Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 28 Feb 1962

Vol. 193 No. 5

Pharmacy Bill, 1961—Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I welcome this Bill and I congratulate the Minister on its introduction because I feel it is very much overdue. The pharmaceutical chemist, as is well known, is operating under a very old Act introduced in 1875 and amended in a minor way in 1890 and again, I think, in 1951. According to modern trends, the 1875 Act is completely outmoded, I suggest, from the point of view both of the conduct of the affairs of the Pharmaceutical Society and of the interests of the public.

There are very many necessary changes in the Bill, as I see it. It defines very clearly for the first time persons who are entitled to keep open shop. In other words, it defines who an authorised person is. As the Minister said in his opening remarks, there is a minor alteration with regard to medical practitioners but, in actual fact, from my experience, I do not think that makes any difference because, to my knowledge, no medical practitioner, as such, keeps open shop except a licentiate of the Apothecaries Hall. Medical practitioners who keep open shop are licentiates. They take an examination in pharmacy.

The section dealing with reciprocity is a very important one. Being a practising pharmacist myself I know and have realised down through the years how difficult this question was. The Pharmaceutical Society in this country had no powers to enter into reciprocal arrangements with any outside States, or with any other country. For instance, if a pharmaceutical chemist wanted to come here from England, the Six Counties or Canada, he could not practise here as a chemist. Chemists could not come and register here and, vice versa, the qualifications of pharmaceutical personnel who qualified here and wanted to go to Canada, Australia, America, England, in turn, would not be recognised in any of these places. For that reason I think this is a very great advance.

Another improvement is the restriction on the use of certain titles, emblems and descriptions. That is also very important and it is more important from the point of view of the public than it is from the point of view of the Pharmaceutical Society, as such, because it will prevent people from masquerading, as it were, as being qualified to compound and dispense prescriptions, when they are not so qualified. It has happened in the past that unqualified people have had the title "Pharmacist", and so on and so forth, over their doors or on their letter headings, when they were not so qualified. Under this Bill the public will be protected, as they are entitled to be, and when getting a specialised service they will know what service they are getting.

I should like to put Deputy O'Higgins's mind at ease. If my memory serves me correctly, when he was referring to the constitution of the Council of the Society he said that teachers could not be members of the Council. He was not quite correct there. Any qualified chemist, be he a wholesaler or a manufacturing chemist, can be a member of the Council, with the possible exception of an examiner. Examiners, by regulation, are not members of the Council, and that is as it should be in fairness to the examiner, and in the interests of having an impartial board of examiners at examination time, and so on.

Deputy O'Higgins mentioned one other point on which I must say I am in agreement with him. He said that the State has responsibility and should have responsibility with regard to the training and teaching of students. As happens in all modern training, teaching, lectures and so on, the Society have changed very much down through the years. In earlier years the method of training was master and apprentice, part-time lectures, part-time teaching and so on, but with the more recent scientific or specialised training, the Society had, of course, to modernise their laboratories, take on whole-time teachers, employ extra personnel, extra staff, and so on. In other words, naturally their commitments are very much greater than they were heretofore, with the result that they find themselves possibly having to seek State assistance.

Section 4 is a very important section because it puts beyond doubt what has been the actual practice in recent years. The 1875 Act gave the Society the power or authority to examine—not to teach, strange to say—and in the course of examining, training, teaching, lectures and so on, much had to be taken into consideration. I mention that because the position is made very, very clear, which it was not previously.

The provision with regard to the retainer fee is very desirable and fills a long-felt want. Under the conditions under which the Society worked, the licentiate of the Society and membership of the Society were purely voluntary. People interested in the Society, in the welfare of the teaching of the students, and in the welfare of pharmacy generally, became members of the Society, but it was purely voluntary, with the result that less than half of the qualified pharmaceutical personnel were members of the Society. I fully agree—and this applies, of course, in kindred professions and in practically all the professions—that the retainer fee is very important and very necessary.

This is a very desirable and very necessary piece of legislation. It is very important from the chemists' point of view, and it is more important still from the public point of view because, in the first analysis and in the last analysis, the public are the people who are concerned with legislation such as this.

As Deputy O'Higgins has already said on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, we welcome this Bill. One might say, en passant, that the chemists are entitled to a new Act, as they appear to be operating under the very old Act of 1875 which has been much amended. The Minister referred to a further amendment in 1951. I am not quite clear as to what that amendment was. Actually, as I read this Bill it appears to be an attempt to legalise and codify existing regulations; in other words, to set up the pharmaceutical chemist as a profession.

That seems to be desirable enough in itself but the puzzling thing about this Bill to me is that practically all the sections in it are already operative. It is simply making it clear to the public and the chemists themselves what their obligations are. But in the main, practically all the sections one looks through and the obligations they set out existed already, only perhaps the chemists themselves were not fully aware of it, and I am sure the general public were not aware of it either.

Section 2 puts the ordinary medical practitioner out of the line of practising as a pharmaceutical chemist and keeping a shop open for prescribing medicines or compounding drugs or selling poisons. As the Minister rightly said, the majority of medical practitioners, with the exception of licentiates of the Apothecaries Hall, had no interest, good, bad or indifferent in that profession. They were fully occupied in their own sphere in which they were practising and from which they were making a living. That section takes everyone out except licentiates of the Apothecaries Hall, the dispensing chemists and the pharmaceutical chemists.

Then we go further in the Bill to the part where the L.A.H. is taken out as a practising chemist and is no longer allowed to compound or keep open shop for the sale of medicines, as I read it, subject to the proviso that he is already registered as such or has commenced as a student. But as against that, if any other subsequent L.A.H. comes on the scene and qualifies as such and applies for registration, he is still entitled to carry on. That rather puzzles me. The only reason I can see for it is to ensure that all pharmaceutical chemists will be registered as such and registered members of the Society. I am not at all in disagreement with that. I think it is eminently desirable but it still seems a rather long way to go after 80 or 90 years to cover these points which are, in effect, very small points really.

Then we come to the question of reciprocity. That seems to be an important item in the Bill in that it is a complete innovation. Again, I wonder. There is a Pharmaceutical College in this country and I am aware that there are quite a considerable number of overseas students in that college. I presume they go through the ordinary courses. I know there are Malayans and Ghanaians and Nigerians and other students. When they qualified prior to this, were they entitled then to the degrees they hold and to practise in their own country, or are they only to be allowed to do so now by virtue of this reciprocity which is being introduced ?

It also raises the point that if we are to allow reciprocity, we may have quite an influx of chemists into this country. It is a question which perhaps the Minister might be able to clarify. No doubt, he has had consultation as to whether this profession is overcrowded or not. I am inclined to think it is. I am inclined to the view that in recent years there has been an increased demand for the products of chemists' shops, an increase in the demand for cosmetics and drugs and there is quite a sizeable number of chemists' shops in practically every small town in Ireland now and two or three in the larger-sized villages.

As against that, the Minister could answer that the registration in return would leave the control completely in the hands of the Society and as such, they could regulate it, but they would find it difficult all the same if they set up as an examining or tutorial body giving diplomas and degrees to pharmaceutical chemists and members of the Society. Subsequently if those practised elsewhere and applied to the Society for registration under a reciprocal arrangement so that they could practise elsewhere, the Pharmaceutical Society would find it very difficult to refuse them.

The only reason I raise this point is that in turn the particular country concerned might say: "We are giving reciprocity and we want full reciprocity in return", and we might get a lot of chemists into the country. I see Deputy Brady looking quite anxious at the idea of the number of chemists who may come in to the very lucrative business he conducts in Dublin.

There are other points, too. I have heard rumours that the Pharmaceutical Society and the profession of pharmacy are to be recognised as a Faculty and I have also heard rumours that it is also to become a Faculty in University College, Dublin. I wonder is that true. I wonder if the Minister has any information on that point and if such is the case, if it is to come under the Governing Body of the university as an independent Faculty with its own Dean, which no doubt it is entitled to have, would it not have been better to embody it in this Bill? Of course I may be wrong on that point. It may be that the relevant section leaves it open for the Pharmaceutical Society to do that themselves. It will be under Section 4 and Section 7. It is a matter which the Minister might be kind enough to clarify so that they may know exactly what the position is.

Then one comes back again to the question of doctors compounding medicines. Admittedly, the Bill stands by the word "sale". This applies to the sale of drugs and the compounding of drugs but it is specifically set out in the Minister's statement and in the Bill itself that the only people who may compound prescriptions and drugs will be licentiates of the Apothecaries Hall and pharmaceutical chemists.

Now, there are many establishments in this country in which there are already qualified medical practitioners compounding prescriptions. In all the health clinics, which were formerly known as dispensaries, doctors compound medicines regularly. I am raising the point—I may be entirely wrong in this—only for clarification purposes. It is necessary to ensure that we are not passing a Bill which makes it illegal for medical practitioners in a particular district, in an isolated area, where there may not be a chemist's shop for ten or 15 miles—which could happen in the West of Ireland—to compound medicines for his patients. Perhaps the Minister would look into that? If I am wrong, well and good; I am quite happy on the point.

There is another point I want to raise. If pharmaceutical chemists are to be given professional status, as I believe they are, the point has been put to me by some members of the profession that they would be entitled to employment for the purpose of compounding medicines even under semi-State concerns, such as local authorities, where that is possible. There is no provision in the Bill to suggest that. I do not know if it is a matter that could actually be embodied in the Bill. In these larger dispensaries, or, to give them their correct name, health clinics, in towns, say, of a population of over 2,000, there is a sizeable turnover of drugs and appliances generally. Therefore, it would be economical for the State to employ pharmacists. It would be economical because of the fact that the pharmaceutical chemist would have the knowledge and skill to order the correct drugs, to order them most economically and to use them to the greatest advantage, naturally on the prescription of the medical officer.

In many places in Ireland now, even in the smaller country towns with populations of around 500 or 600, there are pharmaceutical chemists available. If they are to be registered in order to practise and if they are forced to pay a registration fee, as we are enacting in this legislation, and become members of their own Society, they are entitled to the full benefits of their profession in their own country.

Perhaps the Minister would look into that? Perhaps he might be able to embody in the Bill on Committee Stage something which will more or less legalise their position to the extent that they may be happy in the assurance that they will get further employment here. This employment will not only benefit themselves but will benefit the people for whom they will be prescribing. Very occasionally, I have done dispensary work myself. I once did dispensary duty in a dispensary in a town with a population of 5,000 or 6,000. I was on duty for three or four months and, when the stock of drugs ran down, I found I had not the time, the knowledge or the skill to restock that dispensary so that I could not really give the best service possible to the people. The State would considerably benefit by what I suggest, so perhaps the Minister would consider the point ?

I have been asked to raise another point. I think the only section of the controversial Health Acts, which are now being revised, that the chemists opted into was the mother and child scheme. I do not think they are allowed any dispensing fees whatever for that purpose. Again, if they are to be registered as professional, it seems they are entitled to some recognition as such and that they should be entitled to charge a dispensing fee. I see the Minister is smiling, because he is going to get up and tell me they have a dispensing fee. I believe they have a small dispensing fee but it is inadequate to cover them, to normalise their ordinary profits on drug sales. The percentage of profits on drug sales is high, in some cases as high as 50 per cent.

In case Deputies think that chemists are mulcting the public and making a great deal of money as a result of being able to charge these high prices, I think I should say it is necessary for them to do so. There is tremendous wastage in this sale of drugs, particularly for chemists practising in the more isolated areas rather than in Dublin. They very often get a prescription from a doctor interested in a particular product. Perhaps that product is not as successful as the doctor has been led to believe. The chemist may have laid in a considerable stock. I forget what the professional term is, but a lot of that stock is left on his hands and he is unable to dispose of it. Against that, he requires a high percentage of profit.

I may not have got the relations between the mother and child service and the dispensing chemist quite accurately. I think they are entitled to some small dispensing fee, but they do not get anything like the profit to which their services would entitle them. In view of the fact that conditions are being imposed on them, which we on this side of the House are quite satisfied to accept, they are entitled to all the privileges accruing from the fact that there is a certain amount of Ministerial control and that they are registered.

The figures the Minister gave of 1,100 who are members of the Society and 1,500 who are not members should clearly indicate that, in the interests of this profession, compulsory registration is desirable. I wish the Minister luck with the Bill. I think he could have gone a lot further with it, or at least could have given us a clearer explanation of the future of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, so far as teaching and the principles it will follow are concerned.

This Bill appears to be an agreed measure between the various parties concerned and there are just a few comments I should like to make for clarification. I understand that the general tendency in this Bill is to bring the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland forward as the dominant body with the control of this very important aspect of medicine and medical services generally. We have from the middle of the 19th century come to the point where the apothecary and the doctor are, from the point of view of medical dispensing, receding into the background and the pharmaceutical chemist is taking over control. I think that, in the circumstances, is as it should be. At the same time, I wonder what case was made for the taking away of power from the members of the medical profession?

I have no doubt that the Irish Medical Association fought their corner with their usual determination and skill and must have been convinced by the Minister that there was a good case for the taking away of the power, which the doctor had up to now, to sell, if he wished, drugs, medicines, poisons and so on. I understand that only very few were concerned to do this. Because there were only a few, I wonder why it was thought necessary to take away the power they had?

There is some vague criticism of the courses for doctors concerning dispensing and the various other aspects of the preparation of medicines. To some extent, it appears the Minister has tended to try to hang his case on the vagueness and inadequacies of this course. Would it not have been possible, and acceptable to the Medical Association, to have the course properly examined and have its contents, without great expenditure, made to meet the requirements of the Pharmaceutical Society, in order to allow the doctor, if he wished, to carry on with the old conditions he had?

One of the odd things, it seems to me, is that one change has been made: he must register with the Pharmaceutical Society. I do not think the Pharmaceutical Society are completely satisfied about that situation. They should be allowed to carry on with their old position in this trade or profession without any attempt being made by the Society to investigate the quality made available. I wonder why this is so—why the Society have not taken it upon themselves, or asked the Minister to give them power, to see that the course carried on is to their entire satisfaction and that if it is not, they could not accept any responsibility at all for its continued recognition as a source of chemists of the future?

I have no idea what is the ambit of the course at present made available to doctors. I only know from my own experience which I am not so sure is not completely out of date now, but it does seem odd that the doctor should be in any way restricted under the Dangerous Drugs Acts or the Poisons Acts, or restricted if he wishes to open a shop for the sale of these drugs because of any inadequacy in this course.

The course could be brought up to date and the doctor need not be deprived of this old right. I agree with Deputy Esmonde that the doctor should not be curtailed in any way in relation to the dispensing of his medicines if he feels he wishes to do so. There are situations in which he might find himself isolated and in which he must have this power with the cover and protection of the law if he is dispensing any dangerous drugs, and I hope there is no proposal here which will interfere with the present position.

I wonder if the Minister could have taken any powers in this Act, and whether the Society would have been agreeable to it, to consider the possibility of establishing chemists on a licensed basis? What I mean is that it is generally agreed in our society that there is a system of fixed prices maintained by most chemists' shops and because of this, the consumer does not get any benefit really from a multiplicity of chemists' shops in most towns and villages throughout the country. In fact the contrary is true—where there is more than one shop supplying the same goods at the same prices, entailing employment in a multiplicity of chemists' shops, there is a multiplicity of overheads of one kind or another and the person who pays for this is, in the end, the consumer.

Accordingly, I wonder whether the Minister has given any thought to the idea that he might allow the establishment of a licensing system for chemists' shops in the Society generally. In this way, he would cut down the multiplicity of shops which at present exists and which calls for unnecessary expense. He must know as well as I do that, by so doing, he would not interfere in any way with the operation of the alleged dynamic private enterprise in the profession. I suspect there are many of these shops which find it very hard to make a reasonable living in any of the country towns in Ireland and that it might be in the interests of all concerned if the Minister were to consider some proposal of that kind. There are many obvious complications but it might be worth consideration by the Minister and the Pharmaceutical Society.

The compulsory payments by licentiates have been, I suppose, agreed upon by the Society but, as the Minister pointed out, I do not know whether it represents the majority of chemists.

Fewer than 50 per cent.

We are legislating for these people who have opted not to pay any fee up to now and I wonder if it is desirable that we should impose on them the responsibility of paying a fee to the Pharmaceutical Society? I well see the need for making funds available to the Society because of the scope and importance of the work they have to carry out, but I do not know whether it is the wisest thing to impose a compulsory contribution on the licentiates in order to keep the Society going and what seems to me to be least desirable or equally undesirable is that this money—the only source available to the Society—will go for the education of its members.

I agree this is an important body. Certainly its members are very important members of any society such as ours. Chemists have a very complex and valuable function to perform in our health services. In consequence, I think they have a lien on any Minister for Health or any Government for support, for help, for subsidy of some kind or other, in order to see that they will not be impeded in any way in carrying out their very important work in our health services. Accordingly, I would be rather more in favour of the idea of making available funds to the Society in the same way as we do to the medical schools so that they will be able to establish and maintain their courses and bring them up to the maximum pitch of efficiency and that the people in them will get the benefit by having the highest trained and skilled chemists available to them.

I wonder what the Minister or the Society propose to do in the case of a chemist who will not accept this mandatory contribution? What steps can be taken to discipline the person who does not wish to pay a fee? I think other societies—the Medical Association and others—have shown they can operate without this type of compulsory fee and I do not think a good case has been made out for compulsion in these circumstances. It is a problem how properly to penalise the person who does not take any notice of a demand for such fees.

Arising out of that is the very important question of the disciplinary powers to be held by the Pharmaceutical Society. What is the present position in that regard ? I know that under the Act— and it is a wise thing— they are empowered to establish the courses which must be followed by the intending chemist. Examinations, lecturers and professors are all legislated for but can the Minister take any powers ? What is the position ? I understand that there is some Constitutional position involved which arose out of the Law Society case recently.

Is that what is holding back the Minister? Is that what is making it difficult for the Minister to empower the Pharmaceutical Society to have legal sanction for any disciplinary action which they may propose or wish to take in order to maintain the very high standards of ethical behaviour in the profession under their care? I understand—and Deputy Brady may be able to tell us—that this power does not exist at present. If that is so, it amazes me how one manages to have such a high standard of reliability. If these powers are not there, would the Minister consider introducing the legal power which would allow the Pharmaceutical Society to impose disciplinary measures whenever they felt they were needed?

Probably one of the most important clauses in the Bill is that which relates to the establishment of reciprocity with other countries. That is a very good development. I understand that it is one which flows almost directly from the fact that the Pharmaceutical Society have made such notable efforts to establish a standard of teaching and education here for our chemists which allows them to fear no competition in the educational field at any rate from any other country. They are now in a position to open their doors to any other country from the point of view of the standard of education provided and they will be fairly certain of being accepted for the purposes of reciprocity.

That is a very desirable thing because many young people have gone into the profession and found that there was a very limited outlet for them. I understand that the result of that was a fair amount of exploitation since they had no outlets in other countries. It is about time that the development which has taken place in relation to doctors and nurses should take place in relation to chemists. It is a pity that many of our people have to emigrate but if they do emigrate it is an advantage for them to have some worthwhile profession.

It is very desirable that the Pharmaceutical Society should enter, as soon as possible, into the necessary negotiations to try to establish reciprocity with other countries. This would be of value in that young emerging societies will be able to send their people over here to get a worthwhile qualification which will be valid in many other countries. I hope that this Bill will get as rapid a passage as possible through the Dáil and that its main provisions will be put into operation as soon as possible.

(South Tipperary): I must admit that I did not read this Bill until just now. Therefore, I had not the opportunity of giving it much consideration. It seems to me to be in general an attempt to upgrade the pharmacist. As such, it will mean that he will have to have a more extensive and expensive education. It will also mean that he will be entitled to a larger fee afterwards for his services. In these days of increasing costs—particularly the cost of pharmaceutical preparations —this may create some increase in the cost of these services to the general public.

It is desirable that an attempt should be made to establish reciprocal arrangements but Deputy Brady, who knows more about this than I do from the purely practical angle, may find, when this Bill comes into operation, that he will have to pay his assistants more. He will find it more difficult to get assistants because they will emigrate. I understand that a pharmacist has to employ qualified people. While that may be all right in Deputy Brady's case in Dublin where everybody has a lot of money, down the country some of our pharmacists are not so well off. If they are expected to put up a big annual fee for one or two assistants, it will be a big impost on them.

I should like the Minister to consider the question of providing in the Bill for assistant pharmacists. There is nothing very wrong in this suggestion so far as I can see because much of the work done now in an ordinary chemist's shop, as everybody knows, is just ordinary retail work, handing out over the counter proprietary drugs, ladies' toilet preparations and so on in respect of which the ordinary training of a shop assistant is more important than a learned course at a university. In the interests of the public and to keep costs down to the consumer, it might be desirable to consider the question of having some kind of grade. If we are going to upgrade the chemist proper, we should allow him to employ as an assistant a person having an accepted educational status but not the extensive education which is apparently now envisaged for the pharmacist proper.

I should like, of course, to feel that the doctor's rights would not be infringed in any way because in a small community like ours we may not be able at all times and everywhere to provide a dispensing pharmacist. It would be undesirable if anything were to emanate from the Bill that might in any way infringe the existing rights of doctors. I do not mean doctors in the retail business selling things. I refer to the right of a doctor to dispense or prescribe in areas where he cannot get any help.

I am not in agreement with the proposal to charge an annual fee subject to the consent of the Minister. Unless the State is giving some subvention to the pharmaceutical profession I do not see how any charge can be subject to the consent of the Minister. I pay two fees annually to two societies and I am quite happy when I do not know of any ministerial intervention. Pharmacists should be well able to look after their own business without the Minister saying how much they should pay to their own society. I would agree with Deputy Dr. Browne as regards the disciplinary council in order that the Pharmaceutical Society should have their own disciplinary body as we have the General Medical Council.

I should like to deal with the point raised by Deputy Dr. Browne as to the function of the appropriate Minister in approving or disapproving of the amount of fees charged by the Society. The Deputy answered that question and gave the reason himself when he suggested that the fees might be so high as to lead to an increase in the cost of medicines and drugs to the public. I am not going to say that the Pharmaceutical Society would operate in that way but it is desirable, for the protection of the public, that these fees should be subject to the Minister's approval.

The next question was that of establishing a disciplinary body. We all know that problem has been made extremely difficult by the interpretation put upon the constitutional provisions by the Supreme Court in the case of the Incorporated Law Society. It is a matter which has been the subject of deep consideration by myself in relation to the various professional bodies for which I have a sort of statutory obligation. We have not been able to find a satisfactory solution to the problem but, when we do, we will be able to apply it to the practice of pharmacy, to ensure that the high ethical standards will continue to operate in that practice.

Deputy Dr. Browne also suggested that we should consider the desirability of licensing premises which are used for pharmaceutical purposes and thus putting chemists' shops in much the same position as public houses. I do not think it necessary for us to do that. I do not want to regulate and control all the people in the manner which Deputy Dr. Browne occasionally suggests he would like. This is a free society and we have accepted the principle of private enterprise to the extent that it does not conflict with the public interest. I do not think that there is any indication that the public interest is widely affected by the fact that any qualified person is permitted to open shop whenever he likes for the compounding of medical prescriptions and the sale of medicines.

Deputy Sir Anthony Esmonde asked if the Bill would interfere in any way with the exercise by dispensary doctors of their present functions in relation to the dispensing of drugs to their patients. It will not. What this Bill will do is to prescribe the persons who will be entitled to keep open shop for the dispensing and compounding of medical prescriptions.

The dispensary doctor, in his medical practice, compounds and dispenses drugs for the use of his own patients. He does not keep open shop to sell medicines to his patients and thus will not contravene the section in any way. Only authorised persons will be entitled to keep open shop.

That also answers the questions raised as regards the change in the rights of licentiates of the Apothecaries Hall. This is not a question of keeping open shop but of the right of licentiates of the Apothecaries Hall to register as pharmaceutical chemists. The section which it is proposed to amend is Section 22 of the Act of 1875. That provides that every licentiate of that Apothecaries Hall shall, on payment of the proper fees and charges, be entitled to be registered as a pharmaceutical chemist. All that is involved in Section 8 is the right of a licentiate of the Apothecaries Hall who is not also a licentiate of the Pharmaceutical Society to be registered under the Act as a pharmaceutical chemist.

Deputy Sir Anthony Esmonde also asked if foreigners who come to the College of Pharmacy here are allowed to practise in their own countries. He mentioned a country such as Nigeria. I am not in a position to speak about Nigeria but the question arose some time ago in relation to Rhodesia and the answer was that since we would not allow persons who had qualified in Rhodesia to practise in Ireland, it was not possible for them to consider the question as to whether persons qualified in Ireland should be permitted to practise in Rhodesia. We have other instances where that situation has arisen. The purpose of Section 5 is to enable the Pharmaceutical Society to enter into arrangements upon a reciprocal basis to allow those who qualify here to practise in those countries where satisfactory arrangements for reciprocal recognition have been arrived at.

The Deputy also asked if it is intended to set up a Faculty of Pharmacy in one of the university colleges. Arrangements have been made whereby part of the course of studies prescribed by the Pharmaceutical Society will be taken in University College, Dublin. But, it has also been specifically stated to me, at any rate, by the Society that it is not intended to set up a separate Faculty of Pharmacy.

Deputy Sir Anthony Esmonde seems to be of the same opinion as Deputy Hogan in relation to Section 6 of the Bill which enables the Council of the Society to charge fees for registration, in the first instance, and then for the retention of a licentiate on the register. He seems to be under the impression that the Society would operate in an oppressive way, particularly in respect of licentiates who refrained from becoming members of the Society heretofore. I do not think there is any reason to believe that the Society would act in that way but, even if they were inclined so to act, the Minister has the power of approval and he will naturally be concerned to see that the fee charged for retention of a person's name on the register will be fair and equitable to all concerned.

I do not think it is necessary for us to consult the people who are not members of the Society. When the Pharmacy Act of 1875 was passed the Society was set up as a body to regulate the general conduct of the profession and the standard to be obtained by those seeking to be admitted as members of the Society and licensed to act as qualified pharmaceutical chemists. As I pointed out, over the years, the members of the Society have taken upon themselves the rather heavy burden of regulating and controlling the profession for the benefit not alone of themselves but of every member of the profession. It is only just and equitable that every member of the profession who benefits by the activity of the Society should be bound to pay a reasonable fee for the services he continues to receive year after year from the Society. There is nothing novel in that, as I pointed out in my Second Reading speech. Dentists pay annual fees.

Deputy Hogan has told us he pays two annual fees. Under a Bill passed by this House in 1956, opticians pay annual fees. Registered patent agents pay annual fees. There is nothing oppressive in this. Because of the interest which the Pharmaceutical Society has taken, members of the profession are now being put in a less ambiguous position than obtained heretofore in relation to their right to practise. There is nothing oppressive in asking those who benefit from all that to pay a reasonable fee. I do not think the fee will be such a burden that it will be necessary for anyone to seek to compensate himself by charging higher prices.

Deputy Dr. Browne asked what sanction will the Society have if a licentiate refuses to pay the fee. The Society can, of course, sue him. I would say that if a licentiate were to persist in practising as a pharmaceutical chemist, without having duly paid the fee, the Society might in future have power to move to have that person's name removed from the register. I grant that might be a rather extreme penalty. I hope no licentiate, following on Deputy Dr. Browne's speech here to-day, will feel that he can continue with impunity to refuse to honour the obligations imposed on him by the Society acting under Section 6.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 7th March, 1962.