HC Deb 21 March 1879 vol 244 c1432

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the case of William Mitchell of Keighley, who was summoned before the magistrates at Bingley on the 27th of November last, and fined by them for refusing to obey a Vaccination Order; whether it is true that in the unavoidable absence of William Mitchell, the magistrates refused to hear Mr. George Kidson, who stated he was duly authorised by him to appear in his behalf under Section 11 of the Act of 1871; and, whether he will take steps to prevent the recurrence of such a case?


It is true, Sir, that Mr. Kidson was authorized to represent Mr. Mitchell in his absence, and that the magistrates refused to hear the speech which that gentleman desired to make. Certainly, in my opinion, every proper opportunity of hearing any person who appears before the magistrates ought to be given if what that person desires to say really applies to the case before them. In the present instance, I understand from a letter which I have received from the magistrates, that the ground of their refusal was not that they desired to stop this gentleman from saying anything relating to the particular act of the accused; but that they refused to hear any discussion as to whether the law, in its present shape, was right or wrong.