HL Deb 28 June 1960 vol 224 cc696-704

5.1 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord St. Oswald.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clauses 1 to 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Power to extend or restrict application of Act]:


moved to add to subsection (4): and (b) the number of the representative members of each board exceeds by one the number of the other members of the board; and (c) the number of the members of the Council required by the First Schedule to this Act to be registered medical practitioners is equal to the number of the representative members of the Council; and in this subsection 'representative member' has the same meaning as in that Schedule.

The noble Lord said: This Amendment is concerned with preserving the agreed numerical balance as between representative members and other members on both the Registration Boards and the Council. Representative members means, under the First Schedule, those nominated by the Professions Supplementary to Medicine. Their numbers on each Board and on the Council have been agreed on the basis of a just proportion, giving the representative members an overall majority of one on each Board and equality on the Council with the medical members. Because, under Clause 10, the number of Boards now to be set up can be varied by an order of the Privy Council, either by addition or subtraction, it has been felt necessary to ensure that this same majority, in the one case, and equality, in the other, shall be preserved.

The Bill as it stands already confers adequate powers on the Privy Council, but as I shall point out in a moment, it will set some minds at rest if this important point is put beyond all possible doubt and written into the Bill. The Amendment is in two parts, paragraphs (b) and (c). Paragraph (b) ensures that should a new profession be brought in under these provisions, the new Board thus created will also have a majority of one representative member over its other members. Paragraph (c) consequently ensures that should the Council be expanded in this way by another representative member appointed from the new Board, that representative member will be balanced by another medical member of the Council, so preserving the existing equality. Similarly, it ensures that, should one or more of the founder Boards subsequently drop out, under the same Clause 10, then the number of medical members of the Council will also be correspondingly reduced.

I should say at this point that Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are to some extent consequential upon this Amendment, which assumes that they will be accepted. Paragraph (c), which I have just described, is part of a Government Amendment, but it coincides with one which would otherwise have been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, but which has now been withdrawn. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor also expressed his interest in this aspect of maintaining the numerical balance on the Council when he intervened briefly in my Second Reading speech. I am grateful to both noble Lords and I hope that the Amendment as proposed will give general satisfaction. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 44, at end insert the said words.—(Lord St. Oswald.)


This Amendment does give entire satisfaction. It is very sensible; indeed, it deals with the situation in the only possible way it could be dealt with if the agreements which have gone into the creation of these Boards and Council are to be maintained. We certainly accept it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

First Schedule [Constitutions of the Council and boards, and supplementary provisions]:


moved, in paragraph 1 (d), to leave out "persons" and insert registered medical practitioners".

The noble Lord said: With the approval of the House, I should like to move Amendments 2, 3 and 4 together. They are virtually identical in wording and in purpose. As I have indicated, these three Amendments follow upon the previous one. Their effect would be to ensure that members of the Council appointed by the English Colleges, the Scottish Corporations and the General Medical Council would be registered medical practitioners. The Bill as drafted provides for these bodies to appoint "persons" and thereby does not limit them to appointing medical practitioners.

During the long discussions which preceded the preparation of the Bill, it was clear that the greatest importance was attached to the principle that there should be numerical equality between the representative and medical members of the Council. In this connection it had always been assumed that the persons appointed by the English Colleges, the Scottish Corporations and the General Medical Council would in fact be registered medical practitioners, and the point was therefore not specifically dealt with in the Bill. Amendments to place the matter beyond any possible doubt were put down by the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Birkenhead. He subsequently withdrew them, but the Government have put down Amendments in similar terms, since it seems to them that they might be an improvement to the Bid. As I indicated earlier, these Amendments are consequential on the Amendment to Clause 10, providing safeguards as to the composition of the Council and the Boards, in so far as that Amendment could not be fully effective without them. I beg to move the first Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 14, line 25, leave out ("persons") and insert ("registered medical practitioners").—(Lord St. Oswald.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The next Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 14, line 27, leave out ("persons") and insert ("registered medical practitioners").—(Lord St. Oswald.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This Amendment is also consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 14, line 29, leave out ("person") and insert ("registered medical practitioner").—(Lord St. Oswald.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.9 p.m.


moved, after paragraph 5 to insert: 6. Before the English Colleges or the Scottish Corporations nominate a person for appointment as a member of a board an pursuance of paragraph (b) of sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 4 above, they shall consult such body or bodies (if any) as they consider appropriate in relation to that nomination, being a body or bodies appearing to them to represent medical practitioners specialising in a field with which the board will be concerned.

The noble Lord said: On Second Reading, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, asked me whether on the Radiographers' Board it would not be possible to guarantee the representation of at least one therapeutic radiologist and one diagnostic radiologist, and I gave him an undertaking that this would be sympathetically considered before the present stage of the Bill. The fruit of this sympathetic consideration has ripened in the form of this Amendment. It is not restricted to the Radiographers' Board, but applies to all Boards to be created, now or later, under the provisions of this Bill. I am, all the same, in a slightly difficult position over this excellent Amendment, because, possibly encouraged by my undertaking at Second Reading, Lord Taylor has put down his own Amendment, which is more precisely in line with his request on that occasion and is due to be moved after this one. In arguing the virtues of this concept over that contained in his original proposal, I am bound, at least by inference, to find myself arguing the advantages of my Amendment over his, which is not yet under discussion. A less generous man than the noble Lord—anyone less exemplified by "sweetness and light", as his noble friend recently said of him—might regard this as taking unfair advantage from my Amendment being called first. I hope that the noble Lord will not be so inclined.

The purpose of Che Amendment is to ensure that before nominating any person for membership of a Board the English Colleges and Scottish Corporations shall consult such specialised medical bodies as they consider appropriate. As at present drafted, the Bill provides for the great majority of the medical members of Boards to be nominated by the English Royal Colleges (defined in paragraph 21 of the First Schedule to the Bill) jointly and the Scottish Corporations (also defined in that paragraph) jointly. This is in accordance with the scheme negotiated with representatives of the supplementary professions and the Joint Consultants Committee. The Bill is silent as to the procedure to be followed by the Medical bodies in making nominations. The anxiety expressed by Lord Taylor and by Professor Smithers, whom he quoted, in relation to the Radiographers' Board, was also felt by Lord Cohen of Birkenhead, who put down an Amendment, very similar in content to that of the noble Lord, which has now been withdrawn.

The reason we prefer this wider method of dealing with the problem is that a similar problem could arise in connection with other Boards, since there are other consultants who have a special interest in the work of particular Boards. I name as examples consultants in physical medicine and orthopedic surgeons in the Physiotherapists' Board, the Occupational Therapists' Board, the Remedial Gymnasts' Board, and the pathologists in the Medical Laboratory Technicians Board. There are various highly respected bodies connected with these separate branches of medicine. If I mention the British Orthopædic Association, the British Association of Physical Medicine and the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, it is only as examples of those who might feel a legitimate claim to nominating rights, once this principle has been recognised. It is difficult, in fact, to know where such claims might end, or where they could properly be rejected. I hope that I have made clear the difficulties, as we see them, of confining this solution to the Radiographers' Board alone, and the dangers, as we see them, of applying throughout the solution proposed by Lord Taylor.

It is clearly desirable that, when making any nominations to a Board, the English Colleges and Scottish Corporations should not overlook the desirability of prior consultation with any specialist professional body which seems to them to have a particular interest in that particular field. It has, however, always been assumed that the Colleges and Corporations would, in fact, carry out consultation of this sort. The Government are sure that this assumption is correct, but since they are very conscious of the importance of making entirely sure that specialist professional opinion is not overlooked, they now put forward an Amendment specifically designed to secure this. While ensuring that this important object is secured, however, the Amendment preserves the principle that ultimate responsibility for making the nominations should be in the hands of the English Colleges and Scottish Corporations. It is hoped that this is a satisfactory compromise solution which will secure the main objects of all concerned. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 17, line 8, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord St. Oswald.)


The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald need not have been so nice had he not wanted to. It was kind of him to say the things that he has said. We regard this as a completely satisfactory solution of the problem. He need not have gone so far, because we were concerned only with the radiographers. As we said earlier, they were the only folk who were dealing with a lethal weapon; and that was why we were so concerned that there should be this double representation. But the method the noble Lord and the Government have adopted seems an eminently sensible one. It will fully meet what is required. We can guarantee that the Faculty of Radiologists will be consulted by the Royal Colleges and will nominate properly. Therefore, this Amendment does precisely what I anti my noble friend Lord Cohen of Birkenhead want. We are most grateful to the Government for giving us what we want in this accommodating way, and we feel that in the long term it will be of benefit not only to the Radiographers' Board, but to all the other Boards as well.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

First Schedule, as amended agreed to.

Second Schedule [The Investigating and Disciplinary Committees]:

5.15 p.m.


moved in paragraph 2, to leave out "the committee may administer oaths" and insert in England or Wales or Northern Ireland the committee may administer oaths and any party to the proceedings may sue out writs of subpœna ad testificandum and duces tecum, but no person shall be compelled under any such writ to produce any document which he could not be compelled to produce on the trial of an action. (2) The provisions of section forty-nine of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Consolidation) Act, 1925, or of the Attendance of Witnesses Act, 1854 (which provide special procedures for the issue of such writs so as to be in force throughout the United Kingdom) shall apply in relation to any proceedings before a disciplinary committee in England or Wales or, as the case may be, in Northern Ireland as those provisions apply in relation to causes or matters in the High Court or actions or suits pending in the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland. (3) For the purpose of any proceedings before a disciplinary committee in Scotland, the committee may administer oaths and the Court of Session shall on the application of any party to the proceedings have the like power as in any action in that court to grant warrant for the citation of witnesses and havers to give evidence or to produce documents before the committee, and for the issue of letters of second diligence against any witness or haver failing to appear after due citation, to grant warrant for the recovery of documents, and to grant commissions to persons to take the evidence of witnesses or to examine havers and receive their exhibits and productions.

The noble and learned Viscount said: The purpose of this Amendment is to restore to the Bill the express powers for parties to proceedings before a disciplinary committee to obtain writs of subpoena in whatever part of the United Kingdom the committee may be sitting. Your Lordships may have noticed that these powers were contained in paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule to the Bill as originally drafted, but, on an Amendment moved by my right honourable friend the Minister, were removed on the Committee stage in another place while we were waiting for the Report of the Committee presided over by my noble and learned friend Lord Simonds, which had been appointed—I quote— to consider to what extent and subject to what conditions, subpœnas (or in Scotland citations) should be issuable to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents before disciplinary tribunals".

Your Lordships will remember that the Report of my noble and learned friend's Committee was published in May. The Committee concluded in general that it is essential that there should be a power of subpœna in connection with proceedings before disciplinary tribunals. In paragraph 11 of the Report they say: We emphasise that where Parliament has confided to a professional body a disciplinary jurisdiction which enables it to penalise a member by depriving him of the power to earn a living in his chosen profession and perhaps gravely injuring him in his reputation, it is essential that in proceedings before such a tribunal prosecutor and accused alike should have power to enforce the attendance of witnesses.

The Committee also conclude that it is not sufficient for the parties to such proceedings to be left to rely on the issue of a writ from the Crown Office. Their reasons for this view are, first, that the existence of such a power is not sufficiently widely known; and, secondly, that writs from the Crown Office do not appear to run outside England and Wales. The Committee therefore say, in paragraph 15 of their Report: We therefore recommend that express statutory power to secure the issue of writs of subpœna should be conferred on those statutory disciplinary tribunals that do not now possess it. We further recommend that if Parliament sees fit to create additional disciplinary bodies in the future they should also have the power for the reasons we have given.

During the Second Reading in your Lordships' House, my noble friend Lord St. Oswald announced the Government's intention to restore to the Bill, at this stage, the powers for the issue of writs of subpœna. Both the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and my noble and learned friend, Lord Simonds, welcomed this announcement. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary had already indicated, in reply to a Question in the House of Commons, that the Government accepted in principle the recommendations contained in the Report. This Amendment gives effect to the Government's announced intention and is in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee presided over by my noble and learned friend. I hope your Lordships will allow me to express to my noble and learned friends Lord Simonds and Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest, and to the noble Lord, Lord Thomson, my personal gratitude for the trouble they took over this rather complicated point. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 23, line 4, leave out ("the committee may administer oaths") and insert the said new words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


We willingly accept this Amendment. We, too, should like to be associated with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack in thanking the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simonds, for his valuable Report and to say that we are quite sure that this is essential for the proper working of these boards and tribunals.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Second Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.