§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Mr. M. H. Neab, of High Street, Kenfield, Sussex, who has been 16 times summoned for refusal on conscientious grounds to have his children vaccinated; whether the total fines inflicted, with costs, have amounted to £16 14s.; whether Mr. Neab has declared that no power on earth will ever force him to surrender what he feels to be the course of duty to his family; and, whether the Local Government Board has any means of urging or enforcing the advice given in the letter to the Evesham Guardians?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
My attention has been called to the case of Mr. Neab by a communication from him. It appears that in respect of his three children he has been summoned 16 times, and fined eight times. The fines and costs have not amounted to £16 14s., but to £12 1s., the additional £4 13s. referred to in the question being the amount of the fines and costs which Mr. Neab estimates will be imposed upon him when he is again proceeded against in respect of his three children. It is the case that in his letter to the Board he stated, in effect, that his opinion on the question was conscientious, and that no power on earth would ever force him to surrender it. The Board have communicated to the Guardians the letter, which was addressed to the Guardians of Evesham Union, stating generally the Board's views as to the repeated prosecutions. It rests with the Guardians, however, and not with the Board, to determine as to the course which the Guardians should adopt with respect to these repeated prosecutions; and the Board cannot interfere in the exercise by the Guardians of their powers in individual cases.
§ MR. PICTON
asked, whether the right hon. Gentleman did not think it desirable to introduce some legislation to prevent prosecution degenerating into persecution?
§ MR. RITCHIE
The Board have already expressed their view in the Evesham letter. The enforcement of the Act is committed to an elective tribunal, and they must use their discretion in the cases that come before them.