

Amendments made: The Report thereof to be received To-morrow; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 148.)