HL Deb 08 June 1888 vol 326 cc1498-500

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, he had received an intimation that the Government would not oppose the second reading, provided the Bill were referred to a Select Committee, and he was most anxious that it should be so referred. The Bill was similar in its objects to one which he recently carried through that House for Great Britain. The main object was to protect the public against the uncontrolled and indiscriminate sale of poisons. The condition of things in Ireland was worse than it had been in Great Britain; the sale of poisons was practically uncontrolled, because defects in legislation rendered it almost impossible to secure convictions for illegal sale. By the Act of 1791 the Apothecaries Hall was constituted, and the making up of medical prescriptions was confined to members of that Body. It did not, however, restrict the sale of poisons which were not so made up; and that sale was restricted only by the provisions of an Act relating to arsenic. By the Act of 1870, strict provisions were made for regulating the sale of poisons, but no attempt was made to confine the sale to particular persons. A schedule of poisons was affixed to the Act, and the sale of them, except as provided by the Act, was a matter subjecting the vendor to severe penalties. But it had been found practically impossible to enforce the Act through the College of Physicians acting under the Privy Council, on whom the responsibility of enforcing it devolved. The Irish Pharmaceutical Society was constituted by the Pharmacy Act of 1875, which provided that all qualified persons should have their names inscribed on a register of chemists and druggists, and the 31st clause protected the rights of all existing dealers in poisons; but there was no provision for registering the names of those who had been formerly engaged in the indiscriminate sale, and it was impossible to identify those who had secured the right to continue in the trade. To remedy this defect was one of the objects of the Bill. Complaints had been made of the lax enforcement of the law by the Pharmaceutical Society, which had not money to carry on prosecutions. It had been suggested that some of those who had taken advantage of the lax state of things should be allowed to continue their trade if they passed a modified examination, and should have their names inscribed on the register A similar provision was made for the protection of assistants. There were also provisions for removing uncertainty as to the proprietorship of establishments where the sale of poisons was carried on, and requiring that they should in all cases be under the personal management of qualified persons.

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


said, that the subject of the Bill was not only one of great importance, but also one of great complexity. It was extremely difficult to unravel the various differences which had arisen between the several Bodies who produced poisons in Ireland. The Government of Ireland were anxious that the Bill should not pass without further examination, but they had no prejudice against it. They were determined to ask the House to read the Bill a second time, on the understanding that it should be referred to a Select Committee. To that course his noble Friend had assented, and he now begged to recommend their Lordships to adopt it.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and referred to a Select Committee.