HL Deb 18 July 1927 vol 68 cc637-9

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Lovat, I am asked to move the Second Reading of this Bill. I am afraid that owing to the shortness of time, I have been unable to make myself familiar with the contents of the Bill, but I gather it will prove non-contentious and, if there is any point any of your Lordships would like to raise, I think your Lordships would find it more convenient to raise it in Committee. In order to explain the Bill to your Lordships perhaps I had better give your Lordships the information as it was given to me.

As a result of the establishment of the Irish Free State and of the legislation consequent thereon, medical students of Universities in the Irish Free State graduating after December 6, 1922, ceased to be entitled to registration as of right by the General Medical Council (that is, they ceased to be entitled to practice in this country) and the General Medical Council ceased to have any authority over the medical profession and any control over medical education in the Irish Free State. This state of affairs was regarded by the authorities both in the Irish Free State and in this country as undesirable; and at the request of the Irish Free State Government negotiations were begun in 1923 with a view to the restoration, as far as was consistent with the altered status of the Irish Free State, of the position existing prior to the establishment of the Irish tree State. Meanwhile the, General Medical Council agreed to continue to enter medical graduates from the Irish Free State on the register pending the passage of such legislation as it might eventually be decided to introduce. But all such registrations since December 6, 1922, have no legal validity, and one of the objects of the present Bill is to validate them.

The negotiations referred to have for various reasons been prolonged; but they have at length resulted in the Agreement which appears as Part I of the Schedule to the Bill. Sir Donald Macalister, the President of the General Medical Council, has taken a prominent part in all the negotiations and the Agreement has the concurrence and support of the Council. It will also be observed that the Agreement has been signed by Sir Richard Dawson Bates, Minister of Home Affairs, on behalf of Northern Ireland. Briefly, the Agreement provides for the creation of a Medical Council in the Irish Free State who will establish an Irish Free State Register (to which all medical practitioners registered in this country and Northern Ireland will be admissible as of right) and will have complete control of that Register and of the profession in the Irish Free. State. On the other hand, the General Medical Council will continue to admit to the United Kingdom Register all persons who, prior to the establishment of the Irish Free State, would have been admissible thereto in respect of qualifications obtained in the Irish Free State; and for the purpose of keeping the United Kingdom register and controlling the examinations giving the right of admission thereto, the Council will retain in the Irish Free State all the powers formerly possessed by them. Certain alterations in the Irish representation on the Council consequential upon the establishment of the Irish Free State are made by Article 2 of the Agreement.

On the completion of the medical negotiations, discussions were opened regarding the dental profession, in which an almost precisely similar state of affairs had arisen. Sir Francis Acland, Chairman of the Dental Board of the United Kingdom, took part in the discussions and no difficulty was found in reaching an Agreement very similar to the Medical Agreement. This Agreement will be found in Part II of the Schedule. Both Agreements require legislation both in the Irish Free State Parliament and here. An Act confirming the Medical Agreement has already been passed in the Irish Free State and has received Royal Assent, and it is very desirable that the Agreement should be brought into force as soon as possible by the passage of this Bill. The Irish Free State Bill to confirm the Dental Agreement has not yet been passed into law, but it is anticipated that it will be reintroduced and passed into law at an early date. The Irish Free State legislation, in addition to confirming the Agreements, has to provide for the establishment of the new medical and dental authorities in the Irish Free State; it is therefore much longer and more complicated than ours and for this reason has been divided into two Bills. There is no necessity for a similar division in the legislation on this side.

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

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