§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH (VISCOUNT ASTOR)
My Lords, last year the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, gave an undertaking on behalf of the Government that a Bill would be introduced dealing 611 with patent medicines. The Bill to which I am going to ask you to give a Second Reading to-day is introduced in order to carry out that undertaking. It has been framed on the recommendations of the Select Committee, which sat for three years and reported, I think, in 1914. That Committee took a great deal of evidence. saw a large number of witnesses, put something like 14,000 questions to the various witnesses, and considered the whole problem very fully and impartially. The Committee's recommendations were in the nature of a compromise. They were not based upon either of the two conflicting views. I have had made available copies of the Report of that Select Committee, and those copies are here in case you would like to refresh your memories by going over the Report.
This country is very much behind several of our Dominions, as well as most other civilised countries, in its treatment of proprietary and patent medicines and surgical appliances. It does not give the same protection to the public as is given in most other countries. I can supply one illustration showing the way in which the public is victimised at present. The Select Committee quote the instance of a man who came with a certain instrument to this country and is reported to have made over £60,000 by its sale. He went to France, and was there sentenced to three years' imprisonment, as well as heavily fined, for trying to sell the same instrument. The law here is unsatisfactory. There is a great deal of overlapping and duplication; it is doubtful on many points and it is inadequate; and certainly additional legislation is urgently necessary. Nor, at the present moment, is there any single Minister, or any single Department, which is responsible for protecting the public, or for seeing that the public does not suffer grievous injury.
In the Bill before you we do not propose to protect the purse of the public. We are not going as far as that. A very good case might be made out for preventing profiteering and exploitation of the public, and it is possible Amendments may be moved to strengthen the Bill in that direction; but as the Bill is drafted we do not do that. I will refer to a passage from the evidence quoted in the Report of the Committee. There, I think, the Medical Officer of one of the most important cities of the Kingdom reported that a 612 remedy was being sold in his town for 2s. 9d., the ingredients of which only cost 1d. We are not attacking that particular evil. All we are trying to do is to protect the health and the life of the public, and, as I have said, we are not attempting in this Bill to protect their purses.
Injury may be caused in one or two ways. Sufferers who purchase and attempt to use these appliances and medicines very often postpone going to a proper medical practitioner while trying to treat themselves by the use of these patent medicines. The delay very often aggravates their ailment, sometimes very seriously. In other cases actual injury is caused by the purchase and use of the remedies. We propose to prohibit the advertisement and sale of remedies purporting to treat, cure, alleviate or prevent diseases which are set out in the Schedule— cancer, consumption, diabetes, certain diseases peculiar to women, fits, epilepsy, deafness— because we know that serious risk is involved if sufferers try to treat themselves by using a patent drug while suffering from those particular diseases. They are serious complaints, and it is not in the public interest that people haunted by fear, and suffering, as they often are, from these complaints, should be encouraged to treat themselves by using these patent remedies. Too often those remedies merely touch a symptom of the disease. A case is quoted in the Report where a particular medicine— Hall's Wine— is advertised. It is said that if two wineglassfuls are taken that is a sufficient amount to cause sleep. It is recommended for children in these words: "For colds, coughs and bronchial affections." It contains cocaine, or the elements of cocaine. Nobody could advocate the continuation of a law which allows, or encourages, people to purchase cocaine in order to make their children sleep when those children are suffering from a cough.
It is essential that we should take powers to deal with these evils. In a limited number of cases not only is injury caused but death results. That is particularly brought about by the use of remedies intended to produce abortion. A considerable number of remedies are advertised as being suitable for female irregularities. I am told that, at best, these remedies are useless, and that too often the most serious consequences result from their use. It is impossible, I am told, to kill an unborn child without endangering the life of the 613 mother. Some of these remedies are intended to give lead poisoning. It is quite true that you may kill the unborn child by this means, but too often it also kills the mother. Not only is it serious as regards the health of the people who try to avail themselves of these remedies, but we are informed by the Select Committee that very frequently it results in blackmail. A case is quoted of two men who had threatened to expose the purchasers of a particular remedy intended to cause abortion. The police intercepted 600 letters containing, I think, two guineas each from these unfortunate women who were paying this money under a threat of exposure. I believe, if this Bill did nothing else than prevent this reprehensible practice, we should be justified in trying to pass it, even when we are so congested with legislation.
The Assistant Director of Public Prosecution said that it was almost impossible to prove fraud and that practically the law was non-existent. You cannot expect the purchaser of a remedy intended to produce miscarriage to come forward, after having bought this remedy, and say: "I bought this remedy in order that I should be able to commit a crime. I have not been able to produce miscarriage. I have been defrauded," You have only to state the case to see how very difficult it must be to get the necessary evidence. I think it may interest your Lordships if I quote the way in which this type of remedy is brought before the public. Here is a case where a bottle of mixture was sent with the intimation that the powerful and certain action of the medicine contained in the bottle necessitated the warning that the contents should not be taken by those expecting to be mothers, as the medicine was very liable to cause a miscarriage. That is the way in which these drugs are brought before the notice of a large number of unfortunate women who, too often in the past, have availed themselves of them.
In order to bring before your Lordships the exact situation, I cannot do better than quote a brief paragraph from the Report of the Select Committee who state—For all practical purposes British law is powerless to prevent any person from procuring any drug, or making any mixture, whether potent or without any therapeutical activity whatever (so long as it does not contain a scheduled poison), advertising it in any decent terms as a 614 cure for any disease or ailment, recommending it by bogus testimonials and the invented opinons and facsimile signatures of fictitious physicians, and selling it under any name he chooses on the payment of a small stamp duty, for any price he can persuade a credulous public to pay.That summarises very briefly the situation as it now is.
In the Bill now before your Lordships powers are taken which I will briefly indicate. We propose that a register should be made on which every proprietary medicine and surgical appliance, and the owners thereof, shall be registered. We prohibit the sale of unregistered remedies. We take powers, subject to a right of appeal, to remove the owner of a proprietary medicine from the register, if his remedy is considered too dangerous to health. We also take powers to compel the owner of such a remedy to disclose its contents—the formula, the ingredients—to the Government, of course privately and in confidence. Heavy penalties will be imposed for non-disclosure. Further, we prohibit the advertising of remedies purporting to prevent, cure or relieve the diseases which are set out in the Schedule. Clause 5 states that the alcoholic contents of a patent medicine must be given on the label. We find that many of the medicated wines contain as much alcohol as some of the heaviest wines and twice as much as claret. The Committee referred to a particular medicine which was recommended for us at the time of confinement. On analysis that medicine was found to contain something like 60 per cent. of alcohol, and the rest was apparently pure water. This was recommended as assisting confinement and producing fine and healthy babies.
The Bill prohibits correspondence with the vendors, and the enclosure of literature with one remedy recommending the use of another remedy. We also prohibit the advertising of remedies suggesting that they are useful or can be used for procuring abortion. Clause 5 sets out that all Regulations must be laid before Parliament. The Minister of Health is made responsible for the supervision of the matters dealt with, so that in future there will be one Department dealing with this subject, instead of at least four. I would also draw your attention to Clause 10, which is the clause defining a "proprietary medicine." You will see that it is necessary that the remedy should be (what I might call) "puffed," advertised, pushed, in 615 writing, as being beneficial for human ailments, as being a curative agent, and that there must be a monopoly. That is to say, we exclude from the definition of a "proprietary medicine" those proprietary medicines which are not advertised, pushed, or puffed in writing as being remedies, or as having special therapeutic qualities. We propose to exclude, for instance, mixtures, the composition of which is known, which are made by well-known and reputable chemists, and which are not pushed for sale on the ground that they have any special therapeutic qualities. Nor shall we include, in the definition of a "proprietary medicine," any recognised drug or preparation for which no monopoly is claimed.
I have seen it stated in a newspaper recently that under the Bill we contemplate the setting up of a new bureaucracy. So far as I know, and I think I can say this with confidence, we propose to appoint only one officer—a Registrar; and we anticipate that his salary will be met out of the fees charged to owners and vendors and proprietors of patent medicines. Therefore I do not think that opposition to the Bill can be raised on that ground. I have been told that the Press are going to oppose the passing of this Bill. I am perfectly well aware that the Press derive a large revenue from the advertising of patent medicines and surgical appliances. The Committee estimate that something like £2,000,000 is spent annually upon advertising these remedies and appliances in the Press. But I have too high an opinion of the Press as a whole to believe that they will attempt to stop the passage of this Bill. We do not propose to prohibit all advertising; we do not propose to deal with that to which I just now referred as profiteering. But I believe your Lordships will agree with me that the Press, as well as the State, have a duty and an obligation to prevent fraud and danger to life and health by the pushing of the sale of these remedies I have described. I am confident that the Government will get the support of the majority of the Press—of the reputable section of the Press—in their endeavour to deal with this problem.
At the present moment we are powerless to deal with it. We shall not interfere with legitimate or with harmless business. It is not possible for any impartial person to read the recommendations 616 of the Committee which went into this problem so carefully, without agreeing that the need for legislation is urgent. I cordially commend this Bill to your Lordships, because I believe it will enable us to deal with what is a real scandal, and because it will bring England more nearly level with other countries. If, by any chance, serious opposition should manifest itself, I feel certain that I shall be able to appeal with confidence to your Lordships to support the Government.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Astor.)
§ LORD ASKWITH
My Lords, the noble Viscount has told your Lordships how this Bill is the result of about six years or more of work by a Committee dealing with the subject; but he has not quite brought before your Lordships the importance of this industry as a whole. Its importance may be judged by the fact that last year more than £1,250,000 was paid in stamp duty to the Inland Revenue. I understand that there are about 10,000 retail pharmacists in the kingdom, apart from the bigger shops, with an enormous number of formulœ for making these proprietary medicines. It is, therefore, a very important industry indeed. It employs a very large number of people; it produces a lot of articles, many of which are extremely useful to the community at large; and, although every one deprecates the kind of remedies to which the noble Viscount alluded, yet there are other remedies which almost every man, woman, and child in the country uses, off and on, in the course of the year. I am sure that there cannot be anyone in this House who has not at times derived great advantage from taking a proprietary pill. If this is so, it is important that the industry should have a good opportunity of considering this Bill as affecting their interests.
The Bill has been printed only a few days, and I trust that the noble Viscount will not put it down for Committee too early, so that an opportunity may be given to those concerned to have a look at it. In dealing with an industry of this kind we do not wish either to have any system, such as the noble Viscount deprecated, of having a large number of extra officials, nor do we wish to hurt the industry in such a way as to impair its usefulness where such usefulness exists. Further, we do not wish to cause it, or the 617 allied industries connected with it to suffer unduly. I would point out that an industry like this relies upon other industries, such as bottle-making, to assist it; and it also has a great deal of advertising to do. I agree with the noble Viscount that regulation is necessary, but a good opportunity should be afforded to those concerned to see that the Bill does not affect them unfairly.
My Lords, I should like to say that I welcome this Bill and sincerely hope that its effect will be salutary. But, if the noble Viscount will pardon me saying so, I have, as I think those in the House who are interested in the matter have, some little quarrel with him in view of the time of the session at which this Bill is introduced. The Bill originates in this House, and it surely ought to have been possible to introduce it earlier than practically the very last day of July. I therefore join, but for exactly opposite reasons to those of the noble Lord who has just spoken, in hoping that the Committee stage will not be taken before Wednesday or Thursday of next week at the earliest; because I should like to put down one Amendment, which I will indicate to the noble Viscount, to strengthen the Bill.
The noble Viscount did not mention it in his speech, but I think I am right in saying that the Committee which sat in 1914 discussed at considerable length the proposal which has been always made in this connection—namely, that every patent medicine of this sort should have its ingredients clearly stated on the wrapper. I believe I am right in saying that this question was gone into at some length by the Committee and that, on the whole, they reported against it. But it does seem to me that, if your object is to prevent the public being defrauded, the very best way of doing that is to state in the plainest language you can upon the wrapper of what your medicine actually consists, instead of allowing the present advertisements, which describe it as having been derived from some mystic root found in some South American swamp by some reputed scientific person. Some of these statements will be swept away by this Bill, but the way to get rid of all of them is to allow the actual composition of the medicine to be known, and I should venture, for the noble Viscount's consideration, to put down in Committee an Amend- 618 ment that that should be part of this legislation. I think, myself, that if you really desire to protect the public from fraud, that is one of the most effective ways of doing so.
There was a matter which was mentioned by the noble Viscount, namely, that the ingredients and the proportions in which they are used have to be furnished to the Registrar. That is dealt with in Clause 5 (2) (e). But by the last subsection of Clause 4 it is made an offence for the Registrar, or anybody who is acquainted. with it, to furnish this information to the public. If he or any other person, without lawful authority, publishes or communicates to any person any information with respect to the ingredients or composition of that medicine he is to be guilty of a misdemeanour. It seems to me that the legislation ought to be in exactly the opposite sense. These registered ingredients ought to be furnished to Parliament in the shape of a White Paper so as to be available to the Press and everybody else who wishes to see them, because the medicine is already protected by being registered, and by being a proprietary medicine. I do not know whether the noble Viscount can give the House any instance of any real secret in, the composition of these medicines which is not known to the "Pharmacopæia." I doubt whether there is any such thing. And therefore the best method seems to me to be to make this part of the register available to the public.
There are one or two smaller points which I think might also be worthy of discussion in Committee rather than now, and, as the Bill has been introduced so very late in the session, and with so very little notice that it was coming on, it would, I think, be worth while to give a reasonable opportunity for a full discussion. This House is very well fitted to discuss in Committee this kind of proposal, and to arrive at a common-sense solution of the various difficulties which arise when you are imposing restrictions for the first time upon what the last noble Lord who spoke called an industry. I confess that is not the view I should take of it. The view I take of practically all these patent medicines is that they are fraudulent. pilfering of the public for private profit, and that the only effect of that is—what the noble Viscount quite clearly stated in his speech —to increase the injury and suffering of the poor by postponing the time at which 619 they take legitimate and competent medical advice.
I notice that the Schedule does not refer to venereal diseases. Am I right in thinking that that is because a prohibition in regard to those diseases is contained in another Act? Even if that is so, it would probably be just as well, for the sake of completeness, that they should be included in the Schedule of the Bill. Perhaps when the noble Viscount replies he will deal with that.
§ LORD EMMOTT
My Lords, I do not rise for the purpose of opposing the passage of this Bill. Indeed, I am quite sure that such a Bill is needed, although I must say I did not quite gather from the actual instance given by the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill whether we were right in regard to the man who made a fortune here on a certain instrument, or France was wrong in imprisoning him, and preventing him from selling it. That, however is a matter of detail. My chief purpose in rising is merely to emphasise what has been said by the previous speakers as to the desirability of giving time for the consideration of this Bill. After six years of incubation I do not think it will hurt very much if it is put off until the autumn session. This is a very crowded period of the session, and a very inconvenient time to introduce new Bills, which are not very urgent and necessary.
I do not know whether one Registrar is going to be enough without an army of chemists. I fancy that the efficient carrying out of the work under this Bill will probably need another very considerable bureaucracy. I shall be very glad if I am wrong in regard to that matter. There is another point of detail upon which I am afraid I shall find myself in opposition to the noble Earl opposite, Lord Russell. I look at the matter rather in the other way, and, if he will consider the case of manufacturers who have built up a large trade in a beneficial or innocuous article, and possess it at the present time, whose trade would be absolutely destroyed if exhibition of formulæ became the law of the land, I think he will see that there is another side of the question which he has raised. At any rate, the provisions of the Bill for formula deposit (as I think it is called) appear to be likely to raise vehement opposition on the part of the manufacturers of many of these patent 620 medicines. Their objection, of course, is not sufficient in itself to induce your Lordships to adopt their view, but I do think it is a sufficient reason for asking for more time for the consideration of this measure. On the merits of that part of the question I should like to say that, on the face of it, it seems to me rather an un-English procedure to demand a full disclosure of ingredients, unless a very strong case can be made out for the necessity of doing so. The noble Earl opposite wants to destroy the whole of the trade. I do not think the country would be benefitted.
§ LORD EMMOTT
The noble Earl is advocating a measure which, in my opinion, would destroy it. The circumstances were, of course, very different, but I had to deal with this case when I was Director of the War Trade Department. It was necessary, with regard to many of these patent medicines and patent foods and other things, to know the general composition at any rate of them. But in that case the matter was compromised by demanding a disclosure of the composition so far as it consisted of articles whose export was prohibited, and in those circumstances we were able to avoid the necessity, which I very much desired to avoid, of full disclosure. The reason why I object to this, unless it can be proved to be absolutely essential, is that I do not like secrets of this kind being produced to public Departments, because it is such a temptation to officials in those Departments, if there are any unscrupulous people among them, to make money out of them. I think the argument is rather against even a formula deposit than in favour of the wider measure that the noble Earl opposite desires. In these circumstances I hope that we shall have an assurance from His Majesty's Government that the further proceedings upon the Bill will not be pushed in this period of the session.
§ LORD SHANDON
My Lords, one matter in connection with the Bill as drafted has occurred to me. I may be wrong, but I think it is a matter which the noble Viscount who has charge of the Bill might have to consider. It is as to the manner of enforcing the provisions of Clause 1. If the Bill was in any way ineffective, 621 or practically ineffective, to carry out the intentions of its framers it would be a matter of serious consideration how it is to be remedied. Clause 1 provides that—It shall not be lawful for any person to manufacture or prepare for sale any proprietary medicine or any proprietary surgical appliance unless—and then under paragraph (c)—in the case of a medicine, it is compounded of the ingredients and in the proportions specified in the register.The proportions are specified in the register, and the ingredients are specified in the register.
But supposing that the ingenious proprietor of the patent medicine does not register the true proportions at all. How is the investigation to be carried out to determine, (1), whether the article sold is compounded of the ingredients and, (2), in the proportions specified? It is a very difficult task indeed, and any one who has read the Report of the British Pharmaceutical Society will see that it is an extremely difficult operation to ascercain, at any rate, the proportions in which any of these drugs, and especially vegetable drugs, are. used. If subsection (3) is to be operative at all it is absolutely necessary that there shall be a Department, or staff, or other means, of continually keeping watch for evasions of the Act. The noble Lord said that all that would be provided would be a Registrar, and that would be quite simple. But obviously the Registrar could scarcely keep any control over this particular matter. I may be wrong, but I have not noticed anything in the Bill which would enable this particular subsection to be worked practically. It is in that spirit that I make this suggestion for the consideration of the noble Lord.
With regard to the part of the Bill dealing with medicines purporting to cure certain diseases, I do not imagine that there will be a dissentient voice in this House in reference to those proprietary medicines, most of which are not worth very much at all. But if there is to be a check of any kind whatsoever upon this registration, then there must be analysis, and when the analysis is made, if it is found, after a good deal of trouble, that the article does not correspond with the register, what is to be done? I suppose there will be a prosecution. If there is to be a prosecution, the contents of this 622 valuable register will have to be disclosed. I can see for myself that a person who might have a desire to injure the owner of one of these fancy preparations, might set proceedings in motion. I do not know whether the common informer would be entitled to move or not, and that is a matter that will have to be considered. But whoever might move, action might involve the disclosure which the Bill seems to desire to prevent. I merely make this suggestion for consideration later on.
My Lords, I hope very much that there will be no delay in passing this Bill. There are always good reasons for delaying everything, but when you calculate the amount of suffering that these medicines are causing, there are much better reasons for carrying this measure, and as quickly as possible. I do not want to trouble your Lordships with the number of instances that come to my knowledge of people damaged and injured for life and ruined in nerve by the use of these medicines, but I urge, as strongly as I can, that there shall be no delay in passing the Bill. I want the noble Viscount who brought the Bill in to consider this one point, if he will. Clause 1 of the Bill provides that a man may not make or sell any surgical appliance unless the appliance is registered. That we can quite understand. But in Clause 2 it is provided that he may not advertise any surgical appliance as curative or as relieving certain illnesses, whether registered or not, so I read it.
One of the infirmities, we will call it, that may not be advertised as being relieved by any surgical applicance, is deafness. I am deaf, and I throw away what I think Lord Beaconsfield called my "natural advantages" in not hearing speeches, by using a machine. It seems to me to be rather unfair that a man who has invented a machine which helps deaf people and, therefore, relieves their deafness, should not in any circumstances, registered or not, be allowed to advertise that machine. That is how the Bill reads to me; I think it must be a slip on the part of the draftsmen. I do not want an article to be advertised to cure deafness, because I have been to everybody who thinks he can cure deafness, and I know that nobody can. I have suffered from the quacks as much as most people. But I think a man who invents a machine to 623 help one to hear and in that way relieves deafness, or the man who invents a good truss ought to be allowed to advertise it and not be prohibited from advertising, whether he registers it or not. As I read the Bill he cannot do that. Perhaps the noble Viscount will kindly consider that when he comes to deal with the Bill in Committee. I urge as strongly as I possibly can that we should not delay, even for a moment and even if it is wise to do it, in passing this Bill and giving it a Second Reading.
§ LORD RIDDELL
If I may say so, I do not agree with the noble Viscount who has just sat down that there are reasons for delaying everything. I think, however, there are substantial reasons for delaying the progress of this Bill, inasmuch as it was impossible to obtain a copy of it from the King's printers the day before yesterday; so that persons whose businesses are involved have not yet been able to ascertain exactly what are the provisions of the measure. I have every sympathy with the proposal to regulate this trade, but this particular scheme requires a good deal of scrutiny. I agree with the noble Lord who spoke just now that an army of officials will be necessary in order to examine and report upon these various patent medicines and appliances. Unless some adequate measures are taken in that respect, this Bill is likely to do more harm than good, as it will engender among the public a belief in the efficacy of these measures which, at the present time, they do not possess.
I see from the Report of the Committee that the investigation of the contents of one patent medicine alone proved to be a very heavy task, involving 1,607 questions to the proprietors, several chemical analyses, and, generally speaking, a sort of legal inquisition for the purpose of ascertaining exactly of what the remedy was compounded. I assume, as the noble Lord has said, that if the Ministry of Health takes upon itself the task of registering and examining the various remedies, it will be the duty of that Department to see that they are according to prescription, and that the various appliances are suited to the purposes for which they are intended. I see that the Bill gives the Minister power to make a Regulation providing that no surgical appliance shall be registered unless and until a specimen thereof has been fur- 624 nished to the registry. That opens up a very serious vista, because, as I read the Bill, every false leg, every set of teeth which is sold under a trade mark, every ear-trumpet, every truss, and a hundred and one other surgical appliances will require to be investigated and registered by the Ministry.
The noble Viscount, Lord Knutsford, just now referred to deafness, and there is no doubt that his construction of Clause 2 is accurate. That clause provides that no remedy or appliance may be advertised with a statement which implies that it is effective for the prevention, cure, or relief of any of the diseases or infirmities mentioned in the Schedule. One of those infirmities is rupture. I agree with the noble Viscount that there is no reason why the maker of trusses should not, advertise them, and say that they are calculated to relieve rupture. It seems most unreasonable to provide that, advertisements of that sort shall not be permitted.
Reference has been made to the question of venereal disease. The law in regard to that question shows the danger of passing a measure of this sort hurriedly and without due care as to what the effect of the legislation is likely to be. There is already on the Statute Book a provision that no advertisement shall be published regarding remedies for venereal disease. At the present time a large section of the doctors, including many of the best-known medical men in the country, are interested in what they call prophylaxis, or early treatment. They are of opinion that the existing law prevents them from giving advice on the subject publicly, and I saw the other day that they held a meeting at which they said that they intended to give advice, although undoubtedly they were committing a legal offence. At the present time they are endeavouring to get the law remedied. It shows the importance of taking great care when dealing with a matter of this kind, and I appeal to the noble Viscount to allow the consideration of this Bill to stand over until the trade has had an opportunity of ascertaining what are its provisions.
§ LORD CAWLEY
My Lords, I hope the noble Viscount will not listen to the advice of the noble Lord who has just, spoken. This Bill is long overdue; in my opinion it is a measure of great urgency. The people who are asking the poorest 625 in the country to buy these remedies, which they know perfectly well will do them no good, are very little better than those who sell bogus five-pound notes. It is a great scandal that the law has allowed these men to do it for so long, making huge fortunes out of the poorest and most undefended part of our people. After all the most ignorant. and the poorest chiefly suffer by the imposition of these quack remedies and we ought to proceed as quickly as we can with the present measure. If noble Lords will only read the evidence given before the Committee they would all feel that there should he no delay. The Committee, which sat in 1914, did not get much publicity, and some members of the Committee ascribed this want of notice to the fact that the Press is largely interested in advertisements. I believe that something like £2,000,000 is spent in advertising these patent medicines. There is no doubt that the Press are very much interested in the matter, and, therefore, the Report of this Committee did not receive the notice which I think it deserved.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, I am grateful for the general welcome that has been given to the Bill. Most of the objections which have been raised are, I think, Committee points. The Bill is introduced into your Lordships' House—it has not yet been before the House of Commons —and I trust, therefore, you will assist the Department with which I am connected in the endeavour to introduce legislation, whenever it is possible, in your Lordships' House. I propose to put down the Committee stage for Thursday of next week, which would give noble Lords reasonable time to consider the Bill. The measure is based entirely on the recommendations of the Committee, and while there is nothing new in it that is no reason, of course, why we should hurry it through. I hope, however, that your Lordships will facilitate its passage. We have introduced it here in order that there should be full and ample time for discussion, and to secure that it is available for consideration in another place when the House meets next autumn.
I will go very carefully into the point raised by Lord Knutsford in order to see whether instruments for deafness should be taken out of the Schedule. Lord Riddell and Lord Emmott raised the same point. Lord Riddell said that he did not see how 626 it was possible to operate the Bill unless there was an army of officials. I think Lord Riddell must have made that criticism, under a misapprehension as to what the Department intended to do. We do not intend to have inspectors going all over the country taking samples of bottles, analysing the ingredients and ascertaining whether. they are exactly in accordance with the formulæ submitted to the Department. We do not intend to do that. We shall have a register, and we shall prohibit advertisements of remedies purporting to cure or alleviate certain specified diseases or ailments. Thus we shall see that injury is not done to the public by the remedies. which are advertised. We shall, of course, generally speaking, see that the ingredients are what they are reported to the Department to be, before the owner or proprietor is authorised to put his particular medicine, on the market.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
That only deals. with the disclosure of the alcohol contained in a remedy so that the public may be warned whether it contains above 60 percent., as has been found to be the case in certain instances. It is to let the public know whether a medicine is mainly alcohol or not. I do not think it is necessary to analyse every bottle in order to see whether it is 60 percent. or 61 percent. We believe that the existing staff of the Ministry of Health will be able to provide all the necessary assistance that the Registrar will require. There is a complete misapprehension in the minds of noble Lords who fear the setting up of a new bureaucracy. I will not go into the question of the disclosure of the ingredients on the label. That is a point which I understand will be raised in Committee; and, as the noble Earl perfectly realises, it is a very contentious point. I thank him for giving me notice of his intention to raise it. Lord Shandon, when he asked the question, about Clause 1, had apparently forgotten Clause 5, subsection (2), paragraph (e). If he will look at that particular subsection he will find the reply to the point he raised. I am grateful for the reception your Lordships have given to the Bill. I trust. we may be able to pass it in the near future; I assure you we will not attempt to rush it.
§ LORD ASKWITH
The noble Viscount says he intends to put down the Committee stage for Thursday next. This morning there appeared a notice to the effect that the Duke of Northumberland is moving an Irish Motion on that day.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
Perhaps I may be allowed to put it down for Wednesday, and if there is any general desire it can be postponed.
On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole house.