HC Deb 17 February 1817 vol 35 c368
Mr. Holford

presented a petition from Thomas John Waters, praying the House to abolish capital punishments in all cases excepting murder.

Mr. Bennet

called the attention of the House to the subject of this petition, which, though only signed by one individual, expressed the sentiments of many benevolent persons. On the important subject of inflicting the punishment of death, it prayed the House to consider, whether it might not in all cases except murder, be commuted for imprisonment. Although we boasted that we were the most civilized people in Europe, our criminal code was the most severe of all. Neither in America nor France was death ever inflicted, except for the crime of murder. In the latter country, the practice had been, for the last twenty years, to send delinquents to penitentiary houses, where their morals were reformed, and they came out valuable members of society. It was seldom, he feared, that persons committed for offences in this country came out of prison with any improvement whatever in their moral sentiments. As the public attention was now drawn to the general subject of this petition, he trusted that it would speedily fall under the consideration of the House.

The petition was ordered to lie on the table.