§ MR. M'LAREN (Leicestershire, Bosworth)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the recent vaccination prosecutions at Hinckley, in Leicestershire, where, notwithstanding the protests of the defendants as to the legal sufficiency of the summonses, fines were imposed on the advice of the magistrate's clerk, under section 29 of The Vaccination Act, 1867, and, in default of payment by the defendants, their houses were entered and their goods seized, while in other cases the defendants paid the fines under duress; whether he is aware that subsequently the clerk of the magistrates discovered that the defence was a good one, that the cases did not come within the said Act, and that the convictions were illegal, and that the Chairman of the Bench, on a later day, announced in Court that this was the case, but although he was empowered to do so under section 31 of the same Act, refused to give any of the defendants their costs, or the fair compensation provided for under this section; whether, having regard to the hardship inflicted on these defendants, he can see his way to indemnify or reimburse them for the expenses they have been put to, and for the damage they have sustained by the seizure of their goods, and what other steps he proposes to take in the matter.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. RITCHIE,) Croydon
I have inquired into this case, and have received a very full explanation, which is too long to embody in an answer to a Question. I can, however, assure the hon. Member that I am quite satisfied that there is no reason for any action on my part.