Speaking on the last day that this matter was before the Dáil I referred to the mortality statistics and the difficulty that there appeared to be in placing any particular reliance upon them. I have, of course, in mind the propagandist disposition on the part of either the vaccinationists or the anti-vaccinationists as to how they should utilise these figures, but I have a figure which may be of interest to Deputies here in relation to a period in which there was not any particular activity on the part of anti-vaccinationists. From the year 1876 to 1879, 1,804 cases of smallpox were treated by Cork Street Fever Hospital. The mortality amongst the vaccinated was 11.6 per cent., and amongst the unvaccinated 63.6 per cent., so that the mortality amongst the unvaccinated was five times what it was in the case of the vaccinated.
PRIVATE DEPUTIES' BUSINESS. - VACCINATION (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1928.—SECOND STAGE (Resumed).
Were all other things equal?
Yes, all other things being equal.
I wonder has the President information to that effect from the statistics?
I do not suppose that this matter will be settled to-day, and the Deputy can, if he wishes, go to Cork Street Hospital and correct these figures. It is not a question of a return from Sheffield or Chesterfield or some other place like that. We have the figures here and, as it has been stated, it is not a political matter. I hope it is not. I often hear it said that a matter is not political when we find members of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party divided, but I have not noticed any particular enthusiasm on the part of Deputies on the benches opposite to inform the House when they are divided that it is not a Party matter. The division is not so marked over there as would lead us to conclude that it is a non-political matter. If my recollection is right, I think that this agitation started in Co. Wexford some 20 years ago. My own impression is that it was then a political matter, and that the activities of the anti-vaccinationists were largely confined to members of the Sinn Fein Party at that time.
Ex-Deputy Sears started it.
Yes, and I think the late Seán Etchingham had something to do with it. In my view it was political at that time. A very great friend of mine suffered a month's imprisonment for refusing to have his children vaccinated. I think that the unlettered and the unlearned, and many other people of that ilk, contributed towards making this a prominent question when it should not have been a prominent question and when there were very little grounds for it. I am not going to hold for a moment that vaccination will give absolute immunity from smallpox. I am not going to pit my lay knowledge against the skilled knowledge of members of the medical profession. We have members of the medical profession on both sides, and I am not going to join in the chorus of those who say that members of the medical profession are not agreed on the subject. I wonder if I were to pay a visit to the Stock Exchange with £1,000 and say, "I want to have it invested," how many members of the Stock Exchange would agree in recommendations as to how it should be invested. I wonder if one were to put a question concerning legislation to what, in America, they call a bunch of politicians, how many would agree in giving a solution, and yet some Deputies seem to take great delight in saying that the medical profession is divided on the subject, and put remarkable emphasis on it. One name that was mentioned was Sir Edwin Chadwick. Being rather curious as to where he came from. I consulted the "Encyclopaedia Britannica." I find that he was called to the Bar without any independent means, and set out to support himself by literary work. He was introduced to the notice of a gentleman named Jeremy Bentham, who engaged him as literary assistant and left him a handsome legacy. In 1832 he was employed by the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the operation of the Poor Laws, and in 1833 he was made a full member of that body. He was associated with a Mr. Senior in drafting the celebrated report of 1834 which procured the reform of the old Poor Laws. He seemed to have no more association with medical matters than Deputy Boland or myself.
He lived to a very ripe old age, and I am positively certain, although it is not recorded in the accounts, that he was vaccinated.
Is that on the medical register of the district?
I do not know about that. As far as that gentleman is concerned, I venture to say that a respectable member of the Dublin Corporation would be as good an authority on vaccination as Sir Edwin Chadwick.
If the Deputy wishes. I have not been able to place Dr. Russell Wallace, who was quoted at considerable length by Deputy Everett, and while not suggesting for a moment that he never lived, he has not left any great record behind him to warrant, I suppose, the attention which members of the medical profession would be glad to read of in connection with a distinguished member. It was mentioned here that bad sanitation and so on, had some direct effect, if my recollection was quite correct, in giving rise to this disease. I am informed that that is not so, that it must be taken from some person suffering from it, some infected article or something of that kind. I would like Deputies from Wexford to pay particular attention to their contiguity to a place in England which is rather subject to this disease at the moment. It is prevalent also, I believe, in Wales. They have already had the rather painful experience of the transference of another disease down there, foot and mouth disease, which, I believe, came from Wales. I was really amazed to read that while there is no case of smallpox in the country, if there were a case of smallpox, you would have the citizens of Wexford lining up in queues to get vaccinated. That is not a good spirit.
What I am afraid of in connection with this matter is this: somebody starts a particular line of policy: it is an easy one and various explanations and various examples of the danger of vaccination are mentioned. Those are exaggerated, of course, in their story and in their carrying, and people are inclined to believe there is a danger in it. The facts are that up to some twenty or thirty years ago this disease was responsible for very great suffering and considerable mortality in this country. The only thing which arrested its progress, as far as my examination of scientific information can go, is vaccination. It is a preventative. It is not claimed for it that it is more than a preventative. The operation itself, the use of the lymph, is altogether different to what it was a hundred years ago. At the present moment, as far as the ordinary precautions which science can take can be brought into operation, there is absolutely no danger of any bad results from vaccination. That was not the case on the introduction of the system over a hundred years ago. That was not the case thirty or 40 years ago. We have improved since that time and since the use of glycerinated calf lymph was introduced. Immunity from any of the unfortunate reactions which attended earlier vaccination is almost assured. It was mentioned here on the last day that there was a remarkable incidence of smallpox in Germany during the war. On inquiry at the German Consular Office we learned that smallpox at that period occurred only among Polish and Russian refugees and migratory labourers.
What percentage came from the number of foreigners? In some of the figures I read and in some of the cases that I recollect the figure was only .3. Is that figure right or wrong?
I could not say. On inquiry at the German Consular Office we were told that smallpox occurred only among the Polish and Russian refugees and the migratory labourers.
The Minister referred to a chart he had. I mentioned that the figures I was quoting from were in tabular form. I think they were portion of the same statistics that he said he had. Perhaps he could say if the .3 per cent. in relation to foreigners was correct?
I was describing the effect of vaccination over the period from 1825 to 1901 and the figures I quoted did not extend beyond 1901.
In the case of the Netherlands, compulsory vaccination was suspended in 1908 for twelve months on the advice of the medical experts owing to some defect in the lymph caused by encephalitis.
I would not like to have that anyway. I would never get over it.
The Deputy will appreciate the fact that by reason of the activity of the Local Government Department here in securing absolutely pure and perfect glycerinated calf lymph, there is no danger of him or any of his friends getting that.
Except something happens to the lymph again.
Deputies voting on this matter will be well advised to look up the incidence of the disease in England during the last twelve or eighteen months. Those of them who have particular interest in it might read in the "Daily Mail" of May 10th., from Geneva: "The outbreak of smallpox in London recalls the warning uttered at the League of Nations Health Committee last week when statisties were produced showing that England and Wales are the only countries in Europe where smallpox on a large scale is now encountered." They would be well advised to look up the Report issued by the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health for the year 1926. On page 39 it is recorded that 4,848 children under 14 years of age suffered from smallpox. In the case of 4,848 children, 4,840 were unvaccinated as against 8 children who were vaccinated. I think medical opinion generally does not give an immunity of more than seven or eight years; does not put down a longer period than seven or eight years as being entitled to be looked upon as making a person immune from this disease. Certainly those are very remarkable figures.
Talking about this being or not being a political question, as the question of self-determination for persons was mentioned by Deputy Everett, I remember very nearly twenty years ago that the Dublin Corporation were endeavouring to deal with tuberculosis here, and the Public Health Committee, of which Alderman O'Kelly was at that time Chairman, advised putting into operation the notification of tuberculosis. I remember that although there were really no politics on that question at that time, certain people wrote to the Press and spoke on platforms about the extraordinary alliance between Sinn Féin and the Unionist parties at that time, and those two parties were charged with making an attempt to brand as lepers unfortunate persons who were suffering from tuberculosis. It was said on fairly good authority that the inauguration of that Act and the putting into force of its provisions would have no effect whatever upon the ravages of tuberculosis.
After twenty years look at what has been accomplished in that direction. I find a remarkable reduction in the mortality from that disease. Deputy Everett, with that extraordinary disposition to disprove any improvement in health conditions, wanted to know how we stood as regards hospitals and sanatoria; whether the numbers of persons in those have increased. That is not the issue at all. The facts are that twenty years ago there was not accommodation in the sanatoria for one-tenth of the persons suffering from the disease, and if one were to succeed in almost wiping it out, there would not be sufficient accommodation in the sanatoria for the persons suffering from it. Tuberculosis is a disorder which can be put in two particular classes; pulmonary tuberculosis and tuberculosis of the limbs; and after one has dealt with—if we ever manage to deal with it—pulmonary tuberculosis, there is still tuberculosis of the limbs to be dealt with. If sanatoria are not now filled with persons suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, so much the better. Science has certainly contributed to a remarkable extent in improving the health of the people and securing their immunity from zymotic diseases.
This is one of the recommendations— vaccination—in addition to many others which they are making in order to keep the public health of the people at a high standard. It has been almost universally adopted. Even in New York in a lecture some time ago, it was lecture 214, the question dealt with was the desirability and necessity of vaccination. In the one country where those who were called "conscientious objectors" have been catered for the incidence of the disease is on the increase, and we are asked in all seriousness to establish the same sort of law here as the law that prevails there where the incidence of the disease is on the increase. We are asked in the most extraordinary manner to put into effect the conscience clause: "I do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that I conscientiously believe that vaccination would be prejudicial to the health of the child." Now, really, that is an extraordinary declaration to ask from a person who has an objection to vaccination, an objection fostered to a very great extent by this extraordinary propaganda, which in my view—I may be wrong—originally had a political tinge. It may not now have it, but if I were a representative of Wexford or Wicklow, notwithstanding the consequences, I would tell the people that it was ill-advised and unfortunate propaganda, and that it was not in their best interests; that they, like the rest of the people, should make themselves immune, just as the rest of the country has done, from this particular disorder.
Has the President the figures as to the number of cases of smallpox in Wexford for the last twenty years?
No, and I hope there will never be any such cases in these counties. If a man has a rather inflammable house in a terrace where there are eight or nine other houses, and if the other seven or eight people insure their homes, it is rather a danger to leave one house uninsured, or not to take any precautions in connection with that one house. That is the only illustration I can think of at the moment. If I had time to think it out, I would give you a better illustration. The Deputy and myself are simply laymen with regard to this matter.
Laymen have rights too.
Well, it is stated that the people should have self-determination in these cases, and it is put up as if this were something that was unfair to, and was an imposition on, them. The same Deputy and the same Party were particularly loud in their demands for compulsory school attendance, and in that case we punish the unfortunate man who may be at work when his child should be attending school. That man is fined, and fined repeatedly, and we have no guarantee that the child is to be sent to school afterwards, so that there is nothing in that particular argument. This conscience clause is simply, to my mind, slavishly following an English political party. This conscience clause is the peculiarity of one political party in England, the party that I think was called the Non-Conformist Conscience Party. If the Deputy is going to nail that to his political accomplishments, well, I am sorry for him. I do not know whether Deputies here realise what an extraordinary advance there has been in public health in this country during the last fifty years. Vaccination is one of the things which has contributed towards that advance. I want Deputies to consider if this Bill were passed whether it is not the beginning of a big onslaught upon necessary provisions, conditions, and regulations, and I want them to realise that few people can understand, who have not had experience of the administration of matters in connection with public health, what dangers there are. There was some objection here years ago to vaccination. There was one man whom I know in the City of Dublin who, to ensure that he would not be prosecuted for failing to have his child vaccinated, actually failed to notify the birth of the child. That child is not legally alive at the present moment because of its birth not being registered, because, not having had the birth notified, no prosecution could follow for failure to vaccinate. We might as well have a conscience clause with regard to any other one of our Acts. Modern democracy regulates our laws according to the majority of the persons voting. The majority of persons, I believe, desire immunity from smallpox. This is a scientific recommendation to secure that immunity, and until science produces a better one we should be satisfied with this recommendation. I oppose the Bill.
I would like to see this left a non-political question. As far as I can find out, some of the members, on this side anyway, are going to vote against this Bill, and others are going to vote for it. I do not know if the same applies to the other Parties. I got one little bit of information from the President's speech which did not altogether deal with vaccination, and it was a bit of information with which we had not been supplied before in this House, and that is that the outbreak of this foot-and-mouth disease in Wexford came from Wales.
Up to the present we were assured that nobody knew where it came from. I think the point that was made that if this conscience clause was introduced it would lead to laxity in the observance of the public health laws is not altogether justified. It is quite a different matter to compel a man to keep his house clean or the roof of it in proper order and to compel him to have his child vaccinated. A man may believe that it is against the health of his child to have the child vaccinated. The number of such people may be small. Vaccination is on quite a different plane to anything else that people are compelled to do under the public health laws. I was very sorry to hear the President mention that he was aware of the illegality of a man not having his child registered and that he did not report it.
Might I intervene to say that when I heard of it the child was twenty-one years of age.
I do not think that alters the case, and I am afraid the President is guilty of being an accessory after the fact. We have been told that smallpox is a dangerous disease. There is no doubt that it is one of the most dangerous diseases that could afflict this or any other country. We can at least say this, that it is not as dangerous a disease, or at least that it is not as prevalent as many other diseases that are still not dealt with by means of compulsory legislation as it is. If I liked I could perhaps make debating points about vaccination, but as this is a matter of life or death we should treat it seriously. I could quote Lady Montague who brought in a cure for smallpox before the present system of vaccination was introduced. She came from Constantinople, and introduced a sort of inoculation which was supposed to stop smallpox, but which in reality was a method of giving the person affected a slight attack of smallpox. Sometimes it developed into a very grave attack. As I have said that is only a type of the small debating points that could be made but which I think should not be introduced into a discussion of this sort because the matter is really very serious.
I am not going to deny that vaccination. When properly carried out, is without any doubt a preventive of smallpox for a certain number of years. What I see in this is: That we are directing our attention not only in this country, but in many others, against a disease which is not now very important as compared with many other diseases. If we turned our attention to such diseases as tuberculosis, diphtheria, influenza, measles, etc., which are responsible for thousands of deaths each year, we would, I think, be doing better work with regard to the public health and the preservation of life than by compelling people by legislation to have their children vaccinated. Take a disease like tetanus. It is not very prevalent it is true, but I believe there are at least six or seven deaths each year in this country from tetanus. It is a disease that can be definitely prevented by inoculation, and yet there is no compulsion on a person who gets a severe wound or a severe cut to go and have himself inoculated against it.
The great difference with regard to that disease is that it is not communicable to other people. The danger only applies to the individual concerned.
If you take diseases like influenza or diphtheria which do spread, there is no doubt about it but that vaccination or inoculation, as the case may be, will prevent their spread. The serum for diphtheria is certain practically not only to prevent this disease, but if taken in time, even when the disease has set in, to cure it. Yet, as regards these diseases, there is no degree of compulsion, or at any rate, there is not the same amount of punishment for failing to enforce treatment that would prove effective as there is in the case of the enforcement of vaccination against smallpox.
The Minister for Local Government, when speaking on the question of tuberculosis, and the President also, held that much had been done to stamp out that disease in this country. I am sure that a good deal has been done, but I would point out that as regards tuberculosis we must not rely too much on figures. I know of two reasons at least why the decrease in the number of deaths that appear from tuberculosis is not altogether due to good sanitation. I had patients of my own who were suffering from tuberculosis before the big influenza epidemic in 1918. They died from that epidemic of influenza. A big number of people in the country who at that time were suffering from tuberculosis, died during the influenza epidemic. In fact, I think that very few people who had tuberculosis and got influenza at that time, lived through it, so that I think it might be said that after that epidemic there were not many people left suffering from tuberculosis. Naturally, therefore, the death-rate from tuberculosis for some years after that will reveal a falling figure.
There is another point in connection with this. I know from experience that people who really die of tuberculosis are sometimes not registered as dying from it. That occurs for various reasons. If you like to put it this way: people would prefer that their relatives died from any other disease than tuberculosis. They do not like to get the name of having the disease in the house. Another cause for that is that for commercial reasons, and particularly where a person has not been very long insured, some cause of death other than that of tuberculosis, is put down if possible. Of course, I do not say that is always possible, but if possible, some cause of death is put down which would be of shorter duration than tuberculosis.
The big objection that I have to the present vaccination law is that there are people in Wexford and other places who really believe that if they are to get the children vaccinated that they will be running the greatest risk of bringing diseases of different sorts on their children. It is very hard to expect these people to get their children vaccinated and take the terrible risks that they believe they would be taking if they consented to have their children vaccinated.
I believe if the law remains as it is you will still have these people refusing to be vaccinated and continuing to go to jail or to pay fines, that you will not have them vaccinated, and, therefore, you will not have all the people immune from smallpox. That leads us to the serious question whether the people who are vaccinated feel they are secure from an attack of small-pox. If an epidemic of smallpox were to come to the country at present many people who were vaccinated in their youth, and who are now thirty or forty years of age, believe they would be immune from attack, but they would not. In addition, children will continue to be unvaccinated and they will not be immune in the case of an epidemic.
In my opinion while you have the present situation and the present objection to smallpox you should let the people recognise frankly that they are in a very serious position if an epidemic of small-pox comes, so that they would, as the President suggests, line up immediately and get vaccinated if smallpox came. This feeling of false security, this belief on the part of people that they are perfectly immune from smallpox, is one of the greatest dangers in the event of an epidemic. Unless you are going to have everybody vaccinated, children vaccinated within six months of birth, and vaccination carried out every eight or nine years after, unless you are going to have it generally done at the bayonet point, there will be the greatest danger if an epidemic comes. I do not want to give any medical reasons against vaccination. The doctors who have spoken here took a very serious view of this as compared with other matters. We all know and recognise that doctors belong to one of the most conservative professions and it is very hard to change their opinions once they are formed. I have no doubt whatever that, when the vote on the Second Reading is taken, the doctors will see the danger of the present situation, and will recognise there are people in the country who are genuinely and conscientiously against vaccination.
With regard to the conscience clause, as the Bill is worded there is not going to be any abuse under it. We have heard here of parents who are too careless to have their children vaccinated. This Bill will not apply in their case, for as regards the conscience clause they must exercise the greatest care as they must sign the clause within the first three months of the birth of a child. A careless parent will not do that within the first three months, and if it is not done within the three months the Act will not apply. The President appealed to the Deputies for Wexford and Wicklow to vote for this Bill, and to go back and tell the people that it was for their own good, and get them vaccinated. Even if I were to do that I do not know that it would be in any way effective. The people in these counties have their minds firmly made up, and I believe that they are out more against the injustice of the vaccination laws than anything else. I cannot make any promise, but it is quite possible if this Bill were made an Act and if the people were free in the matter of choosing for or against vaccination that more children would be vaccinated than at present.
I want an answer to one question from people who are opposed to vaccination, and who wish to have the provision of a conscience clause, would they insist on the clause operating in the event of a visitation of smallpox? I gather from Deputy Ryan's speech he admits that vaccination is efficacious for a number of years. Then the whole question files itself down, to my mind, as to whether in the event of a visitation of smallpox vaccination would be accepted by everybody in the country as a necessity.
By everybody over seven.
And under seven, provided they were not vaccinated before. But we are told that the principal opposition to vaccination comes from Wexford.
Some of it also comes from Kilkenny.
Yes, I must say that we have disciples of William Sears outside the Wexford border. I think we can trace the origin of this conscience clause to a campaign conducted by a paper known as the "Enniscorthy Echo" some years ago, edited by an ex-Deputy of this House. I do not know why they were slavishly following the Non-Conformist Conscience in England, but I do believe that the anti-vaccinationists in this country are slavishly following that Non-Conformist conscience. That was thought to be good business some years ago by the "Enniscorthy Echo." We should accept some guidance from the medical profession. Every doctor will admit that the period of childhood is the open door for smallpox. Children are the spear-head, as I think it was described by the Minister for Local Government, in the matter of vaccination. Children are unable to decide for themselves, and their parents must make the decision. In this case where there is an open door we must shut it. I am a parent, and I am not sure whether I hold the record as a family-man. I think the record belongs to Deputy Mrs. Collins-O'Driscoll. I have no objection to giving my children all the protection that medical science can offer. I have been vaccinated myself, and most of my children have, though I think I could come under the category of the careless parent in regard to some of them. This is a matter on which we should accept the views of the medical profession. As the President said, we as laymen cannot be judges of this question. We have fanatics and faddists who are trying to sway public opinion by certain publications, and we have societies in England and elsewhere trying to do the same thing. The medical profession, as far as I can see, are against the fanatics, and I think every person with a well-ordered mind will accept the authority of the medical profession on this matter.
We have such a large number of divisions in the Dáil and consider such a number of Bills, that it often happens that we forget, some years later, how we have voted on a particular matter. I think that there is no doubt that should I forget how I voted on this Bill some friends of mine, or perhaps some colleague of mine, will be sure to remind me when the elections come around. I am aware that a large number of my constituents are opposed to vaccination. Were I simply a delegate here to vote solely according to the opinion of any considerable number of my constituents, I would, presumably, have to vote in favour of the Bill.
Not at all. Only six people attended a meeting called by the Mayor of Wexford to express anti-vaccination views.
I have received a considerable correspondence on the matter at any rate. But there is a difference between a Deputy and a delegate. A Deputy, when he comes here, has to consider matters mainly from the point of view of the whole country, and he can only put forward the point of view of his particular constituency when that does not conflict with the general interests of the country as a whole. In any event, this Bill will not solve the problem as it exists in Wexford. All it will do will be to extend that problem to the whole country. That problem cannot be met in County Wexford by legislation, but by wise and tactful administration, so as to give time to the people there to get over the effects of the long period of propaganda to which they were subjected some years ago. I suppose all Deputies have received that "sere-and-yellow leaf" which contains the rather jaundice-coloured gospel of the anti-vaccinationists. I do not know how many Deputies have been persuaded to become hostages as a result of that propaganda. The only effect it had upon me was almost to convince me of the necessity for compulsory re-vaccination. It is quite obvious that expert opinion upon this matter is overwhelmingly in favour of vaccination. Statements have been made here that doctors were prejudiced parties in this matter, and insinuations were even made that they made money out of vaccination, and that the opposition to this Bill by members of the profession in this House was actuated by low personal motives and personal financial gain. I think that insinuation is not only false, but is an unworthy one, and should not be made in this House.
Does the Deputy refer to any Deputy who spoke in favour of my view as making that suggestion?
It was not the Deputy in charge of the Bill that made it, but if the Deputy looks up the Reports he will find there was an insinuation about "grist to the mill." It was a very unworthy suggestion. The people of Wexford have been subjected to very severe regulations and restrictions in order to prevent the spread of a non-fatal disease amongst cattle. I am sure when the matter has been fully explained to them, and the effects of the propaganda have worn off, they will be quite willing to undergo equal restrictions to prevent the spread not merely of a non-fatal disease amongst cattle, but of a very dangerous and often fatal disease amongst their children.
I find that I am in agreement with the medical profession on the question of the conscience clause. I view vaccination simply from the point of view of inoculation. I do not know whether I am correct, but it seems to me to be simply inoculation. If we view the position generally all over the world, both as regards human beings and animals, we will find that every day science is being more and more applied through the method of inoculation in order to prevent disease. You find large cattle ranches in the great cattle producing countries, which at times have been faced with very serious problems, using inoculation. Take for example the question of "blackleg." For owners of stock in the conditions under which their cattle were reared "blackleg" was a very serious disease. The system of inoculation was introduced to prevent the spread of that disease, and I must confess from experience that it was completely successful.
The same thing applied with regard to gangrene. I believe that vaccination has just the very same effect. I wonder what would be the attitude of people who are in favour of the conscience clause supposing we were faced with, what I hope will never take place, an actual epidemic of that terrible disease. I wonder what would be the attitude of people if they witnessed a case of that disease at its height. I have actually seen cases of smallpox and although previously I was rather careless and did not pay much attention to the question of vaccination I shall candidly admit that I am confirmed and convinced that it is a preventative, and if I was not actually convinced that it is a preventative. I would gladly accept it in the hope that it would prevent one from contracting such a disease.
Figures have been quoted from some foreign countries, particularly Brazil. The position there is not exactly as it is here. It is a very large country with a mixed population. You have not doctors in that country so close at hand as you have here, and you have not the facilities for the up-to-date attendance and attention that you have here. Huge numbers of people in Brazil are not vaccinated. I must admit that the government of that country are very particular as regards people coming in. They must be vaccinated, which shows that those people are believers in vaccination as a preventative of the disease.
But the difficulty that they are faced with is the internal population. They are always travelling backward and forward, and as the country has practically no railways and a very poor class of roads, attention by the medical profession is almost impossible. There are districts in that country in which there are more cases of smallpox than in others, and it is strange that I have heard it mentioned that the fruit-growing districts are more prone to that disease than any other. The shipping laws as regards immigration are very strict upon the point of vaccination. That is a proof that it is necessary.
Now, I believe that seven years after vaccination one is liable to contract that disease, but I also believe that if one did contract it after seven years, it would not be so heavy or so severe as if one had never been vaccinated. The medical profession, I daresay, will enlighten us on that point, but I have heard authorities make that statement, and I believe they are correct. The disease is probably one of the most loathsome diseases that one can imagine. I am not particularly nervous, or easily frightened, I daresay, but I admit I shall never forget the two cases of smallpox that I have seen. To prevent such a disease getting a grip in a country like ours, which is an island and has the opportunity of being exempt from such disease, any steps which can be taken in that direction should be taken, and should have the support of practically all the representatives of the people of the country.
As the County of Wicklow was linked with the County Wexford as holding a great number of people who were conscientious objectors, I would like to offer some remarks on the speech made by Deputy Everett when he introduced this Bill. He said he introduced it at the request of his constituents. I think Deputy Everett would have been more correct if he had said he introduced it at the request of some of his constituents. I have only received one letter in support of this Bill. Deputy Everett also said that it would put a heavy burden upon the ratepayers unless this Bill became law. To my mind that is a very poor argument. No question of expense to the ratepayers should be considered for one moment as regards this terrible and loathsome disease. No matter what it costs the country, surely that money will be well spent if we keep that terrible and loathsome disease out of the country. I am afraid that Deputy Everett himself feared that he had not a very strong case, because he used these words, "I ask the Minister to accept this Bill. Its acceptance will mean that some right has been given to private members. Otherwise the theory will go out that unless you are a whole-hog supporter of the Government and that you sit on the Government benches there is no possibility or chance of a private member's Bill being passed by this House." I must say that is very poor argument. Deputy Everett tells us in so many words that we must vote for his Bill in order to prove that his statement which I have just quoted is incorrect. He also spoke of inflicting punishment and hardship on children. Surely it is no hardship on children to do for them all that we possibly can to protect them against this terrible disease.
Personally I have come into contact with a good deal of smallpox. I was in Buenos Ayres during a very bad outbreak. It was so bad that the Government very seriously considered the question whether they would not have to close the ports. In order to try and cope with the disease they made a house-to-house inspection and forced everybody to be vaccinated, and in that way they finally quelled that outbreak. I have seen smallpox and I have smelt it, and anybody who has seen or smelt smallpox can never forget it.
Later on, out in East Africa, there was another outbreak. It is very difficult to control it there, because the natives could carry this disease and you have no control over their movements. The estate I was on had a great many natives at work upon it. There were between 300 and 400 of them, and a great number had their wives and their children. The doctor had a district roughly the size of Wicklow to look after, and his only means of locomotion was two mules to cover that vast area. He came out to my place and vaccinated some of the people there. He vaccinated myself and showed me how to do it, and I vaccinated between 300 and 400. Nothing ever went wrong. I have myself seen any amount of vaccinations, and I have never known a solitary case where any bad results occurred.
I was talking the other day to the dispensary doctor in my own district, and he was telling me the case of a child who had infantile nettle-rash. He told me he had very often spoken to the parents about this child. He told them that if he had vaccinated that child they would always blame the vaccination for the nettle-rash. They said they probably would. That child is now six years of age and the nettle-rash has cleared away, and the doctor was telling me that in a few months time he intends to vaccinate the child. My youngest child was vaccinated three times, as a baby, without effect. Later on that child developed nettle-rash, and I was assured by the doctor that when the child comes to the age of six years the nettle-rash will disappear. He was perfectly correct. The child was six years last week and the nettle-rash has completely disappeared, and in a short time the child will be vaccinated. My other child of twelve years was vaccinated twice, once as a baby and once last year, and both of them took.
I have been vaccinated seven or eight times. I am telling the House that for this reason: that I would not ask anybody to do what I was not prepared to do myself. I would ask nobody to do to children what I was not prepared to do in the case of my own children. I have before me a copy of the 32nd Annual Report of the National Anti-Vaccination Society League presented to the annual Congress at Caxton Hall, on Thursday, April 22nd, 1928. According to the report this League has been in existence for 32 years, and as far as I can make out, it might be called the power-house of anti-vaccination societies. I am not going to read from this report, but there is one note that I did make, and it is that here you have a League that has been in existence for 32 years, the subscription to become a member of which is five shillings yearly, yet the total membership is 654. I have gone to the trouble of counting the numbers. It seems to me that if after 32 years they can only produce a membership of 654, working in a country with a very great population, that it is very evident they are not making the headway which they profess they are making. It has been stated that as the law stands at present, rich people can secure exemption from vaccination. I do not believe that. I do not believe that any doctor would give a certificate to the parents of a child, stating that that child should not be vaccinated, unless the doctor considered that the child's health would be affected by such vaccination, nor do I believe that any doctor would vaccinate a child who was not in proper health. In conclusion, I would like to say that I was speaking to a man the other day about vaccination. He said he was a bit of a doubting Thomas, and that he would have to see to believe. I said to him, "Well, all I hope and pray is that you will never have to see in order that you may believe."
I said practically all that I wanted to say on a previous occasion, and my views on this question are pretty well known. The criticism that I will have to offer now will not be from the anti-vaccination point of view. I would like to make it clear to the House that I do not believe in the Anti-Vaccination League, or the people who carry on this campaign, but I am dealing with it from the point of view of the situation as it exists in County Wexford. Some ten or twelve years ago a campaign started in Wexford. I was not in any way responsible for that campaign. I did not give it any help or assistance then and I would not give it any help or assistance now. But I heard the President referring to it today as a purely political campaign. If a political campaign was started in 1918 it must have been one against the British Government. I know for a fact that one of the leaders of this particular campaign in Wexford was an English Protestant clergyman. I do not think he would have come over and supported a political campaign against the people of his own country. I happen to be a member of the Wexford Board of Health and we find our position in carrying out this vaccination law extremely difficult. I do not believe that it is possible for Deputies from other parts of the country to realise the situation that exists in Wexford, due, I suppose, principally to this campaign that has been carried on for a number of years. We have to face the fact that public opinion is there and that it is very hard to get over it. We have actually one member of the Board of Health, the father of six children, who went to jail rather than have his children vaccinated. He told us over and over again that he would go to jail again rather than have them vaccinated. I cannot see the advantage of wasting the ratepayers' money on cases of that kind. What happens? This man or individuals like him will be prosecuted and a certain amount of expense will be entailed, which will have to be borne by the ratepayer. If he is so disposed the person concerned will pay the fine or go to jail. The fact remains that the children are still unvaccinated so that the proceedings are simply waste of money. I heard it stated here during the debate that it was criminal on the part of parents not to have their children vaccinated. I am very sorry to think that is a fact, because, if so, I know that there are many criminals amongst the medical profession. I know a good many doctors up and down the country who have not had their own children vaccinated.
Are they Wexford doctors?
I will not give that information, as I see what the Deputy is at. The fact is that you have numbers of the medical profession who have not had their children vaccinated, and if it is criminal for others it is extraordinary that they have not carried it out. Deputy Mrs. Collins-O'Driscoll told us of a fine specimen of humanity she knew in Cork some years ago who was attacked by smallpox and became blind and deaf. I could quote cases that I know in Wexford where people died after being vaccinated. Within the last six months there was a sworn inquiry there into the death of a child who died eight or nine days after being vaccinated. A couple of years ago a resident of New Ross who had been in America for a good many years came home on a visit. When he was returning to America he had to be vaccinated, and the next news was a report that he had died in America. Of course the argument is that these people die from tetanus. The question is: does the wound caused by vaccination offer any easier access to the germ of tetanus than a wound caused in any other way?
How is it that a child who is vaccinated on the arm is liable to be attacked. while a child on a farm and in out of the way places, with cuts on its hands and legs, going about in all sorts of dirt, escapes?
Dirt is on the hands and legs of children all the time, and they are always getting cut and scarred, but still they do not get tetanus. Perhaps some of the medical profession will explain that. I was hoping that the Minister would have allowed this Bill to pass. I am simply dealing with the matter from the point of view of the situation as it exists in Wexford. If we are forced to put the Act into operation in the case of the 20,000 people in Wexford, I know what the cost to the ratepayers will be, and that it will be practically impossible to have it carried out in most of these cases.
It seems to me to be a great disability in giving an opinion on this question—at least with some Deputies—if you have given the seven best years of your life to the study of medicine. To have done that is to know nothing about it. A thing that has struck me very much in this debate is the influence of propaganda from London. I always heard—even before the advent of the Fianna Fáil Party—that it was a defect in the membership of this House that it was influenced by foreign literature, but the most intensive Nationalist in the House—Deputy Gerald Boland—is the man who is worst bitten.
I will take the truth, no matter where it comes from.
The Deputy has quoted foreign literature in this debate by the yard. I believe also that to be strictly in order in discussing a Bill like this you can only speak once. Deputy Boland has spoken twenty times, mainly, I admit, by way of interruption. However, he got through.
I am finished now.
Innumerable evils have been attributed by anti-vaccination propagandists to the process of vaccination. Long ago I attended Hyde Park and heard the oratory there. At that time the chief anti-vaccination propagandist there was a coloured man who, I am sure, influenced a large section of the people who listened to him. One charge he made against vaccination was that in after-life you were liable to speak, as he put it, "like a cow," and that any variation in the voice depended on whether or not you were vaccinated from a female calf or a male calf. If you were vaccinated from a male calf you developed the ill-mannerisms of the bull. That is simply on a par with what we hear about getting dirty pock. In Ireland we know that vaccination has served from time to time to account for the delinquencies of females. We know that even in the case of an illegitimate birth it was attributed to dirty pock that the mother got in her vaccination, ignoring all atavistic inclinations. Again, I have heard it stated on one side of the House that vaccination led to debility in after life. I have been collecting statistics in the House—homely statistics, I admit— and amongst the Deputies who were vaccinated I find were Deputies McDonagh, T. O'Connell, Gorey and myself. Well, I think in the way of physical development we have done fairly well. We have not alone gone high heavenwards, but bi-laterally we can also give a good account of ourselves. It must also be remembered that such specimens of physical prowess and energy as Eugene Tunney and Jack Dempsey were vaccinated, not once, but several times. If they want to test whether or not these are physical degenerates I think, in the language of Deputy Carney, that some people would find themselves missing "from the neck up."
We have had a good deal of anti-vaccination literature quoted, and the one burden of the note of the anti-vaccinationists is "the more vaccination the more deaths." Anti-vaccinationists will tell you that in 1872, when 85 per cent. of the births were vaccinated in England and Wales, there were 19,022 deaths. But they will not tell you that this year was a year of pandemic small-pox, and they will not tell you that 85 per cent. of the births vaccinated would not in that year represent 1.5 of the population. Such vaccinations, representing less than 1.5 of the population, practically meant an unprotected and an unvaccinated people. In 1889 approximately 80 per cent. of the births were vaccinated, with the result that there were only 23 deaths from small-pox, as compared with 19,000 in 1872. You are not told how that happened. The falling off in the deaths from small-pox was mainly due to the fact that you had a better vaccinated population as a result of the 1872 pandemic. Moreover, the pandemic of 1872, of course, conferred immunity from the disease to those who had suffered from it.
I will give a few statistics with regard to places for which smallpox had a particular liking; in fact, it was almost endemic in some of these places. I will give you the percentages of houses in which smallpox occurred that is, houses that were actually invaded by smallpox, and I will give you the incidence rate for children under ten years of age. The deaths in Warrington amongst the vaccinated children were 4.4 per cent., and the deaths amongst unvaccinated children were 54.5 per cent.; in Dewsbury the deaths amongst vaccinated children were 10.2 per cent., as compared with 50.8 per cent. for the unvaccinated; in Leicester the deaths amongst vaccinated children were 2.5 per cent., as compared with 35.3 per cent. of unvaccinated; in Gloucester they were 8.8 per cent. of the vaccinated, as compared with 46.3 of the unvaccinated.
Could the Deputy give the name of the publication from which he is quoting?
This is a publication prepared by the British Medical Association.
I am sure that Deputy Boland did not read that. Now we will come to cases treated in Homerton Hospital. In the 10,402 cases treated in Homerton Hospital between 1873 and 1884, the deaths among 8,234 vaccinated patients was 10.5 per cent.; amongst the 2,169 unvaccinated the deaths were 43.4 per cent.
Sanitation has been referred to, and some Deputies asserted that if we had proper sanitation in this or any other country, we would have no smallpox. That is not true. Insanitary conditions are not the cause of smallpox, but they help to spread the disease if they are deficient. If you had, for instance, smallpox in a tenement house. insanitary conditions, about which we know so much in Dublin, would predispose to the spread of the disease. These houses have generally a common stairway and overcrowded rooms, and if the disease occurs in one room, naturally, it will spread to another owing to the insanitary conditions. Insanitation may help the spread of the disease, but it does not cause it. You usually have small-pox started from a pre-existing case. For instance, if the clothes of a patient were not immediately destroyed, and even if they turned up ten years later, they would start the disease again. That is about as fair a description as can be given regarding the spread of the disease. Deputy J.J. Byrne, I think, said that it was air-borne. The particles of the disease are air-borne, but always from a pre-existing case. The President dealt with Sir Edwin Chadwick, who was not a medical man, and the only use, to my knowledge, which anti-vaccination propagandists ever made of his name, was that he associated smallpox with dirt disease, and said that sanitation would prevent it. As I have explained, smallpox can no more be regarded as a dirt disease than typhus or typhoid fever.
Then we heard a good deal about the operation of vaccination. When properly conducted it is very safe. Any wound is, of course, an invitation to certain contagious and infectious diseases. We have known cases where tetanus and septicaemia or blood-poisoning occurred where a man, in buttoning his collar, cut himself. The case mentioned in Wexford was not due to vaccination. The pin wound may have had something to do with it. Deputy Jordan mentioned a case in which five children were vaccinated and one of them died. That child, however, was grown-up and running around and got infected. He was vaccinated too late in life, and at a time when the mother could not attend to him. The safest time for vaccination is when a child is young and helpless, and can be looked after. It has been asked whether there is a demand for vaccination. I think the Minister for Local Government answered that. We know that the very genial and popular Mayor of Wexford, who is, I am sorry to say, not here at present, called a meeting of protest against vaccination. It was placarded all over the town, but only six people attended. I do not think that they are as keen anti-vaccinationists in Wexford as we have been led to believe.
I believe that a conscience clause would be a source of great abuse, because people—as I have known them in England to do—come to the doctor and ask whether they can get out under the conscience clause. The doctor explains the procedure which is rather lengthy and which involves the signing of a declaration and attending before a magistrate. Quite a number of these people say that it is easier to get a child vaccinated than to go through that procedure. Consequently they get their children vaccinated because it means less trouble. The attitude of the medical profession in this matter is that they have no vested interests, though it has been stated here that they had. Our attitude is to advise the House so far as we know. We do not ask Deputies to accept our opinion, but it is our duty to give it. There has been agreement amongst medical Deputies here. Deputy Doctor Ryan said that he believed in vaccination, but he somehow seemed to regard himself more in the position of a Deputy than of a doctor, as he thought that most of his constituents were against vaccination.
Deputy Doctor Ryan stated that he was not in favour of compulsory vaccination.
Yes, but I want to impress on the Dáil that Deputy Doctor Ryan believes in vaccination, and if he believes in the preventative powers of vaccination, I am inclined to think that he really made a case for compulsory vaccination. Vaccination, undoubtedly, in the case of smallpox is, in a way, a preventative which you have not in other diseases. In diphtheria you have a serum which is a very effective cure and it is also claimed to be a preventative, but I notice that the anti-vaccinationists have listed diphtheria and put it on the same basis as vaccination. These, however, are peculiar people and they have unlimited confidence in their right to express an opinion about things of which they know very little. It has been said that there is a difference amongst medical men with regard to vaccination, but I have not seen any of it, worth speaking about, in this country. In England the men who are anti-vaccinationists would never be heard of only for their campaign in this respect. They are men of no prominent standing in the profession, and any notoriety they got was by filling themselves up with this notion.
I think the Dáil would do well to follow the advice of the medical profession. I do not know of any anti-vaccinationist who, if he had a pain or a little knot inside, who would not go to a doctor, submit to an operation for the removal of the intestines and allow that doctor to remove a yard or two of his small intestines. The length of the intestines does not affect the operation or its cost. We have also heard some thing about the cost of smallpox, but if there is an invasion of smallpox in this country, people will find out how expensive it is. Not long ago there was one case and its isolation cost £150. If smallpox ever comes here and becomes endemic it will be a serious thing for a food-exporting country like this. If it once gets the name of having small-pox it might mean that the Ministry of Health in England would put an embargo on the importation of Irish goods. That is an aspect of the case which you must keep open. Deputies are free to vote as they like, but I have seen plenty of evidence of the sound commonsense of an Irish assembly, such as this, in dealing with this question, and I do not think that the Dáil is going to follow the lead given in regard to this matter on the other side of the water.
I think by arrangement it was hoped that this debate would end by 1.45 p.m. Therefore I will cut short the few points I have to raise in order to allow Deputy Everett to reply. I am sorry to find that the Executive Council have put on the Whips in this case. We have discussed the matter in our Party, and we decided that it should certainly be left an open question. I have listened to the arguments on both sides, and I think that all we can say about it is, that we are as wise now as when we started. We are in exactly the same position as previously, because statistics could be quoted, reams of paper could be read, upon both sides, and you would ascertain as much from the doctors' side as from that of the anti-vaccinationists. We have had no opportunity of going, as we would, for instance, in a Commission, into this and testing it properly. There was a commission in England which considered this question for seven or eight years, and in the end decided that they would not make vaccination compulsory in England. They allowed those who had strong objections to vaccination a way out by means of the conscience clause. Deputy Everett wants a similar clause in operation here. As I say, we have had no opportunity of going into these statistics or really judging on the merits of the controversy. It may be said that this is only propaganda on the part of anti-vaccinationists, but there is rarely smoke without fire.
Anti-vaccination is foreign to the Irish people.
Not at all. Some people must have strange ideas about what the Irish-Ireland propaganda has been in the past when they talk like that. I think that before we make vaccination compulsory we should be sure of our ground. We know what the doctors' views are, and that the teaching of the medical profession is a certain thing. Scientists as they are they would be the first to admit that there have been many things that have been held by science as right which were afterwards found to be wrong, while those who stood up for the superstitions, as they were called, were known as cranks. Gallileo was a crank. Every man is regarded as a crank who has stood up against something in which he does not believe without solid proof. All the anti-vaccinationists are doing, as far as I understand it, is that they are trying to get this thing decided. There is another weakness in the doctors' case, and it is this. They were just as insistent before about the wound danger in vaccination when they were taking it from arm to arm, so much so that one man was so certain of himself that he vaccinated himself and got the disease through it. Now they say they have improved matters and that the lymph is quite pure. I was listening to one doctor stating that he is sure that no known germs could be transmitted. But there are a whole world of things that they know nothing about yet. There are what are known as filterable bacteria, and they do not know anything about them. My position with respect to this matter is that I have an open mind on it. I have come to the decision, however, that there are people in the community who strongly feel that vaccination is dangerous as far as the health of their children is concerned, and they should not be compelled to comply with the vaccination laws.
If there is a large body of opinion in favour of it, people who will do it voluntarily, give them all possible facilities, but to compel people who conscientiously object to it is wrong. I believe that the State ought not invade the homes of the people and take away the private rights of any individual except in clearly defined circumstances. What is the excuse for going in? The excuse for going in is that it is an insurance, but is it an insurance? Take the position at present and the percentage of our present population that is vaccinated and suppose that we were threatened with an outbreak of small-pox to-morrow. If we believed that it was a preventive to get vaccinated, everyone would have to be vaccinated in order to be certain. There has not been a single point made out from the point of view of insurance, as far as I can see. The Minister for Local Government gave one indication of something that was solid, but I do not know whether it has been proved. He said that the children were the spear-point, and that that was the way in which infection came in. I am not sure about that. I would like to have it proved that children are more susceptible to the disease than adults are, and that if the disease were to come here the children would be the first to be attacked. I doubt it. I say we are not insured. The average person says, "Am I going to have my child vaccinated if there are certain risks, although the doctors say that there are not?" I think that is one part of the statistics of which we are not sure.
I will grant that there are not many deaths from vaccination. If there were we would hear a great deal about them. We had an example given by one Deputy here, who said that his child suffered from the effects of vaccination. I do not know whether he diagnosed it properly, or whether even he could show us that the child's sufferings resulted from vaccination, but there are a number of people who think that great risks are incurred by vaccination and that the benefits are very uncertain. I hold that by way of this conscience clause we will give an opportunity to those people who object to it, and we ought not to go to the point of compelling people who were unwilling to have their children vaccinated, and who fear that certain results will follow from it, to have vaccination carried out. There are people whom you cannot compel to do things of that kind. It is an invasion of one of the most intimate of personal rights. I know of no other invasion of a similar kind, except that of conscription, in which you can compel a person to die for the sake of the community. I know of no other case where we go into the home and compel people to run risks to their health except in this case of vaccination. An equally good case could, no doubt, be made out for the treatment of other diseases. Why do we not run the whole gamut and try to get immunity from other diseases in that way? Because of the fact it is not practicable. I hold that we should let very well alone and let the conscience clause operate. I take it that the people of Wexford, Wicklow, and elsewhere were making use of a very satisfactory conscientious objectors' clause. They were objecting themselves and not doing it. If the Vaccination Laws are pressed, you will undoubtedly have very serious opposition against them. Even from the point of view that the community should be vaccinated, I think it is very bad tactics. I am against it on principle when it cannot be proved that it is a preventative.
On a point of personal explanation, Deputy de Valera said that a Deputy was absent when the Whips were on the Dáil.
I withdraw. I am sorry.
It was agreed that Deputy Everett should conclude the debate after Deputy de Valera. Did Deputy Connolly speak before?
Yes, but on a point of personal explanation, this is a very serious matter.
The Deputy has no right to intervene now.
I respectfully appeal to the Minister for Local Government to leave this a non-party question. There are vital interests concerned, and people have their natural instincts and feelings.
Deputy Connolly can vote any way he likes on the matter.
The President in his speech on this matter asked all parties to discuss it from the non-political and non-party attitude. I am very sorry that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has thought fit to make it a party matter from his point of view.
Did you hear what I said now to Deputy Connolly?
Will the same thing apply to the other Deputies?
Yes, of course.
All the pro-vaccinationists have marshalled evidence against this Bill. We have all the medical officers against it, and here in this House they put up arguments as to the serious consequences that will arise if we do not have these compulsory powers extended. What arguments can be adduced when we point out that in Wexford and Wicklow for a long number of years, the people have ignored vaccination? The President and the Minister for Local Government taunt me that consumption would increase. They went really upon the Registrar-General's returns and statistics. I would like to warn the President and the Minister not to place too much reliance upon, or too much confidence in, the returns from that particular office. I say that in the light of certain events that have taken place in other parts of the country, too much reliance cannot be placed upon those returns as regards deaths and the nature and cause of deaths, when we find that certain people have been registered as dead who were not dead. Live people have been registered as dead. That has been going on for a number of years, and some people who never had any existence have been registered as dead, so I would ask the Minister not to rely too much upon the returns from the Registrar-General's Office. Probably the Minister will find out in a couple of weeks that I am correct in what I am saying. I am not entirely an anti-vaccinationist, but I introduced this Bill on behalf of my constituents. My colleague, Deputy Gun O'Mahony, states that the rich man will not get any exemption beyond the poor man, from the medical officer with regard to his children not being vaccinated. I will ask Deputy O'Mahony to make inquiries within two or three hundred yards of his own residence and find out whether a wealthy man in his own neighbourhood was recently able to produce a medical certificate to the effect that his child was not in a fit condition to be vaccinated, the charge for non-vaccination being therefore adjourned. Contrast that with the case of the poor man who is not able to produce a medical certificate. The only certificate he can get is that which can be obtained from the local dispensary doctor. In this case, the local doctor was a member of the Board of Health.
A doctor frequently postpones vaccination in the case of sick children. He postpones it in the case of poor children when they are sick.
I am pointing out that a wealthy person can bring his child to Dublin or he can bring out the medical doctor from Dublin and get from him a certificate stating that the child is not fit to be vaccinated. The poor man is not in that position. The President and the Minister for Local Government used arguments to show that consumption is not on the increase. I wish that that was so, but I hold that if the medical department of the Local Government would devote half as much time to trying to check that disease as they are giving to the enforcement of the Vaccination Act, we would have less sickness and illness in the country. If they would devote some of their time to enforcing the sanitary laws and to securing that the local bodies would carry out these laws and have proper houses for the people, and if they would in the rural areas see that people are not forced to reside in bad and insanitary houses, they would accomplish much more good. I say that the medical department of the Local Government is closing its eyes to one of the chief sources of disease in the rural areas. I cannot blame them for enforcing the Vaccination Act. They were enforcing this Act and the same ideas when the English Local Government Board functioned here. But now, when they have been transferred to an Irish Government, they are getting assistance from a number of men who were then opposed to vaccination.
I made a statement here which I now withdraw; that statement was that the President sent out an order or decree informing public bodies that they were not to enforce the vaccination laws. I withdraw that now, because I accept the President's word that there was no such order sent out. But I am aware that a decree was sent out advising people not to pay income tax, and advising them not to give returns of any business to the Local Government Board, and not to give any information whatever to the men in the English Local Government Department. That being so, I take it that we were not to give any return in connection with vaccination. The Minister stated that no Irish medical men have given any evidence that they are in favour of the conscience clause. But I do not think it would be to the interests of a large number of the medical profession, dispensary doctors and others, to come out publicly and advise people not to have their children vaccinated. I can, however, assure the Minister that a large number of medical officers have not had their own children vaccinated, and they also advise other people not to have their children vaccinated.
They are not here to contradict you.
They are not able. There is Dr. Lane Joynt and he made an appeal to Dáil Eireann to pass this conscience clause. He did not happen to be a dispensary doctor and, therefore, he was more free to come out and express his own honest opinions. Deputy de Valera has put up a very fair contribution to this discussion. He has suggested to the Minister that instead of enforcing this compulsory clause, he should set up a commission to investigate the rights and wrongs of this matter and take evidence from anti-vaccinators or whatever you like to call them. That would be similar to what the League of Nations has done. I understand that the Medical Council of the League of Nations has appointed a commission to inquire into this question. Evidence was given here by medical officers that there were more deaths in the Boer War from smallpox and enteric fever than were caused by bullets. If we look up the statistics what do we find? We find that there were something like 100,000 inoculated against typhoid fever and 8,000 deaths took place. The War Office authorities realised the futility of vaccination and inoculation and they decided not to have any further inoculation of the troops. They decided that proper food and proper drainage and better sanitation would be more effective.
Does Deputy Everett suggest that anti-typhoid inoculation has been abandoned in the British Army? I was myself inoculated twice against typhoid fever.
I am only asking in this Bill that the people of this country will get the same rights as the people get in England. Why did the English Government continue to have the compulsory clause here in Ireland while they gave their own people the right of conscientious objection? We were under the impression that England at that time was not very disposed to look after the health or prosperity of this country, and I take it for granted that she continued to enforce vaccination laws in this country more as an experiment than for the benefit of the Irish people.
Does the Deputy propose to conclude now or to adjourn the debate?
I prefer to take a vote now.
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- John James Cole.
- Mrs. Margt. Collins-O'Driscoll.
- Martin Conlon.
- Bryan Ricco Cooper.
- William T. Cosgrave.
- Sir James Craig.
- James Crowley.
- John Daly.
- Michael Davis.
- Joseph W. Mongan.
- Daniel Morrissey.
- Richard Mulcahy.
- James E. Murphy.
- James Sproule Myles.
- Martin Michael Nally.
- John Thomas Nolan.
- Thomas J. O'Connell.
- Bartholomew O'Connor.
- Patrick Joseph O'Dowd.
- John F. O'Hanlon.
- Daniel O'Leary.
- William O'Leary.
- Dermot Gun O'Mahony.
- Gearoid O'Sullivan.
- John Marcus O'Sullivan.
- Thomas P. Powell.
- Vincent Rice.
- Martin Roddy.
- Timothy Sheehy (West Cork).
- Timothy Sheehy (Tipp.).
- William Edward Thrift.
- Michael Tierney.
- Daniel Vaughan.
- Francis C. Ward.
- George Wolfe.
- Jasper Travers Wolfs.