Page:Introductory Address on the General Medical Council, its Powers and its Work.djvu/23

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ITS POWERS AND ITS WORK

perience of public affairs who were independent of transitory politics (Royal Commission Blue Book, 1882, page 5). The Peers would, in his opinion, increase the administrative efficiency of the Council, correct its tendency to professional bias, and be always at hand to bring forward in Parliament measures of medical importance. You will see how remote from Sir Henry's mind was the conception of the Council as a mere union of doctors for professional ends. We have travelled a long way from his point of view; whether for better or worse it is not for me to say at least on this occasion. But the original idea on which his view was based is not without significance, and it survives in this, that in the Universities generally it is not the medical faculty that appoints the member but the academic body, whatever that may be. In my own University of Cambridge, the member is elected by the Senate, more burgensium, that is, as the members of Parliament are elected. The Senate numbers over 7,000 graduates in all the faculties, and each has his voice and vote. When I was first returned to the Council I had, like better men, to pass through the ordeal of an election contest.

The five members directly elected by the practitioners of the three countries were added in 1886. In 1882 a Royal Commission had reported as follows: "While we insist that the reason of the existence of the Medical Council is the interest of the public, we cannot but recognize the vital interest of the whole Medical Profession in the Constitution of that Body. It seems to us highly important that the Profession should have full and complete confidence in the Council, and seeing that the governing Bodies of the Medical Corporations, which now elect members of the Council [and which alone, be it remembered, are required to elect medical men] can hardly be said to represent the great majority of practitioners, we think it advisable to give the general practitioner an effective voice in the Body which will be the principal authority of the Medical Profession. We see no reason to