HC Deb 22 November 1888 vol 330 cc1823-5
MR. HANDEL COSSHAM(for Mr. T. FRY) (Darlington)

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been called to the Coroner's inquest, held on the 16th instant, at St. Pancras, on the bodies of two children who died in the workhouse, and whose deaths were partly caused by vaccination; whether he is aware that one of these children had been three times vaccinated before without success, and if the authorities have any right to perform the operation without the consent of the parents, when this can be obtained; and, when the Report of the inquiry, held about the last outbreak of small-pox in Sheffield, will be ready to be laid upon the Table of the House?

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

My attention has been drawn to the inquest held at St. Pancras on the bodies of two children who died in the workhouse. I have not yet received the depositions taken by the Coroner; but, prior to the inquest, inquiries with regard to the cases were made by one of the Inspectors of the Board. The verdict of the jury was that the children died from stomatitis while suffering from measles. They added that the deaths were accelerated by vaccination performed three weeks before the measles appeared. Upon the information furnished by the Report of the Inspector, I must take exception to the statement that the deaths were partly caused by vaccination. The deaths were from measles, which also affected other children in the workhouse not under vaccination. I may add that the outbreak of measles at the workhouse has been attended by a high rate of mortality among children who had not been recently vaccinated. I believe it is the fact that three attempts at vaccination had been made in the case of one of the children, and that the vaccination had not succeeded until it was performed at the workhouse. As regards the question whether the authorities had any right to perform the operation without the consent of the parents, I can only say, without expressing any opinion on the legal question, that I think that in the case of such young children the parent, when an inmate of the workhouse, should certainly be communicated with prior to the vaccination. I regret that I cannot at present name the date on which the Report referred to will be presented to the House. The Report is a very voluminous one, and entails great labour in its preparation. I can assure the hon. Member that there will be no delay which can be avoided.

MR. PICTON (Leicester)

asked whether this was not a case of that class which the right hon. Gentleman recently promised to have thoroughly investigated; and whether he considered the hasty inquiry that had been held as sufficient?


said, the inquiry had not been a hasty one. On the contrary, it was a careful and deliberate inquiry, carried out by one of the most experienced officers.