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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 13 Jun 1962

Vol. 55 No. 7

Pharmacy Bill, 1961—Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.

There are three amendments. Perhaps, it would be better if Senator Dooge took them together. I suggest we take amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In subsection (1) (a), page 2, line 28, to delete "managed" and substitute "supervised".

I do not think there is any real conflict of views on amendments Nos. 1 to 3. This is a matter of wording and a matter of choice between the word "manage" and the word "supervise". I think there is general agreement in the House and with the Minister that the public should be protected in so far as compounding and dispensing should be carried out either by an authorised person or by somebody else who is well controlled and well supervised by him. This is an important aspect of the matter which is the subject of the Bill if we remember that there are something like 1,700 pharmaceutical assistants in the country.

The word "manage" which appears in the Bill was introduced first, I think, in the 1890 Act. I would suggest that the word "manage" as used in 1890 has a connotation somewhat different from that of today. In 1890, one thought immediately, probably, in terms of managing a horse—something that is done directly. Today, the word "manage" connotes, rather, control, at a remote distance, of a rather complicated operation. I suggest in amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 that the word "supervise" should be substituted for the word "manage" wherever it appears—not that there is any tremendously great difference of meaning between the two words except that "supervise" has a connotation of personal presence and it is just that point that I wish to see introduced in the Bill—in other words, that the authorised persons should supervise in the sense that their control and their management of their assistants should be something which is not remote, should be something which cannot be done from another part of the building or from another place. It is for these reasons that I move that the word "manage" be replaced by the word "supervise" in the various subsections of Section 2.

I cannot subscribe to the statement that "manage" in the year 1890 had a connotation that applied only to the exercise of horsemanship. It is true that somewhere, I think about the year 1603, or something like that, it may have had that meaning. However, I am accepting the Senator's amendment. I think it does, perhaps, slide a little closer to the bone. There is a hair's breadth of a difference between them but it is a point, and I am accepting the Senator's amendment.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In subsection (1) (b) (ii), page 2, line 41, to delete "managed" and substitute "supervised".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In subsection (1) (c), page 3, line 3, to delete "managed" and substitute "supervised".

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 2, as amended, stand part of the Bill".

There are two points I should like to raise on the section in order to have them clarified, or at least mentioned in the course of the debate. One refers to subsection (1) (c) which deals with the position where a corporate body employs an authorised person. The position is that the section, as it stands, prohibits an authorised person from acting on behalf of more than one corporate body. I should like the Minister to give some clarification on that point and to say if this section, or some other section, is sufficiently strong to prevent an authorised person from acting for two shops or establishments owned by the same corporate body. That is the first point.

There is another point on subsection (3) of the same section which I should like to raise. In this Bill, the qualification of licentiate of the Apothecaries Hall entitles a person who has taken a diploma in pharmacy to keep open shop. I should like to ask the Minister what is his position in regard to the control of the standard of this diploma.

I think we are all agreed that for the sake of the protection of the public, a licentiate of the Apothecaries Hall should not be allowed to keep open shop at any time in future if his standard of training falls below that which the Minister would consider appropriate. I think he should not be allowed to keep those rights for merely historical reasons. If the Apothecaries Hall were to reduce the amount of training in pharmacy which they give, beyond the proper training in medicine, to something of the order of giving training courses for one month or less, I should like to ask the Minister what the position would be. Would he have power under this or any other Act to protect the public against the damage which might be done by such a person keeping open shop? Those are the two points in Section 2 on which I should like clarification.

The position is, of course, that we have to bear in mind that the scope of the Bill is very limited. It does not touch what might be described as the fundamental principles of the general body of law relating to the practice of pharmacy. Therefore, there is nothing in this Bill which will interfere with the right of certain persons to practise the profession of pharmacy. All it provides is that certain people who are outside what might be described as the prescriptive rights which are now written into the statute will, if they want to practise, have to comply with certain regulations.

This Bill does not deal at all with the qualifications of a person who is entitled to practise pharmacy, except to provide that he must be a registered member of the Pharmaceutical Society, or that he must, in certain circumstances, be a licentiate of the Apothecaries Hall. The qualifications of a licentiate are matters for the Medical Registration Council over whom I have no control. We must, of course, remember that the operation of the Act will be kept under review, and if it appears that the possession of a licence from the Apothecaries Hall does not guarantee sufficient expertise, so to speak, in the profession, the matter will be looked at again. We are not dealing at all with the question of qualification.

On the other point raised by Senator Dooge as to whether an authorised person could manage more than one establishment, up to this the practice has been that the Pharmaceutical Society maintain that he is not entitled to manage more than one. The position has been generally accepted by everyone. I do not think it has been challenged in the courts, and I think that if it were challenged, it would be upheld. We may take it that so far as the existing practice is concerned, it will not be amended or altered or affected in any way by the section.

I appreciate what the Minister has said about the existing practice, but would the fact that paragraph (c) of subsection (1) makes the point that the same person may not manage for two of the corporate bodies not be held to mean that because it is so designated there, in other cases it would be legal for a person to manage or supervise two establishments?

I am advised that it does not affect the existing situation. That is all I can say; I cannot go any further than that.

Question put and agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 will be taken together.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In subsection (1), page 4, line 33, before "take" to insert "in connection with any business or employment".

The principle of amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 is identical. As the Bill stands it is an offence, subject to a fine o £20, for any person to take or use the name of pharmaceutical chemist, taking that as an example, unless he is on the Irish register. I am proposing an amendment to this that we insert the words "in connection with any business or employment". I submit that on the section as it stands, there are certain persons for whom it would be an offence to describe themselves, even privately, as pharmaceutical chemists.

I shall give a few instances. It appears that under this section it would be an offence for the President of the British Pharmaceutical Society on a visit to this country to describe himself as a pharmaceutical chemist because he would not be a person on the register of the Pharmaceutical Council of Ireland. Similarly, a person who had taken a qualification in pharmacy and did not enter the practice of pharmacy but continued to study, say, for a medical degree, would commit an offence and be liable to a fine of £20, and a continuing fine if he described himself as both a medical undergraduate and as a pharmaceutical chemist. Also, a person who is retired, who has been in practice in pharmacy, would commit an offence if he described himself as a pharmaceutical chemist or if he did not take down from the wall the diploma indicating he was a member of the Pharmaceutical Society.

I think it is reasonable we should amend the section and make it an offence for a person to describe himself as a pharmaceutical chemist only when doing it for a profit. The amendment would cover any particular case in which difficulty is likely to arise. For example, a medical representative who represented himself as being a qualified pharmaceutical chemist would be covered if the section were amended as I propose. Similarly, since we have put in any occupations, I suggest also that a person who perhaps for the purposes of gaining money by a trick, describes himself as a pharmaceutical chemist would also be covered by this amendment, if we consider that being a confidence man is an occupation. I am given to understand the Pharmaceutical Council who would be the people to suffer if I am endeavouring to make the laws too lax in this respect have no objection to the amendment.

There is some force in what the Senator has said and accordingly I propose to accept the amendment, but the parliamentary draftsman has advised me that the words should be preceded by a comma and succeeded by a comma, so if the House will permit the amendment to be amended in that way, I shall accept it.

I am prepared to accept the parliamentary draftsman's commas.

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In subsection (2), page 4, line 39, before "take" to insert "in connection with any business or employment".

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In subsection (3), page 4, line 45 before "take" to insert "in connection with any business or employment".

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.
Section 3, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 4 stand part of the Bill."

I should just like to refer briefly to some of the effects of the provisions under this section. I understand the position to be that due to the recognition of courses in University College, Dublin, courses will be carried out partly in the College of Pharmacy and partly in University College, Dublin. It is well that it should be perfectly clear to the Seanad and everybody concerned that this does not involve a complete relief of the burden of education on the College of Pharmacy. I understand that in the initial years, two-thirds of the work will be done in the College of Pharmacy and that even after the new science block has been completed at Belfield, 50 per cent. of the lecture and laboratory work will still be done within the College of Pharmacy. This indeed throws a very great burden on the College of Pharmacy who have to endeavour to train their students to the standard of other countries where 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. of the cost is borne by the State. On the Second Stage, I indicated to the Minister that I thought perhaps a lump sum payment to the College of Pharmacy would indeed be an act as much of justice as of generosity on the part of the State.

I have one further point to urge on the Minister, that even if the State is not in a position to give large sums of money to the College of Pharmacy, he should make a special effort to see if it would be possible for members of the staff of the College of Pharmacy and members of cognate subjects in UCD to be sent abroad for special training. It might be possible to use some of the Fellowships now available. If we cannot give them money for the superlative equipment available in other countries, perhaps something could be done to see that the laboratories will be staffed by extremely well-trained men. I would ask the Minister to use his good offices in order to try to secure that members of the College of Pharmacy and cognate subjects in UCD should get special training abroad.

I fear the Senator is misdirected a little bit. After all, there is nothing in this section providing for the subsidisation of courses in the College of Pharmacy and if there were, I should not be the Minister in charge of the Bill because that relates to the subsidisation of education, vocational education, if you wish, and therefore I submit it is slightly over the borderline of relevancy. On the other matter, the question of scholarships, the number available to the Minister for Health and other bodies here, is very limited and we have a great many things, apart altogether from pharmacy, which is very desirable, in relation to which our people should have an opportunity of going abroad and acquiring a greater knowledge in the techniques being evolved in medicine, surgery and cognate subjects. But if the opportunity arises, and if their claims should not obviously rank below that of other people who are making a claim upon me, I shall endeavour to see that a fair allocation is made to pharmaceutical lecturers and educators of one kind or another.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 5 agreed to.

We shall take amendments Nos. 7, 8 and 9 together.

I move amendment No. 7:

At the end of subsection (2), page 5, line 56, to add:—"Fees of different amounts may be determined in respect of annual fees for Fellows and ordinary members."

The purpose of this amendment is merely to give flexibility to the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society in regard to the annual fees which it will charge for membership of the Society.

Amendment No. 8, which is a Government amendment, meets the point which I seek in amendment No. 7 and, accordingly, I have no hesitation in withdrawing amendment No. 7 in favour of No. 8. Amendment No. 9 covers a separate point. It was designed to relieve a junior employee in a pharmacy from paying the same annual fee as those in the position of manager. However, it would appear that the effect of exempting these junior employees would be to exempt also persons who were pharmaceutical chemists and directors of corporate bodies engaged in the retail trade.

Apart from this point, I understand that the Pharmaceutical Council considers that the administration of this particular matter would be one of extreme difficulty. It would be very difficult to determine who was a manager or who was a junior employee at a given time. Accordingly, I do not intend to move amendment No. 9. So I withdraw amendment No. 7 in favour of amendment No. 8 and I do not wish to move amendment No. 9.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Government amendment No. 8:—
In subsection (4), page 6, to delete lines 4 to 9, and substitute the following:
"be determined—
(a) in respect of membership of the Society by persons on whom the title of Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has been conferred pursuant to section 7 of this Act and in respect of such membership by other persons, and
(b) in respect of the retention on registers maintained by the Society of persons referred to in subsection (3) of this section who keep open shop for the dispensing or compounding of medical prescriptions or the sale of poisons or are employed in a shop so kept and in respect of such retention of persons referred to in the said subsection (3) other than those aforesaid."
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 9 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 6 stand part of the Bill".

There is one small point I should like to make. At the moment there are about 1,100 paid up members of the Pharmaceutical Society. It is impossible to tell at this stage how many would be members of the new clean register of the Pharmaceutical Society. However, I think it would be wrong to budget for more than 1,800, which means 700 extra persons. We do not know what type of fee would be charged under this section by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society but it is interesting to realise what the income would be at certain fees.

It is possible under the Bill to pay only a retention fee and not the full fee, and it is quite probable that persons who have not joined the Society up to now might content themselves with payment only of the retention fee, after the passing of the Act. If that were at the rate of three guineas a year, 700 persons would bring in only another £2,000. If it were four guineas, it would bring in only £3,000. In the past ten years the Pharmaceutical Society has been running at a deficit of £2,000 a year and it does not have the inspectorate staff it would like to have. By the charging of fees of the order of three or four guineas, the Council would only bring itself into balance and it would need to charge fees in excess of this amount if it wished to provide for expansion. Anybody concerned with this problem should not be in any way complacent that the power given to the Pharmaceutical Society to increase its finances under this section will make them a wealthy body. I think they will have to introduce substantial fees, if they want to maintain anything more than a critical balance.

The purpose of this section is to empower the Society to charge fees. The amount of the fee which they will charge will, of course, be subject to regulation by the Minister and presumably they will not fix those fees at a level which would be insufficient to provide them with the necessary income.

Question put and agreed to.
Government amendment No. 10:—
Before section 7 to insert the following new section:
The Council may confer on any person the title of Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

Amendments 10 and 11 may be discussed together.

I think this is again a question of drafting. I am meeting the Senator's point.

I put down amendment No. 11 in order to gain flexibility for the Pharmaceutical Council. Amendment No. 10, which is a Government amendment, gives not only all the flexibility I sought but added flexibility. I am very grateful to the Minister for the consideration he has given not only to this amendment but all the various points I have raised on this Bill.

I do not see how the amendment meets the title of "honorary member". Would the Council have power to appoint honorary members if we accept amendment No. 10?

I think so. A Fellowship will be conferred on them and it will be stated that it is for services rendered to the community. A person who is an honorary Fellow is so described in most societies.

It seems to me that the authorities might wish to give, so to speak, an honorary membership as distinct from an honorary Fellowship.

I am happy that the point in amendment No. 11 on honorary membership is fully met by the Government amendment. Fellowship does not confer membership of the Society which can only be given under the appropriate section of the Principal Act. A fellow who was not previously a member does not gain any of the rights or duties of membership. A fellow who was previously a member retains his previous rights and duties.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 7 deleted.
Amendment No. 11 not moved.
Sections 8 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I think, before we conclude the proceedings on this Bill, somebody ought to be made an honorary fellow of something—I am not quite clear of what.

Unfortunately, there is no honorary membership of the Seanad.

There is—eleven.

But they are honourable members.

The remaining forty-three being in the same category as the Minister.