HC Deb 04 March 1887 vol 311 cc1270-2

asked the President of the Local Government Board, If he will lay upon the Table of the House or furnish particulars of the exhaustive examination into the Vaccination Question, which in debate on Supply in September he alleged to have been made (about two years ago) by the Royal Statistical Society, such investigation being given as the reason why the Government would not assent to the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Vaccination Question?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. RITCHIE, Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

I am somewhat surprised that the hon. and learned Member should put to me his Question in the shape in which it stands on the Paper. I cannot think that the hon. and learned Gentleman has himself prepared the Question; but, whether he has done so, or has received the Question from some other source, it is evident that he has not, by reference to the debate alluded to, made himself acquainted with the facts of the case. It is not true that I made the statement alluded to in the Question as to the reason why the Government would not assent to the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Vaccination Question. Not only did I not give it as the reason, but I did not give it even as a reason why I declined to assent to the inquiry demanded. The reason given by me for refusing the inquiry was that the Government already possessed accurate information upon the subject; and that if they consented to the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry they did not believe that it would have the least effect in removing the objections of those who at present resisted the law, while, on the other hand, it might have the effect of implying doubts on the part of the Government which the Government did not feel in the slightest degree. It is true that I, after giving that reason, used the following words:— I may add that only two years ago an exhaustive inquiry was made by the Statistical Society, not only into cases arising in this country, but all over the world, and they came to the conclusion that the benefits of vaccination were undoubted."—(3 Hansard, [309] 54.) This statement was not, afterwards found, strictly accurate. It was not an inquiry, but a discussion, which took place at the Statistical Society. I made this statement at the suggestion of an hon. Friend of mine sitting near me, who, while I was on my legs, twice requested me to make this statement to the House. But it in no way formed part of my argument, or any portion of the reason why the Government refused the inquiry.


asked whether the Report of the discussion was published in the form of a pamphlet?


It appeared in the publications of the Statistical Society. No doubt any hon. Member can get a copy by applying for it.