§ Mr. SNOWDEN
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the fact that the circular letter 27/8026 (A.G. 8B), issued by the Director of Organisation to all the General Officers Commanding, directing that refusal to be vaccinated be considered misconduct within the meaning of Article 958 (g), is contrary to the decision of the War Minister given in April, 1918, that refusal to be vaccinated was not to be regarded as misconduct and was not to be punished as such; and will he take immediate steps to have the circular to the contrary effect withdrawn?
The circular letter referred to was not contrary to the reply given by the Under-Secretary of State for War on the 23rd April, 1918. In that reply my predecessor stated that refusal by a soldier to be vaccinated is not an offence punishable under the Army Act. I am advised, however, that if a recruit, after signing the attestation paper, in which he stated that he is willing to be vaccinated, then refuses to be 2019W vaccinated, such conduct may properly be regarded as affording ground for discharge for misconduct within the terms of Article 958 (g) of the Royal Warrant for Pay and Promotion, and this was the intention of the circular letter No. 22/8026 (A.G. 8B) referred to by the hon. Member. The wording of this circular letter is, however, open to some misconstruction, inasmuch as it was not made sufficiently clear that the offence of misconduct was not misconduct under the Army Act, but misconduct under the Royal Warrant. An amended letter will be issued to make it clear that it is only recruits who refuse to be vaccinated after having signed an agreement to be vaccinated who are to be discharged, and that the deprivation of their gratuity is not due to their having committed any offence under the Army Act, although they have been guilty of misconduct within the meaning of the Royal Warrant.