HC Deb 25 July 1929 vol 230 cc1484-5
85. Mr. BROAD

asked the Minister of Health when rabbits first began to be used in the production of Government lymph supplies; whether any cases of post-vaccinal encephalitis were reported in this country prior to such introduction of rabbits; and whether his medical advisers have considered the desirability of dispensing with the use of rabbits for the purpose in question?


Rabbits have been systematically used for this purpose since 1902. No case of post-vaccinal encephalitis was reported in this country until December, 1922. As regards the last part of the question, the desirability of dispensing with the use of rabbits ha6 been considered, but it was not deemed necessary to recommend any change in the present practice.


In view of the deaths that have followed vaccination, will the Minister institute a full inquiry into the subject, with the object both of avoiding those deaths and avoiding unnecessary cruelty to animals?


But there is no indication that these deaths necessarily arise from the use of rabbit lymph, and the question of deaths from encephalitis is under continuous and very serious consideration.


Is it not the fact that a committee has investigated this very question under the chairmanship of Sir Humphrey Rolleston?


Yes, that is so, and made recommendations for further research, which is now being carried on.

86. Mr. BROAD

asked the Minister of Health whether he is prepared to guarantee that any child or person vaccinated with Government lymph will not be seriously injured by the operation; and, if it is not possible, whether he will consider the desirability of introducing legislation to secure that compensation shall be given in such cases to the parents or dependants, as the case may be?


It is impossible to give an absolute guarantee that no person vaccinated with Government, or any other, lymph will suffer injury, but I may point out that the lymph produced by the Government Lymph Establishment complies in all respects with the standards laid down in the regulations made under the Therapeutic Substances Act, As regards the second part of the question, as at present advised, I could not undertake to introduce legislation on this subject.