HL Deb 31 March 1947 vol 146 cc933-5

3.8 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (The Earl Of Listowel)

My Lords, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill I should like to give an assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Marley. After the noble Lord moved an Amendment to Clause 1 of this Bill in Committee I undertook to see whether I could meet his point by drafting before the Third Reading of the Bill was reached, another Amendment which was not subject to the same objection. I hope I can satisfy the noble Lord that I have done my best. With the help of my expert advisers from the Ministry of Health, and in consultation with the noble Viscount the Leader of the House and the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, both of whom were good enough to give this problem their personal attention, I have considered with the utmost care three alternative Amendments. I regret to inform the noble Lord that each of them, if included in the Bill, would create new difficulties, more serious than those which would be overcome. I am sure it would be pointless in this House to insist on introducing any Amendment into the Bill which would invite criticism in another place and probably be deleted. I shall now ask the Department to make a fresh effort to find a form of words to meet the noble Lord's point, and I can assure him that the Minister will give this matter his personal attention. If a suitable formula can be found, I can assure the noble Lord that the Government will introduce as an

Amendment such a formula during the passage of the Bill through another place. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Listowel.)

3.10 p.m.


My Lords, I am a little surprised at what the noble Lord just said. It seems to me rather a weak way of expressing the importance of your Lordships' House to suggest that it should be a deterrent on our part to move any Amendment or to express any opinion, because it might not be acceptable to another place. I rather gathered that there was a fear that if we did something the other place might take exception to it. I am prepared to move anything here if I believe in it, and to take a chance on what they do in another place. I am a little sorry that the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Marley, cannot be accepted. I have had experience of this particular drug. Two friends of mine have very nearly been killed by it, and only last week one of your Lordships told me that he had been treated with it and had suffered therefrom. When he asked the doctor who administered the drug about it, he was told "You are suffering from penicillin poisoning." He said: "Thank you very much. You administered it hoping that it would do me good. Look at the result." Of the two friends of mine whom I mentioned earlier, one very nearly died and the other is now in the process of recovering. I do not think the former will ever have the appearance lie had before.

That shows that this drug, though it admittedly does an immense amount of good, requires to be dealt with very carefully, and should be administered with the greatest care. It is no doubt a wonderful drug but it does not suit everybody. I congratulate the Government on the Bill, for I think it was very necessary that a Bill on this matter should be brought in. I hope it will restrict the use of the drug except in cases where it is administered by those who are thoroughly qualified to prescribe it. I support the Bill, and I sincerely trust that its clauses will ensure that the greatest possible care is used in connexion with prescriptions where penicillin is necessary, and also in the administration of the drug by medical and other practitioners.

3.13 p.m.


My Lords, may I be allowed to thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for having given so much care and thought to the problem posed by me in the rather difficult Amendment which I put before your Lordships' House. I am a little worried about what the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, has said, because, in a way, the cases to which he referred were in fact cases dealt with by qualified people. Therefore, it might conceivably be argued that unqualified people would make less of a mess of things than qualified people. However, this is a problem for members of the medical profession to deal with among themselves. I have no doubt that a number of technical articles in medical journals will help those qualified members of the medical profession who have not had experience of the extraordinary nature of developments of which penicillin is such an outstanding example. Meanwhile, I hope very much that the words of my noble friend Lord Teviot will be borne in mind during the passage of the Bill through another place. We here are not afraid of another place. We consider that, in many ways, revision by your Lordships of measures is a good thing. But this is a House of Lords' Bill, and therefore we want to send it down in as perfect a condition as possible. It is quite arguable that if a manuscript Amendment, inadequately considered, were included it might be found capable of improvement in another, even though less unhurried, legislative Chamber. I again thank the noble Earl for the care that he has taken.

On Question Bill read 3a, and passed, and sent to the Commons.

3.16 p.m.