HL Deb 04 August 1909 vol 2 cc911-3

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Donoughmore.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

LORD BELPER said he desired to raise a point of some importance in connection with Clause 3. That clause ran— Nothing in this Act shall be construed as imposing any obligation on a parent to submit his child to medical inspection or treatment under section thirteen of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907. This Bill dealt, not with medical inspection, but with medical treatment. He could easily understand it if the clause merely said that while under the Bill parents could be made to pay for the medical treatment of their children, no obligation should be imposed upon them to submit their children to medical treatment; but this clause seemed to strike at the root of the Act of 1907, which required parents to have their children inspected, by leaving it optional with parents whether or not they should submit their children for inspection. Although this appeared in a supplementary Bill it would be a notice to all parents, a great many of whom did not like their children being medically inspected, that they were not obliged to have them inspected. He understood that this clause was inserted in the Bill in the other House at the instigation of the Government, and he would like to ask whether it was intended that this should be a notice that for the future a parent could refuse to have his child medically inspected. That certainly appeared to be the case, and it went outside the scope of the Bill because the remainder of the Bill dealt purely with medical treatment. There was no doubt whatever that local authorities were bound to have children medically inspected. He was told that there was some doubt in the wording of the Act whether, if a parent refused, he could be compelled to have his child medically inspected, but at all events if this clause passed there would be no doubt about it for the future. Parents would know that they need not submit their children to medical inspection, and he had no doubt that a large number of parents, particularly the parents of those children who most required medical inspection, would refuse to allow their children to be medically inspected. He wished to ask the Government whether that was the intention of the clause.


The point which has been raised by the noble Lord is one on which I think we shall have to make some further inquiry. I conceive that this clause was inserted from a feeling of caution lest it should be supposed that this Bill placed upon parents any compulsion which was not placed upon them by the Act of 1907. It is, therefore, purely precautionary. I am inclined to agree with the noble Lord that in its form it is somewhat alarming, and, speaking without prejudice and subject to inquiries which I may make, I should have thought that its form might have been improved by saying that— Nothing in this Act shall be construed as imposing an obligation further than is provided under Section 13 of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907, or some words to that effect, in order to make it clear that the law is left as it is and that if compulsion exists it exists still, and that if it does not exist matters are left where they are. I take it that is the intention of the clause, and perhaps it might be carried out in some such way as I have suggested.


I had hoped to get the Bill through without delay, but after what the noble Earl has said I shall put off the later stages, if it now passes through Committee, until the inquiries to which the noble Earl has referred have been made. Perhaps my noble friend Lord Belper will allow me to communicate with him on the subject.


Certainly, on the understanding that there will be an opportunity of dealing with the matter at a future stage.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment: Standing Committee negatived.