HC Deb 11 June 1877 vol 234 cc1569-71

asked the President of the Local Government Board, If it is the case that Joseph Abel has been fined eleven times during the last four- teen months by the local magistrates upon the information of the Board of Guardians of the Farringdon Union for refusing to have his child vaccinated; whether it is the case that the chairman of the convicting magistrates on many of the above-mentioned occasions is also the chairman of the beard of guardians, and the costs of prosecution have included in several instances the payment of a fee to an attorney, who is also clerk to the same guardians; and, whether he will take any special steps to arrest, if possible, further prosecutions being taken in his case, in accordance with the instructions issued by the Local Government Board in the course of last year to the Evesham Board of Guardians?


in reply, said, he had made inquiries into the case mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, and had found that Joseph Abel had been 11 times before the Farringdon magistrates within the past 14 months for refusing to have his child vaccinated, but that only on six occasions was he fined. In the other cases he paid the costs of the proceedings, which did not include any fine. The Chairman of the convicting magistrates happened on two occasions—namely, in May and November, 1876—to be the Chairman of the Board of Guardians. On the sixth occasion that a fine was inflicted the prosecution was conducted by the clerk to the Guardians as their attorney, and the magistrates, in their discretion, allowed him a fee of one guinea as a part of the costs. As to whether any special steps had been taken to arrest further prosecutions in this case, he had nothing to add to what he said last August on the subject. The Guardians of the Farringdon Union were made aware last year of the policy which he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had endeavoured to promulgate in a letter to the Evesham Guardians. But they had exercised the discretion which that letter left to them and had continued to prosecute Joseph Abel, and although his (Mr. Sclater-Booth's) general view was that it was undesirable to institute prosecutions so frequently, he was unable to say that, in their discretion, they had not good grounds for the decision at which they had arrived.


asked, Whether the fee of a guinea to the attorney was not unusual in such cases?


in reply, said, that it had struck him as very unusual, and that he had caused inquiries to be made respecting it.