HC Deb 28 November 1882 vol 275 cc208-9

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been drawn to the statement by the inspectors, in the inquiry into the case of eight children attacked with erysipelatous disease after vaccination at Norwich, as to four of the cases which terminated fatally— We cannot divest our minds of the strong impression that the lymph used in vaccinating those children must have carried with it the elements of the disease which they subsequently developed; whether the public vaccinator had been recommended for award from the Parliamentary grant; whether Dr. Buchanan, the medical officer of the Local Government Board, in his memorandum charges the same vaccinator with using dirty or improperly cleansed instruments in the processes of vaccination during the years 1876 to 1880, and later; and, whether it is any excuse by law, in answer to fresh summonses to vaccinate, for the parents of any of the children so attacked to urge their fear of similar risk to the survivors; if not, whether he proposes by legislation to relieve such parents from the compulsion at present existing?


My hon. and learned Friend asks me four Questions. As to the first Question, I must point out that the quoted words have reference, not to four of the cases, which terminated fatally as the Question implies, but to four cases vaccinated from one child, and of which two did not get erysipelas. As to the second Question, the public vaccinator was recommended for award from the Parliamentary grant in 1874, but not in 1876 or 1878, and he was again recommended in 1880; but the objectionable practice previously discovered by the Inspector appeared to have been then discontinued. As to the third Question, my answer is that, although Dr. Buchanan does charge Dr. Guy with using dirty instruments in 1876, he does not affirm that Dr. Guy did so at a later time. My answer to the fourth Question is that it is no legal defence to a summons under the Vaccination Acts for parents of children attacked with erysipelatous disease after vaccination, to urge their fear of similar risk to their other children; and I am not prepared to assent to the view that, because one child may have happened to suffer, owing to mala praxis or some accidental circumstance, all the other children should be deprived of the protection which vaccination affords. At the same time, I may add that it is open to the Justices in any such case to impose a nominal fine, or decline to make an order for the vaccination of the child; and I should hope that whenever any such case occurs it will be considerately and tenderly dealt with.