HL Deb 31 May 1881 vol 261 cc1762-4

(The Lord Aberdare.)


Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that its object was to prevent the assumption of the title of veterinary surgeon by unqualified persons. It provided for the infliction of a penalty on persons practising as duly qualified veterinary surgeons without first having become members of the Veterinary College. It was not intended to interfere with persons who acted as farriers or treated cattle without professing to be veterinary surgeons.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Aberdare.)


said, he was able, on the part of the Government, to support the second reading of the Bill. In some parts of the country there was a considerable deficiency in the number of trained veterinary surgeons. It was important in carrying out the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act to encourage as far as possible the veterinary science; but beyond that he thought it was of the greatest possible importance that whilst they endeavoured to prevent the spread of infectious diseases amongst cattle they should try to mitigate the severity of the diseases themselves which were a source of very great loss to the farmers in this country. Every measure, therefore, that would have the effect of improving the position of veterinary surgeons would deserve their Lordships' support. He could not help thinking that some of the clauses of the Bill went rather further than they should. No doubt every person who assumed a title to which he had no right should be liable to some prosecutions; but he did not think if any person chose to consult a cow doctor, or anyone who presumed to have a knowledge of a certain cattle disease without being able to call himself a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, that the law ought to object. Thus, in the 3rd clause, the words "or veterinary practitioner;" and, again, "or otherwise qualified practitioner" might, strictly construed, apply to many people qualified to practice veterinary surgery, but who could not under this Bill assume the title of veterinary surgeon. Subject to the objections he had indicated, and which could be amended in Committee, he would support the measure.


said, he wished to point out that there was a very important body in Edinburgh called the Edinburgh Veterinary College, which had a large staff of Professors, and was thoroughly competent to give perfect and adequate instruction in veterinary science. When he held the Office he had the honour to hold in Ireland in connection with the late Government, they had frequently selected practitioners who had been educated at that College for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act in Ireland. They always had the greatest possible confidence in the diplomas given to persons educated in that College, and in no case had they found that they had acted improperly in appointing persons educated there. To all intents and purposes the gentlemen educated there were veterinary surgeons in the highest sense of the term; and he thought it would be a very sweeping enactment to say that no person should call himself a veterinary surgeon save and except those who had been educated at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. The noble Lord (Lord Aber- dare) had not stated the reasons why he had excluded that College; and perhaps he would inform them now, before the Bill was read a second time, why he had taken that course. It seemed to him (the Duke of Marlborough) desirable that every precaution should be taken for the protection of the veterinary science, and for providing duly qualified practitioners; but he thought it would be sufficient if every person who called himself veterinary surgeon should put letters after his name indicating in what College he had been educated. The term veterinary surgeon was, no doubt, a source of some amount of pride and gratification to persons following the Profession; and he thought it would be unfair if they shut out such a scientific body as the Edinburgh Veterinary College from allowing its members to attach the title veterinary surgeon to their name.


said, he would entirely concur in the objection if it were well founded; but he wished to point out to the noble Duke that this Bill had been brought in with the full knowledge and consent of the Royal Highland Society. The Charter of that Society was for the purpose of recognizing all the degrees already conferred by the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. [The noble Lord here read an extract from the Charter, setting forth the object for which it was granted, and stating that an arrangement had been entered into with the Royal College of Surgeons in London that no diplomas should henceforth be given by the Highland Society.]


pointed out that there were two or three Colleges of this kind in Scotland, two in Edinburgh, and one in Glasgow, which were capable of giving diplomas. They were all under the Charter. It seemed rather hard to say that nobody except persons educated in a particular College should hold the title of veterinary surgeon. It was almost the same as saying that general practitioners who had not been educated in a particular College should not be allowed to call themselves doctors.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday the 16th of June next.

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