HL Deb 24 July 1923 vol 54 cc1319-21

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a very simple measure indeed, and if your Lordships will allow me I will explain it as briefly as I can. It is in reality the supplement of the Dentists Act, 1921. It does not alter any of the main provisions of that Act; it merely seeks to extend one clause. The Dentists Act of 1921 prohibits unqualified dentists from practising unless they pass a qualifying examination, and for that qualifying examination a candidate had to attain the age of twenty-three years before July 19, 1921, the date of the passing of the Act. This provision had a result which was not anticipated by anyone. Nobody realised that by fixing the age of twenty-three a very deserving section of the community would be unable to qualify, a section which has the sympathy I am sure of your Lordships' House—namely, ex-Service men. That provision precluded some young men who were studying as dentists, with a view to qualifying, from completing—those who served in the last two years of the war, who were eighteen years of age, and who enlisted after July 28, 1916. The result is that many young men who served for those two years were unable to qualify as dentists though wishing to do so.

A Bill, therefore, was drafted by the Ministry of Health to amend one section only of that Act, and to reduce the age from twenty-three to twenty-one for ex-Service men only, in order to enable them to qualify. This Bill passed through all its stages in another House without a single dissentient and with only one substantial Amendment, which gave an additional advantage to this particular class of young ex-Service man by extending the date from July 28 to November 11 in order to include all men who enlisted up to the date of the Armistice, November 11, 1918. This alteration in the Bill will in no way affect public health, because the men will he obliged to go through the same qualifying examination as they would have done before. The only thing, therefore, which this Bill seeks to do is to reduce the age from twenty-three to twenty-one, and I hope that your Lordships will be good enough to give this Bill a Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Marquess of Sligo.)


My Lords, this question of altering the age limit especially to cover ex-Service men has been, as my noble friend has told your Lordships, the subject of much discussion, and the Government, although they did not feel able to promote amending legislation to the Bill which I had the honour to introduce to your Lordships last year, looked with favour upon the introduction of a private Member's Bill in another place. Its promoters acted in very close co-operation with my right honourable friend's Department, and the draft of the Bill which my noble friend opposite has explained was prepared with the con currence of that Department. The Bill has passed through another place, I think, practically in the form in which it was introduced, and I trust that your Lord ships will give it a Second Beading.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.