§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, with reference to a letter of the Local Government Board addressed last December to one of the vaccination officers of the Reading Board of Guardians, in which it is stated that it would be contrary to the Board's practice to advise an officer of a board of guardians without reference to the guardians in a matter in which the guardians have jurisdiction, whether the matter submitted to the Local Government Board, and touched upon in their reply, was action by the vaccination officer in prosecuting defaulters under the Vaccination Acts; whether vaccination officers are to understand from this letter that in interpreting the instructions to vaccination officers in the Fourth Schedule to the General Vaccination Order of 18th October 1898, in sub-section (d) of section 6 of those instructions and elsewhere, that it is their duty in the first place to take the orders of the guardians as to prosecuting or not prosecuting defaulters, or to abstain from prosecuting any defaulter if so ordered by the guardians; whether, for several years before the Vaccination Act, 1898, the Local Government Board has left the boards of guardians free to 1034 decide whether prosecutions were to be undertaken or not, and has repeatedly addressed to the boards copies of the Evesham letter urging the boards not to repeat prosecutions; and, whether he will forthwith send a circular to all vaccination officers that they are to act according to the instructions given in the Reading letter referred to in this Question, and with the admitted practice which the Local Government Board has now allowed for several years past?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD
The honourable Member is under a misapprehension as to the correspondence to which he alludes. No such letter as that referred to in the Question was written by the Local Government Board in December last. But in January, 1898, one of the vaccination officers of the Reading Union wrote to the Board asking for their advice in the matter of vaccination, without specifying any particular point, and the reply to that letter was to the effect stated in the Question. As regards the second and fourth paragraphs, it will be obvious that the letter had no bearing on the instructions to vaccination officers in the Vaccination Order of 18th October 1898, as it was written nearly nine months prior to the issue of the Order. As regards the third paragraph, under the regulations which were in force until the present year, it was the duty of the guardians to cause proceedings, to be taken against persons in default under the Vaccination Acts, and for this purpose to give directions to the vaccination officer to institute and conduct the proceedings. It was the practice of the board to point out to the guardians that it was their duty to give directions to the vaccination officer accordingly. It was decided in the case of Bramble v. Lowe that, notwithstanding the regulations then in force, the power of taking proceedings was vested in the vaccination officer under the Vaccination Acts without any directions from the guardians, which were held to be superfluous; and, having regard to that decision and to the opinions given by the Law Officers of the Crown, the Board have not in their new Order imposed any duty either on the guardians or vaccination officer, as regards the institution and conduct of proceedings.