HL Deb 22 February 1872 vol 209 cc862-4

, in moving for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the operation and efficiency of the Vaccination Acts, said, the question was one of great importance. The Report of the Registrar General showed that last year there was a very alarming increase in the number of deaths from small-pox; and although it had abated in some districts it was still very prevalent in others. The same Report attributed the increase to defective administration in respect of the Vaccination Laws, and if that were so it was clear that some amendment of the law was required. The Poor Law medical officers had no longer anything to do with public vaccination. A Poor Law medical officer could not now ask the parents of a child to have it vaccinated, or if he vaccinated it he could not demand a fee. The registration of births was defective, and until it was made compulsory the Vaccination Laws would not be efficiently carried out. Considerable care had been taken with the Act of last Session, but he believed it was susceptible of improvement. These were some of the reasons why he asked for the appointment of this Committee, in order that inquiry might be made into the subject, and a good basis formed for legislation.

Moved that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the operation and efficiency of the Vaccination Laws.—(The Lord Buckhurst.)


said, that while agreeing with the noble Lord that the subject which he had brought under their Lordships' notice was one of much importance, he did not know that the course proposed by the noble Lord was advisable under existing circumstances. Some of the defects to which the noble Lord had alluded had been cured by the Act of last year. A Select Committee of the House of Commons had spent three months in considering the subject before that Act was passed; and as the statute itself had only been in operation since January last, it was rather soon to judge of its effects and go into another inquiry such as that which had for so long a period engaged the attention of a Committee of the House of Commons. Great changes had been made since last year in the constitution of the Local Boards, and it was hoped that those changes would be attended with very beneficial effects in the administration of the law. He concurred with the noble Lord in thinking that the registration of births was in a very unsatisfactory state. The Committee of last year recommended that such registration should be made compulsory, and the question was at this moment under the consideration of the Government. Under these circumstances, he hoped the noble Lord would not press his Motion.


said, he very much concurred in what had fallen from the noble Earl. While he felt that their Lordships were indebted to his noble Friend (Lord Buckhurst) for having brought the question under the notice of the House, he agreed with the noble Earl that after the recent amendments in the Vaccination Laws, it would, perhaps, be premature to refer the subject to another Committee until the country had had more experience of the working of the Act of last year, especially as some further amendments were under the consideration of the Government.


said, that after the observations of the noble Duke, he would withdraw his Motion; but, at the same time, he hoped the Government would not lose sight of the subject.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.