Page:Introductory Address on the General Medical Council, its Powers and its Work.djvu/15

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7
ITS POWERS AND ITS WORK

may make thereon, and if it is still convinced that the training or the test is "insufficient," it brings the question before the Privy Council.

In this and in other matters the Council is in close administrative relation with the Privy Council. If in anything the Medical Council neglects its duty, the Privy Council may formally direct that the duty shall be performed, and may in default itself perform it. In the case before us the Privy Council has power to supplement as well as to supersede. It can do what the Medical Council is unable to do. If the Privy Council sees fit it can declare that an "insufficient" diploma shall be no longer recognized as legally registrable; and, if circumstances alter, it can rehabilitate the diploma and make it valid again.

The Medical Council is also a Board of Registration. In fulfilment of this function, partly by the force of necessity, and partly in virtue of the interpretation of the law by Judges, it has become a professional Court of Justice, a domestic forum for the trial and determination of grave charges brought. against registered practitioners in their professional capacity. By successive judicial decisions it has been laid down that in its procedure the Council, sitting as a Tribunal, must as nearly as possible follow the forms and rules customary in other courts. But it has no authority to compel the attendance of witnesses, to administer oaths, or to call for the production of documents. It has only one judgment to give when a charge is proved to its satisfaction, namely "guilty of infamous conduct in a professional respect"; and only one sentence when judgment is given, namely "erasure from the Register." From this sentence and judgment, given after proper inquiry and without malice, the High Court of Justice has pronounced that there is no appeal. In the earlier years of the Council's life its decisions were frequently called in question before the ordinary courts of law. The results were on the whole fortunate, for while its actual findings as a professional court were never reversed, the judgments