HL Deb 14 April 1853 vol 125 cc1112-5

House in Committee (on Recommitment) (according to order).

Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.

On Clause 8, providing that notice shall be given by the Registrar with regard to vaccination,


called attention to what he thought was inadvertency in this clause. It directed that the Registrar should prepare the notice in the manner provided, pointing out that it was the duty of the father or mother, or person having charge of the child, to see that it was vaccinated in the manner directed by the Act; but it was directed likewise that the Registrar should deliver such notice at the time of the registration to the person giving information thereof, who was to give information to the father or mother. Now, the person who came to register the birth might be almost wholly unconnected with the father or mother, and yet by this Bill it was proposed to impose upon that person the burden of giving notice to the parents or persons having charge of the child, under a penalty. In point of fact, he himself might have been punished by this Act if it had been in existence. Some short time ago he had told the Registrar in the district in which he resided of two or three births of which that person was ignorant; and, if this Act had been in force, he would have been compelled, under a penalty of fine or imprisonment, to search out those persons, and to give them notice about the requisite vaccination of the children born. This was an arrangement likely to be in some cases inconvenient; and he should therefore propose that the Registrar should give notice to the father or mother in the first instance, not employ any person as intermediate agent, and still less employ an unwilling person who might have really no concern in the matter. It was not usual, in an Act of Parliament, to impose upon an indifferent person a duty which he was to perform under a penalty of fine or imprisonment. In a great many cases the Registrar was also the relieving officer, and in that capacity necessarily went about the whole parish, so that he might very well, in such a case, make inquiries and give the requisite notice. He should propose, therefore, that instead of the provision he had alluded to, the Registrar should deliver the notice of vaccination to the father or mother of the child, or to such other person as might have charge of it, and should, together therewith, deliver a notice of the time and place within the district in which he officiated at which the medical officer or practitioner should attend for the purpose of vaccinating. This Bill should be made as perfect as it could be made; and he thought that, to attain this object, it was extremely desirable that Her Majesty's Government should not only give their best attention to the subject, but should take the Bill into their own hands and carry it out as a Government measure. There were many clauses which could only be prepared with advantage by the Government, and he threw out this suggestion for the consideration of the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne), who had formerly taken some interest on the subject upon which the Bill attempted legislation. With regard to another point; he had suggested that a penalty of 5s. should be enforced upon every schoolmaster or schoolmistress who, after a certain day, should admit into their schools a child who had not been vaccinated. This, he thought, would be a fair requirement. Another provision which he thought might very fairly be introduced was, to enforce the vaccination of emigrants to Australia and other parts of the world; for where small-pox was once introduced into a ship where there were no means of vaccination, the total destruction of every person who had not been vaccinated was often the consequence. Again, he was told that in almost all cases where the disease had broken out in certain towns it had been traced to some Irish immigrants, there not being in Ireland any provision for carrying out the system of public vaccination. The Government were the individuals to frame a clause to meet that case, and to require it to be ascertained that persons submitting themselves for work in manufactories had been vaccinated, and to provide that they should not be employed unless they had. Their Lordships had had a statement a few nights ago, and a very interesting one, as to the entire success of the compulsory system of vaccination in parts of Germany and Lombardy. What he desired to know, however, was, by what machinery that re- sult had been attained—how it was they brought the person to the vaccinator, or the vaccinator to the person? A society had, he believed, been formed in this country—he would not venture upon the extraordinary name by which they were designated—to investigate the cause and the extent of epidemics; and their view, he understood, was, that there should be in every union or in every district a public vaccinator, whose duty it should be not to remain fixed in one place, but to go from house to house to propose to operate upon those children or persons who he found had not been vaccinated. He thought the nearer this system was approached, the more perfect they would make this Bill; and since their Lordships were disposed to adopt the principle of compulsory vaccination, it was most desirable to have every ancillary provision to effect that object.


had stated on a former occasion that the Bill was exceedingly imperfect and required alteration, and he entirely agreed in what the noble Baron said. The clause was framed by the Registrar General, but he quite admitted that, as it stood in the Bill, it might give rise to inconvenience, and he should, therefore, not object to the Amendment suggested by the noble Earl.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

On Clause 9, giving certain fees to the registrars of births,


expressed his doubt whether the House of Commons would be disposed to receive favourably a Bill emanating from that House, and containing a provision with respect to fees. He believed that the Bill would be made more efficient if, instead of giving the registrar an additional fee, they gave the shilling to the patient. He had no doubt that, in that case, there would be a rush to the vaccinators on the part of the poor, for whom they were legislating. He could hardly propose such an arrangement, but he was sure that it would be effectual.


said, that he had no doubt this was an encroachment on the privileges of the House of Commons, because it had the effect of imposing a tax, though unquestionably for a laudable purpose.


said, that in these days there could not be the slightest danger to the liberty of the subject, or to the privileges of the whole community, from the House of Lords having the power to insert in a measure of this kind a provision that a certain sum—ld., 2d., or 3d., as the case might be—should be paid to the registrar in cases of vaccination. He thought this was one of the cases which should be taken into consideration with a view of seeing whether they could not come to some understanding with the House of Commons, whereby remedial measures might be introduced into the House of Lords, without being liable to be met by the useless assertion of the privileges of the House of Commons.


said, that this clause was certainly not a substantial encroachment on the privileges of the House of Commons, which had properly reference to the voting of the Supplies, while this clause only gave a remuneration for labour done.


said, that he had always understood that the House of Commons did not consider a clause merely levying fees or fines as an infringement of their privileges.

Further Amendments made; the report thereof to be received To-morrow.

House adjourned till To-morrow.