HC Deb 18 July 1916 vol 84 cc828-9
15. Mr. BYRNE

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the instructions to recruiting officers, mentioned in Lord Kitchener's last letter to an hon. Member of this House, dated 6th June, 1916, namely, that recruits having a conscientious objection to vaccination and inoculation shall not be coerced by any means into submission to such operations; if these instructions were conveyed to recruiting officers in Ireland; and, if so, why that privilege is denied to Irishmen voluntarily offering themselves for enlistment, and such men refused permission to attest until they have answered the question of their willingness to submit to those operations in the affirmative; and if he will state whether the Government will respect the last wishes of Lord Kitchener on the question of vaccination in Ireland as well as in Great Britain?


The current instructions of the Army Council are to the effect that men may, if otherwise eligible, be accepted for enlistment even though on attestation they decline to be vaccinated. I need hardly say that these instructions apply to Irishmen just as much as to anybody else. The War Office are not aware that men have been refused enlistment solely on the ground of refusal to under take the obligation to be vaccinated, and if the hon. Member will be good enough to furnish particulars of any specific instances of the contrary with which he is acquainted immediate inquiry will of course be made.