Oral Answers to Questions — Smallpox (Vaccination).

– in the House of Commons on 5th May 1925.

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Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

59.

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the recent increase in cases of smallpox throughout the country; what is the total number of cases which have been notified during the past three months; and whether he has received any report as to the causes which have brought about the recent increase in such cases?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affimative. The total number of cases of smallpox notified in England and Wales during the 12 weeks from the 4th January to the 28th March was 1,609. My right hon. Friend has received numerous reports made by medical officers of his Department who have visited the districts in which smallpox is prevalent, and is advised that the recent increase in the number of cases may be attributed to the neglect of vaccination in many of the invaded districts, and to neglect of the precautions which are essential if the spread of the disease is to be checked. My right hon. Friend may perhaps take this opportunity of informing the House and the country that he is advised that there is no doubt that the disease now so prevalent in certain districts is true smallpox, though happily mild in degree, and that vaccination is the only reliable protection against it.

Sir W.DAVISON:

Can my hon. Friend say whether or not the late Minister of Health issued an Order making it easier for people to obtain exemption from vaccination?

Photo of Dr Thomas Watts Dr Thomas Watts , Manchester, Withington

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that each of these cases costs the local authority £250 for treatment, isolation, disinfection and so forth; has his attention been drawn to the report of a medical officer of health who proves distinctly that in his area, with the money which had to be spent on these cases. they could have built 1,000 or 1,500 houses?

Photo of Mr Neil Maclean Mr Neil Maclean , Glasgow Govan

Will the hon. Gentleman issue Orders to local authorities to expedite the building of houses and the opening up of spaces, and to take steps to eliminate this disease by fresh air and pure food instead of by vaccination?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

May I have a reply to my question, as to whether additional facilities were given by the late Minister of Health for obtaining exemption?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I propose to reply to that point on the next question.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Will the hon. Member also say whether there has been an outbreak of smallpox in the East End of London within the last few days?

Photo of Sir Victor Warrender Sir Victor Warrender , Grantham

60.

asked the Minister of Health if his attention has been drawn to the increase of smallpox in certain areas; and whether the incidence of the disease has been increased since the coming into effect of the present regulations affecting exemption from vaccination?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, it is presumed that my hon. Friend is referring to the Order issued by the late Minister of Health, which had the effect of reversing an Order issued by my right hon. Friend on the 20th July, 1923, and of re-inserting the form of statutory declaration of conscientious objection in the notice of the requirement of vaccination handed to the parent or guardian when the birth of a child is registered. The Order of the late Minister came into force on the 1st October last, and my right hon. Friend is carefully watching its effect, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to enable him to form a final opinion.

Photo of Dr Thomas Watts Dr Thomas Watts , Manchester, Withington

How does the hon. Gentleman account for the fact that, despite the number of cases of smallpox which occur, proceedings are rarely, if ever, instituted under the present Vaccination Act?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I must ask for notice of that question.

Photo of Sir Francis Fremantle Sir Francis Fremantle , St Albans

Are His Majesty's Government considering the transference of these powers from the boards of guardians to the sanitary authorities so that they may be worked in common with the general maintenance of the public health?