HC Deb 01 May 1906 vol 156 c416

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland if he is aware that in the administration of the Vaccination Acts in Scotland prosecutions and imprisonments of respectable citizens have recently occurred because of their conscientious objections to have their children vaccinated; and will he issue an order that, pending the promised inquiry on this matter, these prosecutions and improvements will be suspended.


I have no information as to the particular cases to which the hon. Member alludes. The parish councils in Scotland have no power to make exception in the case of conscientious objectors. Prosecutions and imprisonments could not be suspended without alteration of the law. The Local Government Board for Scotland has from time to time advised parish councils that they may exercise a reasonable discretion in the matter of enforcing the statutory penalties, both in the case of a prosecution for failure to vaccinate a second child, and in the case of a second prosecution for the same child. In giving this advice, the Board has pointed out that, as default generally arises from negligence rather than from conscientious objection on the part of parents, it will be the duty of parish councils to use the most careful discretion where they relax the strict letter of the law in any case which may be brought before them.