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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 29 Mar 1962

Vol. 194 No. 6

Pharmacy Bill, 1961—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
To delete subsections (3) and (4) and substitute a new subsection as follows:
"(3) The Council may charge a fee in respect of registration and the amount of such fee shall be determined from time to time by the Council with the consent of the Minister."

When speaking last night on this amendment, I was making the point that the Pharmaceutical Society combines several functions. It is a qualifying body; it is an examining body; it is an educational body; and it has also many of the functions of a trade union in so far as it takes upon itself the burden of ensuring that the law restricting the dispensing and compounding of medical prescriptions and the selling of poisons is enforced. That is to the advantage and benefit of every member of the pharmaceutical profession. My view is that every member of that profession should be required to contribute to the funds of the Society in exactly the same way as a member of a trade union contributes to the funds of his union for the protection which it affords him in the exercise of his means of livelihood.

Deputy Hogan pointed out that the medical profession pay one fee on registration, but then he went on to say that, in addition, most members of the profession are members of what is, in fact, a trade union, though it disdains to call itself that, being a body which exists for the protection of the economic and temporal interests of the members of the profession. He did not see any objection to that because that particular association, of which he is a member, does afford to its members, or used to afford to them, a certain amount of protection. I do not see why he should expect that a fraction only of the Pharmaceutical Society should take upon themselves the financial burden of protecting the interests of the profession as a whole. I do not see any reason why any person who wishes to remain on the register of the Society should not be expected to pay a fee for that privilege.

Apart from the protection which the Society affords to pharmacists in general, the Society also undertakes the burden and expense of keeping the registers properly. There is a very heavy penalty, which is increased in this Bill, for failure to keep the registers properly or offences in connection with false representations in respect of the getting on to a register. There is imposed a legal obligation on the Society to ensure that they are properly kept.

The fact that a pharmacist's name is on the register gives him a special place which is afforded to all persons who are on the various registers referred to in Section 2 of the Bill. It confers upon that person, if he wishes to set up on his own account, the right to keep open shop for the sale and dispensing of medical prescriptions and, if he is a registered druggist, the right to sell poisons. People need not seek to retain that right for themselves; they can have their names removed from the register if they wish and in those circumstances they do not have to pay any fee. However, if it should happen that they might wish to have their names restored to the register then they would have to pay a restoration fee. There is no injustice being done if we ask a person who wishes to be put in a privileged position, for which purpose he must be on the register, to pay what is a very moderate fee for that privilege.

For that reason, I do not see that there is any ground for accepting the amendment. As Deputy Hogan said in proposing the amendment, this is a free society. Nobody is coerced to become a member of the Society or to have his name on the Society's register. It is a question that a person can decide for himself whether it is worth his while to keep his name on the register and for that purpose to pay the necessary fee. I do not think there is anything more that need be said in that connection.

When introducing his amendment, Deputy Hogan developed the point of view with regard to his own and the pharmaceutical profession that when a person was entering either of them, he had to have his name on the register and to pay a registration fee. That registration fee gives him the right to practise. The principle is that if a qualified pharmacist enters his profession, he pays a registration fee on entering. It is desirable and necessary that every pharmacist must do that but the Minister is taking the matter a point further. His legislation makes it mandatory on a qualified pharmacist to pay an annual fee and he advances as the reason for doing that that he is protected by the Society and that the Society has to have funds for the purpose of education and carrying out the examinations of the pharmaceutical profession as a whole.

The Minister has tried to draw a parallel between the two professions and he has tried to indicate to the House that there is an excessive onus being placed on the Pharmaceutical Society. Actually, the same onus is being placed on the Pharmaceutical Society as is placed on the Medical Registration Council. They are an examining body and they function and finance themselves as such by the fees they collect from the students and also by the fees they collect from the qualified practitioner on registration. But they only ask him to pay the one fee. They ask him to pay a fee to register as a newly qualified practitioner and ever after that they give him the protection of the profession. He has to conform to the rules, standards and moral code of the profession and provided he does that no unlicensed person is allowed to set up in opposition against him.

What the Minister is doing in this connection is perfectly right. He is bringing in a Bill to create a pharmaceutical profession. The Minister says that it is not compulsory on a pharmacist to register unless he want to, but if he does not register he cannot keep open shop and cannot practise his profession. Therfore there is compulsion. As Deputy Hogan said, this is a free society and compulsion should not be placed on any member of a free society. Deputy Hogan instanced the medical profession. They have existed for a long time without compulsion.

The amendment simply says:

"The Council may charge a fee in respect of registration and the amount of such fee shall be determined from time to time by the Council with the consent of the Minister."

Deputy Hogan agrees in principle with the Minister's Bill but he maintains that it should not be compulsory on the registered pharmacist to continue to pay that fee throughout his existence. In his introductory speech the Minister stressed the point that this fee was necessary for the purpose of maintaining the Pharmaceutical Society in funds so that they could carry out the necessary curricula in regard to education. I do not think that is a good argument. They are entitled to charge whatever fees they want to charge in reason. The Minister should consider taking another look at this matter before the Report Stage and see if he could change it. It would not be a revolutionary change.

(South Tipperary): Much play has been made by the Minister with the important functions of pharmacy from the point of view of education, qualifying examinations, and so on. At the moment there are 1,100 registered pharmacists or druggists who pay their four guineas per year for membership of the Pharmaceutical Society. At the same time, there are 1,500 who have decided, for one reason or another, that the service they receive from that Society is not sufficient to warrant their paying four guineas per year. Some of these people who pay this fee and some of those who do not probably qualified as pharmacists before this State was founded and now we are to say to these 1,500 pharmacists: “You must join this Society and pay four guineas, five guineas, 10 guineas or whatever the council of the Pharmaceutical Society may decide subject to the consent of the Minister.”

We are given to understand that the people who make this contribution to the Pharmaceutical Society are very good people who are doing it philanthropically and entirely in the interests of pharmacy and that the other 1,500 are really bad boys. I have the feeling that this question is not so simple, that one side is not all black and the other side all white. It is regrettable that these 1,500 are not members of the Pharmaceutical Society. It is desirable that they should be but it is very important that they should be given free choice in the matter and that the 1,100 should put their house so much in order that they will attract these men to join voluntarily rather than that it should be necessary for the Minister to exert statutory pressure on them to do so.

The people who are members of the Pharmaceutical Society at the moment are not members entirely for philanthropic reasons. After all, if you keep open shop, it is nice to have the letters "M.P.S.I." over your front door. It is good for business. It is also an advantage from the point of view of affording you an opportunity of eventually becoming a member of the council of the Pharmaceutical Society. These are not entirely philanthropic or selfless approaches. It must be remembered that the other 1,500 may be hospital pharmacists, county council dispensary chemists or perhaps on the road as travellers for various manufacturing companies, to whom keeping open shop or being able to write "M.P.S.I." after their names is of no interest. I think you will find that many of the 1,500 are in those categories I have mentioned.

It has been stated that the educational, examinational and qualifying functions of the Pharmaceutical Society have now become so oppressive that it is necessary to introduce a Bill here to compel the recalcitrant 1,500 to contribute. However, let us see what has actually happened since last October. The new course in pharmacy has begun and that course consists of three years in a university to obtain a B.Sc. in pharmacy. Having qualified, you do one year in a retail shop in Dublin, down the country or anywhere else. Therefore, that has not cost the Pharmaceutical Society much money. In fact, if it has cost anybody any money, it has cost the general rate-payers money by way of contribution to University College, Dublin. Then these graduates—it must be borne in mind that they are graduates now— have to sit for a simple, nominal examination set up by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society in order to get their title of Member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

When the Minister speaks about the great educational expenses that are placed upon the council, I submit that from now on that burden, to a great extent, is being taken off them in so far as we, as is happening in other places like London, Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff, are integrating pharmaceutical education with university education. Therefore, if there was ever a case to be made for compelling non-members to become members by statutory power, it existed in the past more than in the present.

On the question of registration, one would get the impression here that it was something phenomenal. Registering a person who qualifies in pharmacy is very much more elaborate than the simple registration that is carried out when somebody exchanges a block of shares on the stock exchange for which he may pay 5/-

He might have to pay brokerage and stamp duty.

(South Tipperary): It is not a permanent charge. If you buy shares, you do not keep on paying for them for the rest of your life.

It might be almost a monthly fee.

(South Tipperary): The Minister is going down another road entirely. If, for example, the General Medical Council registers a member—in my time, it was three guineas; I suppose it is more now— you just pay that one fee and you never bother any more. If you are ever unfortunate enough to have your name removed, they do not charge for it and if your name is put back, they do not charge you. The Minister says this is quite simple, that a man need not ask to have his name on the Pharmaceutical Register, but then he goes on to say that it is necessary for him to have it in order to practise. In other words, he must pay his annual fee, if he wants to keep open shop. Would it not be straighter and more simple to understand if the Minister said: “We shall charge these people who keep open shop up and down the country for a licence and throw the proceeds into the Exchequer just as we charge the publicans”? He does not say that but in effect that is what it amounts to.

As I have said, the educational functions of the Pharmaceutical Society are being radically curtailed in so far as the universities are taking over that work. The fundamental purpose of a doctor, as of all the auxiliary professions, is ultimately the investigation and treatment of disease. Functionally they are all auxiliaries of the medical profession. I asked the Minister last night if he would not consider the position that obtains in Britain. There, there is a doctor on the council. I repeat my plea now. The presence of a doctor on the council would add prestige and status to the council. The doctor need not necessarily be a practising doctor. He could be a lecturer or a professor; he could be a physiologist associated with hospitals, his services in that way being integrated with human physiology. The Minister's reply was to ask me would I like a pharmacist on the General Medical Council. There is no analogy really because the medical profession is the only profession that makes contact with patients. It is the apex of all the auxiliary professions.

Sir, this does not arise on this amendment.

The Ceann Comhairle is a better judge of that than the Minister is.

Yes, indeed.

I do not see how it can arise. The amendment says: "The Council may charge a fee in respect of registration...."

There is nothing in the amendment dealing with the composition of the council.

The amendment is to delete subsections (3) and (4) and substitute another form of words: "The Council may charge a fee in respect of registration and the amount of such fee shall be determined from time to time by the Council with the consent of the Minister." The composition of the council does not, of course, arise; the fee does.

(South Tipperary): I asked the Minister a question last night and the Minister's reply to me was to ask me if I would like a pharmacist on the General Medical Council. I maintain that a Pharmacist is in the same position as a biochemist or a physicist. These are professions in their own right; they are auxiliary to the fundamental functioning of doctoring, which is the investigation and treatment of disease. In that functional aspect, they are subsidiary. To put a physicist, a biochemist, a radiographer, or a pharmacist on the General Medical Council would be getting the tail to wag the dog. That is my reply to the Minister's question.

I submit that this proposal to charge an annual fee to pharmacists, past and present, is completely unjust unless pharmacists are voluntarily prepared to pay an annual fee. Eleven hundred do so at the moment. If these 1,100 were circulated and asked if they wanted pressure put by law on the remaining 1,500 to make an annual contribution, I think most of them would say they would not like to do that. They would see the unfairness of it. They would like the remaining 1,500 to come in, but they would not like to force them.

They feel exactly as I do in the matter of associations. If, tomorrow morning, I went to the Minister and told him that the Irish Medical Association has done a great deal of good work educationally and materially for the medical profession and there were some doctors who had not become members of the Association, I do not think the Minister would introduce a Bill here to compel these recalcitrants to join. To carry the analogy a little further, if the bricklayers' association, if there is such an association, told the Minister there were 500 members in their association and 600 who refused to join——

The Deputy is carrying the analogy very far.

(South Tipperary): The Minister mentioned trade unions.

I am not troubled about that at all. The amendment says "The Council may charge a fee in respect of registration...."

(South Tipperary): Registration or membership.

It is the same thing.

It is a fee for membership, the same as a trade union may charge.

Registration is not equivalent to membership.

Surely the Minister recognises that under his Bill only an authorised person may keep open shop, and that authorised person is the person who is on the register. A person can get on the register only by paying a fee.

I am not anxious to limit Deputy Hogan, but I do not want him to carry the analogy too far.

One can get on the register and stay on the register only by paying a fee. If the fee is not paid annually one does not stay on the register. Deputy Hogan's point is far more relevant than the Minister's was.

(South Tipperary): At the moment he pays a fee to be registered in one of the three or four registers. That is an end of it. Under this Bill, he must pay a fee annually to stay on the register. At the moment he can voluntarily become a member of the association and he can withdraw from membership any time he likes. All he pays is the initial registration fee. Under this Bill, he will have to pay a fee annually. That is coercion. If he does not pay, he cannot practise. Fifteen hundred members have not chosen to pay under the existing system. Are they now to be compelled —men of 60 and 65 years—for the first time in their lives to pay an annual fee to an association they do not want and from which they did not believe they were getting sufficient value to make it worth their while to join ?

The Minister is a recruiting sergeant, in effect, for the Pharmacy Council and the Pharmacy Association. I submit he is interfering with the fundamental right of free association. That is a constitutional right. I should like to see these 1,500 people in the society, but the choice should be a voluntary one. I have worked with them all my life. No doctor can say anything but the best in regard of them. Relationships are excellent. But there is a principle involved here, the right of free association. That is my approach in relation to any association or trade union. The right of free association is precious. It is something we should be determined to defend and fight for.

Obviously, Deputy Hogan is suffering from some confusion of mind. We have heard membership of the society, registration, and retention, all used as if they mean the same thing. They differ so much that in fact there are specific subsections in this section dealing with membership of the Society, entrance with registration and with retention. Deputy Hogan did not seem to know that the distinction was drawn. He was swaying off in one direction after membership, off in another direction after registration and then going backwards on retention. But the thing is clear and simple. No qualified pharmacist is compelled to be a member of the Pharmaceutical Society. He has the entire option as to whether he will join or will not join. I hope that is clear to Deputy Hogan. It does not seem to have penetrated his mind.

(South Tipperary): Can he practise then?

He is free to become a member of the Society.

(South Tipperary): Can he keep open shop?

A person is not bound to be a member to secure registration; he is only bound to have passed the qualifying examination and to have followed the prescribed course of studies.

(South Tipperary): I know that.

The Deputy says he knows that, but his speech did not indicate he knew it at all. His speech rather manifested his complete ignorance of the matter.

(South Tipperary): That is the Minister's interpretation.

It rather manifested he had not given any real thought to this. There is no compulsion, let me repeat, on any qualified person to become a member of the Society. If he does wish to become a member of the Society, then subsection (2) prescribes that the council may charge entrance fees in respect of elections to membership of the Society under Section 6 of the Principal Act and may charge annual fees in respect of membership of the Society. Those fees have nothing whatever to do with the fee charged on registration and with the fee charged for retention on the register. There is no compulsion on any person to become a member of the Society. There is nothing in this Bill compelling a person to become a member of the Society.

(South Tipperary): May I ask this? Does he lose anything by not becoming a member?

He loses this: he cannot participate in the operation of the Society; he has no voice in determining the policy of the Society; he cannot secure election to the council.

(South Tipperary): Can he keep open shop?

The same as at present.

I was at great pains to point out that he can keep open shop because, as a member of the Society, he would probably pay the registration and retention fees. Subsection (1) deals with the question of fees for registration, restoration to the register, the issuing of a certificate and for the courses of instruction provided by the council and for examinations. They have nothing whatever to do with the question of retention on the register.

Subsection (3) is the section which empowers the council to charge annual fees in respect of retention on registers maintained by the Society to all persons who are not members of the Society. Nobody is compelled to be a member of the Society.

The Deputy has been talking under a complete misapprehension as to what the position is. Obviously, he is suffering from some confusion of mind. He has muddled everything up, and I am trying to restore some sort of order to the confusion. There is nothing unprecedented in what is proposed here. Dentists have to pay a very substantial fee, a fee of four guineas a year, to remain on the register.

(South Tipperary): Why do doctors not have to pay?

Because apparently they were in a very strong position when the original Act was being passed. We are bringing legislation up to date. The modern practice is that people should pay fees, if they want to retain their names on registers.

I am glad to see that at last the Minister is laying down the principle of compulsory membership of trade unions.

I have not. It is open shop for the sale——

Closed shop to have open shop?

Opticians, both ophthalmic and dispensing, have to pay a retention fee. It amounts to seven guineas for ophthalmic opticians for the first four years and five guineas for dispensing opticians. After five years, the fee goes up to ten guineas for ophthalmic opticians and seven guineas for dispensing opticians. That Act was passed quite recently in 1956, and I think it has set a very good precedent. Since the Solicitors Act, 1954, solicitors must pay to the Incorporated Law Society for a certificate of practice, which is equivalent to retention on the register, a fee of £6 per year. A Dublin solicitor must pay a fee of £9 a year. That was done under the 1954 Act following the principle laid down in the Dental Act of 1926.

A patent agent must pay an annual fee in order to retain his name on the register. There is nothing exceptional in this, no attempt to victimise any person by giving the council the right to charge fees for the retention of names on the register. There is only a very slight analogy between what is being done by the Medical Registration Council and the Pharmaceutical Council. The Medical Registration Council is not an examining body. It does not conduct courses of study as does the Pharmaceutical Society. It provides no educational facilities whatsoever and therefore the analogy between the fee a medical man pays and that which it is now proposed to empower the Pharmaceutical Council to charge for keeping a register which inures to the benefit of the person whose name is on the register, is very slight.

Another thing the Deputy says suggests that he is under complete misapprehension. It is only during the first year of study that a person who is to become a pharmacist does his course solely in University College, Dublin. In the second and third years, his courses will be divided between the two—he will follow some subjects in the Pharmaceutical College and the others in University College, Dublin. In recognition of the fact that the Society is providing these courses of study, they get part of the fees and the other part is paid to University College, Dublin, by the students, but those fees paid to the Society do not cover the cost to the Society of providing the special facilities.

Accordingly, the Deputy seems to be completely misinformed about the real position that will arise. In all these circumstances, it would be unjust to expect the Pharmaceutical Council to keep these registers and to ensure that they are a good record without, at the same time, being able to charge a small fee to pharmacists for the privilege of being on the register and conferring upon the person concerned the right to keep open shop. He is not compelled to keep open shop. He can find employment elsewhere, if that be his bent —he can find employment in teaching, in industrial pharmacy—and if he finds a position within any of these other categories he is not bound to pay any fee, but, being in these branches of the profession, if he wishes to have his name retained on the register, he must pay a fee and that is only just.

(South Tipperary): Practising pharmacists must, I take it, now pay an annual fee to keep open shop?

(South Tipperary): Heretofore, it was not obligatory on them to pay an annual fee?

No, it was not.

(South Tipperary): Is that not a change?

But wait. Under Section 2 of this Bill, the position is made very much more secure than ever before. It clarifies a great many doubtful points. The representatives of a pharmacist who dies, happens to go bankrupt or becomes of unsound mind, may keep open shop, provided the premises are managed by properly qualified persons. Accordingly, the section confers upon pharmacists a greater security and a greater protection.

(South Tipperary): Could that not be done without doing this ?

When services are rendered, people should pay for them.

The confusion which the Deputy opposite is suggesting exists stems from a confusion of qualification. I do not want to repeat what the Minister has said but there is, first of all, this question of qualification—passing the examinations. The second thing is registration and the third thing is membership of the Society. All of these matters must be considered as distinct. In respect to qualification, the first necessary thing is to do the courses and pass the examinations and I presume anybody who successfully passes the examinations will receive from the examining body—the fact that in this case it is the Pharmaceutical Society does not matter—a document certifying he has done so.

As far as that person is concerned, there are three possibilities open to him. First of all, he may not wish to pursue the profession at all—he may merely regard it as an academic qualification. In that case that person need not do anything more. Secondly, there is the case of the person who may wish to practise. He must be registered. Lastly, there is the voluntary question as to whether he will become a member of the Society or not. Though I want to preserve what the Minister has said with regard to the analogy with the doctors, and while I agree absolutely with the Minister, I think there is a certain analogy we can make.

A doctor qualifies in either one of the special colleges like the College of Surgeons, or in the university, and he receives a medical degree. Take the university case. It is merely an academic degree and carries no right to practise. A graduate may, for instance, become a research worker and may not be concerned with practice. He may take the M.B., B.Ch. and B.A.O. but may wish to specialise as an anatomist or a physiologist and may not be concerned with registration.

Exactly the same may apply to pharmacists. It may be the case of an organic chemist who may, because he wishes to do special research, have no further interest in practice in the sense of keeping open shop. That person is not touched by this legislation, so any arguments suggesting there is any compulsion in that category are out. Then comes the question of registration and that is what is involved in this section. In order to capture the benefits of this Bill in respect to keeping open shop, pharmacists must register. As a practising pharmacist a person will probably find it an advantage to be so registered. It is only necessary for him to register if he is keeping open shop. In other words, a person might be practising pharmacy in an industrial firm but need not register and accordingly the Bill will not touch him. The whole crux is whether an annual fee is to be charged for remaining on the register or not. That is all that is involved here.

Keeping his union card clear, so to speak.

Yes. That is an arguable thing. There are the fees charged in the cases of doctors and barristers. A doctor, on being registered, or a barrister, on being called to the Bar, is thereafter entitled to practise. In the case of a barrister, for instance, although he remains competent to practise at any time, actually, membership of the Law Society is generally restricted to those who are in fact practising, but that is beside the point.

On the other hand, there are the cases quoted by the Minister and the case of solicitors. It seems to me that, on balance, having admitted that and having tried to see the Deputy's point of view, by these admissions, there is a strong case to be made for a reasonable annual fee, for retention on the register in this case. Remember, each individual has his own individual certificate, I take it, to prove that he is competent. Therefore, it does not deprive him of his competency in regard to anything that is not concerned with the direct practice of pharmacy through the keeping of an open shop.

It seems to me to be very reasonable to make that provision for an annual registration fee, provided it is reasonable. This Society is keeping the register; membership continues to be voluntary, and that is vital, just the same as membership of the Bar Library continues to be voluntary. Such bodies give the members of the profession a service they could not otherwise have. I am not a pharmacist, nor have I even as close association with the profession as the Deputy has, but it seems to me that in providing for the courses, in protecting the rights, in being the spokesman for the professional body of pharmacists, in the work it does generally for the profession, that body is providing a great service for the profession of pharmacists.

It is only reasonable, then, to provide that those who are making a living and a profit out of that profession, particularly through the keeping of open shop, should be asked to contribute in a small way, for example, to the cost of maintaining a register for their benefit and protection. After all, the register fulfils two functions. It is for the benefit of the practitioner who is registered in the first case. It is also for his protection in that, by the adequate keeping of that register, the administration connected with it, and a society to back it, he has a guarantee that there will be no improper or unfair competition against him in the carrying out of his profession. For these reasons, although I have admitted the case to the contrary, I think it is probably desirable in this case to allow the Minister's section, particularly subsection (3) to stand.

With regard to the Deputy's amendment, I would point out that the actual substitution he suggests does not change——

(South Tipperary): One fee.

To delete the annual registration fee: that is the essential part of the Deputy's amendment. I feel that, on balance, the Deputy would be wiser now, having had the discussion, to withdraw the amendment. It was a fair point, perhaps a good point, to raise. However, on balance, I think it would be better to have the original draft as it stands and I suggest the Deputy might reconsider it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 13:

In subsection (3) to delete all words after "of" in line 30 and substitute the following:—

"such persons who are not members of the Society and who keep or intend to keep open shop for the dispensing or compounding of medical prescriptions."

This amendment refers to the same problem as was dealt with in the last amendment but approaches it in a slightly different light. The object of this amendment is to restrict the charging of an annual retention fee to such non-members of the Pharmaceutical Society who, in fact, are keeping or intend to keep open shop. I have not the precise figures here because I have mislaid a document in which I had them.

About 1,300 persons keep open shop.

The Minister may correct me if my recollection is wrong. It is that there are roughly 2,900 people on the various registers now maintained by the Pharmaceutical Society. There are, in fact, roughly 1,500 pharmacies in the country of one kind or another and there are roughly 1,100 members of the Pharmaceutical Society. That means, if these figures are remotely accurate, that of those at the moment in one way or another on the register maintained, roughly 50 per cent. keep open shop.

There are any number of pharmacists of one kind or another who engage in activities related to pharmacy which have nothing whatsoever to do with the keeping of a chemist's shop. There are hospital pharmacists, there are trade representatives of one kind or another whose duty and concern it is to interest medical practitioners in particular lines of drugs and proprietary medicines of one kind or another. All these different groups not concerned with the keeping of open shop represent roughly half those who call themselves pharmacists today. It does appear to me unreasonable that power should be taken in this Bill to make a mandatory charge on all these people —every one of them including those who never have kept and never intend to keep open shop—in order to have their names retained on the register. That is going too far.

The object of this amendment is to confine the retention fee for registration to those who keep open shop or who, in fact, desire to keep open shop. By all means let them, if that is the view, pay an annual retention fee but differentiate in relation to other pharmacists who are not concerned at all with engaging in the trade of selling, of keeping a shop, of filling prescriptions, of selling poisons and things of that kind. It would appear to me reasonable that some difference should be made.

I suggest here that the annual retention fee should not be charged to those who do not keep open shop. If it is felt that that is unreasonable, at least quite a different fee should be charged to those who do not keep an open shop. Undoubtedly a difference should be made. It appears entirely unreasonable that the power set out in the Bill should be sought to inflict on people a payment which they have never had to make up to this.

Most of the chemists who do not keep open shop are not concerned with the activities of the Pharmaceutical Society. They do not intend to be members: they are not members. They are not concerned with keeping shop. They never have been. They are operating in an entirely different way and they should not be interfered with in the way sought in the Bill.

Why do they want to be on the register?

If they were not on the register, they would not be entitled to call themselves pharmacists.

I cannot see the point of Deputy O'Higgins's amendment. He said that people who did not keep open shop were not concerned with the working of the Pharmaceutical Society. Surely they are very much concerned? Surely they are concerned to the same extent and in the same way as the people who do keep open shop? I cannot see the point of the differentiation. After all, this amendment is very much on the same lines as the previous amendment, except that it is more restrictive. The Pharmaceutical Society have to keep registers, irrespective of what branch of pharmacy the licentiate is in.

As Deputy O'Higgins has said, less than 50 per cent., roughly, keep open shop. It is a well-known fact that a number of people who keep open shop are not in as lucrative a position, if you like to put it that way, as people in other branches of pharmacy, manufacturers, wholesalers, public appointments, and so on. Therefore, there should not be any difference from the point of view of the retention of the fee. I know of cases where people left retail pharmacy and went to call on doctors, as Deputy O'Higgins said, for perhaps more money or a better living. The Society has the same responsibility for those people as it has for people who keep open shop. Therefore, why not let them be on an equal footing in the interests of equity?

Deputy Brady has proved the argument that those who keep open shop are being supported by those who do not keep open shop and that they are protected by the Society.

I said all licentiates are protected.

The argument in the amendment is that those who keep open shop should pay an annual fee and those who do not keep open shop should not pay an annual fee. Deputy Brady's argument is that those who do not keep open shop are pharmacists and have paid their registration fees. To find an analogy, one must refer to the medical profession, which is a twin profession. What happens in the medical profession is that they pay a registration fee on qualifying and by that fee they are protected by the society. If Deputy O'Higgins's amendment is accepted, the pharmacists will pay a registration fee when they are duly qualified pharmacists, and as such, will get protection in the same way as the medical profession. If they continue to pay that fee, they are, in effect, helping to support those who are keeping open shop. Those who are keeping open shop are earning considerable revenue. I do not see why they should be coerced into paying this fee annually. If I were a pharmacist and not keeping open shop and I had to pay an annual fee, I would feel I was supporting those who were. I would say that I had paid my fee on qualifying and that I was entitled to protection. I think that is a perfectly reasonable argument which brings it back to the question of a free society.

Deputy Esmonde seems to think that the person who is employed by a drug manufacturer or a medical wholesaler is in some way better off than anyone who keeps open shop because his whole argument was that the person who was keeping open shop was enjoying all the benefits of the practice of pharmacy, and that the person who was engaged in the manufacture of drugs and medicines or the person engaged in the wholesale sale of drugs and medicines, was not benefiting at all. If the Deputy would address himself to the question of what would be the position of the manufacturer and the wholesaler if no one kept open shop, he would realise that of course they all derive their livelihood from the fact that the man who keeps open shop provides an outlet for all the things they make and have to sell.

That argument would make a person who gets sick pay a registration fee.

I do not think so, but I shall not chase that hare.

The Deputy is making an argument for the Chinese system.

I submit that Deputy O'Higgins has produced an excellent argument for the enforcement of the retention fees upon all those who wish to have their names on the register. The figure of 50 per cent, is not quite accurate, but let us say that about 50 per cent. of the members of the profession are in practice as pharmacists and the other 50 per cent. do not bother to practice here at all. The latest figures that we have, however, show that there are 2,643 on the register, and of those, 1,118 are members of the Society and pay a fee in order to maintain the register. Of those 2,643, 1,525 are not members of the Society and do not pay anything, but we cannot assume from that that there are 1,525 persons in this country who are qualified as pharmacists and are not members of the Society.

The position is rather different. Of these 1,525 persons, about 600 to 700 are engaged here in the actual practice of pharmacy. They are employed in hospital and dispensary pharmacies, in the business of manufacturing and wholesale pharmacy and in the teaching of pharmacy. There are qualified pharmacists who are not practising, for example, married women who are not practising and people who may have retired into some other business. In addition, there are some more than 800 persons whose names are on the register but who have emigrated or are in practice in Northern Ireland, or have left pharmacy altogether.

The fact of the matter is that this register as it exists at the present time is not a clean register. It is stuffed with the names of persons more than 25 per cent. of whom have left the country and a great number of whom have ceased to practice, are no longer engaged in the business of pharmacy because, for example, they are married. Even from the point of view of having that register cleaned up it is very desirable that some retention fee should be charged. That is the reason why it is proposed to charge retention fees, so that people would make up their minds as to whether they want to continue to hold themselves out as engaged in the practice of pharmacy. I think the Deputy should not press the amendment and that he should give the Society power to charge retention fees and that different fees for retention would be charged to different persons.

A person who keeps open shop or who is employed in an open shop or who manages an open shop and who would therefore be engaged in the direct sale of medicines to the public probably might be charged a somewhat higher fee than those not so engaged in that practice but I think it is essential that the Society be given power to charge a retention fee if only for the purpose of keeping the register clean and removing from it what, in fact, are fictitious names.

May I recapitulate a few points for the record? I do not see the case made for a clean or clear register, whichever the Minister said.

A clean register.

Apparently, the Minister attaches some importance to that. I should have thought that the pharmacist who got married and who was no longer going to practise pharmacy in any shape or form might reasonably be understood to wish still to call herself a pharmacist.

There is nothing to prevent that.

She cannot do that. She cannot, under Section 3, describe herself in any way as being a pharmacist unless she is on the register and she can only be on the register by the payment of a retention fee. I do not think any great harm would be done even if the register were cluttered up with the names of a whole lot of pharmacists, who, in fact, were not keeping open shop. I do not see any difficulty about that. A fee is paid for registration. Nobody suggests that the initial fee should not be paid but I do not see why there should be so much concern that every year the register should be examined and kept clear by charging a further fee for retention.

I note from what the Minister has said that there is some slight ray of hope. The Minister used the phrase "some retention fee". If he used it with the emphasis on the "some" perhaps the retention fee may be a formality. If it is a nominal fee to ensure that there is a live register, much of my objection would be removed.

It must be sufficient to ensure that the register is a live one.

Assuming that it is intended for that purpose and not as revenue for the purposes of the State, much of my objection would disappear. Perhaps the Minister might consider that aspect of the case between now and Report Stage. The Minister said he saw some merit in the suggestion that the retention fee to be charged to persons keeping open shop should be a higher fee. If there is to be a retention fee it does appear reasonable that there should be a differentiation between the person who is keeping open shop and the person who never intends to keep open shop.

Part of the machinery of this Bill and the system of inspectors that will be needed under it are designed to ensure that only qualified persons are allowed to keep open shop and that the public are not deluded into dealing with an unqualified person. All that expensive machinery is designed under the Acts to deal with people keeping open shop. The ordinary pharmacist who has nothing to do with keeping open shop will not begrudge the benefits thus conferred on the person keeping open shop but he does not get any benefit from it himself. If there is to be a differentiation made there is a strong case to have a higher retention fee for the person who keeps open shop than for the person who does not.

If the Minister would keep these two points in mind, I would withdraw the amendment at this stage, reserving the right to raise it again on Report Stage. It does appear to me that some amendment would be required to the section as it stands or possibly not.

I shall look into that to see if an amendment is required.

I do not think the Deputy is completely right in his interpretation of Section 3. Since the Deputy is now meeting the Minister and the Minister is meeting the Deputy I do not want to prolong the point. I merely want to say that, particularly in view of the amendment which the Minister made today. I would elaborate but I do not think it is necessary now.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 6 agreed to.
Section 7 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 5 line 49, to delete "Act" and to insert "section".

This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 8.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Section 9 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 6, line 15, to delete "Act" and to insert "section".

This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 8.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 10, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I just want to ask about the present position in regard to the Apothecaries Hall. I understand from the Explanatory Memorandum that this section is an agreed provision. I take it we may adopt it on that basis?

Yes, it is agreed.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 6, lines 22 and 23, to delete subsection (3) and to insert the following subsection:

"(3) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as, by order or orders made by the Minister under this section, may be fixed therefor either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions."

This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 8.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 11, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 6, in the third column, to delete "and 30" and to insert ",30 and 32."

This is a corollary to amendments Nos. 2 and 5. Its purpose is to provide for the repeal of Section 2 of the 1875 Act which is the existing provision dealing with the carrying on of a business in the case of the death of a pharmaceutical chemist. You will find amendments Nos. 2 and 5 relate to the legal representative of a deceased person or to the trustee of a person who is adjudged a bankrupt, who becomes an arranging debtor or becomes of unsound mind.

Amendment agreed to.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 4th April, 1962.