HC Deb 03 July 1877 vol 235 cc732-50

in rising to move— That it is expedient that an inquiry should he instituted into the practice of vaccination, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it cannot he conducted in a more satisfactory manner than it is at present, said, he did not bring the question forward, because he was in any sense opposed to vaccination. On the contrary, he emphatically stated that no one could have a higher estimate than he had of the value of vaccination; and his object on that occasion was, if possible, to improve the present mode of practising it rather than in any way to diminish the benefits accruing from it. There were a class of persons in this country who called themselves anti-vac-cinationists. They were not very numerous, but their number was increasing, and they were extremely active. The language which they held, while in many respects foolish, was to a certain extent mischievous, and worthy the attention of those who had the control of the manner in which vaccination was carried out. He confessed he had a certain sympathy with those persons; but he was not disposed in any degree to palliate their resistance to the law or their efforts to incite others to resist it. Neither was he inclined to defend those who, he was sorry to say, in different parts of the country, occupying posts of trust for enforcing the law, showed themselves very slack in putting it into operation. He was, however, anxious that those who opposed vaccination should be left without a shadow of excuse for their conduct. The notions of those persons were in many ways very erroneous. Since he had taken up that subject he had received many letters about it from various sources. In one of them the absurd idea was expressed that the failure of the French in the Franco-German War was due to the fact that all French soldiers were subjected to compulsory vaccination. The agitation on that question had almost assumed a political character, electors being urged to sign a pledge that they would vote in favour of no candidate for a seat in that House who did not promise to oppose compulsory vaccination. There was no greater pest than the taking up of a catch-cry and making it a test question at elections, and vaccination was about the last subject that he wished to see treated in that way. An article in one of the organs of the anti-vaccinationists was headed "The wickedness of enforcing unjust laws and the duty of resisting them." Now, there might be a question whether a particular law was good or bad, but when a law was once established it was incumbent on all good citizens to respect it. The spirit which actuated some of the anti-vaccinationists prompted them to suggest that where vaccination had been compulsorily carried out, means should be employed to render it a failure. He did not know whether any antidote to vaccination was known; but the spirit to which he had referred ought, if possible, to be suppressed. Members of the highest classes of society, and even of that House, had expressed to him their disinclination to allow their children to be vaccinated from the ordinary lymph, but only from lymph which they could trace from an undoubted source. That might or might not be reasonable; but it at any rate showed in some minds certain doubts of the nature of the lymph that was now generally used. It was desirable that we should take away any excuse for such a feeling, and give them the certainty that the lymph was the purest and the most efficacious which could be secured. The statistics upon the subject were frequently quoted to show the most contrary results; and, therefore, he should use them only with the greatest diffidence, leaving the House to take them for what they were worth. The allegations made against the lymph now in use were twofold—firstly, that it had by constant transmission through various persons lost its force; and, secondly, that it was a vehicle for other maladies. With regard to the first of these allegations, he thought it was admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board that there had been very little new lymph introduced into the public vaccination establishments for the last 70 years; and hon. Members might judge for themselves whether the lymph in use was not likely to have deteriorated in that time. Before Jenner instituted vaccination in 1796, the deaths from smallpox were 52,000 annually. But from that date down to 1825 there was no epidemic of small-pox. In 1838 there was a small-pox epidemic; another in 1840–1; others in 1845, 1848, 1851–2, 1857–9, 1863–5, 1870–2, and at the present time. The deaths in the epidemic of 1857–9 were 14,244; those in 1863–5, 20,059; and those in 1871–2, 44,840. The increase of the population between the first two of those dates was 7 per cent, and of deaths from small-pox nearly 50 per cent; and between the second and third periods the increase of the population was 10 per cent, and of the fatalities from small-pox 120 per cent. From 1854 to 1863 there were 33,515 deaths, and from 1864 to 1873, 70,458; and the Registrar General, in his Report for l872, said that while the annual mortality in the 20 years was at the rate of 2.4, in 1871 it was 10.24, and in 1872 8.33, and this with the most laudable efforts to extend vaccination by legislation. It was sometimes said that the number of deaths were fewer in comparison with the number of cases; but that would not defeat the position which he took up. The weakness of the lymph now in use had been long admitted. As to the idea that other diseases were transmissible through vaccine lymph, that was of course a subject that required a professional mind to appreciate the facts of the case. In 1857 it was the almost universal opinion of doctors that vaccination could not carry with it any other disease. Mr. Simon, Medical Officer to the Privy Council, in his Report, said that almost all the most eminent doctors in all parts of Europe denied the possibility of any other malady being transmitted by means of vaccination. But the opinions of doctors on that subject had very materially changed within the last few years. M. Ricord, Mr. Simon, Dr. Ballard, and Mr. Hutchinson, were instances of those who had at length admitted that diseases might be, and, indeed, were sometimes, transmitted by vaccine lymph. Admitting that evil might occur from the use of impure lymph, the first doubt was as to how great that danger was. As long as that doubt remained in people's minds they naturally took considerable interest in obtaining lymph as pure as possible, and in being able to trace it to its source. He might be asked what remedy he had to propose for this state of things. He candidly confessed that he had no remedy to propose. He did not think himself competent, and he rather doubted whether the House itself was competent, at once and directly to propose such a remedy. But if what he had stated was true—if small-pox was on the increase, and if, on the other hand, the transmission of disease by vaccine matter had been proved to have occurred, he thought that he was justified in moving that some further inquiry should be made into the subject. He should be content to leave the form of the inquiry, whether it should be by Commission or Committee, to the Government and the House. Perhaps, however, he might venture to suggest that further inquiry should be made into the results of the Belgian system of vaccination from the calf, which, it was asserted, had been most successful. It was true that some time ago the President of the Local Government Board had, in reply to the hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Surrey (Sir Trevor Lawrence), stated that Dr. Seaton had reported unfavourably of that system as being uncertain and violent in its effects; but it must be remembered that Dr. Seaton made his investigations into the Belgian system in 1869, and that it had been greatly improved since then. The Lancet, in commenting upon the answer of the President of the Local Government Board, declared that the time had come when further investigation into that system had become imperative, and that the feeling of medical men in Belgium was steadily growing in favour of animal vaccination. He therefore suggested that the point to be investigated was whether the statements publicly made in Belgium on this subject were correct or not; and in the event of their being shown to be incorrect, what means could be adopted in this country for obtaining purer lymph than we now possessed. He knew four or five medical men in this country who had for some time practised animal vaccination with the greatest success, and he had also heard that it had proved equally successful in America. He must remind the House that our Vaccination Laws were of an exceptional character, and that, therefore, it was especially necessary that we should guard the child whom we vaccinated— often against the will of its parent— from even the suspicion of danger. He thought that no expense of a moderate amount should be spared to bring this question to a successful issue. The Amendment of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) was one from which, speaking for himself, he should not dissent; but if any hon. Member could devise any better means than at present existed by which vaccination could be carried out, he would throw no objection in the way. He was strongly of opinion that there should be some inquiry into the practice, as to whether an improvement should not be made in the carrying out of vaccination, and therefore it was he brought forward his Motion.


in seconding the Resolution, expressed his regret that there was not a fuller House to listen to the debate upon this subject; but after the proceedings of last night the thinness of the House was not a matter of surprise. The subject was one which was occupying the public mind in various ways. There was no doubt that there was much misunderstanding on the question. People were apt to believe that every attempted operation of vaccination was successful, but such was not the case, and he made this statement on the authority of several eminent medical men. There was no doubt, however, that wherever persons had been properly vaccinated the eases of small-pox had been very few indeed, and there had been scarcely any deaths; and, therefore, he was the more anxious to remove all possible objections that could be raised against it. Like all other scientific questions, vaccination required occasional investigation, as new facts were discovered; but he thought there could be no doubt as to the general proposition that its effect was beneficial, and the facts which had been quoted by the noble Lord made it equally clear that vaccination by means of animal lymph had better effects than were produced by means of the lymph ordi- narily used. It was important that at the present time an inquiry should be made, and he hoped that the Committee asked for by the noble Lord would be granted.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient that an inquiry should he instituted into the practice of vaccination, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it cannot he conducted in a more satisfactory manner than it is at present."—(Earl Percy.)


in rising to move, as an Amendment, to add— And whether the Law relating to the accumulation or repetition of penalties for the same offence does not require amendment, said, he agreed entirely with the views of the noble Lord as to the importance of vaccination; but he wished to bring again before the House the question of inflicting cumulative penalties upon offenders against the laws relating to vaccination. He had already brought the question before the House in a general form on one or two occasions; but, as he saw no similar opportunity in the course of the present Session of doing so, he had thought it right to raise it on the matter of vaccination, the law concerning which, as far as the question of penalties went, seemed to him unduly harsh. In judging of the results of vaccination, they ought to make some allowance for constitutional derangement, difficulties in the carrying out of the law, and want of experience in the practitioner. When, however, they came to consider the subject of cumulative penalties, they ought to remember that, according to the Return before the House, there had been, from 1870 to 1874, 5,490 prosecutions, 2,650 convictions, 103 double convictions, 43 persons convicted three times, 20 five times, four 9 times, four 10 times, one 12 times, two 16, and two 19 times, for noncompliance with the Act. Such a list as that formed, in effect, a great barrier in the way of carrying out a sanitary law. He had received letters from various counties, the writers stating that they had suffered many penalties, one to the extent of £45; another, who had been fined £19 in two years, and would suffer more rather than have their children vaccinated. They had also the case of a Board of Guardians marched off to York Castle to purge their contempt for disobedience to the law. He did not deny that compulsion might be necessary; but the kind of compulsion that ought to be resorted to was a different matter. A police officer could not enter a cottage by force and carry off a child to be vaccinated. The child remained unvaccinated, and all the law did was to fine the parent. The law, as it now stood, was one law for the rich and another for the poor, because the rich man could afford to pay the fine and the poor man could not. There was a good deal of distrust of medical men amongst the working classes; because unless sufficient care was taken it was, of course, possible to inoculate a disease worse than small-pox itself. He had in his hand a letter from a gentleman who stated that he would rather pay any amount of fines than have his only surviving child vaccinated. He had lost his other children who had been vaccinated, but the child in question was a healthy child, and he would suffer any penalty rather than submit it to the process. There was no logic in their present proceeding; for, as he had said, the child was allowed to go free and remain unvaccinated, while cumulative penalties were heaped upon the parent. It was a question of the degree of compulsion that should be used to attain the object which they had in view. As long as the present uncertainty existed, it was impossible to go on with the present system of accumulating fines upon the head of the same luckless individual. If there were those who did not believe in the theory of vaccination, he thought they should be let off upon as low terms as possible, as long as the merely idle and careless did not escape. His object had been to show the great hardship of these fines upon people who, having seen the effect of vaccination upon their own families, demurred to having their children poisoned by this process. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.


in seconding the Amendment, said, that this question had not been discussed in the present Parliament; but if the present system was to be maintained it would be necessary to have some inquiry into its working. The statistics were imperfect, and it was difficult to make out how far vaccination had been really successful. A certain number of people were opposed to it, and it was only by repeated inquiries and discussions that its great advantages would he generally recognized, and not by imposing these constant penalties, which amounted in some cases to persecution. Would Members of that House like to take their children to be vaccinated at some low vaccination-station like Bethnal Green or the purlieus of Westminster, where they could make no inquiry as to the antecedents of the children from whom the vaccine matter was taken? It was almost impossible to controvert the result of the Report of the Committee of 1871—namely, that cow-pox was a very great protection against small-pox, and if the operation were properly performed injury to the health would not follow. Some poor children, and even adults, had been injured by vaccination, and by the use of dirty instruments. He trusted that the Government would adopt the principle of the Scotch Act. Even with all these cumulative penalties the State might go on fining, but did not secure the vaccination of the child. In the case of Abel he hoped the right hon. Gentleman opposite would prevent further prosecutions against him. The feeling out-of-doors was not so much against the right hon. Gentleman as against the officials of the Local Government Board, who wished, apparently, to be autocrats.

Amendment proposed, To add, at the end of the Question, the words "and whether the Law relating to the accumulation or repetition of penalties for the same offence does not require amendment."—(Mr. Pease.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


having vaccinated thousands and superintended the vaccination of tens of thousands, thought the dissatisfaction which prevailed in the country was somewhat exaggerated, and that it was largely counteracted by a very strong feeling in favour of vaccination. He deprecated the idea that the subject could be treated from the point of view of those who thought they knew their own constitutions and those of their children — a notion which, if carried out, would lead to such practice as that of the ship surgeon, who said to his passenger patients —"You are old enough to know your own constitution; there is the medicine chest; take what you think will do you good." The statistics relating to the attendants at the London hospitals were remarkable, as showing an almost complete immunity from small-pox on the part of those who had been re-vaccinated; but vaccination could not be done carelessly, or in a hurry. The operation in itself was not an uncertain one, and the failures were due to the want of care and skill on the part of medical men, one of whom surprised him the other day, when vaccinating a child of his own, by using ivory points instead of fresh lymph from the arm or tubes. He hoped the President of the Local Government Board would favour all measures that could promote efficiency; and, in particular, that he would do what he could to facilitate animal vaccination. One medical man in London had kept up a supply of animal vaccine; but the expense of maintaining it was so considerable, and the applications for it were so few, that he was obliged to give up keeping it. What was really required was a sufficient supply of animal lymph for emergencies like that caused by the small-pox epidemic of the present year, to meet the prejudices of those who objected-to vaccination from arm to arm.


warned the House against committing itself to any dogmatic certainty on the subject of vaccination, pointing out that the unanimity which once prevailed among the Medical Profession in reference to the now discarded and prohibited system of inoculation ought to make people cautious in that respect. The question, he urged, was not altogether a medical one, but ought to be viewed in relation to the feelings of the people who were subjected to the law. It was proved before the Select Committee which last inquired into this subject that vaccinators were sometimes careless; that diseases of the most loathsome character were sometimes introduced into the system by the process of vaccination; and it should not be forgotten that some of the vaccine matter now used had been passing from arm to arm and from system to system for 70 years, for nearly all the matter used was derived from that which Jenner first obtained from animals. Was it surprising, in these circumstances, that some people should have a deep-rooted and conscientious objection to the vaccination of their children? For his own part, he was not disposed to counsel people to submit passively to laws which in their hearts they thoroughly disapproved, especially when their conscience and their health were concerned. The case was eminently one for inquiry. At present, although the information we possessed on the subject was limited, magistrates set themselves to enforce the law in something like passion, being apparently resolved to make the unhappy persons who objected and were brought before them bend submissively to the yoke at any cost; and the country had seen the illegal spectacle of the Chairman of a Board of Guardians directing a prosecution and afterwards himself sitting on the bench of magistrates to try the ease. In one case which had come to his knowledge it was said that a man had been summoned for vaccination offences no fewer than 44 times since the year 1870, and another had been prosecuted 16 times. He regretted that the Registrar General had taken up so pronounced a position on the question, because his doing so was calculated to throw doubt on his impartiality. He contended that the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) should stand as part of the original Motion of the noble Lord, and he hoped that it would be carried.


observed that the debate had travelled over a wide field, and he felt himself placed in a position of some embarrassment, inasmuch as his noble Friend who brought forward the Motion had stated at the outset that he was in favour of compulsory vaccination; but the Mover of the Amendment had laid down propositions and doctrines entirely antagonistic to those which his noble Friend had advanced. Dealing first with the Motion, he must, however, say that his noble Friend had produced no evidence whatever to substantiate the accusations which he had preferred against the practice of compulsory vaccination in this country. He had adduced no names of physicians, no authority whatever for his innuendoes against that practice. His noble Friend stated that vaccination was unpopular among large classes of the people. No doubt compulsory interference between parent and child might be unpopular, but Parliament had decided that such interference was required in the public interest; and the medical testimony on which the Act was based was accepted by the great mass of medical men, not only in this Kingdom, but in Christendom. His noble Friend assumed that the lymph now in use among the doctors of this country had lost its efficacy; but he did not say on what foundation that assumption rested. [Earl PERCY: On statistics.] His noble Friend had adduced statistics with the view of showing that small-pox was now more prevalent and more fatal than in times past, and he could not now undertake to follow him with statistics which might be brought forward in opposition to that allegation. He knew, however, that in the last century 1–14th of the whole deaths in the Kingdom arose from small-pox; that asylums were filled with persons who had been blinded or crippled by the disease; and that one-fifth of our soldiers and Militia then suffered more or less from the results of its ravages. He thought he need not undertake at this time of day to prove what he believed was an admitted proposition—not only in the House but in the country—that smallpox was held in check by the system of vaccination. The noble Lord had not convinced him that he had any authority for making his statements to the contrary. The noble Lord assumed that vaccination from the cow would produce more satisfactory results, and would, in fact, enable us to enforce vaccination in a way that he thought would be justifiable. Well he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) could only say in reply to that statement that although the greater part of the lymph now in use in this country had been derived from the Jennerian stock the Vaccination Establishments never neglected an opportunity when it presented itself of introducing new stocks of lymph, and one of the establishments in London was supplied almost entirely from new stocks derived direct from the animal a few years ago. The noble Lord was, therefore, quite in error in assuming that the whole of the vaccine matter in use in this country was worn out by reason of lapse of time. Then they had had some experience of the validity and satisfactory character of the new stocks of lymph. The results were extremely satisfactory, but not more satisfactory than those obtained at any of the other vaccine stations where the old stocks were used. Again, he must say when his noble Friend had asked for inquiry, that it was only in 1869 that Dr. Seaton, on behalf of the Government, made a personal investigation into the condition of animal lymph in Belgium, Prance, and Holland, and the result of his investigation was to be found in a most elaborate report, which he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) then held in his hand, and which he recommended to the study of hon. Members who took an interest in the subject. Very interesting experiments had been made with regard to lymph, and he did not at all wish to deprecate the continuance of experiments. On the contrary, he had had many communications with the medical officer on the subject, and that gentleman had assured him that he was willing and ready at all times to make experiments and follow the lights which modern science might throw upon the subject. So late as 1875 the French physicians discontinued the use of vaccine matter direct from the animal, having found that it produced no better results than those produced by the ordinary lymph, while the effects appeared to be much more uncertain. With regard to the wide-spread feeling that was said to exist among the public in reference to the operation of the present system, he was not aware that there was evidence to show that such a widespread feeling did exist, although no doubt additional interest had been awakened by the recent outbreak of small-pox; and he had no reason to suppose that there was any foundation for it in the minds of medical men of authority. He was quite willing, however, to assure his noble Friend that the attention of the medical officers of his Department would be continually directed to this subject, and that the Government would spare no expense either to continue experiments, or to make fresh ones, or to send out gentlemen to make inquiries such as were made a few years ago with the view of ascertaining the most recent practice and experience on the subject. Meanwhile, the information before him did not lead him to suppose that the mischief which was supposed to arise from the practice of vaccination as at present pursued would be at all cured by the new species of vaccine recommended. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion (Mr. Greene) had used arguments which he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) thought were contradictory of each other. He repeated the complaint that in the course of years the vaccine matter had become effete; but, on the other hand, he stated in the most unqualified terms that the nurses in the London Hospital, who had been subjected to the most frightful chances of catching the disease, had been secured against it by the process of re-vaccination. If the vaccine matter employed in those hospitals had been effete, as described, how was it possible that those extraordinary results could have followed? But he did not understand that the efficacy of vaccination was the point now in question. Upon that all seemed to be agreed. He was in constant communication with the chairmen and managers of the metropolitan district hospitals, and he had been informed by skilful medical men that there was no reason whatever to believe that small-pox had lost either its virulency or its epidemic effect, or that it was less kept in check than heretofore by the practice of vaccination. Certain it was that though the number of deaths arising from smallpox during the past Autumn and Spring had not been great compared with deaths from the same cause in previous epidemics, the character of the disease was as loathsome as could possibly be conceived. Although the practice of vaccination might be open to some observation, it was a provision with regard to the health of the community which it would be criminal on the part of those in authority to ignore. The noble Lord being desirous not of upsetting the vaccination laws, but, on the contrary, of enforcing them with a stringency which he himself should scarcely be inclined to advocate, had suggested that animal lymph should be used in vaccination. The hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) having failed in obtaining a second reading for his Bill, which he regretted, had now moved an Amendment to the effect that the inquiry proposed by the noble Lord should be extended to the subject of the expediency of continuing the accumulative penalties against those who were guilty of a breach of the law on this subject. It was quite true, as the hon. Member stated, that a Select Committee of the House of Commons which satinl871hadrecommended among other things that no penalty beyond the second should be enforced against those who persisted in breaking the law. Various other suggestions had been made, some of which were plausible, and others of which were reasonable, by which the difficulty with regard to these accumulative penalties for the same offence, which he admitted were without parallel in our law, might be avoided. These suggestions were doubtless worthy of consideration; but the main difficulty was that those who objected to vaccination denounced them all, and they would even eschew the proposition of the hon. Member (Mr. Pease). The fact was that the feeling of some of the persons who were opposed to vaccination approached that of religious conviction, and such persons would repudiate all the suggestions which had been made as unworthy of consideration by antivaccinationists. But, he must ask, was Parliament prepared to go the length of abrogating all the laws upon this subject? That was the difficulty in which lie found himself placed. When first he acceded to the office he now held he found existing among certain classes a feeling on the subject which commended itself to his sympathies as pointing to an anomaly in the existing law; and it was in the hope of mitigating the hardships of that law that a measure was passed through Parliament in 1874 with the view of enabling the Local Government Board to make rules and regulations as to the way in which the law should be enforced. It had been suggested that something further ought to be done towards putting a stop to the infliction of repeated penalties for the same offence; but it was difficult to know where to be peremptory and where to leave a discretion to the local authorities. As long as these laws remained in force it appeared to him to be absolutely necessary to leave it to the discretion of the prosecuting authority to say whether it was for the advantage of the community that these penalties should be enforced or not. He thought that he had sufficiently indicated the feeling of the Government that these repeated prosecutions should not be lightly undertaken. He, however, was not prepared to say that in districts where the Anti-Vaccination Society had interfered unduly to prevent the wholesome operation of the law that the Guardians were not justified in instituting these prosecutions and the magistrates were not justified in convicting and enforcing the penalties. He had repeatedly had his attention called to the subject, and he should have been glad to ask Parliament again, if he saw his way, to consider it; but, as he had stated before in answer to Questions, he doubted whether the Government could carry through Parliament a Bill which would, have the effect of cutting down those penalties and breaking down the stringency of the existing law. At this stage of the Session it was not possible for the Government to propose any alteration in the law during the present year; but whether it might be possible in future years to propose legislation to meet the views of hon. Members opposite, he could not say. It was perfectly true that Mr. Simon was never in favour of the cumulative penalties. The difficulty was to avoid, in any change of the law, breaking down the securities which the law now gave. They did not know what an outburst of feeling of dissatisfaction would be encountered if any Government attempted to comply with the requirements of the Anti-Vaccination Society. At the same time the Government did not undervalue the objections of ignorant people, who naturally disliked interference between themselves and their children for an object which they did not appreciate, and which, nevertheless, they owed to the whole community to permit to be performed. Then it was stated that other diseases were propagated by the system; but he would say that out of the many millions of operations which had been performed since the inquiry of 1871 they had not found a single allegation of this kind which did not break down upon inquiry. He would not say that there were not cases in which the operation was performed at improper times, and that erysipelas was not occasionally induced by vaccination, as it was by any other wound; but the greatest pains were always taken to investigate these cases, and he had never hesitated to follow them up and to remove vaccination officers who were proved to have improperly performed their duties. Still, he could not say that these complaints were frequent, or that when investigated they were often found to be otherwise than groundless. Something had been said as to the fact that the Government Department did not supply pure lymph to every practitioner and for all vaccinations. The answer to this was simply that the Department were only hound to supply lymph to public vaccinators and for primary vaccinations, for which operations they were alone responsible. The number of deaths from small-pox in the present epidemic had been very greatly reduced. He thought it could not be too much deprecated that the House of Commons, at a time like the present, should come to any Resolutions which would imply that they had any doubt as to the need of a universal system of vaccination.


said, he had heard the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman with great pleasure. He was quite aware of the difficult position in which the right hon. Gentleman was placed, having to administer a very stringent compulsory Act which affronted the feelings of many parents, while at the same time he was obliged to administer it in order to guard against one of the most terrible disorders. He trusted the noble Lord would be content with the manner in which the Motion had been met by the right hon. Gentleman, and that he would not press it to a division. It was asked that inquiry should be made into the working of the Vaccination Acts; but the inquiry was being constantly made, as he knew by experience, by the able men who were at the head of the Veterinary Department. For the House to decide that there should be further inquiry would only be to tell the country that the House of Commons had great doubt whether vaccination was satisfactorily conducted. That would be a most dangerous step to take. He had also heard the right hon. Gentleman's remarks in reference to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Pease) with great pleasure, for the principle of that Amendment he did not oppose. For his part, he heartily supported the Amendment. It had been his duty to preside over a Committee which inquired into the entire subject and to draw up their Report, and afterwards to introduce a Bill to give effect to that Report; and he could not but remember that a provision of that Bill similar to the Amendment was struck out by a small majority in "another place." He should be sorry to say a word against the principle of compulsory vaccination. His reason for supporting the Amendment was that he believed it would enable vaccination to be much more easily made compulsory throughout the Kingdom. If they were to prevent disease they must have vaccination and insist on parents carrying it out, but it was difficult to manage this. He had often been asked why he was in favour of compulsory vaccination; but his reply had always been that he could not be otherwise, as he should thereby become responsible for a number of deaths. There were three classes of persons they had to consider — parents who absolutely neglected their children, parents who were apathetic—by far the largest class —and parents who were conscientiously opposed to vaccination. They could, he thought, bring the law to bear upon the first two classes; but as to the third class, he thought the best thing they could do would be to let those very few people alone. They ought to be content with such a penalty as would be sufficient for the negligent parent, and not go further in the case of the conscientiously opposed parent. But then it might be asked whether we were to let these men go free, and have one law for the poor and another for the rich? The answer was, that if the State were determined that the law should be enforced, it must go a little further. His right hon. Friend must get hold of the child and must take it to the police-office to be vaccinated. His right hon. Friend knew that it would be impossible to work such an Act, and, failing that, the penalties were such that the rich could escape. He believed that there was not a Member of that House who could not prevent his child being vaccinated at an expense of about £40 or £50 a-year. The law, therefore, which enforced vaccination did not meet the case of the rich, and it no doubt did bear rather hardly on the poor. Hence there were anti-vaccination societies, &c. His right hon. Friend had stated that this alteration of the law would not satisfy those who had conscientious objections to vaccination. Well, it would not, but who cared whether it did or did not satisfy these gentlemen? What was wanted was to go back to the law as it stood a few years ago, and to be content with such a penalty as would prevent the idle and careless from neglecting vaccination and to let the others alone. The right hon. Gentleman, in any alteration he might propose, would have great pre- cedents in his favour. No one knew more about the subject than Mr. Simon, and the Select Committee, which was at first prejudiced, after a careful inquiry of several weeks unanimously determined to recommend the amendment to which he alluded. This decision was fully confirmed by this House.


said, he had the misfortune to have one or two constituents who thought they had been persecuted in regard to the vaccination of their children, and it had been his duty to reply to the communications they had addressed to him. He rather regretted that his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) had not entered into greater detail so as to explain more precisely in what way he would meet these cases, because his remarks did not supply him with a satisfactory answer to these constituents. He should like to know to what extent his right hon. Friend would go in carrying out what appeared to be a dispensation against obeying the law. This appeared to him to be a very dangerous principle to admit—that a pecuniary penalty should relieve a person from the obligation of obeying a law passed for the benefit of the community. A good deal might, no doubt, be said in favour of the doctrine that there should be in certain cases a maximum beyond which penalties should not be inflicted; but would his right hon. Friend apply the same doctrine in other cases—to education, for instance? There was, he believed, no limit to the pecuniary penalties to which a parent was now liable who neglected to send his child to school, and would his right hon. Friend apply any limit to the penalties that might be imposed on these parents?


said, that there was a liability to imprisonment in the one case and not in the other.


could not see that this was a defensible distinction. There were again penalties under the Cattle Plague Act imposed upon those who removed their cattle against the law, and he presumed that those penalties, however severe they might be, were also cumulative. There ought to be some general rule. He wished to mention the way in which this difficult case—for it was a very difficult case—was met in another country, the most allied to our own in its institutions—he meant the United States. Last year, when he was in America, he took particular pains to find out what the laws were with regard to vaccination, and he found there was no compulsory vaccination whatever—that was to say, no direct compulsion. The consequence was that in some places, like Cincinnati, where there was a large German community who had strong objections to vaccination, the small-pox, when it came, made frightful ravages. The way in which the matter was dealt with there was this—they did not by law compel people to be vaccinated, but they did not admit to school any child who had not been vaccinated. Now that we had national education, conducted under a more or less compulsory system, he would ask whether there might not be a rule laid down that no child should be admitted to an elementary school who had not been vaccinated? He had been informed by an authority which he had no reason to doubt that that was the general, if not the universal, rule in the United States. If a similar rule were adopted in this country it might have the effect of an indirect compulsion, without the more stringent and disagreeable penalties by which alone compulsory vaccination could be enforced.


said, that he had been urged not to divide the House; but the right hon. Gentleman said that he had established no case, and if he did not divide it would be admitting the charge. Either the lymph was in a useless condition or vaccination was not a sufficient remedy. Cow-pox was not an uncommon disease in cows. He would take a division on his own Motion, assenting to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Pease).

Question put, and agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided:—Ayes 56; Noes 106: Majority 50. — (Division List, No. 216.)