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Criminal Law—Arrests Under The Vaccination Act—Question

Volume 229: debated on Monday 22 May 1876

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is true that two tradesmen of Leicester (Palmer and Eagle) have been sent to prison for breach of the Vaccination Act, they having ample goods to distrain on; whether they were handcuffed, although they made no resistance whatever; and, whether this is in accordance with law?

in reply, said, he believed the statements in the Question were substantially accurate. He believed the magistrates had the power to commit persons to prison without first issuing a distress. It must be remembered, with regard to that part of the case, that the discretion rested with the magistrates, and also that these persons had only to put their hands in their pockets and pay the money to put an end to the matter. They had plenty of money, and they might have paid if they chose to do so. With regard to the latter part of the Question, he was sorry to say it was true that the men were handcuffed. He could not, however, imagine why a man, because he did not pay a small fine, should be treated in the same way as a man who had committed a criminal offence. It seemed to him an abuse of a petty power which he should do his best to put down in the future.