HC Deb 14 April 1965 vol 710 cc1325-73

Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 5, after "murder" insert: except a prisoner who murders a prison officer acting in the execution of his duty".—[Mr. Rees-Davies.] Question again proposed, That those words be there inserted.

10.36 a.m.

The Chairman

Before I call the first speaker I should like to intimate that I have already learned from a number of hon. Members that they wish to try to catch my eye in this debate. Hon. Members can help each other, when they are called, if they make their speeches not too long.

Sir Richard Glyn (Dorset, North)

I will endeavour to be short, Dr. King.

The Amendment, so well presented already, seeks to preserve the present law. This law has worked well for a very long time and has saved the lives of many prison officers. How many we cannot be sure, but although tens of thousands of prison officers have been assaulted, and many hundreds violently, savagely and dangerously assaulted, for about 50 years not one has been murdered, and there is substantial evidence to show that that is a direct result of the present law and of the deterrent effect of the death penalty in this respect.

The only effect of changing the law, which will happen if the Amendment is rejected, will be further to endanger the lives of prison officers. The only practical effect of changing the law by rejecting the Amendment will be the murder of prison officers, after 50 years with no such murder having occurred.

Prison officers are the direct responsibility of the Home Office. Now that the Prison Commission has been abolished they are directly under the Home Secretary. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is responsible for these men. They are his protégés. They look to him for protection, and they are entitled to do so. He has a duty to protect them, and I urge him not to be misled by abolitionist propaganda, which is so widespread outside the House and, I regret to say, appears to be rearing its ugly head inside the House also.

Statistics on the subject are entirely slanted against the deterrent effect of capital punishment. That fact was recognised in the Report of the Royal Commission. I shall not read from it at any length, but I want to read what I regard as an important conclusion. Paragraph 62 says: We must now turn to the statistical evidence. This has for the most part been assembled by those who would abolish the death penalty; their object has been to disprove the deterrent value claimed for that punishment. That was true then and it is true now.

Societies exist and many dedicated people work feverishly to slant these statistics to disprove the deterrent effect of capital punishment, but there is no contrary campaign or organisation. Since the Bill came on to the Floor of the House many of my hon. Friends have received letters from people offering support—sometimes financial support—to a society which would work to retain capital punishment, but there is no such society.

The Chairman

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. Member, but he must confine himself to the Amendment.

Sir Richard Glyn

I was coming to that now. I do not want to go too wide in referring to a very large number of countries in which capital punishment has been restored after it had been abolished. In view of what you have said, Dr. King, it would be wrong to list them, but a very substantial number have restored the death penalty. The information is given in the Report of the Royal Commission and included particularly are certain American States which have retained capital punishment in the case of prison officers killed by long-term prisoners. That is where I was proposing to bring this part of my argument back squarely into the four corners of the Amendment.

I hope that I may be allowed to refer to New Zealand. The Minister of State, in advocating the restoration of the death penalty after a period of abolition, quoted particularly the example of murderers who had said that a period of imprisonment for eight years was nothing and that they were prepared to murder because there was no death penalty owing to "the good Government we have in."

That is exactly the position which will arise if this Amendment is rejected. That is exactly the danger to which prison officers will be exposed. A great weight of evidence has been published but has not been considered because the whole weight of propaganda comes from people who are against capital punishment. The part of the published evidence which is inconvenient to them has been entirely ignored.

Perhaps I may read one extract from the Royal Commission's Report, because we learned last week that the Home Secretary had not informed himself of the views of the police in relation to a previous Amendment. It is right that I should ask whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has informed himself of the views of the prison officers—his protégés whom it is his duty to protect—on this Amendment. If the Home Secretary has not so informed himself, perhaps he will look at page 21 of the Report of the Royal Commission, paragraph 61, where it states: Of more importance was the evidence of the representatives of the police and prison service. From them we received virtually unanimous evidence in both England and Scotland to the effect that they were convinced of the uniquely deterrent value of capital punishment in its effect on professional criminals. If the Home Secretary has made inquiries, and has found that the views of prison officers have changed in the few years since they gave that evidence, no doubt he will tell the Committee. If he cannot do so, I suggest that the evidence stands today.

These prison officers are exposed to great danger. They are assaulted regularly, far more often than the Home Office imagined or knew about when this Bill was first presented and when the Home Office and the Cabinet decided to support it. The Home Office has not a clue about how much these men are being knocked about, and how seriously they were being injured and the dangers to which they are exposed, although, of course, up to the present none has been killed in prison. Because of this complete lack of knowledge, the first Questions on this subject were answered by the Home Office with Answers which were absolutely wrong and misleading. I do not say they were intentionally misleading, but they were wrong in circumstances so striking that I must deal with them.

On 8th February, in a Written Answer to a Question, the hon. Lady the Minister of State for the Home Department—I have given her notice that I propose to raise this matter—stated—I will not bother to read more than a few of the figures which she gave, they are all wrong and the totals are much too small—that the total number of assaults in 1959 was 130 and, in 1960, 140. Those figures are about 70 per cent. wrong. They represent a little over half of the true position. For 1963, for which the hon. Lady said afterwards that she would produce complete figures, the number of serious assaults was stated to be only 27. The correct answer is that there were nearly 50 in that year. This is a measure of the lack of knowledge by the Home Office of what is being done to the protégés of that Department.

10.45 a.m.

The Minister of State for the Home Department (Miss Alice Bacon)


Sir Richard Glyn

Perhaps it would be more helpful if the hon. Lady waited before intervening, so that she may know what she has to face. There is more to come.

On 10th February the debate in the Standing Committee on this very Amendment continued on the incorrect figures which the Home Office had given. The hon. Lady was pressed and she admitted a mistake in these words: I must apologise to the hon. Member. I have been informed that the figures which were given in the OFFICIAL REPORT last week were slightly in error. Apparently the hon. Lady had been informed on 9th February. She went on to say that the figure of 120 which was given for 1963 should have been 157. That was still wrong. Apart from that the figure did not include the borstal figures.

The hon. Lady also said: I want to be quite honest about this—there was another slight error also"…— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C, 10th February, 1965; c. 62] I should not have thought that a representative of the Home Office would have dared to describe that error as being slight.

On 16th February we had something approaching the truth. For 1959, the figure of 130 was altered to 223. For 1960, instead of 140 the figure was 222. I will not go through the whole list; they are all wrong. For 1963, the last complete year, instead of a figure of 27 for serious assaults, there is a figure of 44. The figures for borstals are given quite separately and it is shown that substantial assaults and serious assaults were also committed there.

The hon. Lady wrote me a letter on 16th February. She did not correct the incorrect answer which was given to me, and I have never received a correct official answer to my Question. The more correct answer which was given was an Answer to another Question. In the letter the hon. Lady said: I very much regret that … the error was due to the fact that in an attempt to deal with that part of the Question about the serious nature of the assault recourse was had to statistics which have since been shown to be less reliable than was thought. There are two or three points which arise out of this. First, there is the remarkable discrepancy of 70 per cent. The discrepancy was not in the statistics for more serious assaults which were only 60 per cent. wrong. The others were 70 per cent. in some cases. So this talk of the recourse had to statistics of "the serious assaults" is, frankly, just eye wash.

We are entitled to ask what are the statistics which in the hon. Lady's own words proved "less reliable than was thought". What were the statistics which the Home Office gave in answer to a Question and which two days later were realised to be hopelessly wrong?

Miss Bacon

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) made great play with this during the discussions in the Standing Committee and I hope that he will not think it necessary to go over it all again. I hope, Dr. King, that I can catch your eye later, but perhaps I can say now that in the Written Answer of 8th February, which we endeavoured to give at short notice, it was regrettable—I have already apologised to the Committee—that some wrong figures were given.

On 9th February we realised that the figures were wrong. On 10th February, when the Standing Committee was sitting, I took steps to inform the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King), whose Amendment was being discussed, that these figures were wrong. He was so informed even before I knew the figures. Immediately at the beginning of the sitting of the Committee I said that the figures were wrong, so that the Committee discussion proceeded with hon. Members knowing that the figures given two days before were wrong.

We subsequently gave the right figures and I think that the hon. Member for Dorset, North would help the Committee more if he went on with his argument on the basis of the correct figures, which were given in the Written Answer on 16th February, instead of continuing in this way. I think it is confusing the Committee when he quotes first one figure and then the other. It would be much better if he proceeded on the basis of the figures of 16th February.

Sir Richard Glyn

The hon. Lady will find that it is I who am trying to prevent the Committee from being confused. I have here the HANSARD report of the Committee proceedings, and at no stage in the debate there did she give the correct figures. She gave one figure, which was 157, which still conflicts with the answer the following week, so we must assume that that was wrong, too.

The Committee's debate was conducted on false figures, very much understated figures and figures which made the position seem to be altogether less bad than it was.

What was this misleading source which the the hon. Lady mentioned in her letter? Was that Parliamentary Question answered from statistics provided by the Howard League or from other abolitionist propaganda society? Where do these misleading figures come from, and how many other Parliamentary Questions have been answered from similarly inaccurate figures?

I know that some of the figures given in Questions relating to the Bill have not been the same as Answers given by the Home Office on other occasions. It would be out of order to go into this now but there are such cases, and all the figures provided are utterly suspect. The Prison Officers' Association, the association of the men who are the protegés of the right hon. and learned Gentleman noted with great dismay that after this debate had continued in Standing Committee on absolutely wrong and misleading figures, at five minutes to one the hon. Lady the Minister of State was one of those who voted to closure, the debate, so that the debate finished before the correct figures could be revealed the following week. They were most dismayed at this unfortunate event.

Does the hon. Lady think that hon. Members are not affected by statistics? Does she think that Members do not vote on the statistics? Does she think that whether 100 or 200 warders are assaulted a year would make no difference to the way hon. Members voted on this Amendment?

Miss Bacon

The Committee did not vote on this Amendment. It went through without a vote.

Sir Richard Glyn

That does not alter the fact that the Closure was moved and carried with the assistance of the hon. Lady. She could not have known that there would not be a vote. She was so keen to get this business finished so that when the figures were known the next week, the publication of them would be rightly ruled out of order in the Committee.

I pass from that to the Home Secretary. He has been put in a most difficult position. He is personally responsible for the safety of prison officers. It is clear that when he agreed to support the Bill he did not know the measure of the danger in which these men were placed and the number of serious assaults on them. He believes that the best deterrent is a high detection rate and this we do not have. For any sort of violence, the rate is low. He also believes in a high security prison where dangerous criminals can be kept. We do not have such a prison. It may be many years before it is created. The 1948 Act provided for all sorts of special accommodation and special arrangements. They have never been built or provided. After 16 years, they still do not exist.

The Minister cannot say whether this high security prison will ever exist and, until it does, if there be a murder of a prison officer owing to the rejection of this Amendment, it will be his personal responsibility and nothing else.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

Is the hon. Member seriously suggesting that the detection rate for assault on warders is low?

Sir Richard Glyn

I said that the detection rate for violence is low. The detection rate has to be taken right through. There are no published figures for the detection rate of assault on warders. If the hon. and learned Member has some, perhaps he will produce them.

With a man undergoing a 30–year prison sentence—and there are some—the only deterrent from killing a prison officer while attempting to escape is the death penalty, the retention of the law as it stands at present—which has worked so well—by the acceptance of this Amendment. The only practical effect of doing the opposite is to ensure, at some stage, the death of a prison officer, one of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's protégés. He owes them a special duty. If he rejects this Amendment, he will be rejecting his own personal duty to them. He has three courses open to him. The first is to say now that he has reconsidered his position in view of the evidence and the different statistics now revealed—quite different from what he supposed the position was when he first entered into this business of abolishing the death penalty—in the light of the new evidence of the much greater danger to his protégés.

There is no question of anomaly. As I have already shown, if the Bill is passed in its present form it will create far greater anomalies than the acceptance of the Amendment. I have referred to mutiny, which I shall not repeat. If he is not free to accept the Amendment without, Cabinet consent, let him speak to the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and let the Closure not be moved today, so that he can have leisure to consider the Amendment during the Recess and come back resolved to protect his protégés by accepting this Amendment. If he cannot bring himself to do either of these two things, he is not worthy to remain as Home Secretary of this great nation. If he puts his personal prejudices before the safety of the men who are his protégés and who look to him for protection, if he puts his likes and dislikes before the risk of death to one of these prison officers, he has the clear duty to resign.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman must make the choice, and he must choose this morning. It is for him. I can only say that I hope that he will choose the course of honour.

Mr. Joseph Hiley (Pudsey)

The sponsor of the Bill, speaking on Wednesday, argued that it would be illogical to accept this Amendment in view of the fact that we have previously turned down that which sought to protect police officers. If that is to be the basis of reasoning, I would say to him and to the House that there are many Members here who would be very glad to plead guilty to the charge of being illogical, if by so doing they were able to save the life of one prison officer. If that method of argument were pursued, we should throw out the remainder of the Amendments on the Notice Paper.

I am certain that everybody concedes that the Amendments to protect police officers and prison officers command the greatest measure of support, not only in the House but throughout the country. There are many who are prepared to support some parts of the Bill, but will readily concede that police officers and prison officers ought to be protected. If that is the case, it seems to me that we ought to have reversed the order of these Amendments and left the two about prison and police officers to the end.

Public indignation is gradually boiling up on this issue, especially after the decision, last Wednesday, not to protect police officers. In the meantime, the prison officers themselves have left us in no doubt about their attitude to this Amendment. When one reflects on the flimsy pretexts which are offered for those who strike in the car industry, or the docks, one can only marvel at the restraint of these prison officers, whose lives are threatened. If the dockers or the car workers had one-thousandth part of the reason for striking which prison officers have, we should find that strikes continually happened in the prison service. Hon. Members may know that a nationwide petition is being organised by the League of Justice and. Liberty to try to express to the House the strong feeling which exists in the country against the Bill.

There is a little place in the north-east of Lancashire called Nelson, where, I understand, people are actively working to secure signatures for a petition which will be presented to the House at the proper time to try to persuade hon. Members that this Measure is foreign to the wishes of the large majority of the people.

11.0 a.m.

The Chairman

Order. When the hon. Member refers to "this Measure", is he referring to the Amendment? If he is speaking about the Measure in general, he is out of order.

Mr. Hiley

Thank you, Dr. King. I particularly mean the Amendment, because I want to impress upon the Committee that it is about prison officers, and, indeed, police officers, that there is such strong feeling.

About 5,000 signatures have been obtained in the town of Nelson. As far as I can make out, more people are responding to the petition in Nelson than in any other part of the country, with the possible exception of Bootle. If the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) is here, I should like him to know that already 15,000 people have signed the petition in his constituency. If I felt that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) had any respect for the wishes of the people whom he represents, I would have challenged him to try to get a petition in his area in support of the Bill.

The Chairman

Order. It is as I suspected. The hon. Member is addressing himself against the Bill. He must speak on the Amendment. Otherwise, the Committee will never finish.

Mr. Hiley

Thank you, Dr. King. I am sorry to have gone beyond the rules of order and I do not want to trade upon your indulgence.

I will not say more about that except to repeat that the feelings of the people are being strongly aroused, because they are concerned about the effect on prison officers and the possible consequences if the Amendment is not accepted and prison officers are not protected.

The case for the Amendment has been well made and I do not want to repeat the argument. The cases that were put by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) are unanswerable. I do not resist the argument that we are here as representatives and not as delegates, but at such a time as this, when there is such overwhelming feeling on the subject, we should have due regard to the feelings of those who are not here and who rely upon us to interpret public feelings. For that reason, I urge particularly those of my hon. Friends who see some good in the Bill at least to support us on the Amendment and, by so doing, to protect prison officers.

Mr. Evelyn King (Dorset, South)

It is relevant to what I have to say that I have in my constituency both a prison and a borstal institution. I have been approached by the Prison Officers' Association representing those who work within those places and it is right and within the tradition of the House of Commons that the views of a trade union—or, in this case, the Prison Officers' Association—should be put. I want to put them with moderation, with good sense and with what, I know, will appeal to you, Dr. King, with brevity.

The whole of this debate must turn upon one question, a question which has not been answered. If a prisoner has already been sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, whether or not for murder, and thereafter, in the course of an attempt at escape or of prison riot, both of which are likely occurrences, he commits a further murder, for that further murder no penalty whatsoever is known to the law. Whatever may be one's views on the ethics of capital punishment or any other aspect of criminology, that is an illogical position and one to which the Home Secretary has not produced any relevant reply. That is the basis of what I want to say.

I was present throughout the proceedings in Standing Committee. I apologise for the fortnight when I was absent in the Middle East, but I have followed the debates throughout. I have tried to gather up the attempted answers to the question which I have put. First, we had the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who said, in effect, that prison officers were in no danger. That argument has been shot to pieces.

I do not want again to go over what my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) has said, nor do I wish to go into the argument about which figures are right or wrong. I accept the figures given by the Minister of State, Home Office, on 16th February, which are now assumed to be correct. On the basis of the figures supplied by the Home Office, however, there are an average of something like 250 assaults on prison officers each year. That is to say, there are five assaults on prison officers each week. To put it another way, a prison officer is assaulted on average every three-and-a-half years of his service.

When the hon. Lady mentioned this aspect last month, she asked me to distinguish, and I gladly do so, between assaults and violent assaults. I have with me the figures for violent assaults covering a period of five years. Except for last year, they have been going up every year. In 1959, there were 30; the following year, 30; in 1961, 37; the next year, 62; in 1963, 50; and last year, 41. We have, therefore, a state of affairs in which assaults are common and violent assaults are on the increase.

Perhaps somebody will now argue that no prison officer has yet been murdered. I have, however, a copy of a letter from the Home Secretary to the Prison Officers' Association stating that three prison officers have been murdered since 1920. I agree that the murder rate is small, but many of these violent assaults are violent assaults with a knife and if the number of prison officers who have been murdered is small, this is due more to luck than any other factor.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Will the hon. Member quote the basis of the statement that three prison officers have been murdered since 1920?

Mr. King

It is a letter from the Home Secretary to Mr. Castell, secretary of the Prison Officers' Association, dated 22nd February, stating that since 1920 three prison officers have been murdered on duty. No doubt, the hon. Member will take up the matter with his right hon. and learned Friend.

Then we had the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), who put forward three propositions. The first was that in a Bill which set forth to abolish the death penalty, it was illogical to have any exception. My hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, North, has dealt with that argument and has shown that the Bill does not abolish the death penalty in all cases.

Then we had the argument that the restoration of the death penalty in the terms of the Amendment was not a deterrent. I accept that taking the death penalty for murder as a whole throughout the country, the deterrent effect can be exaggerated. It is a fact that murders are committed by persons who are not habitual criminals. Quite frequently it is a crime passionnel due to a sudden fit of temper. In such a case, the existence of the death penalty is no deterrent. Where, however, one has a community within a prison, where violence is part of the life of that community, I suggest that the deterrent effect of the death penalty is totally different. That view is not merely mine but is one which is held by almost all prison officers and, above all, by their wives.

Finally, we had the argument of the Home Secretary, who, I know, has turned his mind to this problem. In a letter to the Prison Officers' Association, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has advanced his own solution that the further punishment which he admits to be necessary should simply be a maximum security prison with additional staff. I have three things to say about that. First, it is no deterrent; secondly, no such prison exists; and thirdly, who will be in the prison?

There was an extraordinary degree of illogicality in the Home Secretary's letter. He stated that within this prison there would be long-term prisoners or prisoners with violent records. He goes on in the same letter to say that most of the difficulties do not come from that sort of prison, but come from borstal prisoners, who, presumably, will have none of the maximum security to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. We are left, therefore, with the fact that these prison officers do not have the protection which the House of Commons should give them. Not all prison officers necessarily go so far as to say that the death penalty should be reimposed, but they do suggest this.

The obligation rests firmly on the Home Secretary to produce some answer to the questions he has been asked, for I suggest that we have had no answer which could satisfy these people or any other reasonable person. The Home Secretary has towards them and their wives a special duty. So has Parliament. We are, directly or indirectly, their employers. The first task of a good employer is to safeguard not merely the interests but, above all, the lives of those whom he employs. I urge the right hon. and learned Gentleman to address himself to that question.

Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)

I am glad that I have caught your eye, Dr. King, because I had hoped for an opportunity to speak this morning. I am keenly interested and deeply concerned about the effects of the Bill and, like many hon. Members who were not Members of the Committee upstairs and who perhaps did not have an opportunity of taking part in the Second Reading debate, I had hoped that when the matter returned to the Floor of the House we would all have an opportunity to make our views known. I have sat through the entire proceedings during the last three Wednesday morning sittings, but due to the acts of the promoters and supporters of the Measure in forcing through—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman must address himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

With respect, Dr. King, if you will bear with me you will see that I did not intend to go out of order, because I proposed to relate my remarks to the Amendment.

My purpose is to invite the Committee to adopt a different approach to the subject of the Amendment from the approach of the promoters and some other hon. Members towards it so far. The approach which I have observed so far is that the promoters and supporters have tended to brush aside the arguments of those who take a different view and knowingly, by the use of the procedure of the House, to limit the discussion. My purpose in saying this is to express the hope that today all hon. Members will approach the Amendment on its merits and from a rather different angle from that which we have seen adopted by the promoters and supporters of the Measure.

I am one of many who find this a difficult problem. The whole question of capital punishment is a difficult problem, but it is particularly important in relation to this Amendment. Each Amendment should be considered carefully on its merits. That has not been the case so far. That is why I refer to the fact that, on many of the Amendments we have discussed, the promoters and supporters of the Bill have tended simply to brush aside any view which is contrary to theirs and—

The Chairman

Order. I must ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to follow his own argument and address himself to the merits of the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

I intend to do so, Dr. King, and my next comment is that the discussion we have so far had on the Amendment vividly illustrates what I mean. I will immediately turn to a quotation from an earlier part of the debate on the Amendment, when the principal promoter—the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman)—after propounding what I will hope to show was a wholly fallacious argument, said that the arguments which had been adduced by him made the Amendment … so ridiculous as to be entirely unacceptable to any rational mind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th April, 1965; Vol. 710, c. 445.] I suggest to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne and the Committee that that is no language with which to deal with an Amendment of this importance. It indicates a wholly wrong approach and that is why I say that it is to be hoped that, on this Amendment at least, the Committee will consider the whole matter on its merits, as I propose to do.

11.15 a.m.

I support the Amendment for simple but, I suggest, wholly realistic and practical reasons. Whatever the approach of hon. Members may have been hitherto to this subject, every hon. Member must now ask himself just what punishment and what deterrent we will be left with so far as concerns the murder of a prison officer if this Amendment is rejected. It has been frequently said that a prison sentence of from nine to 10 years—being the average or reasonable expectation for life imprisonment—is of itself a substantial punishment and deterrent. It has been argued by the promoters of the Measure that that is a deterrent at least as great as the death penalty. I take a contrary view on the latter point, for I believe that the death penalty must be as great a deterrent as any other penalty, if not a greater one. However, I am prepared to accept, for the purpose of this argument, that the likelihood of nine or 10 years in prison is a substantial deterrent.

In seeking to refute the arguments advanced by some of my hon. Friends in support of the Amendment, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne referred to persons in prison for very short periods—perhaps for trivial offences, perhaps even for civil wrongdoings rather than criminal wrongdoings; and, of course, I accept that in such cases life imprisonment would represent a very great deterrent indeed, because the man who has only 14 days to serve might well regard the addition of 9 or 10 years as a great deterrent—and I also accept that for such people a term of imprisonment of 9 or 10 years would be regarded as a substantial punishment. We must also remember, however, that the Home Secretary might well be disposed to grant a reprieve. However, we are not concerned in this Amendment with those cases. They are, if anything, something of a red herring in this argument.

What of the persons who are already serving long sentences—of, say, 14 years—which will almost certainly ex hypothesi include the vicious and brutal criminal who is serving a long sentence simply because he has been caught committing vicious and brutal crimes? A long—

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)


Mr. Percival

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish a sentence. I have listened to many, often lengthy, speeches from him. Perhaps he will be kind enough to listen to at least a part of one from me.

A long term of imprisonment for the sort of person I have just described would not be the answer, because he would be the sort of person who would have no compunction and no scruples about killing a prison officer. Thus, hon. Members must ask themselves what is to be done with that kind of criminal if the Amendment is not carried. If hon. Members look at the case on its merits they will see that this question is the crux of the case presented by the Amendment.

One must carry the argument a little further, as I propose to do with serious propositions. If such people were to be treated like other prisoners serving sentences of life imprisonment and released after, say 9 or 10 years, they would in truth and in fact escape punishment for the most serious offence known to us. That is the punishment side of the matter. We are in danger, if we reject the Amendment, of depriving ourselves of any means of punishing these people.

What of the deterrent side? If a person already serving, say, 14 years' imprisonment, were left with any hope that he might be treated like the other murderer—that is to say, might be let out after nine or ten years—what would there be to deter him from killing a prison officer? This is the fundamental difference between the case for this Amendment and the case for the last two Amendments, both of which were rejected by the Committee. In regard to each of the last two Amendments, it could at least be said that if a man is at liberty, then the possibility that he may be deprived of that liberty for nine or ten years will be a substantial deterrent to him, but, if a man is already serving a long sentence, where is the deterrent to his killing a prison officer if he has reason to believe that the result may not even be materially to lengthen his sentence?

It may be that that danger could be obviated, or made to appear to be obviated, to some extent by making it clear that such a murderer would be kept in prison for the rest of his natural life, and if we are to be advised by the Government that we should reject the Amendment I hope that the Government will at least make it clear that they have such a stern alternative in mind. But, even then, that is not as satisfactory as it may at first sight appear to be. If it were to be applied to all it would give rise to the very difficulties postulated by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne in his reply to the arguments in favour of this Amendment. If it were applied universally, it would apply to the man in prison for 14 days as to the vicious prisoner there for 14 years, but if it were not to be applied universally, if there were to be a discretion, bang goes the deterrent value.

There are two further difficulties in such a possible solution of the problem. Suppose that course were to be adopted, suppose a prisoner then killed a prison officer, and suppose it were thus clear that he would then have to spend the rest of his natural life in prison, then, in truth, he would have nothing whatever to lose by killing another prison officer. Finally, if one is to abolish the death penalty for the killing of a prison officer, must one not face up to the fact that the only possible alternative is keeping a prisoner in prison for the rest of his natural life? And is it not at least as inhumane—if not, indeed, more inhumane—to take from him his liberty for the rest of his natural life, without hope, than it is to take his life?

These are some of the essential points on the positive side in favour of retaining the death penalty in the particular instance postulated in the Amendment, but I want to refer, albeit briefly, to one of the arguments that have been advanced against it by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. In our debate of 7th April, the hon. Member put it in the forefront of his argument that this Amendment was illogical because it would apply both to the short-term prisoner and to the long term prisoner.

Having drawn attention to that, in order to make his point he went on: We decided to reject an Amendment which provided that if a man, serving a life sentence on a conviction for murder, committed another murder, that, too, should not be a capital murder. How ridiculous we would make ourselves if, having decided that we decided to hang a person who was in gaol for having failed to pay a £5 fine."—[0FFICIAL REPORT, 7th April, 1965; Vol. 710, c. 444.] The fallacy in his argument is apparent when it is shown that by passing this Amendment we are not deciding to hang anyone. The power of reprieve remains quite unaltered. All we do if we pass this Amendment is to retain for use in the cases where there is plainly no other punishment or no other deterrent, this ultimate punishment and ultimate deterrent. It is an utterly false argument to say that we are here deciding to hang any particuliar person.

The only tenable argument against this Amendment is, in my respectful submission, that to which the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has so often referred, and which has been referred to by other speakers; namely, the view held by some —though I say immediately on this, my first opportunity to make a contribution on the subject, that it is not my view—that it is morally wrong to execute in any circumstances. That is a tenable view, and it is the only really tenable argument against this Amendment. It is sometimes wrapped up, as it was by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary in our debate on 31st March, when he made the assumption that the death penalty is now something which is quite out of accord with modern thinking."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st March, 1965; Vol. 709. c. 1585.] To those who advance that sort of view I want to suggest that they are, perhaps, being just a little smug in their approach. I immediately exempt from that suggestion those—and my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) is a notable example—who while they have made it quite clear that they take the view that it is morally wrong to kill, and have the strongest possible feelings themselves, have also made it clear that they take the view that they must have due regard to the feelings of others and to the merits of each case. My suggestion is addressed to the many who seem to place their own personal feelings above all else and then seek to justify their approach by saying that their view is in accord with modern thinking—or, even more presumptuously, that it is in advance of modern thinking.

I do not think that the death penalty is out of accord with modern thinking at this moment. Indeed, all the evidence I have, and I have approached the matter from a neutral point of view, leads me to the conclusion that the vast majority of the public take quite a different view from that of the promoters—

The Chairman

Order. I am afraid that the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot develop a Second Reading speech on whether the death penalty is a deterrent.

Mr. Percival

With respect, Dr. King, I think that if I were to continue my remarks I would be found to be in order, but if I am wrong perhaps you will assist me. What I was about to do was to ask the promoters and supporters of the Bill to consider, particularly in connection with this Amendment, the possibility that it may be they who are out of accord with modern thinking, and that it may even be they who are wrong in their approach. If they are right in their views on this Amendment, as on any other Amendments, if they are right in their approach to this Amendment in holding simply that it is morally wrong to retain judicial execution, if they are right in that, and if their thinking is in advance of the thinking of those who differ from them, let them continue their crusade elsewhere, and when they have convinced the majority of the public that it is right and proper to deprive prison warders, against their will, of this protection, then, but then only, will it be right for the Committee to do what it is being asked to do.

I must have regard to your Ruling, Dr. King. I fear that if I were to develop that proposition any further you might take the view that I was going out of order again. May I conclude by relating my general observations to the Amendment in this way? There are two things we have to consider in relation to this Amendment. First, there is the question of the general approach. I am urging those whose general approach to this Bill and to the previous Amendments has been simply that as a matter of principle we must not retain the death penalty at all, to consider that they might possibly be out of accord with modern thinking in taking that view and to concede that they may be wrong to take that approach.

Secondly, I ask them, after doing that, to approach this Amendment on its merits as a practical matter. If the Committee approaches the matter in that way it will, I am sure find that the arguments put forward by my hon. and right hon. Friends are so cogent and convincing that the Amendment should be carried by a clear majority.

11.30 a.m.

Miss Bacon

This Amendment reflects the concern for those who have to look after the men and women that society commits to prison—those doing a job, which sometimes is far from pleasant, on behalf of the community. Whether there is the death penalty or not, I am afraid that there will continue to be among the prisoners in our prisons some who are brutal and vicious.

I want to say one thing about prison officers. I hope that hon. Members will refer to them as prison officers for they do not like to be referred to as "warders". It would be a mistake to think that the prisoner officer today is just a turnkey or disciplinarian. Today the rôle of the prison officer is quite different. Although many of our prisons are out-dated and overcrowded, there are inside them many worthwhile experiments going on, such as group counselling, in which prison officers play a very important part.

The Prison Officers' Association, whom my right hon. and learned Friend and I recently met, is anxious that the prison officers should do more social work than they have done hitherto. I say this to put this matter into perspective because it is not true to think that in our prisons there is constant strife and violence between the prisoner and prison officer. Mention has been made of the letter which the Prison Officers' Association sent to my right hon. and learned Friend. The letter, dated 28th January, said that on behalf of the Association the general secretary and the association wished to solicit our consideration of a question which arose in connection with the current homicide Bill.

It went on to say that members of the Association as individual citizens hold a variety of views upon the abolition of the death penalty, but that they shared an occupational concern about one aspect of the present Bill. It went on to ask my right hon. and learned Friend what were to be the conditions inside prisons to protect the prison officer from the really violent criminal. We met the Prison Officers' Association a few weeks ago and it is true that at that meeting some of the members expressed doubts about the abolition of the death penalty, but it is also true that the prison officers were very much concerned about their conditions and pay and about the future role of the prison officer.

I am pleased to say that the prison officers were very much in favour of penal reform and discussed the part to be played by the prison officer in this. While they are concerned about the abolition of the death penalty, I want to put this matter in perspective by making quite clear that the prison officer is also concerned about a great many other things.

In his speech, the hon. Member for Dorset, North (Sir Richard Glyn) dealt with the number of attacks on prison officers during the last few years. I am sorry that he found it necessary to go over again the fact that there has been an error in a previous reply which I attempted to put right as quickly as possible. I am sure that hon. Members opposite would admit that I have done everything I can to give them all the figures for which they asked not only in reply to Parliamentary Questions, but by the many figures which I have sent privately to them in letters, for which they have thanked me.

I want to explain what the figures mean. In the Answer I gave on 16th February I gave separate figures for prisons and for borstals. There were two columns of figures in that Answer. One comprised the total number of offences dealt with under the Prison Rules, including the number of attempted offences of violence against prison officers. The second column gave the number of offences either involving gross personal violence or violence serious enough to be dealt with by prosecution in the courts. The figures in the first column—assaults and attempted assaults—were as follows: 223 in 1959; 222 in 1960; 238 in 1961; 218 in 1962; and 160 in 1963. The figure for 1964, which I was not able to give on that occasion, was 167.

I make clear that this column refers to assaults and attempted assaults. Some, perhaps, were more serious, but some were very minor, such as giving a push or taking hold of the lapels of a prison officer. The other column, dealing with gross personal violence or violence serious enough to be dealt with by the courts, contains the following figures: 23 such offences for 1959; 25 in 1960; 33 in 1961; 21 in 1962; 44 in 1963; and 30 in 1964.

Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeen, East)

Do the figures refer to the whole of the United Kingdom? Is Scotland included?

Miss Bacon

No. These are figures for England and Wales. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has separate figures for Scotland.

In the Answer I gave separate figures for borstal institutions. I shall not go through the whole of these, but I am now able to give the figure for 1964 for the first column, the assaults and attempted assaults. There were 65 in 1963 and 59 in 1964. That was the figure I was unable to give in answer to the Question.

Mr. Evelyn King

One thing which is important to remember when quoting figures for prisons and borstal institutions separately is that the impression given may be that they are going down while, in fact, they are going up.

Miss Bacon

I wished to save the time of the Committee, but I will give the figures for the borstal institutions because I do not want there to be any feeling that I am evading anything.

The figures in relation to assaults and attempted assaults are: in 1959, 40; in 1960, 46; in 1961, 27; in 1962, 34; in 1963, 65: in 1964, 59. In the second column, the more serious offences of gross personal violence or violence serious enough to be dealt with by prosecution in the courts, the figures are: 1959, 7; 1960, 5; 1961, 4; 1962, 11; 1963, 6; 1964, 11.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

The borstal figures are not relevant. The Amendment does not apply to borstal inmates. The whole argument in support of the Amendment has been that it ought to apply where the prisoner has nothing else to fear because his sentence is already so long. This cannot apply to borstal cases.

Miss Bacon

Yes, there is something in what my hon. Friend says, but I wanted to give the Committee the full figures, since some doubt was expressed about these figures by the hon. Member for Dorset, North. I wanted to get them absolutely right.

During my period at the Home Office I have had to deal with a great many of the cases and the files and the punishments which have been awarded for assaults and for violence on the part of prisoners against prison officers. It is true to say that the overwhelming majority of these assaults and acts of violence take place on the spur of the moment. They are sudden, uncontrollable outbursts, born of the unnatural conditions of prison life, in an atmosphere where grievances are nursed and small incidents become enlarged. So there is this sudden hitting out against authority. It is not something which is anything to do with whether we have the death penalty or not. There are these sudden outbursts of temper on the part of people who have been in prison, perhaps for a considerable time.

But I admit that there are in our prisons a small number of dangerous, brutal prisoners, probably not there because they have committed murder at all, who present a very special problem. Between 1957 and 1964, 52 people were convicted of capital murder. Twenty-nine of these were executed, which means that 23 of those convicted between 1957 and 1964 are in our prisons today. Taking the figures for the past few years individually, in 1960, nine persons were convicted of capital murder, five of whom were executed. In 1961 the figures were the same. This means that four in each year had to be accommodated in prison. In 1962, four people were convicted of capital murder, three of whom were executed. In 1963 the figure was four, two of whom were executed. In 1964, the figure was six, two of whom were executed.

It can be seen that each year the extra numbers who would have to be accommodated in prison if the Bill becomes law is very low indeed. There are at present 365 prisoners serving sentences of life imprisonment. I know—I readily admit this to those hon. Members who support the Amendment—that it is not the numbers which trouble them. What troubles them is whether, in future, there will be more trouble in prison because of the abolition of the death penalty. Will the fact that there is no death penalty mean that the long-term prisoner, perhaps not a murderer, will try to obtain his freedom by force and possibly murder a prison officer?

Since 1900, two borstal inmates have been convicted of the murder of a prison officer, and in one case also there was the murder of a matron of a borstal institution. During that period no prisoner has been convicted of the murder of a prison officer. I know that there are those hon. Gentlemen who support the Amendment who would argue that this has been so because of the existence of the death penalty. Their argument is that, without the death penalty, the position would be different.

11.45 a.m.

Mr. Evelyn King

I intervene in an attempt to help the Home Office. What the hon. Lady has just said appears to conflict with a letter written by the Home Secretary on 22nd February, 1965, in which he said this: Since 1920, three officers have been murdered on duty. What the hon. Lady said just now conflicted with that. We would like to get it right.

Miss Bacon

As a matter of fact, I checked this before I spoke. What I have said is right. There is no conflicting view here. It is just a question whether a borstal officer is counted as a prison officer. No prison officer serving in a prison has been murdered by a prisoner since 1900. The two prison officers—they count as prison officers in borstal—were both murdered in a borstal by borstal inmates. In addition, there was one case of the matron of a borstal institution being murdered. The difficulty here is that those who serve in borstals are regarded as prison officers. All the murders which have taken place were murders by borstal inmates in borstals.

Sir John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)

It is important that this should be made clear. The promoter of the Bill said that the Amendment would not affect Borstal officers. As I had understood it—I should be grateful if the hon. Lady would confirm it—the Amendment, if passed, would cover the murder of an officer employed at a borstal institution, be he serving as a house-master or in another capacity. He would be a prison officer for the purposes of the Amendment.

Miss Bacon

A prisoner is a person in prison, but a prison officer can also serve in a borstal. That is the distinction.

As I was saying when I was interrupted, hon. Members would say that there have been so few murders because of the existence of the death penalty. I do not believe that that can be argued in this case. I believe—I think that it is a matter of belief here—that, if a prisoner was escaping in the past, even with the death penalty, and he had a murder weapon, which is very unlikely, he would do anything, death penalty or no death penalty, to make good his escape, because he would not be acting in a rational way, but would be acting in a quite desperate way. I do not believe that whether we have the death penalty or whether we do not will make any significant difference to what would happen if a prisoner was trying to escape. It is most unlikely that a prisoner trying to escape would have any murder weapon. I have already quoted other countries to show that in other countries which have abolished the death penalty there have not been murders of prison officers.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary is determined to take all necessary steps to protect prison officers from specially dangerous prisoners. This is so whether the death penalty is abolished or not. As my right hon. and learned Friend has already written and explained to the members of the Prison Officers' Asociation, there is to be a special allocation centre for all long-term offenders, and murderers and others will be studied here. At this stage the potentially dangerous men will be carefully studied and allocated to the special wing, where the security will be greater and the staffing ratio much higher.

The letter we have received from the Prison Officers' Association stressed that some prison officers in an individual capacity were in favour of the abolition of the death penalty. I do not find that at all surprising, because prison officers have to attend the death cell when a murderer is awaiting execution. Prison officers have some unpleasant jobs to do, but I cannot think of one more unpleasant than having to sit with a condemned man during the last hours of his life.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) pointed out in his moving speech during our last sitting, mistakes can happen, and it is a fact that following a murder which recently took place in prison it was discovered only last week that one of the prisoners who had been convicted was entirely innocent. If the death penalty had been in force that man would have been dead, and nothing could have been done about it.

Sir Richard Glyn


Miss Bacon

No, I am not giving way again. I am pretty certain that the prison officers who had sat with that man would have felt even worse.

I, for my part, hope that this Amendment will not be accepted. I have a great many friends among prison officers. I want to do everything I can to help them, but I do not believe that this Amendment is the right course to take.

Mr. Mark Woodnutt (Isle of Wight)

I support this Amendment. I sympathise with the views of those hon. Members who wish to abolish the death penalty completely. I supported the Bill on Second Reading, but when I did so I was quite clear in my own mind that I wished to retain certain exceptions. I put my name to all the Amendments that sought to create these exceptions, and I consider that this Amendment that we are discussing today to retain the death penalty for the murder of prison officers is the most important of them all. This is the most important Amendment of all because prison officers are exposed to risk at all time, more than any other group of people in our community, including even the police. It is their right that society should give them the maximum protection.

I have in my constituency in the Isle of Wight two prisons, Parkhurst and Camp Hill, and we are to have a third, the maximum security prison that has been spoken of. In passing, I hope that the Home Secretary appreciates the cooperation that he is getting from the local authorities on the island who are not objecting to the provision of this third prison.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Frank Soskice)

indicated assent.

Mr. Woodnutt

I have received deputations from the prison officers of Parkhurst and Camp Hill, and they have asked me to support this Amendment. It is true, as the hon. Lady has said, that there are some prison officers who, in their private capacity, would wish to see complete abolition, but they are very few in number. Most of them would like this exception, and there is no doubt that their wives, almost 100 per cent., wish this Amendment to be accepted.

Undoubtedly, most hon. Members of the Committee will have seen the inside of a prison and the sort of people who are there, but Parkhurst contains the very dregs of our society. It houses habitual criminals, violent men, wicked men, men whom the courts regard as beyond redemption.They would do anything to settle a grudge out of spite, or to escape. When one goes round Parkhurst Prison one only has to look at these men and to see the expressions on their faces to realise that they are wicked men, most of them beyond redemption.

Argument has ranged backwards and forwards over the years as to whether the death penalty is or is not a deterrent. Frankly, I do not accept the argument that it is, neither do I accept the argument that it is not a deterrent. I think all these statistics are most misleading. There is always the unknown factor that we do not know how many people are walking about who would have been deterred. But it is a fair assumption from this long record of 50 years, or whatever it is, during which time no prison officer has been murdered, that it might have been a deterrent, and it seems pointless to put prison officers at risk by removing it.

But is this the main point? I do not think that the main point is whether the death penalty is or is not a deterrent. The main point is that most prison officers sincerely believe that it is a deterrent. Whether they are right or wrong is irrelevant. This is what they really believe and it gives them peace of mind. It gives their wives peace of mind, and it would be entirely wrong if we were to remove this peace of mind from these men and their wives.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

The hon. Gentleman is adducing his argument in the mast agreeable terms, whether we accept his argument or not. But is he really suggesting to this Committee that it would be right for the State to kill a man, not to make somebody else safer but only to make him think that he was safer? Would that be right?

Mr. Woodnutt

What I am saying is that these men believe that it is a deterrent. They may be right or they may be wrong, but, reductio ad absurdum, if they believe this, and if they were all to leave the prison service, what would happen then? It is right that this penalty should be retained. It is right that they and their wives should have this peace of mind. It would be quite wrong of the House of Commons to remove the death penalty for murder committed in prison when all these men are overwhelmingly in favour of its retention, for they are the people who have to face the hazards and the risks every day of their lives.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that even if the belief of prison officers is false, as it may well be, we would still be justified in retaining the death penalty?

Mr. Woodnutt

Yes, I am saying that. I think we should do it. There are too many hon. Members who are always on the side of the transgressor. We are dealing with criminals, and if we have to err let us err on the side of the prison officer and not of the criminal. I hope that the Committee will accept this Amendment.

Mr. Paget rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The Committee proceeded to a Division

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Sir Samuel. The Amendment refers not only to prison officers in England, but to prison officers in Scotland, where we have a large number of prisons and a large number of prison officers whose security and conditions of work the Committee has not been able to consider, either.

May I submit that we should have a chance at least to put their case and to find out what assurance the Home Secretary can give us as to the future safety of these men?

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Samuel Storey)

That does not raise a point of order.

Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Sir Samuel. It should be brought to your attention that, although the decision to accept the Motion is entirely a matter for the Chair, it was known outside this Chamber 10 minutes ago exactly when the Motion would be accepted. That seems to be quite wrong.

The Deputy-Chairman

That, too, does not raise a point of order.

The committee divided: Ayes 149, Noes 106.

Division No. 90.] AYES [11.58 a.m.
Abse, Leo Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Dalyell, Tam
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Darling, George
Aldritt, Walter Bray, Dr. Jeremy Davies, Harold (Leek)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan) Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Bacon, Miss Alice Brown, R. w. (Shoreditch & Fbury) Dempsey, James
Berkeley, Humphry Buchanan, Richard Diamond, John
Bishop, E. S. Carmichael, Neil Dodds, Norman
Blackburn, F. Carter-Jones, Lewis Doig, Peter
Blenkinsop, Arthur Crosland, Anthony Driberg, Tom
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S. Duffy, A. E. P.
Dunn, James A. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Perry, Ernest G.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Kelley, Richard Popplewell, Ernest
English, Michael Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Prentice, R. E.
Ennals, David Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Rees, Merlyn
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) Lawson, George Richard, Ivor
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Ledger, Ron. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.) Lipton, Marcus Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Loughlin, Charles Rose, Paul B.
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Lubbock, Eric Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McCann, J. Rowland, Christopher
Ford, Ben MacColl, James Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Galpern, Sir Myer MacDermot, Niall Short, Rt.Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)
Garrow, A. Mclnnes, James Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Gregory, Arnold Mackie, John (Enfield, E.) Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Gray, Charles MacPherson, Malcolm Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Skeffington, Arthur
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Manuel, Archie Small, William
Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.) Mapp, Charles Soskice Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Harper, Joseph Mason, Roy Steel, David
Harrison, Walter (wakefield) Maxwell, Robert Steele, Thomas
Hart, Mrs. Judith Mendelson, J. J. Stones, William
Hayman, F. H. Millan, Bruce Swingler, Stephen
Heffer, Eric S. Miller, Dr. M. S. Taverne, Dlck
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur Milne, Edward (Blyth) Thornton, Ernest
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Molloy, William Wainwright, Edwin
Hooson, H. E. Mulley,Rt.Hn.Frederick(SheffieldPk) Warbey, William
Howie, W. Newens, Stan Watkins, Tudor
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Norwood, Christopher Whitlock, William
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oakes, Gordon Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline) O'Malley, Brian Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Orbach, Maurice Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Orme, Stanley Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Jackson, Colin Oswald, Thomas Winterbottom, R. E.
Janner, Sir Barnett Padley, Walter Woof, Robert
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Paget, R. T. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Mr. Idwal Jones and
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pentland, Norman Mr.David Griffiths.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) Page, R. Graham (Crosby)
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Awdrey, Daniel Harris, Reader (Heston) Percival, Ian
Baker, W. H. K. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd) Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Harvie Anderson, Miss Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Bassell, Peter Hastings, Stephen Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Blaker, Peter Hiley, Joseph Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin
Bossom, Hn. Clive Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Box, Donald Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Scott-Hopkins, James
Brewis, John Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives) Sharples, Richard
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hunt, John (Bromley) Sinclair, Sir George
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Jopling, Michael Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry Kaberry, Sir Donald Studholme, Sir Henry
Buck, Antony King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Talbot, John E.
Bullus, Sir Eric Kitson, Timothy Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Butcher, Sir Herbert Lagden, Godfrey Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Channon, H. P. G. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Temple, John M.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Longtaottom, Charles Thompson Sir Richard (Croydon,S.)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Longden, Gilbert Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter
Cooke, Robert McAdden, Sir Stephen Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Cordle, John Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross & Crom'ty) Ward, Dame Irene
Cunningham, Sir Knox Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Weatherill, Bernard
Dance, James McMaster, Stanley Webster, David
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) Maginnis, John E. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Dean, Paul Maitland, Sir John Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Maude, Angus Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Mawby, Ray Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Woodnutt, Mark
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Wylie, N. R.
Forrest, George Meyer, Sir Anthony Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Gardner, Edward Miscampbell, Norman Younger, Hn. George
Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Monro, Hector
Glyn, Sir Richard Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gower, Raymond Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Sir Rolf Dudley Williams and
Grieve, Percy Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Mr. Goodhew
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Osborn, John (Hallam)

Question put accordingly, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee proceeded to a Division—

12 noon.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Sir Samuel. I understand that the Division

bells in the upper corridor did not sound on the occasion of the last Division. May I ask that the directions be given to see that they sound this time?

The Deputy-Chairman

I will arrange that inquiries be made.

The Committee divided: Ayes 105, Noes 157.

Division No. 91.] AYES [12.8 p.m.
Allason, James(Hemel Hempstead) Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) Percival, Ian
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Hall, John (Wycombe) Plckthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth
Baker, W. H. K. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W) Pym, Francis
Batsford, Brian Harris, Reader (Heston) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Bessell, Peter Harvie Anderson, Miss Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin
Blaker, Peter Hastings, Stephen Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Bossom, Hn. Clive Hiley, Joseph Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Box, Donald Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Scott-Hopkins, James
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Sharpies, Richard
Brewis, John Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Sinclair, Sir George
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hunt, John (Bromley) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter Kaberry, Sir Donald Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Buck, Antony King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Studholme, Sir Henry
Bullus, Sir Eric Kitson, Timothy Talbot, John E.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Lagden, Godfrey Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow.Cathcart)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Cooke, Robert Longden, Gilbert Temple, John M.
Cordle, John McAdden, Sir Stephen Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S)
Cunningham, Sir Knox MacArthur, Ian Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter
Curran, Charles Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross & Crom'ty) Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Dance, James Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Ward, Dame Irene
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) McMaster, Stanley Weatherill, Bernard
Dean, Paul Maginnis, John E. Webster, David
Deeds, Rt. Hn. W. F. Maitland, Sir John Whitelaw, William
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Mawby, Ray Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen) Meyer, Sir Anthony Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Forrest, George Monro, Hector Woodnutt, Mark
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) More, Jasper Wylie, N. R.
Gardner, Edward Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Younger, Hn. George
Glyn, Sir Richard Orr-Ewing Sir Ian
Gower, Raymond Osborn, John (Hallam) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grieve, Percy Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Sir Rolf Dudley Williams and
Mr. Goodhew.
Abse, Leo Diamond, John Hayman, F. H.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dodds, Norman Heffer, Eric s.
Aldritt, Walter Doig, Peter Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Driberg, Tom Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Bacon, Miss Alice Duffy, A. E. P. Hooson, H. E.
Berkeley, Humphry Dunn, James A. Howie, W.
Bishop, E. S. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Blackburn, F. English, Michael Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Ennals, David Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Hynd, John (Attercliffe)
Braddoek, Mrs. E. M. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Jackson, Colin
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Janner, Sir Barnett
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan) Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Brown, R.w. (Shoreditch & Fbury) Ford, Ben Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Buchanan, Richard Garrow, A. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Carlisle, Mark Gregory, Arnold Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Carmichael, Neil Grey, Charles Johnson Smith, G.
Carter-Jones, Lewis Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Chataway, Christopher Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S. Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Jopling, Michael
Dalyell, Tam Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Kelley, Richard
Darling, George Hamilton, William (West Fife) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Harper, Joseph Kirk, Peter
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Lawson, George
Dempscy, James Hart, Mrs. Judith Ledger, Ron
Lipton, Marcus O'Malley, Brian Skeffington, Arthur
Longbottom, Charles Orbach, Maurice Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Loughlin, Charles Orme, Stanley Small, William
Lubbock, Eric Oswald, Thomas Solomons, Henry
McCann, J. Padley, Walter Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
MacColl, James Paget, R. T. Steel, David
MacDermot, Niall Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.) Steele, Thomas
Mackie, John (Enfield, E.) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Stones, William
MacPherson, Malcolm Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Swingler, Stephen
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Pentland, Norman Taverne, Dick
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Perry, Ernest G. Thornton, Ernest
Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Popplewell, Ernest Wainwright, Edwin
Manuel, Archie Prentice, R. E. Warbey, William
Mapp, Charles Price, David (Eastleigh) Watkins, Tudor
Mason, Roy Rees, Merlyn Whitlock, William
Maxwell, Robert Richard, Ivor Williams, Alan (Swansea, w.)
Mendelson, J. J. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Millan, Bruce Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Miller, Dr. M. S. Rose, Paul B. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Milne, Edward (Blyth) Ross, Rt. Hn. William Winterbottom, R. E.
Miscampbell, Norman Rowland, Christopher woof, Robert
Molloy, William Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Morris, Charles (Openshaw) Short,Rt.Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)
Mulley,Rt.Hn.Frederick(SheffieldPk) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Newens, Stan Silkin, John (Deptford) Mr. Idwa, Jones and
Norwood, Christopher Silverman, Julius (Aston) Mr. David Griffiths.
Oakes, Gordon Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)

Amendment proposed: In page 1, line 5, after "murder". insert: except an already convicted murderer who, in the course of life imprisonment, shall murder again".—[Sir J. Hobson.]

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 102, Noes 149.

Division No. 92.] AYES [12.17 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Grieve, Percy Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W. Hall, John (Wycombe) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Batsford, Brian Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Harris, Reader (Heston) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Bessell, Peter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Blaker, Peter Harvie Anderson, Miss Scott-Hopkins, James
Bossom, Hn. Clive Hastings, Stephen Sharples, Richard
Box, Donald Hiley, Joseph Sinclair, Sir George
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Brewis, John Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hunt, John (Bromley) Studholme, Sir Henry
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Kaberry, Sir Donald Summers, Sir Spencer
Bullus, Sir Eric King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Talbot, John E.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Kitson, Timothy Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Lagden, Godfrey Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Cooke, Robert Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Temple, John M.
Cordle, John Longden, Gilbert Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.)
Cunningham, Sir Knox McAdden, Sir Stephen Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter
Curran, Charles MacArthur, Ian Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Dance, James Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Ward, Dame Irene
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Weatherill, Bernard
Dean, Paul McMaster, Stanley Webster, David
Deeds, Rt. Hn. W. F. Maginnis, John E. Whitelaw, William
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Monro, Hector Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen) More, Jasper Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Forrest, George Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Murton, Oscar Woodnutt, Mark
Gardner, Edward Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Wylie, N. R.
Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Osborn, John (Hallam) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Glover, Sir Douglas Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Younger, Hn. George
Glyn, Sir Richard Percival, Ian
Goodhart, Philip Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gower, Raymond Pym, Francis Mr. Mawby and Mr. Buck.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Blackburn, F. Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)
Aldritt, Walter Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Buchanan, Richard
Bacon, Miss Alice Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Carlisle, Mark
Berkeley, Humphry Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Carmichael, Neil
Bishop, E. S. Bray, Dr. Jeremy Carter-Jones, Lewis
Chataway, Christopher Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pentland, Norman
Dalyell, Tam Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Perry, Ernest G.
Darling, George Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull,W.) Popplewell, Ernest
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson Smith, G. Prentice, R. E.
Davies, lfor (Gower) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Price, David (Eastleigh)
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Rees, Merlyn
Dempsey, James Jopling, Michael Richard, Ivor
Diamond, John Kelley, Richard Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Driberg, Tom Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Duffy, A. E. P. Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Rose, Paul B.
Dunn, James A. Kirk, Peter Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lawson, George Rowland, Christopher
English, Michael Ledger, Ron Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Ennals, David Lipton, Marcus Short,Rt.Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)
Finch, Harold (Bedwelty) Longbottom, Charles Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Loughlin, Charles Silkin, John (Deptford)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lubbock, Eric Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) McCann J. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) MacColl, James Skeffington, Arthur
Ford, Ben MacPherson, Malcolm Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Garrow, A. Mahon, Peter (Preston S.) Small, William
Gregory, Arnold Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Solomons, Henry
Grey, Charles Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Manuel, Archie Steel, David
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mapp Charles Steele, Thomas
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Mason, Roy Stones, William
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Maxwell, Robert Swingler, Stephen
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Mendelson, J. J. Taverne, Dick
Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.) Miller, Dr. M. S. Thornton, Ernest
Harper, Joseph Milne, Edward (Blyth) Wainwright, Edwin
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Miscampbell, Norman Wallace, George
Hart, Mrs. Judith Molloy, William Warbey, William
Hayman, F. H. Morris, Charles (Openshaw) Watkins Tudor
Heffer, Eric S. Newens, Stan Whitlock, William
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur Norwood, Christopher Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Oakes, Gordon Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hooson, H. E. O'Malley, Brian Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Howie, W. Orbach, Maurice Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Orme, Stanley Winterbottom, R. E.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oswald, Thomas Woof, Robert
Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline) Padley, Walter Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Paget, R. T.
Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S.E.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jackson, Colin Pavitt, Laurence Mr. Idwal Jones and
Janner, Sir Barnett Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Mr. David Griffiths.
Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

On a point of order. I should like to propose, Sir Samuel, that you do report Progress and ask leave to sit again. I make this suggestion for special reasons, and I should like to advance them to the Chair and say why I think that they are important.

We have just taken two major decisions: one in which the police officers have not been consulted—to which reference is made in the speech of the hon. Lady the Minister of State—and another in which I understand the prison officers have not been consulted. Also, I must make it clear that we are going right in the face of public opinion—

Hon. Members


The Deputy-Chairman

Order. I am not prepared to accept such a Motion at present.

Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)

I beg to move Amendment No. 5, in page 1, line 5, after "murder", to insert: except for any murder done in the course or furtherance of theft".

The Deputy-Chairman

We can discuss at the same time Amendment No. 6—in line 5, after "murder", insert: except for any murder by shooting or by causing an explosion"— Amendment No. 18—in line 5, after "murder", insert: except for any murder done by shooting in the course of furtherance of theft"— and Amendment No. 19—in page 2, line 14, at end add: (5) The following murder shall continue to be capital murder, and shall be liable to the same punishment for murder as heretofore, that is to say any murder that is referred to in section 5(1)(b) of the Homicide Act 1957 where the accused has previously been convicted of an indictable offence involving violence against the person. If it is wished, Amendment No. 6 can be moved formally later so that there may be a Division on it.

Mr. Deedes

We have already discussed Amendment No. 5 elsewhere. I think that I should be most helpful to the Committee if I were to leave some of the main arguments to other people and if I dealt principally with the points which have already been shown to be at issue between us.

Prima facie, there is a very strong case for the Amendment. The strength of it is clear to anyone who studies the Home Office Research Unit Report, "Murder". I hope that before we part with the Amendment hon. Members who have not studied it will glance at some of the conclusions in it, because they bear most particularly on the Amendment. The Committee should be aware of some of the main conclusions, and before I turn to particular points I should like to mention one or two of them.

The Report shows that, of the 52 people who have been convicted of capital murder since 1957, 38 had had previous convictions and that of those about two-thirds had been found guilty of larceny or breaking and entering. The position is very clearly summarised in paragraph 73 of the Report, which says: Among men convicted of capital murder 79 per cent. had previous convictions; among those convicted of non-capital murder, the proportion was 55 per cent. Among those executed, it was 84 per cent. It appears that nearly all capital murder is committed by persons with criminal records; and of the 22 men with criminal records, 16 had been previously convicted on more than one occasion. Most of these convictions"— and this is the point— were for larceny and breaking and entering, and the proportion with previous offences against the person among their convictions was actually lower among capital murderers than non-capital murderers, as shown in Table 41. That indicates that the purpose of the Amendment is not altogether irrelevant to those of us who think that the Bill, as amended, should meet circumstances as they are and not as some hon. Members may wish them to be.

I turn to one of the main objections which I understand the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) and his supporters have to the Amendment. If I can summarise it fairly the argument is that in reverting to the terms of the 1957 Act the Amendment would provide the supreme penalty, not only for armed robbery in the course of theft, but for all murders which might occur in course or in furtherance of theft. In other words, it could include—indeed, in one instance it has included—murder which could conceivably be described as murder by inadvertence.

12.30 p.m.

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has already brought to our attention the case of John Vickers, about which, I know, he feels deeply—

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Does not the right hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Deedes

—who in the course of robbery was disturbed, who struck and, owing to the fragility of his victim, found himself convicted and was hanged for murder. He is at least one symbol of the argument which is advanced against the Amendment.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

It is true that I see such a discrepancy as the right hon. Member is pointing out, and this is a serious objection to the Amendment, but it would be quite wrong to say that it is my principal objection. My principal objection to the Amendment is that it retains the death penalty for anything.

Mr. Deedes

I appreciate that it is not the hon. Member's principal objection, because he objects to the Amendment on all conceivable grounds. I am, however, dealing with a point which the hon. Member has raised, which he may raise again and which the Committee must consider seriously. I am taking seriously the point that the hon. Member has made. He can have no objection to that.

In bringing forward that instance—and there may be others like it—the hon. Member is misguided. The intention is surely not, either now or in 1957, to draw up a category of criminals who ought by their nature to be hanged if they commit murder in course of theft. That cannot be the intention. It is, surely, to protect citizens from the contingency, which today is, unfortunately, all too likely, of encountering a thief, perhaps endeavouring to detain the thief, or not even endeavouring to detain him, and losing one's life in consequence. That must be the purpose of those who seek additional protection for the citizen under the terms of the Bill.

If arising from a theft I, as a householder, am killed, how I am killed merely becomes irrelevant. If I am killed by inadvertence even by the man committing the crime, the processes of law will look after the consequences. It is, however, quite vain to plead that occasions may arise when the theft was only a little one or that hitherto the murderer had, perhaps, led a blameless life. In my view, what is being argued around this point strikes at the root of protecting society in a civilised country.

Of course, there are degrees of heinousness of murder which is committed in the course of theft. As the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne will tell us, there are worse crimes than this in the calendar. In the view of many members of the Committee the rape and murder of a helpless child would be a worse offence. But the 1957 Act, which is so readily and so wrongly dismissed by many hon. Members as illogical, had, in a sense, much more profound logic than is generally recognised. It attempted not to list murders in order of heinousness, but to retain the supreme deterrent for murders most likely to threaten society. That was the purpose of the Act and that is our purpose in bringing forward this Amendment from it to the hon. Member's Bill.

Murder in cold blood, or murder in hot blood while engaged in theft, is emphatically one of the risks which the householder aid others encounter. Nobody could fairly suggest that since 1957 the risk had diminished. There is no other justification for penalties of this kind than the protection of society. There can be no justification for attempting to list murders in course or furtherence of theft or any kind of murder in order of heinousness. Protection where the citizen is most vulnerable certainly lies behind the motives of myself and others who are pressing this series of Amendments.

We do not say that the man who carries a gun and who is prepared to shoot if he is detained in the course of theft is a greater danger than the man who carries no weapon and who kills when confronted in the course of crime. We say that both are guilty of murder in course of theft. Both are contingencies which may well arise in the course of a citizen's everyday life. They do arise, and both are contingencies against which the citizen is entitled to protection.

It is not easy just now, in any of the civilised countries of the West, to persuade the citizen to align himself or herself with the forces of law and order. Every member of the Committee knows that there are various resistances. One is fear; that is natural. These resistances are a major factor in failing to maintain law and order. The knowledge that murder done by one engaged in theft is liable to attract the supreme penalty of hanging is, in my view, a contribution to reducing that fear and to recruiting the citizen actively on the side of law and order.

The citizen has recently been invited by the police to "have a go". To have a go and leave a widow does not seem to me to be a compelling call to citizens on behalf of law and order. It is no good hon. Members saying that this is an academic point which does not arise. As I shall show, this is something which can arise more frequently than in almost any other category of crime with which we are concerned.

I agree that the deterrent argument—whether hanging is a unique deterrent—is here crucial. Does the death penalty deter those who may be in course of theft from committing murder? To complete my argument, I must put forward to the Committee some facts which hon. Members have heard before.

Great stress is laid on the fact that the relation between capital and non-capital murder since 1957 has remained fairly constant, whereas if hanging were the unique deterrent which some, including myself, believe it to be, one might expect a fall in the category of capital murder. This figure cannot, however, be examined in isolation. The fact is that since 1957 the figures relating to crimes of robbery with violence have rocketed.

Let me remind the Committee of the sort of figures that I am talking about. From the Criminal Statistics in England and Wales, 1963, I have taken Class II, offences against property with violence. This is the category which is of greatest importance in relation to the Amendment. In the years 1955 to 1959, from which we might take in 1957 as an average. the number of offences of burglary committed with violence was 3,743 and in 1963 the total was 6,688. In that first year, offences of housebreaking with violence totalled 29,745, and in 1963, 65,178. Offences of entering with intent to commit felony, in 1957, numbered 16,193; in 1963, 35,446.

These increases cannot be accounted for by some exact crime accountancy.

The fact is that all these categories of crime have greatly increased and every hon. Gentleman knows it, and yet at the same time the number of murders committed in furtherance of theft has remained tolerably constant. That is what I for one would expect. I think that this is a field in which the deterrent is most likely to bite.

Mr. Paget

It is not the number of murders in furtherance of theft which has remained pretty stable: it is the number of murders which has remained pretty stable. It is the fact that the number of murders has remained pretty stable ever since 1900. The number of other crimes, including crimes of violence, goes up and down. The number of murders remains pretty stable all the way through, which seems to show that murder is affected by factors which are quite different.

Mr. Deedes

I take the hon. and learned Gentleman's point, but it is perfectly clear that since 1900 the proportion of murders committed in furtherance of theft has remained a constant proportion of the number of murders committed, and numerically it has also remained a pretty steady figure in the increase in violence during recent years.

Mr. Paget

Which is proportionate to the increase in population.

Mr. Deedes

I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is seized of the point I am making, and the point I am making is that, whereas the number of thefts involving violence has doubled and trebled in the last decade, the number of murders has remained steady.

Mr. Paget

The point I am making is that this is not the first crime wave we have experienced during this period. In previous crime waves murders still remained stable, and in previous crime waves they were not considering the death penalty. It did not arise.

Mr. Deedes

The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about crime waves, but I can only report to him that since 1957, as these statistics show, the number has gone steadily up and is still going up, and as far as I can see the figures for 1964 will show that we are in the region—perhaps the hon. Lady or someone from the Home Office can confirm this—of 250,000 offences against property with violence. We shall be within that range, compared with a total of 107,000 in 1957. This is an increase of some one and a half times.

I insist that, in relation to murders done, though that figure rises so dramatically, murder remains stable. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the Committee will put their own interpretation on the figures, as they have been doing throughout our proceedings, but we have at least some indication of what the deterrent means.

12.45 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

What I am wondering is what interpretation the right hon. Gentleman is inviting us to put upon them. Is he saying that if the death penalty for those crimes had been abolished in 1957 those criminals who used violence in the course of theft would have used a little more violence? Is that the point?

Mr. Deedes

No. It is known to every hon. Member of the Committee that professional criminals have taken care not to murder while conducting professional crime. It is well known. If the hon. Member wishes to prove the opposite case no doubt he will have an opportunity when he catches the eye of the Chair. All I am saying is that from the figures as presented this seems to be the most likely conclusion to be reached. I say that in this field both the professional criminal and the petty thief have up to now had in their minds a fairly clear idea of what the consequences of fatal violence in the course of their crimes would be.

It may appear to some hon. Gentlemen opposite that each of this series of Amendments which we have tabled is justified by some particular and special reason. Well, that is true. This Amendment, in particular, affects the safety of the private citizens more than any other which we shall discuss in the course of our proceedings. As I say, I think that it will be shown that at the end of 1964 the number of something like 250,000 crimes will have been committed in this category of offence against property with violence.

How can it be said that the need for protection has diminished? How can it be said that the hour, as it were, is past for the need of a deterrent like this?

This takes me to the heart of my opposition to the hon. Member's Bill. Legislation, to be sound, really should hear some relationship to the social needs of the time. Goodness knows, we in this place are often behind need, but let us not fly in the face of it. This Bill really bears no relation to the current trends, some of which I have indicated statistically, and least of all to that which this Amendment now seeks to remedy. In respect of theft it would have at least one effect.

The Bill would underline the instinct of many citizens today not to get mixed up with criminals carrying out crime. Why take an unnecessary risk either in supporting the forces of law and order or even in defending one's own property, when the result may be the forfeiture of life? No doubt hon. Gentlemen opposite will be able to address themselves to the opposite argument, but I remain convinced that this Bill will not strengthen the willingness, or the will or the determination, of the citizen to defend himself, and to align himself, as he should, with the forces of law and order.

Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)

On a point of order. May I inquire, Sir Samuel, whether you are of the opinion that there is a quorum in the Committee at the moment?

The Deputy-Chairman

The Committee has recently been counted in a Division, and I am not prepared to order a Count at the present moment.

Mr. Deedes

I would conclude by saying that I believe that, as a result, we should have cause to regret this Bill.

Mr. Paget

We have heard a very sincere and well argued speech, as we always do when it comes from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), but I would just put to him this. I believe that he draws quite the wrong conclusion from those statistics which he put to us. My submission is this, that the real deterrent to murder is something inside us. We are basically not blood animals, and all of us who are normal have a tremendous inhibition against killing. That is something which is in our nature—the inhibition against killing in cold blood. That inhibition exists just as much in criminals as it does in anybody else. It is part of the nature of most of us.

Criminals, like other people, like many of us, explain the inhibitions of our nature; they rationalise and say, "Well, I would not do it because I do not want to hang". If that reason is not there they find themselves another reason for not doing what their instinct rebels against doing.

I think that most of us would literally rather die than commit murder. If the choice is our life or somebody else's, to a tremendous extent our instinct is that we cannot bring ourselves to do it. I think that very few of us could bring ourselves to be a hangman, could bring ourselves to go out and do in cold blood what, if we support capital punishment, we would do through another.

It is for that reason that I find the figures for murder, whether in the course of theft or not, so astonishingly stable, and so astonishingly unaffected by the rise and fall in other forms of crime. Throughout this decade there have been a whole series of periods when crime has risen steeply, then fallen, risen steeply once more, and fallen again. It is true that at this moment we are in a phase in which the rise is sharper than anything which we have experienced before, but the murder rate remains perfectly stable now, as it did during previous occasions.

Sir J. Hobson

Can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us when the crime rate last fell? We all know that it rises at different rates, but when did it last fall in this country?

Mr. Paget

At given times, the crime rate per million fell quite sharply. I am speaking from memory, but I think that that happened in 1922–23. After that there was another period, when it rose rather steeply in the early 'thirties, after having gone down. I think that there was also a rise round about 1910. I am, of course, calling on my memory, but we have had these phases of up and down, or, for the purposes of my argument, we have had different rates of acceleration. but the murder rate has been stable all the way through, and the reason is that murder is a crime quite by itself and is affected by considerations different from those affecting other crimes.

Mr. Deedes

How does the hon. and learned Gentleman account for the conclusions which are reached, and must be accepted, in the Home Office pamphlet, "Murder", about capital murder with previous convictions? How does he account for the close connection between capital murders and men who have previous convictions for larceny, if he says that murder is in a separate category from other crimes?

Mr. Paget

I should have thought that the reason was obvious. If one can confine murder, which is what we have done, to murder in the course of theft, the people for whom we retain capital punishment are people who indulge in theft. There is not the slightest surprise that murderers in the course of theft are more likely to have stolen before than people who commit murder not in the course of theft. There is no discovery about that, and it does not mean that criminals generally are more apt to commit murder than other people. On the whole, they are not.

Murder is a crime apart. Some criminals commit murder, some non-criminals commit murder, but if we confine murder to murder in the course of theft, then, of course, it is true that far more criminals than non-criminals commit murder in the course of theft. I should have thought that there was no mystery about that, or that it affected this argument in the least.

What I would say—and I think that this is an argument against all exceptions—is that the man who commits murder is not a normal person. He is a person with an inflated ego. This is illustrated perhaps as well as anything by his reaction to his publicity. The greatest penalty to an ordinary person involved in crime is horror of the newspapers having his name and giving publicity to his crime. With murderers, all the evidence is that they are tremendously vain about their publicity and anxious for it. It shows the different type of man which one has in this category.

Mr. William Yates

Is the hon. Gentleman advancing the theory that the majority of murders committed in this country over the past years were committed by people who had no previous connection with crime?

Mr. Paget

Yes. Right through the period the majority of murders were committed by people who had not previously been involved in serious crime.

Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that people who become professional housebreakers and who devote themselves to a life of crime are normal people? These are the sort of people with whom the Amendment seeks to deal. Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that these people, who are prepared to live a life of crime, are normal people, with inbuilt consciences which one would expect of the normal person?

Mr. Paget

I am saying that they probably are. They are people who, on the whole, vote Conservative. I am not saying that that is particular evidence of normality. They are people who have the strongest objection to murder, and who produce all kinds of reasons about it. Perhaps each of us has his separate abnormalities, but on the whole the professional burglar is someone who has a strong inhibition against killing, and we have had evidence of this rather curious fact.

We have evidence of the inflated ego—"I made up my mind to swing for him", "Mine is the great passion", "This is the great sacrifice", and so on, showing a connection between masochism and sadism. All these elements go to build up the murderer. They have nothing to do with the ordinary instincts of a criminal. This is a different class, and a different category of motivation from that with which one is dealing in ordinary crime. That is why the statistics for ordinary crime are different from those for the murder rate which acts quite independently.

It being One o'clock, The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again pursuant to Resolution [18th March].

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday, 28th April.

Sitting suspended.

Sitting resumed at 2.30p.m.

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