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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 18 Apr 1928

Vol. 23 No. 1


I move "That the Vaccination (Amendment) Bill, 1928, be read a Second Time." This is a Bill to give the right to parents to sign a conscientious objection declaration if they believe that vaccination is against the health of their children, to give them the same rights and privileges that the people in England and Wales have at the present time. I am not introducing the Bill as an attack upon the medical profession, because members of the medical profession itself are greatly divided on the question of vaccination as a preventative of smallpox. I am introducing it at the request of my constituents, and in doing so I believe I am representing the views of a very large section of the citizens of the Saorstát. We demand the same liberties and rights for the people in the Twenty-six Counties as the people in England have. We in this country have advocated for years the right of self-determination from the political side. Surely if it is necessary to have self-determination on a political question it is more necessary to have self-determination for parents as regards what they think best for their children. I am not going into the arguments that other Deputies more qualified than I am may raise on the question of the introduction of vaccination into England by Doctor Jenner. I simply point out that over 5,000 people in County Wicklow, and 20,000 in Wexford, have objected to having their children vaccinated.

A large amount of expense would be put on the ratepayers by enforcing the Act, and the punishment on the parents can only be inflicted once. If they go to jail for refusing to comply with the law as it at present exists they cannot be punished a second time because a child is not vaccinated. All those in favour of vaccination may point out that smallpox exists in England, and that an epidemic may break out in Ireland, but the fining or imprisonment of parents is not a preventative. Medical men who are in favour of vaccination state that, in their opinion, the serum will act as a preventative for seven years. If that theory is correct, then to be consistent these medical men should advocate that everybody should get vaccinated every seven years, instead of inflicting punishment and hardship on children. I have no medical experience, but I have ten or twelve years' experience on a public board; I have seen cases where poor, ill-nourished children were forcibly vaccinated, and I have seen the after-effects and the sufferings of these poor children as a result of vaccination.

The medical profession and medical authorities are not unanimous on the question that vaccination is a preventative against smallpox. I am a member of a certain committee, and I know that medical men recommend the injection of tuberculin as a cure for tuberculosis. We know that that does not cure it any more than vaccination prevents smallpox. If the medical profession would help the people by getting them better housing, by solving the housing problem, by clearing out the slums of our cities and even of our towns, if the medical profession would impress on the Medical Department of the Department of Local Government the necessity for dealing with other diseases in the same way as they impress on them the necessity for enforcing the Vaccination Act, I say that we would not have the large and increasing number of people dying from consumption. Eminent medical men have placed on record their considered opinion that even the existing vaccination laws in Great Britain should be repealed, that vaccination should be abolished altogether, because they have found from experience that those who have been vaccinated are as liable to be attacked by smallpox as those who have not been vaccinated. I will refer to what happened in India, where there are many epidemics each year. A Royal Commission reported that 3,000 soldiers were vaccinated, and that 391 of them died from the results of vaccination. Australia, where the population is almost entirely unvaccinated, has been practically free from smallpox. The argument will be advanced here that there is a mild form of the disease in England, and that, on account of being so near our shores, there is a possibility that it may spread to this country. A report appeared in the "Irish Independent" on the 26th January stating that 15 medical men held a post-mortem examination on a man who was vaccinated, and they were unable to agree on a verdict as to whether he died from vaccination or smallpox. The employer of the man in question gave him the option of being vaccinated owing to the outbreak of a mild form of epidemic. At any rate, a post-mortem examination was made by 15 doctors, and they were unable to come to any decision. Medical men differ on this question.

Deputies may not agree with this Bill, but the problem of the unvaccinated people—those who have a conscientious objection to it—will remain. The authorities will not be able to force the people, even with their laws, to have their children vaccinated, as it is their belief that it is against the interests of the children. All the laws that may be made will not force the people to have their children vaccinated. I could quote various medical and lay opinions to show that vaccination is not at all a preventative of disease. We need not go to England for them, but can come nearer home to the late Dr. Russell of Dublin, who, in a series of articles, gave it as his considered opinion that vaccination had not proved a success, even in this country. As I pointed out, this debate will give rise to controversy on the medical side, but I ask the Minister to accept this Bill. It is not an anti-vaccination Bill, as parents in favour of vaccination can have their children vaccinated. It is not right, however, to impose it on those who conscientiously believe that vaccination is injurious to the health of their children. It is in order to give these people the right that wealthy people have at the present time that the Bill is introduced. I have had personal experience that when wealthy people can produce medical certificates to prove that it is injurious to the health of their children to have them vaccinated, the matter rests there, while the poor person is prosecuted, as he has no fee with which to bring in a medical man to state that it would be against the health of his children to have them vaccinated.

That is not so.

I will quote a case to the Minister from my constituency. A poor person was brought up, he was unemployed, and was fined 6d. and £1 costs, while a professional gentleman who was summoned defended himself. He had a medical certificate to prove that it would not be in the interests of the child to have it vaccinated. That case was adjourned until the child would get strong. If the Minister wants names I will submit them to him, privately, and also the name of the justice.

What I suggest is that the Deputy cannot bring forward a case in which a child was vaccinated by the dispensary doctor where that child was not in a satisfactory state of health to be vaccinated.

That is not the point.

That is the point the Deputy makes.

My point is that if a person has money he will be able to get medical evidence, if the child is delicate, to prove to the magistrate that it is not in the interests of the child that it should be vaccinated. But how can a person drawing the dole, or not in a position even to draw the dole, produce that evidence? The magistrate, then, has no other alternative but to enforce the law.

The Medical Charities Act.

Under the Medical Charities Act the Dispensary doctor is summoned by the Board of Health to go and prove that the child has not been vaccinated. Therefore the man who is summoned could not produce him as a witness.


On a point of order.

I am not going to allow any massed attack on Deputy Everett now. Let Deputy Everett make his case and we will hear the doctors later.

There was a case tried recently in Wexford where a child was vaccinated and died. An inquest was held, and it was admitted that the child had been strong previous to vaccination, and that as a result of the vaccination it died.

That is not so.

If it had not been vaccinated it would not have died.

I am not suggesting that it was the result of the serum. I suggest that if it was not vaccinated it would be alive to-day.

You are perfectly right.

The Minister has more information about it than I have, as there was a sworn inquiry about the case. I have not seen the result yet. If we are out merely to say that vaccination is a preventative of smallpox something must be done by the Department of Local Government, and by the medical profession generally, against a worse disease than smallpox, which is a greater menace to this country than any infectious disease—consumption.

took the Chair.

There have been more deaths from measles and diphtheria in England than from smallpox. If there are 20,000 in Wexford unvaccinated and over 5,000 in Wicklow, is the Minister for Local Government going to enforce vaccination through the Boards of Public Health? I tell him that he will not, that he will fail. I believe that if the Minister can prove to the people that vaccination is a preventative, he should leave it to them voluntarily, as they are the best judges of what is best for their children. As far as I know the parents of Ireland, they are prepared to make every sacrifice, and to stint themselves in every way, for the betterment of their families. Surely if it could be proved that vaccination is a preventative they would not take up the policy that is adopted at present, of not having their children vaccinated. Statistics can and will be given, and I know that Deputy Sir Séamus Craig is anxiously waiting to get up and dispute everything I have said on behalf of the medical profession. I would like to ask him how can he account for the fact that the late Dr. Russell, of Dublin, changed his opinion from being a whole-hogger in favour of vaccination to that expressed in the series of articles which have been published?

Senile decay.

Then it may be possible that some of the medical men in favour of vaccination, and who are forcing on prosecutions, are suffering from the same disease?

They are in their second childhood and should be vaccinated again.

I ask the Minister to accept this Bill. Its acceptance will mean that some right is being given to private members. Otherwise the theory will go out that unless you are a whole-hogger supporter of the Government, or that you sit on the Government Benches, that there is no possibility or chance of a Private Members' Bill being passed by the House. It was only during the last year that the Medical Department of the Local Government Department attempted to enforce this particular Act in the Saorstát. There are Ministers sitting on the Government Front Benches who, in 1919, sent out circulars in connection with this vaccination question. At that time the present Minister for Local Government was on the military side, but the President and some of the other Ministers sent circulars out—I received some of them myself—telling us not to obey this particular law amongst many other laws that we were not to obey at that time. These circulars contained a decree of the Dáil at that time repealing the compulsory vaccination clause, giving us the right to make a conscientious objection, telling us not to go into the British courts, and not to recognise the orders made at that time by public bodies in connection with that matter.

Could the Deputy read that particular circular?

There were a great many circulars sent out at that time that we are not in a position to read now.

And a great many things have been imagined as being in these circulars.

We admit that. There are a great many people who have changed from the decisions they gave out at that particular time and in the opinions that they hold to-day compared to what they held then. The circular was sent out. The President was Minister for Local Government at the time. There was some instruction given that we were not to enforce that particular Act, especially when we got control of the public boards. I think that was in 1919. The Minister can find out whether that is correct from the minutes sent up by public bodies at the time. I have a distinct recollection of the matter. I was in a position to receive those circulars at the time, and that was the instruction given to public boards. The people have a conscientious objection to vaccination, and their opinions in 1927 were the same as they were in 1919. The Minister may try to enforce the Act, but he will not get the people to obey the law. We have certain men in Wicklow offering to go to jail rather than comply with the Act. Some of them have been fined, men in receipt of home help, but they will go to jail rather than have their children vaccinated. If I have any say in the matter, and if I am at liberty in June, you will have men going up for the elections signing forms stating that they will not be prepared to obey this particular order of the Local Government Department. Rather than do so, they will be ready to be fined and go to jail if necessary. They will refuse to remain on public bodies if this Act is going to be enforced. On certain matters there is a good deal of talk here from time to time about England. In this Bill I am only asking for the people of the Saorstát that they should have the same rights and privileges as regards the Vaccination Act as they have in the British Empire.

I rise to oppose this Bill. Deputy Everett spoke of the sufferings of children from vaccination. From a limited experience of nine years practising in rural Ireland, most of it in the dispensary service, I must say that I never saw a case where a child suffered from the effects of vaccination.

Did you read about Wexford?

The condition of things in Wexford will, I dare say, be mentioned by more Deputies than Deputy Everett. I would ask Deputies to remember that the reason we have no smallpox in Ireland to-day—the great reason—is because of the success of the compulsory Vaccination Act. That is the fact. It is because vaccination was compulsory in Ireland, and because the children here were vaccinated, that we have no smallpox. In England, where the conscience clause, such as we are asked to accept now, is in force, you have sporadic outbreaks of smallpox and sometimes very large outbreaks. If statistics are looked up it will be found that smallpox is practically always, in these epidemics, confined to the unvaccinated, and where the vaccinated do happen to contract smallpox they get it in a mild and limited form. But the people who contract the bad form of smallpox which leads to death are the unvaccinated. These are figures that I am sure can be got from the vaccine section under the Department of Local Government by anyone interested in them.

This is not and should not be a matter of conscience; it should be a matter of what is right or what is wrong. If it is right in the interests of the public health to enforce vaccination it should be enforced and should not be a matter of conscience. Deputy Everett spoke of delicate children. The fact is that no delicate child has to be vaccinated until it is in a fit condition for vaccination. I am certain that if a child is suffering say from skin disease, or is debilitated and is brought to a dispensary doctor, it is not vaccinated. The vaccination is postponed until the child is in a fit condition for it. As to whether it is right to vaccinate or not, it may be claimed that vaccination is not a preventive of smallpox. In the Great War there were over 8,000,000 men in the British military forces. Every man, no matter what his rank, was vaccinated and was also inoculated against typhoid fever. During that war, when men were assembled in such numbers under active service conditions, smallpox was unknown because of the success of vaccination as a preventive, and in the same way typhoid fever was unknown.

In the Boer War, Great Britain lost more men in smallpox and typhoid fever than they did from bullet wounds, and you will realise the importance of vaccination from the fact that in the European War where men were engaged in millions instead of thousands smallpox and typhoid fever were unknown. In considering whether it is right to vaccinate or not it would be well for the House to know a few points. Smallpox virus is the most deadly known to medical science. It can strike at a distance of one mile. It was a regulation in the old British Local Government Department, and in the present Department, that a smallpox hospital must be placed at a distance of half a mile from a town with a population of 500 inhabitants. These two simple facts go to show that the virus of smallpox is so deadly that elaborate precautions must be taken. Deputy Everett mentioned the fact that a rich man by getting a certificate need not have his child vaccinated. I do not think I need say anything about that, except that the poor man has got as much protection for he can always take his child to the nearest dispensary and the child will not be vaccinated if it is unfit.

It has been said of medical men—I hope it will not be said here—that they want to retain vaccination for the great fees they get out of it. They get the substantial fee of 2/- for every child they vaccinate. They have to sterilise the instruments, keep the child about fifteen minutes in their house, put on a pad, enter up the name in a book, at the end of every quarter write up about ten books and consult ten more books, and send returns to the Local Government Department, the County Board of Health, and the rest of it. They have about one-eighth of a penny for every word they write. I submit that Deputy Everett has not made a case for the conscience clause. It is better either to have vaccination or have no vaccination. The matter of conscience should not be in it. It is a matter of right or wrong, and whether it is in the interests of public health that we should insist on vaccination or not. I submit that in the interests of public health it is our duty to insist on doing what is for the good of the community. The parent may have a reluctance to see his child scraped by the cruel doctor, and all that, but that is over-rated. When the operation is properly done, as I am sure it is by all dispensary medical men in the country, the so-called pain and torture caused are nil, and the after-effects when the operation is done under aseptic conditions are negligible. No case, I submit, has been made for the introduction of this conscience clause, and, therefore, I oppose the Bill.

I regret very much I was not present when Deputy Everett was making his case against vaccination for smallpox, but with all due respect to the Deputy, I would ask him where has he got his laboratory, where has he got his test tubes, and on what part of the Wicklow hills does he carry out his experiments as regards the efficiency of vaccination for smallpox? I do not know whether Deputy Everett denies that vaccination is a specific against smallpox, or whether he makes his case only against compulsion. A few words as to the efficiency of vaccination may not be out of place. I doubt very much if you will find six medical men in the whole of Ireland who will deny that vaccination is an absolute specific against smallpox. In countries like Germany, which abuts on the western frontiers of Russia, smallpox was an absolute plague some years ago. The German Government dealt very drastically and rapidly with the recurrent epidemics there. They isolated the cases of smallpox in tents, and they vaccinated or re-vaccinated all doctors and nurses who came in contact with the afflicted people. In a very short time the eastern frontiers of Germany, and Germany itself, were absolutely free of smallpox. I could quote other cases ad infinitum to prove that vaccination is a specific against smallpox.

As regards compulsion, every one of us every day has to bear with compulsion. Here in this Dáil we are under the thumb of the Ceann Comhairle, and if we do not obey him we are called to order very quickly. A point I want to bring out, with all respect, is that when it comes to legal problems the man in the street, and I am one of them, has to look to legal men for light. I recollect on former occasions where legal light was required to be thrown on certain matters I found I was a bit muddled when the legal gentleman discussed the subjects. I think when we come to a medical subject or any special subject with which people are accustomed to deal and that call for special study that the people who follow those subjects are best qualified to give an opinion on them. In this case I cannot see how the man in the street can acquire the special scientific knowledge that is necessary to pass an unprejudiced opinion on a vitally important matter like vaccination. I came in towards the end of Deputy Everett's speech and I heard him make reference to the sufferings of the child when he is being vaccinated. Well, vaccination is a very trivial operation, and when properly performed causes little or no pain to the child. In fact when I am vaccinating very often the children smile at me. I want to state very definitely that we have our Sandymount Institute here, and the lymph that is used in vaccinating the children of this country is physiologically pure in every respect, and before it goes down the country it undergoes numerous tests.

Therefore nobody can have any objection or raise any objection and say that the lymph is impure. It is statutory that infants should get vaccinated within three months of their birth because if they are not vaccinated and an outbreak of smallpox takes place they die very rapidly, much more rapidly than adults. I listened only to the end of Deputy Everett's speech. I was not present all the time he was making his case, but from all that I heard I submit that he has not convinced me at any rate to vote for his Bill and I am open to conviction about this matter. I am thinking of what would happen here if several cases of smallpox were to break out. I do not want to create a scare, but it is an ever present danger. We must recollect that for the last couple of years you have had an epidemic of smallpox along the western seaboard of England. You have boats coming constantly to Dublin, Waterford and other ports. I think on recollecting the terrible havoc that smallpox used wreak on the population of Ireland in years gone by, every safeguard should be adopted against this disease. I would suggest with respect that special instructions be issued by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to get the Port Authorities to tighten up the regulations that govern the examination of vessels as regards the health of their crews when they come into our ports. Anyone who looks at this matter from a detached point of view must admit when he recollects, or when he throws his mind back to seventy years ago and pictures to himself the terrible havoc, disfigurements and death caused by smallpox in those days, that he will not have an instant's hesitation in saying that there should be any question of compulsion, that such a clause is not necessary at all, and that it should be compulsory on everyone in the Saorstát to be vaccinated, and, if necessary, re-vaccinated again seven years after his latest vaccination.

I feel a great responsibility as a medical man in trying to prevent such a terrible disaster as may possibly arise and destroy young children in the Saorstát. I have no great sympathy with Deputy Everett. He knows what he is about. If, when he is going to run the risk of getting smallpox, he gets smallpox he can do so. But I am seeking to do something to safeguard young children who are not able to study these matters, and who will be the people who will take the smallpox if an epidemic occurs. They will be the people who will die from it. I have no knowledge of Doctor Russell, who has been quoted here, but I do know about Professor Trousseau, one of the greatest of French physicians, and he says on this matter of inoculation against smallpox:—

"The discovery must remain unchallenged as one of the greatest benefits conferred by medicine on humanity."

He proceeds to analyse the report of an epidemic in 1853 in a small town with a population of 2,600, and he says that no cases of smallpox occurred in vaccinated subjects under twelve years of age. The longer the interval since the primary vaccination the greater was the severity of the disease when it did occur, but it was ascertained that in general the disease was essentially milder in those who were vaccinated as young children, and that the duration was less than half its usual duration. There had been no fatal cases amongst patients vaccinated. Ten deaths occurred among the unvaccinated.

I want to refer to the figures given here already. In 1926, in England and Wales, there were 10,141 cases of smallpox. In those who were vaccinated not a single case occurred in children under twelve years of age. There were only eight cases between twelve and fifteen years. Of those unvaccinated at that same period from childhood to fifteen years of age there were no less than 4,640 cases of smallpox. If you allow those figures to sink in I do not think there is any need for anyone to go further in seeing what the effect of vaccination is.

I again particularly allude to the fact that children are safe if vaccination takes place. The reason why the conscience clause is in the English Act depends upon a particular cause. The medical profession was not properly represented to press the case. In the second place, there was an idea gone forth that if the people were allowed to avail of this conscience clause that other people would allow vaccination to take place without any objection whatever. There is no doubt that the conscience clause is responsible for the large epidemic at the present time in England; there were 15,000 cases last year. Deputy Everett referred to the cost of the enforcement of the Act. Let me for a moment ask what the cost of the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic is amounting to? If the authorities in Wexford knew that they had a preventive for foot-and-mouth disease would they reject it? Again, I am pleased that there has been no smallpox in Wexford, but there is no doubt about it they are living on the edge of a volcano. We have had 15,000 cases of smallpox in England last year. A man or woman who is infected with smallpox has eleven days in which he can travel where he likes. He has no symptoms of the illness. Then he is ill for two or three days, at the end of which the rash comes out. What happens to him after the rash comes out? He gets up and thinks he is getting better, and he is then scattering the disease far and wide. Reference has been made to the question of measles. No sanitation is going to check either the outbreaks of measles or smallpox. They are air-borne diseases, and no good can be effected as far as sanitation itself is concerned. Sanitation has dispelled enteric fever. It has, to a large extent, reduced diphtheria, but sanitation will not do the same thing for these two diseases. It was stated here this evening that if the Department of Local Government and Public Health would only turn its attention to sanitation there would be no necessity for vaccination. I am surprised to find these statements coming from Deputies from Wexford, who, I understand, are the only people who have refused, up to the present, to consider the question of the appointment of a county medical officer of health. I hope I am wrong.

Unfortunately you are.

If I am wrong, then I apologise and withdraw. I say it is an extraordinary thing to find Deputies from Wexford saying: "We want to effect better sanitation, and that will do away with smallpox," and then they refuse to do what sensible people know is necessary in order to effect proper sanitation in the county. I have said so much about sanitation, and Deputy O'Dowd has alluded to another point, that certain other diseases have yielded extraordinarily well to inoculation. I refer to tetanus. Formerly tetanus was regarded as almost incurable. If a man got a fall where there was any farmyard manure, he was almost certain to get his wound infected with tetanus. Now, when a man gets wounded, as in the Great War, we give him an inoculation immediately, and no tetanus occurs. The effect of vaccination is no greater and no less in the case of smallpox than in the case of tetanus. I admit that the immunity dies out after a certain time, but I have shown that there is immunity probably up to twelve years of age. If medical men had the power you would have re-vaccination at puberty and at 30 years of age. I have been re-vaccinated. Each time I was brought in contact with smallpox I was vaccinated. I would have been a criminal if I had not been vaccinated.

Let me now refer to a statement that was broadcast that syphilis and tuberculosis are given to children through lymph. In former days when children were vaccinated from arm to arm, there was a possibility that syphilis might have been inoculated into the child. But calves are not subject to syphilis, and as far as syphilis is concerned there is no risk in using calves' lymph. It must be remembered that these calves are tested with tuberculin before being used. If they show the slightest sign of disease the calves are destroyed and not used. Calves are inoculated; then the serum is taken from them and glycerine is added. Glycerine does not destroy the virus of vaccination, but it destroys all the subjects that produce suppuration. If you scratch your hand and expose it to the air, pus will form. The organisms that might be present in lymph that would cause that are destroyed by glycerine, and, therefore, glycerine is used in connection with calves' lymph.

Vaccination is a very important thing, and I would like to be loyal to my own profession. I must say that if any disease occurs it must be attri- buted usually to want of care and cleanliness in the method of vaccination. I vaccinated 25 children a couple of months ago in a poor school. Those children were not laid up for an hour. They never complained in the slightest degree while I was vaccinating them, nor were they laid up. They did not show any signs of illness. I have vaccinated hundreds of children in my day and I can conscientiously say that I never saw a child suffer any aftereffects from the vaccination. I say that quite deliberately.

As far as this conscience clause is concerned, it is dishonest, because it means that people who have no knowledge of the matter are going to sign a paper that the vaccination will injure the health of their children. They cannot give an honest certificate of that kind. The people who have no knowledge cannot do so, and I say quite definitely that such a thing would be dishonest. I agree with Deputy O'Dowd that if a child is delicate it should not be vaccinated until it gets stronger. The younger a child is vaccinated the less it feels the vaccination.

There are cranks; there are always cranks. In connection with every discovery we have had people out against it. They were, perhaps, out more against the Listerism that has revolutionised surgery and that has made surgery capable of investigating all parts of the body. They were against it when Lister was preaching his doctrine of cleanliness in surgery.

If you are going to give a conscience clause of this kind to people in regard to vaccination, why not give it to your milkman? Milkmen are known occasionally to water milk. Why not give them a conscience clause to water milk? Occasionally children get indigestion from using milk without being watered, and it is necessary to water it. Why not let the milkman water it as he likes? Why not give a conscience clause to the publican to add a little more water to the whiskey, because he knows that people are sometimes laid up from drinking whiskey? I believe the subjects are on the same footing. Here is an example more to the point about the elasticity of a man's conscience. There was a Scotchman at a ferry, and the charge for crossing was 2d. A poor traveller arrived on a Sunday morning and when he brought out the ferryman he said, "I want you to take me across.""I will," said the ferryman, "but I could not conscientiously break the Sabbath under a half-crown." That is one type of elasticity of conscience.

I agree with what was said by another Deputy, that it is neither a hardship nor a punishment. These are the two words that Deputy Everett used. There is neither hardship nor punishment inflicted on young children when they are vaccinated. We are willing and ready to do this in order that prevention of the disease may take place. I am not a bit surprised that 15 doctors could not agree whether a man died from vaccination or smallpox; I think it is quite possible, and I do not contradict the Deputy who said that. We do not know any preventative for measles as we do for smallpox. Measles is an air-borne disease and is extremely prevalent. It is impossible to segregate cases or prevent people getting it. A measly child has a lot of days to run about and infect everybody with whom it comes in contact before it is detected.

I would prefer Deputy Everett to bring forward a Bill to deal with the Vaccination Acts and to have done with it. This conscience clause is not honest, and it is this clause in the English Act that has brought about a large epidemic of smallpox. Why should we not have cases of smallpox? I had a case of bubonic plague in Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital. The man came on a steamer from Madrid. Then we had several cases of dysentery. There you have cases of plague and dysentery brought to our port. Why would it not be possible for some people suffering from smallpox, who do not know they are affected, to land here and infect members of our population? I trust the Second Reading of this Bill will not pass. I am sorry to disagree with Deputy Everett; he is always a very nice, pleasant companion, but I would have liked to see him showing a little common sense in not bringing forward a motion of this kind.

I am not going to say very much on the subject. It has never affected me personally. None of my children has been vaccinated, and I do not think that they are likely to be. I have been vaccinated twice myself, and whether it did me any good or not I do not know. I have been seeking light on the subject, and I consulted a number of doctors in the last few weeks, and my experience has been that in regard to this question of vaccination, like many other things, doctors differ. I have been receiving— and I suppose others have been receiving them too—innumerable circulars from some anti-vaccination societies, and they have quoted doctors, presumably doctors of repute and doctors with innumerable lists of degrees signified by initials after their names, as authorities against vaccination. I have made up my mind, at any rate, to vote for the Bill. I do not know what my friends on these Benches will do, but I think they are divided in opinion about it too, even the doctors.

I am confirmed in my decision to vote for the Bill as I know that in County Wexford during the last twenty years there has been a live agitation against vaccination. During that time I do not know what the number of children would have been who were not vaccinated, but there must be thousands, at any rate, in that county alone, not to speak of other parts of Ireland where there has not been agitation but where, nevertheless, children are not vaccinated and where there has not been an outbreak. In my recollection there has been only one outbreak in Dublin, and that was, I think, in the year 1897. I was a schoolboy then and I was revaccinated as were all the other boys in the school. That outbreak, according to my recollection, was brought into the city by some sailors, and I think it found its way to only three or four persons. I do not think that the Local Government Department can be very serious about the matter, because, if they were, they would have made more serious efforts in the last four or five years to enforce the Act in places where there were deliberate efforts made by local authorities to put the Act into operation. Probably the doctors have been pressing them, and they have now awaked to the fact that something must be done.

In the last year there have been a number of prosecutions in Wexford. Prosecutions will not, I believe, have the effect of putting the Act into operation to any great degree. I knew the individuals who started the campaign in Wexford twenty years ago. One of them was a prominent member of the Cumann na nGaedheal and was a leading light in the anti-vaccination movement. These people preached that gospel and it has taken root in the county. I do not believe that if the fathers and mothers of children were imprisoned for not having them vaccinated it would have much effect, so firmly has that gospel taken root and entered into the minds of the people there. I do not doubt Deputy Craig's figures, and whatever smallpox there may be in England there is none here. That may be due to the fact that vaccination has been the rule here since the Acts have been passed. Seeing that there is no smallpox here and that that disease has been for all practical purposes wiped out, I do not see why we should not give the liberty of the conscience clause to those who demand it for conscientious reasons. Those who wish to have their children vaccinated can do so. Those who have seen, as I have, cases where infants suffered great pain and hardship as a result of vaccination should be allowed in the case of their own families, if they so desire, not to have their children vaccinated. If they care to take the risk of contracting smallpox it is up to them. I for one, and I think a number of the Party on these benches, will give hearty support to the Bill.

The case for vaccination has been very clearly put by the medical Deputies on every side of the House and, as a layman, I agree entirely with what they said from my own experience of epidemics both at home and abroad. Deputy O'Kelly alluded to an epidemic in Dublin in the year 1897. I remember an epidemic in the years 1878 and 1879 in Dublin. That was as bad an epidemic as ever occurred in any place. There were some streets in which it was so bad that people were kept from going down them. To the best of my belief, however, the mortality was not at all great. At that time I think vaccination was carried out much more strictly than it is now. Personally, I came in contact with a great many cases of people who contracted smallpox. I did not develop it myself, an escape which I owe to vaccination. Comparatively few people died from it because the Vaccination Order was carried out with extreme strictness. I have also been in India, and I have seen the effect of smallpox there. Deputy Everett mentioned that 391 people died in India as a result of vaccination. He did not say when that occurred. India is a pretty big place, and the methods of treatment there were different to what they would be in this country, at least in my time. There would be greater difficulties there in administering the Act and in carrying out vaccination than there would be in other countries. From my experience no place would give one a stronger desire to see vaccination carried out than India. There you see people going about heavily marked with small pox. The kind of smallpox that used to be there was a kind that had terrible lasting effects on people even when they recovered. I have seen one or two cases of people whose appearance became very unsightly, to put it in parliamentary language. All that, in my opinion, would have been avoided if vaccination had taken place. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.