§ MR. MORRELL (Oxfordshire, Henley)
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the report of a case recently heard by the magistrates at Watlington, in Oxfordshire, in which a working man was fined 15s. for not having his child vaccinated; whether he has inquired into the circumstances of the case; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter.
(Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) I have made inquiry, and I am informed that the man in question applied to the Watlington magistrates on the 17th April for a certificate of exemption from vaccination, but could give no reason for his application or even state that he conscientiously believed that vaccination would be prejudicial to the health of his child; and that, in these circumstances, the four magistrates present were unanimous in declining to grant a certificate. As I have frequently explained, I have 447 no authority to interfere with the discretion in this matter which is given to the magistrates by statute. When the man was subsequently, on the 14th August, summoned before the Watlington Bench for not having had his child vaccinated, the magistrates acted within their powers in imposing a penalty of 15s., which included the costs as well as the fine. I am informed, further, that they allowed the defendant time in which to pay.