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Orders of the Day — Ministry of Health Bill.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 26th February 1919.

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Dr. MACDONALD:

I rise to make my maiden speech, and I claim the indulgence of the House if I transgress any rules. The only transgression so far that I have made has been to come down here early in the morning and take the seat of one of my seniors. I should like to extend to the senior Members of Parliament my very grateful thanks for the courtesy and kindness which they have shown to me as a new Member. I feel highly honoured in being a Member of this House. I happen to be the first representative of the first borough to which His Gracious Majesty King George granted a charter, and I happen to have been returned by the second largest majority in a vote on this contest in the whole of England. I support this Hill very heartily, and I feel that it should also have the support of the whole House, because in the first place it favours neither politics nor creed. It has for its aim only one grand principle, and that is to improve the health of the people at large. For this reason we, as medical men, think that it should be equally applied to all parts of the British Empire, and for the same reason we think that a measure of such far-reaching importance should he presented to the people in its final form as free as possible from any doubtful Clauses. I must confess that when I came to Clause 3, to that part dealing with research, in which it is provided that research is to be handed over to the Privy Council, I was astounded. I feel that research is the very basis from which all medical science starts, and it must be closely associated with a professional body. When I read this Sub-clause I was reminded of a story of a lady who was taken suddenly ill in her confinement in a large establishment. The nurse could not obtain the services of the doctor she wanted, and she asked the servant in the house if there was no professional man there. She said she had seen a gentleman in a silk hat and frock coat walking along the corridor, and she thought he was a professional man. This was about midnight, and she went to the gentleman's bedroom and brought him in his pyjamas and dressing-gown to the bedside, but he had not been there long before the nurse discovered that instead of being a medical man he was a lawyer, and rumour says that the first thing he did when he got into the room was to ask her to make her will, and then, when the infant manifested its entry into the created world in the usual healthy manner, it was suggested that the lawyer should issue a writ against it for creating a public disturbance. It is also said that he asked what its heritage was and promised to make due provision for it in after life. But that was no good to the mother or the child. I do venture to submit that the Privy Council is not the body to look after that all important part of medical science, research work, and I ask the framers of this Bill very seriously to consider this Clause before it is presented to us in its final stages.