§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Pease.)
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, he had been rather taken by surprise, as the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse) was not in his place to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice—that the Bill should be read a second time on that day six months; and the hon. Member who had charge of the Bill had moved the second reading without offering any arguments in support of it. He supposed the Bill now rested upon the arguments of former years, and he (Mr. Sclater-Booth), on the last occasion when the subject was before the House in the preceding Session, frankly stated at considerable length the views and feelings of Her Majesty's Government on the question. There was no doubt a time when the subject of vaccination occasioned great excitement, but that excitement had to a great extent subsided. It was not his intention to enter into the general question of vaccination, because he assumed that the mind of the House and of the great mass of the people of the country was made up in respect of it; but he would address himself briefly to the subject of the Bill which the hon. Member opposite had, and not for the first time, submitted to the consideration of the House. It dealt with the subject of cumulative penalties for non-vaccination, and with the question whether there ought to be a limit to the number of prosecutions to which a person not observing the law should be subject? It was founded on the Report of a Select Committee which 478 sat in 1871. In that same year, a Bill passed though the House to limit these penalties, but it was lost by a narrow majority in the House of Lords. When the Bill was brought in the next year it came on late on a Wednesday, and was "talked out;" but it was noteworthy that on that occasion several Members of the Select Committee admitted that they considered themselves to have been in error when they assented to that recommendation, and declined to support the Bill of the hon. Member. Since the Report of that Select Committee, Parliament had passed an Act amending the law, while an Association which had been formed to oppose compulsory vaccination was understood to provide the means of paying the penalties awarded against offenders. If the limitation of penalties in the case of conscientious objectors was the only object to be attained, he would not have so much to say; but he feared that a vast number of persons who did not object to vacccination, per se, but who found it onerous to have their children vaccinated because of the distance from the medical officers' stations, would take advantage of the Bill and object to vaccination and avail themselves of the services of the Association. If the Bill passed into law, sufficient means would be provided by that Society to pay the penalties imposed upon poor people, and thus the law would be practically evaded with comparative impunity, to the great danger of the community in which they resided. It was, therefore, impossible for him to assent to the second reading of the Bill without qualification, or, indeed, at all. During last year there was a decreasing tendency to carry on those prosecutions, and, so far as he could form a judgment, they mainly arose out of some well-known cases of the previous 12 months. He should like to see those prosecutions still further diminish; and he had been so anxious that no mistake should be made as to the wishes of the Local Government Board on the question of repeated prosecutions that, in 1875, he caused a circular to be addressed to Boards of Guardians on the subject, recommending that great care should be exercised before taking proceedings, and that some discrimination should be used in the selection of cases to be prosecuted. That circular had produced a great diminution of those cases. He did not deny 479 that there were well-known cases in which persons had been repeatedly prosecuted; but, on the whole, he felt bound to defend the Boards of Guardians, who had seldom exercised the powers confided to them by the Act unless the whole board were unanimous. The case of a man named Abel, who had been prosecuted a number of times, was a somewhat singular one, and, as it had been mentioned in the House, he would state some facts in illustration of it. A resident at Faringdon went to London to see his daughter, who was suffering from small-pox, and took the infection back with him. A number of cases broke out, and there were five deaths. The Board of Guardians, who had been frequently called to account for their repeated prosecutions of Mr. Abel, naturally relied on their experience in justification of their policy. If Abel were a man who had prejudices, or conscientious scruples, he was also one of the officers of the Anti-Vaccination Society, and his motives were therefore somewhat questionable. [Mr. JOHN BRIGHT: Were those persons vaccinated?] Some were and some were not. So far as he had been able to form a judgment, very few persons now objected to vaccination, and he did not think that the number had increased in late years; and, therefore, he thought there was no real necessity for this Bill, and that it ought not to be adopted by Parliament. By the Act, passed in 1875, Guardians could exercise a discretion in reference to repeated prosecutions, and the vaccination officers were directed, in cases of repeated refusals, to report them to the Guardians; and his opinion was, that these matters should be left to the local authorities, they knowing that it was the desire of the Legislature that all children should be vaccinated. He had given the subject much consideration, and had received many suggestions in reference to it; but while he would be in favour of limiting the number of prosecutions and penalties, if it could be done consistently with the carrying out of the law, he was bound to say he had seen no plan which, in his opinion, was likely to effect the object safely. He had not found that repeated prosecutions had increased in number, or that any new cases had been recently undertaken. With regard to the 31st section of the Act, he would be glad that it should be made clear that 480 Boards of Guardians and magistrates were entrusted with a discretion—the Guardians as to the institution of prosecutions, and the justices as to the infliction of penalties. Magistrates should, if they pleased, order cases to stand over, as in other offences they could, even when the parties were guilty, under recognizances to appear if called upon. If that could be made more clear, he would not be in favour of interfering with the exercise of that discretion. These cases were, in fact, exactly of that character which must be left to the local authority. He could see no way in which his Department could usefully interfere with the Act of Parliament, or become a Court of Appeal; and he deprecated any interference with a law which, on the whole, had worked well. The matter should be left to those in the country who had to deal with the public health, and who had to carry out those duties which Parliament had placed upon them. The cases which the Bill was intended to meet were not very numerous. He found, that in a period of three or four years, referred to by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pease) in his speech last year, there had been repeated prosecutions three times in some 33 or 34 cases; but, within that same period of time, there had been 3,000,000 successful cases of vaccination. The reason why they were so few, and that they had been from time to time brought under the notice of the House, was that they usually referred to the same persons, most of whom were known to be agitators on the subject. In the absence of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leeds, he had been obliged to answer the hon. Member for South Durham's (Mr. Pease) speech before he made it to the House, and, consequently, he was placed in a difficult position. He should be glad if the difficulty of repeated prosecutions could be got over with or without further inquiry; but he could not consent to the Bill being sent to a Select Committee.
§ MR. PEASE
said, it would, perhaps, be consulting the convenience of the House, if he at at once stated his reasons for asking the House to read the Bill a second time. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sclater-Booth), whom he had to thank for the courtesy with which he had received the communications on this subject—and 481 they were not few—with which he had had to trouble him, expressed his apprehension that if the Bill passed, the law would be evaded by poor people, who would have the penalties imposed on them, paid for them. He could not think that such would be the case. The poor would be more likely to be deterred by the imposition of fines, and the rich, by the payment of penalties, would avoid the vaccination of their children. For his part, he had, personally, no fault to find with the Vaccination Laws, and he had himself been vaccinated four or five times. The right hon. Gentleman further feared that if the Bill were passed it would place in the hands of the Association a weapon for further opposing vaccination. He knew nothing of the Association. It had deluged him with figures and papers; but all he could learn was, that his Bill did not meet with any favour by the Association, because it admitted the principle of a fine, although it was to limit the prosecutions and the fines to two convictions. Under the present law, a rich man could pay any number of fines, while a poor man could not do so, but must go to prison. The Vaccination Acts had been much before Parliament. In 1840, an Act was passed to enable the fees to be paid out of public funds in certain cases, but leaving the adoption of the remedy to individual action. In 1853 vaccination was made compulsory on all infants; but the fine for its not being done was 20s., and it was limited to a single penalty. In 1858 an Act was passed, for one year, for the purpose of aiding in obtaining duly qualified vaccinators and a good supply of lymph; and in 1859 that Act was made perpetual, saving one clause dealing with the institution of proceedings. In 1861 another Act was passed, empowering Guardians and overseers to take proceedings in certain cases of neglect; and then, in 1867, another—a Consolidating Act—was passed, which came into operation on the 1st of January, 1868, and which Act he now proposed to amend. That Act was not in force more than three years before there was a great outcry against its provisions in many parts of the country. In 1871 a Select Committee was appointed, consisting of Mr. W. E. Forster (Bradford), Mr. Stephen Cave (Shoreham), Mr. Candlish (Sunderland), Mr. W. H. Smith (Westminster), Mr. Muntz (Birmingham), 482 Lord Robert Montagu (Westmeath), Mr. Jacob Bright (Manchester), Sir Smith Child (West Staffordshire), Mr. Lyon Playfair (Edinburgh University), Mr. Holt (North-East Lancashire), Mr. P. A. Taylor (Leicester), Sir Dominic Corrigan (Dublin), Dr. Brewer (Colchester), Mr. Alderman Carter (Leeds), and Mr. Hibbert (Oldham); and on the 12th of June of the same year, the right hon. Member for Bradford brought in a Bill to amend the Act of 1867, founded on their Report. What was the state of the law at that time as regarded penalties? From the evidence given by Mr. Danby Fry, before the Committee, it appeared to be as follows:—Q. 3,829. Will you state to the Committee, first, what the law was, under the Act of 1853, with regard to the penalties on parents for not having their children vaccinated?—A. The Act of 1853 was the first Act that made vaccination compulsory, and in that Act it was provided that the parent or the person having the custody of the child, after receiving notice from the Registrar, was bound to have the child vaccinated, and, if he failed to do so, he was liable to a penalty not exceeding 20s. He was also liable to a similar penalty if he failed to take the child for inspection after vaccination; and, perhaps, I should state that it was held by the Court of Queen's Bench with reference to that provision, in the case of Pilcher v. Stafford, which is the leading case on the subject, that a parent could not be convicted under that enactment a second time for neglecting to have his child vaccinated.After hearing further evidence, the Committee reported, and what was the nature of that evidence? Mr. Fry said—Q. 3,845. Have you anything else that you wish to say upon that Clause (31)?—A. Perhaps I might say-that, to meet the case of conscientious objections, it might, perhaps, be worthy of consideration whether a man might not be exempted from the penalty who takes an oath or makes an affirmation that he has a conscientious objection to the vaccination of his child. It seems to me that this would be similar in principle to the Statutes which prohibited the Ecclesiastical Courts from issuing execution against the person of a Quaker, though they might do so against his goods, and which was placed on the express grounds that the people called Quakers were known to entertain conscientious objections to the payment of tithes and church rates.Dr. Simon, in answer to Question 3,510, said—I should be very sorry to see a system of one bonâ fide penalty, which would mean that in every case of mere indolence and procrastination the parent would have to pay perhaps £1. I think that would be very hard on the poorer 483 classes. If, on the other hand, you had merely a sixpenny, or other nominal penalty, then, where there is an organization to defeat the law, of course those sixpenny penalties would be paid for the defaulter. It would not do to have only one penalty for that reason. You would be in a dilemma; but if you have a limit on two penalties—the first of which might be merely nominal, and the second, if the magistrate saw fit, the legal maximum—then, I think, all useful purposes of money penalties would be fulfilled.And Mr. J. H. Stallard, one of the Commissioners of The Lancet, in notes upon the Bill of 1867, suggested that the Act of 1867 should be amended by causing thepenalty not to be inflicted until the Public Vaccinator has visited the defendant and offered vaccination, and in no case more than twice.As regarded penalties, the Committee, in Paragraph 12 of their Report, recommended as follows:—In enactments of this nature, when the State, in attempting to fulfil the duty, finds it necessary to disregard the wish of the parent, it is most important to secure the support of public opinion; and, as your Committee cannot recommend that a policeman should be empowered to take a baby from its mother to the vaccine station, a measure which could only be justified by an extreme necessity, they would recommend that whenever in any case two penalties, or one full penalty have been imposed upon a parent, the magistrate should not impose any further penalty in respect of the same child.It was true that two of the Members afterwards recanted; and he could only suppose it was because they had forgotten the evidence and were misled by the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman. It had been said by the President of the Local Government Board that cases of hardship arising from compulsory vaccination were comparatively few; but there was the greater reason why the sufferers should be relieved from an anomalous position. The state of the law was admittedly unsatisfactory, and he thought the time had come for limiting the number of prosecutions to which those who conscientiously objected to have their children vaccinated were now subject. In Ireland only one penalty was enforced. It was doubtful whether a second penalty could be imposed in Scotland. Mr. Alexander Wood, Edinburgh, in his evidence, stated in answer to Question 4,381—In 1868, only five penalties adjudged in Scotland. There is more attention paid to the feelings of parents under the Scotch law.484 In answer to Question 4,386—Does not know of a single case of a second penalty having been exacted under the Scotch Act.Mr. Edward Caton Seaton, M.D., gave the following evidence:—Q. 5,389. Are you aware that the Irish Act has no continuing penalty, and yet that, under that Act, it is possible to obtain a very large and successful vaccination?—A. Very large indeed; but I do not know exactly what the Irish Act does.Yet, in the case of the following persons, the fines had been repeated as now stated. Mr. B. V. Scott, 121, Kensington, Liverpool, 12 convictions, amount of fines and costs £16 16s. 6d.; Mr. H. Pride, 8, Grampian Road, Liverpool, 15 convictions, amount of fines and costs £21 8s. 6d.; Mr. T. Jackson, 36, Everton Village, Liverpool, 13 convictions, amount of fines and costs £19 11s. In the case of Mrs. West, of Eastgate, Rochester, she stated that her husband was serving a term of one month's imprisonment for refusing to have his child vaccinated, his term expiring on the 23rd of March; while in another case, that of Mrs. Eeley, of Brackley, whose husband was sentenced to a term of six weeks' imprisonment for refusing to have his child vaccinated, the unfortunate woman was compelled to apply for relief, remarking—That she had been married 20 years and had never troubled the Board for anything. She would not have done so now if they had allowed her husband to stay at home and work for her as he had done. He had good reason for not having his children vaccinated.The last instance he would bring forward was one that had been under the notice of the House, that of Mr. Joseph Abel, of Faringdon, Berks, who in two years had been amerced in fines and costs to the sum of £29 10s. under 21 summonses. In his case, it was stated that the Chairman of the prosecuting Board of Guardians was also one of the convicting magistrates—a dual position repugnant to the whole spirit of British law—and that the prosecuting solicitor, to whom the magistrates had allotted costs on each conviction, was the paid clerk to the same Board; that his services were wholly unnecessary, and could serve no other purpose except to saddle the defendant with unusual and extortionate costs—the vaccination Officer 485 being the legally-appointed authority for conducting prosecutions under the Vaccination Acts. There were also others, in which, after vaccination, death had resulted from erysipelas and other cognate diseases, which were enough to justify doubts as to the value of vaccination, and ought to render the House very careful how it refused to modify this oppressive compulsory law. A great deal of good, he (Mr. Pease) believed, was done by vaccination; but, at the same time, it could not be denied that children died in a wholesale way—["No, no!"]—under its operation, and therefore it was necessary to be very particular in carrying out the law. It was all very well to say "No;" but anyone who took the trouble to consider the facts, could have no moral doubt that many children had died in consequence of having been vaccinated. That belief had caused great loss and suffering to parents, let hon. Gentlemen call them what they would—prejudiced, zealots, fools; but they were only guilty of caring for their children, protecting them from what they deemed would harm them. They believed that the State regulations were opposed to the health of their families. From a Return presented to the House, it appeared that from 1870 to 1874 inclusive—five years—there were 4,190 prosecutions and 2,650 convictions, resulting in the imprisonment of 61 persons—a fact which showed that the opposition to the enforcement of the law was greater than many would imagine. Those cases were on the increase, and he would call the attention of the House to two or three fatal ones, as published in the newspapers recently. In the first, Mr. George Hawkins, of Winnall Down, near Winchester, made the following communication to Mr. Pearse, of Andover, in the month of February of last year. It ran as follows:—I must state that it is the firm opinion of both my wife and myself, that the cause of our dear child's death was from the effects of vaccination. She was vaccinated when eight weeks old, and was, from the time of its birth, until then, a most healthy child.After other particulars, Mr. Hawkins went on to say—He did not really say it was through vaccination, but he said it was not suffering from any bodily illness, and it was a pity such a healthy child, as she appeared to be, should die; and he hesitated to give a certificate 486 of the cause of death until he had thought it over. She was vaccinated on the 17th of October, and died on the 1st of December, 1876. If these statements are of any service to you, in your efforts to abolish that cruel law, you are at liberty to publish them.In the next case, the mother of the sufferer made the following statement:—Naomi Ruth Ford, daughter of George and Emily Ford, of Isfield, in the county of Sussex, was born September 30th, 1876, died April 30th, 1877, aged 7 months. Was vaccinated March 8th, 1877. Previous to the operation had always been quite healthy.In the third case—that of a child who died at Leeds, and on whose remains a Coroner's inquest was held—it appeared, from a statement of one of the jurors, that the jury were all agreed that the cause of death arose from erysipelas, but differed as to the primary cause, seven being in favour of the view that vaccination was the primary cause, and five—including the foreman—holding the reverse opinion; the result being that an open and evasive verdict was returned. After these cases, could it be said that these people had no reasonable grounds for their objections? The following medical testimony, perhaps, would answer the question in a degree:—Mr. James F. Marson, F.R.C.S., gave evidence before the Committee to this effect—Q. 4,661. Is it likely we could ever have a system which would insure its being what you call thoroughly well done?—A. I do not know—that is doubtful, because it has to be done by so many hands all over the country; and you know, as well as I know, how many careless people there are.Mr. A. Wood said, in answer to Question 4,501—I have already said that we cannot be perfectly protected against small-pox by vaccination.Sir William Jenner replied to Question 4,562—If a child had a certain degree of weakness, I should certainly not have it vaccinated—vaccination would not take; if it did, I should not choose to produce inflammation in the child's arm, which might be an additional disturbance.Then, again, was there no carelessness at times on the part of the operators? Judging from the Report of Mr. J. Netten Radcliffe, made to the Local Government Board, on certain fatal cases which occurred at Misterton, near Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, the affirmative 487 could be the only answer given; for, in it, that gentleman says that—With, respect to the mode of operating, neither Dr. Beard nor myself had the opportunity of witnessing Dr. Wright perform vaccination; but we were enabled to satisfy ourselves that, in several of the details connected therewith, he was reprehensibly careless. The lancets he was accustomed to use, when seen by Dr. Beard at the beginning of the inquiry, were rusty, and when they were seen by me at a later date, though they had been partially cleaned, and apparently sharpened on some coarse-grained material, I found them dirty, both blades and handles, and in a state unfit for the performance of vaccination. Some 'points,' which he produced for examination, can only be described as filthy. Again, it appeared that Dr. Wright had the habit of carrying, mixed in the same packet, vaccine 'points' which he had recently used, and unused charged vaccine 'points.' In a packet of this sort, Dr. Beard and I found two used 'points' smeared with blood at the tips, mixed with a number of unused charged 'points.' Such carelessness, in regard to the performance of a delicate operation, is a constant source of danger; and, when it exists, if the vaccinator, in the course of his medical and surgical practice, should have been exposed to the infection of erysipelas, it is obvious that there might be opportunity for his infecting his lancets or 'points,' or the lymph with which one or both might be charged, in his manipulation of them.Did not all this show that there was a great deal yet to learn? He had himself broken the law four or five times by refusing to have his children vaccinated according to law. In accordance with the advice of those who had the natural care of his children, their vaccination was deferred; but all his children had been since vaccinated. The President of the Local Government Board could not deny that there was carelessness on the part of those who carried out the law, and that children died in consequence from the effects of the operation, for his own Inspectors showed it; and it was these cases which alarmed people, and excited them against the Acts. The circular of the Local Government Board, issued to the local boards on the subject, on September the 17th, 1875, and ordered to be printed by the House on the 17th of March, 1876, had not been attended to by many of those boards, who had simply treated it as so much waste paper. With regard to his (Mr. Pease's) Bill, the President of the Local Government Board had said that it would not be a solution of the difficulty; but it was a Bill suggested by a Committee of the House, carrying out 488 a clause which had already been passed by a vast majority of Members—but he was not strictly wedded to his Bill. He believed, to use the words of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), that nothing had done more harm to the cause of compulsory vaccination than the introduction of cumulative penalties; and if the Government would allow his Bill to be read a second time, and allow the question to be raised in Committee as to doing away with or mitigating the system of cumulative penalties, he should be content; but, as matters stood, the effect of the present system could only be to produce a greater agitation than at present against vaccination. There was a general impression that it was a good thing to be vaccinated; but that vaccination was a preventive against the catching of small-pox, was made more and more doubtful by the Returns. His proposal was to have a law they could carry out, and he thought the weight of evidence was in his favour. They could not completely force the parent, and the question was, how far they would make the attempt to do so. Another argument in favour of the proposed alteration was, that the existing law was solely in favour of the rich, who could pay the penalties imposed, and thereby evade its provisions; while the poor, who could not pay, went to gaol, the child in both cases remaining unvaccinated. Then, again, were they so certain that they could compel—for the weight of evidence was not all on one side? How could they do so, after the still more frightful evidence given by Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson, as to the danger of syphilitic contagion being communicated by the performance of the operation, and which was as follows:—Q. 5,001. Will you give the history of that case, so far as it came under your knowledge?—A. Thirteen persons, mostly young adults, servants and shopmen, were vaccinated from one child on the 7th of February. They were all second vaccinations or re-vaccinations. Q. 5,002. Were they males?—A. They were of both sexes. I think about four were females, and the rest males. They were all vaccinated from one child. The child had been lent to the surgeon, who took the lymph from its arm for the purpose of vaccination, from a public vaccinating station. He vaccinated from arm to arm 11 of those 13 individuals, and two from tubes; and, two months later, I was asked to see the sores on the arms of the patients who had been vaccinated. Out of the 13, 11 had on their arms sores which I considered quite characteristic of 489 syphilis; they had the primary sore of syphilitic contagion. Q. 5,006. What was the state of the child?—A. From the symptoms which the child presented, although it appeared in good health, I should have no doubt that it was the subject of inherited syphilis.That evidence was fully confirmed in the following passage, taken from a lecture delivered by Mr. J. R. Lane, F.R.C.S., at the Harveian Society, in December, 1876, which was published in The Lancet. It ran thus—Lancereaux collected 351 cases in which vaccination was performed with lymph which appears to have been impregnated with syphilis. Of the 351, 258 contracted syphilis, while 93 only escaped.Although these might be said to be exceptions, yet they pointed to one lesson, and that was—that, with such exceptions, they dared not have too tight a law. It might be said that the Bill was not logical; that anti-vaccination papers wrote it down, while those in favour of the practice did not agree with it. But the logic of the existing law could not be said to be perfect—for logic said, take the baby by force; but the Committee, in its Report, plainly said that could not be done. Again, if they were not prepared to omit penalties, on a simple declaration of objection to the performance of the operation, the next step was to have as low a penalty as possible—one that would not be hard upon conscientious objectors, and one that, at the same time, would not allow the careless and negligent to slip off. His proposal, he thought, embodied those requisites; and, moreover, it was in accordance with the opinions of those great authorities he had quoted—Mr. Danby Fry, Dr. Simon, and Mr. Stallard. The Select Committee unanimously approved it, and that House itself, by a majority of three to one, had declared in its favour. In conclusion, he would commend it as a solution of the existing difficulties on the question, as an act of simple justice to those who considered themselves oppressed under the present legislation; and, finally, as a measure calculated to remove irritation, and, as he believed, to aid in carrying out a useful sanitary law.
§ EARL PERCY,
who had on the Paper a Notice of his intention to move after the second reading— 490That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, and that it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to inquire into the present practice of Vaccination, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it be not capable of improvement;said, he thought his hon. Friend in charge of the Bill (Mr. Pease) had rather over-stated his case. The present laws allowed a doctor to defer vaccination, in case of a weakly child, for any length of time, so that it could not be said that poor people were compelled to have their children vaccinated by a certain time, even if dangerous to the children. Was it true that this so-called wholesale slaughter of children occurred in consequence of vaccination? If that were so, then he contended that some remedy much more sweeping than the Bill of the hon. Gentleman was required. This was a subject in which he had taken great interest, and it was because he did not hold the strong views of the hon. Gentleman, because he believed most firmly in the efficacy of vaccination when properly administered, that he was anxious by every means in his power to diminish whatever feeling there might be in the country against the practice of vaccination. Last year he showed that, according to statistics, there was an increase of diseases which possibly were transmitted by vaccination, and he could not help coming to the conclusion that either there was something unsatisfactory, or else these Returns were not to be relied upon.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
They are to be relied upon as for their accuracy, although they do not support the inference of the noble Lord.
§ EARL PERCY
supposed the right hon. Gentleman wished to imply that the increase of diseases was not due to vaccination; but, really, he thought nothing could be more serious than that Returns moved for in that House should be granted without a word of warning that they were not to be relied upon, and thus that they should be allowed to be made use of by those who were opposed to vaccination. The two questions before the House were—Did the alleged increased mortality among infants exist? and, secondly, was that increased mortality owing to vaccination? He submitted that it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to make these facts plain to the public, or else to give facilities for an inquiry into the manner in 491 which vaccination was carried on. He recommended that, if the Bill were read a second time, it should be referred to a Select Committee, for the purpose of inquiring into the present practice of vaccination, in order to ascertain whether it be not capable of improvement? An inquiry of that kind could not be detrimental, while it would do much to satisfy a certain amount of uneasiness now existing in the public mind with regard to vaccination.
§ DR. LUSH
said, his remarks on the second reading of the Bill would be considerably modified by what he understood to be the Government's acceptance of the proposal which had just been made. As to the Bill, he felt persuaded that if the question before the House were really one as to the propriety or non-propriety of vaccination, very few Members of the House would be inclined to discontinue it. Vaccination, as a preventive of the horrible disease of small-pox, he believed to be one of the greatest boons that could be conferred on suffering humanity. In order to judge of to what extent it was a prophylactic of the small-pox, they had only to look back to the time when hundreds whom they met in the streets had their faces seamed with scars. Since vaccination became general, these objects were becoming less and less numerous, and, undoubtedly, the feeling of the country was largely in favour of vaccination. He regretted to have heard the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease), in moving the second reading of the Bill, use the expression—"the wholesale sacrifice of life caused by vaccination;" but he supposed the hon. Member had his mind filled with the pamphlets and other publications, got up by active secretaries, who made up for their ignorance of the subject by strong language and indiscriminate abuse. The accident of vaccination being performed at the time when erysipelas was prevalent had, perhaps, caused many people to form an erroneous view of the result of the former. No doubt, cases could be adduced of bad results having followed vaccination. So far as his belief went, however, sufficient protection was afforded by the law, because it was provided that children who were not physically fit for it should not be subject to the operation. He did not, however, understand that the Bill was directed 492 against the practice of vaccination in itself, or that it could be said to involve anything beyond the question as to the principle of cumulative penalties, which was a separate question altogether. He would not oppose the second reading on the understanding that it was going to be referred to a Committee.
SIR WALTER B. BABTTELOT
felt satisfied that if the question before the House was whether vaccination was to be continued or not, an overwhelming majority would be of opinion that the most mischievous thing that could happen to this country would be to abolish vaccination. He was opposed to any proposal that would tend to prejudice vaccination in the estimation of the public; for, even admitting that some disadvantages might attend it when carelessly administered, yet these counted for nothing in comparison with its great merits as a prophylactic. He thought, however, that means should be taken to supply the vaccinating surgeons with a supply of pure lymph—that being essential to the success of the operation—and he was satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman was quite alive to the fact that it was a crime on the part of the operator not to take the greatest possible care to obtain lymph of the purest quality. It was because people believed the lymph to be impure, that they objected to have their children vaccinated. The hon. Member for South Durham, in moving the second reading of the Bill, had not done himself justice, because he had taken the very course which would prevent a large number of hon. Members from voting for it, by exaggerating the evils that resulted from vaccination, and by using arguments that pointed to its abolition. The Bill itself did not go so far as that, merely proposing to revise the penalties inflicted on those who declined to abide by the law upon this subject. On the whole, the right hon. Gentleman would have to determine, on his own responsibility, whether any revision of those penalties was desirable or not. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) objected to the proposal that a man who had been once punished for a breach of the law should be allowed to go on disobeying it ever after. On the contrary, he ought to be compelled to obey it.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
, expressed his regret that he had been unable to be 493 present at the commencement of the debate, and that he should be compelled to leave the House before any decision on the subject under discussion was arrived at. He was of opinion that some slight amendment of the Act in the direction contemplated by the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) was desirable in the interests of vaccination. The conclusion arrived at by the Select Committee which sat on the subject was one he abided by. Vaccination was as yet the only remedy they knew of for one of the most terrible diseases that afflicted humanity. It was the duty of the State to do all it could to get rid of the scourge, if not by voluntary, then by compulsory, vaccination. But, next arose the question, how was it to be done? That was the practical point to be grappled with. In plain logic, they should, if the parents did not bring their children to be vaccinated, send the policeman to bring them to the surgeon, as in the case of the board schools; but he thought the feeling of the country would be opposed to a proceeding of that kind. Practically, however, that difficulty vanished; for, according to the Report of the Committee of 1871, the unvaccinated children were ranged in three classes. First came the children who were utterly neglected by their parents, and in their case it was obvious that there would be no difficulty whatever in enforcing vaccination. Next came the children of those who, although they had no objection whatever to the operation, yet, from inattention and carelessness, postponed having recourse to it. A fine of 20s. would be sufficient to arouse those parents to a sense of their duty. It was evident that these two classes constituted the vast majority of the unvaccinated children, the third and smallest class being the number of persons who had, or supposed they had, a conscientious conviction that their children ought not to be vaccinated; they were very few indeed, and, as the State if it entered into a conflict with them would be defeated, it might be better to let them alone, even if there were some danger of their children taking smallpox, rather than to go on inflicting cumulative penalties indefinitely upon them. The statistics showed that in Ireland and Scotland, where the cumulative penalties were not in force, there was more vaccination than where they 494 tried to enforce them. The debate had shown a remarkable concurrence of opinion on the subject; but he could not support the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) that that Bill, after its second reading, should be referred to a Select Committee, with power to inquire into the present practice of vaccination and to ascertain whether that practice was not capable of improvement. The Committee of 1871 had examined into that question as much as any Committee could do, and strong pressure was now being used to render vaccination as perfect as possible. It would not do to leave on the public mind the impression that the House of Commons had any doubt as to the necessity of vaccination. He believed that the hon. Member for South Durham would be very willing to have the Bill sent before a Select Committee; and, for himself, he (Mr. Forster) would suggest that the Committee should consider how far the Bill could be amended so as to provide for the limitation of the cumulative penalties for non-vaccination without endangering the action of the Compulsory Vaccination Acts. In his view, it would be preferable to adhere to the present system rather than to subvert the principle of compulsory vaccination.
§ MR. FORSYTH
said, that he had so long considered it an axiom of medicine that vaccination was, if not altogether, yet generally, a specific against the ravages of small-pox, and that the discovery of Dr. Jenner was one of the most beneficent discoveries ever made for the alleviation of the sufferings of afflicted humanity, that he had been surprised to find the amount of agitation that existed against it, not only amongst zealots and fanatics, but amongst many intelligent men. No one could compare the state of the population now as regarded the disease of small-pox with what it was in the last century without being satisfied that vaccination on the whole had been a wonderful success. No one could read the biographies and novels of that century without seeing how fearful was the scourge of small-pox then, and now the population of this country was comparatively exempt from, it. If the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) was the only one before them he should vote for it; because 495 such a Committee as the noble Lord proposed might be of great use in dissipating the delusions that existed on the subject. But, looking at the present Bill, he could not vote for it. The argument that there ought to be only one penalty for one offence did not apply here. When a man persevered in not having his children vaccinated, he was guilty of a continuing and repeated offence, and the penalty ought to go on increasing until he submitted and the law was vindicated. What the Legislature wished was to stop the spread of a terrible contagion, and he could not understand how Parliament should be called upon to respect the obstinacy of the man who stood in the way of such sanitary reform because it had respect for the religious convictions of the Quakers in the matter of oaths. The Quaker who refused to take an oath could make a declaration, but in no way did he injure or imperil his neighbour; whereas the man who refused to allow his child to be vaccinated not only exposed that child to the ravages of the disease, but made the child a centre of infection in the neighbourhood and a source of danger to others. Regarding vaccination as absolutely essential, he was, in the interests of public health, opposed to any measure that would tend to interfere with it. Salus populi suprema lex. He believed the immense majority of the people of this country were in favour of compulsory vaccination; but there was a strong feeling in existence that the lymph employed was sometimes of a deleterious character. A Return for which he had moved as to the present sources of the lymph, would probably dissipate many of the delusions entertained upon that point. He could not bring himself to vote for the Bill; because, if it were passed, it would tell the people of this country that the House was in a state of doubt as to the beneficial effects of compulsory vaccination, and tend to perpetuate a mischievous delusion.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
quite understood that the Bill might be so modified in Committee as to make it a rational measure, but he objected in toto to the second reading of a Bill to the principle of which he was strongly opposed. The passage of this Bill would not only sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of a large number of persons with respect to 496 the principle of vaccination, but it would also give a positive encouragement to an obstinate resistance to the law. The Bill, in place of making the penalty for persistence in bad conduct more severe, abrogated further penalty altogether. He had heard no reasons from those who had supported the Bill that could induce him to vote for its second reading. It might be totally changed in Committee; but how could he be called on to affirm a principle to which he strongly objected, on the ground that the details might be greatly altered when the measure reached a further stage? He asked the House did it approve of the principle of this Bill, which in reality meant that for the repetition of a grave offence there was to be no redress for society. He would also remind the House of the position in which it would be placed if it affirmed the principle of the Bill by giving it a second reading. Supposing the Bill went into Committee, but did not pass, owing to the difficulty of finding time to alter and amend it, what would they be told on some future occasion? Why, some of the enthusiastic anti-vaccinators would come down to the House and say—"The principle of this Bill has been already affirmed by the House. It was supported by this right hon. Gentleman and by that hon. and learned Member"—and so forth; but the fact was, that none of the authorities had declared themselves in favour of the principle—and the only principle—that was to be found on the face of the Bill. The practice in Ireland had been referred to, and it was said that there was no law in that country providing a repetition of the penalty for a repetition of the offence; but, apart from the circumstance that some of the Irish people had the idea that innoculation with virus of small-pox was more efficacious than vaccination, the bulk of the community were sound on the subject, and desirous of carrying out the law, and certainly there was no such resistance to the law as had been shown to prevail in England. He, for one, would offer a most uncompromising resistance to this Bill.
§ SIR THOMAS CHAMBERS
reminded the House that the objections raised by certain persons against vaccination were founded upon conscientious views. He denied that vaccination had been the means of saving the lives of thousands; and, although he did not 497 deny that it tended to diminish the deaths from small-pox, nevertheless it was an ascertained fact that deaths from consumption and other diseases had gone up in a greater ratio than the deaths from small-pox had gone down. That was, he thought, a very important point for the consideration of the members of the Medical Profession. He did not, however, wish to argue against compulsory vaccination; but he thought the infliction of cumulative penalties upon parents who conscientiously objected to vaccination was a cruel and indefensible proceeding. The Act had been in operation between five and six years, imposing accumulative penalties, but it had failed in many instances in impressing on parents the value of the adoption of vaccination; because it was admitted that grievous faults were to be found with the mode of carrying out the system, and that a prejudice against it had arisen from that circumstance. There had been some cases of opposition to the law which he would not attempt to vindicate, but there were others in which the people had acted from conscientious feelings that vaccination was not a perfect preventive against small-pox. Against the consent, and in the face of the conscientious objection of the parent, to subject a healthy infant to cow-pox, in case it might in the course of its life take another and more serious disease, was a strong thing to do by force of law; and it could only be justified on the condition that the operation did not rest on a mere medical theory, and that they were certain it would do no mischief. There were still many open questions on that matter, and many precautions must be taken as to the purity of the lymph used and other points to guard against harm being done where good was intended. The children of the poor were often vaccinated in a heap. He had received most touching letters from all quarters, complaining of the grievous sorrow and suffering inflicted on families through that system, and he believed that if this Bill were adopted it would remove some of the obstacles to the operation of the present law. As to the fear expressed that a single child which had not been vaccinated might give small-pox to others which had been vaccinated, that argument was inconsistent with the whole theory of the protective efficacy of the operation. Com- 498 pulsory vaccination was the strongest form which parental government could take, and he was not surprised that the repeated infliction of penalties for non-compliance with this legislation had caused great agitation among many reasonable and intelligent men. The Vaccination Laws were, in his opinion, operating most harshly against a large and estimable class of the people; and though he should not advocate the repeal of those laws altogether, he believed that some such measure as that proposed would go far to mitigate their severity or evil consequences, and he should therefore support the Bill. As to the statistics upon the subject, he did not think the slightest reliance could be placed upon them.
§ MR. GREENE
said, the hon. and learned Recorder of London (Sir Thomas Chambers) had raised an argument of a most ingenious character, and one which, if carried to its legitimate conclusion, was equivalent to saying that all our sanitary precautions were of no avail whatever. It was urged that when small-pox predominated, other diseases did not prevail; but, of course, when there was a strong epidemic, if people did not die of it, they must die of something else. If it was not a matter of public policy that this law should exist, there could be no possible justification for it. He (Mr. Greene) was anxious that the feelings of the people should be consulted as much as possible in that matter, and that as much care should be taken in the vaccination of the poor man's child as of the rich; but the present law on that subject was based on public policy, and that law would be made nearly inoperative if the House passed this Bill. Their past legislation on that question was either right or wrong. If it was wrong, let them abolish compulsory vaccination, and leave the country as it was 60 or 70 years ago; if it was right, let them adhere to it. They must have some strong pressure to enforce vaccination, or they must give it up altogether. There were people who carried their prejudices so far that they would rather a patient should die than that he should be cured by a remedy to which they objected. If they were to impose only a single fine for a continual breach of the law, people would find the means of defying the law and paying the fine through a club, as 499 poachers, in some cases, had been known to do. He should vote against the second reading of the Bill, because it was a measure without a principle.
§ MR. EVANS
remarked, that the only country he knew of in which vaccination had been perfectly successful was Iceland, where, during the last 30 years, there had not been a single case of small-pox. It was introduced there in 1811 by Sir Henry Holland, and he knew on the best possible authority that for the last 30 years there had not been a single case of small-pox in that island; although, before vaccination was introduced there, small-pox had been a dreadful scourge, carrying off thousands of the people. French fishermen suffering from this disease had landed on that coast, but that had never affected any of the population. Thirty years ago vaccination had been introduced into Iceland; and, whereas before that time small-pox epidemics had been frequent in the island, since then there had not, he believed, been a single case. He thought it would be very easy to ascertain whether there had been any great increase of other diseases in Ireland since the introduction of vaccination; and, as regarded this Bill, he did not think it was desirable to pass it, as it would bring the law into contempt.
§ MR. SERJEANT SPINKS
said, that the enforcement of compulsory vaccination among the poorer classes was effected under conditions which were not likely to conduce to its success, and which caused considerable inconvenience to the people. It seemed to him most desirable that some inquiry into the matter should take place, for when there was passive resistance to law it was desirable to find out the causes. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had stated that the mode in which vaccination was managed inflicted much discomfort on the poorer classes. He endorsed that assertion, which was especially true of the poor in the rural districts, who often had to bring their children from a considerable distance to wait upon the surgeon. In his opinion, the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for North Northumberland (Earl Percy) would meet all the necessities of the case.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
thought that a great many questions which had been put in the course of the debate 500 could only be answered in a Committee appointed to inquire into medical subjects; but there was no doubt that, if they were about to propose now, for the first time, to transfer a disease from one of the lower animals to man by a surgical operation, the proposition would be regarded as a monstrous one. It was impossible, in a debate such as this, to explain all the circumstances connected with vaccination. It was chiefly intended to prevent a child becoming a source of infection, and if that was accomplished, the operation was justified by its result. The only ground on which compulsory vaccination could be maintained was that the experience of the civilized world showed that it protected mankind from a scourge which, if not checked in that way, produced the most miserable evils. There were other diseases analogous to the small-pox, and one of these was the measles. The House would probably remember what had happened in Fiji, when the English undertook the protection of those islands. The measles were unknown among the Natives before that time; but we had, unfortunately, been the means of introducing that disease, and the fatality which followed was terrible. The fatality from small-pox amongst savages was also deplorable, where the means of counteracting it were not adopted; but, with regard to the latter disease, experience had shown that vaccination was a successful means of prevention. Of course, therefore, people who lived together in a civilized country, must submit to laws which were imposed for the general good, and he regarded every argument that had been urged against vaccination as an argument against the whole of their sanitary legislation. They had lately made stringent laws to prevent the communication of fevers and other epidemic diseases, and severe penalties were imposed on persons who refused to obey the law. Cases might be adduced where friends objected to send fever patients to the hospital on the ground that the journey might be dangerous to the lives of the patients; but the answer was that the general good of the community must be taken into account, and the law must be enforced. He could not vote for this Bill, because it seemed to him an immoral Bill; for he held that it was an immoral proposition to say that a per- 501 sistent refusal to obey the law should produce immunity from the operation of the law. There were certain people who could never be convinced that the law was right, and those persons would persist in breaking the law if this Bill were passed. It would also, he thought, be found that those who were opposed to this law were opposed to all the penalties imposed by sanitary legislation. As for the possibility that other diseases might be communicated by the lymph, he regretted that some medical men of eminence had at first eagerly negatived that suggestion; for they had since been compelled to admit the fact, and that had in some quarters intensified the prejudice against vaccination. At the same time, he was confident that vaccinators took all possible care to obtain good lymph, and it was not, perhaps, in more than one case in 1,000,000 that any evil followed. The hon. and learned Recorder (Sir Thomas Chambers), who had recently spoken, seemed to have a prejudice against medical men; for he had alleged that they used more care in vaccinating the children of the rich than they took in the cases of the children of the poor. In his opinion, medical men were never open to this charge; it was quite a libel. With regard to the carrying out of the Acts, he thought it a defect that the fees were so very small and irregular, and that, in consequence, there was not that amount of care as regarded watching the success of the operation which ought to be exercised. Medical men must live, and time to them was money; but he thought it would be a great improvement if the Government could arrange that vaccination should be performed in private houses, although, of course, the cost would thereby be greatly increased; but, if not, medical gentlemen should be allowed by the Government a sufficiently large fee to enable them to perform it at fixed periods of the day, and to watch the results afterwards.
said, he was desirous of knowing whether he understood rightly the position in which the House stood with respect to the second reading of the Bill. His impression was that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sclater-Booth), after listening to the terms of a certain Motion that his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) meant 502 to propose, was disposed to accede to the second reading of the Bill, acting with that kindly and temperate spirit which he had shown in all proceedings with respect to the administration of this law, and there really were difficult questions in connection with it. But it appeared that there were many hon. Members who were not disposed to acquiesce in the result which the combined authority of the Government, the hon. Member behind him, his hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Dr. Lush), and the right hon. Member for Bradford, who was officially responsible at one time in this matter, advocated, and they were disposed to take a division. He wished to state very briefly his reasons for voting for the second reading of this Bill. It appeared to be admitted on all hands that inquiry of some kind must take place—that was an almost universal admission. One of the most astounding things which had been said with respect to the compulsory law of vaccination, was what had just fallen from the hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Mitchell Henry), and who had said that in his opinion they wanted to have vaccination safely and properly administered. There must be a considerable increase of fees to medical gentlemen who vaccinated, not for the profit of those gentlemen, but to obtain the kind of work which was wanted. That was a very serious proposition. On the whole, there had been, in the most emphatic terms, an acceptance of the principle of compulsory vaccination. He was conscientiously of opinion that with this general acceptance of the principle of compulsory vaccination, which he was not prepared to disturb, it was very natural to consider what course of proceeding would least tend to unsettle the public mind with respect to those Acts. He had arrived at the conclusion that if they wished to unsettle the public mind as little as possible with respect to these Acts, the best thing they could do was to adopt the present Bill, whose basis was definite, with a maximum of penalty. If there were a general inquiry, every part of the system of the Acts must come under the consideration of the Committee, and the effect of it would be to produce a much greater uncertainty as to the mind and intention of Parliament than if they acted on the proposal before the House. He put 503 that with some confidence to some hon. Gentlemen who had expressed an opinion adverse to the second reading of the Bill. He quite admitted that the public in general appeared to be well satisfied with the law of compulsory vaccination, and that the dissentients were comparatively few. But what dissatisfaction existed was of an extremely acute character, and the range of it did not diminish. It had proceeded to the foundation of journals, which must live by circulation, and the tables of hon. Members groaned under the number of anti-vaccination pamphlets and papers. Therefore, he thought that the question was in a state which the House, with its usual prudence, would feel could not be altogether passed by. If so, and it was desired to keep the matter within the narrowest limits, he was sure the course proposed by the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. Pease) was a wise one. Hardly sufficient value had been given to the fact that the Vaccination Laws were worked in different ways in different portions of the United Kingdom. In England the law was worked on the basis of cumulative penalties; but it was not so in Ireland and Scotland, and it could not be said that that principle was necessary in England if it was not necessary in Ireland or in Scotland. It was said that the people of Ireland were right-minded on this matter; but it was difficult to bring the people of England into a right state of mind by any but gentle means, and to persuade them that the law needed to be enforced against them with a severity that was never contemplated against the members of the other portions of the United Kingdom. He rather thought the inequality of the law as it stood was a strong reason for doing what they could to mitigate its severity. It was undoubtedly an unequal law as between the poor and the rich. That must, of course, be the case to some extent, and even if they reduced the penalties to a limited amount, they would, under all the circumstances, be a much severer charge to the poor man than to the rich. But, by the present system of accumulated penalties, the case was grievously aggravated, for the cumulative penalties were trivial to the wealthy man, whereas to the poor man they were of a crushing character. He hoped for the concurrence of the Government with 504 himself in the second reading of the Bill for these reasons—first, because the necessity of cumulative penalties could hardly be asserted in the diversity of the state of the law in the three Kingdoms; secondly, because the law as it stood was unequal—and, necessarily unequal—as between the poor and the rich; and, thirdly, because the course proposed by his hon. Friend was one which, if they were to have inquiry at all, and were to take any step at all—and some step was admitted to be a necessity—would tend the least to disturb the great principle of compulsory vaccination.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, the Bill was an attempt to nullify the whole of the Vaccination Laws, and it was a measure which he should be surprised to find the President of the Local Government Board could accept upon any terms. It would enable any man to leave any one of his children unvaccinated on the payment of 20s. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not listen to the compromise of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), which was simply the thin end of the wedge which was sought to be introduced against the whole of the Vaccination Law. A Society had been formed, called the Anti-Vaccination Society, and this pernicious organization flooded the country with every kind of lying literature. If the right hon. Gentleman assented to the Bill, they would raise the exulting cry throughout the country that the anti-vaccinators had achieved a victory over the vaccinators. He would move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, and trusted that the President of the Local Government Board would support it, knowing that he would be backed by a large majority.
§ MR. PELL,
in seconding the Amendment, remarked that, while much had been said of the feelings and convevience of the parents, the children themselves had been ignored. Nothing could be more horrible than to expose them to the risk of such a disease as small-pox, and he was consequently in favour of keeping the law as it was. The inconvenience which it caused was, at all events, not serious enough to necessitate its alteration. The House should remember that it was unwise to countenance the existing organized resistance to the law. All sorts of foolish publica- 505 tions had been sent to him; many of them seemed to be mixed up with spiritualism; but a marked absence of logic, of scientific fact, and of authentic statistics, characterized them all. That was bad enough; but he could conceive nothing worse than trifling with such a subject by such a Bill.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Lord Randolph Churchill.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said, that having been a Member of the Vaccination Committee, which at one time recommended the course suggested in this Bill, he should like to say a few words to explain why his opinion had since changed. Information was laid before the Committee in regard to England, Ireland, and Scotland, and the Committee deliberately came to the conclusion that cumulative penalties should not be exacted, and the reason of that was very obvious. Martyrs were created, who spread their fame and propagated their tenets throughout the community, and it was desirable to prevent this. Being then a young Member of that House, he had been influenced by the view taken by the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); but when the latter subsequently brought a Bill before the House he opposed it, and gave as a reason that he could see no principle in such a measure which might not be vastly extended to the danger of society. It involved the principle of sale of indulgences for a breach of the law. What difference was there between this case and that of spreading diseases through public conveyances? That was illegal now; but who would propose that if a man was once fined for putting a child with scarlet fever in a cab, he might put it into any other cab with impunity? By this Bill, however, supposing a man had seven children, after being fined for each child, he might let them remain probable centres of infection for the remainder of their lives. Vaccination was for the benefit of the community, and this measure stated that if a man once offended, or, at all events, paid a certain amount of fines, he was 506 to have an immunity from further fines. It would never do to sell a legal indulgence to disobey the law. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to refer to the fact that vaccination had, with various modifications—which had been the fruit of experience—extended its beneficial influences to all classes of society. He could not agree with this Bill.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, the Bill was a positive encouragement to commit the offence by payment of a certain amount of money. It appeared to him that the Bill was framed to defeat the object of all those who wished to see vaccination universally adopted. It was scarcely necessary to refer to the advantages that vaccination had conferred on those countries where it had been rigidly enforced. He had seen a signal instance of it reported only a few days ago in the daily papers—namely, that the loss from small-pox in the Franco-German War in 1871, in the German Army, where vaccination was compulsory, was only 240 men, against nearly 24,000 men in the French Army, where it was not—and the statement was apparently made on the authority of public medical statistics, and bore the appearance of being reliable. The proposal was insidious, and involved danger to the whole community, and especially to children, whom the State was bound to guard. He should vote against the Bill.
§ COLONEL NORTH
said, that the town of Banbury, in his immediate neighbourhood, was the head-quarters of the anti-vaccinators, and a gentleman in that town paid the fine for those who were fined. He had sent a man to gaol who could pay the fine but would not do so, and when he returned from gaol he was paraded through the town with a band of music and flags, and since then others had met with the same reception. He hoped the Bill would not be passed, as it would be a great encouragement to anti-vaccinationists.
§ MR. DILLWYN
supported the Amendment, as he believed that the effect of the Bill would be, if carried, to lead to an entire abrogation of the present law.
§ COLONEL MURE
objected to the Bill on the ground that it involved a pernicious change in the law. In his view, the Bill was really one to increase the death-rate of the country. In his own county 507 there was a branch of the Anti-Vaccination Society; but it was mainly composed of poor and ignorant persons, and comprised very few names, indeed, of men of higher education. As to the fines imposed, he confessed that he did not like cumulative penalties; but, if this Bill passed, there would be cumulative penalties in another form—not in the shape of money, but in the shape of disease. He, therefore, could not support the Bill, and he expressed his surprise that it should be supported by hon. Members who, he should have thought, would have known better. He was also surprised that Her Majesty's Government seemed inclined to tamper with the question.
§ MR. MUNTZ
thought that no sane man could doubt the absolute necessity of vaccination. They had a number of noisy agitators raking up a sentimental opposition, whose object was to make martyrs of several silly people, and he thought the best thing to do would be to take the wind out of their sails by passing this Bill.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
denied that the second reading of the Bill would be regarded as a triumph by the Anti-Vaccination party, and read a declaration by the Anti-Vaccination Society to the effect that it would be utterly impossible for that Society to lend the Bill any countenance or support. He pointed out that the language he had held in regard to the Bill was consistent with the policy he had always indicated in reference to cumulative penalties. He had always been in favour of some means being devised by which some limitation of the accumulation of penalties could be reconciled with the enforcement of the compulsory law. He could not support the second reading; but, if the Bill were read a second time, he would not throw any obstacle in the way of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Forster), on the understanding that the reference was limited in the way the right hon. Gentleman had suggested.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sclater-Booth) would not support the second reading of the Bill. Notwithstanding that declaration, however, he (Mr. W. E. Forster) should vote for the second reading. He believed it was necessary, in order to stop this terrible 508 disease; but cumulative penalties were doing more to prevent compulsory vaccination than anything which could be proposed. The experience of Ireland and Scotland confirmed that view. If the Bill were now read a second time, he hoped it would be referred to a Select Committee; but, if it were not read, he thought the Government must feel that they could not possibly leave the question in its present state, but would be bound themselves to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the working of the Acts. If his hon. Friend took his advice, he would advise him to withdraw the Motion, on the understanding that the subject should be referred to a Select Committee.
§ MR. PEASE,
in reply, held that the agitation against compulsory vaccination had been produced by cumulative penalties. If, however, the Government would allow a Select Committee to inquire into the subject, he would withdraw the Bill.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided—Ayes, 82; Noes, 271: Majority 189.—(Div, List, No. 95.)
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.