HL Deb 12 May 1896 vol 40 cc1106-9

The local authority shall appoint a medical officer or medical officers, and a sanitary inspector or inspectors, the latter of whom shall be also inspector or inspectors of common lodging-houses, and the local authority shall make byelaws for regulating the duties of such medical officers and sanitary inspectors and their relations to each other, whether appointed before or subsequent to the commencement of this Act; and the local authority may, and if required by the Board shall, appoint convenient places for their offices, and shall allow to every such medical officer and every other officer or clerk appointed by them on account of his employment a proper salary; and the names and addresses and salaries of the said medical officers and others shall be reported by the local authority to the Board immediately on such persons being appointed and such salaries fixed; and the said medical officers and others, and the local authority and their clerk, and the registrars of births, deaths, and marriages shall be bound to make such returns and special reports to the Board in such form and at such times as the Board shall require.

No person shall be appointed as a medical officer of a burgh unless he possesses the qualifications set forth in section seventy-seven of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892. No person shall be appointed as the medical officer or sanitary inspector in any district, other than a burgh, unless he possesses the qualifications set forth, as the case may be, in section fifty-four of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889.

No medical officer or sanitary inspector appointed by the local authority under this or any of the repealed Acts shall be removable from office, except with the sanction of the Board.

The registrar of births, deaths, and marriages in each registration district shall furnish to the local authority such periodical returns of births and deaths as may be required of him and approved by the Board, and for each death included in such return and for each return of births he shall be paid by the local authority the sum of twopence, but so that the total payments in any year shall not be less than the sum of twelve shillings; and the local authority shall provide the forms on which such returns are to be made, and shall pay for their transmission by letter post.

The medical officer and sanitary inspector shall, if required by the local authority, respectively name a duly qualified substitute for whom they shall be responsible, and if the local authority shall approve of the nomination, such substitute shall have the same powers and duties as the medical officer or sanitary inspector, as the case may be, during the temporary illness or necessary absence of either of them.

THE EARL OF ROSSLYN moved, after "inspectors of common lodging-houses," to insert the words:— And the County Council shall also appoint a chief medical officer through whom all medical officers and sanitary inspectors' reports and other public health business shall be transmitted, and to whom all other medical officers and sanitary inspectors shall be subordinate. His Lordship stated that he had received many representations from the County Council of Fife, and also from the Society of Medical Officers in Scotland, and even from the sanitary inspectors, drawing his attention to the extremely unsatisfactory relations existing between the medical officers and the sanitary inspectors. Their lordships would agree that it was very difficult, nay, almost impossible, to transact any departmental business without a head to such a Department. He could personally vouch for the present unsatisfactory relations existing between some medical officers and the sanitary inspectors; in some cases those relations were so strained as to lead to an interference with the sanitary services of the county. The sanitary inspectors were men who had performed many services of utility, but no one could deny that they were not so well educated as a body as they might be, and not fitted to carry out the onerous duties they had at present to perform. It was essential to the proper performance of their duties that their relationship with the medical officers should be clearly defined, and this was not done in the Bill. It was the wish in Scotland that it should be so defined, and he contended that it should not be possible for the local authority to receive two reports—one from the sanitary inspectors and the other from the medical officer—as to the sanitary condition of any dwelling-house or village. The two reports should come through one head officer, who would be able to advise the local authority.


hoped that the noble Earl would not press the Amendment, because, however acceptable it might be to the authorities in Fife, it would not be acceptable over the great part of Scotland. The noble Earl was in error in saying that the Bill made no provision for remedying the friction arising between the sanitary and medical officers in counties. The present clause would supply the remedy in a much less objectionable way than was proposed. The Select Committee had agreed that the best method to meet this undoubted difficulty would be to allow county authorities to make bye-laws to regulate the respective duties of medical officers and sanitary inspectors. If the County of Fife desired to make its medical officer supreme it would be able to do so under those bye-laws; but it would be unwise to attempt to lay down in the Bill a set condition regulating the duties of medical officers and sanitary inspectors. This was why the Government proposed to proceed by means of bye-law. The question had been fully discussed by the Select Committee, and they were unanimous with regard to this point.


declared his intention to press his Amendment to a Division.


urged the noble Lord not to put the House to the trouble of a Division. The matter was thoroughly debated in the Committee, and they came to a unanimous vote in favour of the proposal as laid down in the Bill.


said he was particularly asked to press this point, and if he could get anybody to tell with him he was ready to divide the House.


hoped the noble Lord would not divide, because even the modest party which constituted the Opposition would not give him their support, and the noble Lord could hardly hope to defeat the Government under these circumstances. [Laughter.]

THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN moved to omit the words "but so that the total payments in any year shall not be less than the sum of twelve shillings."

Amendment agreed to; clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 38,—