HL Deb 20 November 1979 vol 403 cc54-7

5.2 p.m.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Kinnoull.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Lord DERWENT in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Short title, citation, definition and extent]:

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

The Earl of KINNOULL

In moving the one printed amendment to this small Bill, I should say that, if the Committee accept it, I hope to move a manuscript amendment which will be consequential upon the amendment and will affect the Long Title. During the Second Reading of this Bill I undertook to look at Clause 2 and the likely effect it might have on the 1,500 or so lay hypnotherapists who practise up and down the country.

The Committee will recall that Clause 2 is designed to prohibit advertisements relating to hypnotism, other than authorised exhibitions, and to ban the sale of records capable of inducing hypnotism. It was included in the Bill because it was considered offensive that a young, in-experienced hypnotherapist could, without having any real experience behind him, advertise a treatment for stopping smoking or over-eating and invite a member of the public to attend this course. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell described these gentlemen as "cowboys".

My noble friend, Lord Sandys, indicated at the time that his advisers had no real evidence of abuse or complaint that advertising by hypnotherapists was causing a problem. Indeed, he felt—and rightly—that Clause 2 could prove harmful to their leigitimate livelihood and was not called for in this Bill. One thinks particularly of the experienced lay hypnotherapists who are known to do good in the country and who offer advice and help to many people on a range of anxiety-related problems. It seems obviously unfair that they should be linked with the "cowboys" who have no such experience. Since the Second Reading last July I have had communication and correspondence with a number of individuals and bodies connected with hypnotism: individual hypnotherapists, those who have been treated and the three bodies which now represent the body of active hypnotherapists—the British Hypnotherapy Association, the National Council of Psychotherapists and the Institute of Psychology and Parapsychology. Each of these bodies, which have been set up in the past 20 years, provided a code of conduct, standards and ethics for their members, as well as an insistence that their advertising should be in strict accordance with the code of advertising practice.

The impression one has reached as a result of discussions with these people is that the medical world is highly suspicious of the lay hypnotherapists. They are concerned because these lay hypnothera- pists have no medical qualifications and indeed have no need to have medical qualifications to advertise to the public. However, like osteopaths, there are good and bad hypnotherapists and many are extremely good. I am sure that the Committee will agree that it is wholly unfair to condemn all for the sake of a few. The lay hypnotherapists themselves, as I have suggested, have tried to put their house in order by the formation of professional bodies. The bodies, as I have said, are subject to a code of conduct. As to those who have been treated by hypnotherapists, they range, if one speaks to them, from those ecstatic at the success of the treatment to those who are simply disappointed. In my submission, there is no real evidence of abuse or need for any special safeguard that arises from the evidence that one has tried to collect.

Hypnotism is a complex, fascinating subject. It spans from the medically qualified to the unqualified. It covers those who believe in it, those who do not and those who are suspicious. I submit that for this Bill to ban the use of advertising or the sale of discs under Clause 2 would be unfair to legitimate practitioners. There are those who favour tighter control of hypnotism and who argue, as was argued during the Second Reading of this Bill, that the Bill should perhaps even be strengthened. I do not accept that, nor do I accept that the removal of Clause 2 would weaken this small Bill. I like small Bills; I understand small Bills. I feel that the main purpose of this Bill remains—that is, the schedule. That is the area which causes the greatest concern: that there should be better protection of the public in stage hypnotists' acts. That is the objective. I hope this Committee will accept it. I commend to the Committee this small amendment to this small Bill. I beg to move.


My noble friend Lord Kinnoull foreshadowed this amendment when he was speaking to his own Bill on Second Reading at column 1383 on 17th July. He explained that he had reservations about Clause 2, as it was then drafted. The Committee will be grateful to my noble friend for this forewarning. For my part, inquiries undertaken recently by the Home Office have not, as yet, brought to light any evidence of abuse which might justify the retention of this clause. I therefore recommend your Lordships to accept the amendment.

On Question, Clause 2 disagreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Schedule [Amendments to Hypnotism Act 1952]:

On Question, Whether the schedule, as printed, shall be the schedule to the Bill?

Viscount SIMON

Before we agree the schedule, I should like the noble Earl to give us some information about the significance of the word "living" in line 6. The sentence runs as follows: No person shall give an exhibition, demonstration or performance of hypnotism on any living person—". I confess I cannot see the significance of the word "living".

The Earl of KINNOULL

Perhaps I may look into that particular interesting point, but I should have thought that the opposite of "living" would not be applicable.

On Question, Schedule agreed to.

5.11 p.m.

In the Title:

The Earl of KINNOULL moved the manuscript amendment: Line 3, leave out from ("phenomena") to end.

The noble Earl said: I said earlier that I should like to move this manuscript amendment which I hope is in everyone's hands. I beg to move.

On Question, manuscript amendment agreed to.

On Question, Title, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.