HC Deb 11 May 1893 vol 12 cc650-1
MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)

I beg to ask the Home Secretary, with reference to the Motion standing in his name—for leave to introduce a Bill to amend the Vaccination Act of 1867—which he proposes to take under the special Standing Order at the commence- ment of Business, if the Bill is based upon the recommendation of the Royal Commission, and if it proposes to abolish compulsory vaccination? If it does, does he not think it of too controversial a character to be brought in with these exceptional facilities?


If it were a Bill to abolish compulsory vaccination I should entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman; but it is nothing of the kind. A Commission has been sitting for some years, and the main subject of the Commission—namely, the expediency of compulsory vaccination—is a subject on which they have not yet reported; but they have presented an interim Report, signed by every Member of the Commission, in which they suggest that two changes in the law should be made at once. In the first place they report— We think that the imposition of repeated penalties in respect of the non-vaccination of the same child should no longer be possible.…We have arrived at this conclusion quite independently of the question whether vaccination should continue to be compulsorily enforced. The second recommendation is that persons imprisoned under the Vaccination Acts should no longer be subjected to the same treatment as criminals, but should receive the privileges of first-class misdemeanants and persons committed for contempt of Court. They add— Many of those whose imprisonment arises from their contravention of the laws relating to vaccination regard the practice as likely to be injurious to the health of their children, and are well-conducted and in other respects law-abiding citizens. This Report is signed—without giving all the names—by the present Lord Chancellor, Sir James Paget, Sir William Savory, Dr. J. S. Bristowe, Professor Michael Foster, and Mr. Jonathan Hutchinson; and the Bill has been framed to give effect to these unanimous recommendations of the Commission.