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.